first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest
person to fool.
Nobel-prize winning physicist
tipping the sacred cow. I am callously up-ending one of the most cherished of INFJ notions --
the most enduring "INFJ Myth." Nevertheless, if one more
person repeats that old saw about INFJs being the "rarest" of all the
types, I will simply have to hold my breath until I turn purple.
the facts that support this proposition? What is this
famous mythology based on?
Is it based on
David Keirsey's estimation of the type distribution?
So how scientific are those figures? Where is the research it's based on?
(Because there isn't any. We know that for a fact. David made the
percentages up. He guessed.)
Okay, so maybe
INFJ rarity is based on the statistics which are printed in the MBTI manual.
That's reasonable. So where did they come from?
First, are we
talking about the numbers Isabel Briggs-Myers estimated in 1957 based on the
population of the school district where she
conducted her studies?
so perhaps INFJ was the rarest type in that school. That doesn't mean by
extension it's universally true everywhere.
rarity was determined after summarizing the figures according to that type survey they
took in 1998.
You know, the one where telephone solicitors called various households
throughout the country. They contacted 16,000 people and used the
results of 3,009. People were not given the opportunity to confirm their own best-fit
INFJs (assuming they were correctly typed, of course) were the rarest of all the types for participating in such a survey?
(I know I never participate in phone surveys.) So that's all that number reflects.
if that study doesn't hold water...
we can rely on the statistics stored in CPP's computer that records all the
MBTI scores. Hey, that's pretty solid evidence...
you concede that the instrument is only about 70% accurate according to its own
manual, and the results
which are stored have never been updated per anyone's validated type. (Thus, my INFJ
girlfriend who tested on the MBTI as INTJ will forever be listed in CPP's
databanks as having INTJ preferences, despite the inaccuracy. So that's at
least one INFJ who's misrepresented in the database as another type... and I know
she's not alone.)
possible the MBTI has the
most trouble identifying INFJs accurately. But that doesn't tell us how
many INFJs there actually are.
aren't there any valid studies out there?
there are at least two sources (I have two right in front of me) that
reflect different types as the smallest percentages of the population.
comes from Portraits of Type: An
MBTI Research Compendium,
by Avril Thorne and Harrison
Gough. It claims I_FPs have the smallest representation.
other was printed in the Journal of Psychological Type, Vol. 37, 1996.
The authors are Allen Hammer and Wayne Mitchell and their figures are based on a
study that was concluded in 1992. In that study, ENFJs have the
not every study results in INFJ being the rarest type.
fact, Sarah writes to tell us:
attend a small liberal arts college in Salt Lake Utah, and in one of my classes
they had each of us take a free version of the MBTI on-line. As it turned out,
INFJ was the second most common test result in the class.
much for being rare. I'm especially fond of this one:
something else thatís unusual - there are 3 INFJís in my first class and
7 in my secondÖ As an INFJ myself, Iíve learned that this
personality type is EXTREMELY RARE, so to have so many of us gathered in one
room is pretty cool.
determined to believe in the myth, despite the evidence right in front of
how you never hear about those studies where other types are the smallest
percentage -- you only hear that "INFJ is the
rarest of all the types" (spoken in a prideful or dreamy tone).
People are in LOVE with INFJs being the rarest type.
this story has been perpetuated to death.
bottom line is, we don't have accurate statistics about type breakdowns
for the earth's population (or even the U.S. population). Any statistics
you might trot out have serious drawbacks associated with them, and are at best
estimates -- sometimes guesses -- of what people think.
are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.
"natural selection" were a valid theory, there should be 6.25% of each
of the 16 types in the world -- an even distribution -- so that no one type is
rarer than any other. But nobody knows for certain, since nobody has done
an accurate personality type assessment of the entire population of the world,
nor of a representative sample from all walks of life.
When one resorts to statistics, they lack reason.
-Rules of Flight, The Adventures of a
am I making a fuss about this? It's because this is frequently the ONLY
THING people remember about the INFJ personality type. So it attracts people
who are desperate to be
RARE -- to be special -- to be unique-est of all. Then people crow about this "rare" label and don't want to give it up,
regardless of whether
or not INFJ preferences really fit them.
you think I'm being bloody-minded. I mean, INFJs are out-of-step with the
norm, so why shouldn't they revel in being unique and special? Why am I
destroying the one thing INFJs can have a sense of pride about?
Virginia, it's like this. Singling out INFJs (or any type pattern, for that
matter) and calling them "rare" gives a subtle implication that this type is
"better" somehow by virtue of its rarity -- and yet the very idea of
"better" is exactly what we're trying to get away from by introducing
a model of types in the first place. Fixating on "rarity"
distracts us from leveling the playing field and laying to rest the idea
of any type being "better" than the others. That's
what true diversity is all about.
"rare" introduces a misguided element of rank and privilege
that doesn't belong in the type model, and destroys the very thing type is
designed to honor.
It adds a disturbing element to the framework that creates a higher
priority for being rare than to discover one's best-fit type
pattern. Feeling special upstages matching
the model accurately .
instance, this was recently posted online by
someone who just got an INFP score from a free online quiz:
this is admittedly the stupidest reaction EVER to an online quiz, but in all
the many, many times I have taken a Myers-Briggs/Kirsey temperment based quiz
I have always gotten INFJ. I like being an INFJ, because apparently we're so
rare or something (which is funny because from all the results I've seen it's
she recognizes the irony of the "rare INFJ" claim, and yet she's still
in love with it...
it's all predicated on faulty data, since nobody knows how rare
any type is,
including the INFJ type.
got sucked into the "being rare" thing, you might want to take
another look to see whether or not the INFJ code fits you best. When
your code is wrong, the whole notion of type feels pretty lame. You
can say you're rare, but nothing else about being INFJ will feel right --
you're left with a feeling of emptiness whenever people describe INFJ type
urges and hungers.
you rely on this particular statistic to ratchet yourself into believing you are unique and
"special," I regret to say it's worthless. And, frankly -- you don't need it
anyway. You're unique and special regardless. All you require is
giving yourself permission to believe it. And that, my friend, has nothing
to do with statistics.
that you call reality, which is perception and cognition, and feeling, and
behavior and biology and social interactions and personal relationships, are a
direct result of who you think you are.
discussing this sacred INFJ cow of being rare recently, I realized
that many INFJs experience the illusion of rarity. I think that's
a different topic, and I say more about it here.
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