Myers-Briggs LO1985

Fri, 7 Jul 1995 08:19:55 -0600 (CST)

Replying to LO1965

Gary and Lilly Evans shared a couple of quotes regarding the
questionable validity and reliability of the Myers-Briggs Type
Indicator and pose the question of it's usefulness. In my research
for a doctoral dissertation on temperament, I did do quite an
extensive review of the literature on personality type instruments.
While I am not certified as an MBTI administrator, I can share a few
insights into the research on the instrument.

First, let me draw you attention to the fact that it is an
"indicator" of personality type preference and as such it is only as
valid and reliable as the individual taking the assessment. It is
perception-based and is therefore subject to threats to validity. I
have no doubts that the MBTI is being used in areas and for purposes
for which it was never designed.

As a little bit of background for those not familiar with the
development of the instrument, permit me to give a Reader's Digest
version of my literature reveiew. Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav
Jung proposed a theory of psychological type in 1921, asserting that
everyone is either extraverted or introverted in orientation, and
prefers one way of perceiving (sensing or intuition) and one way of
judging or deciding on action (thinking or feeling).

Katherine Cook Briggs became interested in personality
similarities and differences about the time of W.W.I. After
beginning to develop her personality typology, she discovered and
adapted that of Jung. In 1942, she and her daughter, Isabel Briggs
Myers, began to work on an instrument that would reveal individual
types, the MBTI.

The MBTI is proported to measure the three Jungian dichotomies
plus a forth dimension, perceiving (P) versus judging (J). Critics
of the MBTI draw notice to the forced-choice (ipsative) format
assuming that the opposing functions or orientations are not
independent but mutually exclusive. The descriptions are based on
those proposed by Jung and are without subsequent research (fault of
Jung not Katerhine and Isabel). Badenoch (1986) and Curry (1983)
note that in test-retest correlations the reliability is as high as
.83 and averages .78. The internal consistency scores are as high as
.88 and average .86 (that's pretty good folks). The MBTI has been
extensively perfected in terms of item content, reliability, and
validity, and has been updated periodically since the first version
was developed in 1942.

It has been my personal experience that integrating the MBTI into
the communication strategy of an organization has proven to be highly
successful. I know of NO psychometric instrument which is NOT subject
to criticism. Many over-the-counter instruments have never been
tested for validity and reliability and are sold to the unsuspecting
public as accurate mesurements of XYZ. I have also observed that
when the MBTI has been useful to individuals and organizations, a
great deal of the success came from the fact that there was a
tremendous amount of pre- and post-assessment training to assist the
individual and organization in learning what the scores mean and how
they can utilize the preferences most effectively.

In my review of the literature, the MBTI was undoubtedly the most
statistically valid paper-and-pencil instrument available for
measuring type preference. I would caution against anyone wanting to
use any instrument as a measure of "success." I do know of
individuals who use the MBTI as a career assesment and organizations
that use it as a screening for job placement. Again, it was never
designed to be used for these purposes. It all goes back to - buyer

I appreciate Dr. Evans sharing the article and I for one
would like to see the complete posting.

Any other comments?


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