The Myers-Briggs Test: Totally Unscientific?

So, this is my current Twitter bio

Life Explorer, HE/learning, Christian, cultural history, WW2 posters: Keep Calm & Carry On, digital, ENFP,   

which you’ll notice includes the Myers-Briggs personality type ‘ENFP’, and I’ve always been fascinated by personality tools that can help understand how I can make the most of myself, and understand others better. In chatting with others, there’s a strong feeling that Myers-Briggs is little better than horoscopes … although I’ve always thought ‘well, at least it’s not randomly assigned to the month that you’re born’ … but I’m fascinated by this Guardian piece (H/T @revpamsmith) in which Dean Burnett indicates that the Myers-Briggs tests is too binary – too black and white … and that most people fall in places along the scale. I have to say I’ve always thought that, but I still, in general, can find Myers-Briggs and other tests give me something to think about .. I’m rarely looking at them (or anything else) for the magic bullet! Fascinating!

I personally feel it’s more to do with people’s tendency to go for anything that offers an easy solution. People will always go for the new fad diet, thealternative remedy, the five dollar wrinkle trick that makes dermatologists hate you for some reason. For all that it may be well-intended, the MBTI offers a variation on that. People are very complex, variable and unpredictable. Many users of the MBTI believe that a straightforward test can simplify them to the point where they can be managed, controlled and utilised to make them as efficient and productive as possible. It’s no wonder businesses are keen to embrace something like that; it would be the ideal tool if it were guaranteed to achieve this. Read full article.

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P.S. Check out this diagram!

Find your S.H.A.P.E.

See more information on the SHAPE course via Rick Warren’s site. It’s SO important that people understand that every time we talk about “Ministry”, that we see this in the widest context… it’s not about what role you can find to do within your physical church, but what God has designed you for in the global sense, to be the best: physically, emotionally and spiritually!

  • S: Spiritual Gifts (which have you been given?)
  • H: Heart Motivation (what do you love to do?)
  • A: Abilities & Talents (appreciate natural talents you have)
  • P: Personality (God-given temperament)
  • E: Experiences (how have you been prepared for your unique ministry?)

1 Corinthians 12:12-27

My Score: S

Having undertaken an 138 question survey, we each produced a unique list of those specific ‘gifts’ that we excel at (recognisable in my past history)

  • Leadership (24/24)
    The special ability the Holy Spirit gives to recognise and communicate the vision of God’s purposes, and to accomplish it through the motivation and direction of a group of people.
  • Hospitality (23/24)
    The special ability the Holy Spirit gives to make people feel welcome, accepted and safe in their home and in a variety of settings.
  • Organisation (21/24)
    The special ability the Holy Spirit gives to perceive the way an organisation works, and to conceive and implement procedures that maximise the church’s ability to function, and release people – especially leaders – to fulfil their calling/gifting.

My Score: H

  • I am motivated to lead/be in charge; help; persevere.
  • I would most like to encourage others to be the best they can be (but they need to be willing to engage with me).
  • I would most like to help those who want to help themselves, and who want to learn
  • The issues I feel strongly about are Education and Communications Literacy
  • I am therefore likely to be able to make the most significant contribution tutoring/mentoring in groups.

My Score: A

  • I have particular experience in research, teaching and writing, and project management.
  • I have specialised abilities in researching, managing, (teach/interview/write/promote?).
  • I am most likely to be used in Christian Service in social groups, training in digital communications.

My Score: P

For this exercise, I thought that I would come out as PEOPLE/UNSTRUCTURED, but I came out as TASK/UNSTRUCTURED (maybe that explains why I haven’t seen enough of my friends, as I always feel that I have to have completed my task before I can go out!), although to be fair although I was ‘maximum’ unstructured’, I was borderline on people/task, and some questions could have fallen either side!

TASK/UNSTRUCTURED people like:

  • General guidelines
  • Helps wherever needed
  • Versatile
  • Likes tangible tasks.

Require roles with a degree of creativity and adaptability in order to produce the best results.

PEOPLE/UNSTRUCTURED people like:

  • Spontaneous situations
  • Relates well to others
  • Very conversational
  • Tends to be flexible

Require roles that give you the freedom to respond to people spontaneously.

My Score: E

A great number of experiences have shaped my spiritual journey, and the ones that came to mind on the day (and I am prepared to share publicly) include:

  • Billy Graham Mission
  • Taking voluntary redundancy, going travelling, and learning to lose some of the expectations of others (not finished yet)
  • Going on retreat (taking time out in any way)
  • Oak Hall leadership
  • Social group leaderships (I throw a great party, given half a chance!)
  • Academic world – skills, enthusiasm & challenge

I would like to challenge others to take time out from formal ministry roles, and not to get stuck in roles. We need to find roles to fit people, rather than people to fit roles!

I just love to encourage people to share, and try out new things!!!

Feedback

We are given the opportunity to ask others for feedback. All comments are moderated, so if you want to say something off the record, or I’m not comfortable publishing it, it will be held – but I will see it!

  1. What spiritual gifts do you think I  might have?
    (3 from: Organisation, Celibacy, Counselling, Deliverance, Discernment, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith, Giving, Healing, Hospitality, Intercession, Interpretation of tongues, Leadership, Mercy, Missionary, Pastoring, Prophecy, Service, Teaching, Tongues, Voluntary Poverty, Wisdom)
  2. What do you think I’m particularly good at doing?
  3. What areas of my like seem to be ‘fruitful’?
  4. What 3 words best sum up my personality?
  5. What qualities do you particularly admire?
  6. What can you see stopping/hindering me using God-given gifts?

OPQ (Occupational Personality Questionnaire)

The Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ) provides in-depth information on how individuals fit within a work environment, how they will work with others and their performance potential against job competencies. I undertook the profiling soon after I accepted my redundancy payment from the University of Manchester.

“A real people person, very socially confident; sympathetic and considerate towards others, consults widely when making decisions; tries to understand motivations and behaviour (rather than facts/feelings), can take the lead when necessary, needs variety, has some interest in theoretical discussions, can adapt approach, can think strategically and at a level of detail, will persist to get the job done, has respect for rules & regulations, the nerves rise before important events, thrives on activity, dislikes competition – prefers taking part, takes time to make decisions.”

Birkman Report

Selected elements from this report, taken in 2007 (checkout Care for the Family):

Areas of Interest: Percentages indicate a broad level of interest

Social Science
Organised assistance and services to support and advance social conditions of the individual and community through social programmes, agencies and organised religious involvement.
99%
Literary
Creative interest in writing and in sophisticated language skills. Indicates appreciation for abstract ideas conveyed in various mediums and materials.
87%
Artistic
Creating imaginative works of aesthetic value, expressing ideas artistically. Working or performing in the visual arts.
62%
Persuasive
Persuasive interaction with others. Motivating others to accept ideas, actions or opinions through means of persuasion, reasoning or argument.
50%
Clerical
Being involved in administrative positions, including recording, data processing, numeric detail and personnel functions that provide predictable results and specific controls.
42%
Outdoor
Hands-on work in an outdoor or natural environment. These activities can include physical or mental exertion outside of office confines. Some individuals score high because of environmental concerns.
40%
Musical
Involvement with music in its many forms. Interests may include melodies, compositions, attending concerts, supporting the musical arts, or simply appreciating music. Professional musicians would be expected to have a high degree of this interest.
39%
Numerical
Combining number analytically and factually to arrive at practical, quantitative conclusions. Utilising numbers in business bookkeeping, accounting and tax procedures.
30%
Scientific
Involvement in professions or avocations that assist others through research. Occupations in health services, technology and medical paraprofessionals, nutritional and pharmaceutical services involving scientific interests.
24%
Mechanical
Hands-on work with a broad range of technical responsibilities from power-driven machine operations to high-tech electronics. Interests may include design, maintenance, operation or repair of motors and machinery, power-driven or automated.
12%

Summary of the Lifestyle Grid
This grid also demonstrates how others would react in a similar situation, so that teams can understand each other better.

  • You enjoy people-centred activities, particularly when these activities involve theorising, planning or creating new ways of doing things.
  • When you are working effectively, you tend to be assertive, enthusiastic and intense in feeling.
  • To be most effective, you generally respond best to people who are insightful and persuasive. Under stress, you may become easily distracted and hesitant.

Organisational Focus Overview

  1. Blue: Design/Strategy (strongest influence)
    1. Focuses on strategy and innovation
    2. Generates ideas and concepts
    3. Values the welfare of people
    4. Operates with idealistic outlook
    5. Engages in research and development
    6. Provides vision
    7. Sensitive and creative
  2. Green: Sales/Marketing
    1. Focuses on sales and marketing efforts
    2. Influences and motivates people
    3. Seeks recognition
    4. Supports and manages change
    5. Actively communicates with others
    6. Acts independently
    7. Outgoing and enthusiastic
  3. Yellow: Admin/Fiscal
    1. Focuses on organisational process/systems
    2. Values accuracy and detail
    3. Analyses data thoroughly
    4. Cooperative when working with others
    5. Ises plan when acting on objectives
    6. Appreciates stability in environment
    7. Cautious and consistent
  4. Red: Operations/Technology (weakest influence)
    1. Focuses on operations and production
    2. Values tactical, short-term goals
    3. Takes action on objectives
    4. Communicates candidly
    5. Produces tangible products
    6. Makes decisions quickly
    7. Practical and ‘hands on’

Top 10 (suggested) Job Families

  • Legal (including lawyers)
  • Knowledge Specialist (including career counsellors, University lecturers, clergy)
  • Administrative Professionals (including auditing)
  • Educational Careers (including teachers, University lecturers, University administration)
  • Social Service/Counselling (including clergy, counsellors, psychologists, sociologists)
  • Employee Relations/Training (including career counselors, HR training, customer services, entertainment marketing, public relations, lobbying, personnel)
  • Artistic Careers (including visual arts, editorial positions, architecture, travel agents)
  • Medical Professions (including nutritionists, public health administrators)
  • Delegative Management (Managing, leading and accomplishing goals through others by utilising plans and strategies, arrange resources and assist subordinates and teams in dealing with resource and implementation issues. Include managers and executives in plan-driven organisations.)
  • Consultative Intangiable Sales (Marketing and/or sales of intangiable products or services.)

Report gained through www.2030vision.org.uk, now www.lookingatlife.org.uk, part of the Care for the Family group on 4th September 2007.

What Others Say

Others indicate that I have a number of strengths:

  • Looking to create unity, harmony, and create a cohesive whole from seemingly disparate elements
  • Seeks, encourages and generates creative ideas to promote valued causes.
  • Works at both strategic and practical levels
  • Will consult appropriate experts (academics, students, creative & technical agencies)
  • Trained to work to a high level, implementing, and seeing things through to completion.

A collection of comments provided through feedback from friends, students, managers:

See more under Personality Profiling.

ENFP

In 1999/2000, I completed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test, which is one of a set of personality tests. There are 16 Myers-Briggs Types, and on the training course I came out, rather inconclusively, as an ‘ESFP’, although only ‘E’ was very clear – I was near the edge of all other letters, particularly S/N and J/P. In 2007, I took advantage of the variety of tests online to re-do the test, and came out on every one as an ENFP (which fits more strongly with careers style discussions)

Click to view my Personality Profile page
Taken from mypersonlity.info