Roger Fusselman

Meyers-Briggs used in career counseling

36 posts in this topic

OK, I guess I'll start this one.

Recently, I went to career counseling at my university to examine what kinds of careers would be right for me. The counselor gave me the Meyers-Briggs Type Inventory, a common personality test of over 90 questions used to elicit what your usual temperament or orientation is. The counselor did a good job qualifying the test, pointing out that it wasn't destiny, that it was not an excuse, that all careers have all of the 16 types this test identifies, that everyone needs a little bit of all 16, that the test itself has its own imperfections, etc. Very responsible, I thought, and I think it helped me see more about my personality and about what careers may suit it. I also did research on my own about the type I tested as, and found the information to be specific; it was NOT a sort of thinking man's astrology, as I think some use Meyers-Briggs to be ("Like, dude, that's so ENFJ"). For an Objectivist, and therefore for someone generally cautious about believing things at face value, I was impressed.

But I did talk with a friend of mine about this, who's also an Objectivist but not well-versed about what Meyers-Briggs is. His concern was with typing people in general, that 16 types do not capture the range of people out there. He basically scoffed at the whole thing. I disagree with ths scoffing, but I could see how other Objectivists might scoff at the test, and I'm willing to give their criticisms the benefit of a doubt.

So, my question to all of you is: have you done something like this kind of test for the sake of learning about your career options? Do you have any positive or negative views about this test? Do you think it exemplifies or violates anything in Ayn Rand's philosophy? Do you think this kind of test is helpful?

Roger (INTP)

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So, my question to all of you is: have you done something like this kind of test for the sake of learning about your career options? Do you have any positive or negative views about this test? Do you think it exemplifies or violates anything in Ayn Rand's philosophy? Do you think this kind of test is helpful?

Roger (INTP)

I'm also an INTP :angry:

I've taken this test on numerous occasions and the results are always relatively the same. I think the test is reasonably accurate, in that the results of it did not surprise me. I thought it was a good representation of my actual personality.

I don't know how helpful this test is on a personal level, unless you have no clue who you are :o . I think it is more useful for other people to get a gauge on aspects of your personality who haven't known you for an extended period of time.

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So, my question to all of you is: have you done something like this kind of test for the sake of learning about your career options? Do you have any positive or negative views about this test? Do you think it exemplifies or violates anything in Ayn Rand's philosophy? Do you think this kind of test is helpful?

Roger (INTP)

I have taken this test numerous times not for the sake of learning about my career options - but to learn how to cope with social interaction. How accurate this test is could be debated, but there is no denying that different personalities exist. Ayn Rand would toss test out with a wave of a hand, without having to think twice about. It personally seems to me that Ayn Rand is an INTJ. Introverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, Judging.

I'm an INTJ as well - and most of the Objectivists I have met in my life have been INTJ's. INTJ's also only make up less than 1% of the entire population in the world - interesting, eh?

This test is helpful insofar as it helps one to understand themselves and others. I've learned to deal with Extroverts because of this test (not that extroverted is bad) - but they cannot stay focused on a topic for more than three seconds, in my past experiences. I bet they can hardly remember what they have previously said. Being introverted, I am naturally attracted to extroverted people, and it is quite difficult to carry on a conversation with them. My personality calls for analyzation - and I like to stay focused on topics for extended periods of time.

I'd love to hear others' thoughts on this topic.

--Brian

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I would like to see hard data on what Objectivists are on the Meyers-Briggs, because I doubt that most of us are from one personality type. It could be that being an Objectivist pre-empts how we respond on the binary nature of the test, they we often put down the answer we think we should put down rather than the answer that accurately reflects who we are. We might, for example, describe ourselves so much as individual rather than as sociable, that the answer we give skews us unnaturally and inaccurately as mostly introverted. When I took the short version, about 60 questions, I scored as an INTJ, but later scored as an INTP on a 90-question version. I'll bet you we have all types in this movement and that types that don't look as , that someone who scores as ESFJ (Extroverted Sensing Feeling Perceiving) interprets that as, say, "SCEA" (Second-hander Concrete-bound Emotionalistic Amoral), which it certainly is not.

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I have had to take the Meyers-Briggs several times and I think the test is silly, focuses on non-essentials, is easy to manipulate, and poses many false alternatives. One question I remember was "Facts are more important than theories, true or false?" Huh?

I usually score ENTJ because I am extremely extroverted, but you don't need a written test to tell you that. Just talk to me for two minutes.

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I usually score ENTJ because I am extremely extroverted, but you don't need a written test to tell you that.  Just talk to me for two minutes.

But being an introvert I'm afraid to :angry:

I agree though, these kind of tests are at best gross generalizations. I would never try to use them for anything meaningful or important.

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For what it's worth, I think it's legitimate for the test to have what Betsy calls "false alternatives," such as the facts/theories example she gave. I've taken the test twice and do not remember any question like that, especially the second, official test.

As for that question, one could argue it's not so hard to answer. Facts are always true, whereas theories are not, so choose facts, right?

But let's say a conscientious Objectivist did choose theories as the answer. That may indicate that he was simply more comfortable in the world of theory than in facts, the kind of person who enjoys a theory-intensive course more than a course that requires heavy memorization of details. While it may look like a series of false dichotomies, the point is to force the test-taker into a choice that guages where he is more comfortable.

I don't know under what auspices some have taken the test, but apparently there is some variation to the tests, especially if they are not done by the agency certified to do them. The test I took recently was a bit more subtle than what Betsy indicated. I am guessing there are a lot of pathetic versions of the actual test.

If done right, I could imagine applications of the test data to things such as hiring practices, and I've heard there are even dating agencies that use tests like these.

Roger

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I test as an INTP as well.

I have a very troubled experience with the Meyers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator. It was my following of the advice given by a career counselor* based off of my score on the test that led me to waste four years of my life in a major that I cared little for. From my experience this test indicates very little and one should be very wary about actually following the advice of such a test as much as one is weary of following the advice of their daily horoscope.

*On a side note the man who gave me the advice was and still is a very popular career counselor in Indianapolis. He brags about not having ever advertised yet continues to be completely booked day after day with appointments because he's "just that good" that people always recomend him to their friends. Indeed, apart from myself I have heard nothing but success stories. However, after getting to know the people who "swear by him" I've begun to think that maybe the people who like the advice he gave were wanting somebody to dictate to them what they should do in the first place. Anybody who had said anything as forceful and "scientific" as he did would have turned out a hero in their eyes.

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Nicholas,

I'm glad I didn't have the experience that you had. My career counselor advised me up front that all personality types are in all careers, and he did not take any stand on what career I should have. It sounds like what you got was not so much a career counselor but rather more of a career wrangler, someone who wanted to push you somewhere in the name of your personality type rather than simply make suggestions.

If ALL you took was a personality test, then the career counselor wouldn't be doing much for you. I also took a career interest inventory test that shot at me 100 or so career ideas, in the form of things I might want to do (e.g., "I would like to work in an emergency room"). I had to rate my responses from "strongly disagree" to "strongly agree," all done on a computer, which crunches the data and indicates my leanings.

The report I get back shows two things. First, it classified the pattern of my interests and identified my interest type. Yep, psychometricians have ways of measuring even what careers strike your fancy. I find out I am an ASE, that I am interested in artistic, social, or enterprising careers, in that order. Other career leanings are realistic ®, investigative (I), and conventional ©, and anyone can test as any three-letter combination of these six concepts, by being, for example, an SCR, as IEC, an REA, etc. Second, I get a thick print-out showing what particular fields I seemed to lean toward, by what percentage, and other statistical data on your responses and what they could mean, whether it fit my ASE pattern or not.

This may sound very hokey to some you. Why not just make a list of your career ideas and follow your convictions? Making a list of EVERYTHING you like may strain the crow, but a test where a myriad of career opportunites are shot at you, you can get a good profile of where you lean, sometimes with surprises. This is especially good for people who go to career counseling: those in doubt about their future, who need help in reflecting on what they should do in the future. Having this kind of test, when administered wisely, could be very illuminating, especially when combined with my Meyers-Briggs data.

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Not to long ago, I came across a book entitled, “DO WHAT YOUR ARE?” Intrigued by the title, I read it and discovered it was a watered down, do-it-yourself version of the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator (MBTI) with a self-test, type identification, and listing of typical careers corresponding to your personality type. For me, although it lopped off the extremes, there was a such wide range of possibility, depending on how I tweaked my answers, as to not be very useful.

This did get me thinking about the authors’ underlying premise which I took to be: Why swim against the stream when you can go with the current? Why not follow a career that matches what you are?

It was that “What you are” phrase that kept setting off my philosophical detector bells.

Looking further into the history and development of MBTI, I found that it has its roots firmly planted in C. G. Jung’s “Personality Types.”

Someone who has studied Jung ( or MBTI) more thoroughly than me may want to elaborate, but Jung is a branch of the Freudian tree and is way off the deep end of the Primacy of Consciousness scale. He holds that there is a “Universal Unconsciousness” and that we each inherit “archetypes” or “preconscious psychic dispositions” (the “what you are” bit) preexiting in the collective concsiousness.

Although the authors of that book, and MBTI practitioners in general, take great pains to qualify that the instrument is not the “be all, end all” in career guidance, its underlying premise is determinism. And therein lies the rub.

For someone who knows their values and has done any degree of introspection, the results of MBTI are a self-fulfilling prophecy, so to speak.

For someone who does not know their values, what would be the outcome? They would answer the value choice questions by what they had heard others say was right or good or what they were told they were supposed to think or feel. Or they would do it by whim. They would then be told this is WHAT YOU ARE and, therefore, this is WHAT YOU SHOULD DO. So much unhapppiness to follow.

I have never liked approaches which put people in a box. Rather than “Do What You Are,” I much prefer the idea of “Be All You Can Be.”

When thinking about a career,there can be great value in seeking guidance from someone who can help with the intropective process or who is knowledgeable about the nature of various career paths and can introduce possibilities you may not have considered or particularize what certain carreers involve. (I am not sufficiently familiar with other psychometric tools to judge whether they could be a valid adjunct to help focus your search).

Regardless of the approach, however, the danger inherent in MBTI comes from relying on a self-limiting conception of your interests and capabilities.

A better approach is to operate on what Andrew Bernstein terms “the explorer premise” and throw your net far and wide, and see what you find. http://www.aynrandbookstore2.com/store/pro...tem=11&mitem=34

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A few points:

1) I think the Meyers-Briggs people can defend themselves without recourse to the "collective unconsciouness" aspects of Jung. I did not get any lectures on Jung the two times I took this test, nor was any tie-in like that made. Just because Jung was weird does not mean he was incapable of good ideas.

2) If personality type was the only principle of career choice, you might have an argument that Meyers-Briggs would counsel determinism. The counseling I got stressed that all types are in all professions and that it is certainly possible for me or anyone else to do work outside of their personality "comfort zone." Still, I don't think you can speak of MBTI "practitioners," as you call them, as "determinists in general," unless you've made a particular study of the matter.

I think the point of books like "Do What You Are" is to help people see how their own personalities can be evaluated and how they can be compared to jobs where such personalities are a plus. The point is NOT if you have type X you can't do a Type Y job. If a Type Y job is your interest, then of course do it. But people may want to consider who they are consciously and subconsciously as a component to judge what kind of life is right for them.

3) "For someone who knows their values and has done any degree of introspection, the results of MBTI are a self-fulfilling prophecy, so to speak." You make it sound as if "any degree of introspection" were necessary to think about oneself or one's career goals. Even if someone knows his values, he may still have a pile of unanswered questions. In my case, the test assisted my own introspection about careers I had considered throughout my life. It wound up being introspection helper, because many topics and subtopics were being integrated along these psychological considerations.

4) "For someone who does not know their values, what would be the outcome? They would answer the value choice questions by what they had heard others say was right or good or what they were told they were supposed to think or feel." Not necessarily. They could simply take this advice in consideration while thinking about what they like and don't like. A good career counselor may listen more than talk, allowing the person to come up with ideas on his own.

5) I think Bernstein's "cast the net" advice is valid, but I would extrospect AND introspect.

Still, when doing both, it's important to consider what one is capable of doing within a limiting context. Physically, one may be too old for, say, an athletic or physically demanding career. Financially, one may not have the funds or resources to go to Harvard Law School, at least for the moment. Politically, some jobs may not be available, say, to people living in countries or times when positions are barred because of race or nationality.

Psychologically, one may have an overall demeanor that inhibits some psychological job requirements. If you are painfully shy AND a bit disorganized AND averse to crowds, you may have trouble as social director on a cruise ship, regardless how much you may love the ocean. If there are many of these differences and if they go to the root of what a job requires, it may be psychologically uncomfortable to a person to complete the work satisfactorily. They could still do the work, but the satisfaction of a job well done may not be as satisfying as it could be if the work were more attuned psychologically to the person. One does not have to be Jung to see that.

Regardless of one's passion for a particular field, it is important to be realistic about the kind of work one can get, and one's personality may be a part of that.

Roger

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3) "For someone who knows their values and has done any degree of introspection, the results of MBTI are a self-fulfilling prophecy, so to speak." ...

4) "For someone who does not know their values, what would be the outcome?  They would answer the value choice questions by what they had heard others say was right or good or what they were told they were supposed to think or feel." ...

As moderator, I wanted to offer a reminder that it is important to cite who you are quoting. That way, everyone can immediately know who is responding to whom.

Thanks.

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I'm also an INTP  :angry:

I've taken this test on numerous occasions and the results are always relatively the same.  I think the test is reasonably accurate, in that the results of it did not surprise me.  I thought it was a good representation of my actual personality. 

I don't know how helpful this test is on a personal level, unless you have no clue who you are  :o .  I think it is more useful for other people to get a gauge on aspects of your personality who haven't known you for an extended period of time.

I took the test recently in order to find out if there was 'something missing' - ie. that I didn't realize about myself. Long story short, nothing missing. At my age, mid 50's, there was nothing new to find out. If it has any value at all I think younger people may benefit. But it is only a tool and certainly shouldn't be taken as a be all and end all type of evaluation. It might even change over a long period of time.

I suspect Objectivists would run the gamut of the 16 possible scores, the same as any other group of people.

(ISTP)

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In my case, the test assisted my own introspection about careers I had considered throughout my life. It wound up being introspection helper, because many topics and subtopics were being integrated along these psychological considerations.

Roger,

Thanks for the thought you gave in responding to my post.

I did not say, as your quotation marks imply, that all of those who administer the MBTI are “determinists in general.” Neither did I suggest or infer that they lectured their clients on Jung. That was not the point.

Also, my comments were not meant in any way to be critical of your career counseling experience, including your experience with the MBTI. I presume, however, from your comments in an above post to Nicolaus that it was not “the test” in and of itself which was an aid to your introspective process, but the totality of your experience, especiallly your interaction with a capable and knowledgeable counselor. I am glad to read you found it all helpful.

I have no argument with the idea that in choosing a career it may be beneficial to take stock of your own character and to seek to identify a career path in which your values and interests as well as your personal style can find their fullest expression. If there are valid psychometric tools which, when properly applied, can aid in this process, so much the better.

My concern is with the potential for misuse or abuse of a formulaic approach to career counseling, particularly in the hands of those who hold that personality is static or immutable or inborn, or that it fits neatly into a predefined category. MBTI lends itself to such misuse.

As I noted in my prior post, the danger comes when the outcomes of these tests are viewed as an all-encompassing indicator of “What you are” or of “What you can or should be.” Worse still is if their use results in an individual limiting his self-concept or altering or abandoning his aspirations becauses he is not the right “type.”

I do not want to prolong this discussion, but you may want to rephrase the last sentence of your reply to my post (if it does not clearly express what you meant).

Regardless of one's passion for a particular field, it is important to be realistic about the kind of work one can get, and one's personality may be a part of that.

As written, it sounds like something which the Dean might have said to Roark (which is exactly the problem).

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I have had to take the Meyers-Briggs several times and I think the test is silly, focuses on non-essentials, is easy to manipulate, and poses many false alternatives.  One question I remember was "Facts are more important than theories, true or false?"  Huh?

I remember that very same question! It and others like it caused me to reach the same conclusion: MTBI is rather silly.

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ABB,

I do not want to prolong this discussion, but you may want to rephrase the last sentence of your reply to my post (if it does not clearly express what you meant).

"Regardless of one's passion for a particular field, it is important to be realistic about the kind of work one can get, and one's personality may be a part of that."

As written, it sounds like something which the Dean might have said to Roark (which is exactly the problem).

As written, i.e., in the context of the post and others I have made, the statement is no endorsement of the Dean's second-hander mentality in "The Fountainhead," assuming that's what you're getting at. Recall what I said: an extremely shy person may have trouble with being a social director. A somewhat risk-averse person may have trouble being a police officer. These people COULD have such positions, but they may find aspects of the work unappealing to them. Or, to take Roark as an example, an extremely independent sort of person may have trouble carrying out the orders and designs of others. To keep his sanity, he has to do and say things that seredipitously get him fired from one office or another, without him meaning to get fired.

For more information on personality and work, I'd like to recommend some of the stuff Edwin Locke has done, particularly "The Prime Movers" and "Setting Goals to Improve Your Life and Happiness." In the former, he argues that great businessmen have various personality traits that help make them billionaires. In the latter, he argues that career goals should be set with some limiting context in mind; a shoe clerk with debt and a crumbling marriage, to give one of Dr. Locke's examples, may find it counter-productive to dream of being President of the United States. These weren't Locke's only arguments, but they show a connection between personality and career.

I will certainly admit that it's possible to abuse the MBTI test, but you'd be surprised how many tests can be ruled out on the basis of potential abuse.

Roger

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I took the MBTI about 12 years ago in conjunction with a communication class. (It was prior to my finding Ayn Rand.) I found the test to be quite helpful because it, in conjunction with the people running the class, gave me a framework to use in dealing with people. I am an INTJ, and for most of my life had had difficulty understanding and dealing with other people. I have subsequently discovered that most of my difficulty in understanding many other people has to do with epistemology, i.e. their inability to think rationally, but I must say that a part of the problem has to do with their personalities being quite different as well.

If my experience was any indication, the INTJ profile is relatively rare. There were approximately 30 people in my class and most of the people ended up in about three or four of the profiles. I was all by myself as an INTJ, and it was the only profile that had only one person in it. (I also find it fascinating that a number of the posters to this topic have the INTJ profile as well.)

The MBTI is hardly a panacea, but as a tool to help someone generally understand their own or other people's personalities it can provide some insights that otherwise might be missed.

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I was all by myself as an INTJ, and it was the only profile that had only one person in it.  (I also find it fascinating that a number of the posters to this topic have the INTJ profile as well.)

Just to add to the total, I am also an INTJ (though once in a while I come out as an INTP). I agree with the others in this thread who find M-B interesting but not useful for anything essential.

I took another aptitude/personality test, the Birkman, when I went through a career outplacement service about two years ago. This test categorizes differently than M-B, showing scores for four characteristics plotted within grid consisting of four quadrants. I don't recall enough to describe it (interested parties should be able to find the Birkman web site pretty easily), but I remember being the only person any of the professionals there had ever seen whose scores, all four of them, fell exactly in the same spot in the same quadrant (you could have stacked my graphs and pushed a pin through my four scores). Most people's scores fall into different quadrants or, for some scores, different points within the same quadrant, for the different characteristics measured.

For anyone who knows the Birkman, I was blue-blue-blue-blue, almost smack in the middle of that quadrant.

I felt special. :o

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I suspect Objectivists would run the gamut of the 16 possible scores, the same as any other group of people.

(ISTP)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I doubt this, because many of the Myers-Briggs questions relate more to one's philosophy than to one's personality. For example, I think that any Objectivist would have to score high on T rather than F, and the types reported so far on this thread are indeed all T's.

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I am a clinical social worker (don't scoff, our profession has long abandoned the crippling charity practices described in Rand's books; if you see a social worker behaving or thinking as those Rand illustrates, quickly refer them to the NASW Code of Ethics), and I have used and taken the Meyers-Briggs test on several occasions. Here is my take:

It is only a tool. It is based on the work of Carl Jung. It has validity but should never be used as a substitute for acquiring self-knowledge through one's own intellectual reasoning. For example, I am a pretty even split on all categories except the first; I am an introvert in the Jungian sense. This does not mean, however, that if I feel like living it up once in a while with my friends, or if I feel like taking a stab at a profession considered to be geared more for the extrovert, I should refrain because the Meyers-Briggs tells me so.

Anyone administering or taking this test would do well to follow the "take what you need and leave the rest" path.

Consider this, though. Ayn Rand strongly advocated thinking independently, regardless of other opinions. The sword cuts both ways. If you benefitted from the Meyers-Briggs, great. So be it. No one has the right or power to force you to disregard the test. Conversely, those disinclined toward the test have equal reason and right to ignore it altogether.

As to what Ayn Rand herself would have to say about it? Who knows? I'm not psychic, and she was full of surprises.

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I think that any Objectivist would have to score high on T rather than F, and the types reported so far on this thread are indeed all T's.

I agree with that. I'd be very surprised if there were many F's among Objectivists, and they would need to adapt radically to enjoy talking to us, the T's.

I find the types really useful in how to tailor a communication to an individual.

For example, if you had to give some "constructive criticism" (aka negative feedback) to a good friend, or a valuable employee, you would want to adapt the way you communicate this to whether they're T or F.

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As to what Ayn Rand herself would have to say about it?  Who knows?  I'm not psychic, and she was full of surprises.

Well, I have no more ability to converse with the deceased than John Edward has, but I could formulate an informed hypothesis about what AR might say. It is reasonably clear that, basically, a T makes decisions by thinking, i.e., rationally, and an F makes decisions emotionally, e.g., by following other people's opinions (this is a bit of an oversimplification because the M-B categories aren't that clearly delineated, but it's close enough to make the point). The Myers-Briggs practitioners insist that all categories are equal (this is their form of egalitarianism). For example, F is supposed to be just as valid a decision-making policy as T is. Obviously, AR would have strongly disagreed with that!

I think that the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a fun party game, but it leaves much to be desired as a psychological instrument. Just to mention one scientific problem with it: there is no scientific evidence that personality types fall into 16 discrete categories of any kind, much the the 16 designated by the MBTI.

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I think that the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a fun party game, but it leaves much to be desired as a psychological instrument. Just to mention one scientific problem with it: there is no scientific evidence that personality types fall into 16 discrete categories of any kind, much the the 16 designated by the MBTI.

The last phrase should read: "much less for the 16 designated by the MBTI."

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You know, I have found over and over in dating situations that I get asked what Meyers-Briggs personality type I was. I took the test and scored INTJ, and of course I get this, "Oh, well that's typical for an Objectivist" response. The thing is that I'm <i>not</i> all that introverted with people I enjoy and value - but whenever the test asked about my interactions with other people is suggests parties and large groups of people, which I rarely enjoy. I always imagined an introvert as someone who didn't communicate much, or well, with others.

Maybe I am confused, but I looked up the definitions for introvert and extrovert and this is what I found. {source: www.merriam-webster.com - and yes, I know the dictionary is not infallible, but I picked the definition that made the most sense and I am happy to hear any possible corrections.}:

introvert --> "introversion": The state or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one's own mental life.

extrovert --> "extroversion": The act, state, or habit of being predominantly concerned with and obtaining gratification from what is outside the self.

So, I <i>was</i> confused, because I didn't know the actual definitions of introvert vs. extrovert. I actually <i>am</i> introverted, according to these definitions.

Is it really true that only 1% of the test-takers are INTJ, that seems hard (and a bit dissapointing) to believe.

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