MBTI® Facts

Personality models have been around since Hippocrates was a boy (460-377BC). He had four types – phlegmatic (listless & tired), melancholic (sad), choleric (easy to anger) and sanguine (content or optimistic).

Models have survived the centuries and continue to be applied, developed and expanded. Why? Because they mean something, they serve a purpose and they work.

The most widely applied model, globally, by businesses, government departments, corporations, psychologists and counsellors is the Jungian-based Myers Briggs Type Indicator®. Myers and Briggs studied and further developed the ideas of Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist, who published his work, Psychological Types, in 1921.

MBTI® is not a diagnostic tool and does not measure
– skills
– abilities
– intelligence
– pathologies

MBTI® does describe differences between normal healthy adults that often lead to misunderstanding and miscommunication.

MBTI® does indicate differences in the way we
– prefer to focus attention and get energised
– prefer to take in information
– prefer to make decisions
– orient ourselves to the external world

Myers & Briggs
The MBTI® questionnaire was first developed by Isabel Briggs Myers (1897-1979) and her mother, Katharine Cook Briggs (1875-1968). Both women had science based degrees and backgrounds at a time almost unheard of for women.

At the heart of the Jungian-MBTI® model is the understanding that much human behaviour that often seems random, or designed to upset, infuriate, or confuse, is in fact consistent with a person’s preferred, innate and natural, way of operating.

“If a theory describes something people do anyway, then it’s probably a good theory.” Andrew Samuels, Professor of Analytical Psychology, Scientific Associate American Academy of Psychoanalysis.
In a standard university psychology text book, Theories of Personality (University of Maine, Thomson Wadsworth, 2004), Richard M. Ryckman writes:
“Being able to understand the behaviour of others not only satisfies our curiosity but also gives us a greater sense of control over our lives and makes the world more predictable and less threatening.”
Writing about Jung’s theories of personality, Ryckman adds:
“Although Jung’s theory is difficult to test, his position has recently generated some interest, and a number of studies have been conducted. Most of these investigations have focussed on his theory of psychological types, and the evidence for its validity has been consistently supportive.
Jung has written about his own work: It is not a physiognomy and not an anthropological system, but a critical psychology dealing with the organisation and delimitation of psychic processes that can be shown to be typical.”
Peter Geyer is a consultant, researcher and writer in the field of Jung’s theory of psychological types. In an article entitled Psychological Type as a Contemporary Theory of Personality, he concludes that the model is useful to help us “understand the people and institutions we deal with, as well as ourselves.
“…C.G.Jung’s theory of psychological types and aspects of his broader theory seem plausible: indeed there is much more supportive data [now] than either Jung or Isabel Myers would have experienced in their lifetime.”
George Boeree, Professor of Psychology at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, USA, concludes: “Rather than assessing how ‘crazy’ you are, the ‘Myers-Briggs’ simply opens up your personality for exploration.”

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