Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

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Myers-Briggs Type Indicator



The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a widely-used personality inventory, or test, employed in vocational, educational, and psychotherapy settings to evaluate personality type in adolescents and adults age 14 and older.


In an educational setting, the MBTI may be performed to assess student learning style. Career counselors use the test to help others determine what occupational field they might be best suited for, and it is also used in organizational settings to assess management skills and facilitate teamwork and problem-solving, including communication difficulties. Because the MBTI is also a tool for self-discovery, mental health professionals may administer the test in counseling sessions to provide their patients with insight into their behavior.
As of the early 2000s, the MBTI is also being used in the mental health field to assess vulnerability to anxiety disorders and depression. Preliminary results indicate that some of the 16 types are more susceptible to mood disorders than others. ISFPs, for example, are overrepresented among patients in treatment for unipolar depression, while the four ST types appear to be more vulnerable to anxiety states.


The MBTI should be administered, scored, and interpreted only by a professional trained in its use. Cultural and language differences in the test subject may affect performance and may result in inaccurate test results. The test administrator should be informed before testing begins if the test taker is not fluent in English and/or he has a unique cultural background.


In 2000, an estimated two million people took the MBTI, making it the most frequently used personality inventory available. The test was first introduced in 1942, the work of a mother and daughter, Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers. There are now several different versions of the test available. Form M, which contains 93 items, is the most commonly used.
The Myers-Briggs inventory is based on Carl Jung's theory of types, outlined in his 1921 work Psychological Types. Jung's theory holds that human beings are either introverts or extraverts, and their behavior follows from these inborn psychological types. He also believed that people take in and process information different ways, based on their personality traits.
The Myers-Briggs evaluates personality type and preference based on the four Jungian psychological types:
  • extraversion (E) or introversion (I)
  • sensing (S) or intuition (N)
  • thinking (T) or feeling (F)
  • judging (J) or perceiving (P)


Prior to the administration of the MBTI, the test subject should be fully informed about the nature of the test and its intended use. He or she should also receive standardized instructions for taking the test and any information on the confidentiality of the results.

Normal results

Myers-Briggs results are reported as a four-letter personality type (e.g., ESTP, ISFJ). Each letter corresponds to an individual's preference in each of the four pairs of personality indicators (i.e., E or I, S or N, T or F, and J or P). There are a total of sixteen possible combinations of personality types on the MBTI.

Letter one: e or i

Extraverts focus more on people and things in the outside world, introverts on internal thoughts and ideas.

Letter two: s or n

Sensing dominant personalities prefer to perceive things through sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell, while intuition dominant types look to past experience and are more abstract in their thinking.

Letter three: t or f

The third subtype is a measure of how people use judgment. Thinking types use logic to judge the world, while feeling types tend to view things on the basis of what emotions they elicit.

Letter four: j or p

Everyone judges and perceives, but those who are judging dominant are said to be more methodical and results-oriented, while perceiving dominant personalities are good at multitasking and are flexible.



Quenck, Naomi. Essentials of Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Assessment. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1999.


Clack, G. B., J. Allen, D. Cooper, and J. O. Head. "Personality Differences between Doctors and Their Patients: Implications for the Teaching of Communication Skills." Medical Education 38 (February 2004): 177-186.
Janowsky, D. S., E. Hong, S. Morter, and L. Howe. "Myers Briggs Type Indicator Personality Profiles in Unipolar Depressed Patients." World Journal of Biological Psychiatry 3 (October 2002): 207-215.
Kameda, D. M., and J. L. Nyland. "Relationship between Psychological Type and Sensitivity to Anxiety." Perceptual and Motor Skills 97 (December 2003): 789-793.

Key terms

Multitasking — Performing multiple duties or taking on multiple responsibilities and roles simultaneously.
Vocational — Relating to an occupation, career, or job.
Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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