Are you a person who often wonders about what their personality is like? If the answer to this question is yes, then the MBTI would be a good starting point.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, popularly known as MBTI, is a psychometric test devised to give people a brief overview of their cognitive functions. Its structure is based on four major functions and is divided into 16 types. But, if we delve deeper, there are 8 functions in total. Most people won’t recognise the MMPI but would have some knowledge about the MBTI.
It is the most widely taken test with over 2 billion people taking it every year. This is the go-to test for schools, colleges and human resource departments for evaluating their candidates. The company that markets the test makes around 20 million dollars each year off the instrument.
The test was originally constructed by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myer. Briggs started her research of human behaviour quite early on in her life. In some accounts, the year has been documented as 1917, when she officially began her exploration of personalities.
Isabel, Briggs’ daughter also joined her in this investigation and it soon became her lifelong fascination as well. During the First World War, the test’s goal was to provide a measure for people’s personalities and help them find suitable careers. Job satisfaction was widely absent from many people’s life at that point.
Construction of the test
The test is based on the mostly untested theories of Jungian personality theory. Carl Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist, who extensively studied personality archetypes and founded the field of analytical psychology. In present times, his work is renowned all over the world.
The Briggs’ mother-daughter duo expanded on his theories and came up with the MBTI.
Jung divided humans into two broad groups – perceivers and judgers. Further, the former group was subdivided into individuals who prefer using their intuitions and the others who prefer the senses, and the latter, into feelers and thinkers. The resulting four types were classified based on people’s attitudes i.e introverts and extroverts.
Myers propounded that humans use all four cognitive functions. However, one function is used more prominently than the others. This constitutes the dominant function. This function is supplemented by the secondary/auxiliary function. The tertiary function is used to an even lesser extent. , while the fourth, is the least consciously used function. Myers referred to this function as the shadow function as it is diametrically opposed to the dominant one.
In spite of the popularity of the test, many psychologists continue to criticize it, demanding that the test pass certain criteria to be called reliable and scientific. The validity of the instrument is dubious as the same person can get different results upon subsequent retakes. However, the MBTI instrument isn’t entirely useless as many people are drawn to the test. The desire to understand oneself is strong among many and in many cases, the MBTI can be a driving force behind personality development.
Presently, the test has become a big part of popular culture apart from being relevant in professional realms. It’s being used even on dating sites to find out the character traits of potential matches. Fictional characters, ranging from Harry Potter to Disney princesses, all have been assigned an MBTI type. It is not uncommon to find a mention of MBTI on people’s social media descriptions.