This article explains the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality test, developed by Isabel Myers and Katharine Briggs in a practical way. After reading you will understand the basics of this powerful leadership tool.
What is MBTI?
Each person has his or her own personal preferences. The Myers Briggs MBTI test helps identify what someone’s reasons and motivations are, what their ideal working environment is and how they interact with colleagues.
It is a questionnaire with dozens of questions on someone’s preferences and working style. How well do you know yourself? The Myers Briggs MBTI test is a tool to help people understand themselves.
The Myers Briggs MBTI model was developed by Katharine Briggs and Isabel Myers and is based on Carl Jung ’s psychological types.
Four dimensions of the Myers Briggs MBTI test
The Myers Briggs MBTI test is the most widely used personality assessment in the world through which people get to know themselves better.
It describes the preferences of someone in 4 dichotomous dimensions:
- Focus on the outer world: extra version versus introversion
- Ways of perceiving: sensing versus intuition
- Decision-making: thinking versus feeling
- Way of working: judging versus perceiving
In the Myers Briggs MBTI model there are no right or wrong preferences and therefore there are no good or bad types.
After all, each individual is different and therefore the model is purely about personal preferences.
This dimension of the Myers Briggs MBTI test is about extra version (E) versus Introversion (I). Extroverts find energy in the external world and they prefer verbal communication. They prefer to work out ideas by talking. They have broad interests, are sociable and expressive and take initiative in work and in relationships.
Introverts find energy in the inner world of thoughts, feelings and ideas. This type is more drawn towards their inner world. They prefer to communicate in writing and they want to work out ideas by reflecting on them. They are private and subdued but take initiative when something is important to them.
This dimension of the Myers Briggs MBTI test is about Sensing (S) versus Intuition (N). In sensing, people get information by using the five senses. They are oriented to facts and present realities. They build careful and thorough conclusions, understand ideas, observe and remember specifics and want to apply theories through practical applications.
Intuitive people have great imagination and they are verbally creative. They move quickly towards conclusions based on hunches; they trust inspirations and remember few specifics.
This third dimension is about Thinking (T) versus Feeling (F). Decisions are based on logic and objective analysis of cause and effect. They are analytical, reasonable and solve problems with logic. Sometimes they can come across as relentless.
Feelers are empathetic and assess decisions by how people respond to them. They strive for harmony and positive interactions, which make them appear mild-mannered.
This fourth and final dimension of the Myers Briggs MBTI test is about Judging (J) versus Perceiving (P). People who prefer judging like a planned and organized approach to life. They work systematically, like to settle matters and try to avoid last-minute stress.
Perceptive people, have a flexible and spontaneous approach to life and like to keep their options open, they are open to change and feel energized by last-minute stress.
Each participant in the test has a preference for each of the characteristics and this will result in the appropriate letter in their personal code. Combining the four characteristics leads to 16 different types of personality.
For example: someone with the code INTJ is an introvert (I), intuitive (N), thinker (T) and is a judger (J). MBTI gives an indication of someone’s preferred behaviour not of someone’s knowledge, skills or behaviour.
The Myers Briggs MBTI test is a tool for personal developments (stress management), team building, organizational change, improvement of communication, training and career advice and even relationship advice.
Personal development can help someone find the job that would best suit their personality. In team building and development, people will become more appreciative and tolerant of each other’s preferences, team members will get to know one another better, and they will learn to get along better, complement and support each other.
This can be taken into account when building teams. A team made up of diverse personality types will be more effective than a team made up of similar personality types.
The Myers Briggs MBTI test can be helpful in organizational change by reorganizing the task allocation so that people will perform better. Employees who have to put energy into doing tasks that do not suit them, will perform less and may become demotivated.
The Myers Briggs MBTI test can also be a useful tool for conflict management. If employees and/or managers are aware of each other’s personality types, they will be able to understand each other better and much will become clear about the cause of underlying friction.
It’s Your Turn
What do you think? Is the Myers Briggs personality test (MBTI) still applicable in today’s modern companies? And if so, how do you use it and what are the general results? Are there still four dichotomous dimensions or are there new ones? Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.
- Briggs, K. C., & Myers, I. B. (1977). The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: Form G. Consulting Psychologists Press.
- Fulton, S. (2016). The myers briggs type indicator Handbook – Everything You Need To Know About myers briggs type indicator. Emereo Publishing.
- McCaulley, M. H., Natter, F. L., & Myers, I. B. (1980). Psychological (Myers-Briggs) Type Differences in Education: Taking Type Into Account in Education: Isabel Briggs Myers. Center for Applications of Psychological Type.
- Myers, I. B., Kirby, L. K., & Myers, K. D. (1993). Introduction to type: A guide to understanding your results on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Consulting Psychologists Press.
- Quenk, N. L. (2009). Essentials of Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Assessment. Wiley.
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