I Broke the Myers-Briggs Test

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A self-portrait of my personality

Does anyone else have trouble with personality tests?

I used to love taking personality tests, particularly the Myers-Briggs. Throughout high school and most of college, I consistently tested as an E/INFJ. My friends and I would discuss the nuances of our results and uncovered lots of insight into ourselves and our friendships.

Then several things happened:

  • I started seriously dating, which brought out a completely different side of me. While I was pretty nonconfrontational and undemanding with everyone else in my life, I was this raging storm of confrontation, demands, and neediness with him and him alone. To this day, I am like two different people when it comes to things like confrontation, conflict, and communication. In my marriage, I am blunt and initiate conflict and confrontation with no fear. With everyone else, I live in fear of conflict. In my marriage, I expect Erich to pull his weight in the relationship. With everyone else, I can overextend myself.
  • Dating also aroused my latent anxiety, and I developed or became aware of habits that looked a lot like insecure-anxious attachment. I had developed coping mechanisms to control this anxiety with other people, but with Erich, it all came out. Which was my real personality — the flood of anxiety or the strength that reined it in?
  • I got burnt out by college and withdrew into introversion. I’ve always been more of an ambivert, but I noticeably changed into an introvert in my senior year — and people annoyed me like never before. I hung out with “my people” and dropped as many obligations that involved dealing with people and their emotions as possible. Today, whether I am introverted or extroverted (that is, whether I lose or gain energy around people) depends primarily on the individuals, the social situation, and how much sleep I got the night before.
  • My inner life and my outer life are very different beasts. At work, I am driven, detail-oriented, and perfectionist out of principle. My self-control is insanely good in public. At home, I have often felt legitimately out of control. In personal conversation, I am docile and overeager to find common ground — to the point where the words coming out of my mouth make no sense because I’m trying to say everything and nothing at the same time. When interacting online, I tend to be too blunt, and stirred up far too much trouble when younger behind the protection of email.
  • My two closest friends (my husband, an ISTP, and my college roommate of three years, something like an INFP) began rubbing off on me. Their major personality differences balanced me out, teaching me new ways of thinking and interacting with the world.

All of these things taken together make personality tests a nightmare. Radically different parts of my personality switch on and off depending on the person I’m with or the situation I’m in. There is a huge difference between how I instinctively react, feel, and believe and who I allow myself to be.

It’s no wonder that the last time I took an Enneagram test, I got this message: “It is not clear from these test results which type you are.”

Do you have similar problems with personality tests? What do you get typed as? The Enneagram tentatively has me as a 6 (which sort of makes sense), and the last time I took a Myers-Briggs test, I got ISFP/Adventurer (which is accurate in its data but not in its explanation of the data).

Edited to reflect my newfound realization that I’ve been spelling “Myers” with an extra E my entire life! Word lovers, psychologists, and people who actually pay attention when they read, I apologize for the agony my misspelling has been causing you.

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16 thoughts on “I Broke the Myers-Briggs Test

  1. Rachel

    Yes!! This is me! What is really hard for me on personality tests is when a question says “friends would describe me as…” and I might think, well, some would say I’m loyal, some would say I’m not. Which friends? And how friends describe me isn’t how i would describe myself. Then there’s the whole “with whom?” debacle. I am energized by long converstions with people I enjoy being with, but with others I would rather be alone.

    I take a personality test one year, and get the opposite result the next, so I am with you! I didn’t know anyone else had this problem.

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  2. justheretotalk

    I get what you are saying I have tested previously tested as an INTJ or INTP but after getting married and getting away from the authoritarian homeschooled Christian household I grew up in I have had to put my own personality together with the help of a Christian counselor. Once I got married to my INTJ wife I discovered I had a lot more emotions and feeling which I had been taught to pretty much shove internally growing up. I now just retook the test and at the moment I am testing as the mediator INFP which atleast in data is probably accurate. I am definitely an intravert although I can be social among friends and I work in a highly technical environment where you would tend to not find as many feelers. I can think very logically and value logic highly but unlike my wife where logic pretty much absorbs all her thought processes I see logic as a second to morality with completely logical answers being wrong on occasion. So honestly I am not really sure what I am I think a lot of my life has been being whoever someone else needed me to be.

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    • Bailey Steger

      Yeah, I relate to a lot of this! Family dynamics and beliefs can control personality in ways I’m just starting to discover. I’m probably a bit more independent, but I do tailor which parts of my personality I show to which people.

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  3. Evan Willis

    Meyers Briggs I have found most useful as a means of methodic introspection: I get far more self-understanding (and understanding of others, for that matter) out of wrestling with the nuances of the system than out of “knowing” my or others’ types. I am fairly confident, after years of looking into it, that I am firmly INTP (having previously thought myself INTJ). But the path from J to P was one where I discovered a lot about myself. I also suspect some of it was a change in personality in response to the college environment. Thinking through S vs. N, however, has been of enormous use in understanding others. I am about as strong an N as one can be, such that understanding any S personality has been extraordinarily difficult for me (not helped by being the only N in my immediate family). Thinking through this has helped my understanding a large number of people.

    In other words, the path to understanding my and other’s types has been far more helpful for me than the types themselves.

    5w4 enneagram, though it is one I have looked at to a lesser degree.

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    • Bailey Steger

      That’s a really good point. Just knowing how the Meyers-Briggs test works opens up a whole new way of understanding and expressing personality and thinking. It’s too bad we didn’t discuss this more in college!

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  4. milkandpickles

    I’ve never been able to get a consistent Myers-Briggs result and none of the descriptors ever sound like me either! So yeah…I think it’s definitely limited in its usefulness.

    By the way, I think you might have an extra “e” in “Myers.”

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  5. BUF_Buoda

    Personality tests have always been a bit of fun for me. I have never taken them seriously. However, they always lead me to briefly wonder what other people see and experience when they look at me, and encounter me. They made me more interested in knowing how others thought of me, and saw me.

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  6. ArieltheHuman

    Yes!!! I so get this. I used to always test as an INFJ (and still do) but I’m pretty sure I’m an INFP because my hubby is INFJ and I’m quite different than him. Still, I’m way more organized and structured so I really ought to be a J… Anyway… I totally relate to being to totally different people in public and at home. At work I’m always the most calm and unstressed like I have everything under control (even if I don’t)… Then at home I’m super stressed and overwhelmed and i totally show it 😂 Those tests are hard because we as humans behave so differently depending on the situation.

    P.S. Loving all your parenting posts lately… Especially since I’m expecting 😉

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    • Bailey Steger

      I once thought I was an INFJ/P because everyone I fully relate to (like you!) was an INFJ/P! But I never matched the description.

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying the parenting posts and said so! I feel a bit bad about essentially turning my blog into a parenting blog when people originally signed up for other stuff. (Guilt — another INFJ trait. ;)) Congrats on your baby!!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Nola Stam

    Personality tests irk me. I had to take one when I worked in an adolescent psych facility and I always wanted to retake it with different answers to see how crazy I could sound. We change as we age or we really are crazy.

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  8. Gray Clouds

    I resonated with a lot of your post! I am an ISFP and I consistently tested as an ISFJ/INFJ….what made me realize my true type was when I listened to a podcast about the ISFP (Personality Hacker). If you are serious about finding out your type than I suggest you listen to their podcasts and you will resonate with one. Just my two cents! 😊

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