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Personality Tests Are the Astrology of the Office

The New York Times – Psychometric tests like Color Code, Myers-Briggs and DiSC have become a goofy part of corporate life. But what happens when we take them seriously?…”The code is just one example of the kinds of psychometric tests now being administered in workplaces. There’s CliftonStrengths, owned by Gallup, which tells you your five best professional qualities; there’s Insights Discovery, which assigns you a color and an associated workplace archetype like coordinator, inspirer or observer. The DiSC model, which has been used by The Times, diagnoses a person’s dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness. A new test on the scene, Dr. Helen Fisher’s Temperament Inventory, identifies whether you’re a testosterone, dopamine, estrogen or serotonin, purportedly in the name of love.  The most popular of the group is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, roughly based on Dr. Carl Jung’s psychology, which since the 1960s has sorted some 50 million subjects into introvert or extrovert, sensing or intuiting, thinking or feeling and judging or perceiving. Along the way, it has spawned dating sites, couples therapy, diet services, spinoffs for your pet and some backlash. Adam Grant, professor of organizational psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, said there’s a concerning lack of evidence for the test’s accuracy. “The Myers-Briggs is like asking people what do you like more: shoelaces or earrings?” he said. “You tend to infer that there’s going to be an ‘aha!’ even though it’s not a valid question.” Dr. Grant has tested both as an INTJ and ESFP. It “creates the illusion of expertise about psychology,” he said. Even Dr. Jung, whose work inspired the test, acknowledged the limitations of type. “There is no such thing as a pure extrovert or a pure introvert,” he wrote. “Such a man would be in the lunatic asylum.”…”

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