Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Do the Myers-Briggs, get happy

I’ve commented previously on the discredited Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality test.

In plain terms, the mechanics of the test are simplistic and the conceptual basis for it is the musings of Carl Jung which have never been validated. Also, roughly half of the people who take the test get a distinctly different result when they take it a second time.

Why is it the most popular personality test in the world for corporations and organizations?

Well, good marketing is part of the answer. The company that owns Myers-Briggs, CPP Inc., makes about $20 million a year from test takers and the folks who administer it.

CPP takes pains on its website to say that Myers-Briggs is not a personality test. Users think otherwise. The Wikipedia page for “Myers-Briggs Type Indicator” uses the word “personality” 62 times.

It costs $15-$40 per person to do the Myers-Briggs assessment, and administrators pay $1,700 to be certified. You can imagine that the certified administrators aren’t badmouthing Myers-Briggs.

The 16 mutually exclusive Myers-Briggs types—like INTP, Introverted Thinking With Intuition—are constructed from verifiably flawed binary classifications based on 93 statements like “You tend to sympathize with other people” that require “Yes” or “No” responses. Sorry, my response to that statement is “Yes, most of the time, with some people, with others, not so much.”

Here’s a kicker: the Myers-Briggs types are described with classifiers like “thinker” and “nurturer” and “likes to think things through.” Are you getting the picture? The descriptors are phrased in positive language, there aren’t any Myers-Briggs types who lie, cheat, steal, loaf, crack gum, drink, get high, whine, annoy, abuse, threaten….in other words, Myers-Briggs doesn’t describe a lot of the people I encountered in my career.

One critic put it this way: “This isn't a test designed to accurately categorize people, but a test designed to make them feel happy after taking it.

Here’s a tip: don’t mention the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator on your resume.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2015 All rights reserved.


  1. It seems it's a type of astrology/horoscope thing that has a corporate wrapper, because we all like to hear what we're really like from someone wearing a robe or a magic 8 ball. The answer is out there, somewhere.

    1. I did the Myers-Briggs test three times during my corporate career. It seems that executives have a lot of fun administering the thing, but they don't waste a lot of time on follow-up. After my second M-B go-round, I waited a month and asked my peers and some managers to describe their "Type"....UMMM was the best most of them could offer.