Skeptoid’s Skeptical Take on Myers-Briggs

Skeptoid by Brian Dunning is my favorite podcast. I download episodes onto my iPod and listen to them while driving (earbud in one ear).

I recently enjoyed his take on Myers-Briggs Personality Test. I've seen personality tests used to detrimental effect in the workplace. For example, employees getting pigeonholed by their bosses based on the results of their test. So I was already skeptical (notwithstanding the fact that every McKinsey person I know swears by Myers-Briggs). Listening to Brian's report affirmed my skepticism. Here's the bottom line:

I do find one common theme among mainstream psychotherapists where the use of the MBTI is advised, and that's as a conversation starter. It's a fine way to give people a quick snapshot of what their strengths and weaknesses might be, and of those with whom they interact. To get the dialog going, this is a perfectly valid tool. But as a tool for making career decisions, relationship decisions, or psychiatric assessment, no. Although it would be nice to have a magically easy self-analysis tool that can make your decisions for you and be your crystal ball, the Myers-Briggs test is not it. It is interesting and it does have value as a starting point for meaningful dialog, but that's where the line should be drawn.


Last year I donated to two non-profit content providers: Skeptoid and the Wikimedia Foundation (which oversees Wikipedia, my favorite web site).

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