Monday, September 13, 2010

What Myers-Briggs personality types are chemists?

Reading my new Twitter feed (in the process of setting up my own -- http://twitter.com/Chemjobber), I see that David Kroll of Terra Sigillata is talking about Myers-Briggs personality types. I'm not much of a believer in psychology, but I've had a long-running arm's-length fascination with the Myers-Briggs test. You can take a quick five or ten minute version of the test here.

Basically, the test measures you on 4 variables -- whether you are an Introvert or an Extrovert, whether you are iNtuitive or Sensing, Thinking or Feeling and Judging or Perceiving. The questions are always a bit difficult to answer: "It's difficult to get you excited - Yes or No?" Well, it depends -- are we talking football or NMR results? I've tested as either an INTJ ("The Scientist") or a ISTJ ("The Inspector") with occasional results as a "E", if I'm in an expansive mood.*

I suspect that, within chemistry, there are a wide variety of personality types with a moderate bias towards introversion. (If you have time, Jonathan Rauch's essay on the care and feeding of introverts is a classic.) Chemistry, in the end, is a solitary pursuit. With the exception of the most complex machinery, most chemistry operations are done by one person, even if everyone is working as a team. Two people can't perform an extraction (one person holds the sep funnel, another shakes?) and a HPLC is too small to have two people standing in front of it for very long. Folks who need constant human interaction, I suspect, have a difficult time with life in the lab. (Was your favorite time in the lab when you can be alone? It is/was for me...)

Other than introversion, I doubt there's other signficant personality biases. It's also the introversion that makes group meetings such a joy. (That's a whole 'nother post.) What's your Myers-Briggs personality type? Leave it in the comments, if you dare...

*Those personality profiles always strike me as just a little bogus, sort of like Facebook quiz results. How Awesome Are You? You're Super Awesome! Where's the MBTI that's "The Sociopath"?

25 comments:

  1. I think INTJ's make pretty good sociopaths.

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    1. Wow kinda of harsh I'm An intp

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    2. As an INTJ I would have to disagree, because I feel everything so greatly. The problem is that I cannot express these emotions. Nor can I 'fake' express them, as is common in a sociopath. I would have to say that an INTJ is the exact opposite of a sociopath. We feel everything, and we feel it deeply, but we don't flaunt the emotion, and often we don't acknowledge it. While sociopaths feel nothing, but they pretend that they do so much so that their fabricated emotions seem real. Whoops, am I expressing too much?

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    3. Actually, INTP is more likely than INTJ to show some sociopathic features. People of INTJ type score slightly higher as psychopaths. The top of the food chain psychopaths are of ESTJ/ENTJ type and the sociopaths are correlated with ESTP/ENTP types.

      For comparison. the most socially agreeable type seems to be the ESFJ.

      I think the introverts, especially INTJs, can be actually concerned that they might turn into some evil alter-ego and often actively build an ethical "exoskeleton" to prevent that. INTJs are innovative, independent, and insightful. INTPs are flexible and imaginative problem solvers. Neither type is strongly dependent on the society so they have no use for malice, premeditated or not. If conflicts arise any aggressive behaviors are defensive. It takes an extrovert to truly and intentionally harm someone.

      I am writing as an INTP who used to be an INTJ.

      For the inquisitive data-oriented types, INTJ and INTP are strongly correlated with high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder. Using the old DSM terminology the INTJs were correlated with Asperger Syndrome and INTPs with PDD-NOS. The population of INTJs is about 2% of the society and the current rate of ASD diagnosis in children is about 2.5% (with lots of caveats).

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    4. @Anon at 10:16: You described me perfectly (I am an INTJ as well). I think that personality also gives little tolerance for BS. I do feel things deeply, and have a lot of difficulty expressing it with grace, the later of which is an absolute requirement if you want to move up in a social hierarchy.

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  2. I'm an INJT too - i read somewhere else that they are "Masterminds". So, move over CEO, there's a new INTJ kid in town.

    OR..... sociopath + mastermind = James Bond Nemesis Evil Genius type?

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  3. if the rate of intermarriage between synthetic organic chemists is any indication, one could say chemists do not get out much

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  4. INTP.

    B & M were smart and put the I/E scale up front, something that everyone can easily identify and relate to. This is important as they thereby gather apparent validity, something otherwise impossible given the remaining descriptions are as vague as a poorly written horoscope.

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  5. ENTJ. Definitely prefer other people in the lab to keep me company, but obviously I can deal with it if there's not.

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  6. INFJ. I have tested this way every time I have been administered the test since the 8th grade.

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  7. I tested ISTJ in 9th grade...low I&S, with very very high T&J.

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  8. Stewie Griffin:
    INTJ

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  9. unfounded analysis based on little real world experience

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  10. Chemistry requires a lot of organization so probably someone with a J type would fit as a chemist.

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  11. INTJ - and a Chemist. I think they go hand in hand. =)

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  12. I'm an INTJ "the Mastermind" and my husband is INTP "the absent-minded professor."

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  13. My dad (a chemist) was an INTJ/ISTJ borderline; I got a degree in chemistry as an INFP

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  14. ENTP- Just graduated and have a job working in a chemistry lab. In my opinion extroversion and introversion have no reason to stop you from pursuing what fascinates you. Although, I will admit I have always been one of the more talkative people in all of my labs during college, and in the real world. You can tell that most of the scientists I work with aren't natural chatters.

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  15. I agree with the last comment. I am an ENTP as well and I find that I have come to enjoy my alone time in the lab, as long as I have my music on.

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  16. Synthetic organic chemist: intj/intp (depends on many factors, and I probably haveno idea what the most important contributor is)

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  17. ISTJ - postdoc now and while I'm good at working with others to accomplish tasks as necessary, I like my alone time to gather and process information. Tend to see the trees instead of the forest/very detail oriented. Sometimes I feel like I would have been better suited for other careers, but I was always very good at classroom studying and so chose a challenging field of study that I enjoyed. When I was younger, I certainly could have been an engineer because I was very strong at math - that ship has sailed as I approach my 30s. Sometimes I wonder whether engineering would have been a better career choice as I'm not the most creative person in terms of ideas.

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  18. I'm an INFP doing a Masters in chem and it feels like I'm dying. My motivation continues to plummet and I just want to hide in my room. Anybody else feel this way?

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