Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a self-reporting inventory developed from Swiss Psychologist Carl Jung's theory of psychological types and functions by Katharine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers. The MBTI instrument has become the largest personality inventory being used by non-psychiatric individuals. It is claimed that the inventory assists in an understanding of human behavior and potential area of growth. MBTI has found applications in workplace and careers, managing life styles, education, psychotherapy and general health issues.
The test results in a 4-letter type code, which describes the personality of the individual. The critic of the test doubt its accuracy and argue that its utility for evaluations such as career, employment and human behavior is meaningless as the person taking the test can respond to the evaluation to suit his purposes to get the desired results.
Human beings have always been interested in understanding their own personality and the personality of the people they live and work with. It has long been understood that genetics and environment play an important role in human behavior. It is intriguing to find that people of even same parentage and exposed to the same living environment have totally different behavior and responses to the same situations.
The astrologists try to explain huge differences in human personalities and traits as an effect of their 'sun signs'. This method allowed them to divide the population in twelve categories. It is surprising that millions of people identify themselves with the traits of their sun signs and have faith in its validity. In Hinduism, the effect of astrological system is widely recognized and determines the course of important life altering decisions such as marriage, business choices and other relationships. There is no scientific support for astrological division of human personality and the practice has no scientific credibility
Scientists and health professionals have to deal with a variety of mental health and have divided several tests to ascertain behavioral problems. The development of personality has long been an area of extreme interest to psychologists and psychoanalysts alike. Because of this, many different theories of personality have developed over the years. From [Sigmund Freud, 1977] to [Skinner, 1974], everyone seems to have not only an opinion of what personality is and how it develops but also an idea as to what is the best way to measure a persons personality. When dealing with normal people, we often have to make subjective decisions on their suitability for certain task and there has always been a need to find an instrument to assess suitability and aptitude of individuals for certain tasks.
IQ Tests, Rorschach Test, Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) [Paul, 1994], Socionics Indicator [Boukalov, 1996] and MBTI all have found application in psychological evaluations and personality testing. For normal people MBTI has found such wide scale acceptance as a 'potentially reliable' instrument that over 2 million tests are being administered each year for a variety of evaluations. The popularity of this instrument can lead one to believe that the test must be good at predicting personalities but we must appreciate that astrological instrument has substantially more believers without any scientific proof of accuracy. This paper investigates the theory behind Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and presents a critical review of application of MBTI.
Jungian Theory of Personality Type
Carl Jung's work had a great influence on psychology and wider society. [Jung, 1974]. Jung believed that "type preferences" are inborn and not socially constructed through interaction with the parents, family, culture and other external influences. He believed that the environment played a role in either supporting the inborn preferences or impeding the inborn preferences. Jung argued that conscious mind and personal unconscious were closely related. He developed the term collectively unconscious, which according to him was the kind of knowledge we are all born with. It influences all of our experiences and behaviors, most especially the emotional ones, but we only know about collective unconsciousness indirectly, by looking at those influences.
Jung considers the content of collective conscious as 'archetypes' that gives us the organizing principle of the things we observe or do. Jung described the concept of opposites where one had to have a concept of bad to appreciate the concept of good.
Jung developed the concepts of introvert and extrovert. Introverts are people who prefer their internal world of thoughts, feelings, fantasies, dreams, and so on, while extroverts prefer the external world of things and people and activities. Both introvert and extrovert use four functions; sensing, thinking, intuiting and feeling to deal with the real world. We all use these functions to a differing extent. Everyone, according to Jung has a superior function, which is best developed in us while we use other functions as secondary or tertiary functions to support the superior function while the fourth and inferior function is poorly developed. Myers and Briggs later developed the Jung Personality Types to from the basis of MBTI. Another version based on Jung's work has been developed by Socionics in Russia for personality analysis.
Myers Briggs Personality Indicator
Katharine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs, both Americans developed Jung's theory of Introversion and extraversion and his functioning types and enlarged the theory to include judging and its opposite perceiving as new parameters to develop a personality indicator. Myers and Briggs had no training in psychology or in statistical analysis, but Briggs firm believe and observations that Jung's theory was consistent with her own observation prompted the mother and daughter team to carry out extensive empirical testing and gathering a vast amount of data, to publish the first version of a the MBTI manual in 1962 [Myers, 1962]. The revision of the concept continued until Myers death [Myers & Myers, 1980]. The credibility of the MBTI has been enhanced by the amount of data collected and analyzed by its developers. Myers and McCaulley used data from 250,000 records to analyze data in the revised manual published in 1985 [Myers & McCaulley, 1985].
In the MBTI instrument the participant is expected to fill out a multiple-choice questionnaire either online or in paper form. The candidates are advised that there are no 'right or wrong' answers and are expected to the answer that is best fit for them. The MBTI instrument administrators provide a printed copy of the profile, which is a 4-letter code, and often give a detailed report with an explanation of personality type and its characteristics. Depending upon the organization administering the test the participant may also get a chance of an interactive discussion from someone qualified to administer these tests. Typical interpretive reports of MBTI analysis can be downloaded from a service provider [CPP Inc., 2005]. Analytical reports are often expanded further to give a MBTI Interpretive Report [Quenk & Kummerow, 2005] that analyzes candidate's response to managing different situations.
The test uses four pairs of attributes from Jung & Myers Dichotomies and derives the type as shown below.
Extraversion: Extravert tend to relate easily to outer world of people and things
Introversion: tend to relate to inner world of ideas and impressions
Sensing: Sensing tend to be interested in what the five senses show them
Intuition: use imagination to see new possibilities and insights
Thinking: Thinking base decisions on objective analysis and logic
Feeling: base decision on values and people centered concerns
Judging: They like to have things decided, life is likely to be planned and orderly
Perceiving; don't want to miss anything, spontaneous and flexible
A person with type ENFP is expected to have characteristics shown in explanation of each type. A graphical output shows the extent to which the person is deemed to fall in the category. This is normally done on four scales of slight moderate clear, very clear. A person with ENFP type could be described as E (very clear) N (very clear) F (moderate) and P (clear) to give an idea of how far each of the categories apply to him. He is clearly extravert, Intuitive and Perceiving type with moderate inclination towards the 'feeling' types.
The combination of four-letter type of MBTI classification results in 16 possible types. These 16 personality types of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® instrument are often shown in what is called a "type table."
Validity and Reliability of MBTI
MBTI is an interesting analysis but in order to be able to apply this kind of analysis for professional purposes, the data validation seems to come 'from the converted'. "Validity is the degree to which an instrument measures what it intends to measure, and the degree to which the "thing" that the instrument measures has meaning."[myersbrigss.org] Early reviewers of MBTI forms [Mendelsohn, 1965; Siegel, 1965] expressed considerable reservations about its validity. According to Mendelsohn (Mendelsohn, 1965) MBTI analysis did not even represent Jungian concepts. The second revision of MBTI manual presented some information on validation of MBTI instrument. The analysts generally believe that…