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I spent 20 minutes earlier this week filling out an online MBTI, and today I went to Career Services on campus to review it with their resident expert, Liz K. (Free for staff; and mah boss has told me it's job-related and I shouldn't count it as personal time. ...But wait till she hears I'm going back.)

It was an entertaining hour, and I took a few notes on things that tickled me. To be read with various grains of salt.

* One area the Myers-Briggs has no predictive power is in the workplace. People with widely different types can both be happy in the same positions.
* However, it is useful for identifying preferences that people might not realize, based on cultural assumptions against those preferences- and, to some extent, strengths and weaknesses for personal interactions.

* ESTJ is what employers almost universally want from their front-line staff. Though many of these companies seem to brand themselves as looking for ENFP. And Introverts get no respect in the workplace. (Which is why we get to impersonate the E/S/T/J types at the office).
* N's are stereotyped as creative, but S's are creative as well- one such area is toward efficiency, parsimony.
* S's prefer to work a project from bottom-up and use language for accuracy; N's prefer to design from top-down and use language to play.
* N's might buy a fast car as a status symbol; S's might buy the car because they like the sensation of driving fast.

* NT's might be energized developing strategies; NF's energized by nurturing people.
* NT's may be known for their sarcastic humour.
* NF's may be known for enjoying taking the MBTI and learning the psychology of others; whereas FP's hate how the MBTI questions try and box you in without any subtlety or context.

* A bad combination in meetings: EN's tossing out half-baked ideas one after another, and after everyone else is in agreement, the IS might come up with his/her best answer, which s/he has taken the time to hone and finish in his/her head; coming across as passive-aggressive.

* A meeting of all J's may make a quick decision that's wrong; a meeting of all P's make the same decision over and over and over.

* Couples usually pair a P and a J. If both are P's, one will probably "fake it" as a J in order to keep the household running and bills paid.

* For J's the T/F dichotomy becomes crucial for how they deal with the outside world (setting their structure/organization via logic/objectivity or values/subjectivity).
* For P's the S/N dichotomy becomes crucial (via present/concrete or future/abstract).


I've tested myself online every once in a few years, and I consistently turn out IN__ - neutral between T/F and J/P. Sure enough, this time I rated "T" but just one point away from being rated "F"; and I was rated a "mild J".

But that didn't satisfy Liz; she said this didn't make sense with what I told her. And if I was J, I would be dominant for Feeling/Thinking- I certainly wouldn't be ambiguous on that measure. So, yay! I'm an aberration! She said perhaps I operated as a "J" both at work and home, but they aren't my preference? This seemed likely. So, she had me read some summary descriptions, until we zeroed in on INTP or INFP.

And when I read the long-form descriptions, I identified most with INFP, the same type as I self-identified 4 years ago.

She said if I come back, she can print out the appropriate pages out of their guide for me, but as it was, my custom printout wasn't at all accurate.

A cynical person might conclude that I've been told to vote early and often. Or, roll my character stats but change them around until they look right.

We were supposed to talk about strengths/blindspots I might want to know about, but we ran out of time. Fortunately, the second hit is free as well.

One thread of thought I found interesting is that I will make to-do lists, and refer back to them, which is a "J" type activity. However, the system for lists that I have settled on, GTD, allows maximal flexibility for choosing on-the-fly what tasks you're up for doing next. Which is the embodiment of "Perceiving" type.

So: yeah. INFP inna ESTJ wrld.


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 15th, 2011 07:08 am (UTC)

I'm one of those people who tests mostly on the cusps too (except for always pegging I instead of E)... anyway, here's a file I keep floating around in my hard drives because I like it so much (so much so that I may already have sent it to you a bunch of times) and because it does tend to make people go "wow, that does describe me even if I don't like it" a lot.

Anyway, just thought it might make you smile/laugh and rile up the MBTI people at the same time, always a plus in my book. (And in case it matters, I seem to be INTJ by the rules below...) ;-)

------ Begin Forwarded Message ------
Newsgroups: rec.humor.funny
Organization: The Birdsong Company, PO Box 2031, Sunnyvale CA 94087-2031
From: larry@birdsong.sunnyvale.ca.us (Lawrence T. Hardiman)
Subject: MBTI Prayers (giggle, inside joke on... MBTI)
Keywords: smirk, heard it
Approved: funny-request@clari.net
Message-ID: <s927.4185@clarinet.com>
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 96 19:30:04 EST
Lines: 60

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a popular psychometric instrument popularized by Kiersey & Bates in "Please Understand Me".

The following was emailed to me by a colleague. Those familiar with MBTI will get a giggle out of it.

[BTW. I'm an ISTJ. ... To the max!]

MBTI Types Prayers

ISTJ: Lord help me to relax about insignificant details beginning tomorrow at 11:41.23 am e.s.t.

ISTP: God help me to consider people's feelings, even if most of them ARE hypersensitive.

ESTP: God help me to take responsibility for my own actions, even though they're usually NOT my fault.

ESTJ: God, help me to not try to RUN everything. But, if You need some help, just ask

ISFJ: Lord, help me to be more laid back and help me to do it EXACTLY right.

ISFP: Lord, help me to stand up for my rights (if you don't mind my asking).

ESFP: God help me to take things more seriously, especially parties and dancing.

ESFJ: God give me patience, and I mean right NOW

INFJ: Lord help me not be a perfectionist. (did I spell that correctly?)

INFP: God, help me to finish everything I sta

ENFP: God,help me to keep my mind on one th-Look a bird-ing at a time.

ENFJ: God help me to do only what I can and trust you for the rest. Do you mind putting that in writing?

INTJ: Lord keep me open to others' ideas, WRONG though they may be

INTP: Lord help me be less independent, but let me do it my way.

ENTP: Lord help me follow established procedures today. On second thought, I'll settle for a few minutes

ENTJ: Lord, help me slow downandnotrushthroughwatIdo


Selected by Jim Griffith. MAIL your joke to funny@clari.net.

This newsgroup is sponsored by ClariNet Communications Corp. Read about
The Internet Joke Book -- the best of RHF at http://www.clari.net/inetjoke.html
------ End Forwarded Message ------
Jul. 16th, 2011 02:52 am (UTC)
Thanks. You hadn't sent that to me before.

It's impressive the author came up with 16 different (look! a bird!) prayers.
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 16th, 2011 03:00 am (UTC)
Neat! Yeah- I'm not sure what Jung & crew had to say about being flexible on the diagnostic, but it's clear that lots of people don't really fit into once nice little box. :)
Jul. 15th, 2011 10:33 am (UTC)
I've said for 20 years that the MBTI quizzes/tests are only somewhat useful for actually finding your type - if you know yourself pretty well, then the best way to zero in is to actually read the descriptions of each 'letter' as well as the descriptions of the types as a whole. That is, it's not "cheating" to look at the answers and decide which one you "are." Particularly in cases where you have to behave/pass as a type day-to-day.

But then, I may be in that cohort of types who can do that or who like to do that. ;)
Jul. 15th, 2011 12:28 pm (UTC)
I pretty consistently test out as an ?NT? with mild IJ tendencies. But I can fake the others when I need to.
Jul. 15th, 2011 02:01 pm (UTC)
I'm ?N?P, and even the P is kinda squidgy. My answer to a vast array of the questions is "well, it depends"...
Jul. 15th, 2011 05:29 pm (UTC)
I'm consistently iN?P, though i very rarely come up barely E.
Jul. 15th, 2011 01:41 pm (UTC)
From your last line, I think you should listen to Tim Minchin's lament of the 3 toed sloth (it's on youtube).

Interesting stuff!
Jul. 16th, 2011 03:10 am (UTC)
haha, that's a fun lament. :)
Jul. 15th, 2011 05:15 pm (UTC)
Before I go full-out nerdy on this, how interested are you in the MBTI and all things related?
Jul. 15th, 2011 07:15 pm (UTC)
Yes, please. Very interested, though unsurprisingly laggy with replies to comments ;) If that's OK, go right ahead!
Jul. 15th, 2011 09:51 pm (UTC)
No worries :)

I've taken the MBTI at least three times over about 4 years. The results have varied somewhat, with the most significant shift being on the E-I scale: I'd moved from mid-range I to low-mid E. The MBTI, if memory serves, measures current, not innate, preferences. Your innate preferences are still there, but you can learn to make up for them. This seems to be what happened in my case -- who would have expected a solid I to have as customer-facing a job as Turnkey?

I got curious enough about the whole thing to take the MBTI Step II, a more in-depth evaluation. The most memorable result for me was on the same E-I scale. The Step II breaks each category down into a further five subcategories. Since the basic MBTI is an amalgamation of all five, you can get a case like mine: Mid- to low-range I on four of the five scales, and an off-the-chart E on one, skewing the entire thing to the E side. (off the chart Gregarious, I believe -- though I need to find the actual test result to verify this)

The Step II is much less common, and much more rare. It's also significantly more expensive: The test itself cost me $2 for the MBTI, but at the time the Step II itself was $53 or so. However, the problem is finding someone who will interpret the results -- and few people have the certification. In KW at the time I took it, there was all of one certified person: A corporate trainer who had never been approached by a student before, and was nice enough to waive her fee (probably for the novelty value). The fee was $240/hr at the time, and it took about an hour to do the interpretation. She did say that she could do sessions with up to six people at once, at the same total hourly rate.

You may also want to see if UW offers the the Keirsey Temperament Sorter. I've only read about it -- and was very curious about what I'd read -- but never actually done it.
Jul. 15th, 2011 11:36 pm (UTC)
Oh ho ho. Career Services does do the Step Two, and it's free for staff. ...but I was initially leery of filling in multiple choice test questions for a whole hour; followed by interpretation. Now I'm not sure! From the wikipedia page, it does sound interesting... and the price is right...
Jul. 16th, 2011 06:38 am (UTC)
Damn! If nothing else, think of the money you're saving :)

But then, I'm one of those strange people who enjoy personality tests.
Jul. 16th, 2011 07:29 pm (UTC)
I've always been an INTJ, with very strong I and somewhat strong T. The J fluctuates; depending on the situation I'll be a P. But as you say, some people learn to emulate. Given that I coordinate lunches at work and dominate the chatroom I've learned to pretend to be a strong E (until I return home, where I huddle in a corner for hours of alone time).
Jul. 18th, 2011 07:32 pm (UTC)
I have an interesting past history with the MBTI. There are a couple of third-party "simplified" implementations. (These are technically not the MBTI at all, but people still refer to them that way.) One is called the Kiersey Sorter. At one point, I had David Kiersey's book, "Please Understand Me," out from the library. I think I'd taken it out as part of an assignment. I was also teaching myself Visual Basic at the time, so I decided to make a quick implementation of it in VB. I wasn't aware of any other such implementation on a computer at the time. I mean, the only options I was aware of were self-scoring tests published in books like the one I had and the official one, which at the time you had to fill out on special booklets provided and mail in and wait some time for your results.

Anyway, I posted it to a shareware site of some sort for free when I was done, and apparently it took off. It got about 2.5 million downloads at a time when that was a truly massive number. I got a request for modifications from some office of professional development that worked for the U.S. government, and although I couldn't take money for it (see below), they did send me a couple of mugs. It appeared in some print articles about "neat stuff you can find on the net" in major newspapers. It also started appearing on lists of resources for actual psychologists, some of whom sent me e-mail saying how easy it was to use and how much better it made their lives. All in all, kind of fun for a lark.

At some point, in fact, it became popular enough that the author of the book contacted me about it. Needless to say, he wasn't as thrilled as everybody else. However, we e-mailed back and forth and came to the arrangement that I could keep distributing the software for free so long as I didn't get any monetary benefit from doing so, and so long as I took all the descriptions of the types out of the results section, instead providing links to his website as the place people could go to find out about their type and the interpretation thereof. I did that, and everything was cool for a while.

Then, a few years later, I got a cease-and-desist from a lawyer representing Kiersey's son. I replied back with a summary of what had transpired between the Dad and I and that we'd had an informal arrangement. I got a response that the son was in charge of that part of the business now and that any informal arrangements were null and void and that I had x amount of time to remove my software from anywhere it appeared on the entire internets. I responded and said that I'd removed it from my own website and the places that I had personally posted it, but I had no control over most of the internets and that his demand was impossible to satisfy. I never heard back after that. For a while I was a bit nervous about a huge lawsuit stamping me out of fiscal existence, that never came to bear, and it's been a good decade or more since that last interaction with no further ill effects.
Jul. 19th, 2011 01:19 am (UTC)
Hah. ...I would consider 2.5 million downloads at any time a massive number.

...Guess so would the lawyers. ;)
Jul. 18th, 2011 07:33 pm (UTC)
Oh, and I usually test out as ENFP, despite personally identifying as introverted. I am fairly near the cusp of E/I, though, and I've come out as INFP once or twice. (Needless to say, given the above story, I've taken both the Kiersey Sorter and various other such tests about a trillion times.)
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )