Addressing the inaccuracies in ‘Persona’ about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) assessment
Jamie Viviano, Sr. Manager Global Websites
The topic of personality assessment (especially Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®, or MBTI®, personality types) sparks immense enthusiasm from supporters around the world as well as a fair share of criticism from skeptics.
When we first heard about the Persona program, we were excited to participate and share a thorough analysis of the benefits that the MBTI assessment offers our customers. We’d hoped for a balanced, in-depth review of the personality topic.
The program has been released by HBO Max and it is both sensationalized and very misleading. It confuses the MBTI assessment with recruiting and hiring tools as well as other assessments that are created for selection purposes. These examples are uses for which the MBTI assessment is neither designed nor appropriate. Moreover, the program displays visual images of people using assessments and results that imply they’re utilizing the MBTI assessment. They are not.
In addition, the documentary and some of the recent media coverage surrounding it contain a number of significant inaccuracies. We believe it is necessary to immediately address and correct them.
Selection and hiring
The Myers Briggs Company believes it is unethical and we do not condone the use of the MBTI tool for any sort of hiring or selection. The MBTI was not devised, nor has it been evolved for these purposes.
While knowledge of type theory is often used to help people recognize why they might be happier in one job than another, the MBTI was designed with the assumption that all types are capable of doing all jobs. The MBTI assessment is not a diagnostic tool nor does it code any individual as desirable or undesirable.
One of the reasons why the MBTI assessment should not be used for selection is because the instrument is a comprehensive assessment process, not just a quick quiz or questionnaire. The MBTI should never be used on its own. It should only be used when integrated with interactive feedback through a certified MBTI practitioner, MBTI®Complete, or MBTIonline.com, to help better understand individual personality preferences.
The MBTI is an incredibly powerful method for personal and professional development applications. Other psychological assessments do exist for use in hiring and selection, but the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator was not intended for these purposes nor should it be used this way.
The assertion that the MBTI assessment is integrated with or guided by artificial intelligence is incorrect.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator does not use any artificial intelligence techniques such as facial and voice recognition.
“Persona” suggests the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment contains certain baked-in bias. Modern assessment development involves evaluating items for differential responding. Such elements can be identified and either adjusted or eliminated. To learn more about how The Myers Briggs Company prevents bias in our assessments, take a look at the video here:
Persona also claims the assessment is based on “norms from white, college-educated straight males”.
This is simply wrong.
In the latest version of the Global MBTI assessment, the representative sample has over 16,000 people from across the globe including adult populations in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia, along with a large number of representative samples from a host of other countries and regions.
We provide these details in the technical briefs as well as the MBTI manual. You can find the technical briefs here: http://bit.ly/MBTImanual.
In earlier versions of the MBTI assessment, there was differential scoring for males and females on the Thinking-Feeling preference. This was used to reduce cultural biases against females. Current versions of the MBTI assessments do not have different questions for different genders.
We are diligent in our maintenance and ongoing development of the MBTI assessment to ensure that it is as neutral and bias-free as possible.
Furthermore, we don’t condone the use of the MBTI assessment to limit a person in any way. It was constructed and should be used as a development tool to promote self-awareness, personal/professional development, and the appreciation of differences.
Frameworks and assessments
We all have ideas and theories about how the world works. A psychological theory is a carefully worked through explanation of how we think and behave. Most psychological theories create a model or framework that can be used as the basis for developing tools or assessments.
A psychological assessment gathers data, often people's answers to questions, and then relates this back to the model in a way that provides new insights about the individual. How does the MBTI fit into this picture?
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a validated psychological assessment based on psychological type theory. It’s used to help people better understand themselves and understand similarities and differences between themselves and others.
The MBTI assessment was created out of Katharine & Isabel’s theory, which is derived from their interpretation of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types.
Others have created their own questionnaires that yield a personality type comprised of 4 letters, but this doesn’t mean they are the official MBTI assessment.
The Big 5 is also a psychological theory/framework, known as the Five Factor Model. And many different psychological assessments have also been built off of that. However, unlike the MBTI theory and MBTI assessment, there is no singular Five Factor Model assessment. This theory and assessments based on it are different in construction, and application, from the MBTI assessment. Like a hammer and a screwdriver, they are both tools, but they were built differently for distinctly different purposes.
MBTI assessment and career fit
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator can help support personal well-being and professional goals by providing individuals with a deeper understanding of themselves. And while it can’t say which job a person will perform best in, the MBTI can help people understand what roles they might be more drawn to.
Our research has found that all MBTI types show up in all types of jobs. It’s also found that sometimes there are people with certain personality types who are drawn to and self-select into particular roles. This doesn’t mean if they don’t have those preferences, they can’t succeed in that role.
We encourage you to explore our many resources and research that demonstrate the benefits of the MBTI assessment and welcome your feedback. For more information, please visit themyersbriggs.com/MBTIinfo