The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
This the last of three posts related to strength/preference assessments. I previously shared on the Clifton StrengthsFinder and the Theory of Multiple Intelligence. There are many other assessments available such as the DISC Assessment and SIMA (System to Identify Motivated Abilities). The triangle is the strongest geometric shape. Similarly, using three assessments will provide you with a clearer multi-faceted perspective of your strengths.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator was developed by the mother-daughter partnership of Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers. It is an adaptation of the theory of psychological types produced by Carl Jung. There is a lot of depth in the theory but, at its simplest, it consists of 16 types.
I completed the required training to administer the MBTI, and I have conducted a number of small group training sessions and individual assessment reviews.
At the heart of the Myers Briggs theory are four preferences. It measures whether you prefer to deal with:
- People and things (Extraversion or “E”), or ideas and information (Introversion or “I”).
- Facts and reality (Sensing or “S”), or possibilities and potential (Intuition or “N”).
- Logic and truth (Thinking or “T”), or values and relationship (Feeling or “F”).
- A lifestyle that is well-structured (Judgment or “J”), or one that goes with the flow (Perception or “P”).
In Myers Briggs theory, for each pair you prefer one style over the other. You combine the letters associated with your preferences to get your Myers Briggs personality type. For example, having preferences for E, S, T and J gives a personality type of ESTJ. Although you have preferences, you still use all eight styles – in the same way that most people are right-handed but they still use both hands.
- Extraversion and Introversion – The first pair of styles is concerned with the direction of your energy. If you prefer to direct your energy to deal with people, things, situations, or “the outer world”, then your preference is for Extraversion. If you prefer to direct your energy to deal with ideas, information, explanations or beliefs, or “the inner world”, then your preference is for Introversion.
- Sensing and Intuition – The second pair concerns the type of information/things that you process. If you prefer to deal with facts, what you know, to have clarity, or to describe what you see, then your preference is for Sensing. If you prefer to deal with ideas, look into the unknown, to generate new possibilities or to anticipate what isn’t obvious, then your preference is for Intuition. The letter N is used for intuition because I has already been allocated to Introversion.
- Thinking and Feeling – The third pair reflects your style of decision-making. If you prefer to decide on the basis of objective logic, using an analytic and detached approach, then your preference is for Thinking. If you prefer to decide using values – i.e. on the basis of what or who you believe is important – then your preference is for Feeling.
- Judgment and Perception – The final pair describes the type of lifestyle you adopt. If you prefer your life to be planned, stable and organized then your preference is for Judging (not to be confused with ‘Judgmental’, which is quite different). If you prefer to go with the flow, to maintain flexibility and respond to things as they arise, then your preference is for Perception.
When you decide on your preference in each category, you have your own personality type. There are 16 distinct four-letter personality types based on your four preferences. The goal of knowing about personality type is to understand yourself better and appreciate differences between people. As all types are equal, there is no best type. My type is ISFJ, with a slight preference for I, S and F, and a strong preference for J.
The best reason to choose the MBTI instrument to discover your personality type is that hundreds of studies over the past 40 years have proven the instrument to be both valid and reliable. In other words, it measures what it says it does (validity) and produces the same results when given more than once (reliability). When you want an accurate profile of your personality type, ask if the instrument you plan to use has been validated.
The theory of psychological type was introduced in the 1920s by Carl G. Jung. The MBTI tool was developed in the 1940s by Isabel Briggs Myers and the original research was done in the 1940s and ’50s. This research is ongoing, providing users with updated and new information about psychological type and its applications. Millions of people worldwide have taken the Indicator each year since its first publication in 1962.
For more information on the various types and their impact on relationships, as well as how to take the 93-question assessment from a qualified professional, visit www.myersbriggs.org.