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Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Definition

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 older.

Purpose

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.

Description

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 assessment , 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 Psychological Types . 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 background.

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.

Risks

KEY TERMS

Multi-tasking —Performing multiple duties or taking on multiple responsibilities and roles simultaneously.

Vocational —Relating to an occupation, career, or job.

Parental concerns

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.

Resources

Keirsey, David. Please Understand Me II. Del Mar, CA: Prometheus Nemesis Book Co., 2002.

Folger, Wendy A. et al. "Analysis of MBTI type patterns in college scholars." College Student Journal. 37, no.4 (Dec 2003): 598(6).

Himmelberg, Michele. "Explore your skills, values and personality type to find best job." The Orange County Register. Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service (June 12, 2001): K4909.

Sak, Ugur. "A synthesis of research on psychological types of gifted adolescents." Journal of Secondary Gifted Education. 15, no. 2 (Winter 2004): 70(10).

American Psychological Association. Testing and Assessment Office of the Science Directorate. 750 First St., N.E., Washington, DC 20002 (202)336–6000 Web site: http://www.apa.org/science/testing.html..

The Myers and Briggs Foundation. http://www.myersbriggs.org (accessed September 5, 2004).

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