Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator: “It’s like religion. Believe what you want. Get out of it what you want.”
I loathe the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator with a fiery passion that is totally dormant as long as nothing reminds me of the test’s existence, which is how I prefer things. Once aroused, the fervor of my loathing takes a while to die down, which is why I’m blogging about it now: this week brought the test to my attention quite a few times.
One way was that on Facebook, a bunch of people were posting this thingy defining the different types of hell for each Myers-Briggs type. (As I say in the post on my blog, hell for me would be having to take the test and act like the results are meaningful.) Another was that in an ex-Mo Facebook group, someone posted a link to the one of the imitation (and therefore free) versions of the test and asked to people to take it and post their types, in the hopes of discovering if any correlation existed between leaving the church and a certain personality type.
This is a group that values skepticism pretty highly. And it was shocking to me that in such a group, there was so little skepticism about the test.
That shock ramped up a notch when I did a bit more googling about the test and found this lengthy December 2012 article in the Washington Post discussing the “cultlike devotion” the test and its results arouses. The quote in the title of this post is from that article.
Certainly there was a hint of such devotion on display in the conversation I participated in. There may or may not be some correlation between certain personality types (what they are and how they should be categorized and tested is another matter entirely, of course) and leaving the church, but given that there is some correlation between business and devotion to the MBTI, and also some correlation between being Mormon and wanting to go into business (that accounting program at BYU, for instance), maybe there is some correlation between being LDS and valuing the MBTI.
For one thing, they both use initials a lot: LDS can take the MBTI and get a designation that is also a bunch of letters, just like RM or RSP or EQP or whatever. Maybe some people really like to be told authoritatively who they are, and maybe some people don’t know how to interact with others unless they know, via some externally applied label, everyone’s relationship to orthodoxy.
Or maybe not. Maybe those are utterly specious connections unworthy of further attention.
But it is worth noting that leaving organized religion doesn’t necessarily mean that you are automatically freed from all “cultlike devotion” or the habit of orthodoxy.