Three Common Ways Libertarians Misuse Myers-Briggs Part 3: Using MBTI as a Prescriptive, Instead of a Descriptive, Theory


This post is the second of a three-part series exploring how libertarians misuse MBTI. See Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

“Myers-Briggs is no more accurate than a horoscope.”

For those of us into MBTI, we’ve heard some variation of this before, and it’s frustrating. However, it doesn’t surprise me that some exert this kind of skepticism. MBTI has been misused to imply that all people of the same type behave the same way, which has resulted in consequences such as affecting the hiring processes. Some take their Myers-Briggs type and translate it into a destiny—INTPs will be forever depressed, INTJs forever socially awkward, ESFPs forever dissatisfied,—in spite of differences between individuals and their personal circumstances. Libertarians have been apt to do this to themselves and apply MBTI to others in this way. A lot of it comes in the form of snobbery.

I have already talked about how libertarians have an inclination for iNtuitive elitism, and how Feelers haven’t been taken as seriously as Thinkers. Both of these posts strung together a theme of “type x is just as good as type y.” The greater message should be that MBTI is a system that highlights preferences and not abilities. This distinction is the fundamental difference between prescriptive and descriptive theories. In other words, MBTI should not tell people how to act or perceive other people. It simply describes the way things are inclined to be.

Libertarians have a general philosophy against collectivizing people, and this should translate over to MBTI as well. Within each type, there are patterns for cognitive functions. They can be arranged in any order, and while there are discernable patterns for each type, the functions can fall in almost any order. This creates differences within each type.

That’s a lot of psychological jargon for: within each type, there are functions that make us different from each other. These distinctions may come from personal experience or may have been an innate personality trait, but it separates people into (shocker!) having their own personality unique from anyone else’s.

Myers-Briggs has its well-known limitations and shouldn’t be the basis of evaluating your or other people’s capabilities. Doing so diminishes the Type Indicator to the level of a horoscope, a palm reading, or a psychic. MBTI has no bearing on your future or on the future of others. We are all capable of pursuing our interests regardless of type, and hey, isn’t that what libertarianism is all about?