The Myers-Briggs Temperament Indicator (MBTI) is an introspective self-report questionnaire indicating differing psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions, thus indicating their temperament.
About the MBTI
The MBTI was first developed in the 1940s by Isabel Myers and her mother Katherine Briggs based on Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung's theory of personality types. Jung speculated that people experience the world using four principal psychological functions, sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking. He also speculated that one of these four functions is dominant for a person most of the time. The indicator has been refined over the decades since its inception.
Purpose of the MBTI
The MBTI is not a test as there are no right or wrong answers. The purpose of the indicator is not to evaluate mental health or offer any type of diagnosis. The purpose is to allow respondents to explore and understand their own personalities including their likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, possible career preferences, and compatibility with other people.
Also, unlike many other types of psychological evaluations, your results are not compared against any norms. Instead of looking at your score in comparison to the results of other people, the goal of the instrument is to simply offer further information about your unique personality.
The MBTI consists of four scales. Each of the scales has two personality traits assigned to it and each trait has a single letter identifier assigned to it.
Extraversion (E) - Introversion (I)
This scale describes how people respond and interact with the world around them.
- Extraversion. People who are extroverts tend to be action-oriented, enjoy more frequent social interaction, and feel energized after spending time with other people
- Introversion. People who are introverts tend to be thought-oriented, enjoy deep and meaningful social interactions, and feel recharged after spending time alone.
Sensing (S) - Intuition (N)
This scale indicates how people gather information from the world around them.
- Sensing. These are people who pay a great deal of attention to reality, particularly to what they can learn from their five senses. They tend to focus on facts and details and enjoy getting hands-on experience.
- Intuition. People who are intuitive pay more attention to 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 the information that they gathered.
- Thinking. People who are thinkers put a greater emphasis on facts and objective data. They tend to be consistent, logical, and impersonal when weighing a decision.
- Feeling. People who are caring and feeling are more likely to consider people and emotions when making decisions.
Judging (J) - Perceiving (P)
This scale involves how people tend to deal with the outside world.
- Judging. People who judge prefer structure and firm decisions.
- Perceiving. Perceptive people are more open, flexible, and adaptable.
Taking the MBTI
Taking the MBTI can presumably provide some insight into your personality. Even without taking the formal questionnaire, you can probably immediately recognize some of the personality traits in yourself.
Taking the MBTI consists of answering a series of questions about yourself. The current version of the MBTI 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 from which the respondent must choose.
There are many MBTI style questionnaires on the Internet, but they are only approximations of the real test. The real MBTI must be administered by a trained and qualified practitioner that includes a follow-up of the results.
Trained evaluators study your answers to the questions and use them to assign you to one of the two traits for each of the four scales. Your score for each scale will be the single letter indicator for the assigned trait. Your final score will be a four-letter code, comprised of each of your four letters.
There are 16 unique types of the 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
NOTE: I think that a warrior’s score on the MBTI might be: ESTP, The Persuader. What do you think a warrior's score might be?
It is important to remember that no one personality type is "best" or "better" than any other one; each type has value and all the types are equal. The MBTI isn't a tool designed to look for dysfunction or abnormality; its goal is simply to help you learn more about yourself.
People are not locked into a trait within a scale. Most people change back and forth between the two traits within a scale during their lives, but they do tend to favor one side over the other. Also, the scales interact and can affect each other.
According to the Myers & Briggs Foundation, the MBTI meets accepted standards of reliability and validity. However, other independent studies have found that the reliability and validity of the instrument have not been adequately demonstrated. It is often classified as pseudoscience, especially as pertains to being able to predict behavior.
Studies have found between 40 and 75 percent of respondents receive a different result after completing the inventory a second time. A 1992 book by The Committee on Techniques for the Enhancement of Human Performance and the National Research Council suggests that "...there is not sufficient, well-designed research to justify the use of MBTI in career counseling programs. Much of the current evidence is based on inadequate methodologies."
Because the MBTI is relatively easy to use, it has become one of the most popular psychological instruments currently in use today. However, it is important to consider that other things also have popularity, such as astrology, numerology, aura reading, tarot card reading, and the Kardashian family. So, judge for yourself as to how much validity you give to MBTI results.