The Internet loves the Myer-Briggs personality test. My Pinterest dashboard is always filled with pins relating to this test. I've visited several new blogs over the past few weeks and in almost every "About Me" page, the author states their Myer-Briggs test result in the first or second sentence, as if that is the most important thing that new readers should know about them.
For the unaware, the Myer-Briggs test was developed in the 20th century to "indicate psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions," according to Wikipedia. There are four categories with two options each:
Extraverted (E) or Introverted (I)
Sensing (S) or iNtuition (N)
Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)
Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)
These eight traits add to sixteen unique personalities.
The four traits that make up your Myer-Briggs result, however, do not make you who you are.
Let me use myself as an example.
In 2010, I took the Myer-Briggs test and my result was INFP. Let me go through each letter and tell you what that means according to the test results and according to me:
I for Introverted. According to the Myer-Briggs website, being introverted means that a person gains energy by being alone in their "inner world" of thoughts and ideas. Introverted people like reflection and they like having just a few close friends. Introverted people can also become tired from too much human interaction.
While I do enjoy my "inner world," I don't necessarily recharge from being alone in it. On the contrary, when I have a week where I stay at home, immersed in my "inner world," I am more likely to be depressed because I feel alone. I get my energy from being out of the house, whether that be hanging out with friends, going to work, or going shopping with my mom.
As you may know, I was a shy child. I could have used my Myer-Briggs result as an excuse: I'm an introvert so I'm supposed to be shy and have only a few friends. But, no; I was lonely, so I worked hard to become more outgoing. As a result, I feel comfortable talking to and joking with lots of different kinds of people now, rather than just with my close friends. I don't classify myself as an introvert; neither do I classify myself as an extravert. I have traits of both.
N for iNtuition. The Myer-Briggs website says that intuitive people trust impressions, abstract theories, and symbols more than experience and facts. Intuitive people like to see the big picture first, and then the facts.
While I do like looking at the big picture more than facts, when it comes to real-life problem-solving, I like to order my facts in a line and logically come to an answer. This is more of a Sensing trait than an iNtuition trait.
Yet, when it comes to a math, science, or multiple choice question, I often rely on my intuition. If an answer feels right, I will choose it (and then doubt myself, pick a different answer, get the question wrong, and then find out that my initial choice was right after all).
F for Feeling. The Myer-Briggs website says that people who are "feelers" are compassionate and are concerned with maintaining harmony. "Thinkers," on the other hand, look for logical solutions to problems, notice inconsistencies, and are compulsively truthful, sometimes without regard to people's feelings.
I always try to be tactful in order to spare other's feelings. I also try to "maintain harmony" because I hate confrontation. But, like I said for iNtuition, I like logical solutions. When something is illogical I act like the androids in that one Star Trek episode: "Illogical, illogical. Please explain, please explain." So, while I do have traits of a Feeling person, I have traits of a Thinker as well.
P for Perceiving. Perceivers, according to Myer-Briggs website, are spontaneous and flexible, often keeping an open schedule and working in bursts, spurred on by approaching deadlines. In contrast, judgers as task oriented and enjoy making to-do lists. Judgers like to get work done before starting leisure activities.
I am very flexible and keep an open schedule, but, other than that, I am more J than P. I can't get anything done unless I write a to-do list and order it according to priority. And, if I don't get work done before watching a movie or reading, I feel like my day has failed.
The danger with personality tests like the Myer-Briggs test is the temptation to excuse negative behavior or to ignore the opportunity for character growth. Just because I am an INFP doesn't mean that I have to be an idealist working to make the world a better place (as several INFP descriptions say), I don't have to be a perfectionist (another common INFP description I see), and I don't have to be lonely (supposedly INFPs are hard to understand and relate to since we make up about 2-4% of the population).
I'm not going to let a personality test tell me who I am. I, like everyone else on earth, am too multi-faceted for a simple personality test to explain. To steal a quote from Veggietales: "God made me special and he loves me very much." I enjoy seeing myself reflected in the descriptions for INFPs, but not enough to close the door on personal growth.
A Myer-Briggs affiliation is not a badge of honor; rather, it is a tool to help you understand yourself—both your good qualities and bad qualities. Knowing your good qualities can help you tailor your lifestyle to reflect your way of "[perceiving] the world and [making] decisions." Knowing your bad qualities can help you overcome them and become a better person because of it.
Don't let personality tests tell you who you are. Rather, let God mold you into his own image.