Myths

If You Swear By Your Myers-Briggs Type, We Have Bad News

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You might want to sit down for this one: the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is BS. We know this is controversial, but rest assured that a certain INFJ Curiosity writer shares in your disappointment. Companies have purchased this famed personality test to learn about their employees for decades, but, as it turns out, they've been sadly misguided.

We're Not That Simple

So, where did it all go wrong? First of all, it's not based in psychological science. The MBTI was constructed by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers, two housewives who had no formal education or training in psychology. While Briggs was reading new psychology books making their way from Europe, she came across the work of controversial psychologist Carl Jung. Using Jung's research as their basis, Briggs and Myers worked together to create the MBTI assessment for women entering the workforce. As The Guardian explains, the mother-daughter duo hoped the test would help women "be assigned jobs that would be best suited to their personalities."

Well, in short—it worked! The MBTI remains the most widely used personality assessments on the planet, with roughly 2 million people discovering their four-letter-type and bringing in more than $20 million each year. But, here's the thing: it's seriously flawed. Asking for someone's Myers-Briggs type is basically the same as asking for their zodiac sign. Why? It relies exclusively on binary choices, such as choosing 100 percent introvert or 100 percent extrovert, which gives a limited and simplified view of human personality. It also sticks to mostly positive language—much like horoscopes. A researcher at Indiana University also makes this criticism: "the MBTI does not conform to many of the basic standards expected of psychological tests." We know... stings a bit.

Tell Me What I Want

With all of this evidence against the MBTI, why does it have such a cult following? The Guardian compares this phenomenon to the appeal of fad diets, alternative remedies, and other "quick fixes." Humans are complicated, and if a test claims to make sense of our quirks so that we become "as efficient and productive as possible," who wouldn't want that? Well, at least 89 of the Fortune 100 companies still do.

Watch And Learn: Our Favorite Content About Personalities

Why The Myers-Briggs Test Is Totally Meaningless

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator includes 93 questions with 16 potential "personality" results. 00:24

  2. One study found that as much as 50% of people who took the Myers-Briggs personality test twice received a different result. 01:45

  3. The Forer effect refers to when people label vague statements as accurate even though the statements could apply to a wide range of people. 02:39

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