The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a widely used personality
inventory, or test, employed in vocational, educational, and psychotherapy
settings to evaluate personality type in adolescents and adults age 14 and
In an educational setting, the MBTI may be performed to assess student
learning style. In a classroom setting, the MBTI may be used to help teens
and young adults better understand their learning, communication, and
social interaction styles. Guidance counselors also might use the test to
help teens determine which occupational field or college major they might
be best suited for.
Because the MBTI is also a tool for self-discovery, mental health
professionals may administer the test in counseling sessions to provide
their patients with insight into their behavior. Among adults, the MBTI is
also used in organizational settings to assess management skills and
facilitate teamwork and problem solving.
In 2000, an estimated two million people took the MBTI, making it the most
frequently used personality inventory available. First introduced in 1942,
the test was the work of mother and daughter Katharine C. Myers Briggs and
Isabel Briggs. There are now several different versions of the test
available. Form M, which contains 93 items and is a self-scoring
, is the most commonly used. It can be used in a classroom or other group
setting, and takes approximately 15 to 25 minutes to complete.
The Myers-Briggs inventory is based on Carl Jung's theory of types,
outlined in his 1921 work
. Jung's theory holds that human beings are either introverts or
extraverts, and their behavior follows from these inborn psychological
types. He also believed that people take in and process information in
different ways, based on their personality traits.
The Myers-Briggs evaluates personality type and preference based on the
four Jungian psychological types:
A derivative version of the MBTI, developed by Elizabeth Murphy and
Charles Meisgeier, is available for children age seven through 13 (grades
two through eight). The assessment, called the Murphy-Meisgeier Type
Indicator for Children (MMTIC) uses the same four psychological types as
the MBTI, but is written for a second grade reading level.
The MBTI should only be administered, scored, and interpreted by a
professional trained in its use (except in the case of Form M, which can
be self-scored but should still be administered and interpreted by a
professional). Cultural and language differences in the test subject may
affect performance and may result in inaccurate test results. The test
administrator should be informed before testing begins if the test taker
is not fluent in English and/or he or she has a unique cultural
Prior to the administration of the MBTI, the test subject should be fully
informed about the nature of the test and its intended use. He or she
should also receive standardized instructions for taking the test and any
information on the confidentiality of the results.
Myers-Briggs results are reported as a four-letter personality type (e.g.,
ESTP, ISFJ). Each letter corresponds to an individual's preference
in each of the four pairs of personality indicators (i.e., E or I, S or N,
T or F, and J or P). There are a total of sixteen possible combinations of
personality types on the MBTI.
—Performing multiple duties or taking on multiple
responsibilities and roles simultaneously.
—Relating to an occupation, career, or job.
When interpreting test results, the test administrator will review what
the test evaluates, its precision in evaluation and any margins of error
involved in scoring, and what the individual scores mean in the context of
overall norms for the test and the background of the adolescent.
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American Psychological Association. Testing and Assessment Office of the
Science Directorate. 750 First St., N.E., Washington, DC 20002
(202)336–6000 Web site:
The Myers and Briggs Foundation. http://www.myersbriggs.org
(accessed September 5, 2004).