Questions about the Myers Briggs Type Indicator

Who came up with the idea?
The MBTI was developed by the mother/daughter team of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers over many years, starting in the 1940s. The theory is based on the work of Carl Jung, who wrote a book called “Psychological Types” in 1923.

What does it measure?
Nothing. It’s a sorter, and sorts people into 16 types based on how they fall on four scales.

Will the MBTI reveal my inner secrets?
You don’t need to worry on this. The MBTI asks you about everyday situations. It’s a sorter, and will provide you information on relating to others, how you take in information and make decisions and preferred lifestyle.

Can I lie and cheat on my answers?
Well, you can certainly lie, but there’s no way to cheat, because there’s no score to reach. The only thing you’d accomplish is to get invalid results for yourself. There is the risk that people will answer the questions the way they WANT to be or think they SHOULD be, versus how they really are. Again, that will only make your results sound like someone other than you.

If you know you act differently at work and at home you may prefer to take the Team Dynamic Indicator. It’s a similar assessment but you answer all questions from both view points, helpful to see the differences and can make it clear why you are disatisfied at work.

What are the scales?
The four scales are

  1. Extraversion/Introversion
  2. Sensing/Intuition
  3. Thinking/Feeling
  4. Judging/Perceiving.

The sorter indicates which end of the four scales you prefer, leading to your four letter type.

What do the scales mean?

  •  The Extraversion/Introversion scale describes how people get their energy
  • The Sensing/Intuition scale shows how people take in information about the world around them
  • The Thinking/Feeling scale indicates how people make decisions
  • The Judging/Perceiving scale describes the lifestyle preferences people have.

Does the MBTI measure skills and abilities?
No. It indicates preferences and reveals nothing about skills or abilities. I use an example of signing your name. Each of us has a preferred hand for writing. We can use the other hand, but it feels odd, awkward, and uncomfortable. The same is true on the four scales. We prefer one end of each scale over the other. Like our hands, we use both sides every day. Yet one hand is our dominant hand. The MBTI helps us discover more about our dominant preferences.

Are some types better than others?
There are no good or bad types. Each has its strengths and potential weaknesses. Each type will react differently to different circumstances. In some situations, certain types will have an advantage. In others situations, those same types could be a liability. For example, the ability to concentrate can be quite useful. However, if you can concentrate too well, you might end up ignoring important people or information in your environment.

Will knowing about psychological type help me at work?

It can be very helpful to understand people who are different from yourself and can help reduce the risk of conflict and improve relationships.