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The Personality Contradiction (modern translation)

Katami Fukie 2023/2/21 15:52

This page is the second of a series revising the “Strawberry Thesis Statements” I had written five years ago. I no longer have any interest in typology itself, so please treat these articles less as “edits” and more as “translations.” My current thoughts on the article will be appended at the bottom.

Myers-Briggs types appear to fit people as they are, so you would assume that the four dichotomies have equal weight in determining a person’s type.

By equal weight, I specifically mean:

  • each factor is equally important in defining type

  • each factor is independent of the other factors

  • each factor must be a true dichotomy with equal importance on either side

The Myers-Briggs does not fulfill these criteria even when interpreted using the scalar model (Step II). But why not? Empirical population distributions suggest that certain preferences are more likely to appear in conjuction with other preferences.

According to data released by the CAPT:
For every 49.4 extraverts, there are 50.9 introverts.
For every 26.9 intuitives, there are 73.4 sensers.
For every 40.4 thinkers, there are 59.9 feelers.
For every 46 perceivers, there are 54.3 judgers.

If these values were reflected equally across the sixteen types, we could fulfill our equal weight criteria. For example, the introvert to extravert ratio (50.9:49.4) for the two NFJ types should be equal to those of the two STP types. If we had data that included information about the strengths of the preferences, we would be able to analyze the strengths of each preference and draw conclusions from there. This is unfortunately not the case.

Let’s forget about the strengths, however, and try testing for equal weight without it. ENTP should be the rarest type at 2.4% ((49.4/100.3)×(26.9/100.3)×(40.4/100.3)×(46/100.3))) and ISFJ should be the most common at 11.9% ((50.9/100.3)×(73.4/100.3)×(59.4/100.3)×(54.3/100.3)). In reality, INFJ (1.5%) and ISFJ (11.9%) are the least and most common types respectively.

Weird? It may seem so, but...
  • extraverts are 1.18 times more likely to be intuitives, 1.06 times more likely to be feelers and 1.06 times more likely to be perceivers than the sample population

  • intuitives are 1.18 times more likely to be extraverts, 1.03 times more likely to be feelers and 1.54 times more likely to be perceivers than the sample population

  • feelers are 1.06 times more likely to be extraverts, 1.03 times more likely to be intuitives and 1.08 times more likely to be perceivers than the sample population

  • perceivers are 1.06 times more likely to be extraverts, 1.54 times more likely to be intuitives and 1.08 times more likely to be feelers than the sample population

We see interesting correlations show up, like how there are 19 perceivers for every 7.9 judgers among intuitives. There aren’t any other super dramatic factor correlations here, but some polar type pairs are significantly more common than others.
  • 19.7% of the sample is either ISTJ or ENFP

  • 17% of the population is either ISFJ or ENTP

  • 15.6% of the population is either ESFJ or INTP

  • 12.8% of the population is either ESTJ or INFP

  • 10.6% of the population is either INTJ or ESFP

  • 10.6% of the population is either ENTJ or ISFP

  • 7.9% of the population is either ENFJ or ISTP

  • 5.8% of the population is either INFJ or ESTP

The most notable one here is the ISTJ/ENFP divide. The four individual preferences follow this type pair (I is more likely to show in S, T, and J types, S is more likely to show in I, T, and J types... etc.).

This demonstrates that Myers-Briggs does not describe “real” personalities. If ISJ and ENP were their own archetypes, then 36.7% would apply to both. These are roughtly equivalent to classic archetypes such as the left and right brain model (left brain = ISTJ, right brain = ENFP) or blood type personalities (type A = ISTJ, type B = ENFP). These archetypes are influential, regardless of whether or not they are a product of nature or nurture.

Some random ISTJ/ENFP-fitting dichotomies:
  • pessimism/optimism

  • skepticism/trust

  • habituality/novelty

  • practicality/creativity

  • carefulness/carefreeness

  • mistrust/faith

  • bitter/sweet

It’s not really as easy to do this with INFJ/ESTP, is it? So does Myers-Briggs describe true-to-life personalities? Is the “INFJ” type associated with a particular personality archetype? These are just unusual combinations of traits that don’t show very often in everyday life. Does it make sense that an introverted, sensing, thinking personality would also be a perceiver? An extraverted, intuiting, feeling personality a judger? These aren’t impossible, obviously, but these aren’t “fluid” archetypes as much as they are “fluid with a contradictory side.”

Is there a way to fix this? We can use the scalar model to avoid removing some accuracy that comes with being typed a four-letter something (51% extraversion instead of E), but why not take it a step further and erase the dichotomies, too? There may be a notable difference between somebody who is both thinking and feeling strongly (no preference for either) and somebody who identifies with neither particularly (no preference for either).

But in the meantime, it seems silly to use Myers-Briggs to describe real people. Even if we can use its factors to describe people despite their overlapping, its scope seems limited to begin with.

Author’s note: This article is kind of funny to me. Well, I think most of Lily’s thoughts are true, but the method of getting there is a little unfair. Of course, the unfairness is the point. Typology just doesn’t work and can’t ever work. So why does it sound like I’m hoping for something to come along that will work? Fake openness? Wanting to believe? I don’t really know. It’s been too long. I particularly don’t understand why I alluded to the idea of other archetypes being more true-to-life when I talked about the ISTJ/ENFP divide. I think it’s all bogus, and just because something is culturally significant doesn’t make it worthy of being used to compare true-to-lifeness. It would have been more worth talking about what people actually are and comparing that to ideas of personality pushed by things like type.