~ 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.
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.
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.