Chances are good that you know your Myers-Briggs personality type—but is that a good thing or a bad thing? In a piece at the Guardian, Elle Hunt takes a long look at the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and how it "took over the world." Hunt, who for years has identified strongly with her type—ENTJ, sometimes called "the Commander," "the CEO type," or "the executive type"—talks to others who have felt an instant association with their type, as if it explains everything. She also talks to a certified MBTI practitioner, an exec at the Myers-Briggs Company, a tech ethicist, and the professor who wrote a book on the mother and daughter who developed the test in 1943—who had no scientific background, but were interested in the theories of Carl Jung and came up with the test to help with workforce recruitment during World War II.
In addition to the questionable nature of the test's validity (it has essentially no evidence of having any, a criticism that's also been raised of the latest personality test phenomenon, the enneagram), Hunt looks at the controversial nature of typing people in general. A social theorist noted in 1950 that the desire to engage in "people sorting" reflected the potential for a "fascist character," though the MBTI's founders were hoping for a more equal society as a result of their index—as well as the potentially problematic uses of the MBTI specifically. The Myers-Briggs Company warns that the index should not be used to test for romantic compatibility, and companies are not allowed to use it for recruitment or selection purposes, though some skirt this rule. Read the full piece for a look at the feelings of disillusioned former MBTI acolytes—as well as Hunt's results when she finally took the official test, which costs money. (Read more Longform stories.)