Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

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The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is an alleged assessment of one's personality type. It aims to classify how individuals view the world through a questionnaire and categorizing people based on four different dichotomies. Psychologists don't actually use it (it's not very good), but businesses love it.


[edit] Four dichotomies

Rather than the sensible idea of using a Likert scale[wp], the four attributes are presented as a dichotomy, meaning that one person merely has a preference of one over the other, with no room in the analysis for any middle ground.[1]

[edit] Extroversion – Introversion

This scale is referred to as the "attitudes." Unlike the usual form of "extrovert" and "introvert," these have a very specific definition based on how a person reacts to action or reflection. Carl Jung proposed that one's psychic energy was either directed outwards (extraversion) or inwards (introversion).

An Extrovert's attention is drawn to the outer world of things and action whereas the Introvert's attention is drawn to the inner world of ideas and understanding.

[edit] Sensing – iNtuition

These are the "information gathering functions," and are fairly self explanatory. S prefers to look at the world and believe it while N people will go on their guts and hunches.

[edit] Thinking – Feeling

This dichotomy is the "judging functions," based around how a person will make decisions. Again this is self explanatory: T will think logically while F will prefer to empathise with a situation.

[edit] Judging – Perceiving

The final functions become more complicated based on whether an individual is judged extroverted or introverted. Depending on whether one is extroverted or introverted it expresses whether the Sensing – iNtuition or the Thinking – Feeling aspect is exhibited to the outside. The logically minded may perceive this as some kind of juggling to correct a flaw.

[edit] Analysis

Combining these four scales comes up with 16 different personality types: INTP, ESTJ, etc. The scales, except for the last, are nominally based on Jung's theory of personality (the last was somewhat arbitrarily added by Myers and Briggs).

[edit] Criticism

Many skeptics consider the Myers-Briggs to be pseudoscience, since no scientific proof has been offered for the existence of these categories except for the introversion-extroversion scale,[2] although many find it useful as a wholly subjective frame of reference or categorization. Then again, there are also those who find the categorizations in Transactional Analysis, William Strauss and Neil Howe's generational types, the left-right political spectrum, dividing popular culture by decade (the "Sixties," the "Seventies," etc.) useful methods of systematizing too, despite their lack of scientific nature. As with any subjective construct, your mileage may vary.

Though the MBTI is popular in schools and businesses, it's disfavored by many in the psychological community for its low reliability and external validity. The most common personality assessment tools used by psychologists are the MMPI-2 or the MCMI-III.

An also comedic aspect is the placement of real life personalities, i.e. John F. Kennedy being an introvert on one scale,[3] and listed alongside Sarah Palin on another.[4]

It should be mentioned that using this test (or one similar to it) for hiring determination is illegal in the United States per Karraker v. Rent-A-Center Inc.[5]

"Annie Murphy Paul, a former senior editor for Psychology Today magazine, attacked the $400 million a year testing industry, comparing personality tests to phrenology — a popular and discredited 19th century personality instrument that measured mental traits by examining the 27 bumps on a person’s head."[6]

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] Footnotes

  1. Some researchers attempting to salvage MBTI, however, have redefined the dichotomies as continuums.
  2. The USA's National Research Council found the I-E scale to have sufficient construct validity, but none of the other scales. See Nowack 1997. The I-E scale has been found to correlate well with extraversion in the FFM, and the S-N scale to some degree with openness, though the MBTI is generally considered to be less reliable. See McCrae and Costa 1989.
  3. INTJ
  4. ESTP (It also implies that Palin and Donald Trump are "thinkers.")
  5. FindLaw: Karraker v. Rent-A-Center Inc.
  6. H Beau Baez (January 26, 2013) "Personality Tests in Employment Selection: Use With Caution" Cornell HR Review Cornell University
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