What you need to know about the Myers-Briggs test

It seems like humankind has always been searching for ways to understand personality more deeply. From the ancient theory of humorism to zodiac signs to magazine personality quizzes, we have always sought to discover what makes us tick.

One personality theory that has remained extremely popular is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). It’s a personal favorite of mine, as it helped me understand my introverted nature better.

It was developed during WWII by mother and daughter Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers. The test is largely based on Carl Jung’s theory of psychological type.

The MBTI test determines an individual’s personality type through four key preferences:

  • Introversion (I) or Extraversion (E)
  • Intuition (N) or Sensing (S)
  • Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)
  • Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)

It then takes each preference and combines the four chosen letters to create one of sixteen types: ISTJ, ISFJ, INFJ, INTJ, ISTP, ISFP, INFP, INTP, ESTP, ESFP, ENFP, ENTP, ESTJ, ESFJ, ENFJ, or ENTJ.

Each type has a nickname, such as “the architect,” “the mediator,” or “the executive.” You can read an in-depth explanation for each type here.

An artist depicts the MBTI Types as Peeps.

There’s debate over the accuracy of MBTI— some experts believe it has merit since it bears some resemblance to the well-respected “Big Five” Theory. Others question its validity and reliability.

“There is some legitimacy to the idea of trying to find different configurations of personality,” Cal Poly psychology professor and personality theorist Don Ryujin explains. “The question is how well they do it. I’ve seen arguments on both sides that [MBTI] is not very good and that it is good. My wife is on the “it is good” side— she’s a clinical psychologist… she says from her work that it seems to have some validity. My textbook says it’s not very good. So, my stance of it is not one or the other.”

Regardless of whether or not it’s scientifically valid, knowing your and others’ personality preferences might lead to better communication and help improve relationships— especially useful with family during the upcoming holidays.

You can take a free version of the test here.  For a further understanding of using MBTI results in daily life, try the interactive video below.

By the way— INFPs rule.


Feature picture credit: MTSOFan https://www.flickr.com/photos/mtsofan/5352508903


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