Saturday, July 22, 2006

An Alternative to the Myers-Briggs Test

I don't open spam jokes, chain letters, "so you think you're a ......." emails that my engineer and dentist siblings, with the vast amount of time they have on their hands not-working (seriously, do they ever work?) frequently send me. I don't do blog memes. And so I don't know why I did this--maybe it's because I'm bored, I've spent the day trying to refine a thesis for an employment discrimination law paper (don't ask), and maybe, just maybe, my interest was piqued.

Anyway, this young punk took a personality test. I did as well. In theory, I could attribute it to my interest in pop psychology, the degree to which the Myers-Briggs Test and other such personality tests are still used by employers to screen prospective employees, or--well, let's just admit it, boredom and procrastination. Deadlines make you do stuipid things. Oh, and by the way, my Myers-Briggs profile (at the age of 13 and when I took the test again last year) is ISTJ--Introverted (rather than Extroverted) Sensing (rather than Intuitive), Thinking (rather than Feeling) and Judging (rather than Perceiving).

So here is my profile. my comments are in italics and blue:

You are exceptional and unique. Your quest in life is to identify exactly who you are and why you’re here. What’s important to you is the journey of self discovery, determining who you are today is not the same as who you’ll be tomorrow.

Isn't everyone's quest in life to identify who they are? Are there really such uncritical beings out there content to live life without finding the meaning of life? Do they just rent the Monty Python movie instead?

You resist being categorized and are quick to question any social standard that you sense someone imposing on you. Stereotypical gender roles always interest you and, in your mind, connect to issues that most other people would never consider related.

Okay, this is true. Hey, I'm a contrarian.

You are particularly accepting of other people and have a special talent for seeing people’s true selves instinctively. It takes time for you to trust your gut instinct about people because even you don’t believe that someone could be so right about another person’s nature so quickly. This intuitive sense about what people are thinking is your special talent. You may think it is available to everyone and that others just ignore it, but in truth others could never develop the skill to the level which comes naturally to you.

I'm pretty accepting of people, but I am also extremely culturally elitist (hey, sorry) and sometimes judgmental. That is, I won't judge you for certain things (whether or not you cohabitate, don't like/want children, have a certain moral flexibility with respect to digital piracy), but I will judge you if you don't like Bob Dylan or Flannery O'Connor. Also, I am not intuitive at all. Not that I'm a poor judge of character--but I have no clue what people's natures are the first time I meet them. Sometimes I think everyone is capable of being decent, honest, good, and kind--so that's the default until proven otherwise. In my more cyncical periods I think everyone is capable of being a mean bastard--until proven otherwise. I really don't intuit anything. I just proceed through life collecting observations, revising certain hypotheses, and this is all biased by my current world outlook.

To you everything happens on a personal level. Your friends come to you for advice because they know that you’ll love them for who they are and put yourself in their shoes to look at the world. Your advice, although varied in delivery, usually boils down to “be true to yourself” and “listen to your heart.” You are also an excellent confidant because things told to you virtually never return to anyone through the grapevine.

What am I, a Hallmark card? I think I give more pointed, sometimes blunt advice than that. Like, "if you hate working for a firm, quit eventually, but try working there for at least 1-2 years and save up a down payment on a car or small condo." But I am a good confidant. Just don't expect Karate Kid plattitudes.

You focus more on nurturing other’s self esteem than any other type. As a result of this naturally caring nature, people often turn to you for moral support. You exude this quality so strongly that even strangers will sometimes spontaneously begin confiding their deepest secrets in you.

That is one nice thing, I like that strangers (for example, pen pals from this blog) tell me lots of interesting, personal details. And this is how I grew close to one of my friends, who when I said "I like your coat" began talking to me about sex and heartbreak. But I'm not sure it's their "deepest secrets." I'm not sure I'm comfortable with that level of intimacy with strangers.

You are by far the most talented of all types at reading nonverbal cues. In your admirable attempts to convey a message diplomatically, those who aren't sensitive to inflection, tone, insinuations or body language sometimes simply do not get your message because they only receive the verbal half of what you said.

That is like, soooo not me. I am incapable of reading verbal cues. Friends tell me that men flirt with me and I just think they're honestly admiring my necklace or interested in the book I'm reading. I think I read some people well (people I know well and whose expressions I am used to), and everyone else, very poorly.

In the same way that you're the best at reading nonverbal cues, you're also the best at sending them. When you speak they miss the nonverbal half of your message, then they speak and transmit twice the message (verbal + nonverbal) which often gives away more than they intended but is sometimes carelessly inaccurate since they don’t send nonverbal cues as well as you do. When you're tempted to assign bias based on someone’s tone or other nonverbal cues it is wise to have them restate what they said and see if ignoring the careless, unintentional nonverbal half of their message lets their true meaning through.

Again, sooooo not me. I have horrible body language skills. I am quite conscious of my poor phrasing (as dance people call it) and front stage presentation (as sociologists call it). My default, when I meet someone, unless it's a child, is to stand back, cross my arms, and go into "analytical mode." I basically shut down all non-verbal cues. I gesture less, use more formal language, consciously slow down my rapid, generally excitable speech, and "present" only my intellectual self. Heck if I know what my tone or other people's tones convey. Those who can't express non-verbally are, I think, poor judges of non-verbal cues.

As a parent you are very supportive and start educating your child early according to your values. Your children know exactly where you stand and what is expected of them. You overflow with positivity when your child sticks to the program, and reflect any negative behavior directly on yourself and the quality of your parenting. Your focus is making sure that your child has a strong self-image and high self-esteem. More than other parents it is important for you to be friends with your children.

Okay, I'm supportive of my kids, and start educating them at the age of one, but I am not going to be my child's friend. I will be their parent. Also, my response to negative behavior on the part of the child is to give them long, stern lectures and restricted privileges until they regret the day they ever transgressed. I want my kid to have a good self-image and self-esteem, but I'm here to guide them through life and teach them well--not to be their best bud who smokes weed with them or asks about their sex life other than to query "are you using protection?" Which answer provoked this Dr. Feelgood profile?

You are more philosophical than most and passionately discuss ethics and justice more than other types. Your life has meaning, your life is significant. It is when ethical issues come up in conversation that you most strongly sense that you are fundamentally different from other people. You become visually emotionally focused when these issues arise, while others easily laugh them off and switch topics to something trivial. To you, it seems that everyone should be passionate about ending racism, sexism and all the other –isms out there.

Okay, eerily true.

You go by the book and are suspicious of anyone suggesting that rules or laws should be ignored. You think constantly about improving laws, and see that at a major avenue for advancing social change because you see legislation and rule creation as the consensus opinion of the group working together. You want nothing more than for there to be peace and harmony in the world, and your actions clearly reflect that vision.

I'm a stickler for some rules, flexible on others. But the rest of this is again, eerily true.

While you can instantly tell what’s on someone else’s mind, you can sometimes be confused yourself when it comes to the mixture of your own emotions. This, mixed with your reserved and complex nature can make it difficult for others to get to know you.

Again, no intuition skills here. Heck if I know what's on your mind. But yeah, sometimes I get confused about myself--don't we all?

You have a special interest in figurative language. You are more strongly moved by poetry and literature than any other type. You are often interested in the finer points of writing and studying literature because you believe that how something is written or spoken is inextricably connected to its meaning.

This profile is better at evaluating my intellctual interests than it is my personality.

In school you were an excellent student, the teacher’s pet. More than the satisfaction of learning, you enjoyed pleasing your instructors with your hard work and thoughtfulness and delighted in the personal praise they gave you in return. You got to know your instructors on a personal level and may have even kept in touch with certain of them after moving on to other classes.

I'm a type of student that went to office hours weekly, sent drafts of outlines for review before the final, and baked my professors banana bread and apple turnovers. Is that being a teacher's pet? Whatever. I can say that I'm friends with my professors. Can you?

You can “connect” with any individual person and practically read their mind, but you have a natural tendency to match your actions to the expectations you read from their mind and yearn for company that lets you truly, naturally be yourself. You struggle between letting yourself naturally match the sentiment of the group (which feels like putting on a façade) or letting your individuality shine, which may allow people to see how different you are.

Hmm, pretty much true. Except the mind-reading bit, although I do perform differently in different groups. I do have some sense that I can't act my naturally wacky self in front of the generic law school crowd at one of the school mixers. So yes, I pretend to be interested in people's planned practice areas and what they did over the weekend.

Your life has meaning, your life is significant. You think all people should spend more time thinking about who they are and what their purpose in life is.