1 the perception that something has occurred or some state exists; "early detection can often lead to a cure" [syn: detection]
2 becoming aware of something via the senses [syn: perception]
- present participle of sense
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment is a psychometric questionnaire designed to identify certain psychological differences according to the typological theories of Carl Gustav Jung as published in his 1921 book Psychological Types (English edition, 1923). The original developers of the personality inventory were Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers. They initially created the indicator during World War II, believing that a knowledge of personality preferences would help women who were entering the industrial workforce for the first time identify the sort of war-time jobs where they would be "most comfortable and effective".
While some academic psychologists have criticized the MBTI instrument in research literature, claiming that it "lacks convincing validity data", proponents and sellers of the test cite unblinded anecdotal predictions of individual behavior. Moreover, the indicator has been found to meet or exceed the reliability of other psychological instruments. Studies have found strong support for construct validity, internal consistency, and test-retest reliability, although variation was observed.
The registered trademark rights to the terms Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and MBTI have been assigned from the publisher of the test, CPP, Inc., to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Trust.
The definitive published source of reference on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is The Manual produced by CPP, from which much of the information in this article is drawn, along with training materials from CPP and their European training partners, Oxford Psychologists Press. However, a popularized source of the model, with an original test, is published in David Keirsey's book Please Understand Me.
TypeFundamental to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is the concept of Psychological Type as originally developed by C. G. Jung.
The typology model originated by Jung (and further developed by Briggs and Myers) regards personality type as similar to left or right handedness: individuals are either born with, or develop, certain preferred ways of thinking and acting. The MBTI sorts some of these psychological differences into four opposite pairs, or "dichotomies", with a resulting 16 possible psychological types. None of these types is "better" or "worse"; however, Briggs and Myers recognized that everyone naturally prefers one overall combination of type differences. In the same way that writing with the left hand is hard work for a right-hander, so people tend to find using their opposite psychological preferences more difficult, even if they can become more proficient (and therefore behaviorally flexible) with practice and development.
The 16 different types are often referred to by an abbreviation of four letters, the initial letters of each of their four type preferences (except in the case of Intuition), for instance:
And so on for all 16 possible type combinations.
The four dichotomiesThe four pairs of preferences or dichotomies are shown in the table to the right.
Note that the terms used for each dichotomy have specific technical meanings relating to the MBTI which differ from their everyday usage. For example, people with a preference for Judging over Perceiving are not necessarily more "judgmental" or less "perceptive".
The MBTI instrument does not measure aptitude, either; it simply indicates for one preference over another. So someone reporting a high score for Extraversion over Introversion on the MBTI assessment cannot be correctly described as 'more' or 'strongly' Extraverted: they simply have a clear preference.
Attitudes: Extraversion (E) / Introversion (I)The preferences for Extraversion (thus spelled in Myers-Briggs language) and Introversion are sometimes referred to as attitudes. Briggs and Myers recognized that each of the functions can show in the external world of behavior, action, people and things (extraverted attitude) or the internal world of ideas and reflection (introverted attitude). The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator sorts for an overall preference for one or the other of these.
People with a preference for Extraversion draw energy from action: they tend to act, then reflect, then act further. If they are inactive, their level of energy and motivation tends to decline. Conversely, those whose preference is Introversion become less energized as they act: they prefer to reflect, then act, then reflect again. People with Introversion preferences need time out to reflect in order to rebuild energy. The Introvert's flow is directed inward toward concepts and ideas and the Extravert's is directed outward towards people and objects. There are several contrasting characteristics between Extraverts and Introverts: Extraverts desire breadth and are action-oriented, while introverts seek depth and are thought-oriented.
The terms Extravert and Introvert are used in a special sense when discussing the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
Functions: Sensing (S) / Intuition (N) and Thinking (T) / Feeling (F)Jung identified two pairs of psychological functions: the two Perceiving functions, Sensation and Intuition; and the two Judging functions, Thinking and Feeling. Although each person uses one of these four functions more dominantly and proficiently than the other three, all four functions are used at different times depending on the circumstances.
Sensing and Intuition are the information-gathering (Perceiving) functions. They describe how new information is understood and interpreted. Individuals who prefer Sensing are more likely to trust information that is in the present, tangible and concrete: that is, information that can be understood by the five senses. They tend to distrust hunches that seem to come out of nowhere. They prefer to look for details and facts. For them, the meaning is in the data. On the other hand, those who prefer Intuition tend to trust information that is more abstract or theoretical, that can be associated with other information (either remembered or discovered by seeking a wider context or pattern). They may be more interested in future possibilities. They tend to trust those flashes of insight that seem to bubble up from the unconscious mind. The meaning is in how the data relates to the pattern or theory.
Thinking and Feeling are the decision-making (Judging) functions. The Thinking and Feeling functions are both used to make rational decisions, based on the data received from their information-gathering functions (Sensing or Intuition). Those who prefer Feeling tend to come to decisions by associating or empathizing with the situation, looking at it 'from the inside' and weighing the situation to achieve, on balance, the greatest harmony, consensus and fit, considering the needs of the people involved. Those who prefer Thinking tend to decide things from a more detached standpoint, measuring the decision by what seems reasonable, logical, causal, consistent and matching a given set of rules.
As noted already, people with a Thinking preference do not necessarily, in the everyday sense, 'think better' than their Feeling counterparts; the opposite preference is considered an equally rational way of coming to decisions (and, in any case, the MBTI assessment is a measure of preference, not ability). Similarly, those with a Feeling preference do not necessarily have 'better' emotional reactions than their Thinking peers.
Dominant FunctionAccording to Jung and Myers, people use all four functions. One function, which Jung and Myers called the dominant function, is generally used in a more conscious and confident way. The dominant function is supported by the secondary (auxiliary) function, and to a lesser degree the tertiary function. The fourth and least conscious function is always the opposite of the dominant function. Jung and Myers called this the inferior, or shadow, function.
The four functions do not operate independently from the attitudes (Extraversion and Introversion) but in conjunction with them. Therefore each function is always used in either an extraverted or introverted way. A person whose dominant function is extraverted intuition, for example, uses intuition very differently from someone whose dominant function is introverted intuition.
Lifestyle: Judging (J) / Perception (P)Myers and Briggs added another dimension to Jung's typological model by identifying that people also have a preference for using either the Judging function (Thinking or Feeling) or their Perceiving function (Sensation or Intuition) when relating to the outside world (extraversion).
Myers and Briggs taught that types with a preference for Judging show the world their preferred Judging function (Thinking or Feeling). So TJ types tend to appear to the world as logical, and FJ types as empathetic. According to Myers that characterize the Forer effect. For example, David Keirsey examined how the four temperaments differ in terms of language use, intellectual orientation, educational and vocational interests, social orientation, self image, personal values, social roles and even characteristic hand gestures. Keirsey went on to describe the hierarchy of intellectual roles played by each of the four types within each temperament, resulting in sixteen unique descriptions which, unlike the Forer effect, rely not on the universal traits that make human beings the same but on the specific traits that make human beings different from one another.
Historical developmentC. G. Jung first spoke about typology at the Munich Psychological Congress in 1913. Katharine Cook Briggs began her research into personality in 1917, developing a four-type framework: Social, Thoughtful, Executive, and Spontaneous. In 1923 Jung's Psychological Types was published in English translation (having first been published in German in 1921). Katharine Briggs' first publications are two articles describing Jung's theory, in the journal New Republic in 1926 (Meet Yourself Using the Personality Paint Box) and 1928 (Up From Barbarism). Katharine Briggs' daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers, wrote a prize-winning mystery novel Murder Yet to Come in 1929, using typological ideas. She added to her mother's typological research, which she would progressively take over entirely. In 1942, the "Briggs-Myers Type Indicator" was created, and the Briggs Myers Type Indicator Handbook was published in 1944. The indicator changed its name to the modern form (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) in 1956.
Format and administration of the MBTIThe current North American English version of the MBTI Step I includes 93 forced-choice questions (there are 88 in the European English version). Forced-choice means that the individual has to choose only one of two possible answers to each question. The choices are a mixture of word pairs and short statements. Choices are not literal opposites but chosen to reflect opposite preferences on the same dichotomy. Participants may skip questions if they feel they are unable to choose.
Using psychometric techniques, such as item response theory, the MBTI will then be scored and will attempt to identify the preference, and clarity of preference, in each dichotomy. After taking the MBTI, participants are usually asked to complete a Best Fit exercise (see above) and then given a readout of their Reported Type, which will usually include a bar graph and number to show how clear they were about each preference when they completed the questionnaire.
During the early development of the MBTI thousands of items were used. Most were eventually discarded because they did not have high midpoint discrimination, meaning the results of that one item did not, on average, move an individual score away from the midpoint. Using only items with high midpoint discrimination allows the MBTI to have fewer items on it but still provide as much statistical information as other instruments with many more items with lower midpoint discrimination. The MBTI requires five points one way or another to indicate a clear preference.
Isabel Myers had noted that people of any given type shared differences as well as similarities, and at the time of her death was developing a more in depth method to offer clues about how each person expresses and experiences their type pattern, which is called MBTI Step II.
In addition to this, the Type Differentiation Indicator (TDI) (Saunders, 1989) is a scoring system for the longer MBTI, Form J http://harvey.psyc.vt.edu/Documents/BessHarveySwartzSIOP2003.pdf, that includes the 20 subscales above, plus an additional factor of Comfort-Discomfort (which purportedly corresponds to the missing factor of Neuroticism), with seven additional scales indicating a sense of overall comfort and confidence versus discomfort and anxiety (guarded-optimistic, defiant-compliant, carefree-worried, decisive-ambivalent, intrepid-inhibited, leader-follower, proactive-distractible), plus a composite of these called "strain". Each of these comfort-discomfort subscales also loads on one of the four type dimensions, e.g., proactive-distractible is also a judging-perceiving subscale. There are also scales for type-scale consistency and comfort-scale consistency. Reliability of 23 of the 27 TDI subscales is greater than .50; "an acceptable result given the brevity of the subscales" (Saunders, 1989). A "Step III" is also being developed in a joint project involving CPP, publisher of the whole family of MBTI works; CAPT (Center for Applications of Psychological Type), which holds all of Myers' and McCaulley's original work; and the MBTI Trust, headed by Katharine and Peter Myers. Step III will further address the use of perception and judgment by respondents.https://www.capt.org/research/mbti-step3.htm
Precepts and ethicsThe following precepts are generally used in the ethical administration of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator:
Type not trait: The MBTI sorts for type; it does not indicate the strength of ability. The questionnaire allows the clarity of a preference to be ascertained (Bill clearly prefers introversion), but not the strength of preference (Jane strongly prefers extraversion) or degree of aptitude (Harry is good at thinking). In this sense, it differs from trait-based tools such as 16PF. Type preferences are polar opposites: a precept of MBTI is that you fundamentally prefer one thing over the other, not a bit of both.
Own best judge: Individuals are considered the best judge of their own type. While the MBTI questionnaire provides a Reported Type, this is considered only an indication of their probable overall Type. A Best Fit Process is usually used to allow the individual to develop their understanding of the four dichotomies, form their own hypothesis as to their overall Type and compare this against the Reported Type. In more than 20% of cases, the hypothesis and the reported type differ in one or more dichotomies: the clarity of each preference, any potential for bias in the report and, often, a comparison of two or more whole Types may then be used to help the subject determine his or her own Best Fit.
No right or wrong: No preference or total type is considered 'better' or 'worse' than another - they are all, as in the title of the book on this subject by Isabel Briggs Myers, Gifts Differing.
Voluntary: It is considered unethical to compel anyone to take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. It should always be taken voluntarily.
Confidentiality: The result of the MBTI Reported and Best Fit type are confidential between the individual and administrator and, ethically, not for disclosure without permission.
Not for selection: Because the MBTI measures preferences instead of aptitude - and because there are no right or wrong types - it is not considered a proper instrument for purposes of employment selection. Many professions contain highly competent individuals of different types with complementary preferences.
Importance of proper feedback: Individuals should always be given detailed feedback from a trained administrator and an opportunity to undertake a Best Fit exercise to check against their Reported Type. Feedback can be given in person or, where this is not practical, by telephone or electronically.
Applications of the MBTIThe indicator is frequently used in the areas of career counseling, pedagogy, group dynamics, employee training, leadership training, life coaching, executive coaching, marriage counseling, Workers' compensation claims and personal development.
Type dynamics and developmentThe interaction of two, three, or four preferences is known as type dynamics. For each of the sixteen four-preference types one function will be the most dominant and is likely to be evident earliest in life. A secondary or auxiliary function typically becomes more evident (differentiated) during teenage years and provides balance to the dominant. In normal development individuals tend to become more fluent with a third, tertiary function during mid life, whilst the fourth inferior function remains least consciously developed and is often considered to be more associated with the unconscious, being most evident in situations such as high stress (sometimes referred to as being in the grip of the inferior function).
The sequence of differentiation of dominant, auxiliary and tertiary functions through life is termed type development. This is an idealized sequence which may be disrupted by major life events, for example the death or serious illness of a parent during childhood is considered commonly to halt full development of the auxiliary function .
The dynamic sequence of functions and their attitudes can be determined in the following way:
- The overall lifestyle preference (J-P) determines whether the judging (T-F) or perceiving (S-N) preference is most evident in the outside world, i.e. which function has an extraverted attitude
- For those with an overall preference for Extraversion the function with the extraverted attitude will be the dominant function - for example, for someone with an ESTJ type the dominant function is their judging function, Thinking, and this is experienced with an extraverted attitude (this is notated as a dominant Te). The same would be true of an ENTJ whilst for an ESTP the dominant function will be the perceiving function, Sensing, notated as a dominant Se.
- The Auxiliary function for Extravert types is the less preferred of the Judging or Perceiving functions and it is experienced with an introverted attitude: for example, the auxiliary function for ESTJ is Introverted Sensing (Si) and the auxiliary for ENFP would be Introverted Feeling (Fi).
- For those with an overall preference for Introversion the function with the extraverted attitude is the auxiliary; the dominant is the other function in the main four letter preference. So the dominant function for ISTJ is Introverted Sensing (Si) with the auxiliary (supporting) function being Extraverted Thinking (Te).
- The Tertiary function is the opposite preference from the Auxiliary. For example, if the Auxiliary is Thinking then the Tertiary would be Feeling. The attitude of the Tertiary is the subject of some debate and therefore is not normally indicated, i.e. if the Auxiliary was Te then the Tertiary would be F (not Fe or Fi)
- The Inferior function is the opposite preference and attitude from the Dominant, so for an ESTJ with dominant Te the Inferior would be Fi.
Note that for those with an overall Extraversion preference the dominant function is the one most evident in the external world: whilst it is the auxiliary function that is most evident externally for Introverts, as their dominant function relates to the interior world.
A couple of examples of whole types will help to clarify this further.
Taking the ESTJ example above:
- Extraverted function is a Judging function (T-F) because of the overall J preference
- Extraverted function is dominant because of overall E preference
- Dominant function is therefore extraverted Thinking (Te)
- Auxiliary function will be the less dominant Perceiving function - introverted Sensing (Si)
- Tertiary function is the opposite preference to the Auxiliary - Intuition (N)
- Inferior function is the opposite preference and attitude to the Dominant - introverted Feeling (Fi)
The dynamics of the ESTJ are found in the primary combination of Extraverted Thinking being their dominant function and Introverted Sensing being their auxiliary function: The dominant tendency to order the ESTJ's environment, to set clear boundaries, to clarify roles and timetables and to direct the activities around them is supported by the facility for using past experience in an ordered and systematic way to help organize themselves and other. ESTJs, for instance, may enjoy planning trips for groups of people to achieve some goal or to perform some culturally uplifting function. Because of their ease of directing others and their facility of managing their own time, they will engage all the resources at their disposal to achieve their goals. However, under prolonged stress or sudden trauma, ESTJs may overuse their Extraverted Thinking function and fall into "the grip" of their inferior function, Introverted Feeling. Though the ESTJ can seem insensitive to the feelings of others in their normal activities, under tremendous stress, they can suddenly express feelings of being unappreciated or wounded by insensitivity.
Looking at the diametrically opposite four-letter Type, INFP:
- Extraverted function is a Perceiving function because of the P preference
- Introverted function is dominant because of the I preference
- Dominant function is therefore Introverted Feeling (Fi)
- Auxiliary function is Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
- Tertiary function is the opposite of the Auxiliary, Sensing (S)
- Inferior function is the opposite of the Dominant, Extraverted Thinking (Te)
The dynamics of the INFP rest on the fundamental correspondence of Introverted Feeling and Extraverted Intuition. The dominant tendency of the INFP is toward building a rich internal framework of values and toward championing human rights. They often devote themselves behind the scenes to causes such as civil rights or saving the environment. Since they tend to avoid the limelight, postpone decisions, and maintain a reserved posture, they are rarely found in executive-director type positions of the organizations that serve those causes. Normally, the INFP dislikes being "in charge" of things. When not under stress, the INFP radiates a pleasant and sympathetic demeanor; but under extreme stress, they can suddenly become rigid and directive, exerting their extraverted Thinking erratically.
Every type - and its opposite - is the expression of these interactions, which give each type its unique "signature" that can be recognized.
Correlations to other instrumentsKeirsey Temperaments
David W. Keirsey mapped four 'Temperaments' to the existing Myers-Briggs system groupings SP, SJ, NF and NT; often resulting in confusion of the two theories. However, the Keirsey Temperament Sorter is not directly associated with the official Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
Big Five McCrae & Costa For Form M (the most current form of the MBTI instrument) these scores are higher (see MBTI Manual, p. 163, Table 8.6).
ValidityThe scientific basis of the MBTI has been questioned. Neither Katharine Cook Briggs nor Isabel Briggs Myers had any scientific qualifications in the field of psychometric testing. However, extensive subsequent studies using the MBTI assessment have shown increasing reliability and validity over the last 50 years of use and research.
The statistical validity of the MBTI as a psychometric instrument has also been subject to criticism, in particular, the dichotomous scoring of dimensions. For example, some researchers expected that scores would show a bimodal distribution with peaks near the ends of the scales, but found that scores on the individual subscales were actually distributed in a centrally peaked manner similar to a normal distribution. A cut-off exists at the center of the subscale such that a score on one side is classified as one type, and a score on the other side as the opposite type. This fails to support the concept of type--the norm is for people to lie near the middle of the subscale. Nevertheless, "the absence of bimodal score distributions does not necessarily prove that the 'type'-based approach is incorrect." It has been argued that this reflects a lack of critical scrutiny.
UtilityAlthough the proportion of different personality types varies between different careers
References and further reading
- Hunsley J, Lee CM, Wood JM (2004). Controversial and questionable assessment techniques. Science and Pseudoscience in Clinical Psychology, Lilienfeld SO, Lohr JM, Lynn SJ (eds.). Guilford, ISBN 1-59385-070-0
- Bess, T.L. & Harvey, R.J. (2001, April). Bimodal score distributions and the MBTI: Fact or artifact? Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, San Diego.
- Bourne, Dana (2005); Personality Types and the Transgender Community. Retrieved November 14, 2005
- Falt, Jack; Bibliography of MBTI/Temperament Books by Author. Retrieved December 20, 2004
- Georgia State University; GSU Master Teacher Program: On Learning Styles. Retrieved December 20, 2004.
- Jung, Carl Gustav (1965); Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Vintage Books: New York, 1965. p. 207
- Jung, C. G. (1971). Psychological types (Collected works of C. G. Jung, volume 6). (3rd ed.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. First appeared in German in 1921. ISBN 0-691-09770-4
- Killian,Shaun (2007); More About the MBTI, personality and its impact on your effectiveness, MBTI Online.
- Matthews, Paul (2004); The MBTI is a flawed measure of personality. bmj.com Rapid Responses. Retrieved February 9, 2005
- Myers, Isabel Briggs (1980); Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type. Davies-Black Publishing; Reprint edition (May 1, 1995). ISBN 0-89106-074-X
- Pearman, R., Lombardo, M. Eichinger, R.(2005); YOU: Being More Effective In Your MBTI Type. Minn.:Lominger International, Inc.
- Pearman, R., Albritton, S. (1996); I'm Not Crazy, I'm Just Not You: The Real Meaning of the Sixteen Personality Types. Mountain View, Ca: Davies-Black Publishing.
- Personality Plus; Employers love personality tests. But what do they really reveal?
- Saunders, D. (1989). Type Differentiation Indicator Manual: A scoring system for Form J of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc.
- Skeptics Dictionary "Myers-Briggs Type Indicator" http://skepdic.com/myersb.html
- Virginia Tech; The Relationship Between Psychological Type and Professional Orientation Among Technology Education Teachers. Retrieved December 20, 2004
External linksMBTI practitioner information and professional testing
- Simple descriptions of all 16 MBTI types
- Information on Myers-Briggs Personality Types
- 16 Personality Type Comparison
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