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In personality typology, the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is an introspective self-report questionnaire indicating differing psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. The test attempts to assign four categories: introversion or extraversion, sensing or intuition, thinking or feeling, judging or perceiving. One letter from each category is taken to produce a four-letter test result, such as “INTJ” or “ESFP”.

Most of the research supporting the MBTI’s validity has been produced by the Center for Applications of Psychological Type, an organization run by the Myers-Briggs Foundation, and published in the center’s own journal, the Journal of Psychological Type (JPT), raising questions of independence, bias, and conflict of interest.

Psychological theories

Though the MBTI resembles some psychological theories, it has been criticized as pseudoscience and is not widely endorsed by academic researchers in the psychology field. The indicator exhibits significant scientific (psychometric) deficiencies, notably including poor validity (i.e. not measuring what it purports to measure, not having predictive power, or not having items that can be generalized); poor reliability (giving different results for the same person on different occasions); measuring categories that are not independent (some dichotomous traits have been noted to correlate with each other); not being comprehensive (due to missing neuroticism).

The four scales used in the MBTI test have some correlation with four of the Big Five personality traits, which is a more commonly accepted framework.

Original versions

The original versions of the MBTI test were constructed by two Americans, Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers. Briggs began her research into personality in 1917. Upon meeting her future son-in-law, she observed marked differences between his personality and that of other family members. Briggs embarked on a project of reading biographies and subsequently developed a typology wherein she proposed four temperaments: meditative (or thoughtful), spontaneous, executive, and social.

After the English translation of Carl Jung’s book Psychological Types was published in 1923 (first published in German in 1921), Briggs recognized that Jung’s theory was similar to, but went far beyond, her own. Briggs’s four types were later identified as corresponding to the IXXXs (Introverts: “meditative”), EXXPs (Extraverts & Prospectors: “spontaneous”), EXTJs (Extraverts, Thinkers & Judgers: “executive”) and EXFJs (Extraverts, Feelers & Judgers: “social”). Her first publications were two articles describing Jung’s theory, in the journal the New Republic in 1926 (“Meet Yourself Using the Personality Paint Box”) and 1928 (“Up From Barbarism”). After extensively studying the work of Jung, Briggs and her daughter extended their interest in human behavior into efforts to turn the theory of psychological types to practical use.


Although Myers graduated from Swarthmore College in 1919, neither Myers nor Briggs was formally educated in the discipline of psychology, and both were self-taught in the field of psychometric testing. Myers, therefore, apprenticed herself to Edward N. Hay, who was personnel manager for a large Philadelphia bank. From Hay, Myers learned rudimentary test construction, scoring, validation, and statistical methods.

Briggs and Myers began creating their indicator during World War II in the belief that a knowledge of personality preferences would help women entering the industrial workforce for the first time to identify the sort of war-time jobs that would be the “most comfortable and effective” for them. The Briggs Myers Type Indicator Handbook was published in 1944 and changed its name to “Myers–Briggs Type Indicator” in 1956.

Henry Chauncey

Myers’ work attracted the attention of Henry Chauncey, head of the Educational Testing Service. Under these auspices, the first MBTI “manual” was published, in 1962. The MBTI received further support from Donald W. MacKinnon, head of the Institute of Personality and Social Research at the University of California, Berkeley; W. Harold Grant, a professor at Michigan State University and Auburn University; and Mary H. McCaulley of the University of Florida. The publication of the MBTI was transferred to Consulting Psychologists Press in 1975, and the Center for Applications of Psychological Type 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. The third edition appeared in 1998.

The MBTI is based on the influential theory of psychological types proposed by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung in 1921, who speculated that people experience the world using four principal psychological functions—sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking—and that one of these four functions is dominant for a person most of the time. The four categories are introversion/extraversion, sensing/intuition, thinking/feeling, and judging/perceiving. Each person is said to have one preferred quality from each category, producing 16 unique types.

MBTI Test – 16 Personalities

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