I’m no expert on personality tests, but this story wasn’t unknown to me. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is probably the most widely used personality test in the world, but… it’s completely meaningless.
In this article on VOX, Joseph Stromberg gives an overview on how the test is based on unproven theories (by Jung), uses false, limited binaries and provides inconsistent and inaccurate results.
The conclusion is pretty clear:
The Myers-Briggs is useful for one thing: entertainment. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking thetest as a fun, interesting activity, like a BuzzFeed quiz.
But there is something wrong with CPP peddling the test as “Reliable and valid, backed by ongoing global research and development investment.” The company makes an estimated $20 million annually, with the Myers-Briggs as its flagship product. Among other things, it charges between $15 and $40 to each person who wants to take the test, and $1,700 to each person who wants to become a certified test administrator.
Why would someone pay this much to administer a flawed test? Because once you have that title, you can sell your services as a career coach to both people looking for work and the thousands of major companies — such as McKinsey & Co., General Motors, and a reported 89 of the Fortune 100 — that use the test to separate employees and potential hires into “types” and assign them appropriate training programs and responsibilities. Once certified, test administrators become cheerleaders of the Myers-Briggs, ensuring that use of the outdated instrument is continued.
If private companies want to throw their money away on the Myers-Briggs, that’s their prerogative. But about 200 federal agencies reportedly waste money on the test too, including the State Department and the CIA. The military in particular relies heavily on the Myers-Briggs, and the EPA has given it to about a quarter of its 17,000 employees.
It’s 2014. Thousands of professional psychologists have evaluated the century-old Myers-Briggs, found it to be inaccurate and arbitrary, and devised better systems for evaluating personality. Let’s stop using this outdated measure — which has about as much scientific validity as your astrological sign — and move on to something else.