Are personality tests personal enough?

by Tanvi Rao (’22) | October 11, 2021

Art by Caitlin Chan (’22)

Personalities, while invisible, are a large part of our identity. Whether an individual identifies as an introvert or an extrovert, a thinker or a feeler, or even a Ravenclaw or Slytherin, the traits they carry are unique. This collection of traits paves the way for further exploration of one’s personality through interactive questionnaires, like the Big Five Personality test, the Enneagram test, and, of course, Buzzfeed quizzes. (Who doesn’t want to know what kind of soup they are?) My personal favorite, however, is the MBTI test, or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

The MBTI is a personality questionnaire that consists of over 90 statements for which test-takers indicate their preferences for specific circumstances. For example, the test may read “you are a risk taker,” and an individual has to respond with “disagree” or “agree.” Once completed, the questionnaire will provide a four letter sequence; this is the test-taker’s “assigned” personality type. Each letter corresponds to a category that has two potential options. The first letter represents the introverted (I) or extroverted (E) cognitive functions of the test taker. The next letter of the sequence reveals how someone addresses new information. A person who is identified as a sensor (S) may find oneself solely using the five senses to process the world around them, while a person who is an intuitive (N) may look for the underlying meaning behind something. Then, there is the thinker (T) and feeler (F), the traits that play into decision making. At the end of the chain, there is the category of the judging (J) and perceiving types (P), which indicates the structure someone may follow to live their life—neat or flexible.

As an INFJ myself, I display introverted, intuitive, feeling, and judging traits. Known as the “advocate” type, INFJs are known to focus on the greater good. Personally, I believe in the plausibility of the MBTI because it offers some insight on a person’s character based upon a substantial amount of information gathered. This test can even be found on MaiaLearning, as it can offer a helping hand to students who are looking into college or career pathways.

There are some limitations to the MBTI test, of course. It is hard to argue that four simple characters can accurately define the entire personality of a person—and I have to admit, it probably does not. When asked about the accuracy of the MBTI, Melissa Paz-Flores (’22), an ENFJ, responded, “I do think my personality type is quite accurate but it can be a bit annoying to be put into ‘boxes’ and stereotyped.”

Caitlin Chan (’22), a fellow INFJ, added, “Overall, the test is pretty good, but I do think it could improve on specificity. No two people are the same and those who have the same MBTI results may have quite different characters in real life.”

Personality inventories like the MBTI offer new depths of understanding into one’s identity, however, they should not be taken too seriously. As Paz-Flores and Chan mentioned, every person is unique and different, therefore making it practically impossible to categorize them with only 16 labels. These tests are meant to be taken and enjoyed, but the truth is, an individual’s personality stretches far beyond a few letters. 

Categories: Opinions

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