Q. I’ve heard that Myers-Briggs (and/or another personality system) is not really scientifically sound. What’s up with what?
As much as I love personality type systems, I do have to admit that they aren’t perfect (gasp, I KNOW! I can’t believe I just said that! Hahaha). But just like people, personality type systems have their flaws, weaknesses, and blind spots.
And while I adamantly stand behind the utility and awesomeness of my favorite personality type systems, it’s so important to express that there’s never going to be ONE SYSTEM that can ever describe, explain, or contain the complexity of the human spirit or personality.
There’s no system that exists that is comprehensive or perfect — they each have their flaws. That’s why I recommend learning and growing from multiple personality systems — as well as exploring other self-development possibilities. The more you can see in the world and begin to connect the dots, then the more you can begin to understand universal truths and patterns as well as what your individual truth is, too. Okay, so with that said, let me answer this question…
So, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator tends to polarize many people — scientists, experts, academics, and even your average Joe — because of the following:
There are well-argued cases on both sides about the issues with Myers-Briggs.
From an observer’s standpoint, if you look beyond the more detailed issues people have (which include a lot of academic terms like “test-retest” reliability and such), the main argument seems to be about the value of the assessment.
Although both sides are asking one question on the surface: “Is this test useful or valuable?,” it seems that they are really asking two questions in more detail:
1. Is the test valuable in the academic/science world as a tool for researching and predicting people’s behaviors and motivations?
2. Is the test valuable in the real world as a tool for developing self-awareness and understanding relationship dynamics?
And these two questions make me wonder: If there is an absence of scientific predictability, does that negate the real-world utility of the test?
I have my own opinions about this (which, you probably can guess since I run this site), but I’m including some links here to help you decide that on your own if you’d like to learn more.
Noted and Quoted
Two Quotes that Sum up the Sides
“In summary, it appears that the MBTI does not conform to many of the basic standards expected of psychological tests. Many very specific predictions about the MBTI have not been confirmed or have been proved wrong. There is no obvious evidence that there are 16 unique categories in which all people can be placed. There is no evidence that scores generated by the MBTI reflect the stable and unchanging personality traits that are claimed to be measured. Finally, there is no evidence that the MBTI measures anything of value.” (Source)
“This is a little tricky because what he is saying is essentially true – the MBTI instrument does not predict performance or satisfaction within an occupation. However, it is misleading because it gives the impression that the assessment is intended to provide this kind of insight – it is emphatically not designed to predict success or satisfaction. To position this as some sort of shortcoming is as intellectually dishonest as saying that a compass is broken because it doesn’t tell you the temperature.” (Source)
A Summary of The Main Arguments and Criticisms
This article presents a pretty good summary of the main arguments and criticisms against Myers-Briggs
Some (Very Passionate) Critiques and Responses of The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
Here are some popular online critiques of MBTI and responses to those critiques
It’s important to do your own research on the things you believe and why — and to evaluate both sides. I encourage you to look beyond the articles that I presented and figure out what you believe about these systems or even anything else in your life. Have a critical eye, go through many different resources, and figure out what resonates with you.