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Misconceptions about MBTI

The Myers-Briggs indicator has quickly become a very popular phenomenon on the wide reaches of the internet, and understandably so, as it allows people to understand themselves better, including the facets of their personality they might not have engaged before. However, the popularity and commercialization of MBTI also led to countless misconceptions and misunderstandings when it comes to the indicator. Here, I will go over some of them and explain why they are wrong. 


The first misconception is people supposedly only use the functions that are prescribed if their 4-letter code. This would mean that, for example, an INFP will only use feeling and intuition, but this is not the case. People are capable of using all 4 functions of sensing, intuition, thinking, and feeling, including their extroverted and introverted versions. What the 4 letter code indicates is the preference, showing what kind of functions the personality type will more often revert to for perception and judgment, but it doesn’t mean those functions have to always be the focus. The third and fourth functions commonly develop with age, which will inevitably show a change in cognitive processes. 


The second misconception is that free online tests are an accurate way to measure someone’s personality and that they’re reliable, but this could not be further from the truth. There are many flaws in it, the major one being the overall faultiness of self-evaluation. People are biased when it comes to overseeing their own qualities and enter the test with certain preconceptions about themselves, which will influence the way they answer. Adding onto that, the questions can be interpreted in different ways as they are left vague. They are also often directed at determining something separate, like general introversion or extroversion, rather than the function itself; this makes the process very flawed and commonly leads to inaccurate results.


Another misconception is that personality is a box that dictates one’s future career and interests. For example, someone with a thinking preference will always be predisposed to precise and logical areas such as maths or architecture, while someone with a feeling predisposition will favor the arts or performances. However, as was shown time and time again, people have different preferences based on many factors, with cognitive functions being only one of those preferences. People will use different approaches, but this doesn’t mean they cannot go into an ‘atypical area’ for their personality type, as this will be influenced by their personality outside of cognitive psychology, as well as their culture and upbringing.


The final misconception that I will go over in this blog is the assumption often made in the MBTI circles about sensors, people with an S preference in their 4-letter code. People assume that they are less creative and, in some cases, even less intelligent than the intuitive, but this is wrong. Sensors have different preferences, choosing to focus on concrete info rather than the abstract preference intuitive. This may mean that while sensors will take a longer time to grasp the large picture compared to intuitive ones, they would be much more attentive to details in this process and gain a thorough understanding of the subject. This simply means that different personality types have their advantages and disadvantages, rather than one being better than the other.


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