The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment is a self-report questionnaire designed by Katherine Cook Briggs (1875-1968) and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers (1897-1980). They studied and build on the ideas of Carl Jung (1875-1961) and applied them to understanding people around them.
Jung developed his ideas about personality type in an effort to explain the natural differences between healthy people. After years of research, he concluded that differences in attitudes and behaviours result from the natural tendencies people have to use their minds in different ways. As people act on their natural tendencies, they also develop corresponding pattern of behaviour, one they find satisfying and fulfilling. Jung identified six different patterns and behaviours, which he called types, which are:
Extraversion & Introversion – ways of directing and receiving energy: (1) if you prefer extraversion, you focus on the outside world and get the energy through interacting with other people (2) if you prefer introversion, you focus on your own inner world and get energy through reflecting on information, ideas and concepts.
Sensing & Intuition – ways of taking in information: (1) if you prefer sensing, you notice and trust facts, details and present realities (2) if you prefer intuition, you attend to and trust relationships, theories and future possibilities.
Thinking & Feeling – ways of deciding and coming to conclusions: (1) if you prefer thinking, you make decisions using logical analysis to achieve objectivity (2) if you prefer feeling, you make decisions using person-centered values to achieve harmony.
While all six patterns of mental activity are used by everyone at least some of the time, Jung believed that people are inherently different in which one of the six they prefer over all the rest. This innate preference leads individuals to use their preferred pattern as often as possible. He called this your favourite pattern.
Differences between people in the mental process that is dominant (most preferred, used and developed) lead to fundamental differences between people. The resulting predictable patterns of behaviour form personality types.
Myers and Briggs were able to expand on Jung’s original system by adding the fourth pair of opposites:
Judging & Perceiving – ways of approaching the outside world: (1) if you prefer judging, you tend to be organised and orderly and make decisions quickly (2) if you prefer perceiving, you tend to be flexible and adaptable and to keep your options open as long as possible.
This has led to the identification of the 16 types that are described in the MBTI assessment. They describe a dynamic energy system of interacting personality preferences that are expressed as pairs of opposites. Everyone tends to favour one of the two opposites in each of the four preference pairs over the other, i.e. do you prefer sensing over intuition or thinking over feeling.
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