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The Personality Brokers: The Strange History…
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The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth… (2018 original; edició 2018)

de Merve Emre (Autor)

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2611081,802 (3.36)19
"An unprecedented history of the personality test that has achieved cult-like devotion, devised a century ago by a pair of homemakers and found today in boardrooms, classrooms, and beyond. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is the most popular personality test in the world. It has been harnessed by Fortune 100 companies, universities, hospitals, churches, and the military. Its language--of extraversion vs. introversion, thinking vs. feeling--has inspired online dating platforms and Buzzfeed quizzes alike. And yet despite the test's widespread adoption, experts in the field of psychometric testing, a $500 million industry, struggle to account for its success--no less to validate its results. How did the Myers-Briggs test insinuate itself into our jobs, our relationships, our Internet, our lives? First conceived in the 1920s by the mother-daughter team of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, a pair of aspiring novelists and devoted homemakers, the Myers-Briggs was designed to bring the gospel of Carl Jung to the masses. But it would take on a life of its own, reaching from the smoke-filled boardrooms of mid-century New York to Berkeley, California, where it was honed against some of the twentieth century's greatest creative minds. It would travel across the world to London, Zurich, Cape Town, Melbourne, and Tokyo; to elementary schools, nunneries, wellness retreats, and the closed-door corporate training sessions of today. Drawing from original reporting and never-before-published documents, The Personality Brokers examines nothing less than the definition of the self--our attempts to grasp, categorize, and quantify our personalities. Surprising and absorbing, the book, like the test at its heart, considers the timeless question: What makes you you"--… (més)
Membre:yulischeidt
Títol:The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing
Autors:Merve Emre (Autor)
Informació:Doubleday (2018), 336 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
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Etiquetes:to-read

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The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing de Merve Emre (2018)

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I already knew that the MBTI was not considered valid by psychologists, and that it had been invented by a mother and daughter who were not trained in psychology, so this contained no surprises on that score. The intro to this book makes it seem like there's vast secrets hidden in the archives; nothing quite so thrilling.

Emre has a certain appreciation for Briggs and Myers and their desire to see something positive in all types of personalities; this remains part of the appeal of the MBTI, along with its ability to easily categorize people according to 4 simple traits, classified in a binary manner. The story, while fun and well written, would have benefited from someone with more experience in psychology and personality testing. The lack of validity of the test is fairly easy to demonstrate, especially once you know the history, but it would have benefited at least as well from a wider approach to the science of personality and not just the personalities of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers. ( )
  arosoff | Jul 11, 2021 |
The book I've been waiting for since the mid-80s, when the managers where I worked at the time were all made to take the Myers-Briggs "indicator" (as its overlords insist on calling it). Luckily, I was not a manager, but when my manager "suggested" we underlings also take it, I dodged. Intuitively (ahem), it felt flaky and simplistic to me, and I resisted being labeled in such a fashion.

Fast forward 30 years. My current employer imposed something called "Total Insights," a dumbed-down knockoff of the MBTI where they didn't even need to use *words* to describe the profiles, but *colors*! Yay! By this time, I had dialed back from a management position, but our department director "invited" everyone on the department to take this profile. I was, um, out of the office that day. I and one colleague, who had a degree in psychology, were the only two who refused to take it. We work in a large academic medical center, where "evidence-based research" is a holy grail, where protocols, therapies, interventions, policies and procedures are all supposed to be based on evidence. With the obvious exception of HR.

So I thank Merve Emre from the bottom of my heart for this detailed and careful study of Katharine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers and the test they invented. Yes, bottom line is: they made all this stuff up. It grew out of Briggs's obsession with Carl Jung (she emphatically described him as her "personal god," to whose ideas and writings she would devote her life). Jung, a flaky thinker with Nazi sympathies whose patients and acolytes frequently became his bed partners, *also* made all this stuff up. He dreamed up a triad of personality trait pairings. Briggs and Myers sat around their kitchen tables and "profiled" their husbands, kids, and a couple neighbor kids. And ta-daa! The MBTI was born. They set themselves up as counselors - with zero schooling, formal training or any sort of licensing in psychology or counseling and a signal lack of ethics - and profiled people. Briggs latched onto a very troubled teenaged girl in a very creepy way, following her around, examining her, profiling her, writing about her, without any sort of actual consent. Myers went on to carry her mother's torch of obsession, and finally landed a job with a (wait for it...) management consultant. He thought it might be useful, and they started selling it to companies and HR departments, who happily used to it to hire and fire people. A publisher of psychological tools, the Educational Testing Service, got wind of it and hired Myers on - it was cheaper to pay her as a part-time employee than actually buy the rights to it. They then spent years working over the instrument, attempting to validate it. Myers was furious that anyone would dare to tinker with her sacred instrument and stonewalled, complained and was generally a nuisance. The professional analysts found it nearly irredeemably flawed. But it was simple, it was easy to give, a breeze to score (especially with the recent advent of computerized analysis), and businesses loved it. So on it went, to become the juggernaut of nonsense it is today. And making a ton of money for its owners, not only selling the instrument and its scoring, but in the very expensive process of "certifying" HR folks to administer it.

The author attempted to gain access to the archives held by the current owners of the tool. She was told she would have to enroll in a week-long formal certification program at a cost of several thousand dollars. She did, and was still refused permission. It was a cult-like experience, with attendees chanting "Type never changes!" In spite, of course, of the research that demonstrates that half the people who take the instrument get different results if they repeat it. And the explanation for why this happens, according to the MBTI gurus, is so convoluted I could barely follow it... something to do with having taken the test "awakening awareness" of one's traits and so you allow your "real self" to emerge in the later test.

I would love to donate a copy of this book to the library of the organization where I work. But no one would read it. But I hope it will offer some serious backup to employees who wish to resist being pigeonholed into a fabricated category of personality which is no better than a horoscope. ( )
  JulieStielstra | May 17, 2021 |
To investigate the history of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the most popular personality inventory in the world, is to court a kind of low-level paranoia. Files disappear. Tapes are erased. People begin to watch you.

The first start of this book made me think of scientology, how closely guarded and paranoid they are, and it turned out to be right all along this story. However, this book is not about the mechanics that surround what makes the Myers-Briggs Indicator Type test, but its core, its beginnings, and its life through its makers and where it's ended up today, as a kind of fortune cookie that's entirely made without basis in science, still used by major companies and institutions.

Although they were not the only figures in the history of personality psychology to pose these questions, Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers, were among the first to perceive how hungry the masses were for simple, self-affirming answers to the problem of self-knowledge. As proud wives, mothers, and homemakers with no formal training in psychology or psychiatry, they believed they could craft a language of the self that was free from judgment and malice; free from the coldness and impassivity that, in their minds, characterized the attitudes of professional clinicians. Their first subjects were the people they loved the most, their husbands and their children; their first workplaces were their homes. While they did borrow much of their language of type from Carl Jung, their relationship with him was vexed: at times mutually admiring; at times dangerously, even sexually, obsessive. No matter what obstacles or disappointments they faced, they believed they could overcome their amateurism with a stubborn, sometimes infuriating dedication to their cause, a belief that persisted even when it cost them their friendships, their marriages, their sanity. Their personal lives were everywhere bound up with the life of their invention, so much so that once it passed from the private into the public realm, they would eventually become eclipsed by it, in much the same way that the name “Frankenstein” has come to stand for the monster rather than his creator.

Emre does a good job in navigating the reader through the home-styled makings of the "type", and permeates the innards of how a highly bizarre and damaged mother turned her daughter into making the test with her, while being obsessed with Jung.

Katharine spent the next five years doing little else but scrutinizing every word of Jung’s book, copying paragraphs from it into her notebooks with the quiet determination of a monk in his cell.

To say there are a lot of parts of Jung in the Myers-Briggs test is a complete understatement; the family wont to justify the simplification of people into stereotypes, where one can—simply by identifying the existence or lack of a single letter in one's "character" as defined by Myers-Briggs—know who to glom to or avoid, is everywhere, based on obsession and also om psychological transference; Katherine Briggs (the mother) wrote erotic fiction about Carl Jung even.

This book started veering a bit boringly towards the last third, but still, it was interesting. Its author is also laudable for listening to in radio interviews. Check this book out, it's likely to charm, and mainly, to in a gentle and scientific way expose the Myers-Briggs test for what it is: a vehicle made not for scientific purpose, but to make money. ( )
  pivic | Mar 21, 2020 |
If you’ve worked in a white-collar environment, you may have taken a Myers-Briggs test and been given a type. (I’m an ISTJ.) But did you know how the test came to be, and who developed it? Merve Emre’s book tells the story of the two women—yes, women—who devised the test, how it was based on Jungian theories and how its creators struggled to be taken seriously, but at the same time didn’t seem to want the test to be too scientific. The book also examines the overall rise of personality testing in society and how its purported embracing of individuality can actually be used to promote conformity and the “right” sorts of people for the right sorts of jobs.

Overall, this book was OK. The actual evolution of the test was interesting to read about, especially that it was developed by two women. And reading about the rise of personality testing prompted some nodding of recognition; my own workplace has done a couple of these sorts of tests. Less good was the fact that the Briggs of the Myers-Briggs held some beliefs that were certainly adjacent to, if not actually eugenics. There was also a chapter about personality testing during the war that talked about typing Hitler, and I had to skip to the next chapter because that was so uncomfortable to read.

I also found it annoying that the author, in her discussion of modern folks being immersed in the world of personality testing, characterized “millennials” as being “born during Web 2.0” and claiming that they started their Facebook accounts in “ninth grade” (i.e., at about 14 years old) and their Instagrams a year later. Maybe this was the case for people at the very tail end of the millennial generation, but those of us so-called millennials who were born in the 1980s were starting Facebook accounts in our early 20s, and Instagrams not until several years later, because INSTAGRAM WASN’T AROUND WHEN WE WERE IN UNIVERSITY. Also, those of us born in the 1980s do recall going about our daily lives without using internet exclusively, and without smartphones or even cell phones. The technological changes that occurred in the span of those 15 years (1981 to 1996) that delineate millennials are so vast that it is ridiculous to assume that all millennials had the same experience or mindset. ARGH.

Most of the book was a 3, and the nonsense about millennials dropped it a star. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Jan 25, 2020 |
This book was a bit of everything: a biography of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs-Myers, a history of the Myers-Briggs type indicator; and personality testing in general.

I found, after finishing the book, the introduction to be rather sensational. The truth, as written in the rest of the book, was much tamer than the intro led me to expect. As was the idea that the developers of the MBTI were amateurs; many were at that time as we had yet to reach today's level of specialization. Another interesting aspect of the book was the cult-like devotion many people have to MBTI, as described in the training session the author went to.

I would have liked more ob the business side or economics of the MBTI. Who is benefiting from it now?

I enjoyed this book and am still somewhat amazed that this test remains so popular despite its being discredited by many scientific analyses. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is fascinating not because it reflects society but because of how it has, in so many cases, shaped it. ( )
  LynnB | Dec 3, 2019 |
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"An unprecedented history of the personality test that has achieved cult-like devotion, devised a century ago by a pair of homemakers and found today in boardrooms, classrooms, and beyond. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is the most popular personality test in the world. It has been harnessed by Fortune 100 companies, universities, hospitals, churches, and the military. Its language--of extraversion vs. introversion, thinking vs. feeling--has inspired online dating platforms and Buzzfeed quizzes alike. And yet despite the test's widespread adoption, experts in the field of psychometric testing, a $500 million industry, struggle to account for its success--no less to validate its results. How did the Myers-Briggs test insinuate itself into our jobs, our relationships, our Internet, our lives? First conceived in the 1920s by the mother-daughter team of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, a pair of aspiring novelists and devoted homemakers, the Myers-Briggs was designed to bring the gospel of Carl Jung to the masses. But it would take on a life of its own, reaching from the smoke-filled boardrooms of mid-century New York to Berkeley, California, where it was honed against some of the twentieth century's greatest creative minds. It would travel across the world to London, Zurich, Cape Town, Melbourne, and Tokyo; to elementary schools, nunneries, wellness retreats, and the closed-door corporate training sessions of today. Drawing from original reporting and never-before-published documents, The Personality Brokers examines nothing less than the definition of the self--our attempts to grasp, categorize, and quantify our personalities. Surprising and absorbing, the book, like the test at its heart, considers the timeless question: What makes you you"--

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