You’re at a party and someone starts asking those classic ice breaker questions: What Sex and the City character are you? What’s your zodiac sign? What’s your Myers-Briggs personality type? After you answer “Samantha, Aries, ENFJ,” everyone starts listing an onslaught of assumptions about you: OMG…You’re bold, confident… a natural born leader! Can my future child get an internship at the White House when you’re President of the United States of America?!? You awkwardly nod along, pretending to agree with what these strangers have to say about you.
While Sex and the City girls and zodiac signs are largely accepted as merely quirky exercises in trying to make order out of our chaotic universe, Myers-Briggs is actually perceived as a legitimate indicator of personality with 89 of the Fortune 100 companies and approximately 2 million people using it every year. Even though it’s been unanimously debunked as pseudo-scientific, Myers-Briggs’s popularity is growing amongst millennials. What’s so appealing about Myers-Briggs? How did this multimillion dollar industry begin? What’s going on here?
The test entered the American zeitgeist in 1944 when Katherine Cooks Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers published the Briggs Myers Type Indicator Handbook. Myers Briggs test’s intellectual origins derive from Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist who was closely affiliated with notoriously controversial and frequently detested Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. People’s test results (personality types) are a combination of where they lie on the spectrum of four dichotomies: Extroversion vs. Introversion, Sensing vs. Intuition, Thinking vs. Feeling, and Judging vs. Perceiving.
Dave, a blue chip art gallery assistant and INTJ, says that he enjoys Myers-Briggs because the ambiguous nature of having an acronym as a result “invites the user to delve deeper into the system and interact with it more in order to find out more about themselves, I think.”
Myers Briggs’s vague personality types are alluring. But they aren’t necessarily a great indicator of workplace compatibility. In regards to its potential applicability for everyday scenarios, a psychologist from the University of Pennsylvania has concluded. “The characteristics measured by the test have almost no predictive power on how happy you’ll be in a situation” or “how you’ll perform at your job.” In addition, using Myers-Briggs for hiring is archaic because unlike the Good&Co personality test, it assumes that all companies share the same workplace culture. Although it’s fun to discuss on first dates or at a party, Myers-Briggs should be kept out of the office. In order to fully explain why Myers Briggs is horrible for workplace fit, we deconstructed its science and compared it with our superior, 21st century friendly test.
Myers Briggs’s Sketchy Science vs. Our Awesome Science
According to the Myers & Briggs Foundation, the essence of their theory is that “much seemingly random variation in [human] behavior is actually quite orderly and consistent, being due to basic differences in the ways individuals prefer to use their perception and judgment.” The Myers Briggs method calculates your answers to see where you fit on the spectrum of the four dichotomies (Extraversion vs. Introversion, Sensing vs. Intuition, Thinking vs. Feeling, Judging vs. Perceiving) and then combines your results into 16 distinct “personality types”:
Each “ type” is accompanied by a short description detailing the personality. For example, an INTP is “Logical, conceptual, analytical, objective, detached, critical, ingenious, complex and intellectually curious.” Many psychologists have questioned and invalidated these results for being “arbitrary.” Dave, the aforementioned INTP, even admitted. “When I took the test I was aware that I consciously desired a certain outcome (who I wanted to be) and so my answers reflected this maybe more than who I actually was.” The Myers Briggs’ results often are a self-fulfilled prophecy. At the time of taking the test, Dave was interested in “music and art” and so subsequently adjusted his answers to fit his perception of himself. When developing the Good&Co personality test methodology, our developers were conscious of this potential flaw and weaved it into our algorithm. We used questions that are intentionally subtle and indirect in order to prevent response biases that ultimately render personality tests useless. Additionally, instead of trying to attribute a specific role for people, we break down one’s personality type through testing what they contribute to a specific situation:
While the Myers Briggs treats “extroversion vs. introversion” as a principle facet of personality, our method uses the notion of “extroversion” as a broader category, asking in depth questions that slowly lead to more specific and relevant categorizations. Our aim isn’t just to tell you that you’re an extrovert or an introvert, it’s to demonstrate what kind of extrovert or introvert you are. Moreover, our results are explicitly divided into their applicability. If you’re a Dreamer, your social type is independent, your work type is creative and your key trait is curiosity.
Not only does this make our test easier to comprehend, it pragmatically explains what your role would be in a group setting. Which leads me to my next point as to why Good&Co makes Myers Briggs look like a passé 20th century pseudo-scientific relic from World War II:
Let’s face it: the best part of the Myers Briggs test is Googling which celebrity or historical figure has your personality type. For example, not to brag, but I share the same personality as Barack Obama, Jennifer Lawrence and a little guy named Jesus Christ. But are we all going to be the President or win an Academy Award? Probably not! The Good&Co test is designed to demonstrate how your personality fits with actual, contemporary companies. Instead of vaguely encouraging you to research which job you should aspire to have, our test acknowledges that not all companies and people are compatible, by incorporating the scientifically proven notion of “culture fit” into our algorithm. This graph demonstrates how we match which companies fit your placement in the extrovert and introvert scale:
Dr. Kerry Schofield has summarized why this graph is critical for workplace fit:
“If the introvert ends up in an organization that only uses open-plan offices – or, even worse, expects all employees to attend riotous parties every weekend – this would be an example of poor fit, or strain.An extravert in the same environment would have a much higher level of positive cultural fit.”
If you relied on Myers Briggs, you’d have no idea if Apple, Google or Facebook were a good fit for you. Instead, you’d just pursue which career hypothetically is suited to your personality type, unaware of the huge impact your workplace environment has on your professional trajectory. The Myers Briggs assumes that if you’re a “leader” you will succeed as a “leader” in all contexts. This doesn’t really work in the 21st century, where companies take pride in having highly unique work environments. A 2005 study showed that employees who fit well with their organization reported higher job satisfaction, work performance and remained in their company for a longer period time. Coincidence? Honey, I don’t think so. Sure, it’s fun to speculate if you could one day be our generation’s Walt Disney. However, wouldn’t you rather know if you should even work for Disney? Let’s conclude with Dave, the aforementioned Myers Briggs enthusiast and avid fashion collector. In regards to why he ultimately viewed our test as superior, he said:
“Good&Co’s personality test felt a little more refreshing than the Myers-Briggs, because of the tone it took in its questioning. It was more youthful, and playful and it felt less contrived to answer these questions or imagine myself in certain scenarios.”
Our test is definitely wilder and quirkier than Myers Briggs. But most importantly, our questions and are our culture fit feature are designed to insure that we give you a realistic outlook on your professional trajectory. Next time you’re at a party and someone asks “What’s your Sex and the City character, zodiac sign and Myers Briggs?” Feel free to answer. Just don’t forget to end with. “That was fun and all…but for real, you should check out this app called Good&Co. It’s like Myers Briggs but it can actually change your freakin life.” Happy job hunting!