Personality Tests And Their Defects

The Cult of Personality Testing : How Personality Tests Are Leading Us to Miseducate Our Children, Mismanage Our Companies, and Misunderstand OurselvesSometime last year I read The Cult of Personality (since retitled to The Cult of Personality Testing). I picked it up on a whim at an offbeat bookstore in Half Moon Bay between two church services.

I loved it and found it utterly persuasive. I’ve had a long‐simmering aversion to personality testing (rooted in a bad experience in seminary, observing friends get shafted by the Assemblies of God personality screening system for missionaries, some biting passages about psychology by Richard Feynmann, and being a critical thinker). Something about them always felt wrong (and I could even put parts of my unease into fairly persuasive words), but I never had the facts I needed to understand exactly where the problem lay. This book changed all that.

I mention it because I just read an article by Malcolm Gladwell called Personality Plus that covers the same ground. It’s a great intro to the concepts covered in the book.

So if you’re in the habit of referring to people by their Myers‐Briggs type, or if you like to use the terms sanguine and choleric in casual conversation, or if you’ve ever made a decision based on the results of a personality test, READ THIS BOOK (or at least Gladwell’s article).

One thought on “Personality Tests And Their Defects”

  1. wow. I actually read that whole article. It is nice to see other people poking holes in personality testing. Mike Yaconelli (Messy Spirituality and Youth Specialties) says, “Imagine Jesus telling Peter, ‘Follow me…into this room so we can give you a Meyers‐Briggs test to see if you are capable of being a disciple’ ”

    So the article was good, but then I saw that it is from the New Yorker. Now I just feel dirty.

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