However, there are some tests I really dislike. Not those that try to see if you can think through puzzles or know a correct answer or not, but those that supposedly reveal some great truth, or central tendency, in our personalities or beliefs. Can a test really tell me something I don’t already know, or give insight into something I have only guessed at?
I am not talking about the hard sciences like biology (I cannot tell you what my blood pressure is right now, but if I were really upset, I may have other indications!). I am thinking more about the MBTI (the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator). To be fair, a personality inventory tries to show how seemingly random variations in the behavior really speak to preferences in perception and judgement. It is not intended to say something is right or wrong or good or bad or anything like that, but more to show that this is basically how I see the world (and thus how I may or may not work with others who are similar or different).
That is where I have the challenge — how I was when I recently took the Jung Typology Test (an MBTI lite version) for the course I am taking is not necessarily how I am now. While it is a free personality test as similar to the MBTI as possible, it is based on the personality type theory test and . . . is already outdated.
I am not the same person I was when I took it, not only because I believe people change and develop all the time (cf. Transformative Learning or the experience of Threshold Concepts), but simple questions on the test just make me feel ill-at-ease. Questions like – You feel at ease in a crowd.
I feel very uneasy in a crowd if it is a party or some other event where there are lots of people I do not know and the intention is to mingle. Yeah, that is where I feel ill at ease in a crowd.
However, I really feel comfortable in a crowd of people I do not know and would ordinarily not know like a train station or busy city street as I like the anonymity it provides (I do live in NYC after all). This is a common experience in cities, where it is not unusual at all to not know many (most? all?) of the people on one’s floor in one’s apartment building.
I feel nothing when shopping in a crowded Trader Joe’s, such as the bizarre lines at their Manhattan locations (you mean all supermarkets do not have lines that require Middle of the Line or End of the Line signs with handlers to maintain order?!?!).
These three examples demonstrate countless ways of internalizing questions, and depending on which one I am thinking of when I take the test would vary wildly in how I answer. Then again, I find that tests such as those often take a lot of my time as I sit there and try to think of which answer would be more accurate overall, though there is really not on e that is more or less common.
As a result of these and complexities in how we make meaning (today, tomorrow, under various conditions, and the like), then 64 questions just do not seem able to capture layers of constantly shifting complexities. How can they, when the interpretations for each varies so widely? Depending on how you interpret the question will depend on how you answer, and add up the groupings across the questions, and we can have wildly different results. Who is to say which is more or less accurate, though with an entire industry built upon pigeon-holing responses, giving them nifty acronyms, and then focusing on team distrubutions based on them, and where does that leave us?
While countless other examples would work, here is another one:
You are easily affected by strong emotions.
Does this mean it affects me internally greatly or it relates to how I respond? Depends on how I interpret the question would give me opposite ends of the spectrum (as if there is only one spectrum for anything!). For example, I am often emotionally upset by things I encounter in the news and world (one extreme) though I do not often bring those into tangible actions (another way of considering affect that would result in the opposite extreme). Depends on how a read the question will be how I answer it and thus, my results.
Much more fond of actor-network theory where complexities in networks of meaning-making factors constantly influence us, and where I am in teh morning may not represent where I am headed this evening.
By the way, in case anybody read this far, these are my results from that one “test”:
- You have marginal or no preference of Introversion over Extraversion (3%)
- You have moderate preference of Intuition over Sensing (34%)
- You have marginal or no preference of Thinking over Feeling (1%)
- You have moderate preference of Judging over Perceiving (31%)
This is a link to my results on this test.
Given all this, what does it say about me? More importantly, what does it say about how we will interact, live, love, teach, donate to, help, hinder, minister to, or have dinner with?