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    • Origins of Personality Characterization
    • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
    • MBTI Categories
    • Criticisms of The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
    • Continued Popularity
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    In 1931, renowned Swiss psychologist Carl Jung published the book Psychological Types. The book was based on his clinical observations and detailed his ideas about personality type. Specifically, Jung said that people tend to exhibit a preference for one of two personality attitudes and one of four functions.

    The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) arose from Jung’s ideas about personality type. The journey towards the MBTI was started by Katherine Briggs in the early 1900s. Briggs’ original goal was to design a test that would help uncover children’s personalities. That way, educational programs could be designed with the strengths and weaknesses of each individual child in mind. Briggs started reading Jung’s work Psychological Typesafter her daughter, Isabel, went to college. She even corresponded with the preeminent psychoanalyst, asking for clarity about his ideas. Briggs wanted to use Jung’s theories to help people understand their type and use that information to be the best version of themselves. After hearing about personality type from her mother, Isabel Briggs Myers started her own work. In the early 1940s, she began to create the MBTI. Her goal was to help people learn, via their personality type, the occupations to which they were best suited. The Educational Testing Service s...

    The MBTI classifies individualsinto one of 16 personality types. These types arise from four dimensions that consist of two categories each. The test sorts people into one category in each dimension based on their answers to a series of either/or questions. The four dimensions are combined to create one’s personality type. The goal of the MBTI is to enable people to learn more about who they are and what that means for their preferences in different areas of life, such as work and relationships. As a result, each of the 16 personality types identified by the test are considered equal—one isn't better than another. Three of the dimensions utilized by the MBTI are adapted from Jung’s work, while a fourth was added by Briggs and Myers. Those four dimensions are: Extraversion (E) versus Introversion (I).As Jung specified, this dimension is indicative of the attitude of the individual. Extraverts are outward looking and oriented to the exterior world, while introverts are inward looking...

    Despite its continued wide usage, especially in business, psychological researchers generally agree that the MBTI has not held up to scientific scrutiny. From a psychological perspective, one of the test’s biggest issuesis its use of either/or questions. Jung noted that his personality attitudes and functions weren’t either/or propositions but operated along a continuum, with people having specific preferences in one direction of another. Personality researchers agree with Jung. Traits are continuous variables that go from one extreme to another with most people falling somewhere in the middle. So while one may say they are an introvert, there are circumstances where they will become more extraverted. By emphasizing one category over another, for example by saying one is an extravert and not an introvert, the MBTI ignores any tendency towards the other category, distorting the way personality actually works. In addition, while extraversion and introversion have become an important a...

    You many be wondering why the MBTI remains in use if the science doesn’t support it. This may come down to the test’s intuitive appealas an easy way to understand the self by learning about the type one falls into. Plus, the test’s emphasis on the equal value of all personality types makes discovering one’s type inherently positive and encouraging.

    There are many free versions of the MBTI available online. These are not the official test, which must be purchased. However, these variations approximate the real thing. If you do choose to take one of these tests, keep in mind the above criticisms of the MBTI and don’t take your results as an absolute reflection of your personality.

    Block, Melissa. “How the Myers-Briggs Personality Test Began in a Mother’s Living Room Lab. NPR, 22 September 2018. https://www.npr.org/2018/09/22/650019038/how-the-myers-briggs-personality-test-be...
    Cherry, Kendra. “An Overview of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.” Verywell Mind, 14 March 2019. https://www.verywellmind.com/the-myers-briggs-type-indicator-2795583
    Jung, Carl. The Essential Jung: Selected Writings. Princeton University Press, 1983.
    McAdams, Dan. The Person: An Introduction to the Science of Personality Psychology. 5th ed., Wiley, 2008.
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  2. Definition: The Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a self-help assessment test which helps people gain insights about how they work and learn. It is a framework for relationship-building, developing positivism, and achieving excellence. Description: The MBTI was developed by Katherine Briggs and ...

  3. Psychosocial Theory. The psychosocial theory and related research have been criticized as being dominated by a male, Eurocentric, individualistic perspective that emphasizes agency—the ability to originate plans and take action—over connection and communion—the commitment to and consideration for the well-being of others (Abele & Wojciszke, 2007).

  4. Role theory. Role theory is an often-used explanatory framework for the benefits of volunteering and helping others for health and well-being. Role theory has its origin in the work of the American sociologist Robert Merton (Merton, 1957). Roles refer to the social position people have (e.g., teacher, mother, and customer) and behavior ...

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