MC's Journal

Personality types

[Corrected spelling.]

During the mid-90's there was a brief fad of doing web-based personality tests in my small part of Swedish hackerdom. Typically you would then publish your result in your .signature, customised mail header, finger-able .plan file, those newfangled web pages or some corresponding metadata.

It was seen as a good thing to qualify as an INTP or INTJ in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator system. I think it may have originated with Eric Raymond's famous A Portrait of J. Random Hacker, an appendix in ESR's version of The Jargon File based on questions posed to readers of a Usenet newsgroup back in the Olden Days.

I'm usually sceptical about personality tests and about many psychological tests in general. It's often much too easy to fake the result and many of them have poor test-retest results. The exception, perhaps, are depression scale tests like Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale, which I believe are genuinly useful and occassionally lifesaving.

But of course I fell for the group pressure. So I did a test. I seem to remember it was some bastardised form of the Keirsey temperament sorter combined with Myers-Briggs, probably an abridged version of the 'real thing', if there is such a thing. I ended up as Architect/INTP. Quotes from the Wikipedia page on the Architect role:

[…] introspective, logical, rational, pragmatic, clear-headed, informative, and attentive.

Architects are designers of theoretical systems and new technologies. Rearranging the environment to fit their design is a distant goal of Architects.

Time passes…

In 2009 my wife was handpicked for a series of leadership courses. Myers-Briggs testing was a part of the course. I piggybacked on the test and finally did a 'real' Myers-Briggs test. Like many tests I found that it probably would be easy to fake a result that you want, but I decided to do this one honestly.

One of the funny things with the real Myers-Briggs test, at least as it was given in this course, is that as a part of the test you were supposed to guess your result! I guessed, based on the earlier experiences with the (uncomplete and online) Keirsey/MBTI test that I would end up INTP (although I know that there is much debate that Keirsey's INTP and Myers-Brigg's INTP are different things), but…

Result: ISFP with only a slightly higher S over N, rather ISFP than INFP.

Some descriptions of the ISFP type:

You can find the corresponding INFP descriptions easily. Et cetera ad nauseam.

Getting ISFP instead of INTP could, of course, be explained by poor test-retest, but my artist mentality is slightly offended by that…

I'm a sensitive artist, dammit!