Meyers-Briggs Test: Valid?

Many people are familiar with the Meyers Briggs test. Its the one that tells you if you should be an executive, a doer, a protector, etc. Many companies also use this test. The main question I  though is are these tests valid? What do they really tell us and are they useful?

Well let me start with validity. Well here is an excerpt from this article explaining how the test was developed:

“Perhaps the most common misconception about the MBTI is that it shows your aptitude, helping you determine what kinds of things you’d be good at. This is not the case. Myers-Briggs is only about determining your preference, not your ability. There might be things that you’re good at that you don’t enjoy, and there might be things you enjoy that you’re not good at. The MBTI helps your find your comfort zone, the types of activities you’ll like and be most content with; not necessarily those at which you’ll be especially competent.

Even though neither had any background in psychology, Myers and Briggs enjoyed great success with their system. As Mrs. Briggs was getting quite old, Isabel Myers was the main driving force. Her initial idea was that certain personality types would more easily excel at different jobs, and the tool was intended to be used by women entering the workforce during World War II.

So the MBTI’s practical use is overwhelmingly unscientific, and it’s often criticized for this. Criticism ranges from the pragmatic fact that neither Jung nor Myers and Briggs ever employed scientific studies to develop or test these concepts, relying instead on their own observations, anecdotes, and intuitions; all the way to charges that your MBTI score is hardly more meaningful than your zodiac sign.”

Now on validity, here is an image comparing these types of tests which shows the meyers-briggs test is lacking in both construct and predictive validity:

Now What is the danger with this test? Well it is not an accurate test but even if it was here is the main danger: It plays on stereotypes. It is stereotyping.

—Basically it says If – then.
—So If you are a _____ then you are good at _____.
—An example:
  • If you an MIT student then you can create websites
  • —If you are an instructional technologist then you can set up a computer network
Obviously those might be the case but they are not always so. Meyers Briggs is no different than these stereotypes. That is the real danger is using these tests.
Posted in Instructional Design and tagged , , .

One Comment

  1. The MBTI is not predictive because many people don’t get to do what they’d prefer to do. And few people who interpret the test read more into the score on each axis than whether a preference is weak or strong, so the need for construct validity is small. As the excerpt points out, the MBTI looks at preference not ability. Your concluding paragraphs ignore this and make a conclusion about ability.

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