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Unboxing Human Personality: The Limits and Uses of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

I have taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator a couple of times before. When I first learned about it, I was fascinated because I never knew how to define my personality. I knew I was an introvert but that was about it. Human personality however is more complex than a single trait.

Psychologists and researchers have been criticizing and debunking the MBTI ad nauseam mostly because it doesn't have any scientific evidence to back up the results. Moreover, many test takers have observed that their outcomes change over time, meaning the MBTI doesn't perfectly capture human personality based on its four categories.

Some research suggests the MBTI is unreliable because the same person can get different results when retaking the test. Other studies have questioned the validity of the MBTI, which is the ability of the test to accurately link the "types" to outcomes in the real world — for example, how well people classified as a certain type will perform in a given job.
One limitation is the MBTI's black-and-white categories: You are either an extrovert or introvert, a judger or a feeler. The MBTI may be missing even more nuances by assessing only four aspects of personality differences.

I have also come to see the flaws in the MBTI's design but it doesn't mean that the results taken from the test are completely useless. Rather, one can compare and gauge their assessment of themselves to what the test indicates.

In this sense, the MBTI can serve as a starting point for self-exploration by giving people a tool and a language to reflect on themselves and others. The test is "a portal to an elaborate practice of talking and thinking about who you are."

You can use the MBTI in whatever way you wish. It could give you a starting point for self-introspection, where you would probably get a good idea of your tendencies.

But remember that your personality does not have the limitations that the MBTI sets. It has more facets and dimensions. It is a lot messier. Sometimes it can be confusing. The thing we need to do is to embrace every part of our personality instead of trying to box ourselves in one category or another.

(Image credit: Greyerbaby/Pixabay)


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The MBTI has been compared with astrology, which is grossly unfair.
It is an imprecise instrument. There are certainly better ones. But, in the past, I found it helpful with college students as a means of starting an exploration of their own personalities.
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