Love them or hate them, we are a personality-test literate generation. Meyers-Briggs and the Enneagram are two of the most common and acclaimed personality systems, but a 0.26 second Google search can tap you into thousands of classifications according to attitude, aptitude, neuroticism, date-ability, and what-character- from-Harry-Potter-are-you.
Meyers-Briggs on Campus
The Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator is based on the psychology of Carl Jung, and each type is made up of four letters: (1) Extroverted or Introverted, (2) Sensing or intuitive, (3) Thinking or Feeling, and (4) Perceiving or Judging. In layman’s terms, E’s get energy from being around people; I’s get energy from being alone.
S’s experience and make decisions based on information they take in through the senses; N’s do so based on their intuited knowledge of situations. T’s generally trust rationality first; F’s trust their emotions first. P’s organize mental information according to relationships between concepts J’s according to categorized boxes. Thus, type examples would be ESFJ, or INTP, two of sixteen possible combinations.
Of fourteen students surveyed, only one was a thinking type (INTP), Senior Erin Freeman. She commented, “Myers-Briggs actually saved my parents’ marriage, so I’ve grown up with a rather high esteem for personality typing.” There were twice as many intuiters as sensors, but E’s and I’s were nearly balanced, as were P’s and J’s.
First-year Hope Catlett, who tested as an ENFJ, thought the test was fun but unimportant. “I could probably take these personality tests again in a few weeks or a month and get different results,” Catlett said. “I think it is how the individual analyzes that question during that particular moment, so their answer could change depending on different circumstances in their lives. I don’t think personality tests can fully describe people.”
Junior Christina Hardman-Zimmerman, ISFJ, said, “knowing my type helps me realize how I am when I’m in a good place and a bad one; it helps me re-frame my situation sometimes and better understand myself.”
“What I do find somewhat frustrating is when people have to know my test-prescribed personality in order to know me or when someone thinks they know me because I’ve revealed my score to them,” said Senior Becca Longenecker. “Boxes, man, count me out(side).”
Enneagram on Campus
The Enneagram is a test that places you according to nine types around a circle: ones, the Reformers; twos, the Helpers; threes, the Achievers; fours, the Individualists; fives, the Investigators; sixes, the Loyalists; sevens, the Enthusiasts; eights, the Challengers; and nines, the Peacemakers.
There is extensive research behind the Enneagram to complicate this system with “wings,” or a type secondary to your main type; tri-types, or a triad grouping of numbers for a more nuanced profile; patterns of growth and stress for each type; and instinctual intelligences.
21 students responded with their Enneagram types (with some overlap between them and the Meyers-Briggs group). The strong majority were fours, followed in frequency by twos, threes, sevens, nines, eights, and fives. There were no ones or sixes in the group.
Senior Katherine Burling, four, said that she resonates with the Enneagram, and it gives her perspective on her strengths and weaknesses. “More specifically, when I’m depressed/upset I am able to see that a “four need” is not being met.
“So I chalk it up to my four-ness, and do something to deal with it. It’s great to have this understanding of myself, as it helps me be a more aware, proactive and healthy person, rather than wallowing in self-pity.”
Sophomore Erin Nafziger, who tied for seven, three, and four, said, “I really despise personality tests. When I am taking these tests, I can never answer them consistently. I am either answering as ‘who I want to be’ or ‘what I think I am’ or ‘what I actually am.; And sometimes I can’t distinguish those from one another.”
Senior Caitlin Henson describes herself as “a hardcore two,” and thinks personality tests are powerful tools. “While I acknowledge the danger in putting too much stock in or getting confined in roles or definitions of who we are, I truly think it’s rare to abuse these particular tools in this way.
We are all boundless universes in and of ourselves, and these types can be just a glimpse into our powers, strengths, vices and mystery.
Deep down, I believe we all desire to be known, and to know others. And these tools add another dimension of ‘knowing.’”
Taking the Tests More Valuable Than the Results?
Junior Emma King (ESFJ, three) said, “If anything, taking the tests themselves is the most valuable part because you really have to stop and think about the questions and be honest with yourself.”
Many surveyed students echoed this sentiment. Senior Lani Prunes (three) said, “I think Enneagrams, while limiting, are great when looking inward at what you can’t see for yourself . . . Knowing my Enneagram helps me explain to others what I’m like, both in conversation and in interviews, actually.”Junior Zach Coverdale (two) said, “Diversity in strengths, personalities, weaknesses, and who we are fundamentally are vital to life. I think we need people of different tendencies. So yes I value them and believe that they have a place but beauty is in the search and process of knowing and being known.”
In the words of Junior Everett Brubaker, “I’m a three, and an Everett. And I think it’s important to recognize both.”
-Randi B. Hagi, Co-Editor In Chief
Tags: Randi B. Hagi