Is it all hogwash?

My 15 year old son and I attended a seminar today on discerning one’s mission in life.  The day included exercises in self-assessment and was a good experience overall.  Part of the preparation for the seminar was taking a Myers-Briggs test in order to determine your personality.  I was looking forward to it because I’d always heard about this test, but never had occasion to take one.  Since I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, I thought the whole thing a worthwhile exercise and I hoped to learn something about myself.

Well, I took two slightly different versions of the test within 10 minutes of each other.  They had very similar questions.  And while some of the results were consonant, the results between the two tests diverged when it came to indicating my dominant characteristics.

Even more disconcerting was the result that pegged my temperament diametrically opposite where I believe it to me.  My wife and I have been big fans of the categorization of the 4 classic temperaments, and we’ve read about it, assesed ourselves and each other, and even used the knowledge to our advantage in raising our 4 kids (we’ve apparently got one of each, God help us).  And I was pretty sure I was mostly melancholic with some characteristics of a sanguine.  Imagine my surprise when today, the Myers-Briggs test suggested I was actually a phlegmatic and a choleric!

For various reasons, I’ve never had much esteem for psychology, mental health studies and related social sciences that sometimes seem to diagnose someone to the point of excusing all their behavior.  And in one sense, for a Christian, isn’t it our obligation to cultivate our virtues and work on eliminating our vices?  So I took today’s test with a grain of salt anyway.  But the results I got seemed just so opposite what I thought I was, that I’m not sure how much stock any of us ought to put in it.  Thoughts?

By

Jason Negri received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Franciscan University and his law degree as a member of the inaugural class of Ave Maria School of Law. He is a practicing attorney and the elected Treasurer of Hamburg Township in Michigan. He is a member of Holy Spirit Church in Brighton, where he sings in the choir and chairs the parish council. He is also the founder and executive director of the Daniel Coalition, an organization of laity formed to advocate for victims of clerical sexual abuse in the Diocese of Lansing. He and his wife Samantha have 5 children and 2 grandchildren.

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