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Ntury’s greatest creative minds It would travel across the world to London Zurich Cape Town Melbourne and Tokyo until it could be found just as easily in elementary schools nunneries and wellness retreats as in shadowy political consultancies and on social networksDrawing from original reporting and never before published documents The Personality Brokers takes a critical look at the personality indicator that became a cultural icon Along the way it examines nothing less than the definition of the self–our attempts to grasp categorize and uantify our personalities Surprising and absorbing the book like the test at its heart considers the timeless uestion What makes you you.. The book was very well written and very good and easy to follow but it was not what it could have been should have been It was a story of the mother daughter pair that began Myers Briggs and sort of how the test got adopted It reads very well and the stories are interesting It is not a commentary on why or how these tests became mainstream Moreover it s critical of the tests in a pretty shallow way I am not a fan of these kinds of tests so I was willing to go along with any critiue but she did not give a solid one That they re not scientific fine we knew that But why do they appeal to people so much What s the thing that they give people Also there does seem to be at least some science on the introvertextrovert one even DNA related So perhaps it s not all just smoke and mirrors right

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The Personality Brokers

An unprecedented history of the personality test conceived a century ago by a mother and her daughter–fiction writers with no formal training in psychology–and how it insinuated itself into our boardrooms classrooms and beyondThe Myers Briggs Type Indicator is the most popular personality test in the world It is used regularly by Fortune companies universities hospitals churches and the military Its language of personality types–extraversion and introversion sensing and intuiting thinking and feeling judging and perceiving–has inspired television shows online dating platforms The Personality eBook #240 and Buzzfeed uizzes Yet despite the test’s widespread adoption exp. This book was a disappointment I looked forward to it I went through a phase of interest in the Myers Briggs as a teenager and so was eager to learn about it Unfortunately after a fascinating introduction in which the author delves into the almost cult like atmosphere of Myers Briggs training in an attempt to get access to Isabel Myers s archives the author was reuired to pay 2000 for a week of re education which was pretty much as it sounds this turns into a dull biography of the test s creators Ultimately I had to turn to the internet to provide basic information about the test left out of the bookThe Myers Briggs Type Indicator or MBTI sorts people into sixteen categories of personality types based on their expressed preferences This indicator its devotees insist that it is not a test because there are no right or wrong answers was developed by two housewives Katherine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers Though both were college graduates neither was formally trained in psychology Briggs born in the late 19th century was an amateur psychologist who developed a fascination with Carl Jung and his writings later in life Myers later picked up where her mother left off working during the WWII era to develop a test that would assist companies in finding workers who were the best fit for the job based on their personalitiesThe book is mostly devoted to describing their lives which unfortunately are too mundane to warrant this length and Emre doesn t uite bring them to life But she s far interested in the lives of Briggs and Myers and than in the test itself For instance she writes about efforts to scientifically validate the test but is entirely concerned with the emotional dimensions of these efforts how the men doing the studies treated Isabel Myers and how Myers felt about that rather than the scientific ones I finished this book not knowing what validation even means in the context of a personality test And she promises drama in their lives than is actually there claiming in the introduction for instance that their personality testing obsession cost both women their marriages when it did no such thing at worst it sometimes irritated their husbands Information about the test itself is dropped haphazardly she tells us that Jung meant something different from introversion and extraversion than we do today but then never returns to that change or discusses the evolution of any of the other categories She tells us that the creators thought the test was only really useful with intelligent people and those of higher socioeconomic status apparently the lowly didn t get personalities but then follows up with no actual data about the less advantaged I don t know about you but I m interested in whether and how the test itself is racist or classist than the obviously outdated views of its creators But Emre only shares the latter hinting that there might be classist issues with the test but never telling us what they areLikewise the couple of sections that are about the test than its creators focus on extraneous information or the author s thought experiments For instance a chapter about a group of researchers who had prominent people spend the weekend together in a house to take a battery of tests focuses on subjects like how Truman Capote charmed the staff and the career of a female researcher who happened to work there rather than what was learned from all of this and how it fits into the history of personality testing And at the end rather than presenting real data or even real anecdotes about how the MBTI is used in the modern era the author traces hypothetical women of different generations through their imaginary lives and where they might theoretically have encountered the testEmre is clearly not an MBTI devotee herself but she declines to fully discuss the issues with the test instead dismissing them as too oft repeated as if this made a criticism less worthy of attention rather than so In an interview she stated I think even talking about validity and reliability sort of misses that point because it asks whether these tests are really measuring what they purport to be measuring and whether they show the same thing over time and those are uestions for scientists or psychologists As a humanist I want to preempt those uestions because even they are premised on assumptions that the systems and language that we use to describe people have some kind of basis in truth I don t think they doWhich first what I suspect most people interested in a book about the MBTI do think those uestions are important and are interested in the facts than the author s philosophical maunderings Unfortunately she s an English professor with a Master s of Philosophy not a historian journalist or scientist And second if the author s point as she suggests in the book and as is even suggested by Katherine Briggs is that the MBTI is a sort of religion for its devotees rendering its validity beside the point then why doesn t she delve into that introduce us to some of these people whose lives have been changed by it Study the community of practitioners and the test s impact on their lives But no we don t get that eitherFor those who are actually interested in the MBTI s validity here is a good scientific article about it and here are several other relevant articles What I learned that is not in the book1 A method for determining the reliability of a personality test is test retest reliability or whether people taking it than once get the same result Up to 50% of MBTI takers get a different result on a second test even as little as 5 weeks later Its devotees insist however that type never changes so these people must be doing it wrong2 But perhaps a bigger problem is that human traits rarely fit into dichotomies which form the foundation of the MBTI Most human traits actually fall on a bell curve with most people in the middle and increasingly smaller numbers of people the further from the middle you go The MBTI s own data reveals a bell curve or normal distribution for its results too but then uses a cutoff score to describe the results in terms of two distinct non overlapping groups In reality people aren t divided between introverts and extraverts any than we re divided into the short and the tall someone who scores barely introverted has far in common with someone who scores barely extraverted than with an extreme introvert3 And then there are the actual traits used which haven t been borne out in psychological research to be a useful or relevant way of describing personality which is why psychologists don t use the MBTI Research backs up a different group of five traits only one of which overlaps extraversion openness to experience conscientiousness agreeableness and neuroticism ie emotional stability You see why these are less popular though few people want to be seen as sloppy disagreeable or emotionally unstable This test would be far less fun4 Statistical analysis doesn t support that the four MBTI factors are independent of one another and there is no proven correlation between MBTI results and success in particular jobs or relationships This is unsurprising to me given what a rough measure it is Something like introversion can come out in a wide variety of ways I m uite introverted in my personal life but probably tilt extraverted at work so a simple E or I tells you nothing useful about someone as an employee and can even be actively misleadingAt any rate you won t find scientific information in this book nor learn much about personality testing or even much about the MBTI itself Go for it if you want an overlong dull biography of two housewives who created a test that s never fully discussed but otherwise go elsewhere

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Erts in the field of psychometric testing a billion industry have struggled to validate its results–no less account for its success How did Myers Briggs a homegrown multiple choice uestionnaire infiltrate our workplaces our relationships our Internet our lives First conceived in the s by the mother daughter team of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers a pair of devoted homemakers novelists and amateur psychoanalysts Myers Briggs was designed to bring the gospel of Carl Jung to the masses But it would take on a life entirely its own reaching from the smoke filled boardrooms of mid century New York to Berkeley California where it was administered to some of the twentieth ce. The Myer Briggs test the pop psych fad that won t die This is a biography of the mother and daughter team and their unlikely test that you might find on a buzzfeed uiz these days It has marched through business culture the CIA pop culture west coast Jungian gurus to the interwebs This story takes many unlikely threads from the twentieth century almost as if to employ the Jungian idea of synchronicity It is a weird test that is totally unscientific but wildly popular Myers Briggs if not the most scientific in the study of psychology are one hell of a meme constructing team in reading this story so rooted in a weird cold war optimism about self discovery and the workplace I can t help but be reminded of a B 52s song called song for a future generation with the same feel as MBTI as it is expressed in the pop culture and yes I am a total INFP Link is right here to the video

10 thoughts on “The Personality Brokers

  1. says:

    This book was a disappointment I looked forward to it I went through a phase of interest in the Myers Briggs as a teenager and so was eager to learn about it Unfortunately after a fascinating introduction in whi

  2. says:

    In reading for pleasure do you a Enjoy odd and original ways of saying things or b Like writers to say exactly what they mean” To which I wi

  3. says:

    Well that 5 star prediction was way off the mark

  4. says:

    The Myer Briggs test the pop psych fad that won't die This is a biography of the mother and daughter team and thei

  5. says:

    35 Stars The beginning really tried to sell me on the mystery of the author’s journey to uncover the history of MBTI After such promise it slowed down for awhile which is why I can’t rate it higher Then it took a turn toward the bizarre when Katherine had a strange relationship with Mary “Tucky” Tuckerman Overall it was fas

  6. says:

    The Personality Brokers combines a conceptually sophisticated intellectual history with a thrilling narrative It takes a special kind of talent to make ideas this interesting The personalities covered come to riotous life Hitler Jung Truman Capote to say nothing of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers themselves Emre is always witty and a

  7. says:

    This is mostly a biography of Katharine Briggs and Isabel Myers the mother and daughter who came up with the pervasive Myers Briggs

  8. says:

    The book was very well written and very good and easy to follow but it was not what it could have been should have been? It was a story of the mother daughter pair that began Myers Briggs and sort of how the test g

  9. says:

    My friend lent me her advance copy and I finished it in a weekThe Personality Brokers is the fascinating history behind the Myers Briggs test and the mother daughter duo who created it The book was incredibly well

  10. says:

    I won this book in a goodreads drawingA book that goes into the history and the provenance of the Myers Briggs test Mostly it's a history of fraud and cult like behavior from the very beginning Created by a Progressive era crackpot it became a cause celebre of big business but there does not appear to be any actual scientific evidence behind itSounds about right