Around 80 percent of the Fortune 500 companies use personality tests such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to assess their employees for the purpose of coaching, development, and team building. However, some critics claim that many of these assessments have no more reliability or validity than horoscopes.
In her brilliant book, The Cult of Personality, Annie Murphy Paul provides a history of personality tests and presents compelling evidence that should make anyone question the tests and consider how they are used and misused in the workplace. Most industrial and organizational psychologists have serious reservations about many popular personality tests, as our training teaches us to be skeptical and to put the burden of proof on the publishers of the tests.
So why do so many corporations use tests that have questionable reliability and validity? In my experience, it is the very limitations of the assessments that make them so popular. First of all, they present a simplified view of human nature, and it can be reassuring to some people to be able to fit themselves and their colleagues into neat, predictable, pre-determined boxes. We are all susceptible to using oversimplified stereotypes to categorize and evaluate other people, and these personality assessments create politically correct, non demographically-correlated stereotypes.