The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Test

By Gerri Inamura

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality inventory is rooted in C.G. Jung's theory of psychological types, first presented in his book Psychological Types (1921). The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator has been available to assess people's types through a short psychological test since 1943 when it was first published.

A wealth of information has since been unveiled by this instrument. Though the instrument was built on a highly theoretical basis, it has nevertheless been shown to have good reliability and validity and its practical application finds wide appreciation in numerous and diverse areas.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) identifies 16 different personality types, each of which is comprised of preferences on four dichotomies: Extroversion-Introversion, Sensing-iNtuition, Thinking-Feeling, and Judging-Perceiving. Since its inception, a wealth of valuable information about Jung's theory, psychometric characteristics, research relationships, and applications of the MBTI assessment has been published. The sheer magnitude of mastering this nigh-century old tradition, from Jung to Myers-Briggs, and to the modern version of the MBTI, the Form M (1998), can be daunting to those new to the instrument as well as to experienced practitioners seeking practical guidance for administering and interpreting the test.

A whole wealth of websites publish their own home-grown information about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) online, but the most reliable source is widely agreed to be Though no one source is perfect, these guys really do their research.

C.G. Jung's Psychological Types was published in German in 1921 and translated into English in 1923. Interest in Jung's work was generally limited to Jungian and psychoanalytic circles in Europe and America. For this reason it was all the more remarkable that a pair of American women, Katharine C. Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers), read Jung's work and decided to use it as the basis of their personality test instrument, the MBTI questionnaire.

One major reason for the popularity of the MBTI instrument is its relevance in many areas - education, career development, organizational behavior, group functioning, team development, personal and executive coaching, psychotherapy for couples and families. Because of its long history and prevalence as a research instrument, there are more than 1,780 academic dissertations on the topic. The Journal of Psychological Type, dedicated exclusively to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), has published 69 volumes in an effort to further research on the test.

Jung's theory of psychological types is a way of describing and explaining consistent differences in human nature. The MBTI test attempts to identify these differences through a self-administered questionnaire. Results show the respondent's preferences on each of four dichotomies. To accurately identify preferences by sorting respondents into the categories of types (preferred poles), all items are presented in a forced-choice format. This question format requires the respondent to choose between two answers in order to identify which is naturally preferred. If the MBTI test did not use forced-choice, but a more fluid scoring structure, preference for one over the other could not be easily established. Forcing respondents to choose between two legitimate and normal, healthy ways of using their minds most directly and clearly elicits a preference.

So what are you waiting for? Take the test today!

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