The Cult of Personality by Annie Murphy Paul

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Award-winning psychology writer Annie Paul delivers a scathing exposé on the history and effects of personality tests.

Millions of people worldwide take personality tests each year to direct their education, to decide on a career, to determine if they'll be hired, to join the armed forces, and to settle legal disputes. Yet, according to award-winning psychology writer Annie Murphy Paul, the sheer number of tests administered obscures a simple fact: they don't work. Most personality tests are seriously flawed, and sometimes unequivocally wrong. They fail the field's own standards of validity and reliability. They ask intrusive questions. They produce descriptions of people that are nothing like human beings as they actually are: complicated, contradictory, changeable across time and place. The Cult Of Personality Testing documents, for the first time, the disturbing consequences of these tests. Children are being labeled in limiting ways. Businesses and the government are wasting hundreds of millions of dollars every year, only to make ill-informed decisions about hiring and firing. Job seekers are having their privacy invaded and their rights trampled, and our judicial system is being undermined by faulty evidence. Paul's eye-opening chronicle reveals the fascinating history behind a lucrative and largely unregulated business. Captivating, insightful, and sometimes shocking, The Cult Of Personality Testing offers an exhilarating trip into the human mind and heart.

About Annie Murphy Paul

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Annie Murphy Paul is a magazine journalist and book author who writes about the biological and social sciences. Born in Philadelphia, she graduated from Yale University and from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. A former senior editor at Psychology Today magazine, she was awarded the Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, Slate, Discover, Health, O: The Oprah Magazine, and many other publications. She is the author of The Cult of Personality: How Personality Tests Are Leading Us to Miseducate Our Children, Mismanage Our Companies, and Misunderstand Ourselves. An article based on Origins was selected for inclusion in the Best American Science Writing 2009.
Published May 20, 2010 by Free Press. 320 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Political & Social Sciences, Science & Math, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Cult of Personality

The New York Times

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Their efforts thrive today in a testing business, worth $400 million a year, in which some 2,500 tests are on the market.

Oct 10 2004 | Read Full Review of The Cult of Personality

Bookmarks Magazine

Paul recounts the stories behind these tests, from the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory) and TAT (Thematic Apperception Tests) to Myers-Briggs—used by 89 of the Fortune 100 companies.

Oct 08 2007 | Read Full Review of The Cult of Personality

I’m willing to bet that if you take the Big Five or HEXACO and walk participants through the same process—provided that the trainers are equally zealous—the MBTI will fare no better.

Sep 24 2013 | Read Full Review of The Cult of Personality

Research shows “that as many as three-quarters of test takers achieve a different personality type when tested again,” writes Annie Murphy Paul in The Cult of Personality Testing, “and the sixteen distinctive types described by the Myers-Briggs have no scientific basis whatsoever.” In a recent ar...

Sep 18 2013 | Read Full Review of The Cult of Personality

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