The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment is a popular psychometric tool in several fields of study including various types of counseling and business studies. This test was originally released in the 1940s and has received several revisions since its inception. Extended and other versions of the MBTI are available, though the unaltered but updated version is the most commonly employed. The test is made up of 93 questions that are measured on scales related to four dichotomies of psychological constructs. The results are described as one of 16 possible personality types. The MBTI has several strengths including its wide usage and the availability of abundant research though it suffers from reliability issues and validity threats introduced by the need for interpretation of the results as they apply to the purpose of the assessment.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers developed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment. Rooted in concepts that evolved from Carl Jung’s typological theories, the MBTI is used to obtain a measurement of psychological preferences and determine theorized psychological types (Quenk, 2009). This test is psychometric in nature as it presents categorical data for analysis. The MBTI has been widely adopted in counseling and business applications while becoming a popular item in various fields of research.
The theoretical basis for the MBTI was developed by the authors during World War II in an effort to help assign people to the “optimal” wartime employment position. The original questionnaire was released as the Briggs Myers Type Indicator Handbook in 1944 and its name was changed to the MBTI in 1956. The MBTI manual has received official updates on several occasions, with the most recent alteration coming in 1998. Additionally, several versions of the MBTI are available that use alternate scoring systems and/or additional components. The “regular” MBTI may be referred to as Step I, as there are extended editions known as Step II and Step III. There are also alternate versions for North America and Europe.
The MBTI (Step I, North American Edition) is made up of 93 forced choice questions. A psychometric scoring system is used to detect tendencies toward psychological constructs that are arranged in several dichotomies. The four dichotomies are introversion/extroversion (commonly interpreted as energy expenditure preferences and may be called attitude), intuition/sensing, which (according to the authors’ theory) is associated with information processing and cognitive functionality, feeling/thinking (reflects processes such as decision making and associated values) and the perception/judgment dichotomy (representing lifestyle organization). The results of the MBTI display a measurement of psychological preferences as described by the dichotomies. From these preferences, 16 different psychological types can be observed. Once a type is established, the psychological type is open to interpretation based partially upon the purpose of the assessment as well as available research.
Strengths and Limitations
The MBTI is popular in several fields, making it a good candidate to obtain results that can be compared to existing and future research. Its concise categories and the ease of implementation are other strong features of this assessment. Also, the test has been shown to have favorable measures of validity (Furnham, Crump, Batey, and Chamorro-Premuzic, 2009).
However, the reliability of the MBTI is disputed in the literature despite its frequent use (Capraro and Capraro, 2002). The existence of the constructs used in the dichotomies of this analysis has yet to receive substantiation through scientific scrutiny. Additionally, the many interpretations of this test serves as a potential strong point as well as a weak point. Interpretations are subjective in nature and introduce validity threats while they also present data that can be further analyzed for objective features. These limitations should be taken into account when using the MBTI, but they are not severe enough to abandon the test when compared with its strengths.
Capraro, R. M., & Capraro, M. M. (2002). Myers-Briggs Type Indicator score reliability across studies: A meta-analytic reliability generalization study. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 62, 590-602.
Furnham, A., Crump, J., Batey, J., & Chamorro-Premuzic, T. (2009). Personality and ability predictors of the “consequences” test on divergent thinking in a large non-student sample. Personality and Individual Differences, 46, 536-540.
Quenk, N. L. (2009). Essentials of Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment. New York: Wiley and Sons.