Stop using the Myers-Briggs test

Myers-Briggs assessments have a persistent maintain on many people. Employers administer them to new recruits. Singles put their leads to relationship profiles, subsequent to their astrological indicators. And, to my dismay, the test was even featured lately in a Quick Firm article about distant work and persona sorts.

Why, you would possibly ask, was I dismayed by this?

For that, we now have to dig into the discipline of persona psychology a bit extra.


The Myers-Briggs Kind Indicator, or MBTI, is an evaluation that was developed in the early Forties by Katharine Cook dinner Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, based mostly on the writings of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung and his dialogue of persona archetypes. The evaluation is predicated round 4 dimensions, and people taking the evaluation are categorised alongside every of these dimensions. The scale are:
• Extraversion (E) vs. Introversion (I)
• Sensing (S) vs. Instinct (N)
• Considering (T) vs. Feeling (F)
• Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P)

You’ve got most likely seen individuals spotlight their “kind” using a code like ENFP.

This all sounds good. A easy classification system for understanding individuals’s persona must be an ideal software for individuals to know themselves and for managers to get to know their stories. Something that helps individuals acknowledge the methods through which their motivations differ from these of the individuals round them ought to be helpful in resolving conflicts and influencing conduct.

Sadly, the MBTI is a foul software in methods which might be more likely to be deceptive.

The self-discipline of persona psychology is an actual success story in the discipline of psychology. Constructs like the Massive 5 persona traits (Openness to expertise, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism) have been measured, replicated, and studied extensively for many years. Beginning with observations about particular person variations, the discipline has additionally made strides towards understanding the motivational foundation of those constructs.

There are a couple of key classes from persona psychology that undermine the MBTI. First, a superb persona stock must have test-retest reliability. That’s, if you give a list to the identical particular person over time, you’d wish to get comparable outcomes. The Massive 5 (for instance) could be very secure throughout the lifespan, despite the fact that it drifts a bit over time. In distinction, the varied varieties used to measure the MBTI differ of their reliability, however for a lot of of them, the reliability is kind of low.

An much more severe limitation entails the classification system utilized by the MBTI. In depth analysis on the Massive 5 persona traits exhibits that if you take a look at the distribution of scores throughout individuals, the distribution is well-behaved and centered round the center of the scale. Properly-behaved signifies that most observations are in the center with fewer away from the imply. That’s, most individuals’s scores on the Massive 5 dimensions fall towards the middle of the dimension. That’s more likely to be true for any broad measure of fundamental persona traits. But, the MBTI creates a pressured classification of individuals (which is why individuals can provide a four-letter persona kind for themselves).


The explanation this issues is that most individuals have a mixture of the motivations that underlie varied persona traits. For instance, agreeableness displays individuals’s motivation to get together with others in interpersonal conditions. Most individuals have some settings through which they’re strongly motivated on this method (and others through which they don’t seem to be). Nevertheless, a persona system like the MBTI that classifies individuals will drive them right into a class, even when they’re actually a mixture of multiple. That can give individuals a false sense of how excessive they’re alongside that dimension, which might trigger individuals to overlook delicate deviations in individuals’s conduct from the expectations of members of that class.

As fantastic as persona psychology is—and as beneficial as sturdy instruments about persona will be—persona traits are usually not future. Conditions additionally exert a powerful affect on individuals’s conduct. Even a extremely conscientious particular person could also be a complete slacker when on trip. Even the most extraverted particular person will sit quietly and hear when the head of their firm is giving a chat. Even the greatest measurements of persona traits predict solely about 20% to 30% of the distinction in behaviors amongst individuals. It’s useful to know the affect of persona on the conduct of individuals in the office, but in addition necessary to concentrate to how the individuals round you react in several contexts.

In the face of those issues, why has the MBTI persevered? A part of the purpose is its simplicity. There are solely 4 dimensions and sixteen combos of the dimension values. That makes it simple for individuals to really feel like they’ve a deal with on tips on how to deal with others. The descriptions of the dimensions are obscure. In consequence, it’s simple to see the categorization you get from taking the MBTI as reflecting facets of your self. The methods through which you don’t match the mildew won’t be as apparent at first, and so the categorization you get from the test is more likely to resonate with you if you hear it.

One other a part of the downside is that many consultants have been educated on tips on how to administer and discuss the MBTI. However tutorial psychologists haven’t been as possible to enter company consulting. In consequence, many individuals in companies are uncovered to the MBTI with out figuring out its limitations.

Given all of the limitations of the MBTI, I hope firms cease using it, and publications cease selling it. Firms don’t use dangerous instruments to do finance and accounting. They don’t use dangerous instruments to make market forecasts. The conduct of individuals in organizations is the single most necessary issue that can drive future success. We must always not use dangerous instruments to know ourselves and the individuals we work with, both.