Solely In Black and White: An Abstract Concept: The Dor Yeshorim Test of Personalities

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

An Abstract Concept: The Dor Yeshorim Test of Personalities


Frum and Flipping recently wrote a post describing her Myer-Brigss personality type in the context of shidduchim. I have been sitting a post like this for a while now, so finally I have some incentive to write it.

To begin, I wholeheartedly believe in the theories present by Jung/Myer-Briggs in their Type Indicator (MBTI) research. I have seen the manifestations of interpersonal interaction follow the patterns associated to an individual’s particular typology. Furthermore, I have asked married people to take the test and read what their ideal spouse would be according to the compatibility guidelines, and in most cases the analysis provided a relatively accurate description of their spouse.

So if these four letters are so useful and accurate, why aren’t we using them? Why hasn’t this become the de facto method of personality reporting in out resume writing routine wherein we require all participants entering the shidduch scene to submit their MBTI? 

There is no way that would work. People are afraid of labels. Yup, even though in principle a MBTI is not a label per se, it’s just a descriptor of your personality, classifications are verboten. We are individuals in the broadest sense of the term, are we not? How can we simply say that every single person falls into one of 16 typologies? Besides, between me and you, people don’t really have a clue what personality types are, what they mean, or how to use them.

The problem is further complicated by the fact that according to MBTI there are only 2 optimal configurations per type. If you were to tell people that you’d effectively be discarding 7/8 (or 87.5%) of their perspective dates solely on the basis of a rudimentary and subjective piece of psychological theory (which has been questioned by some experts and academics) you’d never get any support! More importantly, if you understand the implications of your typology, then you'd know how much information it contains about you and you might be averse to publicly disclosing it.

So what to do? On the one hand this little tool could theoretically revolutionize researching a potential date; on the other hand there is no way you’re going to get people to go along with it. The other issue is: in theory, any two individuals of sound mental health can get along regardless of their personalities, possibly making this an exercise in futility. Also, this “tool” would need to be created in a way so that it can be used in conjunction with our current system, because let’s face it, aside from political platforms, people don’t readily support change.  

Let’s try this for a solution. How about we create an optional system where you fill out a standardized questionnaire which will contain all the aspects of a MBTI test as well as background and hashkofic questions. All answers would be store remotely and would not be accessible. Every respondent would be given a unique ID (Vis-à-vis like a dor yeshorim number or any number really). These numbers could then be queried against the database either by the parties involved or a shadchan (depending on how the system was built) and shortly thereafter receive a brief report containing any factors that may impede potential compatibility based on a myriad of factors. The report wouldn’t say yes or no, but it would highlight the areas of concern. It would then be either the individuals, parents, or shadchan's decision whether those factors are enough of a reason to reject the perspective date.  Who knows, maybe with a little tweaking the database could generate perspective matches on its own and give the shadchanium some good ideas! (like a hybrid version Bored Jewish Guy's eHarmony experiment maybe?) 

So what you do think? Does this system (albeit with some modification, collaboration, bug testing, support, and the help of some experts and Rabbis) have potential? 

15 comments:

  1. Cute idea, but it would probably just make the shidduch system even worse/more complicated.

    I want to take the test, though! :)

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  2. I think with enough planning it can be made as simple as a standard shidduch questionnaire; just the questions would be very well thought-out and have deeper implications in terms of personality type. Besides, even if the system didn’t work out, I think a standardized shidduch questionnaire with some insightful questions in and of itself would be step in the right direction.

    You never took a personality test? Check this out, it’s relatively good. If you don’t mind, let me know what the results are, I’m curious what it will say for you.

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  3. SiBW - thanks! I might've taken it before. The questions seem annoyingly familiar.

    Will post my results.

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  4. Okay, so my results were ENFJ. But I'm not sure how honestly I answered all of the questions.

    If I had to describe my personality: I'd say I'm very emotional and passionate, yet also logical. I don't act based on how I'm feeling that second; I like to think twice before doing something.
    I like being around people and have no problem socializing, but I also need my downtime to think and be alone. At the same time, I can't have too much alone time.

    Hope that makes SOME sense. :D

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  5. SiBW - if you don't mind sharing, what were your results?

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  6. Err.. you might want to read my comment over on Frum and Flipping about that, or check your email perhaps. ;)

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  7. I'm afraid we are indeed headed in that direction. It's just another step up in the industrialization and impersonalization of the system.

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  8. "Furthermore, I have asked married people to take the test and read what their ideal spouse would be according to the compatibility guidelines, and in most cases the analysis provided a relatively accurate description of their spouse. "

    Really? From my experience, the Myers Briggs is very good at determining a person's personality, but when it comes to the types of personalities that are compatible romantically with certain personalities, I find that it's not very accurate.

    Your giving people numbers idea is very interesting, but I don't think personality tests are valid reasons for rejecting someone. For one thing, you need to have a decent amount self awareness to take tests, so people might answer the tests wrong, simply because they think they are a certain way, when really they are not. Does that make sense?

    I do thing personality tests would be very helpful in shidduchim, in that when someone says "describe your personality" (or when looking into the personality of a potenatial date), we could simply direct them to the online page where it describes our personality type.

    Sefardi Gal- I'm an ENFJ too! :) The way you described your personality is pretty much how I would describe mine. Interesting...

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  9. SternGrad - we ENFJs are just full of awesomeness!

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  10. I took that test and it said "dude, you are messed up" ok, so it actually said INTP with the I,N & T being questionable. I don't know how useful this information really is in terms of shidduchim, b/c it's asking you questions about yourself only. If it also asked you similar questions with a focus on what type of person you'd be compatible with, it would be better. It's not enough to just no their type, b/c you don't know how accurate that is. What I like about the eharmony questions is that they let you rank each characteristic by how important it is to you, so I can say I want someone who's spontaneous and assign a value of how important that is to me.

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  11. @ishchayill:
    Oh to the contrary, this system may actual cause people to understand that not every person is the same. Gone will be the days of yore when we would judge people solely on their seminaries/ yeshivas and high schools and say “hey maybe, s/he has a compatible personality.”

    @SternGrad and @Sefardi Gal:
    From what I understand of the MBTI theory, it doesn’t predict romance; I think that is a chemical equation that is important but not connected to this. So yes, you are probably 100% right that MBTI is not accurate in that regard. The purpose of MBTI, or at least in context that I have seen it used, is to determine how people get along with one another.

    Here is an example for you ENFJs: “A problem area for ENFJs in relationships is their very serious dislike of conflict. ENFJs will prefer to brush issues under the rug rather than confront them head-on, if there is likely to be a conflict.” So if an ENFJ were to be paired with a MBTI type that was confrontational, in most cases the parties involved would have some difficulty. That’s not to say it wouldn’t work out, because as humans we are adaptable, but it would require a lot of extra effort just to get along.

    I totally agree with your argument that people don’t understand the questions. One of biggest drawbacks of the test is that it’s entirely subjective and open to personal interpretation. I think the test tries to negate these problems by asking repetitive questions in different formats to determine a person’s true nature. I definitely would not recommend that someone reject a shidduch just because of one of these silly online tests!

    I didn’t mean that this should be used as a method of saying no to a prospective date, but rather as a tool to see what the potential areas of concern need to be addressed if one does happen to go out. So yes, I agree that this would be a much better way for people to describe their personalities. A shidduch personality website is an Interesting idea. That would really help people understands personality types in the context of dating.


    @Bored Jewish Guy:
    I hear what you’re saying; the MBTI is really only meant for personality, and there are many other factors that should be included in a questionnaire. For sure! If we made such a system it should definitely incorporate those types of questions just like eHarmony.

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  12. Hmmmm....just noticed this post. I'm starting to get this idea that you enjoy pulling things out of other people without reciprocating....
    Do you believe that there is an optimal Myer-Briggs configuration i.e. an ENFJ is not as good as an ESTJ (s/t along those lines)? Really you can kind of figure out the person's personality profile yourself on the date. The "E" vs. "I" is not too difficult, and the "F" and the "T" is also not too difficult. I don't think you need to take the test to know what category you'll end up falling into.

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  13. Really? What gave you that impression? ;-) I have this notion that you enjoy giving out information without a just cause… :-P (if you’d like we can further discuss this topic through email)

    No, I believe that every person has a unique personality and there is no optimal MBTI. It can be said that a specific type may be better at a specific task, but the world needs a variety of people for a variety of tasks. To top it all off: ever personality type has its unique strengths and weaknesses, so no, there is no perfect personality type.

    Sometimes. Unless you know someone really well, it’s actually very hard to get an accurate read on their entire personality, but you are correct, it can be done. It gets rather complicated because the other dichotomies (N/S and J/P) are harder to determine, yet they can play a crucial role. Even so, sometimes people make a bad first impression which can mar their perceived personality.

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  14. Excuse moi-I do NOT just give out information about myself!!!

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