Each year, millions of dollars are funneled into administering the most popular personality assessment in the world: the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator Test. It’s used by dating sites, guidance counselors, pharmaceutical companies, and even the U.S. Department of Defense. Avery Hurt tries to figure out why in mental_floss.
Hurt reports that the mother-daughter duo who came up with the questionnaire and scoring system in 1942 were basically dilettantes, and the only reason the test experienced sky-rocketing success was timing: Its release coincided with a surge of women entering the workforce (due to World War II), and industrial psychologists welcomed an instrument that could help them categorize, match, and direct these new workers into the appropriate fields.
Today, the test is as pervasive as ever, even though most experts now dismiss it as worthless, “placing it only a step or two above astrology.” So why do huge corporations, government organizations, and even individuals continue to pour money into something so clearly based on nothing? Hurt submits: “We live in a culture where people seem willing to spend endless amounts of time and money to find themselves, and in that respect, it doesn’t look like the Myers-Briggs will be disappearing anytime soon.”
Image by Casey Serin, licensed under Creative Commons