The Myers-Briggs personality test is incredibly popular. Around 50 million people have taken it, making it the most famous personality test in existence. Many companies have made it a requirement to help identify their strengths and weaknesses. According to the official Myers-Briggs website, 88% of Fortune 500 companies use it. But does the Myers-Briggs test provide actual insight to who we are?
To answer this question, we must first look at how it works. While the name of the test might sound unfamiliar, you’ve most likely heard of its method. The Myers-Briggs Personality Test sorts the population into sixteen personality types. These types are separated by four factors, each with a letter. For example, a person might have an INTJ personality type. The first letter determines whether the test taker is introverted or extraverted, or whether the person prefers to spend time by themselves or with others. An introverted person has the I personality type, whereas an extraverted person has an E. The second letter is a bit more complex. It identifies how one takes in information in the world. A sensing person relies on their five senses (touch, sight, smell, hearing, and taste) to interpret the world around them. They are more focused on the physical world. An intuitive person uses pattern recognition and symbols to see a more abstract version. They would have an S as their second letter, and their intuitive counterpart an N. The third letter focuses on decision making. “Thinking” people depend on rationality and logical thinking to make decisions, whereas “feeling” people tend to lean more on the emotions of themselves and those around them. They are assigned a T and an F, respectively. The last letter depends on how a person perceives the world. If they have a judging (J) personality, they prefer order and structure. If they have a perceiving (P) personality, they prefer spontaneity and flexibility. The sixteen personality types are said to each have unique personalities and roles in society. For example, a person with the INFP personality type has the “mediator” role. The Meyers-Briggs website even claims that one’s personality type can even determine their love life, future careers, and overall happiness.
The Myers-Briggs test was designed by Catherine Cooks Briggs and her daughter, Isabelle Myers Briggs, in the 1900s. However, it was originally conceived back in 1919. According to the website, “[Catherine] Briggs was inspired to research personality type theory when she met Isabel’s future husband, Clarence Myers. She noticed he had a different way of seeing the world. This intrigued her enough to start a literature review to understand different temperaments.”
But does your Meyers-Briggs type mean anything? Many experts say it doesn’t. According to Vox, Catherine Briggs and Isabelle Meyers did not have any training in the psychology field. In addition, Vox writes that “there aren’t really pure extroverts and introverts, but mostly people who fall somewhere in between.” Forcing people into any categories (not just Myers-Briggs types), in short, is inaccurate and unhelpful. People are always liable to change, and these personality types don’t reflect that. The Myers-Briggs test might be fun to take, but it’s important to remember that its results don’t have to mean anything.