Myers Briggs Frequently Asked Questions
Got a Myers Briggs Question, check out our Myers Briggs FAQ below. If you have a question that’s not’s answered here, please don’t hesitate to contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our Myers Briggs Coaching Page or Myers Briggs Team Development Page
Who came up with the idea?
The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a questionnaire developed by the mother/daughter team of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers over many years, starting in the 1940s. The theory is based on the work of Carl Jung, who wrote a book called “Psychological Types” in 1923. Jung created the notion of 4 basic type preferences, which combine into one of 16 different personality types. The tool has been developed over the last 70 years, and continues to be developed to this day, and millions of people all over the world take the questionnaire each year.
Who can help me understand my Myers Briggs Type?
Since the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® is a psychological assessment, it is restricted to use by certified professionals. Laura Evans of Unleash your Potential Ltd has been a certified MBTI Practitioner since Feb 2008 and is able to administer the assessment and provide you with your personalized feedback. Laura has helped over 200 people use the Myers Briggs tool since she started using it.
What do the letters/scales associated with the MBTI instrument mean?
The MBTI instrument has four sets of letters:
• Extraversion (E) – Introversion (I)
Indicates where you prefer to get or focus your energy – i.e. from being around people or from time spent alone.
• Sensing (S) – iNtuition (N)
Indicates the kind of information you prefer to gather and trust – i.e. whether you become aware of specific facts and concrete details or prefer to focus on ‘hunches’ and the big picture.
• Thinking (T) – Feeling (F)
Indicates the process you prefer to use in coming to decisions – i.e. whether you tend to make decisions based on logical analysis and the principles involved or prefer to decide by considering your values and promoting harmony for the people involved.
• Judging (J) – Perceiving (P)
Indicates how you prefer to deal with the world around you – i.e. whether you prefer your life to be planned and like it when things are decided or prefer to go with the flow and like keeping your options open.
Will completing the MBTI help me understand myself better?
A personality profile is a great way to build your self-awareness. Most people know themselves, but seeing how their style and preferences map against others is most useful. It confirms your strengths, where you might want to adjust your style to be more effective, how you could adapt to communicate with others in the style they prefer and it builds your confidence.
What does it measure?
It doesn’t measure personality traits. It’s a sorter, and sorts people into 16 types based on how they fall on four scales. I always related MBTI to being similar to the sorting hat on the Harry Potter Films – it sorts you into one camp or the other.
Will the MBTI reveal my inner secrets?
The MBTI is a self-reporting personality inventory – this means that any reports produced are based purely on what you say about yourself when answering the questionnaire. The MBTI asks you about everyday situations. It’s a sorter, and will provide you information on things such as how you relate to others, how you take in information and make decisions.
Can I lie and cheat on my answers?
Well, you could lie, but why would you? The only thing you’d accomplish is to get invalid results for yourself. There is the risk that people will answer the questions the way they WANT to be or think they SHOULD be, versus how they really are. Again, that will only make your results sound like someone other than you. To get the value from the questionnaire, I recommend being truthful and going with the answer that pops into your head first – often this is the right answer.
Does the MBTI measure skills and abilities?
No. It indicates preferences and reveals nothing about skills or abilities. I use an example of signing your name. Each of us has a preferred hand for writing. We can use the other hand, but it feels odd, awkward, and uncomfortable (over time though you would get better and better at using your non-preferred hand). The same is true on the four scales. We prefer one side of each scale over the other. Like our hands, we use both sides every day. Yet one hand is our dominant hand. The MBTI helps us discover more about our dominant preferences.
Are some types better than others?
As Isabel Briggs Myers wrote in the Introduction to Type® booklet, “There is no right or wrong type, and there are no better or worse combinations of types in work or relationships. Each type and each individual bring special gifts.” Your understanding of psychological type can be used most effectively to help you work with others to enhance your strengths and develop your weaker areas rather than trying to figure out a “best” and “worst” type.
There are no good or bad types. Each has its strengths and potential development areas. Each type will react differently to different circumstances. Some situations may play to the strength of a particular type. In others situations, those same types could experience challenges or limitations if they have not taken time to develop their ‘non-preferences’. For example, the ability to concentrate can be quite useful. However, if you can concentrate too well, you might end up ignoring important people or information in your environment.
Will knowing about type help me at work?
It can be extremely helpful to understand people your own preferences and how this may be different from the people you work with. To be able to understand that different people approach things in different ways can be really enlightening and can really help you understand the value that others bring to the table, rather than being frustrated by it. It can help reduce the risk of conflict and improve relationships.
Is Myers Briggs just used a workplace tool?
Myers Briggs is a very flexible tool, and is used by many people in the workplace and is used by 89 or the 100 Fortune companies (source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/). Aside from work, MBTI is used in relationship counselling, career coaching, sporting teams and more! The value in MBTI is the opportunity for people to better understand themselves and consider how they interact with others/the world around them.
Is the MBTI tool valid and reliable?
Yes. Scientific research conducted on the MBTI tool has shown that the results it provides are reliable and valid. The MBTI tool’s reliability statistics are excellent, and its validity has been firmly established in hundreds of separate studies. Reliability refers to whether the results are consistent: Do people tend to reply to the items in the same way when they take the test later, and do they tend to get the same type? Can you count on the results? Validity refers to the instrument’s ability to measure psychological type and apply Jung’s theory. Technical information on the research and psychometric properties underlying the instrument are published in the MBTI® Manual and in other scientific publications. Recent updates may be accessed at www.cpp.com/mbtivalidity.
If I already know my personality type, is there any need to take the questionnaire again?
First, check that your personality type was taken using the genuine MBTI tool. Other type instruments are not as reliable and valid.
Second, given the MBTI tool is a self-reporting personality inventory, the tool is only ever as accurate as the information that you put into it – i.e. how openly and honestly you answered it previously. Only you will know how true to yourself you were last time you did the test.
Thirdly, consider how long ago you took the MBTI assessment and whether your life circumstances have changed dramatically since then. Generally, because the MBTI tool measures inherent preferences, there is no need to take it multiple times. However, if your life has changed significantly, you might find it helpful to take it again. In addition, the newer forms of the MBTI assessment are based on the latest research, so if it has been several years since you took the assessment, you might consider retaking it.
Third, if you have not already done so, consider contacting a professional who can help you take Step II of the MBTI tool, an advanced form that provides more depth to the four-letter type by looking at different facets of each of the four preferences.
Why would an employer ask me to take the MBTI tool, and, if so, do I have to?
Employers use the Myers-Briggs® tool for these purposes:
• Training and development of employees and managers
• Improving teamwork
• Coaching and developing others
• Improving communication
• Resolving conflicts
• Understanding personal styles to maximize effective use of human resources
• Determining the organization’s type
Many of the nation’s leading organizations (including over three-fourths of the Fortune 100 in the USA and many government and nonprofit organisations) use the MBTI assessment with employees and managers.
Taking the MBTI assessment should always be voluntary. The MBTI tool should be used to inform decisions through discussion, but not used to hire, fire, or promote people. The ethics stated by CPP in the USA and it’s sister company OPP in the UK, maintain that individuals should be free to choose whether or not to take the MBTI assessment and to decide with whom to share results.
Once I have completed the questionnaire, how long does it take for me to get my report?
If you are completing the questionnaire on line, once you have completed it, please contact your practitioner in order to make an appointment for your one-to-one feedback session where you practitioner will go through the report with you a part of the process. You should allow 24/48 hours for the report to be generated and printed when thinking about timing for your appointment.
If your questionnaire is being done as part of the meeting via the paper based version, your results will take 10 mins or so for your practitioner to score, and then the feedback will be given there and then as part of your One-to-one meeting.