One of the fascinations of my life for the last ten years has been the Myers Briggs Assessment Tool and personality psychology. Myers-Briggs® psychology is based on the work of psychologist Carl Jung (see Psychological Types), and reveals to you one of sixteen personality types that you fit into. Are you an extrovert or an introvert? Do you make decisions based on feeling or thinking? This might all sound very “teen magazine” to you, but the truth stands that is a very widely used and respected test. Eighty-nine companies out of the US Fortune 100 make use of it for recruitment and selection, and two and a half million Americans take the test yearly
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It’s always exciting to be able to narrow down which personality type you have, or the type of someone you know. I am an INFJ and when I first read the description for my type I suddenly felt like I wasn’t a complete weirdo anymore. Well, maybe I did, but at least now I understood why! Many people have this kind of “aha!” realization after they discover their type. I’ve since become a certified MBTI® practitioner and love to talk to people about their personality and the amazing nuances that make them unique from everyone else!
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Okay, it’s fun – but is the MBTI Reliable and Valid?
I totally understand this question. Along with loving the idea of the test, I’m also a skeptic. I’m pretty leery of subscribing to any particular belief or system that I can’t 100% verify as logically sound. Personality typing has its critics and its die-hard fans. Initially, I was skeptical of the test and read various arguments against it trying to determine where I stood. I decided in the end that the MBTI® tool isn’t perfect, but the theory and research behind personality type checks out and is extremely useful.
There’s scientific evidence that backs up the Myers-Briggs® theory and the Isabel Briggs-Myers Memorial Library has hundreds of case studies on file that show the research behind the validity of the MBTI® instrument.
Neuroscience expert Dario Nardi has conducted brain scans on individuals to test Jung’s theory of cognitive functions. He was able to see how the Myers-Briggs personality types showed up uniquely in his brain research. You can see a video of a talk he did for Google about this below:
Every time I’ve used the MBTI® with people it has given me huge insights into how their minds work, how to relate to them, and how to communicate with them. I am able to be more accepting and appreciative of others because I’m able to admire their strengths while being more patient with their weaknesses. For example, I know that my husband (an ESTP) likes to live in the moment and move through life with a spontaneous sense of adventure. When it comes to making a decision, he thinks through things one step at a time and doesn’t think about step C till he’s completed steps A and B. As an INFJ, I like to jump way ahead to the future and then fill in the pieces in an out-of-order fashion on my way there. Knowing these things about each other really helps us in our relationship to be understanding and work with each other’s way of thinking.
Type is easy to get wrong
A lot of the arguments I’ve seen and heard against the MBTI® have to do with individuals getting inaccurate results on similarly styled tests available online. Another argument has been that after taking the test, some people re-test six months later and get a completely different result. The accuracy of the test relies completely on the test-taker answering the questions correctly. I know that sounds odd for a personality test, but it’s true.
How do I take the MBTI® correctly?
You shouldn’t answer the questions based on the feeling of the moment (feelings change), on what you think is the morally ‘right’ answer, or what you want others to see you as. You have to answer the questions based on what your most natural response would be. Think about your lifetime, not just this moment, and be honest. Try to think of how you would answer the questions without any outside pressures or influences. Don’t think of what you’re like at work or what you’re like as a parent. Think about how you function in your most natural state, the way you prefer to be.
Secondly, there are a lot of very inaccurate tests available online for free which are not at all in line with the MBTI® theory. The official MBTI® Instrument is something you have to pay for, but with the right information, anyone can determine their type without having to spend the money. I used to take the free tests and think that they were fine, but after really obsessing about researching the personality test I’ve realized those tests are often false and you really need to understand the cognitive functions that Jung originally described to get the right result. The best way to understand your type is to study the 8 cognitive functions or speak to a certified MBTI® practitioner.
If you want to take the official MBTI® you can do so here.
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What Are Your Thoughts?
Did you enjoy this article? Do you have any insights to share? Let us know in the comments!
Find out more about your personality type in our eBooks, Discovering You: Unlocking the Power of Personality Type, The INFJ – Understanding the Mystic, The INFP – Understanding the Dreamer, and The INTJ – Understanding the Strategist. You can also connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!
Still not sure about it?
Check out part two of this series here.
Check out my blog post Debunking the Major Arguments Against Personality Typing!