About ten years ago, I had a job that required me to read grant applications, place them into funding categories, obtain missing documentation, enter data, and submit to someone who would review the application for errors. If there weren’t any obvious errors, it would go further along the submission process. If there were, it would be sent back to me for corrections.
I took the job shortly after graduating with a liberal arts degree. Unlike a lot of people my age, I was making enough money to stay of my dad’s basement. I had a flexible schedule. And I could listen to Theatre of Tragedy while reading about the importance of medical education and why the pharmaceutical industry should provide funding for requested educational endeavors.
Unfortunately the perks did not outweigh how tedious I found the work, and the angst I felt on my ten minute commute rivaled that of my teenage years. I had no idea why going to work bothered me so much, just that it was miserable.
My supervisor – for reasons unbeknownst to me- decided to have a consulting psychologist administer the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to our team. The MBTI is a personality inventory. The responses to the inventory are placed into types, denoted by four letters. The report I received back from the psychologist said my type was INTP, and those with my type tended to be miserable in clerical positions.
Now, the MBTI isn’t a well-constructed test and has limited evidence to back up it’s use. But my twenty-two year old self, who hadn’t yet entered the mental health field and knew nothing about psychological testing, felt vindicated by those sheets of paper that explained all sorts of things about me. It eventually became the catalyst for applying to a graduate program, where I would also be required to take the MBTI and surveys based on it – for reasons unbeknownst to me.
My results had expanded to include types such as INFP, INTJ, and ENTP and, be it because I’ve matured emotionally or because the questionnaires I took were sketchy in terms of validity, I do see value in the MBTI. The value being providing validation and non-pejorative explanations for behavior.