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Self-report inventory designed to determine a person’s personality type, strengths, and preferences. The questionnaire was developed by Isabel Myers and her mother, Catherine Briggs, based on their work with Carl Jung’s theory of personality types. Today, the MBTI inventory is one of the most widely used psychological tools in the world.
Development of the Myers-Briggs Test
Isabel Myers and her mother Katherine were fascinated by Young’s theory of psychological types and she realized that the theory could have applications in the real world. During World War II, Myers and Briggs began researching and developing an index that could be used to help understand individual differences. By helping people understand themselves, Myers and Briggs believed they could help people choose the careers most appropriate to their personality types and lead a healthier and happier life.
Myers created the first version of the inventory in pencil and pencil during the 1940s, and the two women began testing the assessment on friends and family. They continued to fully develop the tool for the next two decades.
An Overview of the Test
Based on the answers to the questions in the inventory, people are identified as having one of 16 types of characters. The goal of MBTI is to allow respondents to further explore and understand their personalities including likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, potential career preferences and alignment with others.
No single type is “better” or “better” than any other type. It is not a tool designed to search for defects or anomalies. Instead, its goal is simply to help you learn more about yourself.
The questionnaire itself consists of four different metrics:
- Extraversion (E) – Introversion (I)
The split between introvert and introvert was first explored by Young in his theory of personality types as a way to describe how people respond and interact with the world around them. While these terms are familiar to most people, the way they are used here is somewhat different from their common use.
Transgenders (often spelling open) “turn out” and tend to be business oriented, have more frequent social interaction, and feel energetic after spending time with others. Introverts “turn inward” and tend to be thought-oriented, enjoy deep and meaningful social interactions, and feel recharged after spending time alone. We all fairly offer extroversion and introvertion, but most of us tend to have a universal preference for one or the other.
- Sensing (S) – Intuition (N)
This metric includes looking at how people collect information from the world around them. Just like extroversion and extroversion, all people spend some time feeling and intuition depending on the situation. According to MBTI, people tend to dominate in one region or another. People who prefer sensing tend to pay a lot of attention to reality, especially what they can learn from their senses. They tend to focus on facts and details and enjoy getting hands-on experience. Those who prefer intuition are more concerned with things like patterns and impressions. They enjoy thinking about possibilities, imagining the future, and abstract theories.
- Thinking (T) – Feeling (F)
This scale focuses on how people make decisions based on information they gathered from sensing or intuition functions. People who prefer thinking more focus on objective facts and data. They tend to be consistent, logical and impersonal when considering a decision. Those who prefer feeling are more likely to think about people and emotions when arriving at a result.
- Judging (J) – Perceiving (P)
The ultimate measure includes how people tend to engage with the outside world. Those who tend to rule prefer structural and firm decisions. People who tend to perceive are more open, flexible and adaptive. These two directions interact with other metrics. Remember that all people spend at least some time relaxing. The perceptual scale helps describe whether you are overly taking new information (sensing and intuition) or when making decisions (thinking and feeling).
Each type is then listed by its four letter code:
- ISTJ – The Inspector
- ISTP – The Crafter
- ISFJ – The Protector
- ISFP – The Artist
- INFJ – The Advocate
- INFP – The Mediator
- INTJ – The Architect
- INTP – The Thinker
- ESTP – The Persuader
- ESTJ – The Director
- ESFP – The Performer
- ESFJ – The Caregiver
- ENFP – The Champion
- ENFJ – The Giver
- ENTP – The Debater
- ENTJ – The Commander
Using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator can provide a lot of insight into your personality, which is probably why the tool has become so popular. Even without taking the official questionnaire, you can probably identify some of these trends on your own.
According to Myers & Briggs, it’s important to remember that all species are equal and that each species has value. When working in group situations at school or at work, for example, getting to know your strengths and understanding others’ strengths can be very helpful. When you work to complete a project with other members of the group, you may realize that some members of the group are skilled and talented in performing certain procedures. By learning about these differences, the group can better assign tasks and work together to achieve their goals.
How Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Differs From Other Personality Instruments
First, MBTI is not really a “test”. There are no right or wrong answers and one type is not better than any other type. The purpose of the indicator is not to assess mental health or provide any type of diagnosis.
Also, unlike many other types of psychological assessments, your results are not compared to any criteria. Instead of looking at your score compared to others’ scores, the goal of the tool is simply to provide more information about your unique personality.
Reliability and Validity
According to Myers & Briggs, MBTI meets acceptable reliability and validity standards. However, other studies have found that the reliability and validity of the tool have not been sufficiently proven.
Studies have found that between 40 and 75 percent of respondents obtain a different result after completing the inventory again. A 1992 book of the Committee for Human Performance Improvement Techniques and the National Research Council notes that “… there is not enough and well-designed research justifying MBTI use in career counseling programs. Much of the current evidence is based on insufficient methodologies.”
The MBTI Today
Since the Myers-Briggs personality type index is relatively easy to use, it has become one of the most popular psychological tools currently used. Nearly two million US adults supplement the stock every year.
While there are many versions of MBTI available online, it is worth noting that any of the unofficial questionnaires you may find on the internet are only rough estimates of the real thing. The real MBTI must be managed by a trained and qualified practitioner that includes tracking of results. Today, the questionnaire can be managed online with the tool publisher CPP, Inc., and includes receiving a professional interpretation of your results.
The current version of Myers-Briggs Type Indicator includes 93 forced choice questions in the North American version and 88 forced choice questions in the European version. For each question, there are two different options that the respondent must choose