There are many influences that shape the human personality. Some of these include genetics, parental influence, birth order, friends, culture, education and training opportunities and major life experiences. Psychological type or brain type is another influence and it can be reliably described using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MTBI), an inventory of psychological preferences. The MBTI is based on the theories of Carl Jung who asserted that much like our preference for left or right handedness, individuals have preferences for extraversion vs. introversion, sensing vs. intuition, and thinking vs. feeling. Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers designed the the MBTI in the early 1940’s adding an additional pair of psychological constructs, judging versus perceiving. This instrument, extensively researched, validated and revised has been used by millions of people worldwide for personal and professional development.
How is the MBTI administererd?
The MTBI is a forced choice questionnaire (Choose A or B) that asks individuals to state a preference in a variety of situations and in word pairs. There are no right or wrong answers. The purpose of the questions is to identify a typical or natural pattern of thought. This can either be done on-line or in written form. In either case, administration and interpretation by a certified practitioner is recommended.
Why is it important to consult a certified MBTI practitioner versus using a free on-line service?
Consulting a certified practitioner ensures that a critical step, verifiying type, is taken. Often individuals will receive a letter code that is not accurate. This can happen for a number of reasons including job expectations (e.g.; Someone may prefer a flexible schedule but a current job requires tight scheduling ); family influences ( e.g.; An individual may have extraverted parents that results in suppressing a true preference for introversion),or an individual may be working on developing non-preferred skills at that time which can result in lack of clarity for a natural preference. A certified practioner can use a number of exercises and scenarios to help clarify preferences.
In addition, determining psychological type through the MBTI is only the beginning. An important next step is learning how to use the strengths of a given type and to be aware of the corresponding blind spots of that type. Through this self-awareness, an individual can maximize school/work performance, improve communication and relationships, and clarify goals/life purpose. A certified practitioner can assist in this process.
What will the MBTI show?
Upon completing the inventory, one of sixteen 4-letter codes will be given, for example ENTP or INFJ. This code is a short-hand way to list the 4 preferences. These 4 preferences, in the aggregate, describe a distinct personality or psychological type. One of the most useful aspects of the MTBI profile is the identification of the dominant brain process or the area of greatest cognitive strength. This may be iNtuition (the ability to see patterns and generate possibilities); Sensing (the ability to see details through the 5 senses); Thinking (the ability to reason and deduce) or Feeling (the ability to connect with people and personal values. Everyone uses all of these processes but in a different order and at different levels of competence. The 4-letter code will reveal this dominant process. For example, in the case of an ENTP, the dominant function is intuition.
Additional Key Points;
The MTBI is:
- An affirming way to understand self and others
- A way to identify natural cognitive strengths
- A way to value the constructive use of differences among people
- A way to strengthen relationships and improve communication
- A dynamic not a static description for patters of interaction, growth and maturity
The MTBI is not:
- A test
- A way to pigeonhole, prescribe or excuse behavior
- A complete description about human behavior. Recall that there are many factors that influence the human personality/behavior
- A method to determine skill level, maturity or competencies as compared to others
Ann C. Holm is a certified practitioner of the MBTI Levels I and II and as of October 2009, she will be certified as a Level III practitioner, one of the first to provide this level of service in the United States.
For Evaluation or Coaching Services:
Uncover Your Potential
Ann C. Holm, M.S., C.C.C.
Speech Pathologist/Life Coach/MTBI Practitioner
St. Paul, Minnesota