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Box me in?

By Dr. Burt Smith March 28th, 2014

Many organizations live and die by personality or behavioral typing. Personally, I’ve always been a little skeptical of how it’s possible to take a creature as remarkable as a human being and type them as this way or that way based on a few questions or on some limited observation.

Here’s a free resource for personality typing, and it uses the Myers-Briggs/Jung Typology system, one of the most popular.


Though this is a widely respected tool, and I think it has some uses, I am still strongly opposed to trying to “categorize” people and I caution us all about doing so. That’s a good way to misjudge and alienate people.

I’ve often wondered if a good character actor could take this test and produce whatever results he or she planned on in advance. This guy appears to have done just that.

Years ago I had to take a psychological test to land a corporate gig. I knew there was no shot if I answered honestly and directly (two qualities right there that would’ve disqualified me). So I imagined what, and who, the ideal candidate would be, and responded accordingly. I simply counter-programmed myself for a wider audience. I became Mr. Opposite. (Remember that episode of Seinfeld when George went against his basic instincts and uncharacteristically succeeded every time?)

I was no longer an introspective loner; I was a jovial team player. I valued obeisance over individuality. I preferred tranquility to creative tension. It was the most fun I ever had on a written exam. And I got the job. (Fortunately the division merged after three months, and I was not offered another position.)” – Lee Robert Schreiber, Poker As Life


Keep that in mind next time someone tells you how powerfully predictable these instruments are.



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