I’m an ENFP and Here’s Why It Doesn’t Matter

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I’m an ENFP and Here’s Why It Doesn’t Matter

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I am an Aries, born in the year of the Snake. Buzzfeed says that I am the princess Jasmine and a pumpkin spice latte. The Myers-Briggs personality test says that I am extroverted, intuitive, feeling and perceiving. Perhaps you have heard about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, or MBTI. It has gained a lot of popularity over the past 15 years. Career counselors use them to help indicate what jobs might be suitable for their students, and companies use them to help with job interviews. 

If you are unfamiliar with the MBTI, it is a test that will fit your personality into one of 16 different types based on a combination of attributes. It determines whether you are introverted, meaning you draw energy from being alone, or extraverted, meaning you draw energy from being around others. It also tells you whether you are intuitive, meaning you rely on instinct, or sensing, you draw conclusions from the world around you. The third category is whether you are feeling, you make decisions based on emotion, or thinking, based on logic. Finally, the last category is perceiving, you tend to go with the flow, versus judging, which means you like order and structure. The end result is a combination of four terms that “determine” your personality, such as ENFP (Extraverted, iNtuitive, Feeling, and Perceiving) or ISTJ (Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging). There are 16 different combinations and, thus, different categories of personality. 

This test gained a lot of traction and attention for being accurate and helping with career planning. However, it is not actually that dependable. It is about as reliable as a Buzzfeed quiz for which Disney princess you are. According to Psychology Today, Adam Grant, Ph.D., discusses his experience with the MBTI, given that he took it on two separate occasions and got two very different results. He argues that “a test is reliable if it produces the same results from different sources … As my inconsistent scores foreshadowed, the MBTI does poorly on reliability.” If the MBTI gives unpredictable results, how can we rely on it for professional or personal use? While it might give you some insight into your behavior, it can only take you so far. This applies to many other personality determiners. Your zodiac sign might tell you that you are adventurous, and perhaps that is true. However, you should not allow that to become your whole identity or base your career on it. 

This test was created in an attempt to create boxes to put humans in. By categorizing personalities, we create neat little groups that simplify things for us. David Pittenger, Chair of the Department of Psychology at Marietta College, discusses this in his academic journal, Measuring the MBTI… And Coming Up Shortsaying, “MBTI attempts to force the complexities of human personality into an artificial and limiting classification scheme. The focus on the ‘typing’ of people reduces the attention paid to the unique qualities and potential of each individual.” What Pittenger is saying is that attempting to organize people into 16 neat little groups will never work well. People and personalities are complex, and by attempting to force them into these categories, you limit their potential. Personalities are so unique and different that it is nearly impossible to categorize them as the MBTI attempts to do. 

This is not to say that the MBTI has no purpose. If you enjoy taking such tests, continue to do so. For some people, the vague categorization can help them find themselves. However, it is important to remember that allowing such tests to define your identity will limit your potential. Each person is so much more than four letters, and basing your life on such letters will not lead to fulfillment. So according to Myers-Briggs, I am an ENFP; however, I am also a writer, a college student and a donut lover. What are you?