Myers-Briggs Is not Absolute

When creating a character, using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test is a useful tool.  However, after my previous post, I got to thinking, thanks to a comment, that the MBTI personality test does not dictate absolutely how someone behaves. It’s more of a general guideline.

For example, when I did my test, I found I was an INTJ.  But I also mentioned in the post that my ratings for each aspect were between 25 and 75%.  My strongest was the T (thinking), as I am rather logical and analytical in my decision-making.  I rarely let emotion decide for me, but sometimes I do, usually related to food.  If it has bacon, my emotional side takes over and tells my usually dominant rational side to shut up and eat.  Bacon has incredible powers.  But back to the main topic, although I do love bacon.  My weakest category was the N (intuitive).  This doesn’t mean that my intuitive side is weak, it’s just that it’s more balanced with the S (sensing) trait.  What this means is that while I am good at planning, seeing the big picture, and able to predict outcomes, I am also getting some influence from the sensing side, which means I do see the details and focus on the present.  I get the best of both worlds in that case.

When the percentages are below, it’s far less certain about what behaviours you or your characters will do.  If it’s closer to 100%, they are strongly following that aspect, but anything under, and especially closer to 0%, it’s highly unlikely that they will firmly be the type you determined them to be.

So what I’m saying is that even if you have figured out your character’s personality type, you don’t have to rely on it to dictate your character’s behaviour.  You can fudge it a bit.  Or a lot.  It’s up to you.  Just don’t rely on the indicators, because humans are flexible.  I may seem unflappable, but tempt me with bacon (or chocolate ice cream), and I will let go of my 75% thinking brain and let that 25% feeling brain take over.

15 thoughts on “Myers-Briggs Is not Absolute”

  1. So true. In my classroom I call myself a piler. Everything was piled and I knew which pile to find things. No else did, of course. I was fairly unorganized in class. However, my closet and dresser were immaculate… borderline OCD. I’m an introvert by nature but around the right group of people I could be an extrovert.

    1. Exactly. I tend to be very outgoing at work, rather than quiet. I’m still an introvert, considering the constant talking can drain me. Thankfully, I don’t have to deal with large groups.

  2. I don’t place any worth by Myers Briggs tests. Every time I have done one I find the options never exactly describe me. The quality of data thus generated is low and I remain surprised at the extent to which the test is upheld as a valid measure.

  3. Actually, I don’t think 100% N would even make sense. How would someone “see how everything connects” if they don’t notice a reasonable number of the details?
    (Unless that the classification for people who are always seeing patterns that aren’t actually there.)

    1. I think of it in terms of war. Someone who is a full S is very good at fighting. They see what’s happening now and short term, so they’re really good at hand-to-hand combat, shooting guns, and are aware of what’s going on around them at that moment. They are in the moment. On the other hand, someone who is a full N would be the strategists. They look in the long term, make the plans, and they know how everything connects. They understand how the little things connect.

      Another one may be how an S person would understand the fine details of how each component of a car engine works. They make them. They’ve got the skills to make the parts fit together perfectly. The N person is the engineer or designer. They understand how everything works together. They see the big picture.

      But I agree, a full N or a full S would be unusual. Thankfully, I’m pretty balanced in that aspect.

  4. I think all personality tests, from Myers-Briggs to horoscopes, are really scattershot just because they try to pigeonhole 7 billion people into a vastly-reduced number of categories. If you’re not absolutely convinced you’re a certain type, you can generally look at many of the other types and see your personality traits in them. Human personality is also quite mutable over time and through various influences, so even if you test into a certain type now, you might not score the same way after the next significant life-event. And even beyond that, words are hazy things to define yourself by! Culturally-created, prone to definition-drift, and generally inaccurate for the description of emotions and methods of thinking.

    But still, tests are fun.

    1. Tests are definitely fun. But I wouldn’t equate a test with a horoscope, as horoscopes are just completely made up without even looking at a person’s true personality…or anything in reality. At least the tests are designed to analyse actual data, so they are scientific in a way. But they’re dealing with the mind, which is a very changeable thing. That’s what makes them unreliable. And what you said is quite true. It can change over time.

      1. The thing about horoscopes is that by presenting their traits as something anyone of that birth-group should have, they influence on some level the actual traits of anyone who believes in them — and perhaps to a lesser degree anyone who is aware of them. So they are at the non-scientific end of the spectrum, yes, but purely being sorted into a group — however arbitrary the traits of the group may be — has an effect on the people in it.

        By now, I’ve taken so many tests that I know how most of the questions are weighted, so I find it difficult to discern what my actual preference is, versus what group I want to see myself sorted into. This makes me question my Myers-Briggs score — am I actually an INTJ, or do I just aim for it each time because it was once labeled the Mastermind type and I don’t want to consider myself anything else? So a certain amount of self-delusion goes into all of this.

        1. Oh, it’s easy to alter your results. If you understand what the results may be, you can get what you want by answering dishonestly.

          I think horoscopes, and I have seen books on both Chinese zodiac and western zodiac, as well as fortune telling, and the trick with them is that they are so general, yet worded in a way that looks specific, that they apply to anyone. Anyone reading any fortune or horoscope will say “yeah, that’s me.”

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