Blog of Sara Jakša

MBTI and Risk Perception (Or Why not to Trust just one Study)

One part of belief, that I still have problems with, it to not simply trust every scientific study that I come across. That a lot of time, the wide range of studies is needed in order to get to the point, that this can be used in order to update my knowledge. It was the hard pill to swallow, and I am not sure that I am at this level yet.

And this is not just the point, where there are some studies that are methodologically unsound, or because people have fiddled with the data for some reasons or something else. As long as a person has at least some knowledge of the field, it is not hard to spot whenever the study is methodologically bogus or sound. And there are methods to see, if a person had fiddled with the data, though this one it is a bit harder to spot.

No, the reason is, that science, like most of our life, it is not a 100% endeavor. Neither is statistics, that is used in science a lot of time. And as one of my professors once mentioned, there is a problem in recognizing the difference between significance and statistical significance.

I mean, if you would judge a person by one encounter, then you can believe the science after one article. But it is a lot more accurate, to get a more longtime view on both of them.

But let me give you an example. There are quite a couple of studies, that study the risk perception and the MBTI types. Let me show you, in the below table, what some of the articles say.

Type FHH HN S O
S risk tolerant risk tolerant risk averse
N risk averse risk averse risk tolerant
T risk tolerant risk averse risk tolerant risk averse
F risk averse risk tolerant risk averse risk tolerant
P risk averse
J risk tolerant

As you can see from the table, there is not a lot of agreement about it. Deciding which articles to read would have lead people to some very different conclusions. And this is the problem with simply reading the article and deciding to use it as the decision making tool. It might be good enough to give you ideas, but not good enough to actually describe reality.

This might be even more through, when the studies are made on some very unusual samples, for example on the see cucumbers or on the rats. I know, that there are some cases, where these are actually preferable to study than humans, for example, when we want to know the role of apoptosis in the creation of the neuronal system. The simpler the system, the easier it is to study. And I am not sure that there is any mother on Earth, that would allow the child to be transposed out out her wounds, before the brain starts to develop, just so that we can study this.

On the other hand, I am always a bit skeptical, that most of the proof for the mirror neurons and their role comes from the monkeys. I am not that convinced that monkeys have the same, albeit simpler social system than humans. So far I have not actually seen any good arguments for it. Though, the role of mirror neurons when it comes to motor action can come from monkeys, since I do believe that in this regard we are similar. So it is more of a question of whenever we are still studying the same thing or not.

On the end, I would be a bit careful is simply reading one scientific article. It requires a bit more contexts. Not everybody can afford to go to the years of schooling in order to be able to know the discipline enough to make judgments. But all of us can at least read more than one article.