Myers-Briggs tests

From Have you ever taken the Myers-Briggs? What do you think about it?

I have taken the Myers-Briggs – an “official” version too, not just some random version on the internet. As a freshman at Purdue I was selected as part of President Jischke’s Leadership class, a weekly meeting of 30 students from the incoming freshman class who were apparently being primed to be the leaders of the future. Little did they know they were grooming an atheist leader, mwahaha.


But one of the first things we did in the class was take the Myers-Briggs, and then have someone come explain what everything meant and how we could learn to work together better from that. I consistently come out as an INTJ – Introversion, Intuition, Thinking, Judgment. I think the whole description fits me to a T, but I won’t bore you with what you can read on Wikipedia. But just to illustrate my point:

INTJs are analytical. Like INTPs, they are most comfortable working alone and tend to be less sociable than other types. Nevertheless, INTJs are prepared to lead if no one else seems up to the task, or if they see a major weakness in the current leadership. They tend to be pragmatic, logical, and creative. They have a low tolerance for spin or rampant emotionalism. They are not generally susceptible to catchphrases and do not recognize authority based on tradition, rank, or title.

I was going to bold everything that blatantly applied to me, but then I realized I would be bolding the whole quote. Of course, maybe I just like being called a “Mastermind” and being one of the rarest personality types.

While it seems fun, there has been a lot of criticism about the validity and scientific nature of the test. It’s likely it’s relying on the Forer effect, where “individuals will give high accuracy ratings to descriptions of their personality that supposedly are tailored specifically for them, but are in fact vague and general enough to apply to a wide range of people.” This is the same reason why astrology seems so convincing.

But this isn’t my area of expertise – is anyone out the more knowledgeable about the Myers-Briggs test?

Poppycock or not, what result do you get? There’s a decent test here if you want to find out. Do you think it describes you well, or do all the descriptions fit you in some way? I wonder if atheists and skeptics would be more likely to fit in certain categories. Maybe INTJ isn’t that rare amongst skeptics.

This is post 5 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.


  1. says

    I don’t think Meyers-Briggs tests are a lot better than horoscopes, really. It’s just too subjective of a measurement, and it produces Barnum staments, which exploit the Forer Effect, as you mention. I’m highly skeptical of them.

  2. says

    I’m usually pretty sceptical about these sorts of tests, but FWIW I tried the linked one and it came out as INTJ. Given that the questions seem to boil down to two: “Do you like socialising?” and “Do you think?” I’m not sure how much scope for variation there really is.

  3. says

    I took a web-based Myers-Briggs personality test “for programmers” a few years ago. It was the first personality test I’d taken that really did seem to describe not only good habits I had, but also ones that made me different than coworkers and friends. I blogged about the parts that I agreed with (, which of course is an example of confirmation bias.I’d say that everyone’s a unique and beautiful snowflake, so nothing will match you exactly. Every single time you create a dichotomy with words you invite exceptions (see Zen). Still and all, Myers-Briggs seems a significantly better category than your astrological sign to share on a first date to explore compatibility, and a useful measure to consider when assigning people to roles in an organization.

  4. Psych Prof says

    Funny you should mention it and time to put on your skeptic’s hat. I’m a psychologist who’s taught and conducted research in personality and scale development. My professional opinion is that the MBTI is another beloved but inaccurate belief system. The results are similar to Barnum statements (vague things that most people would love to know about themselves and would agree with), and research with the MBTI among serious personality researchers seems to be overwhelmed by research on the Big 5 (Openness to Experience, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Neuroticism: OCEAN). The last four of these have been replicated across generations and cultures, while the first (O) seems to have a culturally-bound flavor. They are encoded into our language. They predict real-world outcomes and provide a pretty good description of the observed data from a variety of perspectives. In other words, the Big 5 seems to be a pretty darned good theory. The biggest problem I have with the MBTI, though, is that the underlying assumption has been demonstrated to be false for nearly all personality traits studied. The MBTI assumes that for each of it’s “dimensions”, you are either one thing or another. Trust me, if you scored one point above the cutoff for I, you are more like the person who scored one point below the cutoff than someone who scored 30 points above. But the test treats you as the same. In reality, virtually all psychological traits studied seem to have underlying dimensionality rather than simply being you are X or you are not X.IMO, the MBTI is the “intelligent design” of the personality world. If you want the “evolution” version, take a Big 5 test instead. p.s., Just for fun, take a look at the Wikipedia section on Statistical structure:”The instrument’s dichotomous scoring of dimensions has also been subject to criticism. For example, some researchers expected that scores would show a bimodal distribution with peaks near the ends of the scales, but found that scores on the individual subscales were actually distributed in a centrally peaked manner similar to a normal distribution. A cut-off exists at the center of the subscale such that a score on one side is classified as one type, and a score on the other side as the opposite type. This fails to support the concept of type: the norm is for people to lie near the middle of the subscale.[6][7][8][33][40] Nevertheless, “the absence of bimodal score distributions does not necessarily prove that the ‘type’-based approach is incorrect.”[40]” Now read this last sentence again and imagine that it was about creationism: “the absence of evidence for the hand of God does not necessarily prove that the ‘intelligent design’ approach is incorrect.” Hmm.

  5. says

    INTJ here per the Meyers-Briggs – I’ve taken several ‘official’ ones (worked for a psych hospital and tested their aptitude testing system a few times as well as other tests for potential employees) and unofficial and always come up INTJ. People that know me always say ‘You’re not an introvert!’ but I have to remind them that it’s also how you recharge, I need to be off by myself to recharge and crowds drain me.As far as the validity? No idea, I’m always skeptic of things so I only can validate what applies to me but can’t say if the test as a whole is credible.

  6. Kris says

    To sum up for the good Professor: There are standards for calling something a test, or scale, or measure (and many other things that a non stats-wonk would consider, “the same thing”). Add to this factoid that the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator is so farcical that it is officially prohibited from calling itself a, “Test” or, “Scale” or, “Measure” etc. and one is left with a good idea of how much weight to give the MBTI. If I want to know more about myself I find a nice quiet spot, open a bottle of Raison D’Etre, and THINK: am I happy, do I have a goal to aim for, am I treating the people I care about well, am I avoiding doing harm to the people I don’t really care about, and how many stupid things are renting space in my head? Oh wait! Eureka, the validity of MBTI, that’s something I can throw over the side. :-)

  7. Bob says

    I’ve taken the M-B test, the official paper based one, 3 times over the last 15 years. It always indicates that I am INFP, and not just marginaly. I’m not sure how accurate it is, except for the I part, but it does seem to be consistent.

  8. Palaverer says

    I love the MBTI. I don’t see any way for it to really be scientifically accurate, because the assessment is based on preferences. As in, do you prefer your right hand or your left hand? You use both, to some degree. Most people have a natural preference for one over the other. Sometimes it’s a strong preference. Sometimes they’re ambidextrous. This is true of each of the four MBTI categories, so there’s no way to accurately quantify a person by labeling them based on their preference.That said, you can still come close. I’ve been using the types for years to better understand people and their motivations. I think it’s usefulness comes in allowing you to recognize that the ways people behave aren’t necessarily wrong or bad because they’re different from how you naturally behave. For example, I am a strong introvert and it boggles my mind how people can talk to strangers endlessly about anything and everything. While I find this bothersome, I can recognize that such people are being motivated by different internal impulses. I can also recognize that my desire for quiet and solitude, while less popular, is simply a personality difference, not a disorder. It’s a way of taking common personality aspects and distilling them into basic parts. Of course that’s not going to be 100% accurate. But there’s are huge differences between persons who fall on one end of the scale vs. the other, and understanding your own modus operandi in terms of things like decision making and information gathering is a useful bit of self information./INFJ

  9. Azkyroth says

    I find that the in-depth description of the type I test as (strongly INT, leaning J) matches my personality strongly and others do not; I’ve found that this is true of the people around me except where there are specific socialization factors notable that would logically be expected to affect the expression of certain traits. My experience doesn’t support the “Forer Effect” charge. At the same time, that’s anecdotal evidence. I think there’s a lot of merit in the dimensions of personality they’re looking at (I seem to recall reading that I-E, N-S, T-F, and P-J correlate reasonably well with Extroversion, Openness, Agreeability and Conscientiousness respectively, negatively in some cases), but the dichotomous approach seems too narrow. Replacing the binary letter-denoted “types” with numbers might be better (I, for instance, would be about a 10-8-9-6).

  10. Jeffery D. Kooistra says

    My background is both psych and physics, IQ up in the 99.9 range, and my result in INTP. I was astonished at how accurately it reflected my personality, but as with anything, your mileage may vary. It nailed me accurately on traits both good and bad. Those points where I thought it wasn’t quite right correlated with the dimensions where my score was closest to the axis. For instance, I am introverted, but not strongly so.I echo the sentiments in Palaverer’ final paragraph and tell friends who have never taken it that they ought to — they may find the results illuminating and useful.

  11. Catharine Deloriea says

    An interesting trend I’ve noticed: there are a number of MBTI sites on the web, where “like minded” individuals can share observations and discuss their type, and the vast majority of them seem to be INTJ sites. Also interesting: I have done this “research” and happen to register as an INTJ. I wonder why a disproportionate percentage of your responders here have tested as INTJ?In any case, I’ve managed to gain real insight into how other people tick by learning their Myers-Briggs type and reading the online descriptions. Usually I’m blind to the underlying motivations of others because I don’t relate.

  12. Psych Prof says

    Seriously people, many of the arguments presented here boil down to “it feels right to me, therefore it must be an accurate theory of the world.” If you don’t buy this for religion, why buy it for a personality measure?

  13. says

    Im a psychologist, HR professional, and have taken the MBTI a few times myself, like a variety of similar instruments. It’s certainly not a very scientific thing, its underlying theory is completely bogus and debunked ten times over. However…I would never suggest to use the MBTI or something similar to aid a decision. Especially, personality tests and self-description questionnaires should not be used in recruitment, selection, or assessment centres. At the most, include a self-description questionnaire of some kind in an assessment centre, but not as part of the “official” assessment, and only to mirror the observers’ view with a systemised self-description of a candidate. Those are not “scientific tests” that tell you more than the people would tell you about them if you asked them the right questions.As an aid in learning and development, self-description questionnaires can be helpful, as well as a tool in leadership trainings, with the appropriate caveats given. Tools like the MBTI can help people to get a better picture of their own personality *as described by themselves*. This is all they do. Having your personality distilled down to a four-letter acronym and a more or less fitting description can help as a starting point to explore what you really value or not. As with regards to leadership training: We all put people in mental drawers all the time. It’s natural. A first step to reflect on this can be to use any theory / model that simplifies the people around us by limiting the number of drawers we use. Teach leaders the MBTI. Or even star signs (though 12 categories is a bit hard). But make it clear that this is only a starting point, a clutch for them to use when starting to think about other people and what they may value, where they are similar, and where they are different. Within a few weeks they will discover that they start to tweak “the system” and build their own categories.The most important thing to remember is that the result of a test like the MBTI is just a crude description of yourself given by you. It’s not “reality”. It’s not “you”. But if you take different of those tests and reflect on them, you may start to discover some common threads.

  14. Another INTJ says

    “I wonder why a disproportionate percentage of your responders here have tested as INTJ?”I wonder that too. Isn’t INTJ supposed to be the rarest type?

  15. says

    I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs twice resulting in an ESTP and ESFP.When I’ve done sexuality education curriculum training workshops, I’ll mention that’s a good idea to share Myers-Briggs info with your workshop co-facilitator.Myers-Briggs results aren’t one’s destiny and the letters one gets do not lay out a pre-ordained future.But it may indicate one’s “default” tendencies where one goes when tired and frazzled. And that’s a good bit of self-knowledge to have when leading workshops as a group facilitator.

  16. Palaverer says

    Who said it was an accurate theory of the world? There’s a HUGE difference between allowing a fantasy of the supernatural to dictate your behavior and noticing that people’s behavior tends to follow certain patterns.

  17. Palaverer says

    It’s not surprising to find a disproportionate number of INTJs on a skeptic blog, given that INTJs are more likely to be sketpics.

  18. says

    I’ve been INTP every single time I’ve taken it over the last ten years. I’m part of a relatively big Discordian forum where we had a thread about the Myers-Briggs test. Almost every single person was INTP or INTJ. It was kinda eerie but that probably just means that certain personalities are more likely to be attracted to Discordianism.

  19. LS says

    Test you posted put me at INTJ as well, but based on that test I’m not too impressed with the system. I’m I’m “1% Thinking,” then I sure as hell chose the wrong major when I chose Philosophy.

  20. says

    HATE those tests. I started taking the online one in the OP, and I want to smack the person who wrote it. I’m so much not an “either/or” person that they always make me a bit peeved. And some of my answers are probably “wrong” in that they point the wrong way for my personality. For instance, I tend to avoid the center of a room which I think they want to mean that I avoid being the center of attention. I think you stand out more when you’re not in the center, because you can always turn that edge into the “front” of the room. It is why I like to sit in the back of my classes. I’d rather everyone turn and look me in the face than to have half of the class staring at the back of my head. :)The emotion/thinking one is crap too, at least on that test. I always take emotions into account when I do my thinking, as opposed to the false dichotomy proposed by the types. I guess they all suffer that flaw to a degree. ENFJ, if anybody cares.

  21. JRQ says

    Ditto what Psych Prof says above . The “Big Five” is a much better substantiated as a model of personality in terms of capturing the more stable regularities in how people tend differ from one another. The MBTI originated from Jung’s theory, which was largely non-empirical, whereas the Big Five originated from examining statistical patterns in actual data.. My understanding is that, if you consider I-E scores as magnitudes rather than types, this part is a decent approximation to Big Five Extraversion, but the others are more problematic. They do correlate with the big five somewhat because the same characteristics that cause a person to respond a certain way on the MBTI also cause you to respond a certain way on the Big Five. But the MBTI types do not really get at the most regular and enduring patterns of co-occurrence among personality characteristics people express. MBTI also doesn’t assess anything like neurotocism (or emotional stability) which is the second-most regular and predictive of the Big Five behind extraversion.

  22. says

    I’m INTP, apparently. But I’ve always thought that “the nihilistic Atheist asshole” summed up my personality more perfectly than any online quiz ever could.

  23. says

    My main problem with tests like this is that they’re self-assessed, and quite generalised. A few people have mentioned that they’re generalised enough that they’re quite similar to horoscopes, and I agree. FWIW, I usually get INTJ, but depending on the mood, I can get INTP as well. This probably has a lot to do with the weaknesses of self-assessment.

  24. says

    I come out consistently as an INTJ too, but I trust the Big 5 tests much more. A recent (unofficial) one I took rated me as very open, middle-of-the-road on conscientiousness and agreeableness, and relatively low on extraversion and neuroticism.

  25. Reflections Of Memory says

    I actually took that test using the same page you linked to awhile ago. Glad to know that it is a semi-good page. My results are always INTJ, but I fear that I may just be answering the questions based on how I see myself, rather than how I act. Regardless, I do not think the test is very accurate.

  26. says

    yes.. what Palaverer says… I was introduced to MBTI by a friend during the first semester of grad school–I also test out as an INTJ and have consistently–and I’ve found it to be a useful tool in many ways.However, like any mentally constructed tool, it has its limitations. It will not always tell you exactly what people are going to do nor will all members of one “group” really be super different than other groups–especially if each particular person’s preferences in the variously constructed categories are not particularly strong.So what, though! Take what is useful out of it and use it and discard the rest. As Palaverer says, it can help you realize that people think differently and that they may approach things differently than you but still be successful. Now.. the biggest thing that I find interesting is how really hardcore supporters and opponents seem to get really tied up in the details of the whole system and try to push it too far. Opponents like to poke holes in many of the “underlying theories” (like function break down etc) and then claim that the whole system is bunk like astrology. Overzealous supporters, on the other hand, like to defend all aspects of the system beyond what evidence supports.But you don’t need to go to the extremes with it all the time.. There are definitely some interesting parts to it that my long-term (10 year) anecdotal experience has backed up. For example–if I gathered 100 INTJ’s into a room and wanted to guess how 90+% of them would react to watching a darkly comical movie–I bet I’d get some good data supporting my conclusion that they would generally dig it.If I took all of the horoscopes that these 100 INTJ’s were given from their local newspapers that day and went to see how accurate they were-I bet they’d be a lot less accurate–by orders of magnitude.So.. take the system for what it’s worth. I found it quite helpful in grokking how other people approach problems and also useful in trying to find better ways to communicate to people–and that’s what it seems useful for.Using it too much, however–such as making it a disqualifier for job types–that’s just stupid.. (but then again, I don’t know of any other personality type test that would be better in such instances… not that I would support any such kind of test anyway…

  27. says

    Have you met her in person? Otherwise–judging online personalities–especially introverts–and judging them on any sort of idea of how introverted/extraverted they are can be very ambiguous.. I also have known lots of INTJ’s that can slip into ENTJ mode when they are surrounded by even bigger I’s than them… It’s sort of the “well, fuck it. Since no one else is gonna take charge, I guess I will…” type of thing..

  28. says

    Just a quick point–Note–the absence of the hand of God DOES NOT prove that the intelligent design approach is incorrect.All it does is fail to give it any supporting evidence–whereas evolutionary theory has supporting evidence (tons of it) so it comes out as the BETTER theory..but it doesn’t DISPROVE intelligent design… (Note, I don’t believe in intelligent design, creationism–and do believe in evolutionary theory–but you might not want to use the example at the end for your argumentation because it doesn’t do what you want it to do…)I’ll go take the BIG 5 test to see how that shakes out–but I have found MBTI to be useful in a rough and ready way. I tend to find any belief that you can simply classify people’s personalities down to some sort of constructed catories to be rather “missing the point” if you try to apply it too far beyond mere description… People are more than just personalities–they are accumulations of experience, they are memories, they are a set of values that are largely determined by the arbitrary cultural beliefs of their parents… All of these things are at least as important to what makes up a person and how they will interact with others… Anyway–I’ll go look into the Big 5 and see what I can see..

  29. says

    quick follow up–just went and took the Big 5 test (at least an online one)–and it told me I was slightly closed to experiences, was very conscientious, was more introverted than extraverted, was more disagreeable than agreeable, and that I was entirely not neurotic…Okay–that all sounds about right–but so what? What does it do for me? If I discover that someone else is less conscientious and more neurotic–how does that help me communicate with them better? I’ll have to do a bit more poking–but I’m not sure I see why the Big 5 is particularly more useful to people. I’m willing to bet that it is more accurate in its data set.. but I’m not sure this would help me predict behavior all that well.. I can say–that I can predict what certain types in the INTJ system will do quite well.. and after watching people and speaking with them–I can usually guess (with about 90% accuracy) what they will test out as on the MBTI system.. Perhaps I should start collecting data on this.. :)

  30. says

    INTJ is the result I always receive and this time was no exception. I think it describes me fairly well, but the M-B seems far too generalized to put much stock in. Astrology is where the true answers lie. ;)

  31. dartigen says

    I got INTP this time, but the last time I took a similar test it was split between INFJ and INTP. That was almost a year ago though.I guess that proves I have a very inconsistent personality.M-B to me seems to be a general overview. It’s not really designed to get into the specific nuances of every person – just to give a general idea of what they may be like.

  32. says

    According to what she wrote in her blog, she is outgoing and seems to become energized while interacting with other people, which makes the probability of introversion lower.But on the other hand, the fact that she like writing increases the probability of introversion.From this point, I can conclude that she is an extrovert of an unclear preference.I’m also guessing she probably scores quite high in her F scale compared to other T’s.My suspicion is that she is actually and ENFP, who like to be around NT’s.

  33. Chris K of Florida says

    INTJ, but a lot of the questions were rather… simple to predict which would give a preferred outcome, so it is likely that even if there is some merit to the test, one’s answers can be easily tailored to portray oneself as one would wish to be classified, and it seems reasonable that many of the readers of this blog would wish to fall under that classification.

  34. Serenegoose says

    I’ve done that test a few times, and I’m a fairly steady INFP. I’ve never treated it as anything more than an amusement though – like ‘what star wars character are you?’ or similar. The descriptions are always vague and complimentary, it seems custom-designed to help you agree with them. However, that being said, INFP fits me well :P

  35. says

    Again–have you met her in person?Online personalities are constructed and very, very different than how people often act in person. For example, on various INTJ lists I’ve been on, you find tons of really expressive INTJ’s who are expressive exactly because it is an online medium (they are not face to face with people) and they feel secure airing their beliefs. Extraverts, on the other hand, have an online presence that is quite miniscule compared to their actual numbers in the population–mainly because they actually like talking to REAL PEOPLE rather than a screen.Thus, the data you are basing this off of still seems quite suspect. In addition–where does the “F” come from? The kinds of statements that F’s make seem quite different than what Jen makes or writes here. She always seems to be answering a “does this make sense” question rather than a “how does this make me feel” question. The fact that she does this with passion has little to do with any sort of “F” ideal, but instead just shows that she is an energetic and passionate person–something that speaks to her drive rather than her judging function preference.In the end, I also think that trying to judge a person’s type in this sort of manner–i.e. by looking at a virtual constructed representation of themselves–is not fruitful at all. Too often people do this from afar and it doesn’t have anything other than their own perceptual biases to really ground it. (It can also and I’ve seen it often used to say “well, you’re not really an XXXX like me!” ) Unless you meet Jen–trusting her about her type and those who’ve actually talked with her a bunch seems like the more reliable thing to do..

  36. Zero says

    I took a longer version of the Myers-Briggs a few years ago, and I registered as INTJ there. I just took the one to which Jen linked at the end of the article and, to my surprise, I again registered as INTJ.I’ve heard many people in the skeptical/atheist movement talk about the INTJ as “the Skeptical type” or “the Atheist type”, and it seems to be accurate (though this is anecdotal evidence–use with caution!).

  37. says

    I’m actually much more introverted than I may seem on my blog. trictsmr summed up my personality perfectly: “I also have known lots of INTJ’s that can slip into ENTJ mode when they are surrounded by even bigger I’s than them… It’s sort of the “well, fuck it. Since no one else is gonna take charge, I guess I will…” type of thing..”I need a high amount of alone time to be functional. Sometimes my friends have to really force me to be social.

  38. says

    To determine your degree of introversion/extroversion, I’ll need to know how your facial expression responds to alcohol.In Chapter 5 (p112-130) of “What the Face Reveals”, there is a research paper on this subject. It includes statistical data and analysis on people from three categories: introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts.If you want to find out which category you belong, get some alcoholic beverages, drink them and videotape the whole process. After doing that, we’ll see which one fits the best.

  39. Muffinmania583 says

    As someone who may or may not be in that Leadership class at Purdue, what the hell do you even do in it?

  40. says

    Well, I’ve heard that it’s changed a lot since Cordova became President. With Jischke, every week we would go to his house, sit around the fire place like we were visiting grandpa, and listen to a speaker for about an hour on various topics. We saw professors, coaches, CEOs. We also did a lot of diversity training stuff. Occasionally we also had dinner with various important people. The one I remember was a Nobel laureate – that was pretty neat.

  41. says

    It was alright. Some days were boring. Some days had the perk of free food. I did end up meeting two of my best friends in the class and making a lot of connections, which was probably the biggest benefit.

Leave a Reply