Subscribe in a reader
Enter your email address:
Delivered by FeedBurner
Malcolm Gladwell rips the Meyer-Briggs personality test.
Posted by Craig on 05:51:00 AM in Science
TrackBack URL for this entry:http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c9b9953ef00e55035014c8834
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference :
You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.
I work for a very successful small company. One of the reasons the company is successful is their testing process of candidates for open positions.
A number of years ago, the best performer in each department was given a battery of intelligence, aptitude, interest and personality tests (including the Meyer-Briggs). From those tests a best performer profile was created for each department.
New hires are interviewed and selected in a normal way. Only the final candidate is given the battery of tests. If that candidate varies significantly from the best performer profile, that person is not hired.
The results are that the employees like their jobs and are good performers. New employees are amazed at how well everyone in their department gets along.
A few years ago, one manager hired a series of bad performers. It turned out that those bad performers were vetoed by the psychologist but the manager hired them anyway.
That does not happen anymore.
March 29, 2005 at 12:29 PM
I began reading Gladwell’s rant about Myers-Briggs (not Meyer-Briggs) and very quickly saw errors. For example:
Gladwell: "This is the first problem with the Myers-Briggs. It assumes that we are either one thing or another--Intuitive or Sensing, Introverted or Extroverted."
No, the test doesn’t assume that. It's built on the observation (not assumption) that most people tend to be more intuitive than sensing (or the converse), more introverted than extroverted (or the converse), and so on. The strength of the tendency toward one trait or the other varies from person to person. A few who take the test score about in the middle on one trait or another, equally balanced.
Gladwell: "The Myers-Briggs assumes that who we are is consistent from one situation to another…. [And as a refutation of this:] Walter Mischel [found that] just because a boy was aggressive in the face of being teased by another boy didn't mean that he would be aggressive in the face of being warned by an adult."
Again Gladwell misunderstands the theory. Here’s what he missed: Certain temperament types are more disposed than others to show deference for authority in its typical manifestations (rank, age, title, and so on). If a kid is that type, he might very well be aggressive toward another kid (an equal) but not toward an adult (whom the kid sees as a superior, an authority figure). There’s no inconsistency in this. He’s behaving according to type. Incidentally, aggressiveness isn’t a trait that temperament typing measures or identifies. So that’s another misapprehension on Gladwell’s part.
It was about here that I gave up on Gladwell. He clearly wasn’t aiming to understand temperament typing before he criticized it. He was bent from the outset on trashing it. I wonder why.
April 03, 2005 at 05:34 PM
The comments to this entry are closed.
Find new books and literate friends with Shelfari, the online book club.