Friday 26 January 2007

Theories & Models - Myers Briggs Personality Types

Psychological type is a theory of personality developed by Swiss psychiatrist Dr. Carl G. Jung to explain the normal differences between healthy people. Jung concluded that differences in behavior result from people’s inborn tendencies to use their minds in different ways. Jung’s type theory defines patterns of normal behaviour, or types, and gives an explanation of how types develop. The mother and daughter team of Myers & Briggs further developed Jung’s theory creating the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a self-report questionnaire designed to make Jung’s theory of psychological types understandable and useful in everyday life. After more than 50 years of research and development, the MBTI is the most widely used & accepted instrument available.

Personality type training is used by organizations around the globe and has become an essential tool for assessing personality differences and using those differences to improve individual and team performance. It can also be used in personal relationships.

In short, the theory has four behavioural dimensions of how Energy is focused, how Information is gathered, how Decisions are made and how Action is taken. Within each behavioural dimension, are two opposite poles – preferences – for which everyone has a natural preference (inborn strength) for one of the two opposites in each of the four behavioural dimensions. These are ascribed a letter, as follows:-

Energy -- I for Introversion or E for Extroversion
Information -- S for Sensing, or N for iNtuition
Decisions -- T for Thinking or F for Feeling
Action -- J for Judging or P for Perceiving

Our psychological type is thus described by the combination of the above four choices e.g. ISFJ, ENTP etc. There are a total of 16 possible combinations, each which have discrete and definable characteristics, specific to that type. These can be further extrapolated into personal and professional characteristics, leadership styles, preferences for career type, communication styles etc. As we use our preferences, we develop what the research defines as our psychological type: an underlying personality pattern resulting from the dynamic interaction of our four preferences, environmental influences and our own choices. People tend to develop behaviours, skills, and attitudes associated with their type, and those with types that differ from yours, will likely be opposite you in many ways. Each type represents a valuable and reasonable way to be. Each type has its own potential strengths, as well as its likely blind spots.

This is a widely used, and well tested approach, which appears to have a high degree of validity and acceptance. Most people who undergo ‘testing’ generally agree with their identified type, and its predominant characteristics.

If you wish to undertake a basic assessment of your personality type, and see related information go to Articles on the application of the MBTI can be viewed at

1 comment:

Maleah said...

Well written article.