The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) – is a personality inventory developed by Isabel Briggs Meyers and Katharine Briggs. Based on Carl G Jung’s theory of psychological type – their desire was to provide a framework that allows people to easily understand and apply Jung’s insights.
Appreciating and understanding differences
The Briggs team, keen disciplined observers of personality differences, constructed the MBTI inventory to provide people feedback about their unique gifts. Emphasizing the value of naturally occurring differences, the MBTI focuses on the differences in normal ‘mentally healthy’ populations. In addition to helping people better appreciating others who behave differently, the creators wanted to offer people information about their motivations, natural strengths and potential areas for development.
We mentally process the world differently
The MBTI is a psychometric questionnaire designed to measure preferences and understand the differences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. Jung theorised that there are 4 key functions by which we mentally process or experience the world: sensation, intuition, feeling and thinking. Whilst one of these four functions is dominant most of the time – all 4 functions shape our behaviours.
Jung suggested that what is often perceived as random variation in people’s behaviour, if viewed through these 4 mental processes, can instead be seen as quite orderly and consistent.
The inventory identifies preferences which underlie our interests, needs, values and motivation highlighting:
- FOCUS: Where we prefer to focus our attention and energy • DECISIONS: The way we prefer to make decisions
- INFORMATION: How we prefer to take in information • STRUCTURE: How we orient ourselves to the external world
With no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ preferences, the value of the MBTI is in being able to understand our preferences. We will generally feel most energised, natural and competent when we can work to our preferences. Of course, there are times when being able to work outside our preference can be advantageous to achieving particular outcomes.
The MBTI can be used with individuals, teams and leaders in a variety of coaching, facilitating and training contexts including: