So, the subject of today's ramblings is this: what do you reckon about personality test type things? It seems to be the sort of thing which people just find sort of inherently appealing. There's probably some sort of deep lesson about the human condition and the universal need for labels and affirmation or something in it. The Myers-Briggs personality types have come up in conversation or online 3 or 4 times recently, so I was idly trying to figure out what "type" I am this evening, and it really is an awful lot like the tests we all used to take on thespark.com in high school, which seems somehow incredibly lame in retrospect but which in year 9 we thought were absolutely fascinating and hilarious.
The problem with these sorts of things is that they tend to ask you to generalise about yourself, which is difficult, because people to tend to have pretty nuanced views of themselves, surely? Plus I tend to over think these things and feel like it's totally a big commitment and you have to get the answers right, because, like everyone, I'm a bit weird that way sometimes. I feel like I'm expressing myself badly, but here's an example:
Act first, think/reflect later
Feel deprived when cut off from interaction with the outside world
Usually open to and motivated by outside world of people and things
Enjoy wide variety and change in people relationships
Think/reflect first, then Act
Regularly require an amount of "private time" to recharge batteries
Motivated internally, mind is sometimes so active it is "closed" to outside world
Prefer one-to-one communication and relationships
And the other aspects seem similar; I don't feel like most people are all the way at either end of any spectrum between "notices tasks and work to be accomplished" and "sensitive to people's needs and reactions". I mean, are those things even on the same spectrum? Plus, surely if you care about the people whose needs you're noticing, that's essentially the same thing as noticing a task that needs doing? Like "oh, this person seems hungry, I should hand her a sandwich!", right? I mean, I realise it's more complicated than that, and that's why you'd get actual psychologists to administer actual tests if you cared about the answer, rather than just googling "online free myers briggs test", but still, it somehow seems reductive.
And then, once you've finished trying to decide if you work best closer to deadlines or find it less stressful to do stuff in advance (which again, surely everyone is more or less both?) you get a Type (mine seeeems to be ENFP for those of you playing at home), you can get a description, and here's where I always get suspicious.
The description for ENFP, for instance, is "Warmly enthusiastic and imaginative. See life as full of possibilities. Make connections between events and information very quickly, and confidently proceed based on the patterns they see. Want a lot of affirmation from others, and readily give appreciation and support. Spontaneous and flexible, often rely on their ability to improvise and their verbal fluency", and in fairness, that does sound an awful lot like me, to me. But who doesn't consider themself "warm"? Who doesn't desire affirmation, to some extent? Isn't that whole thing more or less true of most people?
The diametrical (diametric or diametrical? Is this one of those words like oriented and orientated which are the same thing but sometimes just have an extra syllable for kicks, because hey why not?) opposite to ENFP, then, is ISTJ, which is "Quiet, serious, earn success by thoroughness and dependability. Practical, matter-of-fact, realistic, and responsible. Decide logically what should be done and work toward it steadily, regardless of distractions. Take pleasure in making everything orderly and organized – their work, their home, their life. Value traditions and loyalty." Obviously you wouldn't find all that many people rushing to describe me as "quiet and serious" but I sort of like to think of myself as being fairly dependable and responsible. So maybe if it had given me that answer I'd have thought "I guess I am quiet sometimes, like when I'm feeling shy, or am tired or whatever? Wow, deep, this test saw through my non-quiet facade!"? I mean, I'm pretty gullible about these things.
This goes for other systems like this, for the record. Like star signs; I'm not just hacking shit on Jungian psychological theory here. I used to work with a woman who had star sign mug which explained to anyone who cared to read it that she was charismatic and open-hearted and thoughtful, which I'm sure she thought was uncanny in its accuracy. If you gave me an hour to list all the adjectives I could think of to describe her, though, I doubt very much that I'd've come up with a single one of those words.
It's like that sign that was doing the rounds a while ago, "how to care for introverts" (like so: http://drewlaec.tumblr.com/post/26055243226/i-should-probably-just-wear-this-on-my-face-every) of which step 2 is "NEVER embarrass them in public", which seems bizarre to me, since that surely goes (in theory without saying) for, again, all humans? And even cats probably! Which people are all "man, I can't get enough of being publicly embarrassed!" apart from maybe reality tv folks? And even then they probably don't like the bits they think of as being embarrassing, surely?
I dunno, man. It just all seems pretty suss to me.