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What is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2016
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The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a personality test developed by Katherine Cook Briggs and Isabella Briggs Myers during WWII. It should be noted that neither Briggs nor Briggs Myers were psychologists or mental health professionals. Some of the test’s theories are based on Carl Jung’s theories regarding personality types.

Job counselors, employers, empowerment groups, marriage or couples’ counselors and life coaches may use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. This may be done as a means of assessing a person's personality traits, in the hopes of helping them either compensate for lacking skill sets in certain areas, or by educating about the best ways in which their life or job can suit their type. Many psychologists strongly oppose the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator as having faulty results and little theory to support its conclusions after a person takes the test.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator has 93 questions with two possible answers for each question. Certain scores suggest personality preferences, usually of four types. First, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator evaluates attitudes, either introverted or extraverted [sic]. The extraverted [sic] person focuses his attention on others while the introverted person tends to focus more on his own attitude or feelings.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator also evaluates perception or perceiving. According the test’s theory, people are either sensing or intuitive. The sensing person relies on verifiable information, while the intuitive person tends to perceive things based on gut reactions.

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People are also described as either thinking or feeling in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Both thinkers and feelers are considered in terms of their choices, and both aim for making good, or sensible choices. The thinker again tends to rely on data and a less personal response when making decisions. The feeler may rely on emotions, past experiences, or a moral compass to make choices

The last group on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is judging and perceiving. Judgers tend to use step-by-step acquired knowledge to make decisions. Those who are perceivers tend to favor taking their time over decisions, tend to want to leave decisions open-ended, and may rely on subjective material to make decisions. The terms here are a bit confusing. A person who is a judger is not necessarily restrictive or judgmental, and a perceiver may not have extraordinary perception.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator also classes these last three categories as introverted or extraverted [sic]. Sensing, thinking and judging are all extraverted. Intuiting, feeling, and perceiving are introverted. People can have, according to test results, areas where they have some introverted and some extraverted [sic] qualities. There are actually 16 types into which a person can fall.

Those who administer the test are trained and must keep results confidential. They must also inform people of their results and the specific objectives of the test. Some in the mental health profession feel that the test does not accurately describe all types and that people taking the test may not adequately or truthfully describe themselves. This can influence test results resulting in an incorrect reading.

Reliability of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is in question. Many people who take the test at a later point are assigned a different personality test. This calls the usefulness of the test into question. Further, some who take the test strongly disagree with their results, and can show proof with lengthier explanations that they tend to fall into a different categories than those assigned to them by test results.

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