Human beings may have some liking towards being boxed.
What drives that desire is unclear to me, may be we are just beings perplexed by our own complexities, holding out to any anchors that can give us certain views about ourselves,
Whatever be the philosophical rationale behind that, its evident from the fact that we do have more than one way of classifying ourselves, whether it be zodiac signs or Myers Briggs personality test.
Have you ever tried Myers Briggs personality test? Did you feel strongly attached to your result? Well. some of us relate to the results very deeply, while some of us check it out of plain curiosity, but it won't be wrong to say that the personality type test is a widely popular, adopted and influential concept.
If you don't believe it, note that the company's annual revenue is more than 20 million USD per year! The influence and popularity of the concept can also be judged from the fact that there are all sorts of derivations based on your personality type.
and so on. The web is full of these.
The widespread acceptance and influence of the concept made me question:
How difficult can it be to change your personality type?
A quick web-search says, a personality type cannot change:
To conclude, your basic personality type cannot change – however, you can (and should!) change the aspects of your personality that you are unhappy with.
But that didn't feel right.
I decide the inputs so I should be having some ability to control the output. But more than hacking the system I was interested in figuring out how accurate is the test, what are the boundaries between different personality types and how easy or difficult is it to diffuse them and cross borders while not changing a thing about yourself.
There has to be a way for me to know which questions should I need to change answers for to tweak my personality type?
Why not generate a mapping of all the 60 questions to what personality type they adds up to.
I thought of doing that by choosing all possible answers for all the questions one by one, *cough* manually *cough* (because MBTI website provides an API and I don't know how to code)
There are 7 possible answers for every question:
- Strongly Agree
- Somewhat Agree
- Somewhat Disagree
- Strongly Disagree
And there are 60 questions.
If I remember the math lesson on Permutations and Combinations correctly, that would mean I have 7^60 possibilities.
7 to the power of 60 = 760 = 5 0802186073 9623365322 1881976522 1650177243 4524836001.
Those many number of requests will legit launch an unintentional DoS attack on the server. Also, do you even wanna know how long this will take? Well, don't.
Let's just say we won't be able to alter personality in this lifetime if we wanna go by that logic.
So, what can be done instead?
Come to think of it, I always found some legit confusion around whether I agree with a notion or strongly agree or somewhat agree or neutral 🤷♀️
So, I thought, instead of trying out all possible combinations, why not check if I can tweak my answer for just ONE SINGLE question out of 60 by a small divergence, like picking "strongly agree" instead of "agree", and will it create a difference?
I thought that would be more natural, genuine and closer to reality. So, I tried that possibility.
Submitting the form, changing answer of only one question from my previous response and then iterating it 60 times, once per question.
This is what I found:
Let's say my original personality type was ENFP.
Through this experiment, I found that if I slightly changed answers to any one of the following questions, like this:
You are more inclined to follow your head than your heart
You think the world would be a better place if people relied more on rationality and less on their feelings
You enjoy watching people argue
Seeing other people cry can easily make you feel like you want to cry too
The personality type changed from ENFP (Campaigner) to ENTP (Debater).
Note that these are quoted to be very different personality types
Campaigners (ENFPs) are true free spirits – outgoing, openhearted, and open-minded. With their lively, upbeat approach to life, they stand out in any crowd. But even though they can be the life of the party, Campaigners don’t just care about having a good time. These personality types run deep – as does their longing for meaningful, emotional connections with other people.
Debaters are quick-witted and audacious, Debaters aren’t afraid to disagree with the status quo. In fact, they’re not afraid to disagree with pretty much anything or anyone. Few things light up people with this personality type more than a bit of verbal sparring – and if the conversation veers into controversial terrain, so much the better.
Doing a little bit more digging on web, I found there are conflicting traits between the two types:
So, how could I be both ENFP and ENTP by one slight, almost acceptable change in only one of the sixty answers?
This is essentially because no matter how badly we would like to be classified, it's not trivial (if not impossible) to label human beings.
We are multi-layered, super complex beings who are fully capable of living with conflicting beliefs at the same time.
So I can have traits of any of the 16 personality types, even mutually conflicting ones and still exist.
Note that this post is not just an outcome of a bored Sunday afternoon and it's definitely not a commentary on the effectiveness of Myers Briggs test, it's just a reminder to step back and critically question things before attaching yourself with any category or label and making it a deciding factor for any life choices.
Hope you enjoyed learning about this little fun experiment. Happy to engage if you are keen to chat about this,
Until next time, keep hacking