Personality Assessment Testing
According to the personality inventory test, Keirsey Temperament Sorter II (KTS II), I may be an Idealist, but I have no way to be certain my results are correct. The KTS II attempts to measure personality and indicate a dominate personality type. Many popular personality inventory instruments used by trait theorists are similar in that they are inspired by Carl Jung’s assertion of archetypal personalities (Kelly ; Jugovic, H., 2001). Many literary traditions indicate 12 basic character types, however most of the trait theories yield 16 types. The online KTS II uses “70 forced selected” questions to construct a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (Kelly ; Jugovic, H., 2001). It’s important to note that “a” MBTI, is not the same thing as the actual Myers Briggs as developed by Isabell Myers and her mother Katherine Briggs. The KTS II is also slightly different from the more researched Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. These differences are part of the problem I have with my results. These tests seem to exist in an ocean of competing proprietary trait theory sites competing for the dollars of human resources professionals and the results almost seems like modern day astrology.
These tests use tools that are based on Jungian theories of personality and are designed to measure subject’s responses to questions across four subjective scales of measure. The four scales are Extroversion versus Introversion, Sensing versus Intuition, Thinking versus Feeling, and Judging versus Perceiving. Are these scales appropriate to gauge my personality or perhaps the real question is what do these scales measure? This is a question of validity and according to a competing test known as the MMDI, “when Keirsey refers to “E/I”, he means something quite different to what Jung and Briggs-Myers meant” (Keirsey Temperament and Myers Briggs, 2017). The MMDI proponents assert that even Keirsey believes that the Myers Briggs is flawed in its reliance on Jung because of conflation between the actual meaning of extraversion with observation (S) and introversion with introspection (N) (Keirsey Temperament and Myers Briggs, 2017). MMDI goes on to say that Keirsey asserts that “to make the E-I distinction useful at all, we must define the two concepts, not in terms of mental focus or interest, but in terms of social address or social attitude” (Keirsey Temperament and Myers Briggs, 2017).
Are the factors being measured even independent of each other? Perhaps the best critique of the Junging, MBTI-based testing was in 1993 by David Pittinger. Pittinger noted that there was “ample data that indicate that the factors are not independent of one another and that the MBTI correlates with other measures of personality, and that the MBTI correlates highly with measures of personality with much different theoretical and empirical origins suggests that the unique assessment qualities of the MBTI cannot be maintained” (Pittenger, 1993). He also noted that the testing was potentially plagued by people’s tendency to respond as they think others want them to respond, that test subjects tend to accept the feedback of such questioning even if right or wrong and finally he asks the question can you even constrain personality type to just 16 personalities. At what point does this become little different from the archetypes of fiction and folklore like the types known as the Trickster or the Hero, etc?
I received a slightly different result with another test – the MMDI. Had I been willing to pay money to the KTS II site I would have received a more detailed explanation of their label of Idealist but the free report indicates I would be either an ENFP, INFJ, INFP, or ENFJ. When I later took a similar test from Metarasa my MMDI results were shown on a graph as ISFP but according to the graph, the Sensing versus Intuition and Judging versus Perceiving scores were almost exactly on the center line. In other words, I could easily have been INFP, ISFJ, ISFP, or INFJ. To use the Thinking/Feeling scale for example, the apparent goal is to determine if you lean toward logically reasoning through problems and situations or do you lean toward responses based on what you feel internally or a set of beliefs. When did I become a “Feeler”?
A 2001 review indicated that the Keirsey site interpretations are not well researched, and that “these descriptions remain to be substantiated by empirical research.” Kelly and Jugovic say:
Counselors must be aware that the interpretive information in the MBTI Manual (Myers et al., 1998) is supported by decades of research by hundreds of independent investigators. There is no comparison between the quality of support for the MBTI interpretive material and the interpretive information provided on the Keirsey web site” (2001).
Fifteen years later, two researchers in Ireland use the same information from Kelly and Jugovic to say that Kelly and Jugovic “observed moderate to strong correlation between MBTI and KTS-II for the scores of both male and female participants and claimed that these two scales are measuring similar personality constructs” (Yilmaz & O’Connor, 2015). This reminds me of the classic line from the Dire Straights hit song Industrial Disease “two men claim they’re Jesus, one of them must be wrong” (Knopfler, 1982).
The KTS II seems to offer specific descriptions of my personality, but the information only “seems” specific. What the site actually provides me is a three-paragraph description of the so-called traits of an idealist and all the descriptors are positive. Without the negatives associated with the type how is this much different from an astrological sign? Moreover, it seems that the questions are designed to obtain a personality response while you are at ease and under no pressure. It seems to me that no personality trait measure can be complete without difficult questions such as the dilemma about people in the lifeboat – do you toss out one to save the other three? The persona personality may be different from the core personality. I think the KTS II comes close to my core personality but not close enough for me to say that it is accurate.
The second test I took indicated I was ISF P or J. I was right on the line of P and J and that is the difference between the “Defender” and the “Adventurer”. Metarassa’s MMDI was designed “to help the individual understand the difference between their inner preferences and the way they behaved at work (MMDI technical manual, 2017). They also indicated that the presence of many online MBTI encouraged them to devise their own and to tailor it to work. I don’t know if this is a better tool and a more accurate portrayal of me than the KTS II. The main strength of the MMDI is the graphical presentation that shows how close you are to the center, which seems to take the pressure off assigning a single personality out of 16.
How do I evaluate a work personality tool when I am just 18 years old and have not held a “real” job? I look to my parents and grandfather and always noticed there was the “work” person, the “parent” person, and “real” person. When they are in their “leadership/work” mode, they exhibit not only different behaviors but make different choices about things. When they change their “hat”, another persona comes out of them. At what age do you become the role you have played? Jung, and the Briggs women, and all that have come after are somewhat bent on shoving you into one of the classical archetypes. What else can they do with a social science does not allow for exact natural science measures regarding personality? How much variety can you explain to the average person or worker and get to any generality? Are these valid tools? Do they actually measure what they claim to measure? I think they are valid to a degree, but I don’t begin to have the information and experience to back up that judgment. I don’t want to be biased against non-empirical data but is seems like measuring rainfall with an empty flower pot instead of a Standard National Weather Service Rain Gauge made only to record rainfall. Like the flower pot, you know if it rained and about how much it rained but you don’t know precisely and for all you know it could have sleeted or snowed a bit and melted.
Personality Assessment Testing