As you explore concepts of personality type and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) assessment, you may encounter information on the web that criticizes the Indicator and questions its value and efficacy.
Many of these criticisms can be traced back to misunderstandings about the framework of the MBTI assessment, and misconceptions about the characteristics of the instrument and the way it is designed to be used. A few common misconceptions include:
"The MBTI assessment isn't reliable."
Articles that criticize the MBTI assessment often quote a statistic from David Pittenger that claims a 50 percent retest rate over a 5-week retest period. Yet this widely circulated number originates from a 1993 study citing an even older 1979 study based on an outdated form of the MBTI instrument, not the current version. Research in the MBTI® Manual shows that over a 4-week retest period, 65 percent of respondents had all four preferences the same, and 93 percent had three or four the same. The MBTI® Form M Manual Supplement (2009) shows test-retest reliabilities up to four years ranging from .57 to .81 and one-month test-reliabilities of .94 to .97.
"The MBTI assessment isn't predictive."
The MBTI assessment is designed to be descriptive, not predictive. Organizations that wrongly use the MBTI assessment for hiring decisions are confusing preference with skill, and are doing themselves a disservice in their hiring process by screening out potentially qualified applicants. It is unethical, and in many cases illegal, to require job applicants to take the Indicator if the results will be used to screen out applicants.
"Psychologists don't use the MBTI assessment."
Clinical psychology is largely focused on the diagnosis and treatment of psychopathology. The MBTI assessment is designed to be descriptive of the typical characteristics of people with different personality types, not to be diagnostic. Today thousands of psychologists use the MBTI assessment for appropriate non-diagnostic applications.
Here is a list of resources that address these misunderstandings and inaccuracies, and help to set the record straight about the meaning of personality type as measured by the MBTI instrument: