Self-fulfilling prophecy behind the MBTI tests: My experience

As many of you may know or may have taken it, the MBTI is short for Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a self-report questionnaire designed to test our personality and the way we perceive the world. This test is based on Carl Jung’s theory that humans use four principal psychological functions to experience the world: sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking. Different from Jung’s theory, Myers and Briggs distinguish personality differences using 16 types: ESTJ (extroversion, sensation, thinking, judgment) and INFP (introversion, intuition, feeling, perception. These 16 types can mix and match into many kinds of combinations indicating personality types of different test-takers. For example, one can be ENFJ and another can be ISFP.

The MBTI test has evolved to become a questionnaire frequently used for career counselling. Being a psychology undergrad, I have always been intrigued by this test and its practicality. Though, I have always been quite intimidated by the large quantity of questions and the length of many questions. Last summer when I was considering my career plans, I decided to give this test a shot and see what all the buzz is about. I accidentally bumped into an interesting version of the MBTI test which gives you all the exact same questions but also tells you which type of animal you are according to the result. After a long hour or two, I was shocked to see the result that my animal is a lion! It also described me as a very capable and powerful leader just like a lion. To be honest, I have always been the passive kind whether working solo or in groups. Leadership has never been my forte and I have never considered myself a strong leader. Despite the fact that I think I know myself quite well, I decided to read through the analysis carefully before jumping to conclusion that this test is BS. After thorough reading, I came to realize that this test really does describe my way of perceiving the world and solving problems quite well. I thought to myself: maybe I should try something new and explore my potential leadership abilities. I also came to realize that I was actually experience the effect of self-fulfilling prophecy, where the MBTI test prediction causes itself to become true by altering the way I see myself. I wonder how many people went through the phase of discovering another side of themselves through psychological tests and have decided to explore this side more extensively. The MBTI test result definitely allowed me to explore more options when it comes to career planning and my own personality.

This MBTI test, like many other psychological tests, is definitely not the deal-breaker when you have to make a decision as important as choosing a career path. However, the MBTI test stands out from many other tests I have taken before as its questions are very specific hence more valid. It uses the same amount of questions to analyze each index of different personality types and most of the questions are context-based and require the test-taker to put him/herself into a situation and think about how he/she would act then. Obviously, one of its limitation would be our own biases when it comes to judging ourselves.