Myers-Briggs vs. Astrology

I can hear the screaming across the time-space continuum.

“Myers-Briggs is scientifically proven!” you say. “It’s science. Astrology is pagan, idolatrous magic!”

“Yeah, maybe,” I’ll tell you, “But that’s the only difference.

“It’s the only difference you need!” you shout.

Um, no. Sorry. See, here’s the thing. Myers-Briggs and Astrology may be completely different sciences (yes, I just called astrology a science, but that’s a subject for another blog post) but they have the same result. They’re both very accurate in pinpointing a given personality, and they’re both religiously adhered to by the people who follow them.

Don’t believe me? I have people ask me my personality type and my astrological sign in about equal quantity. The difference? I know my astrological sign, I can never remember my personality type. It’s also a whole lot easier to look up the personality description of an astrological sign; the Myers-Briggs takes quite some time to complete.

Still don’t believe in the similarity? Let me prove it to you. Here is a description of my personality as described for those born under the sign of Leo.

The zodiac signs and meanings of Leo is about expanse, power and exuberance. Leo’s are natural born leaders, and they will let you know it as they have a tendency to be high-minded and vocal about their opinions. That’s okay, because if you observe, the Leo is usually correct in his/her statements. Leo’s have a savvy way of analyzing a situation and executing swift judgment with a beneficial outcome. It comes from being a leader. They are brave, intuitive, and also head-strong and willful. Beneath their dynamic persona lies a generous, loving, sensitive nature that they do not easily share with others. They might be a bit bossy, but those who know them understand this comes from a source need to do good, not (usually) from an inflated ego.

The fascinating thing? For the most part, this is really, really accurate. That’s a good summing up my personality right there. So here is a similar description, only describing my Myers-Briggs personality type, ENTJ. (Yes, I did say I don’t know my personality type. I took the test while writing this post.)

ENTJs focus on the most efficient and organized means of performing a task. This quality, along with their goal orientation, often makes ENTJs superior leaders, both realistic and visionary in implementing a long-term plan. ENTJs tend to be fiercely independent in their decision making, having a strong will that insulates them against external influence. Generally highly competent, ENTJs analyze and structure the world around them in a logical and rational way. Due to this straightforward way of thinking, ENTJs tend to have the greatest difficulty of all the types in applying subjective considerations and emotional values into the decision-making process.

ENTJs often excel in business and other areas that require systems analysis, original thinking, and an economically savvy mind. They are dynamic and pragmatic problem solvers. They tend to have a high degree of confidence in their own abilities, making them assertive and outspoken. In their dealings with others, they are generally outgoing, charismatic, fair-minded, and unaffected by conflict or criticism. However, these qualities can make ENTJs appear arrogant, insensitive, and confrontational. They can overwhelm others with their energy and desire to order the world according to their own vision. As a result, they may seem intimidating, hasty, and controlling.

A little harsher, a little more detailed, but just as accurate. In fact, the two quotes are describing the same personality. So what does this mean? It can mean many things. The two that come instantly to mind are: “Astrology is right” and “Astrology is just as accurate as the Myers-Briggs.”

Which is to say, not accurate at all.

Now don’t get me wrong! I’m not dissing the Myers-Briggs. After all, they got my personality right, right? The point is, so did the astrologers! I know people who swear by astrology. They say that the first question you should ask a new acquaintance, or someone you’re considering in a close relationship, is their astrological sign. That tells you about their personality, eliminates surprises, and tells you if you’ll get along with that person or not. Christians and other free-thinking folk tend to dismiss this as absolute twaddle but…. 95% of the time they’re right. Does this mean I’m going to start reading my horoscope and asking my friends for their signs? No…. but.

I know a lot of people who go around saying the Myers-Briggs test is the greatest thing ever invented. One of the first questions they ask new acquaintances is what their personality type is. They say it describes them so well, and what sort of people they’re likely to be close to. They dismiss Astrology as magic, heathenism and twaddle… but is their so-called “science” any better?

Astrology has a basis in astronomy. Myers-Briggs has a basis in neurology. Both are accurate. I understand neither. Mostly because I’ve never tried. And here’s why: I don’t care.

We live in a frighteningly disordered world. One of our ways of trying to make sense of it is to label things, and pretend we understand them. So we label people: high class, low class, public school, private school, catholic, protestant, christian. Liberal, conservative, atheist, black, white, republican, democrat. Child, adult, retarded, weirdo, dork, Leo, Capricon, introvert.

I don’t want to know your astrological sign. I don’t care about your personality type. I want to know you: who you are, what you get excited about, what you love to do, without any preconceived notions about what you should be, think, or do. I don’t want to “snag, bag, and tag you.” I don’t want to cram you in a box, slap a label on, and then leave you on a shelf to be ignored. I don’t want to list humanity under the “Solved” portion of the world’s mysteries.

And I don’t like being treated like a specimen who proves yet another one of sciences marvels. I don’t like people pretending they understand me because they read my personality profile, or expecting me to read theirs instead of talking and getting to know each other. I’m a person, not a project, a profile, or a personality. I consider designations interesting, quirky, and ultimately useless. I don’t care what your personality type is, or how many times you tell me you’re introverted.

You’re a human being, and that’s the only designation I need.


Myers-Briggs vs. Astrology — 3 Comments

  1. *applauds*

    Extremely well put. People spend so much time trying to figure out what personality they are they barely have time to have a personality.

  2. Very interesting thoughts, and I would say that I agree. I do enjoy knowing my own Myers-Briggs personality type, because once I took the test and saw where it put me, I was able to recognize certain things about myself. I’m not saying Myers-Briggs made me who I am or picked out my “inner self,” but that I was able to use its classification to realize that I do approach life in a certain way. But I’m not a slave to my personality type, nor do I ask people what theirs is. As you stated, I don’t care. People are to be loved no matter how they can be categorized, and that’s that.

  3. I would note that there is a fundamental moral difference between the two systems. Myers-Briggs is based on a test, while the Zodiac is based on one’s birthdate. The Myers-Briggs system attempts to categorize people based on their responses, whereas the Zodiac attempts to predict what people will be like based on their birthdate. I do think that makes a significant difference in the inherent validity and morality of the systems, and is why I will use personality types but will not use astrological signs.

    That being said, I absolutely agree with your point. Although personality types can be interesting and even useful, just because a test categorizes you as ENTJ does not mean you will automatically fit all the characteristics someone has decided are associated with ENTJ, nor will you be like all the other ENTJs–anymore than all people born under the sign of Leo are the same. And regardless, personality types are just a tool. If at any point they become law, something by which we dictate our interactions with others, it has become as religious as consulting a horoscope. You cannot let your labels tell you what to do.

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