I’m sure many of my readers are familiar with personality tests like the Myers-Briggs type indicator. The idea behind tests such as Myers-Briggs is to identify the ways in which a person relates to the world, processes information, and so on, in an effort to better understand that person. Myers-Briggs has 16 different personality types that it tries to fit people into (as I’ve said before, I was an ISTJ the last I checked like 10 years ago).
They’re useful tools to figuring out how someone thinks, I suppose, but there’s a danger in these kind of personality tests too. Namely, one can use these kind of tests as a shortcut for actually getting to know a person. An “I know how you’re going to react based on your test score” sort of thing. I know of more than one young woman who put her boyfriend through the hundred-something question Myers-Briggs test in the early stages of the relationship in order to get to know her man better. Surprisingly, or perhaps not, the two most prominent examples I can think of didn’t work out. That said, I appreciate this Douglas Groothuis blog post called “Against Personality Stereotyping” which pretty much sums up my opinion on the mater. He says:
This labeling [is] another sad case of a technology usurping the need for spiritual discernment–testing the character of oneself and others–which comes through conversations, prayer, and just being-with another qua another, not the other as the instantiation of an abstract category dreamed up by a psychologist or psychiatrist. I am a human being. Do not label me–or anyone else, especially in psychological categories. Think up your adjectives after divining the character of your neighbor (if you can). If not, hold your peace.