There are a lot of silly tests on the market which label people, many of which aren’t validated scientifically (no matter what the publishers say) but are nonetheless used to “explain away” behaviour. (“What can you expect from a ‘high Z’ Symbolic Symbolic with OKNL tendencies?”) I mean, really, why not just resort to horoscopes?
Annie Murphy Paul’s book, The Cult of Personality, demonstrates why most commonly used behavioural assessment and personality “profiling” techniques range from flawed to fraud. Even the vaunted Rorschach has questionable roots and results. The MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Inventory) has a frighteningly high degree of different results with retesters.
Most of the instruments on the market that are valid (e.g., demonstrate reliability, construct validity, content validity, and concurrent validity) were originally meant to diagnose aberration and mental health problems, not to describe the main, healthy population. And most of the rest, well, just ain’t valid. You can give a horoscope if you like, and even justify it by saying, “People feel that it does describe them, and I get amazing feedback as a coach,” but that doesn’t make it anything more than a parlor game.
Someone who was investigating the possibility of joining my Mentoring & Coaching Program stopped me while I was providing a description and said, “Wow, you’re really a high intuitive driver, aren’t you?” When I said I had no idea what he was talking about, he went on to ascribe quite a few behaviours and attributes to me, simply from three minutes on the phone.
“What do you think?” he said.
“You’re not right for this program,” I said, hanging up.
I once watched, flabbergasted, while an MBTI “analyst” asked an HR executive questions which the latter replied to in the manner he believed his deceased mother would have used. When I inquired just what the heck was going on, the analyst said, “We’re trying to type his mother, so that we can get to the root of their poor relationship over the years, which still bothers him.”
Who can make this stuff up?
It’s ironic in this politically correct age of doing somersaults to ensure that no one is offended by a pronoun that we think nothing of providing labels and characterisations to shrugs, moans, and responses to perfectly imperfect instruments. What is often merely a consultant’s way of taking on more “product” to enhance revenues becomes a divining rod for finding personality traits.
I don’t think so. The French still use handwriting analysis in hiring, of course, but then again, they drink warm Coca Cola.
* QBR published one of my articles entitled: Back to Basics Recruitment Plan. If you 'd like a copy, e-mail Doge@ExecutiveWisdom.com and we will e-mail it to you as a PDF.
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