Scientific Validity of Personality Assessments: Why is it important?

Go online today and look for a personality assessment, and you'll be overwhelmed by the choices you have, both to purchase and free online surveys. It can take a lot of research to find the right tool for yourself. How can you make the search for a quality personality assessment easier? One criterion to apply is the scientific validity of an instrument.

Myers & Briggs Foundation works with several assessments, including the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) instrument, which is scientifically validated for reliability and validity. What does scientific validity mean and why is it important for people who want to work with their personality type for self-growth?

Reliability and Validity

Reliability—the extent to which a measurement produces consistent results—is the first criterion that a psychometric instrument must meet.

If you take any of these assessments and rely on them for self-knowledge, insight, and guidance, it wouldn't be much help if they produced random results through chance. In this case, you could not trust that the instrument is providing reliable information to you.

Validity, in psychometric research, asks the important question: does the instrument measure what it is intended to measure?

Validity differs from reliability in that it is possible to measure something twice and get similar results, an indication of reliability. But if those results measure something other than intended or expected, such as personality type preferences, the assessment will not have much meaning for you.

MBTI Instruments

Applying the standards of reliability to the MBTI personality type instruments, reliability means that the items used to measure the four preferences—Extraversion/Introversion, Sensing/Intuition, Thinking/Feeling, and Judging/Perceiving—have internal consistency; when people take the assessments, they reliably respond similarly to the items that belong to each preference in a way that is not by chance. These assessments also have excellent test-retest reliability, which means when the same person takes the instrument twice, they get the same results.

Validity means the MBTI assessment measures what it says it measures: bounded and defined psychological preferences that show up in behaviors, patterns, attitudes, choices, and descriptions people identify with. These assessments are valid—they are measuring concepts of preferences in personality that are demonstrated, with statistical significance, in several benchmarks in people's lives.

The MBTI assessment has decades of research establishing the reliability and validity of the instruments. You can learn more about this research through the Isabel Briggs Myers Memorial Library or contact our Research Librarian at library@myersbriggs.org.

Entertainment or Serious Self-Growth?

Scientific validation of a self-reported psychological assessment is very important, yet it is uncommon for instruments to be validated outside of academic research centers. What is the value of taking an assessment for insight and guidance if it has not been tested to give you reliable results around the concepts that it claims to measure?

This is an important question to ask yourself, especially considering the number of personality surveys online that are not validated or scientifically tested in any way. Can you trust the information they give you?

Another important question is why pay for an official, validated assessment, such as the MBTI, when there are free (unvalidated) "knockoffs" all over the internet? The answer is: how seriously do you take self-knowledge and your growth?

If you want not only reliable information but to advance steadily in personal growth with personality type, using the official MBTI assessment and working with a certified, expert professional is not only important, it is essential.

Many assessments in the market or online today are for entertainment value or to grab your attention to lead you to related products. Learning about your personality is certainly fun, but the MBTI instruments are more than entertainment. As scientifically validated assessments, they are reliable tools for self-knowledge, self-growth, and fulfillment. Don't compromise your growth!