The Myers Briggs Type Indicator, which usually goes by its initials, MBTI, is a career assessment instrument. It is one of the tools career development professionals can use to learn about their clients' personality types and is a component of a complete career self assessment. When used along with tools that assess interests, aptitudes, and work-related values, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator can help clients choose the right career. The MBTI was developed by the mother-daughter team of Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, based on psychiatrist Carl Jung's theory of personality type.
Jung's Personality Types: The Foundation of the MBTI
The premise of Jungian theory is that there are 16 different personality types, each comprised of four preferences for how an individual energizes, perceives information, makes decisions, and lives their life. There are two choices for each preference which can be visualized as a range, with individuals favoring one more than the other.
- Energizes (Extroversion v. Introversion),
- Perceives information (Sensing v. INtuition),
- Makes decisions (Thinking v. Feeling) and
- Lives their life (Judging v. Perceiving).
Jung assigned a code to his personality types. It is composed of the four letters that refer to each preference (note the letters in bold above). It is the interaction between the four preferences that makes each type unique and makes one personality different from all the others.
- ISTJ: ISTJs are independent, responsible, and focused.
- ISFJ: ISFJs' positive qualities are optimism and love of adventure, but they can also be a bit disorganized and impulsive.
- INFJ: Compassion and creativity are hallmarks of the INFJ personality type.
- INTJ: A preference for innovation causes INTJs to continually want to improve themselves and others. They are independent.
- ISTP: ISTPs like sitting back and observing from afar. They tend to be quiet and enjoy taking risks.
- ISFP: Preferring to stay on the sidelines, ISFPs are quiet and easygoing. They like taking life day-by-day.
- INFP: INFPs have easygoing demeanors unless they sense someone is violating one of their core values. They are very private and share their thoughts with few people.
- INTP: INTPs are independent but not self-focused. They strive to understand the world around them.
- ESTP: Energetic and eager to be around others, ESTPs are also full of confidence and can be quite assertive.
- ESFP: ESFPs value their relationships. They are generous and love life.
- ENFP: ENFPs are outgoing and enthusiastic. They sometimes have trouble staying focused.
- ENTP: Innovative and resourceful, ENTPs love solving problems, no matter how challenging they are.
- ESTJ: If you want an opinion on just about anything, ask an ESTJ. They are excellent decision makers who love having responsibilities.
- ESFJ: ESFJs prefer to connect with others. They are rule followers and want everyone to be, as well.
- ENFJ: Their concern for the well-being of others and strong communication skills, make them excellent leaders.
- ENTJ: ENTJs know how to get things done and are great at getting other people to follow along. They are very energetic.
Although different types function better in certain environments, no personality type is superior to any other. Many career planning experts believe that when you know your personality type, as discovered by using the Myers Briggs or another personality inventory, you can make better decisions about your career. For instance, this information can help you choose an occupation or figure out whether a particular work environment will be a good fit for you.
How to Take the MBTI
Because it is a psychological assessment, only a qualified career development professional, psychologist, or other mental health professional can administer the MBTI. Make sure the person you hire to do this is "MBTI Certified." The MBTI is also available online, for a fee, from the Center for Applications of Psychological Type (CAPT), which was co-founded by Isabel Briggs Myers. This mode of administration also includes a one-hour feedback session.
The professional who administers the MBTI and provides your results will give you a report that includes your four-letter code, along with definitions of all 16 codes. If you are using the Myers Briggs to help you with career planning, be aware that while all four letters are important, it's the middle two (indicating how you perceive information and make decisions) that are most significant when it comes to career choice. You may also receive a career report that includes a list of occupations that are most popular for those with your personality type, as well as those that are least favored.
- The Myers-Briggs Foundation Web Site
- Baron, Renee. What Type Am I?. NY: Penguin Books
- Zunker, Vernon G. and Norris, Debra S. Using Assessment Results for Career Development. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company