In 1917, Katharine Cook Briggs began her adventure into personality. Upon meeting her future son-in-law, she observed noticeable differences between his personality and that of their family members. Briggs embarked on a plan of readings, where she developed an idea based on the patterns she found. She projected four temperaments: Meditative, Spontaneous, Executive, and Social. After publication of Psychological Types was published in 1923, she accepted that Jung’s theory was similar to her own. Briggs’s four types of temperament were soon after recognized as equivalent to the Is, EPs, ETJs and EFJs. Her first publications were two articles describing Jung’s theory, in the journal New Republic in 1926. Briggs’s daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers, added to her mother’s personality research, which she would gradually take over completely. Myers graduated first in her class from Swarthmore College in 1919 and wrote the mystery novel, Murder Yet to Come in 1929 using typological beliefs. Conversely, neither Myers nor Briggs were formally educated in psychology, so they lacked significant credentials in the field of psychological testing. Myers apprenticed herself to Edward N. Hay, a Philadelphia bank manager and starts one of the first thriving personnel consulting firms. In 1942, the Briggs-Myers Type Indicator was created, and the Briggs Myers Type Indicator Handbook was published in 1944. In 1956, the test changed its name to the modern form Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) (Carlyn, 1977).
Myers’ work engrossed the attention of Henry Chauncey, head of the Educational Testing Service, which helped the first MBTI Manual to publish in 1962. The MBTI created support from Donald T. McKinnon, head of the Institute of Personality Research at the University of California; Harold Grant, professor at Michigan State and Auburn Universities; and Mary H. McCaulley of the University of Florida. The publication of the MBTI was transmitted to the Consulting Psychologists Press in 1975, and the Center for Applications of Psychological Type (CAPT) was founded as a research laboratory. After Myers’ death in May 1980, Mary McCaulley updated the MBTI Manual, and the second edition was published in 1985. In 1998, the third edition was created (Carlyn, 1977).
The MBTI instrument is called “the best-known and most trusted personality assessment tool available today” (Person et al, 2007). It has been administered annually with 2 million assessments. For most adults, the MBTI is reported to give the same result for 3-4 preferences when the test is administered to the same person again. Some studies have found strong support for construct validity, internal consistency, and test-retest reliability. Fundamental to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator was created by Jung. Jung proposed the existence of two dichotomous pairs of cognitive functions. The rational or judging functions such as thinking and feeling. The irrational or perceiving functions such as sensing and intuition. Jung said that these functions are articulated in either an introverted or extraverted form. Jung’s original concepts, Briggs and Myers developed their own theory of psychological type on which the MBTI is based (Carlyn, 1977).
The Myers-Briggs model regards personality styles similar to the left or right handedness: individuals are either born with or develop certain ways of thinking and acting. The MBTI sorts some of these psychological differences into four opposite pairs, with a resulting 16 possible psychological types. None of the types is better or worse. However, Briggs and Myers theorized that people expectantly prefer one combination over another. In the same way, that writing with the left hand is hard work for a right-hander, so people tend to find using their opposite psychological preferences harder, even if they can become more skillful. The 16 different types are frequently referred to by an abbreviation of four letters. The initial letters of each of their four type preferences. Such as ESTJ, which stands for Extraversion, Sensing, Thinking, Judging or INFP which stands for Introversion, iNtuition, Feeling, Perceiving. The preferences for extraversion and introversion are occasionally referred to as attitudes. Briggs and Myers acknowledged that functions can maneuver in the external world of behavior, action, people and things (extraverted attitude) or the internal world of ideas and reflection (introverted attitude) (Person et al, 2007). The MBTI sorts for a fondness for one or the other of these. The terms extravert and introvert are used in a unique sense when discussing the MBTI. People who prefer extraversion depict energy from action. Individuals tend to act, then reflect, then repeat the same behavior. If individuals are inactive, their level of energy and motivation tends to decline. On the other hand, those who favor introversion turn into less wound up as they act. They prefer to reflect, then act, then reflect once more. Individuals who choose introversion need time out to reflect in order to restore energy. The extravert’s surge is directed outward toward people and things; while the introvert’s is aimed at inward toward concepts and thoughts. There are numerous different characteristics between extraverts and introverts. Extraverts are action-oriented and desire extensiveness, while introverts are thought-oriented and seek deepness. Extraverts often prefer more recurrent interaction, while introverts prefer more significant interaction (Carlyn, 2007).
Isabel Myers had stated that individuals of any given type shared differences as well as similarities. At the time of her death, she was developing a more in-depth method of measuring how people articulate and understand their individual assessment. This tool is called the MBTI Step II. A Step III is also being developed in a joint project involving several organizations. Step III will further tackle the use of observation and judgment by respondents. In addition, the Type Differentiation Indicator (TDI) is a scoring system for the longer MBTI, which includes the 20 subscales above, plus a Comfort-Discomfort factor. This factor includes seven extra scales to point out a “sense of overall comfort and confidence versus discomfort and anxiety: guarded-optimistic, defiant-compliant, carefree-worried, decisive-ambivalent, intrepid-inhibited, leader-follower, and proactive-distractible” (Barbuto, 1997). Also included is a composite of items called “strain.” Each of these comfort-discomfort subscales also loads onto one of the four type dimensions, “for example, proactive-distractible is also a judging-perceiving subscale. There are also scales for type-scale consistency and comfort-scale consistency. Reliability of 23 of the 27 TDI subscales is greater than .50, an acceptable result given the brevity of the subscales” (Barbuto, 1997).
The current version of the MBTI Step I includes 93 forced-choice questions, which means the individual has to choose only one of two possible answers to each question. The choices are a mixture of word pairs and short statements. Choices are not apparent opposites but are chosen to reflect opposite preferences. Participants may skip questions if they cannot make a decision. The MBTI can then be scored and will attempt to identify the preference personality of the individual. During the development of the MBTI, thousands of items were used. Most were eventually pointless because they did not have high midpoint biases, meaning the results of that one item did not move the score away from the midpoint. Using only items with high midpoint discrimination allows the MBTI to have fewer items on it, but still present as much statistical information as other instruments with more items with lower midpoint biases. The MBTI requires five points one way or another to specify a clear preference (Boyle, 2001).
The statistical validity of the MBTI as an instrument has been vastly criticized. The accurateness of the MBTI depends on truthful self-reporting of the individual tested. The MBTI does not use validity scales to assess to socially pleasing responses. As a result, individuals can lie or indulge on the truth in their responses. In fact, one study found that the MBTI judging measurement actually associated with the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire lie scale. If individuals worry that they have something to lose, they may answer as they think they should. Also, the MBTI has not been validated by double-blind tests, where participants are given reports written for other participants and then are asked if that report fits them. So it may not qualify as a scientific instrument (Boyle, 2001).
Some researchers have translated the reliability of the test as being minimal. Studies have discovered that between 39% and 76% of those tested fall into different types upon retesting some weeks or months later. One study reports that the MBTI dichotomies display fair split-half reliability; however, the dichotomy scores are spread upon a bell curve, and the overall type allotments are less reliable. Also, test-retest reliability is receptive to the time allotted between tests administration. Each dichotomy scale is about 83% of categories remain the same when individuals are retested within a nine month period, and around 75% when individuals are retested after the nine month period. About 50% of individuals tested within nine months stay the same, and 36% remain the same type after more than nine months. Critics also argue that the MBTI lacks falsification, which can cause bias during the interpretation of results (Boyle, 2001).
Scoring of the MBTI is either in conditions of preference or continuous scores. According to the manual, continuous scores are suitable for research purposes only. The utilization of continuous scores is not highlighted. Jungian’s theory of the underlying construction of the MBTI declares that an individual’s preference scores symbolize essential differences between types, such as introverts versus extraverts. However, most therapists observe personality dimensions, such as extraversion-introversion as continuous, and normally dispersed. Some researchers argue that the principal faltering block to more widespread acceptance of the MBTI lies in the structural replica of bipolar alternating types to which the instrument authors are resolutely committed. Consequently, the utilization of dichotomous forced-choice items significantly restricts both the theoretical and statistical standpoint of the MBTI. Wiggins argued that there is no data to support Jung’s theory of bimodal distributions of preference gain, and that evidence of stability of types is lacking. Another problem is substantial redundancy in the scoring process because the two different scales of each pair are scored on the basis of essentially the same items (Boyle, 2001).
Skeptics also criticize the terminology of the MBTI as being so “vague and general.” They state that this results in the Forer effect, where individuals give a high rating to a positive description that allegedly applies specially to them. Others argue that while the MBTI type descriptions are short, they are also unique and precise. Some theorists, such as David Keirsey, have extended on the MBTI descriptions, providing even greater detail. For instance, Keirsey’s descriptions of his four temperaments, which he interrelated with the sixteen MBTI personality types, show how the “temperaments differ in terms of language usage, intellectual orientation, educational and vocational interests, social orientation, self image, personal values, social roles, and characteristic hand gestures” (Barbuto, 1997).
Overall, in my opinion, I think that the MBTI is a wonderful tool to use in the counseling setting. It helps an individual gain a sense of who they are. Sometimes an individual may go through the ups and downs of life. The therapist may view the client as an introvert, but in reality the client is withdrawing and pulling away from society because of their depression. This test is good to see if the client is an introvert or an extrovert. I have taken the test twice over the past year and a half. I have received the same scoring and I agree with the scoring. I also think that the test is good for clients to gain a further understanding of their identity. Most clients that I have counseled so far are in limbo and are not sure who they really are. This test is really good in helping the client gain some source of foundation for understanding themselves.