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Example of how MBTI is seen in academia

Hadoblado

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These ideas around reliability and validity, item-response theory... very well established. That's what we're looking for in a measure. But you'd be surprised by how many organisations use measures that don't have reliability and validity evidence for them. A classic example of this is the Myer-Briggs Typology inventory, which you might have heard of before. You can apparently figure out whether your introverted or extroverted, if you use judgement or intuition... I can't even remember what the other things are. You end up with one of 16 different types I think it is, and that measure of personality has no evidence of reliability or validity. It's one of the worst wastes of time that you can actually use, but people use it within organisational settings all the time. They use it when people are applying for jobs, they use it in terms of career development. It's just awful. So even though we say organisational psychology is said to use the science-practitioner model, there are a lot of measures out there that people are using that have no evidence behind them...
~ My lecturer for organisational psychology

I've heard a few bits and pieces about how MBTI is seen in academic circles, but this is the most direct statement I've found so far (it's consistent with everything else I've heard). The lecturer in question is extremely competent (though I don't like her much, I respect her a lot). I haven't done much research into how reliable/valid MBTI is myself, and so don't have a strong opinion either way other than what I've read/heard from others.

Thoughts?
 

reckful

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~ My lecturer for organisational psychology

I've heard a few bits and pieces about how MBTI is seen in academic circles, but this is the most direct statement I've found so far (it's consistent with everything else I've heard). The lecturer in question is extremely competent (though I don't like her much, I respect her a lot). I haven't done much research into how reliable/valid MBTI is myself, and so don't have a strong opinion either way other than what I've read/heard from others.

Thoughts?
The lecturer is "extremely competent"? Please. On the issue of the MBTI's reliability and validity, the lecturer has utterly failed to do her homework.

You can tell her reckful says that the reliability and validity of the MBTI put it "on a par" with the leading Big Five tests, and you can tell her that she can read more about that — and about several other issues often raised by people claiming to "debunk" the MBTI — in my long Another MBTI "Debunking" post (at PerC).

The "on a par" judgment comes from Robert Harvey, who I think it's fair to say knows a lot more about psychometrics (not to mention the MBTI) than your lecturer. Here's Harvey:

RJ Harvey (Ph.D. Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Ohio State, 1982) has taught at Virginia Tech since 1987. As author of the Common-Metric Questionnaire (CMQ), the preeminent standardized job analysis survey, he has been active in research on job/occupational analysis and assessment topics related to employee selection and competency modeling. In recent years, he has been a vocal critic of the Department of Labor's plans to replace the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) with the O*NET on philosophical, legal-defensibility, and psychometric grounds. His current research programs focus on developing a defensible, job-related occupational analysis system suitable for replacing the failed O*NET, using job-component validation (JCV) to link the domains of job work-dimensions and worker personal-traits, and developing faking-resistant assessments of non-cognitive (personality) traits.​

(source)

In 2003, after a large meta-review of the existing data, supplemented by an additional 11,000-subject study, Harvey and his co-authors summed up the MBTI's relative standing in the personality type field this way:

In addition to research focused on the application of the MBTI to solve applied assessment problems, a number of studies of its psychometric properties have also been performed (e.g., Harvey & Murry, 1994; Harvey, Murry, & Markham, 1994; Harvey, Murry, & Stamoulis, 1995; Johnson & Saunders, 1990; Sipps, Alexander, & Freidt, 1985; Thompson & Borrello, 1986, 1989; Tischler, 1994; Tzeng, Outcalt, Boyer, Ware, & Landis, 1984). Somewhat surprisingly, given the intensity of criticisms offered by its detractors (e.g., Pittenger, 1993), a review and meta-analysis of a large number of reliability and validity studies (Harvey, 1996) concluded that in terms of these traditional psychometric criteria, the MBTI performed quite well, being clearly on a par with results obtained using more well-accepted personality tests.​

...and they went on to describe the results of their own 11,000-subject study, which they specifically noted were inconsistent with the notion that the MBTI was somehow of "lower psychometric quality" than Big Five (aka FFM) tests. They said:

In sum, although the MBTI is very widely used in organizations, with literally millions of administrations being given annually (e.g., Moore, 1987; Suplee, 1991), the criticisms of it that have been offered by its vocal detractors (e.g., Pittenger, 1993) have led some psychologists to view it as being of lower psychometric quality in comparison to more recent tests based on the FFM (e.g., McCrae & Costa, 1987). In contrast, we find the findings reported above — especially when viewed in the context of previous confirmatory factor analytic research on the MBTI, and meta-analytic reviews of MBTI reliability and validity studies (Harvey, 1996) — to provide a very firm empirical foundation that can be used to justify the use of the MBTI as a personality assessment device in applied organizational settings.​

McCrae and Costa are the leading Big Five psychologists, and authors of the NEO-PI-R, and after reviewing the MBTI's history and status (including performing their own psychometric analysis) back in 1990 — using an earlier version of the MBTI (Form G) than the one being used today — they concluded that the MBTI and the Big Five might each have things to teach the other, approvingly pointed to the MBTI's "extensive empirical literature," and suggested that their fellow Big Five typologists could benefit by reviewing MBTI studies for additional insights into the four dimensions of personality that the typologies share, as well as for "valuable replications" of Big Five studies.

That Harvey article I linked to notes that, because the MBTI was developed outside the hallowed halls of academia, there's long been a bias against it among the professoriat, and it sounds like that uninformed lecturer of yours is a shining example.
 

Hadoblado

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I'm not telling her anything, and she's not incompetent just because she disagrees with you.

I do appreciate the expertise and particularly sources though, I'll look them up.
 

reckful

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I'm not telling her anything, and she's not incompetent just because she disagrees with you.
Don't lose sight of the difference between opinions and facts.

She's not incompetent for having a different opinion on matters with respect to which reasonable people can disagree.

But if she's lecturing on a subject and badly misstates the facts, she opens herself up to criticisms in the "competence" department.

I didn't call her "incompetent," tho, Hadoblado. You described her as "extremely competent," and I responded that, "on the issue of the MBTI's reliability and validity," she'd "utterly failed to do her homework."

She said the MBTI "has no evidence of reliability or validity."

No evidence at all. Supporting its "reliability," or its "validity."

That is factually incorrect, and it's factually incorrect by a wide margin.
 

Niclmaki

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It is academically "in style" to hate MBTI. I've also heard it called " 'astrology' for smart people"

I've tried the "Big Five" test, and it only seems to regurgitate exactly what you tell it. It asks how open you are to new things in slightly different words several times, and you answer "I'm not very open". It makes the startling (not) conclusion and says, "you're not really open to new things!"

MBTI dares to make a prediction to describe personality. I've disovered more about myself using function theory than all the other introspection in my life.

A big problem with tests about personality is that many people may not know themselves that well, and that is what the test relies on.
 

Serac

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Well, from an academic point of view, it's hard to see why you would treat MBTI as a valid theory/model.

If you want a theory, you can't have all the unfalsifiable stuff that underlies MBTI. If you want a model, you need some clear measures of fit – which also is hard to come by in MBTI. And in both cases, the utility of it has to come from some new information that it generates. It's not really useful, in the objective sense, if whenever you insert "I don't like to attend parties" into the model you get "you probably don't like to attend parties" back as its only prediction.

I do think you can use it as a tool for personal development though. For example, when I found it during my late teens, I was very confused as to why some things were very hard for me to do (small talk, dinner parties etc), and other things came very naturally (thinking, analyzing etc). By acknowledging such facts, 1) you prevent your own mind from hiding them from you and 2) you learn to accept them, and if you want, try to remedy your weak sides and so on. I can see how this might be useful in a large company/organization.
 

Jennywocky

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... I recently did a three-week training stint for advanced analysts at work and it included quite a number of exercises focused on team building and personal assessment. We didn't look at the MBTI, although there was a different system (Insight Inventory) system we did examine, as well as a general DISC assessment + the Johari window methodology.

One of the most interesting parts to me was how bad at some people were at self-assessment. I mean, not just bad, but rotten. These were people I did not know before the training but had gotten to observe / interact with for a week, and it was amazing which people considered themselves either Dominant or Compliant/Conscientious in the DISC test (for example) when their actual behavior was anything but that. [There were other folks who had no experience with MBTI and similar personality tests would called bullshit on it all as well, in terms of these people's self-assessments.] We had one lady who was the most outspoken person in the room, who had to challenge everything the teacher said and in an unnecessarily aggressive way -- she's the kind of person you just would like to have tape over her mouth -- yet insisting she was "indirect" in the Insight test.

It does make you wonder whether folks understood "how to interpret" the self-assessment tests. Self-assessing as Niclmaki says is one of the "weak" points of popularized test taking. My dad was one of the most extroverted people I've ever met, yet he claimed he was an introvert... just mind-boggling. I don't want to say people are not self-aware, I think part of it is simply that the definitions of the categories and the context of the questions asked might to them be different than what a particular question might have intended. Generating questions that are interpreted and answered "in the same way" by different people can be difficult. This can give an appearance of an inconsistent/unreliable test.
 

EyeSeeCold

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It is academically "in style" to hate MBTI. I've also heard it called " 'astrology' for smart people"
Yes Hado. Wasn't it obvious that research and theory has always been an uphill battle in academia, let alone greater society?

Freud is treated similarly, "oh he's important enough to mention, but so insignificant that we slight his contributions to psychology and spend no more than 5 minutes on his creepy theories". Everyone pretends to be in the Rational and Reasonable Club. Your lecturer can't even remember the foundations of mbti but can remember her own assumptions about it.

I do think she's right that relying on mbti as a reliable personality sorter for everything in life is a problem though.
 

nanook

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shall i provide some examples of how i see academia :mad::p

i still believe you can tell who is Te and who is Ti based on how they relate to this issue

as much as there seem to be individuals who break the expected pattern, i just consider them mistyped, can't help it. will gladly perceive any information that changes my mind. haven't seen any so far.

only alternative i can come up with, is that it's a more general conflict of extro and introversion. meaning not specific to the thinking function, but the dominant one.
 

redbaron

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It's no better or worse than the Big Five.

MBTI's problem is that it takes general observations and tries to apply them to specific outcomes. Which is the problem with the widespread use of almost any personality theory.

Does this lecturer support any other personality theory e.g. Big Five or does she shun most of them?
 

Hadoblado

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@RB
She's a fan of big5/hexaco, I suspect she's done research on it herself since she's always mentioning what the lit says big5 dimensions predict.

@nanook
Doesn't having a strong opinion on 'academia' lack nuance? There's academics on every side of everything.

Are you saying that people who dismiss MBTI are Te users?

@ESC
Freud receives far more than his fair share of reference in my experience. The lecturers complain about having to present so much about him, and the students groan when they have to listen to the same basics again and again. What about his theories do you think is under-represented?

@JennyWocker
Yeah people absolutely suck at understanding themselves, I don't exclude myself from that statement. It still baffles me how poorly my understanding of myself matches reality after having spent so much time studying it.

Most people don't want to be boxed into something unless there is no value in the alternatives. So people are happy to be called smart, but introverted or extroverted is a lot more difficult. By being 'just' an extrovert you imply that you lack depth, and by being 'just' an introvert you imply you lack the skills social and otherwise.

It's the same to some extent with all the dichotomies, except sensing in the popular rhetoric.

@Serac & NiclMaki
Funny how the accusation leveled at big5 is near word4word how Serac describes MBTI. Niclmaki, big5's value is not in telling you about yourself anything you didn't know. It's about making predictions of what you'll be good at. For example, the extroversion dimension predicts leader emergence, but not leader effectiveness.

@Reckful
I'm neck deep in study for exams atm, I'll try to put some effort into looking at your stuff on the holidays (though I've made this sort of promise before and not kept it, so take it for what it's worth).
 

TheManBeyond

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Objects in the mirror might look closer than they
I guess if you combine the results of the test with their cvs they can tell if it makes sense or not so they can have an idea of who's good for the needs of the company

But it also means that all feelers and P people might be discarded for a bunch of Jobs.
I bet companies in the fields of art don't use this tool, just crappy pseudo elite companies in fields related to information, management, economics and such.

I was given a similar to mbti test from a company for which i had to act as an ISTJ (in my view) and i remember they pointed out at some part of the face to face interview a really small contradiction in how I perceived myself. I thought it was awful since it is impossible to be consistent with 150 question test results. You can take the test again and get same results 80 times but to match those 150 test answers through your speech is another thing.

So it's kind of bullshit in the sense that you cannot really see the potential of the person but might be useful to know if the person prefers to act spontaneously or to be more planned, so to see if there is a higher chance that person is going to drop out because of pressure or maybe just because they don't give a shit about the job anymore or whatever reason.

In other words mbti is a detector for SJs impostors.

Also most of the time the quality of your job is not examined by your results but how you proceed. And I would say this is the most important part for most of these shitty enterprises. And that's what they are looking for in these interviews and tests. They want to see some kind of standard / preset zombie hability.

Hell even sometimes I think damn, my music is bad (even if have been thinking for the past 2 months it was amazing) I should quit doing music. Yeah those days come by in the calendar. Or trying to pretend im good with visual stuff, I should also quit that I say to myself. But then some people come to me and say they like it. Then I listen myself while singing and think damn I'm a really bad singer. Which is smth more objective to tell. But then I try to think what would make sense to myself. And I cannot think of someone else singing songs and lyrics I wrote. As much as I cannot think of myself of practicing enough them before recording voice. Because at the end what I want is to express myself.
Imagine me at job. Some complaints about how I did the things I had to do. Or how antisocial I was. Some people only cared for my results and I didn't have problem with them.
Well some will identify and some won't. Same as for music.
Which makes me think that the idea of being delusional is so complicated.
 

nanook

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We must admit that the MBTI Test is every bit as horrible as this teacher says. If you look at it pragmatically, all that matters is that most people will forever be mistyped. But in theory jungs theory is both accurate and helpfull while big five reveales nothing more than what behavior is obvious and repells deeper insight so hard as to be wrong bordelining on evil. As academia in general. Anyhow, typing in mbti is still easyer than typing with this tiny smartphone keyboard.

Sent from my Power_2 using Tapatalk
 

PmjPmj

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I used to defend the MBTI, but these days I think it's every bit as shit as your lecturer says, Habodabbodingaling.
 

redbaron

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Tbh Hado I think she's just the product of broken clock syndrome. Say it convincingly enough and you'll be spectacularly right often enough to impress enough people to become successful.

Her talent is in her conviction and drive, not in her analytical ability. Take the former, discard the latter.
 

Rixus

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I was first taught about this in a training session in work. It wasn't for the purpose of job assessment, but was taught as a tool to be used in customer services. Althoug it has since been criticised by other workers under the grounds that they can't possibly analyse a customer immediately, it was never meant to be used like that (at least not taught to us to be used like that - I have no idea what the creators of this theory had in mind).

The whole point was to understand that different people require a different approach and have different values, regarding different things as important. As an example, he indicated that an introverted thinker like myself would value passing accurate and efficient information above other factors, yet the introverted feelers would value polite, friendly and caring service above other factors. Fascinated by this, I researched it a bit more.

I've found it a very useful tool not just in understanding myself but as a slap dash guide in what approach to use with different people. For example, understanding that a ESXP would regard the decor or choice of music as far more important than I, or to consider that an ISFP is easiest to deal with if you think of their feelings as being the most important thing in the world to them. An ISFJ wanting everything on his desk in the right order, that sort of thing. Most people don't bother to understand why other people are different, but if you do it makes people around you a lot more comfortable. For example, one of my Sales girls. She went from complaining about me last year to saying a legend I am at my job because of a few changes I made when dealing with her since I realised she's EXFJ and dealt with her accordingly. Simply adding the odd friendly comment or smiley face when I reply to an e-mail appears to make her happy for some inexplicable reason. It's strange, but understanding that though such details are irrelevant to me they matter because they are important to her is what matters. That's the power that understand MBTI can give us, that other people are content to not hold.

As well as that, I've become a lot more comfortable with who I am. And don't feel like just a weirdo anymore. I don't care - whether I'm really an INTP or an ENTP or an INTJ, doesn't really matter. I'm happy to say INTP and I'm comfortable with who I am and why I do things. What more purpose does the typology attempt to give us that it does not?
 

EyeSeeCold

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@ESC
Freud receives far more than his fair share of reference in my experience. The lecturers complain about having to present so much about him, and the students groan when they have to listen to the same basics again and again. What about his theories do you think is under-represented?
.
I don't think Freud is underrepresented, displacement may be one of his theories that still lives on. Rather his reputation is used to enforce conformity in the science community.

Anyway Freud wasn't the point, it applies to any burgeoning idea in science.
 

Auburn

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Any knee-jerk rebuke of any topic is a sign of lack of investigation and close-mindedness.
I'm not impressed by someone discarding a concept that they can't even properly recount, or whose premises they can't articulate or delineate.

It doesn't matter if it's the bible, bigfoot, astrology, etc. I've seen so-called intellectuals do this quite often. Unless one's delved deeply into a topic, one can't say how accurate it really is or isn't.

In a similar vein, I've been enlightened to the efficacy of the Big5 after studying its methodology. As well as to the standard MBTI's merits as it relates to it.

It seems so far to me that biological sex, IQ and Big5 traits are probably the most academically robust/established qualities that differentiate people. But learning continues...
 

Artsu Tharaz

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The MBTI test itself is pretty dodgy, but that's because all self-report tests are. The actual idea that our brains work based on 8 cognitive functions, one of which is the dominant etc. is really solid and groundbreaking. It'll get there. Who cares if academia accepts it, academia isn't all that anyway.
 

nanook

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To think of "functions" conflicts with the high detail resolution of how modern neurology tries to understand the brain.

The functions of typology are elusive because they are both higher level abstractions and lower level realities.

As concepts they are high level abstractions, meaning they come about from the interplay of all those more particular neurological functions, in the same way that a soccer move comes about from the abilities of soccer players. You can examine football players by all technical means and will not find a foul anywhere (or whatever other moves may be common, i am entirely ignorant about sport). Yet they foul all day long, if you put them together into action.

The typological functions are lower level realities, because they are not real within the brain, within the soccer players, but real within the situation the brain exists within. Like soccer exists within three dimensions and soccer players are therefore almost doomed to bump into each other, the brain must acknowledge the realities of the universe and life.

The universe and life is in motion, therefore the brain is required to produce an intuition of this motion. Any complex state in the universe, such as a individuals life or any of his activities, is fragile, therefore the brain must produce values (feeling) to maintain our good posture. Any complex state in the universe can morph into multiple other states and our brain is forced to understand and predict these possibilities, therefore the brain is forced to produce thinking. Which is of course working with perception, like all functions are inseparable. And in order to exist at all, any state requires a certain temporal stability, aspects of it must appear static, for a while, hence to perceive the state of the universe, the brain must produce sensation. I recommend you compare this with the quadrants in Ken Wilbers Integral Theory - they are not identical, but quite related.

It is therefore impossible, for the functions to be untrue or unreal. To not acknowledge typology is plain trolling.

However Carl Jung did not even suggest, that all individuals are necessarily pure types for good reason. Certain relationships of functions are necessarily implied by reality, like you can not run and stand still at the exact same time and individuals are obviously creatures of habit, hence some degree of individual attitude must develop, regarding the use of functions in the computation of your life or the style of and position within playing soccer. That is all there is to types.

And of course some trace of those typological functions or moves can be discovered by neurology, but only when we adjust our zoom level until we find the patterns we expect to find. A brain state or activity has many dimensions to it and there is probably nothing in that complexity, that suggests that the zoom level required to see traces of typological patterns shows aspects that are more foundational or significant than all other aspects not seen on this zoom level. Who is to say that a soccer foul going on is more interesting than the aggression of the muscles or the breaking of the bones involved. It's only our typological comprehension that realizes the significance of typological patterns. Anyone who wishes to remain ignorant of them, has plenty of chaos to dwell on forever and consider his quite possibly pointless immersion into this immensity to be proof of his intellectual superiority over us simple minded typology nuts. I am sure he will eventually develop some kind of psychopharmaca that can shut us up for good.
 

Cogitant

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Invading your reality
There is a fair ratio of fiction:fact in MBTI from my observations.
There is a fair ratio of fiction:fact in psychometric testing in general. Equally including 'the big 5' and 'IQ tests'.
Pointless to expound.
However, we are here now on this website, therefore we agree that we share some personality traits in common, and that just about proves that MBTI is a useful guide to roughly divide people into 16 groups, doesn't it?

Great Idea
Personality tests are proven to be valuable as a guide for employers, and are popularly used in conjunction with interviews when assessing a potential employee.
They are (limitedly) useful in any situation where a team is being engineered.

Typing
Not everybody, for a range of reasons fits into a box, or their correct box.
Alas no system is perfect, but fortunately enough of us found a box which fits well enough to validate MBTI testing.
You know yourself whether the description MBTI provides is really, truly you.
In my experience, at least, it appears accurate:

For example, I'm a misanthropic nerd who could potentially rename themself 'Google', and who is so concerned with looking up pointless strings of facts until even 9am the next morning that they didn't get around to doing the housework.
So, I'm an INTP.
None of the other 15 types fit, do they?

Functions
Sticking with my example, in terms of the Jungian functions those 16 types are based on, INTP works something like:

Ti => Hyperactive questioning brain, never switches off.
Ne => You like to connect the dots. Even disparate dots.
Ti/Ne An example of 30 minutes of your life: You looked up Kittens, then the origin of domesticated cats, then about the Fertile Crescent, then ancient Sumerian religion, then the Pleiades cluster, then Canis Majoris, then Information paradox (as per BH), then you noticed the tab left open so went back to kittens again (and all those searches were related)
Si => Things are always reminding you of things and of past situations. Ti/Ne make you look up more factoids regarding those things.
Fe => Something squelchy that comes out annually each Christmas.

Every type has its own set and/or order of functions which is unique to it.
Makes sense, but then again there are those 'shadow functions' which could potentially interfere with typing (and this fact makes the theory of MBTI functions somewhat unstable).

Vs. Academia
As far as 'academia' is concerned, the dismissal of MBTI in favour of their own equally use[full]less tests is incredibly short-sighted, in my opinion. But rejecting a mother-daughter team's work because they weren't notable academics is typical of academic elitism.

MBTI is non-scientific, so they say.
Tell me exactly how and when has any variety of psychometric testing ever been 'scientific?'

-Fan of the 'hard sciences' here.

Typing the famous
In my opinion, MBTI as an internet phenomenon has gone too far; assigning types to the deceased, the fictional and the theoretical. Take Sherlock Holmes for example. He's variably listed as INTJ, ENTP and INTP, and each 'expert' has their functional reasoning for typing him so.
It might be entertaining to speculate, but MBTI is essentially an exercise in differentiation via personal choice.

In Conclusion
The hard fact is, despite how people criticize it, MBTI works.
Whether academics accept it or not, it does its job.
It might not work for everyone, for a variety of reasons, but it works for most. And that's what is important.
 

Hadoblado

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To clarify, she said this about MBTI but only in support for her point about something else. I quoted it not to push an agenda, but to try and add perspective.

The context within which it is described is for its psychometric properties. So, if you think the test is rubbish but you derived something of value from studying the system, you probably don't disagree. If you still don't know what your type is, you probably don't disagree. The standard that the MBTI is held to in this context is:
a) does the test itself give reliable results
b) does it give valid results
c) do these results predict meaningful outcomes such as job fit better than other measures we have - this is an organisational psychology course after all.
 
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