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mattbrowne's avatar

What is your opinion of personality tests such as Myers-Briggs or DISC?

Asked by mattbrowne (31638points) July 5th, 2011

Have you ever taken one?

If yes, what was your reaction when reading the results?

What type are you (according to the test)?

Are some tests better than others? I know that some are quite expensive. Are there any good free tests as well?

This article lists about 15 different ones:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personality_test#Examples_of_personality_tests

Opinions?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

53 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Meh, that’s my opinion. They’re not anything special or magic, I’ve taken them, forgot promptly what type I was and moved on because, just like horoscopes, you read into what you want to read into and these tests should not be taken seriously as any kind of a guide to anything actual life related.

laureth's avatar

They are tools. If they help you navigate your life better, by all means use them. If not, then it is clearly not the right tool for your job, and it’s silly to use a hammer as a fishing pole.

Coloma's avatar

I like the Jungian tests best.

I think they have value, not accounting for ‘normal’ changes as we mature and progress in our development as humans, but…the baseline remains the same.

I have tested numerous times as an ENTP ( extroverted/intuitive/thinking/perceiving ) and that fits with the Enneagram profiling as well, where I test as a 7 ( the enthusiast ) with an 8 wing ( the leader ). Basically I am a true Sanguine, bold, energetic, rather non-conformist, and definitely my weakness is gluttony, hedonistic traits. haha

I am very orally fixated, like to talk, eat, drink, sing, make merriment! :-D

I really like the Enneagram profiling.

wundayatta's avatar

My impression is that they are tools mainly used by employers to assess potential employees. Perhaps they are also used by individuals to come to understand themselves better, but I’m afraid they remind me of tarot cards. These are all systems of personality categorization, but I’m not sure why the categorization is useful, nor how it is useful. They are lead to stupid questions on a regular basis.

SavoirFaire's avatar

They are extremely vague, which suggests they rely heavily on the Forer effect, and there is no reliable research showing that one’s test results can be used to predict future behavior. They’re about as useful as fortune cookies.

Coloma's avatar

I dunno..I think they can be very helpful tools in learning the different ways people show up in their energies and communication styles.

My daughter is a chip off the old block and we blend really well, on the other hand I do not do well with many more passive personalities, the guessing games and vague, inarticulate communication style is a hard one for me being super articulate and a ‘mean what you say, say what you mean’ type.

There is value in many things, take what wroks for you and leave the rest. :-)

El_Cadejo's avatar

Ive taken a couple Myers Briggs test and they always found me to be INTJ. Of all the possibilities I read though I would have to say that one most clearly describes me.

ucme's avatar

At best, a harmless bit of fun.
At worst, a nerds wet dream.

Blackberry's avatar

They’re kinda like astrology to me.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Many years ago I had a poor manager who took a course on Myers Briggs (and probably got a commission for every employee who took the test.). It was supposed to help us understand where the other person was coming from, improve communication and help make a cohesive team.
It worked – we all thought the guy was an idiot for believing that nonsense.

Answer the question with the first answer that comes to your mind.
Would you rather rip the wings off a butterfly or have sex with a monkey?

Coloma's avatar

I’d rather have sex with a butterfly.

flutherother's avatar

My test was accurate in a very generalised way. I don’t take them too seriously.

nebule's avatar

For part of my psychology degree I had to study some of these tests in the module that I’ve just completed. We studied, Cattell’s 16PF, Goldberg’s Big Five, Costa McCrae’s Neo-Pi personality inventory and Eysenk’s type theory.

All these different tests and personality inventories are based on large amounts of data and in some cases decades of detailed and cross-cultural data. (Some personality factor theories are also pooled meta-analysis of previous theories and findings; e.g. Costa and McCrae’s) They are subject to rigorous testing, hypothesizing and retesting to establish the legitimacy – reliability and validity of their findings and theories so I don’t think that they should be dismissed at all. However, they can be criticised obviously as people can ‘cheat’ but these days tests are formulated to avoid this. This is also another reason why they are expensive or at least cost money in most cases because they are very costly produce and they have to be protected from people ‘practising’ at them along with ethical reasons (if freely available people could interpret findings incorrectly which could be potentially damaging to mental health in some cases). They are highly useful in occupational settings and are used for forensic investigations as well so I think there is a lot to be gleaned from them. Unfortunately to get a really good test you are looking at paying a decent amount of money for one.

Luckily I have a friend whose husband does this for a living and he offered to do one for me for free as a favour to try and sort my career out…or at least give me some insights into my personality in terms of my strengths and weaknesses (and on from them what I should focus on…)...the results were highly accurate and highly descriptive – I would say spot on!. The test I did was based on Cattell’s 16PF but also incorporated the OCEAN five and tests for honesty…I give give you some details if you want any further info. But they certainly shouldn’t be sniffed at….:-)

crisw's avatar

There’s a great Skeptoid episode on the Myers-Briggs. The upshot is that it’s not a very accurate or reproducible tool.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I think the ideas that, for example, one is more introverted than extroverted is a good one, and it can be useful to keep that in mind in relationships. However, I don’t care for the either/or black and white approach they take to understanding people, as many if not most people aren’t a strict introvert or extrovert (or judger or feeler, etc), and I think it falls into the same kind of science as astrology and tarot cards and whatnot. To be quite honest, I’m kind of horrified at the thought of an employer using it as a basis for hiring me, just as I’d be horrified if they asked me “What’s your sign” and then didn’t hire me because I’m a Gemini. If you want to get to know me, there’s a really great way to do that – talk to me. It’s so simple.

stardust's avatar

Like others have mentioned, I think these tests are useful tools to a point. They are indeed rather vague at times and I would not rely on any of these tests to provide the whole picture as such. Having said that, when I’ve taken them I’ve found them to be true to my dominant personality traits.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Personality test results are only valuable if they are:
1.) Answered honestly.
2.) Explained by a professional.
3.) There is some type of follow-up, such as being incorporated into a regular discussion or work environment.

The results should not be used as:
1.) A personal excuse for one’s own behavior.
2.) Stereotyping someone solely on the results.
3.) A reason to hire or not hire a candidate for a job.

I’ve taken DiSC, Myers-Briggs, FIRO-B, HBDI and Gallup’s Strengths-Finder assessments. All were valuable in their own way because they were conducted and explained by someone certified to discuss the results.

As for your questions, the reaction when reading the results was a bit of surprise. What I later learned is that the strongest characteristics are such an innate part of me that it just seems natural. It wasn’t until the results were explained and I started to notice it in normal behavior that it started to make sense.

If you want to know my results for any of these tests, feel free to send a PM.

My personal favorite is the Strengths-Finder assessment. It is based on over 50 years of study by The Gallup Organization. They came up with 34 Strengths that all people have to some degree and ranks them. The results only give the Top Five Strengths, as their research has found that we should find ways to more of what strengthens us rather than doing tasks that we may have a talent for but weakens us after completion. One can pay for the full list, but it is quite expensive.

As for cost, I agree with @nebule. From my experience, the free ones are virtually worthless, whether the results are valid or not. It takes having them explained by someone schooled in the results in order for them to be valuable. And that takes money.

Coloma's avatar

I agree with both @Nebule & @Pied_Pfeffer

Honesty is key for accurate results.

My daughter and her BF and I got into a debate about these tests recently, more specifically my interest in the Enneagram. She is against it in the workplace, her BF and I are for it.

NOT as a bias in hiring but as a tool to facilitate better understanding, communication, between individuals and to find the best fit for each employee.

I certainly would consider this as hiring insight but, I am self employed, classic ENTP entrepreneur. Don’t fence me in! LOL

Oh, for the record, I was tested by a therapist, I was seeing I am assumoing for her own insight, after my divorce 8.5 years ago and the results were the same as the few online tests I have taken, so, in my case I am one of those ‘spot on’ amazingly accurate descriptions. :-)

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Coloma It’s not surprising that the professional and amateur tests get you the same results. Almost all of the research (and money) that has been put into personality testing has gone to achieving test-retest and cross-test reliability. The problem is that these measures do not prove anything about the validity of test results or their ability to predict future behavior. Indeed, there is no reliable research supporting the thesis that a person’s actions and MBTI result are in any way correlated.

I plan on replicating this experiment but modified for MBTI. I expect my results to be no different.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@SavoirFaire No one can predict what actions we will take in the future…not even ourselves. The point of these tests are to become more aware of how we are essentially hard-wired to think. It doesn’t mean that we cannot learn new information and habits, but that we learn to adapt. It seems to be a fairly common desire to be viewed in a positive light. The truth of one’s personality usually comes out in the long run.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Psychological and sociological experiments predict future behavior all the time. It is a common criticism of personality testing that it cannot meet the same standards that other social sciences meet on a daily basis.

Coloma's avatar

@SavoirFaire

Of course, I am not saying these tests are infallible, however, one of the things I like about the Enneagram is that it shows ones maximum health traits, average levels and unhealthy.

It is a pretty good barometer, IMO, for one who types out in a particular style to have a heightened awareness of their overall mental/emotional health.

Obviously if one is not aware they won;t know if they are veering too far from the optimum on the bell shaped curve. lol

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

I didn’t put much stock into it until fellow Flutherite Fiddle Playing Creole Bastard presented the Myers-Briggs Test for us to try out here. I tried it myself and found the results to be uncannily accurate about myself. Interestingly and amusingly, I am almost the opposite of FPCB. Lol.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Coloma It’s not just that they aren’t infallible, it’s that there is no evidence they are accurate in the first place. You talk about what the Enneagram “shows,” but what you should say is what it purports to show. Why trust it?

You might say, “because I took a test and the results described me.” But this is how the Forer effect works. I just filled out a test at random (didn’t look at the choices, just clicked buttons), and my result seems to fit me perfectly. Then I took the test “for real” and got a three-way split result.

Two of the types seemed dead wrong, but the third seemed like it could be pretty accurate. Do I therefore pick the third, or might the first two reveal something about me I don’t want to admit? And what of the fact that when I read through the remaining five, I found three more that suited me? Was the test wrong or am I wrong? How can we tell?

Coloma's avatar

@SavoirFaire

I’m not looking to debate, just saying, that in my case I have found there to be a lot of accuracy, good, bad and virtually no indifferent. haha

I can recognize the periods I have been at peak functioning and relate to the lesser levels as well, amazingly right on for me. What can I say?

Anything that increases self awareness is a good thing, these tests are just one of many tools on the path to self knowledge.

mattbrowne's avatar

Thanks for your answers! I agree with @Pied_Pfeffer.

@crisw – Yet ‘not very accurate’ still means a lot better than horoscopes. The tests use at least some scientific approaches whereas astrology does not.

I’ve taken the DISC assessment a couple of years ago. It basically confirmed what I already knew about myself.

I’ve also taken Seligman’s character strength and virtues questionnaire available in his books and at www.authentichappiness.org and I found this to be very useful. The science behind it seems pretty solid.

wundayatta's avatar

How does knowing the results of these tests help you know yourself any better? Everyone seems to be saying that the tests confirm things they already know. But if you already know it, then why do you need the test? And if the test shows something you don’t know, are you going to believe that the test knows you better than you know yourself?

Are these results correlated with behavior on the job? Are they correlated with any objective measures of human behavior. If not, then again, what’s the point? Let’s not even consider making behavioral predictions based on these results.

It’s hard for me to imagine that this stuff is useful for anything practical. It’s more like fodder for cocktail party chat.

“I’m a ZXYP.”

“Oh, do you like Louis Armstrong?.”

“Not really. I’m into Madonna. What are you?”

“I’m “USNP.”

“Hey! Look at that. We both have Ps in the last position.”

“So we do.”

“Wanna go get a cup of coffee?”

“I’m sorry. My Momma said I should never go out with another P.”

Coloma's avatar

@wundayatta

Sure, a lot it it confirms what one might already know about themselves, but, as I said, for the clueless it can be an insightful tool.

And for the not so clueless a good reminder of being aware for digressive moments. lol

I’m also a fan of birth order, so, while being a natural extrovert I also think it possible that a lot of how I show up is based on the traits of a lot of only children. Creative, independent, leadership and assertive qualities.

There is no ‘one size fits all’, but there are tendencies based on the nature vs. nurture dichotomy.

Hey, again, there are many paths to self awareness, take what resonates and toss the rest. :-)

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Coloma But it only helps if the test accurately discerns relevant parts of one’s personality. There is no evidence that they actually do so. For all we know, it’s entirely a product of the Forer effect.

mattbrowne's avatar

@wundayatta – I see it as a valuable confirmation. I didn’t know in advance that the test would confirm what I already thought.

Coloma's avatar

@SavoirFaire

Well, the relevant parts would be the parts that resonate with what one already knows about themselves or others have observed.

As I said, the Enneagram has proven very helpful and insightful to ME, especially the guidelines for optimum vs. pathological manifestations. I can definitely see and relate to the times I am showing up in optimum health and the times I have been in the average zone and / or dipping towards pathology. haha

As @mattbrowne mentions, while there were certain aspects that resonated right off the bat, I too, did not know the tests would confirm what I already knew, along with other insights to ponder.

Hey, IMO there is nothing to debate, if one finds something useful that they can apply in an insightful manner to their personal experience, no harm, no foul.

I evaluate the truisms as they apply to me, I don’t care about data, I only care about my experience, subjective as it may be. Bottom line, who cares, these tests are, at worst, subjective, and at best, another window into ones psyche. It’s all in good fun, not everything needs to be analyzed into the ground.

I think this is a classic example of how we can BOTH be ‘right’, I’m happy to leave it at that.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Coloma I analyze things into the ground for a living, and I like knowing what actual use something being sold to me is. If a result for ENTJ and ISFP both “confirm” things I already believed, the test really does look quite useless to me. And since that has been precisely my experience, I cannot take it seriously. Thus I do not agree that these tests are paths to self-awareness at all. More like self-deception. If the potential for self-deception is not a concern from your subjective point of view, so be it; but it is a concern for me.

Coloma's avatar

@SavoirFaire

Then, again, our experiences differ, still no ‘right or wrong’, unless you insist on being right, which it seems you do. So fine, you’re right, my experience is delusional and deceptive. Okay…my egos in check enough to allow you your need to be right. :-)

Dutchess_III's avatar

can you plug “personality test” into the search field??!

Those tests always tell me I’m nuts so I don’t like them.

I agree with @Coloma.

Coloma's avatar

@Dutchess_III

Good nuts unite! :-)

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Coloma The existence of different experiences does not prove that there is no right or wrong. It’s not about being right or wrong, however. I’m happy to be shown actual evidence in favor of the tests. The problem is that I have no evidence in favor of the tests and some evidence against them. As such, it makes no sense for me to take them seriously.

Coloma's avatar

@SavoirFaire

You don’t have to. I was simply sharing my thoughts, perceptions.
There’s no evidence that reading poetry is of value either, but, I’d say there is immense value in beautiful words. Each to his own. ;-)

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Coloma There is plenty of evidence that reading poetry is of value. Studies have been done about its effect on literacy and comprehension skills. All of the studies on MBTI, however, have failed to find anything in favor of the tests. That said, I am not trying to stop you from enjoying personality tests. I just believe in knowing the difference between something that gives reliable information and something that is merely amusing.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Poetry has value to some and not to others. That’s the way it is with everything.

Coloma's avatar

@Dutchess lll

Exactly.

@SavoirFaire

Why not a little of both? Amusing with some truth, that’s how I see you as well. haha
Okay…lets just shake on it and have a cocktail, whatta’ya say? ;-)

Dutchess_III's avatar

Damn. I read too fast. I thought you said ”....lets….have a crocodile,..” I was gonna flag @SavoirFaire off, no matter whose side I’m on!

I’m on. Natty lite will do. Crocodile is too strong for me.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Coloma You know I lurve you, and this isn’t a huge deal to me. I think I’m coming off more argumentative than I mean to. Occupational hazard, I suppose. Cheers!

Dutchess_III's avatar

yay! Now, we have a wine bar to wrap up…

wundayatta's avatar

Interesting issue about whether if something is valuable to you but there is no evidence to support it being helpful, then what is its value? I’m gonna ask it.

mattbrowne's avatar

@wundayatta – There is hard evidence offered by positive psychologists like Martin Seligman. See for example

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Values_in_Action_Inventory_of_Strengths_(VIA-IS)#Validity_and_reliability

SavoirFaire's avatar

@mattbrowne But that is not evidence for any of the tests we’ve been discussing—nor for any of the tests that are on your initial list. Moreover, your link states that the evidence presented by Peterson and Seligman is rather thin and incomplete so far and that their findings have yet to be reproduced by other researchers.

mattbrowne's avatar

@SavoirFaire – The VIA-IS test helps determine what Seligmann calls the 24 character strengths and virtues

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Character_Strengths_and_Virtues_(book)#List_from_the_book

In his 2011 book called Flourish which I read recently he mentions studies determining a significant increase in subjective well-being. Utilizing character strengths especially the less developed one (because of a lack of awareness) are one of several causes for this increase. Others relate to positive emotions, relationships, meaning and accomplishment. Positive psychology interventions such as the three blessings exercise and gratitude letter or visit are proved to cause an increase in subjective well-being as well. There are even brain scans observing the effect.

A lot of advice from the positive thinking and self esteem movement has no lasting effect according to Seligman.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@mattbrowne Okay, but that doesn’t address my point at all. The discussion has been about Meyers-Briggs, so VIA-IS is irrelevant. And @wundayatta‘s question was independent of whether or not there is evidence for any particular test or not. As such, I’m not really sure what you’re trying to get at—especially if Seligman’s own research suggests no lasting effect.

Coloma's avatar

I submit my personality evaluation of @mattbrowne , @SavoirFaire and @Coloma

3 fer sure assertive type A+, low in neuroticism and high in tenacity.

And the wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round…... LOL

SavoirFaire's avatar

Flattery will get you everywhere, @Coloma.

mattbrowne's avatar

@SavoirFaire – You’re right. Personally I know most about Seligman’s approach, but most people are more familiar with Myers-Briggs, DISC, Big Five etc. Therefore I mentioned them. I once took DISC, but am not familar how it works and I think most of it is a company secret. So I really don’t know whether there is hard evidence about the accuracy of Myers-Briggs and DISC and the potential value results can generate. Therefore I was asking about opinions.

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