You may have taken a MBTI personality test (Myers-Briggs Personality Test) at your work, or at home just for fun. It’s not uncommon to take a MBTI personality test at work, because some managers use this questionnaire during team-building sessions to assess which employees may work the best with each other. You could also have taken this popular personality quiz at school, as guidance counselors often use the MBTI personality test to help students with their potential career options. Alternatively, you may have encountered this quiz online for fun as it’s a tool that some dating sites use to assess personality type compatibility with a potential romantic partner, and assess which personality types might work best for you in relationships.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test is composed of psychometric questions that are designed to identify your individual strengths, your personality type, how you perceive the world, and various psychological preferences in how you make decisions. After answering all the questions, the results would then indicate what kind of personality you have. The MBTI test is one of the most popular personality tests and behavioral assessment tools today used by Fortune 500 corporations, universities, and other organizations.
This introspective personality quiz is available online, with some sites offering it for free or a low cost.
At least two million people take the MBTI personality test annually. Now, anyone can gain access to this self-administered test on their own by searching for it online, if you want to get to know yourself better and stay attuned to your strengths and weaknesses. However, some professionals have questioned the validity of the MBTI personality test because it’s ineffective in determining job success. Moreover, many people get different results when they take the test for the second time, which raises questions on results reliability. So, is the MBTI personality test accurate? Let’s find out.
The Origins of the MBTI Personality Test
The original proponents of the MBTI personality test were Katherine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers. They began crafting their indicators in 1942 during World War II. Their goal was to help women joining the workforce for the first time figure out what type of job would be best for them. The root of their study springs from Carl Jung’s theories on personality such as the concept of introversion and extroversion.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator began with the typology of four temperaments: social, meditative, spontaneous, and executive. Eventually, the study grew into the MBTI personality test, with the first official test published in 1962. Altogether, the MBTI assessment tool consists of 16 different personality types that will supposedly describe the personality of the one taking the test based on answers to around 93 questions. And these questions assess the following traits:
- Introvert (I) vs Extrovert (E)
- Intuitive (N) vs Sensory (S)
- Judging (J) vs Perceiving (P)
- Thinking (T) vs Feeling (F)
After taking the test, your suggested personality type uses a combination of 4 letters noted above with various combinations. The combination of traits rests on the answers to test questions. Examples of these test questions may be the following (choose one answer only):
1. In reading for pleasure, do you
- Enjoy odd or original ways of saying things
- Like writers to say exactly what they mean
2. Do you more often tend to
- think about what you will say before speaking
- talk off the top of your head
3. Do you find it more natural to remember
- numbers and figures
- faces and names
At the end of the questions, the MBTI personality test ultimately assigns one of the 16 labels such as INTP (introverted, intuitive, thinking, perceiving), ENFJ (extroverted, intuitive, feeling and judging), etc. with corresponding attributes that indicate personality type, preferences, and strengths.
16 MBTI Personality Types
The 4-letter indicators were initially developed by Myers and Briggs to help people understand their tendencies, so they can choose appropriate jobs that would provide the most comfort and satisfaction. Today, many corporations still use the MBTI personality test to determine the strengths and weaknesses of employees and help match them to appropriate roles.
Moreover, schools have also been known to rely on the test to help students with their chosen courses for tertiary education or with job hunting for soon-to-be graduates. Some also use the personality test results to assess if they are compatible with a potential partner. Check out the 16 types of MBTI personalities below:
1. ISTJ Personality:
Introvert, sensory, thinking, judging. Known as the Inspector who can be intimidating due to their formal and serious appearance. They are dubbed this way for strict compliance with rules and possess keen attention to detail, so they thrive in jobs that require logic. They have a small circle whom they’re extremely loyal to.
2. INFJ Personality:
Introvert, intuitive, feeling, judging. Known as the Counselor who is a visionary that does not accept things on the surface level. They focus on introspection and internal insights, making them ideal for collaborative jobs or psychology. They are highly sensitive to the feelings of others, and this is one of the rarer personality types.
3. INTJ Personality:
Introvert, intuitive, thinking, judging. Known as the Mastermind who is comfortable being by themselves, preferring to work alone. They are analytical problem solvers who thrive in occupations that require innovative solutions and logical systems. They are very loyal and great at encouraging partners.
4. ENFJ Personality:
Extrovert, intuitive, feeling, judging. Known as the Giver who relies on feelings and intuition. They are people-centered and highly empathetic, making them ideal for jobs that encourage and push others like a teacher or humanitarian personnel. They are always ready to understand and support their partners.
5. ISTP Personality:
Introvert, sensory, thinking, perceiving. Known as the Craftsman who is spontaneous, unpredictable, and quite adept at hiding their true nature. They focus on logical thinking, helping them excel in jobs with both physical activity and technical expertise. They are typically quite calm in relationships and enjoy being handy around the house.
6. ESFJ Personality:
Extrovert, sensory, feeling, judging. Known as the Provider who is akin to an extroverted cheerleader that raises the spirits of others around them. Since they naturally warm up to people, they excel in jobs that use interpersonal skills. They are traditional partners who crave structure and stability.
7. INFP Personality:
Introvert, intuitive, feeling, perceiving. Known as the Idealist who is typically introverted and reserved, enjoying alone time in quiet places. They love analyzing and drawing inferences, making them ideal for jobs that require vision. They choose friends selectively, but are ready to compromise with the select few.
8. ESFP Personality:
Extrovert, sensory, feeling, perceiving. Known as the Performer who loves entertaining and being in the spotlight. They have strong interpersonal skills that thrive in working conditions with flexibility and spontaneity. They prioritize loved ones over anything else.
9. ENFP Personality:
Extrovert, intuitive, feeling, perceiving. Known as the Champion who dislikes living caged inside a box and creates their own way to do things. They tend to focus on feelings rather than logic, making them ideal for jobs where they can be creative and explore imaginative solutions. They are affectionate and expressive in relationships.
10. ESTP Personality:
Extrovert, sensory, thinking, perceiving. Known as the Doer who is a spontaneous risk-taker that isn’t afraid to make mistakes since they make up for errors as they go. They thrive in flexible careers that need mechanical skills. They are adventure-lovers who enjoy doing activities and going on adventures with loved ones.
11. ESTJ Personality:
Extrovert, sensory, thinking, judging. Known as the Supervisor who advocates for doing what is right. They are highly practical and happy to help others, so a management position is a good career fit. They love routines in their relationships and take pride in being dependable.
12. ENTJ Personality:
Extrovert, intuitive, thinking, judging. Known as the Commander who focuses on logical and rational thinking. They are natural-born leaders that are usually in charge. They set high expectations for their partners and can sometimes appear dominant in their relationships.
13. INTP Personality:
Introvert, intuitive, thinking, perceiving. Known as the Thinker who comes up with bright ideas and readily sees something out of the norm. They flourish in non-traditional jobs that proffer flexibility and independence. They’re more likely to be great entrepreneurs. They are also autonomous and non-needy lovers, and quite unconventional.
14. ISFJ Personality:
Introvert, sensory, feeling, judging. Known as the Nurturer who is kind-hearted and gives generously to everyone. They want to bring out the best in others and situations, making them better positioned for behind-the-scenes work in structured jobs. They are excellent partners who take care of loved ones unconditionally.
15. ENTP Personality:
Extrovert, intuitive, thinking, perceiving. Known as the Visionary who abhors small talk but prefers in-depth discussions and craves constant stimulation. They love exploring new ideas, making them ideal for positions where their creativity can address challenges. They make for spontaneous and exciting partners.
16. ISFP Personality:
Introvert, sensory, feeling, perceiving. Known as the Composer who may seem like an introvert at the onset but is really warm within. They enjoy exploring new things and prefer working alone away from the spotlight. They are easy-going and accommodating to family and friends.
Is the MBTI Personality Test Accurate?
Some professionals raise issues against the MBTI personality test because, for one, it is dated, having been developed in the 1940s with untested theories based on Carl Jung’s principles. Even Carl Jung himself noted that his proposed personality types were just rough tendencies and theories he observed, and not absolute or strict personality classifications. Thus, the MBTI personality test is deemed unscientific and not completely reliable by some psychologists. They see the test, which you can buy online, as a commercial product.
It’s fun to read your results after taking the test, but you can’t rely on it to be an entirely accurate representation of you.
Some studies challenge the utility of the MBTI personality test because there’s insufficient evidence to support its tenets. Moreover, construct validity is seen as questionable and many professionals doubt if the test could really accurately measure and test its proposed real-world outcomes and conclusions. Test-retest reliability has also been proven dubious with more than half of the people doing a retest receiving a different result. It’s not uncommon to give different answers when you take the test again. It’s therefore not that surprising to get a different result, because the consistency of the answers could also vary based on test takers mood and concentration when they answer the test.
In these modern times, taking the MBTI test is seen as meaningless by some professionals. Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at UPenn, pointed out the shortcomings of the Myers-Briggs Indicator Test. He said, “There’s no evidence behind it, since the characteristics measured by the test have almost no predictive power on how happy you’ll be in a situation, how you’ll perform at your job, or how happy you’ll be in your marriage.”
Shortcomings in Test Design
Michael Ashton, a psychology professor at Brock University, also pointed out that the MBTI personality test has its shortcomings because it only assesses four aspects of personality differences. However, in reality, this aspect is more nuanced. There’s an inherent flaw in the test’s conceptual design because of black and white categories in the framework of questions and answers. For example, you’re either an extrovert or introvert and a judger or feeler with no room for in-betweens.
However, Ashton says, “People don’t fall neatly into two categories on a personality dimension. Instead, people have many different degrees of dimension.”
In essence, you cannot place an individual into tidy boxes with concrete personality labels. We don’t always act consistently, as there’s variations in external circumstances. The misgivings about the MBTI personality test’s accuracy arises because the nature of human personality is truly complex.
Should You Take the Myers-Briggs Personality Test? The MBTI Test Still Has its Uses
Regardless of the fact that you can’t rely on the Myers-Briggs Personality Test to be entirely accurate, it’s still fun to take it, and it’s still a learning experience.
The MBTI quiz forces you to self-reflect, as it’s an introspective questionnaire, and we can all stand to benefit from doing some serious self-reflection.
Even if some professionals dub the MBTI personality test useless and meaningless, many others are still drawn to take the test. That’s why the CPP company that markets the MBTI test makes about $20 million on this product annually. Many people are compelled to take this test because they have a strong desire to understand who they are and get to know themselves better.
The MBTI personality types are still useful if you want to know your general tendencies, preferences, and inclinations. Although some results may not match who you are perfectly, the results still provide a lot of insight. A former Bridgewater Associate employee, who took the test for work, shared that though the test cannot fully describe a person, its real value is it can serve as a jump-off point for self-exploration. The gaps in the test results could be compared with what you know about yourself, allowing you to reflect on what you want to improve, or what you want to be more cognizant of.
In other words, the test is still an effective tool to give you a glimpse of who you are. It harnesses the power of introspection and encourages you to ponder on the insights provided which could fuel more self-motivation. The test results could also inspire you to make changes and focus on areas of personal growth. More importantly, the MBTI personality test is an excellent tool for uncovering layers of your persona that are under the radar and discovering your inner self.
How Can You Get to Know Yourself Even Better?
If you want a more accurate report on aspects of who you are based on scientific findings, know that DNA insights can provide you with a wealth of information about yourself, based on what’s written in your DNA. The CircleDNA Premium at-home DNA test is a fantastic way to get to know yourself better, as it provides you with over 500 reports about yourself, by analyzing your DNA.
In the CircleDNA reports, you’ll find that your DNA can tell you a lot about your strengths and weaknesses, your personality, your behavior, the way you tend to cope with stress, your genetic success traits, possible genetic talents, your intelligence, and more.
This at-home test doesn’t only provide ancestry reports and health risks based on your genetics, but it also gives you unique insights into your personality based on your genetic makeup. Your unique DNA doesn’t just determine your physical characteristics, but it also impacts your mood, behavior, sense of focus, learning aptitude, intelligence, and more.
Your DNA does account for some of your personality and your strengths, even if your environment does as well, your DNA also shapes you. The CircleDNA test analyzes genes related to neurotransmitters that determine your genetic behavioral disposition. The CircleDNA genetic personality trait reports are based on the “The Big Five” personality paradigm powered by your DNA. Hence, it can reveal your strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to use DNA insights to unleash your full potential. You may even uncover hidden personality traits which you can hone to make yourself better.
- What Personality Tests Really Deliver (The New Yorker) https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/09/10/what-personality-tests-really-deliver
- Reinterpreting the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator From the Perspective of the Five-Factor Model of Personality. (Robet McCrae and Paul Costa Jr.) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-6494.1989.tb00759.x
- Psychological Testing Myers-Briggs Indicator (Mental Help) https://www.mentalhelp.net/psychological-testing/myers-briggs-type-indicator/#cite_note-4
- Learning Styles Based on Carl Jung’s Principles of Personality (Very Well Mind) https://www.verywellmind.com/jungs-theory-of-personality-learning-styles-2795160
- The Utility of Myers Briggs Indicator Test (David Pittenger) https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.3102/00346543063004467
- Using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to Study Managers: A Literature Review and Research Agenda (William Gardner and Mark Martinko) https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/014920639602200103
- Here’s why people still take the Myers-Briggs test — even though it might not mean anything (USA Today) https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/05/06/myers-briggs-type-indicator-does-not-matter/3635592002/
- Why the Myers Briggs Test is Meaningless (Joseph Stromber and Estelle Caswell) https://www.vox.com/2014/7/15/5881947/myers-briggs-personality-test-meaningless
- How Accurate is the Myers Briggs Test (Bahar Gholipour) https://www.livescience.com/65513-does-myers-briggs-personality-test-work.html
- Managers are missing out on the most important part of personality tests (QZ) https://qz.com/work/1070866/personality-tests-like-myers-briggs-are-worthwhile-at-work-when-used-correctly/