MBTI: revolution in psychology, or not?

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, abbreviated to the MBTI, is intended for determining how an individual interacts with the world around him. This includes looking at the degree of contact, how the individual gathers information and how he or she makes decisions. Certain companies also use the MBTI to create a better image of their employers. However, not everyone is equally impressed by this method of personality indication. To what extent is the MBTI a stable system? Suppose four people are stranded on a deserted island. In the beginning there is a lot of panic among themselves, but after a period of searching they find sufficient resources to make a potential escape. The problem now, however, is that each person has a different vision for escaping the island. Two people argue harshly with each other about what the best option is. In between the debate, the third person provides criticism and an opportunity to realize the ideas on a technical level. And the fourth person is at a distance from the other three, remains introverted and continues to search for a solution.

This situation describes the different characteristic traits among the persons. For example, one person prefers debating and obtaining feedback from others ; the other is more observant and tries to obtain information in this way. But how can these character traits be described? This was one of the issues that Katharine Cook Briggs wanted to clarify. Since the age of 26, she has been studying personality differences. After her death in 1940, her daughter, Isabel Briggs Meyers, developed the classification concept created by her mother into a contemporary personality typing known as the MBTI.

The MBTI theory: letter codes

Letter codes

The MBTI is based on four personality categories about the individual: interaction with the world around them (Introvert, I vs. Extrovert, E), how and what kind of information is gathered (Intuition, I vs. Sensing, S), how to make decisions are made (Thinking, T vs. Feeling, F) and what attitude is adopted towards the world around (Judging, J vs. Perceiving, P). These personality traits are explained in more detail in the table below.

personality traits

extreme choice 1

extreme choice 2


introvert (I): preference for being introverted

extrovert (E): preference for contact with others

information collection

Sensing (S): realistic, practical/pragmatic, sensory experience

Intuition (N): mainly takes into account connections and impressions, thinking about the future, dealing with and creating abstract theories

making decisions

Thinking (T): decision-making based on facts and rationalism

Feeling (F): decision-making based on the feelings of others and moral aspects

dealing with situations

Judging (J): preference for structure and making strict decisions

Perceiving (P): is above all flexible, open and adaptable to the situation


Formation of personality types

The personality type can thus be formulated from the combination of each dominant personality characteristic from the four personality categories. This is done in the order of I/E, S/N, T/F, J/P. So suppose one has E, S, F and P as dominant personality traits, the personality type becomes ESFP. If the dominant personality traits are I, N, T, J, then the dominant personality type is INTJ. If a personality characteristic is not clear or indeterminate, this is usually indicated with an ‘x’ at that location. So suppose that in a person, I, N and P are dominant, but it is not known whether this person is dominant T or F, the characterization becomes INxP.

Each personality type has a different composition of characteristic traits and thus different characteristics. For example, in general terms, ESTJs are dedicated, quite strong-willed and like good organization, and INFPs are quite passionate and creative.

Accuracy of the obtained MBTI test results


However, the MBTI is partly relative and should therefore be taken with a grain of salt. First of all, one can think of the quantitative scores for personality tests; for example, a score of 95% T over 5% F is significantly greater than 51% T over 49% F. Even in the latter case, this person is still considered to be the dominant T type, even though the difference is much smaller. . Because if one had given slightly more F-answers than T-answers, one would be classified as the F-type (while it is much more difficult in the first case). In addition, each MBTI test can provide a different outcome, because the assessment of personality traits through the questions is carried out in a different way. A result for a personality indication can also change over time, because the MBTI test questions are based on how one reacts and/or interacts with the immediate environment at a given moment. This means that the result is not always consistent. In addition, the characterizations can sometimes have a hasty generalization effect. For example, because the dominant personality type is INTP, it does not mean that one actually has to be interested in mathematics and/or science. The MBTI indicates to what extent people deal with the four given categories, but ultimately everyone knows his/her own personality. For example, two ENTJs may have the same dominant characteristics according to the four categories, but ultimately their interests (as well as their degree) may differ.

The other side of the spectrum

On the other hand, the majority, including on sites such as 16personalities.com, say that the designated personality type according to the MBTI, despite the generalizations, fits relatively well or even better than expected. Any deviation from a personality type over time is also recognised, partly due to factors such as lifestyle changes (such as changes in the environment such as work, where people are expected to adopt a certain attitude or exhibit certain personality traits more). use than others). If one continues to test oneself regularly over time, a better picture can be created of the dominant, more consistent personality type and any deviations between these can be better explained and/or demonstrated. Self-reflection can also provide a better outcome because the person becomes more aware of why the deviations occurred.


Although the determination of the personality type is partly relative and not always watertight, the MBTI can provide a reasonable determination of a personality type to a certain extent. The correctness for this personality type can be made more likely by performing the test repeatedly over time and, if any deviations have arisen, by examining, through self-reflection, the reasons for these deviations.

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