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

Books on Type Theory and Types in The Workplace
I've Liked Best
By Pierre Ferrand

I have been reviewing books on type and type-related books for more than a decade, including, since 1995, for the BULLETIN OF PSYCHOLOGICAL TYPE, the Newsletter of the APT. Before that, I worked for non-profit organizations, and then, for over thirty years, as a credit specialist and consultant in international banks, evaluating companies and institutions world-wide. The following is an annotated list of books on type and type in the workplace I've liked best:

1. It is necessary, of course, to start with type theory. Many users of type have been introduced to it through Isabel Briggs Myers's booklet, INTRODUCTION TO TYPE. The more fortunate among us benefited from the early versions, including the Fourth Edition (1987), which preserves much of Isabel's own wording, rather than the later, more commercialized products whose "improvements" are largely peripheral and typographical, while they lost some of the unique spirit of the Myers-Briggs.

Isabel Briggs Myers's own book, GIFTS DIFFERING: UNDERSTANDING PERSONALITY TYPE, was originally published 1980. The latest edition is dated 1995. This type classic, which has sold more than 150,000 copies, is still well worth reading. Isabel B.Myers not only created the Indicator and its validation process. but eloquently stressed appreciation of the value and contributions of different gifts. Her non-judgmental attitude and refusal to label people or to confine them to their type is also part of the basic type ethics. So is her emphasis on type development and type dynamics. The book discusses a number of applications of type, including communicating, education, career choices and self development.

2. It is not indispensable to be a Jungian to appreciate or use type, but an understanding of the relevant theories of Carl Jung will lend more depth to an exploration of typology. Jung's own seminal work, PSYCHOLOGICAL TYPES, is not reader-friendly for a Twenty-first Century American. My favorite introduction to his typological thought is the volume by Daryl Sharp, PERSONALITY TYPES: JUNG'S MODEL OF TYPOLOGY, 1987. This readable, useful and generally reliable presentation of Jung's views on the subject has not yet been superseded, to my mind, by the books of Angelo Spoto and others.

3. For questions you may have about the theory and practice of typology, one of the best sources of informed, straightforward and usable answers is the volume by William C. Jeffries, TRUE TO TYPE, 1991. I recommend it to all MBTI trainers and consultants, as well as to their clients, as a most valuable reference tool stressing many of the issues they ought to keep in mind.

4. A final selection on type theory is Rowan Bayne's THE MYERS-BRIGGS INDICATOR: A CRITICAL REVIEW AND PRACTICAL GUIDE, 1995. This is a highly informed and intelligent book which more than keeps the promise of its title.

5. A common sense observation is that it is frequently not possible to have your clients, colleagues or bosses take the Indicator and share their MBTI results with you. A responsible and ethical use of type theory for purposes of better relations in the workplace and elsewhere is still possible through what Otto Kroeger and Janet Thuesen have called "Typewatching" (their registered trademark). They popularized the concept through their book, TYPE TALK, 1988, which is, I believe, the first type book issued by a trade publisher. They by no means question the value of more in-depth investigation of type through the Indicator and the validation process by private consultation with an expert. However, "typewatching" will have to do in a number of real life situations.

Their TYPE TALK AT WORK (1991) focuses more specifically on workplace problems.Their books are very well-informed on type and mindful of the ethical issues involved. Their approach is responsible, constructive and balanced. They also display a delightful sense of humor.It is noted that in less responsible hands, the approach can and has sometimes degenerated into pop psychology, stereotyping and name-calling, which can do harm. Kroeger and Thuesen have avoided these pitfalls, and their books can be highly recommended.

6. A valuable book on the fine art of company watching is THE CHARACTER OF ORGANIZATIONS; USING JUNGIAN TYPE IN ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOPMENT, by William Bridges, 1992. The author uses an "Organization Character Index" he developed, based on the Indicator. His innovative approach shows a way to evaluate an organization's culture, and why they act as they do.

7. WORK IT OUT; CLUES FOR SOLVING PEOPLE PROBLEMS AT WORK, by Sandra Krebs Hirsh and Janet Kise, 1996, is unquestionably one of the best introductions to type in organizations. The book is attractive and most readable, and can be highly recommended for both staff and management.

8. An in-depth study of the problems involved can benefit from the outstanding anthology edited by Catherine Fitzgerald and Linda K. Kirby, DEVELOPING LEADERS; RESEARCH AND APPLICATIONS IN PSYCHOLOGICAL TYPE AND LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT, 1997. The seventeen papers by nineteen authorities cover much of recent research and practice.

9. Roger R. Pearman's HARDWIRED LEADERSHIP, 1998, is a first-rate practical manual. I like everything about the book except its title (and subtitle). It is a highly responsible, up-to-date and expert analysis of the constructive use of human differences in the workplace. He also has a democratic approach to the concept of leadership which I find highly attractive (and useful for the 21st century).

10. In addition to the above, I would like to single out for praise CAPT's recent series of "Looking at Type" booklets ( five to date, of 56-77 pages each, published 1995-1997). Relevant to type theory and the workplace are the two publications authored by Charles B. Martin, LOOKING AT TYPE; THE FUNDAMENTALS, and LOOKING AT TYPE AND CAREERS, also, Larry Demarest's TYPE IN THE WORKPLACE.

In addition, the 28 page booklet published in London by Jenny Rogers, PERSONALITY TYPES AT WORK IN ORGANIZATIONS, contains some of the best descriptions of type I have seen anywhere.All the above books and booklets (except for the one by Rowan Bayne), are available through the Center For Applications of Psychological Type (CAPT) according to their 2000 catalog.


Pierre Ferrand. (INTP) is an author, journalist and scholar who resides in Evanston, Illinois. He is well-known in the type community for his even-handed, yet insightful critiques of published works on psychological type theory and applications. His columns also appear regularly in the Bulletin of Psychological Type and can be accessed on-line at www.aptcentral.org/bulletin.

Pierre can be reached at (847) 864 -1627or pierrewriter@aol.com


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