Monday, March 15, 2021

The Myers-Briggs Personality Test and Theory-Induced Blindness in Legal Scholarship

Last week, I posted about my new article, Theory Induced Blindness in Legal Scholarship.  A couple of days ago, I ran across another article that questioned the Myers-Briggs personality test, which has been used in psychology, education and business for many years.  (here)

The article calls the test BS, then lists several reasons why:

  • Reason 1: It Is Based on Carl Jung’s Ideas
  • Reason 2: The Test Lacks Predictive Validity: It Does Not Predict Outcomes in the Real World
  • Reason 3: Human Personality Falls Along Continua, Not Into Discrete Categories
  • Reason 4: The Types Used by the MBTI Have Arbitrary Boundaries
  • Reason 5: The Myers-Briggs Has Poor Reliability
  • Reason 6: The Myers-Briggs Misleadingly Implies That There Are Big Differences Between Types and Minimal Differences Within a Type
  • Reason 7: When You Turn a Continuous Variable Into a Categorical One, You Throw Away Information
  • Reason 8: The MBTI Doesn’t Measure Neuroticism

The author then asks why people still believe in the test, stating "I'm not sure why the Myers-Briggs is so popular despite its shortcomings. But candidate reasons include: (1) it has excellent advertising and money to back it; (2) the test is easy to take, easy to administer and easy to calculate; (3) the results are easy to interpret and understand; (4) the test tactfully avoids telling the reader anything negative; and (5) some evidence hints that we might be cognitively disposed to think in terms of dichotomies and dualisms rather than continua (introverted vs. extraverted is more intuitive and less cognitively taxing than a continuum with an infinite number of points on it), leading us to prefer the cruder and less accurate model."

My answer: cognitive biases, especially theory-induced blindness.

(Scott Fruehwald)

| Permalink


Post a comment