In Support of Myers-Briggs Personality Tests

If you are like me at all, and really enjoy taking tests to put you into boxes, then you have probably heard of the Myers-Briggs Personality Test. It is possibly the most popular personality test around today. According to this test, there are sixteen combinations of personalities that someone can have. Each personality has a four letter combination. It tests the following things:

Extroversion vs. Introversion  (E/I) – whether you gain energy from spending time with people or if you replenish yourself by spending time alone.

Sensing vs. Intuition (S/N) – whether you process information based on the tangible facts available or by the implied meaning of the given information.

Thinking vs. Feeling (T/F) – whether your decisions are based on logical reasoning, or by the way it makes someone feel.

Perceiving vs. Judging (P/J) – whether you prefer events and situations to be planned and structured, or if you like for things to be more open and spontaneous.

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To give you an example, according to this test, I am an ENFP- extroverted, intuitive, feeling, and perceiving. I energize with people, I read between the lines of what I see and hear, I tend to be more concerned with feelings than logic, and I love spontaneity and flexibility. Some famous ENFP’s include Russel Brand, Kelly Clarkson, and Willy Wonka.

To skeptics, this personality test seems shallow. People aren’t just extroverts or introverts, and some people who like structured activities also like the occasional random adventure. And the skeptics are right- a personality test cannot possibly measure the depth of the human mind. A test has not been with you throughout your life or watched every one of your activities. It can only give you information based on self-perception. If you’re not very self-aware, your test result may be off and not accurately represent who you are. Or if you are too self-aware, you may get a result that only reflects a piece of you.

Despite the criticism, I still really like the Myers-Briggs test. It’s not the best for precise and definitive explanations for all of your quirks and thought patters, and it definitely shouldn’t be used to make major life decisions. However, I think Myers-Briggs can teach us how to love people better by giving a basic explanation behind some of their attitudes and actions. After learning that my old roommate was an ENFJ, I quickly began to understand why we argued over cleanliness standards and why he seemed to be annoyed at my lack of care for structure or planning. I also know to stay away from getting into every argument that my ENTP friends like to engage in.

This test allows me to appreciate the diversity of personalities of the people that surround me. I am not just friends with low-structure, free-spirited, extroverts. I also have friends who are quiet and reserved. I get to interact with people who feel a need to help others, and people who love to debate. Everyone is different, and a personality type is just the tip of the iceberg. Myers-Briggs shouldn’t be used as a Bible for human interaction. You should still use common sense, care, and compassion in all of your relationships. But if you want to see the diversity of strengths and weaknesses in a team, or to understand why your best friend doesn’t want to cuddle, or to realize that your lack of desire to put things into order doesn’t make you crazy, a Myers-Briggs test may be able to help you out.

If you are interested in finding out your personality type, this link is the best:

http://www.16personalities.com

On Behalf of Students with Useless Majors

If you don’t know me, my name is Joe Miner and I am a junior at Houghton College. I just changed my major from Business Administration to Visual Communication at the end of my sophomore year. To simplify that, I now focus on digital media and how we can use it to communicate with the world. After some failed exams and countless nights of pulling out my hair at review sessions, I decided that business was just not the field of study for me. My brain isn’t wired for analysis. I needed a creative outlet to allow my natural gifts and abilities to flourish and grow so that I can one day make a living and be proud of the work that I do. I want to go into videography and graphic design, helping companies create dynamic visuals for their product or service. I also really enjoy writing, and I would love to be able to work for a magazine, record label, or any other organization that requires creative thinking to be brought into a more structured world. As you can tell, I have lots of passions and I am excited about getting to explore even just one of them.

This is the story that many do not consider when they ask me what the point of studying something like communication is. I am currently on break, which means a few things. For starters, I get to catch up with friends and family. This also means that I finally get to sleep-in past nine. But most wonderfully, I get to hear from various people that I am wasting my time studying communication. It’s usually from people who I’m not very close to, but nonetheless, I make a game out of counting how many times someone asks why I feel the need to study communication. I mean, I’m communicating right now, right? Mission accomplished. Time to drop out of school and be a full-time communicator. This sounds ridiculous, but I promise you that I am drawing inspiration from actual advice given to me either during the summer, or just the few days that I have been home.

It doesn’t bother me that anyone wants question my choices. I have my own doubts, but by facing the tough questions, I can find compelling answers that keep me encouraged. What bothers me is that whenever someone is perplexed at my choice of major, the person who asked about it in the first place usually has no idea how much time, energy, thought, and prayer went into my decision to study communication. I didn’t just wake up one morning and decide that I like people and pretty pictures. No, I actually researched career paths in the field of communication. I heard actual success stories from professionals who graduated with a Communication degree. I interviewed professors and asked for feedback from my peers. And now that I am trying my hand at film and design, I truly feel like this is where I belong.

These tense conversations don’t just happen with Communication majors. This happens to students studying Art, Music, History, Writing, and various other fields of study. Heck, even when I was studying Business, I had a few people ask me if I really believed that I needed to go to college to be successful in that world. I can’t honestly say that I understand why anyone feels the need to tell a student that they chose incorrectly when choosing a major, especially when most college students work day-in and day-out to hone their craft in hopes of having a successful career. We don’t spend money on an education that we find to be useless. We spend money on what we’re passionate about and what we believe will allow us to shine.

If you have been on the other side of this conversation (the person saying that someone’s major is pointless), please recognize when it’s appropriate to give your input and when to abstain. You may feel like you’re trying to help, but you may be doing more harm than anything else. Think about it- do you like getting advice for something that you genuinely do not need help with? It doesn’t feel like support. It feels more like an undermining of all of the work that goes into being a full-time student. Your intentions may be good, but please understand that this is not a productive method of giving your point of view.

Let’s say my major is useless. Let’s say I can’t actually make a decent living or find a career once I leave school. What I study in college is not the unbreakable blueprint of the rest of my life anyhow. I know lots of people who studied something they loved in school, but once they left, they found something else they really loved and decided to pursue that instead. Besides that, it’s ultimately my choice. Your opinion- especially if it sounds like “you’re doing it wrong”- is not going to persuade me to either drop out of school or change my major when I’m close to being done. If you want to support me, offer me a listening ear when I’m frustrated. Ask me what I am passionate about. But for the love of all things good, please do not tell me that my work is pointless. It’s not.