Myers Briggs (MBTI) Resources
Classifying personalities into various types, in terms of opposing pairs, such as "introversion" and "extroversion", the MBTI purports to provide a precise and accurate profile of the personality traits of the test takers. However, the MBTI has been severely criticized by leading psychometric researchers, such as Dr. David J. Pittenger, and virtually ignored by the authoritative American Psychological Association. Among the criticisms are that the "types" are vague or overlapping, inconsistent after retest and create sharp differences in type based on minor differences in scores.
By the same token, the MBTI has its staunch defenders and still enjoys broad approval and popularity-even if, in part, because it has been popular.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator works on the theory that each individual is either born with or develops preferences for certain characteristics or traits that fall on a scale with diametrically opposites at the poles, e.g., "introversion vs. "extroversion". Neither characteristic in the pair is considered better or worse than any other, so the purpose of the test is to identify personality traits, not to judge them.
The four pairs of preferences, also called "dichotomies" with their corresponding abbreviations are extroversion (E)-introversion (I), Sensing (S) - Intuition (N), Thinking (T) - Feeling (F) and Judgment (J) - Perception (P).
These terms, as used in the MBTI have technically-specific meanings that may differ from what a layperson might think they have. Just as an example, a person who has a preference for judging has been scored as a person who prefers to evaluate the world around them through either thinking or feeling. A person who is found to have a preference for judgment over perception has not been found to be a judgmental or critical person, but rather a person who prefers to make decisions about the world around him through either thinking or his feelings. In contrast, a person who prefers perception uses his or her senses or intuition to make decisions. Sensing refers to a preference for information that is tangible and concrete, while intuition refers to those people who want information that is more abstract or theoretical, which can then be associated with more information to make a wider pattern.
Compounding the challenge of "translating" these categories when they have pre-existing associations for the general public is the overlap between presumably utterly distinct types and the existence of apples-and-oranges differences in comparisons of different personality types identified by the test.
Taking into consideration both the popularity of the test (which may be required by some employers) and the caution needed in interpreting and extrapolating from it, the best strategy may be to carefully compare one's reported MBTI type and note each type's degree of overlap, vagueness, and compatibility with each of the other types or with one's own previous test results.
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