March 9, 2018
The man who was instrumental in turning the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment into the worldwide success that it is today, died peacefully on February 17, 2018. He was 91.
Peter was born on April 24, 1926, the son of Clarence Gates Myers and Isabel Briggs Myers. Isabel and her mother, Katharine Cook Briggs, created the MBTI instrument as a practical application of the personality type theory of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, beginning their work in the 1940s.
In his early years, he attended George Washington University before enrolling in a Navy program for engineers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He spent seven months on a Navy submarine, the USS Sanborn, and later entered Lincoln College, Oxford as a Rhodes scholar in September 1947, earning his doctorate in Nuclear Physics from Oxford in 1950.
When Isabel Myers died in 1980, she left the copyright to the MBTI to Peter and his then-wife Katharine Downing Myers. At that time the instrument was not yet widely known, although she had worked on its development for more than forty years with support from the Educational Testing Service.
Peter and Katharine spent the next several decades ensuring the scientific rigor and overseeing the continued development of the assessment, along with the publisher CPP, Inc.
Peter and Katharine helped to fund the Center for Applications of Psychological Type (CAPT), in Gainesville, Florida, a non-profit started by Isabel Myers and Mary McCaulley, and it continues to provide research and training in the use of the MBTI. They also established a non-profit organisation, the Myers & Briggs Foundation, that funds research on Myers-Briggs type and its applications.
Peter helped his mother with her main book, ‘Gifts Differing’, when she developed cancer, and became a Murray Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford in the late 1990s.
Imposing, at 6’4” tall with a soft, measured voice and a slow speaking delivery, Peter often gave speeches on MBTI type at conferences and worked closely with CPP well into his eighties.
An avid sailor, Peter grew up sailing on Lake George in upstate New York, and in recent years sailed the Chesapeake on his beloved wooden ketch, “Sea Cloud.” He loved the wilderness: He was an Eagle Scout as a youth and for many years was a Sierra Club leader, leading many river trips down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, and contributed generously to multiple charities throughout his life.
He once rescued Albert Einstein on Saranac Lake in Massachusetts, as described in Katharine and Isabel, Mother’s Light, Daughter’s Journey, The Story of the Making of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator by Frances Wright Saunders.
Peter had taken a canoe out on the lake when the water became choppy and he noticed a small sailboat with a single sailor who was desperately trying to lower the sail. Peter paddled up next to the man and held the tiller, allowing the man to lower the sail. When the man turned around, he realized to his delight it was his hero Albert Einstein. Peter paddled both of them to shore with Einstein holding the bow of the canoe after which Einstein invited him back to their cottage to dry out and have a cup of tea. Einstein turned out to know Peter’s grandfather, the physicist Lyman J. Briggs.
Peter leaves behind a son and two daughters, three stepchildren, five grandchildren and one great grandchild. He is survived by his partner, Jane “Emma” Mannes.
This is an edited extract from the obituary written by the family of Peter Briggs Myers.