Image obtained from http://www.16personalities.com
—By Ishi Keenum, from 2018 Spring GRAD 5134 Interdisciplinary Research Class
This week, our class took the 16 personalities quiz in order to assess our Myers Brigg’s 4 letter identity. As someone who loves personality quizzes and wishes a quick survey could plan my life, I enthusiastically took the quiz as soon as it was emailed out. After encouraging other members of my lab to take the quiz as well, I was struck with how either happy or upset my classmates were as we got our personality results.
One friend was disappointed with her results and took it extremely personally. Funnily enough, one of her character traits in her profile was “someone who takes things extremely personally.” She was upset that she’d gotten an undesirable personality trait, which is a contentious idea in itself. I think it’s important to realize that the identities and descriptors themselves are completely neutral. Being someone inclined to lead the charge is just as important as someone meticulous and calculating. In order for society, research and our own personal lives to be successful, we need to understand that all of these traits are needed and have drawbacks.
Maybe it’s my years of reading Seventeen magazine or my Myers Briggs personality truly showing itself but I have learned to take these assessments with a grain of salt. I have done the Myer’s Briggs test probably 4 or 5 times in my life and every time, I get relatively similar results. I know I am a strong-willed individual who enjoys leading over following and who wavers between intuitive and sensing, assertive and tactical. This particular website characterized me as the “Commander” with a strong bent for leadership and big ideas. I agree with this for the most part but I don’t appreciate the feeling that there is nothing I can do to improve on the perceived flaws that come with being myself. I guess the issue I have is there is no room for self improvement and even if you actively work on being more patient, your personality test will still say you are not patient. Now I am not wholly an ENTJ and each time I’ve taken this test, depending on my mood, life situation and how sleepy I am, I flip on the intuitive or sensing metric. I can’t say whether I perceive the outside world or my reactions first, even after extensive explanation. This is probably realistic as when we went through these examples in class, I really didn’t identify with either and am most likely in between.
I gained insights from reading my profile but there were some aspects that I found deeply concerning. For instance, I didn’t realize that for me to approach a relationship, I need to think about some aspect of the future. It was an interesting, and self-reflective thing to read and made me really think about why I feel the need to do this. It allowed me to reflect on my outlook in personal and professional relationships and to see if I agree with this assessment or what that meant I could improve on. The aspects I did not appreciate though were often times the truly negative tone that some aspects of my profile presented. My profile said in no uncertain terms that tolerating a parent-child relationship can “border on the impossible” and as someone who likes to envision myself as one day a relatively good parent, this was especially tough and unfair to say. The feeling of eventual doom that reading some aspects of my friends and my profiles made me more hesitant to read these assessments.
Although I didn’t appreciate the finality and sense of predetermination this profile gave, I appreciated that my profile acknowledged me as someone who “likes to take on new challenges”. This may be why I took some of the weakness as points to consciously work on, It’s important to understand that a 12-minute quiz cannot determine how “cold and ruthless” you come off as or what type of parent you will be. I don’t see anything particularly wrong with taking a personality quiz and I’ve been known to take more than my fair share. Whether it’s finding out if I’m meant to be with Joe, Nick or Kevin Jonas or the more reputable Myers Briggs test, it’s important to remember that you are more than the small range that “Strongly agree” and “Strongly Disagree” can capture.
It’s important to continually try to improve on oneself and I really appreciated the points these profiles came up with. I especially appreciated the tone of our guest, Becca Scott, from the Career and Professional Development office at Virginia Tech. She was excellent at decoding and deconstructing the different elements of our personality results. I particularly appreciated the emphasis on how different personalities work together and the activities that allowed us to understand how, for examples, introverts and extroverts struggle to work together was eye opening. I enjoyed listening to others’ results this week and exchanging the little tidbits that were revealed from our personality assessments and acknowledging how different approaches to problem solving can be utilized. Her view that we can play to our strengths was refreshing as she was careful to emphasize that the purpose of this test was not to put you in a box, which it felt like the 16personalities quiz wanted to do. The results of these quizzes can inform us to aspects about ourselves that we maybe didn’t consider but it’s important to remember that it’s a 12 minute quiz and that it in no way determines whether or not you can be successful or be a leader.