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The $2 Billion Question of Who You Are at Work


Personality testing was largely an outgrowth of World War I. The American military wanted to screen for soldiers who had “weak constitutions” and might be more susceptible to what was then called shell shock, so it created a test, the Woodworth Personal Data Sheet, with questions like: “Did you ever think you had lost your manhood?” Not long after, a Carl Jung-obsessed homemaker, Katharine Cook Briggs, and her daughter, Isabel Myers, developed their own personality inventory, despite having no psychological training, which they started distributing in 1943. Each year, more than two million people now determine their Myers-Briggs type.Those early assessments were trying to pin down answers to an existential question: Who are you? Wallflower or life of the party? Flighty or reliable? Alternative t …

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