In this series, I dig a little deeper into the meaning of psychological terms. This week’s term is the Myers-Briggs Type.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) was created by mother-daughter team Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, neither of whom had formal training in psychology or psychometric testing. The test was partially based on Jungian personality theory, but it falls within the realm of pop psychology rather than actual psychology. It’s not considered to have strong psychometric properties due to poor validity and reliability. For each of the 93 questions posed, the test-taker is given a choice of two possible responses.
There are 16 types based on a combination of 4 letters:
- Introversion / Extroversion: introverts expend energy while in social situations, while extroverts recharge their energy
- iNtuition / Sensing: intuition relies on hunches while sensing relies on concrete/tangible information
- Feeling / Thinking: decision-making from an empathetic (feeling) or logical (thinking) perspective
- Perception / Judging: this reflects a preference for using sensing/intuition (perception) or thinking/feeling (judging) functions when relating to the outside world
The actual MBTI is copyrighted and isn’t available for free, but there are a number of adaptations that are free: 16Personalities, PsychCentral, Truity, and Humanmetrics. Three of these told me I’m an INFJ, while one told me I’m an INTJ. They all showed I lean heavily toward introversion and judging, while I had relatively more balance between intuition/sensing and feeling/thinking.
In general, I’m not all that keen on these sorts of typologies. Yes, they can give us a clearer picture of how we tend to interact with the world, but I’m not convinced that all people can be divided up among 16 neat little boxes. We all have natural tendencies, but it seems overly simplistic to think that we are unlikely or unable to venture beyond that.
What are your thoughts on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator?
The Psychology Corner page includes an index of the terms that have been covered in the What Is… (Insights into Psychology) series, as well as a collection of scientifically validated psychological tests.