Myers-Briggs 2.0

The Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBPTI) was a self-assessment developed by the mother and daughter team of Katherine Cook Myers and Isabel Briggs Myers during World War II. Their effort was rooted in the feministic notion of helping women with their career choices as they replaced their war bound husbands in the industrial workforce.

Their questionnaire is based on the father of analytical psychology, Carl Jung’s psychological functions of extroversion, introversion, thinking, feeling, intuition and sensing. Katherine Cook Myers added another category of judging and perceiving to Jung’s mix.

Isabel Briggs Myers took her mother’s work and developed the tool that we know today as the MBPTI. Her tool resulted in 16 combinations of personality preferences.

In 1988, psychologist, David Kersey took the work of Cook Myers and Briggs Myers and combined it with his observations of delinquent boys to come up with a model that organizes behavior into 4 temperaments. He used the groupings of Rational, Idealist, Guardian and Artisan that serve as guideposts for career development.

Despite the translation of the MBPTI into 20 languages and its usage by educators, counselors, organizational developers, business leaders and executive coachers, some thought leaders say this tool needs reinterpretation.

Hile Rutledge of Otto Kroeger Associates claims the MBPTI is too rigid and does not take into account that people change over time. He also points out the 4 variables of each profile have varying influences on our behavior. As an ISTJ, when I took this questionnaire for the first time in 1988, I was a strong introvert at over 80% and had sensing, thinking and judging tendencies beyond 50%. Last week I took the assessment and I was surprised with how my preferences have changed over the last 28 years. I am now scarcely an introvert at 53% and my sensing, thinking and judging affinities barely register at 19%, 20% and 28%.

Rutledge does not advocate doing away with the MBPTI. He recommends that we test ourselves regularly in order to track the strength of our preferences.

He claims that the evolution of our MBPTI scores shows that all 8 psychological functions affect our actions. Take for example the opposite functions of sensing/intuition and thinking/feeling.

Imagine we are eating a peach. Our sensing capability helps us determine that the peach is tasty. Our feeling experiences tell us this delectable peach gives us a great sensation. Our thinking side causes us to ruminate on the how this peach would taste in a pie. Our intuition motivates us to ponder what kind of ingredients would go into the pie.

Rutledge instructs us to pay attention to all psychological functions regardless of how strong or weak they show up on our MBPTI profiles. For at the end of the day it isn’t about living up to our primary personality and temperament preference, it is about recognizing the power of our opposite personality and temperament tendencies as well.

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