Take Typealyzer with a grain of salt

Breanne at The MBTI Blog posted a comment on my Typealyzer post (here).  I didn’t take Typealyzer quite so seriously as some — after all, my post’s title was “My Blogging Personality Type”.  My take is that Typealyzer mostly an interesting coding exercise.  It is hardly consistent (I tried it again after another post and it came back ISFJ) and could be misinterpreted, so  Breanne’s comment was constructive:

… I write a blog about the MBTI and wrote a post about how Typealyzer is basically junk. I know lots of people are checking it out for entertainment sake- and that’s totally cool…but I hope you don’t confuse those “blog type” results for your own personality type…. [H]ere’s the original post: http://www.thembtiblog.com/2008/11/websites-that-ruin-my-day.html.

Of course, Breanne’s comments beg the question of the reliability and validity of the MBTI itself. Like most psychological tools, it measuring multiple dimensions of a chaotic system.  And MBTI is about as reliable and valid — if not more so — as other personality inventories. 

MBTI tests, however, aren’t reliable in the way most lay people think of reliable.  For example, did you know that on retests, people come out with three to four [MBTI] type preferences the same 75% to 90% of the time?  Not quite as impressive as the .01 and .05 significance tests one plays around with Stats 101? 

This misunderstanding of the limits of the tool compounds the misperception that one’s MBTI type is black-and-white and immutable.  To my mind, self-awareness and mindfulness benefits aside, one of the main advantages of doing MBTI with a professional is that he/she can point out such caveats — usually by noting which of one’s preferences are strong and which are weak.

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