Roger Fusselman

Meyers-Briggs used in career counseling

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In the context of the Myers-Briggs, I have always used that kind of question to assess I v. E: How would you rather relax after a week of hard work? At home with a good book / DVD / CD and a glass of wine, or at a bar with a bunch of friends?

I'm INTP myself. I'm not sure J is usual for Objectivist, but I have trouble imagining any Obj. who would be F rather than T.

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I'm INTP myself.

Cool, Joss. Just like Gail Wynand! :)

--

Brian

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In the context of the Myers-Briggs, I have always used that kind of question to assess I v. E: How would you rather relax after a week of hard work?  At home with a good book / DVD / CD and a glass of wine, or at a bar with a bunch of friends?

I'm INTP myself.  I'm not sure J is usual for Objectivist, but I have trouble imagining any Obj. who would be F rather than T.

I haven't take the test in a long time but I suspect I've moved from INTP to ENTP as I've gotten older. But my answer for your test would be I enjoy a good book or DVD on weekdays and meeting my friends on the weekend!

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What I'm for:

Objectivity with respect to human nature - man qua man AND me qua me.

Paraphrasing Ayn Rand, when it comes to any kinds of values which one is after - including career values - the question is not, "Can I do it?" but rather, "What is required to do it?" Reason guided by objectivity is the only way to comprehend one's values and shape one's character to achieve them - in career and life. Emotions should be consulted to provide clues as to the degree of one's subconsciously integrated passion regarding different potential values one is considering, but emotions cannot be the basis of one's decisions. And there are no short-cuts to introspection.

What I'm against:

All of the affective and conative "personality" tests (including Meyers-Briggs) whch I've ever seen posess the following characteristics: a series of questions posing over-simplified, out-of context, concrete-bound, impossibly false alternatives - all of which are supposed to be "just quickly answered as the mood strikes you."

Since the subconscious content and psycho-epistemology of most people is a jumbled, whim-ridden swamp, that's all that ever comes out in the process of "just quickly" taking the test. For those who work to have integrated content and precious values and naturally powerful and passionate method, the tests are annoying, frustrating, commoditizing affronts to one's rationality. The interpreting of the Kolbe contative (striving) test is pure psychologizing as are some of the books I've seen on Meyers-Briggs (e.g. "Please Understand Me").

These tests are a complete repudiation of objective scientific method, and are often used as evasive substitutes for responsible independent judgment by recruiters, employers, and test-takers alike. So of what possible rational value can they be - other than as a low-grade introduction to pop psychology (with determinist overtones)?

I know of numerous executives who have found absolutely no improvement in hiring over dozens of recruitments using these tests, and only one who insists on one particular test (the Kolbe) when hiring individuals for project-based work. At different points in my career I've tested quite differently on both affective and conative tests - depending on my then-current goals and actions and mood.

What I recommend:

Rational values are too precious to be toyed with. Work hard to identify them and know why you love them and enjoy feeling that love intensely. I recall Dr. Peikoff somewhere mentioning Ayn Rand could tell you everything she liked, how much, and precisely why - right down to her favorite color. What a naturally glorious way to live life!

If I were required to take such a test today, I would reply: "what distribution among the 4 multiple-choice "answers" to each question are you looking for?"

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I think Meyers-Briggs can be a useful tool in certain contexts. I dislike the false alternatives, but find MB a useful shorthand in dealing with other people in certain contexts. I am an INTP, which, along with INTJ is relatively rare. In fact, Rationals (all NT types) are more rare in general. I think pretty much all Objectivists will come up T, and probably more than normal would would come up J and I rather than P and E, just because the way the questions are worded. I think for an Objectivist, the best way to determine E vs. I is to guage your energy level after spending time with a group of people you enjoy. Are you tired or are you energized? Even with people I enjoy spending time with, I have to retreat after a while for some introspection because it just wears me out. The best way for an Objectivist to judge J vs. P would probably be to look at his or her desk. Is it messy? Cluttered? You are probably a P. Do you have a perfectly neat filing system and a place for everything and everything in its place? You are probably a J. Does it take you a long time to reach a decision, do you have a strong need to 'weigh all of the options' before making even a small decision like where to have dinner? You are probably a P.

I am most strongly P. Which is great for creativity and exploring the possibilities, but not so great when it comes to getting organized or moving forward without second guessing myself. Getting some insight into that has actually helped me a great deal. I am an introvert, but Meyers-Briggs has helped me in understanding and communicating with extroverts. I find that I usually have real communication challenges with SJ personality types as they tend to be very concrete bound and rule focused. I have to explain things differently -- less with the abstract, more with the concrete examples, leave the metaphor and word play at home. I have learned that F's have to be dealt with in such a way as to not hurt their feelings -- be gentle, but firm.

I think the real problem is the dichotomy between T and F. What often gets defined as F isn't necessarily those who make decisions merely based on whim and feeling, but those who are more sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others and are more tuned into emotions in general. I've seen many a rational non-Objectivist come up F, so it rather puzzles me.

This system isn't perfect by any means, I wouldn't use it to pick a career (I am a systems builder personality type who isn't crazy about math) or pick a mate (mine is also an INTP, we are doomed to forever be late and forget where we parked), but I think it can help in figuring out your own shortcomings and communicate with those who do not think as you do.

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An Objectivism-related IRC channel that I've visited on-and-off for 8+ years kept track of MBTI types of the "regulars". This was the most recent breakdown that I saw:

-INTJ: 8

-INTP: 6

-ISTP: 4

-ISTJ: 3

-ENTP: 2

-ENTJ: 1

-ESTJ: 1

-ESTP, ENFP, INFP, ESFP, ISFP, ENFJ, INFJ, ESFJ, ISFJ : 0

The heavy "I" emphasis might be a result of introverts enjoying computer-socializing more than extroverts. Amusingly, only once that I know of did a self-identified "F" visit the channel. She was the girlfriend of someone and reportedly they did not date for very long.

Most of my Objectivist friends are introverted, quiet types (myself included). Again, it's unsurprising as we've mostly met through assorted online forums. I've always been curious if there is a higher percentage of "extroverted" Objectivists out there I've never met because they are busy going out and meeting with people, and I'm busy curling up at home with my books, computers and introverted husband. :)

Molly

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The heavy "I" emphasis might be a result of introverts enjoying computer-socializing more than extroverts.

A friend of mine (who is a psychology student with a primary interest in Myers-Briggs) explained to me that the intovert/extrovert category in Myers-Briggs does not necessarily refer to socialization. What it refers to is where one derives their mental motivations and to whom one turns for intellectual guidance.

Of course, this can affect one's level of social extraversion, but it isn't the primary and doesn't hold true in every case. I'm a perfect example of this, which is why she explained it to me; I was confused about my "I" categorization. I'm one of the most social people I know, am always the first to introduce myself to new people, and am an admitted "chatty Cathy," who likes to be in conversation 100% of the time if possible. But, my motivations are all internal, and I never allow other people to influence my thought-system or sway me from my own certainty. As a result, I'm not only an "I," but it's my second strongest categorization. ("I vs. E" also refers to the entirety of the external world, not just other people.)

As I understand it, a person can also start to take on traits of opposing personality types when they are under extreme stress.

That said, I'm an INTJ, as I understand most Objectivists are, including Ayn Rand.

My friend has allowed that she thinks most online Myers-Briggs tests aren't very good because they tend to set up false dichotomies, and that she categorizes people based on her own observations of them over a period of time (she has a little book where she keeps notes about the people she is observing).

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Fascinating... The strong emphasis on T isn't a surprise to me, but the I is somewhat more. This being said, I do see most Objectivists as more likely to read a good book or have a quiet dinner on Friday evening than a crazy night on the town. Well, that's certainly my case...

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back to the career counselor...as long as Myers-Briggs isn't the only thing the counselor is doing for you, it can be a helpful component of career planning for an individual.

I am opposed to Myers-Briggs being used as a tool for hiring, though. I am all for assessments based on skill etc...but I think a lot of the personality tests that go on with some companies today are just plain foolish. I still know of some companies that give this test, and I find it disturbing. I think it can be a good tool for the purpose you have mentioned, for someone finding their career. However, a company should determine whom they hire based on interviews, references, and work related assessments.

(I am a recruiter, so that's why I have such a strong opinion on the matter.)

I am just curious, what other things is your counselor doing for you, if you don't mind me asking? Career counselors seem to vary from person to person.

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Also an INTJ. A good Objectivist friend of mine is an ENTJ. One of the reasons one might see a disproportionate amount of I's is because of a misunderstanding of "second handedness." Before I first started exploring philosophy I was much more extroverted due to some second handed tendancies. Wanting acceptance from the group caused me to act out in extraverted ways in order to gain this. As I began to start thinking for myself as I read The Fountainhead, I became more introverted because I was fighting off my old bad habits and was introspecting on my life. Now that I am more integrated I have learned how to gain value from others in a non second handed way, and thus have become less introverted, for I do actually enjoy interacting with many people. Many students of Objectivism may be going through a similar process.

Marcus Lange

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