Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and How It Can Be Used
What is Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)?
Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) provides a tool that enables the categorisation of psychological personality types. It is based on theories originally introduced by Carl Jung, and aims to make them easy to understand and use in everyday situations.
MBTI was developed by Isabel Briggs Myers, working alongside her mother, Katharine Cook Briggs. Having studied Carl Jung’s work dealing with personality typing, they devised a self-report questionnaire. This questionnaire was designed to provide valuable insight into a person’s psychological preferences.
The mother and daughter team first published a book in 1944, ‘The Briggs Myers Type Indicator Handbook’. After further research, they went on to publish several other books on their theories and the applications. This culminated with the third edition of ‘The MBTI Manual’, which was updated by fellow researcher, Mary McCaullay, and published in 1998.
The fundamentals of MBTI include identifying the four main personality preferences and the description of the sixteen individual personality types that then emerge.
Aspects such as your level of extroversion compared to introversion are studied. How you process information, make decisions and interact with the outside world are also considered.
Having this information about yourself enables you to work more effectively, manage your inter-personal relationships better and achieve optimum results. You gain critical insight into how your type preferences cause you to approach situations, make decisions, interact on a personal level and deal with stress. Issues, such as time management and your methods of problem-solving, can be investigated from an MBTI perspective. People use MBTI to improve their work performance and increase their enjoyment of work tasks.
Having this information available about individuals that you manage is also extremely beneficial. Knowing how someone is likely to perform in a particular situation enables you to ensure they are working in an appropriate role, where they can flourish and develop. Understanding each member’s participation in a team enables you to make necessary changes to team structures and manage people more effectively.
The Key Roles
The Four Dichotomies
MBTI’s basic principle involves four dichotomies, which describe how a person acts and thinks. These are:
Each dichotomy further develops, until sixteen specific Personality Types emerge – i.e. various combinations of each of the dichotomies. These are:
The preferences for either introversion or extroversion are called ‘attitudes’. These deal with identifying introverted traits, such as ideas and reflection, as opposed to extroverted traits, such as being ‘action-orientated’ and sociable.
The preferences for gathering and understanding new information are identified by this Personality Type. People with a preference for ‘intuition’ are influenced by a subject’s underlying theory and future possibilities. Those with a preference for ‘sensing’ like to gather information using their own five senses.
Feeling/Thinking deals with the preferences for decision making. Those who prefer ‘feeling’ tend to empathise with a situation. Those who prefer ‘thinking’ tend to look at matters from a more detached position.
This Personality Type indicates the preferences for relating to the outside world. Those who prefer ‘perception’ tend towards keeping their decisions open. Those who prefer ‘judging’ tend towards liking matters settled, they may see things as ‘black or white’.
Every one of us has a personality that is on a spectrum. The MBTI allows us to discover our unique mix of these Personality Types. We can then use this information to make changes, improve or simply gain useful insight.
How is Myers Briggs Type Indicator Used?
CPP became the MBTI’s publisher back in 1975. They claim to carry out up to two million MBTI assessments every year. They describe MBTI as ‘The world’s most widely used personality assessment’.
Having this kind of insight into the personality, whether it is our own or that of someone we manage or work with, has clear benefits. It enables the identification of appropriate roles and responsibilities. Teams can be constructed of complementary individuals, eliminating misunderstandings and improving communication. The best methods of training can be identified. All these improvements increase workplace productivity and reduce costs.
According to Isabel Briggs Myers, “Good Type Development can be achieved at any age by anyone who cares to understand his or her own unique gifts and the appropriate use of those gifts.”
MBTI has been used worldwide to understand ‘what makes people tick’. The better we understand ourselves and those around us, the more productive and rewarding our interactions with the outside world become.