personality of designers

This Fast Company article, by Michael Roller, about designers and personality type caught my attention. Michael undertook an experiment with some designers to find out  which personality traits designers shared.

He was really looking to see if there was an ideal personality type for a designer. It was interesting that he called it personality traits- and then used Myers Briggs, who do not measure traits! They measure on bipolar scales and combine these scales to identify a whole personality type not a measure of whatever trait a person may have.

Still, he did came up with some interesting findings – although from the information provided the sample size looked too small to reach any conclusions. What he discovered from this small sample was that all of the people scored high in Intuition (N). There was an almost even split between those with a preference for Thinking and Feeling as there was for the attitudes of Introversion and Extraversion.

One of the things that always fascinates about Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is that people seem to talk in code. Are they aiming for a closed community where you only get to join the debate if you have an understanding of the Myers Briggs system? Certainly the founders of Myers Briggs did not want to use their system as a way of excluding anyone. They might even be upset, if alive today, at the shorthand code that is used to describe people.

They started the system in the first place to help people understand their own and others behaviour. That people have different preferences was a key discovery that they were anxious to share. Some had a preference for intuition (N) others for sensing (S), then some had a preference for Thinking (T) or feeling (F). These together with a person’s attitude for either extraversion or introversion provide a very good guide to how people might respond to their environment.

The system is brilliant and based on the work of Carl Jung the Swiss psychologist. Its main purpose was for clarification and understanding, which is miles away from those in the know speaking in code. It is a fact of modern life that we all do seek short cuts for one thing or another, however when the system is being used in exploring where designers are likely to come from, it would be better that plain language were used as it is unlikely that designers would all understand the Myers Briggs system.

What has it actually told us, in truth not a lot. The major conclusion that can be taken from the example given is that there were no designers in this sample who had a preference for sensing. Could this be the reality? I think that the term designer is too loose to define an ideal type that would fit the role. There are many different types of design and even more types of designers. For any personality system to identify a good fit with the job role other factors need to be included. Without these factors this exercise is actually meaningless. Interesting and a bit of fun maybe, but of any use to anyone –  no way!

Further Reading

You may also enjoy reading about how we made a Personality Test  that is easy to use.