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What's Your Type | Merve Emre Reviews

What's Your Type | Merve Emre by Merve Emre

What's Your Type?

: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing

Merve Emre

4.42 out of 5

6 reviews

Category: Psychology, Non-fiction
Imprint: William Collins
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 20 Aug 2018
ISBN: 9780008201371

`History that reads like biography that reads like a novel - a fluid narrative that defies expectations and plays against type' New York Times `This is a sparkling biography - not of a person, but of a popular personality tool' Adam Grant

  • The BooksellerEditor's Choice
5 stars out of 5
Caroline Sanderson
8 Jun 2018

"engagingly written, and-I gather-controversial history of the widely used Myers-Briggs personality test"


I was enthralled by this engagingly written, and-I gather-controversial history of the widely used Myers-Briggs personality test, devised by mother and daughter team Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers. Emre, a US English professor, draws on original reporting and previously unpublished documents to try and account for the test's global success and ubiquity. Ultimately, it's a book about our often fumbling attempts to grasp, characterise and quantify our slippery human personalities....

Reviews

4 stars out of 5
Phil Baker
30 Apr 2019

"The partnership behind a ubiquitous test"

Emre’s antagonism to this leads to a tension in this very engaging book, written with an eye to social comedy, between demonization and admiration. On the one hand Emre might like to shoot down and ridicule her subjects, getting chummy with the reader at their expense and digging the dirt on them, but on the other, there’s not much dirt to dig, and they are unsophisticated but not – quite – ridiculous. Katharine, in particular, was what might be more simply termed a control freak, but both were talented women and their test remains a considerable achievement, even though it is not hard science and it can be naively applied

4 stars out of 5
1 Apr 2019

"an accessible, always interesting book, "

Emre is rightly sceptical of the present-day value of this typology. It is clearly unscientific and has been superseded by other models. She has written an accessible, always interesting book, strong on narrative, and her engagement with hitherto unused material, such as Katharine Briggs’s diaries and letters, which are held in the archives of Michigan State University, pays off.

4 stars out of 5
12 Sep 2018

"What’s Your Type is an impressive work of scholarship"

What’s Your Type is an impressive work of scholarship, not just a biography of two fascinating women but also a tightly argued and sweeping history of how the conception of personality changed throughout the upheavals of the 20th century. Emre wears her research lightly and knows how to hook her readers. 

  • The Sunday TimesMust Read
5 stars out of 5
Bryan Appleyard
9 Sep 2018

"What’s Your Type? is a tremendous piece of storytelling and an acute analysis of the craving of the contemporary, secular imagination for certainties"

What’s Your Type? is a tremendous piece of storytelling and an acute analysis of the craving of the contemporary, secular imagination for certainties. The truth is that there are no types; human personalities are irreducible one-offs. This is a glorious but melancholy fate, so who can blame us for occasionally seeking comfort in the placebos of pseudo-science?

3 stars out of 5
Laura Freeman
8 Sep 2018

"Readers who think personality tests are hokum will find their prejudices confirmed"

Emre’s thought-provoking book is full of interest and she brings admirable vigour and intelligence to her investigation of Myers-Briggs — but for whom is it written? True believers will be hurt and alienated by Emre’s scepticism. Readers who instinctively think personality tests are hokum will find their prejudices satisfyingly confirmed.