The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality types are used in personal and organizational development. The personality theory behind the tool is most useful for building self-awareness. It can help you understand how your personality type influences:
Your MBTI personality type will consist of four letters. These are based on your preferences across four specific traits:
There are 16 different personality types in total.
If you’re considering your next career move and your pros and cons list is giving you nothing, understanding your MBTI type might just provide the clarity you need. Or, if the team you’re leading can’t seem to stop squabbling, using MBTI might help them to raise the white flag.
Let’s dig a little deeper.
Depending on how you combine the letters of each trait, you’ll end up with one of the personality types shown below.
Want to know the highest-paid careers for your MBTI type? Interested to know if your type excels in leadership? Just want the goss about which celebs you share a type with? Find your personality type to learn more.
Let’s start from the top. What exactly is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator?
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a tool developed by Katharine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers. They developed it based on research published by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung in the 1920s.
In 1921, Jung published a book called Psychological Types. The book proposed four psychological functions: two rational (thinking and feeling) and two irrational (intuition and sensation).
Jung believed these functions were influenced by ‘attitudes’. He differentiated introverted and extroverted attitudes. He also separated rational (judging) and irrational (perceiving) attitudes.
Isabel Myers was an early pioneer in psychometric testing. Psychometric tests evaluate cognitive ability and personality traits. They’re often used in business to assess candidates for employment or training and development opportunities.
Myers believed an individual’s personality type could be assessed by analyzing their responses to a series of questions she developed with her mother, Katharine. These questions became the MBTI personality test. After completing the assessment, you are assigned one of the 16 personality types based on your answers.
MBTI is heavily used within organizations. It can be used during recruitment to assess candidates’ suitability for roles. It can also be used to craft suitable training and development programs for individuals.
MBTI assessment can often be most useful as a springboard to improving self-awareness and team cohesion. Exploring your MBTI personality type may offer insight into the type of careers and work environment you’ll prefer.
Sharing your MBTI type with colleagues may help them better understand why blue-sky thinking baffles you or why you shy away from post-work drinks. If nothing else, it gets teammates talking. It may help more reserved team members share how they’d prefer to work.
It’s worth noting that while it’s one of the most popular organizational development tools, there are others available. Psychiatrists, psychologists, and many of the world’s best coaches prefer tools underpinned with more robust scientific research.
Would you like to learn more about MBTI?
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How exactly does MBTI work?
The MBTI instrument uses a set of questions to help determine individual preferences across four categories.
The first category concerns the type of environments that energize you. If you’re externally focused and gain energy by being around others, you may have an Extraversion (E) preference. If you enjoy spending time lost in your own internal world, you may have an Introversion (I) preference.
Next, reflect on how you absorb and process information. If you trust in your experience and the information you receive through your senses, you may have a preference for Sensing (S). If you’re comfortable with abstract notions and interested in the impression information you receive leaves on you, you may have an Intuition (N) preference.
Thirdly, consider your decision-making process. Do you prefer to rely on logic and facts? Or are you more concerned with what’s best for the people involved? If you instinctively lean towards the former, you may have a Thinking (T) preference. If the latter’s more your jam, you may have a Feeling (F) preference.
The final category concerns how you orientate yourself to the world around you. If you enjoy routine and a more ordered approach to life, you may have a Judging (J) preference. If you enjoy spontaneity and a more flexible way of living, you may have a Perceiving (P) preference.
It’s important to note that, in all the categories, neither preference is ‘better’ than the other.
With 80% of Fortune 500 companies using the MBTI assessment, you might assume you can rely on the accuracy of its results. But that’s not necessarily the case. Many researchers have found flaws in the scientific rigor and application of the assessment.
Some of the most common criticisms include the following:
While these criticisms have some validity, we shouldn’t confuse inaccuracy with not being useful.
Let’s consider why people might choose to take a personality assessment. For individuals, these types of tests allow us to make sense of the complexity of human existence. It can be comforting to find our ‘tribe’. Boxing ourselves into one of 16 personality types gives language and commonality to our experience.
Within organizational teams, doing an MBTI assessment can be a catalyst for higher performance. Teammates are usually fascinated by exploring the results of their colleagues. This can often prompt animated discussions. It is the sharing of something personal, the building of trust, that boosts team performance rather than the results themselves.
MBTI falls down if it's used to try and assign value - for example, in recruitment or selection for training opportunities. None of the 16 personality types is intrinsically ‘better’ than the other. Personality is about preference, not performance.
People can succeed in any role in any industry, irrespective of their personality type. Using MBTI in a value-assigned judgment means both individuals and organizations may lose out.
If you're interested in delving into the detail, we invite you to read more about the accuracy of the Myers-Briggs test.
Here at F4S, we know you’re more than your personality type. And we know that 16 is not the magic number for expressing the full range of human experience.
Recent research questions the notion that personality is static throughout our lifetimes. One study by the University of Illinois found that changing patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving can impact our personality.
We know that you’re invested in learning more about yourself and your preferences in order to be the most successful - and happy - that you can be. Backed by over 20 years of dedicated research, we’ve developed a science-based assessment that explores 48 different motivations at work. These motivations drive behavior and can change over time.
After taking our assessment, you’ll have a detailed understanding of your motivations and blind spots. You’ll also know how they drive your preferences for how, when, and where you work. We don’t believe these to be static. In fact, we’ve got tons of resources that can help you develop and improve your blindspots so you can meet your goals.
Leading a team? Our assessment and coaching solutions could be your secret weapon to improving team performance, engaging and empowering your employees, and attracting and retaining the talent you need. In fact, our programs reduce turnover rates by 62%.