Friday, August 1, 2008

Personality Test II: The Wrath of OCEAN

Giant waves on the seafront at Seaham, County Durham
The Myers-Briggs (as blogged earlier) is hardly on the only personality test out there. In my academic neck of the woods, the five factor theory of personality holds a good deal of clout over the MBTI. In Myers-Briggs, I was an ENTP. Each of the four scales is a strict dichotomy, which are:
Extroversion/Introversion
Sensation/iNtuition
Thinking/Feeling
Judging/Perceptive
So with some combinatorics, we get that there are 16 distinct personality types, at least in this Jung-inspired methodology. You can't be a strong ENTP or a weak ENTP, you're just ENTP. (or ISTJ, or INFP, or what have you.)

The "Big 5" approach is quite different. Instead of distinct categories, each trait falls on a continuous scale that takes degree into account. And they measure slightly different traits, which are summarized by the acronym OCEAN:
Openness to experience (Opposite end of the scale = Closedmindedness)
Conscientiousness (Opposite end of the scale = Disorganized)
Extraversion (Opposite end of the scale = Introversion. This is familiar!)
Agreeableness (Opposite end of the scale = Disagreeableness, how creative)
Neuroticism/anxiety (Opposite end of the scale = Calm/relaxed)

I'm a O95-C17-E96-A74-N55 Big Five!!

I scored as very open to new experiences, very disorganized, very extroverted, somewhat agreeable, and neither calm or anxious. My Big 5 score interpretation said:

*"You probably have a messy desk!" - historically, this is very true. Me and paper don't get along too good.

*"You enjoy having novel experiences and seeing things in new ways." - well since I said that on my Facebook profile, it MUST be true.

*"You tend to consider the feelings of others." - except for when I have a strong opinion... then my diplomacy can suffer just a tad.

I'm not quite sure which approach I prefer, though I know there's a lot of studies that support the Big 5 model, including cross cultural ones. (Don't even get me started on the SIXTEEN factor model!) I like that the Big 5 includes a scale instead of forcing people into boxes. And also, the Myers-Briggs contrasting of thinking versus feeling seems a bit strange to me. Surely one doesn't preclude the other? But I guess we can all agree that introversion and extroversion are useful to measure. A bigger question to me (and the crux of the debate between personality and social psychologists) is whether "personality" and "traits" even exist. If they do, how much of a role they determine our behavior, as opposed to situational constraints such as cultural norms, specific circumstances, temporary moods, and so on.

So what's your MBTI type? (find out) What's your Big 5 type? (find out)

3 comments:

Psyche said...

I think you actually do have gradients in the Myers-Briggs though - the one I took gave me a number for each letter. It said I was an ENFJ, but strongly E and N and weakly F and J.
You probably already know this, but outofservice.com is maintained by Sam Gosling, who went to Berkeley, studied with Oliver John, and was our very own Laura Naumann's undergrad advisor! So your data is actually being used for thesis and other research purposes. Small world, eh?

michael j pastor said...

No, those aren't gradients, and the proper terminology isn't "strong" or "weak"

The official MBTI indicates clarity - how clearly it is that you prefer one dichotomy over the other. There isn't a likert scale to indicate gradients.

The Singer-Loomis does use the likert scale, but measures the 8 functions-in-attitude independently from each other. The MBTI presumes a systemic balance of functions.

Different methods altogether.

Andrea L. said...

INFP--every single time I take it. This OCEAN model didn't jive with me--I'm extremely conscientious but can still have a messy desk from time to time. I think I'll stick with the MBTI...