Hello lovely people,
This is going to be my last "traditional" research round, because in the next few weeks I am going to be conducting surveys. I will keep you all up to date on the data I acquire and I will absolutely continue to post. Anyways, back to the research.
Is it possible to make the MBTI test more reliable? “Personality is qualitative." (1) It doesn’t have exact numbers, but it’s more about qualities, so it is often difficult to find concrete answers to any personality test. Of course, The Myers and Briggs Foundation claims “the MBTI instrument meets and exceeds the standards for psychological instruments in terms of its reliability," (1) and that the “Reliability [of the test] is as good or better than other personality instruments,” which is something we would obviously expect them to do. However, The Myers and Briggs Foundation also firmly believes in "Test-retest reliability," or taking the test multiple times to see if it is reliable.
There is some evidence as to why the test-retest reliability theory could be reliable. “On retests, people come out with three to four type preferences the same 75-90% of the time.” (1) As well, when a pair changes in a retest, “it is usually [only] one of the dichotomous pairs” (ex. They may get I the first time and E the second time.) (1)
The Myers and Briggs Foundation also argues that “if personality [types are] real, then we should be able to use MBTI to understand and predict people’s behaviours to some degree.” (1)
“Reliability is how consistently a test measures.” The goal of test-retest reliability is for the person to come out with the exact same answer both times. (1) But, since often one or more of the dichotomous letter pairings will be different, there is no way to prove that test-retest reliability is plausible.
Is there an alternative personality test that is more valid? Psychologists study personality by looking at traits of an individual and how the traits apply in a certain context. “Reliability does improve if using a numeric score instead of a category. Ex. if you’re 56% extroverted, you’re an extrovert.” (2) Most people don’t extremely identify with one category, they’re usually somewhere in the middle. “The MBTI test can predict how people answer questionnaires, but not how they react in real-life situations.” (2) As well, the MBTI traits “tend to change in different situations.” (2)
Psychologists have developed other ways of determining personality, such as “Asking hundreds of questions and coming up with key, consistent personality traits based on their answers," as well as determining personality based on these five categories: “The Big Five.”
- Openness to new experiences
“Personality tests that measure where you fall on the spectrum with these traits tend to be more reliable then MBTI.” (2) The Big Five focuses on consistent, real-life situations. It won’t assign a personality type, but it's evidence-based and has more scientific research to support it’s credibility. It focuses on individual thoughts, feelings and actions. (2) It compiles every word that could be considered a personality trait, and asks simple, straightforward questions about them. The Big Five mostly shows where you land on a spectrum of personality traits comparison to others who have taken the test.(3) Psychologists support theories like The Big Five that conclude “we all have similar personality traits or characteristics, but the extent to which we possess the trait differs.” (4)
Despite the MBTI theory being challenged, what are some possible uses for it, or ways it has been used?
MBTI has also been used commonly when hiring new employees. (5) (6) Isabel Briggs-Myers was intrigued by how personalities affect the workplace - she called the test an “indicator” because “test” sounded like it was separating good from bad. Briggs-Myers thought personality test would help sort people into jobs they would be suited for. (6) In the past, the test has worked and been successful because it’s simple. Psychologist Dr. Dean Burnett, disagrees with the test’s reliability because there is little scientific foundation/evidence that supports it, and believes that many people only take it because they know or know of people who have taken it.
Human Resources representative Ben Newman believes the test is reliable and builds self-awareness, allowing the individual to understand how they interact with others. Also believes MBTI “[tackles] social stigma” and that “extroversion is one of the biggest misunderstandings in the workplace” and that the MBTI test has helped employees to understand what it truly means - extroverts don’t necessarily have better social skills than introverts. He also supports the test because of its simplicity. Newman also believes that personality does fluctuate, so it is completely likely that a personality may change at different times - however, this supports the theory that the test may not be reliable because it only reflects the person’s personality at one point in time. (7)
MBTI has also been used when “matching” couples for online dating sites. But, the test doesn’t have any scientific evidence to decide whether or not a couple is compatible. (5) (6)
Additionally, Katherine Briggs was interested in the use of the MBTI test as a parenting tool. She was intrigued by how a person can find out which personality type their child is and realize what their strengths and weaknesses are. (6)
“Perhaps the best use for MBTI is for self-reflection.” - Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D (5)
(1) https://www.myersbriggs.org/my...-validity.htm?bhcp=1 (VERY biased.)
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Thanks for reading! Next time, I will be starting to conduct surveys and create questions. In terms of a presentation in the future, I am thinking of creating my own personality test based on the research I've gathered, so if anybody has suggestions for that, please let me know. Comments are always welcome!