Frequently Asked Questions about Myers Briggs Testing

There is a true type in each of us. Differences in personality type seem to be noticeable early in our lives. These differences tend to stay with us over time; for example, one child will be outgoing and open to new experiences, whereas another child in the same family may be reserved and resistant to change.

We tend not to change our type, however, our personality type can be developed. This means that we can recognize our preferences and work with our gifts. It also means that we can begin to understand those parts of our personality which are less accessible to us. People with good type development accept who they are and maximize the potential that exists for their type and its preferences.

There are several reasons why MBTI Instrument results may differ:

People may think their job expects certain behavior. A supervisor or a trainer can give an impression that there is a preferred way to be for that organization before the person takes the Myers Briggs Instrument. This can adversely effect the outcome for the individual.
An individual is looking for a particular kind of a job and answers the MBTI Instrument by choosing preferences that may match the desired job instead of answering in a way that reflects his or her true preferences.

According to American culture standards, men are “supposed” to be impersonal and logical while women are “supposed” to be warm and nurturing. Men and women who, by nature, do not fit the stereotypes may nevertheless answer the MBTI Instrument in a way that is reflective of these stereotypes.

Some people may grow up in family settings where the kind of person they were by nature was not acceptable. For example, children with a true preference for Introversion in a family where Extroversion is more common may find that their natural preference was not nurtured. Early admonishments to be more active and to socialize more may lead these individuals, as adults, to answer the MBTI Instrument as they think they should as Extroverts.

People may be working on their own type development and may select items that reflect the direction of their new development.

People may be experiencing a severe life crisis and may therefore feel confused and disoriented.

People scored the same on a subsequent administration of the MBTI Instrument about 75 percent of the time. Only about 1 in 1,000 persons will change on all four scales. When change does occur, it is more likely on those scales where the original preferences score was slight. Additional factors affecting test-retest reliability relate to participants’ age, reading level, and achievement as measured on intelligence tests. Older persons, those with higher reading levels and those with higher IQs, tend to be more consistent from one MBTI Instrument administration to another.

We generally do not encourage people to retake the MBTI Instrument but rather work with the concepts to determine what is most accurate for them.

Because the MBTI Instrument is designed to sort, not to measure, this is an inaccurate interpretation. Scores indicate clarity of selection. This is not a test with right or wrong answers!

Myers tried to find items that seemed to reflect how people exhibit their preferences in everyday matters. She realized that people will select preferences based on what they think they need to do rather than on what they prefer to do if the issue or matter is of particular importance to them. Therefore, she chose fairly “superficial” behaviors in order to gather information about the underlying patterns.

Myers was concerned about labeling people and giving the impression that people of one type were all alike. The MBTI Instrument gives people a framework to understand human behavior, but types are not carbon copies of each other. There is a great deal of variation within each type. The MBTI Instrument and Jungian theory do not account for all the differences in human behavior?

In some situations, certain preferences may be valued more than others, however, there are no best types. We all have different gifts, therefore, the best type to be is the one you are!

All different types can and do enter into relationships with other types. Very different types, however, may have to work more to bridge their differences. Isabel Myers studied 375 couples who were not in counseling and found that the most frequent situation was for the couple to be alike on three of their four preferences, rather than on only two, as would be expected by chance. She further found that having two or three preferences in common contributes to the success of a relationship and lessens the need for counseling.

The MBTI Instrument is most appropriate for adults and students ages 14 and over. We can be reasonably confident of the reported type when using the Indicator with highs school students and adults who can read at least at the eighth-grade level. Exercise caution with 12- and 13-year-old students; according to theory, type is less developed in young people than in mature individuals.

We offer the MBTI in many different languages including Spanish and Dutch.  Contact us for a complete list.