Information censorship in psychology test results

By | January 9, 2012
After reading two posts on Myers Briggs test results, I think it's valid to bring the question of what this sort of personality test is meant to achieve and what the test results actually say. First, Myers Briggs is a personality test that is very popular in North America. It asks a series of questions and then gives you a four-letter code describing your personality type.

During a 'who am i' phase during my adolescence, I tried quite a number of this sort of personality tests. There was only one that I found particularly valuable, because it discussed oddball traits in the resulting analysis. In particular, things like (some low percent) of this personality type have the ability to manipulate what they see. Examples include (some name) who could play entire 3D visualizations on top of the world around him. These 'oddball trait' descriptions were present when I participated in that beta test, but have vanished after they commercialized their product. For that reason I'm not going to say which company it was, as their one big differentiator is gone.

But it does raise a big question: I was particularly fascinated by such conclusions because nowhere in the questions was anything related to 'oddball trait' experiences: there were no questions asking if I had extra good spatial analysis abilities. This was somehow inferred. And that suggests that perhaps there's a link between the development of particular personality groups and uncanny abilities, which no one is willing to publish in test result analysis and which no one is willing to discuss for fear of being called a crackpot. Not that the abilities are necessarily bad, but in the case of our particular example it would be nice to know that 'extraordinary spatial analysis skills' is potentially linked to personality and experience, not something attained purely by training.

So that raises my big question: why are this sort of information being suppressed? Why are test results often taken as, you belong to this group, and so you should be doing this sort of work? This sounds to me very similar to communist-style work force distribution: you fit norm A, so go and do job B. Are such 'fit the pattern' psychology tests unintentionally turned into a method of normalizing and categorizing people into stereotypes, to push them into certain directions? Is there some sort of censorship going on here making particular rare behaviours and abilities inaccessible to general public knowledge?

/cc +Max Huijgen +Paige Moss 

2 thoughts on “Information censorship in psychology test results

  1. André Fachat

    Everyone has all sides of these indicators within. So putting someone into such a "stereotype" drawer does not give the full picture (no test actually does…)

    What it helped me was to understand the behaviour of other people. I suddenly found they are not behaving like that because they wanted to annoy me, but because that's how they are (or more tend to be like if you will). Vice versa for other people to undrstand me.

    And this understanding helps to better get along with each other – which is a good thing

  2. Max Huijgen

    +Sophie Wrobel I wrote a long comment and then click just besides the ´post comment´ button. Everything gone.
    The quintessence was that I fully agree about the limitations of the personality type test for a future for young adolescents. If you don´t take into account if they are ´physical´ people and good with their hands, if you ignore special skill like f.i. musical capabilities and if you ignore IQ test it´s a very limited foundation for a future direction,
    However I don´t know if this is common practice in the US. It could well be just one of the tests in a series. Like I said in my own post about it, I wonder why it´s so popular in North America as I don´t recall it being a standard instruments in Europe.


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