Exploring the MBTI and Myers Briggs Personality Types and applications | Personality Pathways

Criticism of the MBTI test *, Myers-Briggs Personality Types, and application usefulness

By Ross Reinhold
July 22, 2014

Well it has happened again. A pair of articles slamming the MBTI, Carl Jung, and Myers-Briggs Personality Types has gained traction on the Internet and created quite a stir.

The authors, Joel Stromberg (Why the MBTI® Test is Totally Meaningless) and Adam Grant (Goodbye to MBTI, the Fad That Won't Die), have achieved their main objective - get published and obtain recognition by attacking an icon or a well-established, recognized name in a field of endeavor.

They were far from the first to try to build interest by a frontal assault on the MBTI assessment nor will they be the last. I recall a similar buzz was created by journalist Annie Murphy Paul who severely (and unfairly) criticized the MBTI and related practices in the 2004 book "The Cult of Personality." At that time I published in Personality Pathways the responses of two experts in the use of the MBTI who also have substantial experience with Jung's theory and writings: historian and MBTI educator - Peter Geyer and MBTI educator and psychometrician Steve Myers. If you read these articles by Geyer and Myers you'll see how easily the allegations by Murphy Paul are brushed off the table like the "dust bunnies" they were.

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One of the arrows tossed at the MBTI by the recent critics, and almost always mentioned whenever someone takes up the task to lambast the Myers-Briggs pedigree, is the fact that Isabel Myers did not have a degree in Psychology.

Both Myers and her mother Katharine Briggs were home schooled, entered college at an early age, and graduated while still in their teens. Due to being home-schooled by educated parents, both Katharine and Isabel learned at an early age how to self-direct their education and their life-long learning. Isabel Myers was 83 when she died in 1980 so this gives you an idea of how long ago these two women gained their college degrees. In an era when few women were encouraged to even attend college, this alone indicates their native intelligence as well as their thirst for learning.

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In the forty years Myers spent developing her instrument (beginning in the 1940s), being a woman without a formal psychology degree was always a barrier to acceptance by the Psychologic community. Yet despite this early and ongoing (even today) resistance and criticism by a segment of the Psychology establishment, it grew to become the world's most widely used personality inventory for at least the last three decades.

How could it beome the world's most widely used personality assessment without the blessing of so many "experts?" A simple reason. It works and word-of-mouth validity. When millions of people testify that taking the instrument and learning about personality type has helped them in their lives, the opinions of notoriety-hungry journalists or academics doesn't overcome this experience. The cream just naturally rises to the top, as it has for over thirty years and I think it will continue to do so.

Huffington Post Critic and Academic Adam Grant calls the MBTI the Fad that won't die, even though the first version of it was created more than 70 years ago. I suspect that the MBTI had already become the world's most used personality inventory at the moment of Adam's birth, yet it is "Fad?" Fad's don't last that long Adam. When something that was validated by your parent's generation and is still validated by your generation, there must be something of substance to it, don't you think?

But for those of you who are interested in well-reasoned responses by well-respected educators to the most recent attacks, I refer you to articles by Jane Kise, Ed.D. and Roger Pearman, Ed.D.

Kise in reading the two critical articles raises doubts that the author's have even taken the inventory or doubts they have taken it from an accredited administrator (even a good tool in the hands of an inexperienced or inept user will not work correctly). She also explains how the MBTI should be correctly used.

Do You Really Know--and Use!--Your 4-Letter MBTI® Code?
Jane Kise, Ed.D.

Pearman's piece takes on 5 oft-mentioned Objections to the MBTI and carefully and thoughtfully responds to each of them. He also indicates some of the myths about the MBTI may stem from facilitators who have purchased the instrument and use it with their clients but have not sought out adequate training for how to use the instrument. Roger's article is reproduced here from an e-mail he sent to me and others.

Type's Critics-Considerations and Responses
Roger Pearman, Ed.D.

Two more informative articles commenting on Stromberg and Grants claims:

The MBTI–My Most Valid Tool
Hile Rutledge

The Big 5 vs MBTI Debate
Jennifer Selby Long


Other articles by Kise and Pearman on Personality Pathways

Type is Golden: The Golden Personality Type Profiler
Roger Pearman, INFP

MBTI ®Educational Applications: Are They Really Problem Students?
By Jane Kise, INFJ and Beth Russell, ENFJ

Differentiated Teaching through Personality Type
Jane Kise is the author of "Differentiation Through Personality Types: A Framework for Instruction, Assessment, and Classroom Management."

A practical guidebook for teachers - ". . . . an absolute goldmine for teachers. Each page delivers a nugget of insight, understanding and guidance . . . ." This is Jane Kise's companion to her earlier manual directed at those who coach & teach the teachers. This one is for the teaching practitioner: ". . . Every teacher—beginning, experienced, urban, suburban, rural, and private—will find examples and ideas that they can use immediately."

Roger Pearman The real meaning of the 16 personality types

Roger Pearman is the author of "I'm Not Crazy, I'm Just Not You: The Real Meaning of the Sixteen Personality Types" and numerous other books on using Myers-Briggs Personality Types to improve communications, teamwork, leadership, and relationships. Roger is also CEO of Leadership Performance Systems, a leading consulting and training organization focusing on leadership, teamwork, assessment, and organizational development.

® MBTI, Myers-Briggs, Meyers Briggs, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Trust in the United States and other countries (aka meyer briggs or myers briggs).

* While commonly referred to as the Briggs Myers personality test, Myers Briggs Test or the MBTI test, the MBTI ® is not a personality test but a personality inventory or instrument in which there are no right or wrong answers.

Myers Briggs MBTI Personality Types 

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Differentiated School Leadership:
Differentiated School Leadership:
Effective Collaboration, Communication, and Change Through Personality Type

Jane Kise and Beth Russell have produced another winner in their series of books on applying Myers Briggs Personality Types concepts in an educational environment. This one is an ideal resource for principals, lead teachers, school superintendents, board members, and others involved in school leadership concerns. [Learn More Here]

MBTI Essentials -Using the Myers-Briggs Indicator Assessment
Essentials of Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Assessment (Essentials of Psychological Assessment)

Author Psychologist Naomi Quenk is on the Board of the Myers & Briggs Foundation and eminently qualified to offer guidance to mental health practitioners who want to use the MBTI instrument in their professional practices. "This book is designed to help busy mental health practitioners quickly acquire the basic knowledge and skills they need to make optimal use of a major psychological assessment instrument." [More Info Here]

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