Reflection Cube

Three-dimensional thoughts

Tag: emotion

distortions - factors that can skew MBTI, Myers-Briggs, Jungian personality type test results

Five Factors that Could Skew Personality Test Results

Have you taken a 16 personalities test multiple times throughout your life, only to get varying results for your type? Maybe even from the same website or test?

Let’s examine some factors that could potentially skew test results.

Please note: I had some difficulty locating many sources/references for this piece, and so most of this information is simply my observation/opinion. If you are aware of any articles/resources on factors that can affect or alter Jungian personality readings, please let me know in the comments or via email. I’d love to know! 🙂

#1: Social conditioning and cultural upbringing.

(Can affect F/T expression to a degree.)

If a girl has been raised constantly hearing the messages “girls are sweet”, or “it’s always ladylike to share and let others have their way”, or “why don’t you come up with a compromise?” then they might act like feelers, even if they in fact are not. Many “MBTI” tests measure levels of agreeableness, selflessness, deference, or people-pleasing tendencies in order to determine whether someone is a feeler. However, if these are learned habits, or have been adopted because that’s how one is taught they’re “supposed to be” – rather than how they naturally are – then this could result in a higher scoring in the F direction and away from the T direction (as these traits are viewed on the scale as polar opposites and mutually exclusive).

Growing up, some girls don’t feel as safe saying “No” to the degree that many of their male friends/brothers might. Perhaps one reason for this is because they tend to be, on average, smaller and weaker physically, and therefore potentially more vulnerable to the consequences of refusing to acquiesce to others’ wishes.

This may lead them to compromise and act agreeable (like a “feeler”) more as a survival tactic, or because they’re afraid of getting punished or bullied if they don’t. In terms of emotional and physical survival – especially while young – they don’t exactly have the “upper hand”. So they act nice in order to be safe. And in the process, they learn compromising, self-deprecating, and “agreeable” behaviors.

Some “feeling” girls are actually Ts who have made a calculated choice to act kind and “feeling” in order to survive and be accepted and safe in family or society.

In the same way, if a boy grows up learning “boys are tough” and “boys don’t cry”, then he may have learned to suppress and stuff his feeling side, even if he is very much a feeling type (unfortunately, emotions are often associated with “irrationality” or “not thinking”. While emotions can be irrational at times, this is not a reliable or 100% accurate association to make).

Indeed, feeling types often seem to be a little gentler temperamentally. It’s possible that out of emotional “sensitivity”, the feeling male may have endeavored to hide a part of himself that others didn’t want to see, or for which they (peers, parents) would have punished him in some manner. He concealed this side of himself for emotional, social, and perhaps physical safety (especially as a child, because some children get punished or scolded for crying). Thus, his behaviors and approach to life come through as less “feeling” on a 16 personalities test.

#2: An inaccurate view of self.

Perhaps we view ourselves as being more objective than we really are, or more warm, friendly, and agreeable than is truly the case. This could skew our results in favor of T or F, respectively.

Perhaps we think we’re more “Intuitive” or “Sensing” than we really are. If we inaccurately perceive ourselves as highly open, inventive, or abstract in our thinking – and we answer accordingly on the test – we could score more strongly as Intuitive. If we erroneously think we recall visual details well, or are particularly observant, practical, or concrete in our thinking, this could skew results in favor of Sensing.

Note: I know some pretty open and innovative Sensors and some pretty realistic and observant Intuitives. I also know some “feelers” who are incredibly solid, rational thinkers, and “thinkers” who can be emotionally expressive. Could it be that they got the “wrong” results on the test, or could this simply be “proof” that the 16 personalities system is incredibly limited in its binary measurements of human personality? Perhaps it is possible to be both Intuitive and Sensing? Both (and equally and highly) thinking and feeling?

What do you think? Or how do you feel about this? 😉

#3: A propensity to answer questions in a way that seems “best” or “ideal” rather than in a manner that is authentic to self.

Perhaps we think it’s better to be an E than an I, so we answer accordingly (if we can accurately read where the questions are going).

This test-taking method only serves to confuse us and others more, and keep us from discovering our true selves – our real strengths and weaknesses – which keeps us from leveraging or compensating for them accordingly.

Long-term, there is no true benefit (but possibly harm) in answering as we think we “ought” rather than as we think we “are”.

#4: Social roles, responsibilities, duties.

(Such as “mother” or “software engineer”).

I’m not a mother, so I don’t speak from personal experience here (only observation), but it seems that most mothers continually have a lot on their plates. An INTP mother (especially a stay-at-home INTP mom) could potentially operate more like an ISFJ at times, because #1: she has to be focused on the concrete and sensory world most of the time (and especially so with young children) [Sensing], #2: she is likely to reach emotional breaking points from time to time (or, like, possibly every day) due to intense stress, and therefore appear (and feel/be) more emotional and anxious than might be typical for her [Feeling], and #3: she has to constantly engage in planning and implementation of those plans (not only for herself, but for her child(ren)), in order to survive life and help her family survive it [Judging]. 🙂 And while INTPs tend to be known for absorbing lots of information, a stay-at-home INTP mom is likely to have little time for reading.

Therefore, a person could potentially be mistyped if their personality is being evaluated in a season of unique/particular social obligations or role(s).

#5: Poor mental health.

Depression, anxiety, and other mental health struggles can alter one’s emotional and rational state tremendously, and have the potential to skew, at the very least, the F/T or E/I results.

Perhaps an “introverted thinker” is in the middle of a completely undesired divorce, and in this season of insecurity and pain is desiring the closeness, company, and approval of others more than would be typical. If a test is taken at this time, it is likely to yield a more EF (extroverted and feeling) view of the IT (introverted thinker) than it otherwise would, were they in a relatively low-pain season of life. Perhaps the IT’s natural inclination would be to spend most of their time alone, but in this season, they particularly crave the emotional support of a social group.

This is not a comprehensive list. If you’ve thought of any other factors that could cause an inaccurate slanting of one’s personality type assessment, please add them in the comments!

INTP Functions

INTP Relationships

The Struggles of an INTP Girl

Signs an INTP Might Like, Like You

© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

things I'm thankful for - birds and music notes on power line

Things I’m Thankful For

So far, this month has been kinda rough. But it’s also been sprinkled generously throughout with beauty, encouragement, and hope.

A random card of encouragement from my mom. <3

People from my church praying over me last Sunday.

Uplifting, gorgeous music on my phone that helps me renew my mind.

And the ability to restore my perspective a bit, appreciate what I’ve been given, and recognize that things will work out as they’re meant to. Whatever was meant to be is the best outcome.

This doesn’t mean the pain is gone. But it’s no longer the brutally crushing force it once was.

Every ounce of suffering has been matched with at least as much – if not more – hope, perspective, and the opportunity for learning.

For my own therapeutic benefit, I’m going to take a moment to list some things I’m grateful for, because this practice tends to improve my state of mind. 🙂 Hopefully you may find it encouraging in some way as well. <3

Some of the Blessings in My Life Right Now

Having taxes behind me.

Inspiriting music that I can listen to practically anytime.

The ability to cry again.

Having a safe home and healthy food to eat. If I didn’t have the support of my family, I’d probably be homeless right now due to physical issues that make steady, intense work schedules in most environments outside the home too harsh for my system. I would probably be living on the streets or at a shelter, and eating even less than I do currently with dietary restrictions.

My kind, patient, intelligent, and wise friends, from whom I’ve learned and continue to learn so much.

I know this can be a rough season for many of you, and often it can be challenging to recognize anything good when heavy clouds and fog are surrounding you. But if you’re interested in participating, I’d love to hear about some of the blessings in your lives. 🙂

Hugs <3


See Disclaimer.

© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

dried-up faucet in sun - concealed tears, crying


Like a faucet, struggling, spurting
Like a spigot, bubbling, bursting
Slowly trickling out the tears
Are my eyes after trying years.

Slowly I am learning to cry
Yet sometimes still my well is dry
And tears fall out as cackling coughs
Or shivers in the place of drops.

The faucet wheel is often turned
And oh! For ages I have yearned
To let those streams fall from within
Yet in dry years could not begin.

And even now, the faucet favors
Nighttime to unveil its quavers
When all is hidden, all is dark
And few will hear its grave remarks.

The sunlight keeps me cool and dry
My tears concealed from passersby
And in the light my alloy shines
Reflecting back the sun’s designs.

Like a faucet, struggling, spurting
Like a spigot, bubbling, bursting
Slowly trickling out the tears
Are my eyes after trying years.

© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

modestly dressed person standing in kitchen

Why Emotional Modesty Needs to Die

Heads-up: The beginning of this piece might have you thinking that you’re about to digest some erotica, but before some of you dismiss this piece on that premise – and before some of you get excited – I might as well let you know, this discourse doesn’t fit within that category. Unless, that is, you consider emotional intimacy to be equivalent to dancing leafless in stilettos.

Today, I was sitting on the floor in my bedroom after practicing some yoga. As my blood circulation improved, I became more introspective. I began talking to God.

As I was talking to God, I felt the neckline of my shirt slide down my left shoulder (whether it voluntarily slipped or I initiated the shoulder slip, I don’t know, but I let it happen).

Somehow, I felt like I was approaching greater authenticity and intimacy.

Feeling mentally awakened by this shoulder-baring thing, I allowed my neckline to drop down the other shoulder as well (the neckline was wide enough to expose both shoulders simultaneously).

It was just me and God (who sees me totally unclad all the time), so I had no fear of judgment.

As I continued to feel more genuinely myself – and entirely free from fear of judgment – my mind awakened. I entered a limitless, unchecked introspective state. I found ideas and observations coming naturally to me. My mind approached a clarity of thought that I hadn’t experienced in a considerable while.

At last, I found my soul reestablishing its connection with my mind. My spiritual and cognitive spheres fusing. The experience was…exhilarating.

But all of this got me thinking. Why is it so wrong – so loathsome – to be emotionally naked in society?

Why – in an age of sexual chutzpah – does the disclosure of one’s raw mental and emotional state remain taboo? Why do we stare at a “professed to be depressed” person as if they’d arrived at work in gossamer intimates?

Our minds and spirits are integral components of our essence. Why, then, is it so unacceptable to discuss emotional and mental health?

Why – when combating mental disease – are we identified as our struggles? Why, when we are fighting a monster, are we characterized as “weak”?

Anyone – even a warrior – when compared to a monster, will appear to be weak!

Why is “Depressed” a label and not a condition, like MS or Lyme or fibromyalgia? Why is it something you are, and not something you’re fighting?

face of depressed, teary, hurting woman

Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

More than ever, as stress in the workplace increaseswe must make it a priority to support the emotional health of our colleagues, team, friends, and family.

Where possible, remote work may provide a partial solution to employees’ mental health struggles. Allowing them to complete tasks in a setting detached from workplace drama – and to not have to put so much effort into grooming before work, or to drive in when suffering from a migraine from crying all night and battling insomnia – would make a significant difference for many employees suffering from depression and other mental health struggles. This employee would also likely be more productive by not having to put out extra energy (or time) for unnecessary interactions or chatter with colleagues on a rough day. Providing options like this (when possible) for employees is a win-win situation.


Photo by James McGill on Unsplash

It’s okay to be depressed. But it’s not okay to stay there. <3 (I don’t mean that in a judgmental way, btw. You may fear that you’ll always stay there. It seems like depression will never leave. You sense that you’ll be fighting this giant for the rest of your life.) Yet, you probably will stay there if you walk the road alone. If you’ve got to constantly conceal your gushing wound (depression, anxiety, other mental health struggles) with a massive bandage (acting fine when you’re not), then who’s going to recognize that you need help?

Maybe you will realize you need to seek help. And maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll just continue to live in denial – because you don’t want anyone, yourself included, to see you as “mentally ill” or “weak”. You’ll pretend you’re not bleeding, because you fear judgment – and the suffering that comes with that – over the suffering of pain endured in silence.

If you sense that you’re being judged (or would be judged) for your mental battles, then you will close off and no longer be your authentic self.

If you put up a mask, you will underperform. You will not be able to give all of yourself, because there will be a part of you that you’re still withholding and ignoring.

I have certainly done this many times. Even when I wanted to be able to share my pain with others, I would just automatically smile and laugh and pretend things were fine. Working in customer service for several years exacerbated this problem, because it taught my brain that we “smile, rain or shine”. I reached a point where I could not cry when I felt like crying. This constant detachment from my “inner self” created a deathly numbness in me, from which I am only now recovering.

How can we encourage emotional rawness in our culture?

As a friend, when you’re hanging out with your buddy, and you sense that something’s a bit off, say something. Ask, “How are you doing, truly?” or “Everything okay?” And be ready to hear the answer, even if it’s ugly.

Even if your friend is smiling and seems fine, ask how things are going. Many depressed individuals have achieved Hollywood-class acting capabilities, just to protect themselves from becoming targets of social stigma.

What if we were free to be emotionally and mentally transparent? To say “I’ve been battling depression” just as readily as we might say “I’ve been battling cancer”?

What heights of emotional and mental health might we reach, if we could simply be authentically ourselves, without fear of judgment? Without fear of being identified and labeled by the things happening to us? What would happen if we shed our emotional and mental clothing?

Might we achieve the clarity of thought and flow of creativity that I enjoyed on my bedroom floor?

What will it take to get there? What will be required to change the cultural perceptions about mental disease? How will we achieve emotional nakedness in ourselves and within our communities?

What do you think it will take to reengineer society’s view on mental illness? Songs by pop artists? More films and dramas that don’t glamorize depression, but that do portray it as a real and very common struggle? Baby steps made within the community and within relationships? All of the above?


© 2017 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved




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