Myers-Briggs Type Indicators

We use Myers-Briggs Type Indicators to compliment and inform much of the work that we do at Richard Joseph & Associates. Below are some frequently asked questions about this instrument.


About psychological types

What is psychological type/personality type?

Psychological type is a concept developed by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung (1875–1961), who described different patterns of normal behavior resulting from people’s inherent tendency to use their minds in different ways. Your psychological type, also called “personality type,” is the pattern of behavior you tend to show. In the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment, your type is indicated by your preferences between Extraversion or Introversion, Sensing or Intuition, Thinking or Feeling, and Judging or Perceiving. Your four preferences combine to form one of 16 distinct personality types, each of which is denoted by a four-letter type code (ENFP, ISTJ, etc.).

Is there a best and worst personality type?

No. As Isabel Briggs Myers wrote in the Introduction to Type® booklet, "There is no right or wrong type, and there are no better or worse combinations of types in work or relationships. Each type and each individual bring special gifts."

Is personality type related to emotional intelligence?

Yes, in a way. Emotional intelligence generally refers to one’s ability to manage impulses, empathize with others, and show resilience in the face of stress or obstacles. It’s often divided into two categories: intrapersonal (your ability to control yourself internally in a positive way) and interpersonal (your skills in getting along with others). Personality type, as identified by the MBTI assessment, is also concerned with internal and external processes, and thus can be a very useful tool for enhancing and developing emotional intelligence.

Does the MBTI assessment stereotype people?

No. The MBTI assessment does not stereotype people. Among the basic principles of the instrument, as stated in the Introduction to Type® booklet written by Isabel Briggs Myers, are the following:

Each type has special gifts.
Each person is unique and expresses type in a unique way.
There is no good or bad type.
You are the final judge of your own psychological type; your MBTI results suggest your type based on your responses, but the individual is the final judge of his or her own type.
Type does not explain everything; humans are complex.
Type may be used to understand and forgive, but never as an excuse.
By becoming aware of your own type biases, you can avoid negative stereotyping.

Some people who use the MBTI assessment may not be aware of their type biases and may stereotype others based on MBTI type. This is not a proper use of psychological type.

Are there really only 16 types of people in the world?

The 16 MBTI types describe how people use their energy internally and externally, but they’re not static, one-size-fits-all categories. Each four-letter type cannot be understood fully by simply adding up the four preferences; a more complete understanding is based on learning about how the preferences interact with one another.

So there’s a great deal of variation among individuals of the same type. You may know other people who are the same four-letter type as you, but you’ll find that they have some characteristics in common with you and also have differences from you. In addition to your four-letter type, the Step II™ form of the MBTI instrument also explores five characteristics underlying each preference, providing a richer understanding of your MBTI type preferences.

Why take the MBTI® assessment

How will knowing my personality type help me?

Knowing your type will help you better understand yourself and your behaviors. It will also help you appreciate others’ styles and thus enable you to deal more constructively with the differences between you and other people. With a greater understanding of your own inherent strengths, you’ll be better able to take advantage of opportunities to use those strengths for more effective functioning in work and life. Many individuals have used their understanding of their MBTI type to help them find a satisfying job, choose an academic major, improve their effectiveness and satisfaction at work, and enhance their interactions and relationships with others.

If I already know my personality type, do I need to take the MBTI assessment?

Not necessarily, but you may want to take the assessment for several reasons.

If you’ve already taken a personality assessment, was it the genuine MBTI instrument? Other type instruments are not as reliable and valid, so your results may not be accurate. If you did not take the genuine assessment, you might want to take it now.

Even if you’ve already taken the MBTI assessment, consider how long ago it was and whether your life circumstances have changed dramatically since then. Generally, because the MBTI assessment measures inherent preferences, there is no need to take it multiple times. However, if your life has changed significantly, you might find it helpful to take it again. In addition, the newer forms of the MBTI assessment are based on the latest research, so if it has been many years since you took the assessment, you might consider retaking it.

If you haven’t already done so, you might also consider contacting a professional who can help you take the MBTI Step II™ instrument. This advanced form of the MBTI assessment provides more depth by looking at different facets of each of your preferences.

Will my type change over time?

No. Because your type is inherent, your basic preferences likely will not change. However, type develops over a person’s lifespan. Jung theorized that people have an innate urge to grow and have everything they need within themselves to become healthy, effective individuals. Psychological type is the compass guiding this growth process.

What it can tell you

What will the MBTI assessment tell me that i don’t already know?

The MBTI assessment is a self-report tool—it gives you answers based on what you report about yourself—so in one sense, it won’t tell you anything you don’t already know. But knowing something and being able to use it effectively in your life are two vastly different things. Most people enjoy taking the MBTI assessment, and when they get their results, they feel affirmed in that they’ve received an accurate description of their personality. Many go on to set new goals and improve their decision making and relationships.

How can knowing my personality type help me get along better with other people?

Myers and Briggs created the MBTI assessment because they wanted to help people understand themselves and others better and appreciate the differences between them. When you take the MBTI assessment and review your results, you learn that there are different ways of interacting with others, taking in information, making decisions, and organizing one’s life. That information can help you better understand your friends, co-workers, and family, and improve your interpersonal interactions.

Will my type tell me what i’m good at doing?

No. The MBTI assessment does not measure competencies in the way a math test can measure your math skills, for example. None of the MBTI questions is designed to determine how good you are at a particular task.

However, a lot of research exists about what careers people of particular personality types tend to enter and what kinds of tasks they tend to enjoy. For example, research has shown that INTPs and INTJs tend to like the theoretical work of science and ESFPs and ESFJs tend to enjoy tasks that involve helping others. So the MBTI assessment may give you insight into what kind of work you enjoy, and people who enjoy their work often do better at it.

Should i choose a career based on my MBTI type?

Not based on your type alone. Career decisions are usually most sound when they take into account a number of factors, including interests, personality, skills, values, lifestyle needs, and others. Knowing your MBTI type can help you in career decision making, but it should not be the only factor you consider.

Research shows that people of each personality type tend to choose particular career fields and are likely to avoid certain other fields. You may want to consult current career books on the subject or work with a career counselor who is certified in use of the MBTI instrument to learn more about type and career choices.

Will identifying my type help me know the kind of person with whom i would be happiest?

No. Relationships are too complex, and what makes people happy is too diverse, for one instrument to capture such information reliably. Successful and happy couples have included people who share the exact same personality type, people whose types are opposite, and people with some preferences in common and others quite distinct.

That being said, the MBTI assessment is often used in couples counseling because it can help uncover normal, healthy differences between partners. A couple that has taken the MBTI assessment and learned to respect and value each other’s style has built at least part of the foundation for a happy relationship.

For more information on the Myers-Briggs type incicator, visit the official website