Problems of Psychometric Labeling (MBTI-DISC) and Imprisoning People in Artificially Constrained Boxes

Psychometric scales in the hands of psychologists and HR professionals are playing havoc with the lives of people. They are misdiagnosing and being used for purposes that were not the objectives of their design. Use of a test to determine the current state of a person’s perception and thinking is one thing and to use it for projecting and predicting the future of that person is quite another thing.

A few years ago I was introduced to MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) which consist of tests that try to fit a person in one of the sixteen boxes as shown in the diagram below. It took me several days after my first introduction with MBTI,  to understand why I felt a troubling unease with the model. MBTI idea is to help the managers identify the box in which a person belongs. He is assigned responsibilities and tasks that are only suitable for that box. Once boxed-in, the HR makes the person believe that he belongs to that box and tries to build strategies within and around that box.

MBTI Boxes in which to fit the human behavior

I have never been comfortable with classifying people as extrovert or introvert. How can the immense diversity of people be classified and limited to two boxes. Similarly, I felt an unease with MBTI. MBTI created 16 boxes instead of 2 boxes for the simpler introvert-extrovert labels. Each MBTI box is much smaller and much more constraining than the two introvert-extrovert boxes. Other such tests such as DISC (Dominant-Influential-Steady-Compliant) also box-in the respondents but, however, limit the transitions from one box to another by recommending preferring some movements over other possible transitions.

Disc Boxes 

This restriction of human nature in limited predefined boxes, I think,  exponentially compounds the problem. Problem with tests that try to first imprison people in boxes, is that they predict human behavior as a function of past. This constraint ignores the potential of human, the power of human “will”, the resourcefulness of human “creativity” and immense human capacity to change and adapt in the face of external challenges, trials and tribulations. It is here that all such predictions of future behavior on the basis of past behavior and attitudes creates more  problems than solving them. It is here that human freedom explodes and reacts to the imprisonment. 

I think a psychological test is like the story of the 5 blind men trying to feel different parts of an elephant and each coming up with a different interpretation of how the elephant looks like.

There is an outrageous use of such testing for children that is destroying the relationship of parents with children and the relationship of teachers with students. The tests are being used for scapegoating, and condemning the children and shirking away from the responsibility of trying to their character and behavior. Ridiculousness of psychological testing of children as young as 2 years has created an epidemic of labeling the kids with spurious contraptions known as ADHD, Dyslexia, etc. These have been described in separate posts.

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