Apr 27, 2022
it a higher compliment to be called a) a person of real feeling, or
b) a consistently reasonable person?" "Are you more successful at
a) following a carefully worked-out plan, or b) dealing with the
unexpected and seeing quickly what should have been done?" "Which
word in each pair appeals to you more? a) scheduled, or b)
Questions like these are posed to millions of current
and prospective workers and students every year.
They come from personality tests,
whether the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Clifton StrengthsFinder,
or other surveys purporting to assess personality traits and job
aptitude. Through a series of tens to hundreds of questions,
personality inventories claim to identify qualities like dominance,
neuroticism, or introversion, synthesize a user profile, and
determine that user’s fitness for a given job.
beneath this ostensibly neutral goal of matching a person with
their ideal form of employment lies a much more sinister aim:
Identifying and weeding out would-be dissenters, labor organizers,
and union sympathizers. Additionally, studies have shown repeatedly
that commercial personality tests like the commonly used
Myers-Briggs have little to no scientific value. Why, then, does
their use continue–with anywhere from 60 to 80% of prospective
workers taking a personality test–and given their anti-labor
history, what harms do they pose?
this episode, we examine the history of personality testing used in
military, educational, and corporate settings; the relationship
between personality assessments, labor law, and the corporate
consultancy class; how personality testing threatens the
livelihoods of people based on race, disability, and other factors;
and media’s role in laundering tests as benign instruments of
guest is writer Liza Featherstone.