How would you respond if I advised you to choose your career based on a tarot card reading? How about choosing a career that matches your astrological sign? What about an inkblot test—you know, the ones they use in movies about psychiatry set in the mid-20th century?
I’m guessing—no, hoping—that most of you think those are pretty bad pieces of advice. And lest I offend anyone who’s into tarot, implicit personality assessment or astrology, let me qualify that above statement: when I say “bad,” what I really mean is “completely invalid from a scientific perspective.”
The alarming thing is that all three of the above methods are being used, to varying extents, to attempt to address career decision-making. Psychics offering career advice is probably not the biggest surprise in the world, as those who make a living from that kind of thing would want to make sure they had all their bases covered. (In a twisted way, I’d be curious to try it, just to see how awkward of a process it might be. It would probably make for an entertaining blog post, at the very least.)
What about astrology? Many enjoy reading their horoscopes, though whether they allow that information to influence their life decisions is another question. It’s not difficult to find astrological career advice with a quick online search. So, what’s a Pisces like me to do with my life? I checked a few sites to get some insight. This one says I should choose a career “related to marine, chemicals, or oil.” This one’s too general to mean much of anything. But I think this one’s my favourite: monk, lighthouse keeper, psychic, pharmacist, bartender, religious teacher, film/photographer, animator, and addictions counsellor are apparently all good options. Hmm…
Despite the oddness of tarot and astrology, the inkblot test is perhaps the most eyebrow-raising of the three strategies I originally nbso online casino reviews mentioned. If you’re not sure what an inkblot (or Rorschach) test is, it’s essentially a process where a person is shown a series of images resembling random splotches of black ink, and asked to describe whatever comes to mind when shown each image. The responses are then analyzed by trained experts who are supposedly able to draw conclusions about the person’s personality (and, historically, the presence or absence of mental illness) based on the results. Tests like this are known as “projective” or “implicit” assessments, as opposed to “objective” or “explicit” ones, because what’s being measured is below the subject’s level of awareness—their responses are not measured for their face value, but seen as clues to something lying underneath. The theory behind these tests is that the person taking them is projecting some aspect of their personality onto the image, which is thought to explain why different people will see completely different things from the same image.
It’s fascinating stuff, for sure. However, it’s also almost entirely unreliable and invalid from a scientific perspective.
So why bring this up in relation to career decision-making? A recent article published at the Chronicle of Higher Education details a new tool that some colleges apparently plan to use in order to help students make career choices. While the application doesn’t actually use inkblots, the creators had something similar in mind—the same projective process is being used. Students would look at a series of images (with words) and select either “me” or “not me” for each image. Responses are then run through an algorithm whose output includes the personality type and potential career options for the student.
While using assessments—even those of a similarly projective nature, such as this test that uses colour preferences to determine personality—is not unheard of in the career development world (and let’s face it, they can be fun if we don’t take them too seriously), we have to be critical of anything that makes the process of career choice seem too simple, easy and linear. (Although I doubt I had to convince you on any of the above methods today.)
Don’t worry, there’s lots of ways to get terrible career advice out there—maybe next week I’ll talk about some others!