Do opposites really attract?

Marguerite Franco doesn’t think so. According to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality test, the 21-year-old college student is an extrovert. When she happens upon singles with conflicting personality types in their Tinder profiles — namely, introverts — she swipes left, or no. Franco has always jibed better with fellow social butterflies, fiery souls who lead with their emotions. Dating someone who’d rather stay in on a Saturday night just wouldn’t work.

Immediately writing off a potentially good thing is a risk she’s willing to take. The pool of online daters is too vast anyway, Franco says, so she prefers to narrow the field right out of the gate. “I just kind of would rather limit myself than explore every single thing about a person,” she adds.

The Myers-Briggs assessment categorizes people into one of 16 personality types, using an extensive questionnaire of nearly 100 questions such as, “Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world?” and “Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning?” Franco’s personality type is ESFJ — extroversion, sensing, feeling and judgment. “I thrive on being around people. I approach [problems] in a systematic way,” Franco explains. “I use my emotions as a guiding decision factor, and everything in my life is super organized.”

Developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother Katharine Cook Briggs shortly after World War II, the assessment aimed to apply psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s theories to personality. The test’s goal was to help women identify their strengths to secure appropriate jobs, and it is often criticized for its lack of scientific backing. Notably Myers and Briggs were not psychoanalysts. The four letters that make up the 16 types stand for either introvert or extrovert, intuitive or sensory, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving. Many critics argue that people’s personalities exist on a spectrum — people possess varying degrees of both introversion and extroversion, logic and sentimentality — and therefore the Myers-Briggs test is an oversimplification.

Despite its shortcomings, the test has persisted with professional team building, employment recruiting and, now, for love. Ever since one of Franco’s managers led her through the questionnaire during a recent internship, she has identified with the personality signifier. Once she realized she was an extrovert, she finally understood why she had to be the life of the party, why she was so idealistic in relationships and why she had a burning desire to be needed.

Franco displays these four letters in her Tinder bio to give potential matches a sense of her personality. If daters find extroverts’ active social calendars exhausting, for example, they can dismiss her immediately. No one’s time is wasted.

Crafting an online dating profile is an art: Singles must whittle their most impressive yet personable characteristics into a few hundred characters. In an attempt to give a tl;dr on one’s entire essence, some daters display their Myers-Briggs personality type as a way of disclosing their essential selves. Millennial daters from New York to Malaysia have said they’ve noticed a sizable population of men and women using four letters to distill their personalities. In July, the lifestyle and fashion website Man Repeller even ran a tongue-in-cheek guide deciphering the underlying meaning of each personality type within the context of Tinder. For example, someone identifying as an INTP essentially says: “If you can pull me away from my philosophy books and scientific theories, I’m a pretty low-key date.”

The person who includes a Myers-Briggs descriptor in their Tinder profile is a distinct personality type unto itself. “Myers-Briggs doesn’t tell me who you are ... except that you’ve fallen for nonsense, so I’m not impressed,” says Daniel Sharp, a 23-year-old student in Scotland. Seeing a Myers-Briggs acronym is enough of a red flag for him to automatically swipe left.

Plus, there’s a good chance that many of the singles putting their Myers-Briggs classifier in their app bios aren’t quite grasping what their personality type even means. “I think that people don’t really understand the differences between introversion and extroversion,” Bumble’s sociologist Jess Carbino says. “It’s really not about that. It’s about how you derive energy.” (Extroverts are energized in groups of people while introverts recharge by spending time alone.) Carbino also finds the binary nature of the test’s results problematic — introversion versus extroversion — since very rarely is personality so black and white.

Michael Segovia, senior consultant at the Myers-Briggs Company, credits the test’s popularity on dating apps to its widespread use — many people have heard of or taken the Myers-Briggs assessment. “It’s part of the language people are using to understand themselves,” he says. The Myers-Briggs Company, however, is not designed to predict romantic compatibility between strangers. “There’s no data that one type would be more compatible with another type,” Segovia adds. Which means daters such as Franco might be weeding out just the kind of person they would click with, wrongly assuming an introvert to be a buzzkill. It’s possible an introvert could balance out an extrovert’s sometimes over-the-top need for attention.

As it turns out, people aren’t that great at figuring out to whom we’ll actually be attracted. In a study published in 2017, researchers asked singles to describe their ideal qualities in a partner. After examining daters’ stated romantic preferences, researchers created an algorithm to match participants based on their self-reported personality tastes. The machine could not predict who ended up pairing off. The researchers concluded that “compatibility elements of human mating are challenging to predict before two people meet.”

The best way for singles to suss out their compatibility with a partner is face-to-face, says Samantha Joel, assistant professor at the University of Utah and lead researcher on the attraction prediction study. Using a Myers-Briggs indicator in online dating won’t help singles “choose an objectively better partner,” Joel says, “but they’ll feel better about their decision, and in a strange way, that is useful. It’s like a placebo.”

Actor Priyom Haider says he added his Myers-Briggs type to his Tinder bio in February after noticing a number of women in Los Angeles, where he lives, had done the same. Haider determined he was INTJ, a supposedly rare type of introvert. “I’m just putting it out there to make it more efficient,” Haider said. “I don’t know how many girls are even going to understand what it is. The smart ones, who may be a little curious, may want to look it up.” Rather than outright mentioning his desire for an intelligent, curious woman, he figures that listing his personality acronym is a good way of signaling he’s into smarts.

It is possible to include too much information even in a short dating profile. Revealing the nitty-gritty of one’s inner workings eliminates the mystique of the getting-to-know-you phase, relationship expert LaDawn Black says. “If you talk to couples who’ve been together for a long time, a lot of times they’ll say the person that they’re with is not at all the person they thought they would end up with,” Black says. By advertising and selecting based on personality type, “we may actually be working against ourselves.”

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