In my last post, I explained – and enthused – about how I had undertaken my Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI©) Step I and II Practitioner training in Florida.
As I concluded the post, I realised that the it would make sense to readers who knew a little about MBTI, but not a lot of sense to others. So I said I would elaborate.
People’s behaviour and actions may often seem random or varied to us as observers, but according to Carl Jung (1875-1961), the Swiss psychiatrist, people follow patterns. Jung (see photo) labelled these patterns as ‘psychological types’. Katherine Briggs found Jung’s work whilst she was also grappling with similar thoughts – and then she and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers, brought the theory into the mainstream by creating the MBTI instrument. This tool helps a person work out and understand their psychological type. The first MBTI instrument was published in 1962. It is currently the world’s widest used personality assessment.
Jung’s, Briggs’ and Myers’ typological model views psychological type as being similar to writing with our left or right hand – we are either born with, or develop, certain preferred ways of thinking and acting. The MBTI sorts these psychological (and naturally occurring) differences into four dichotomies – opposite pairs – which results in 16 possible psychological types. None of the types are better or worse, however, the theory suggests that individuals naturally prefer one overall combination of type differences. The dichotomies are:
- Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I)
- Sensing (S) or Intuition (N)
- Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)
- Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)
A person’s ‘type’ is summarised by four letters – so a person preferring Introversion, Sensing, Thinking and Judging would have an ISTJ type.
The Step I questionnaire comprises 93 questions, the answers to which help enable a person identify the above type. I say ‘help’ because whilst the MBTI has been shown to be very reliable, it is accepted that it will not be correct every time. Consequently, a person having their results interpreted should be taken through a process which enables them to self-assess their type prior to receiving their full report. If there are any differences these can be discussed and the MBTI Practitioner will give the person further coaching to assist them to decide on their type.
The Step II questionnaire comprises 144 questions – the 93 from the Step I together with an additional 51 questions. The Step II recognises that it is not possible to ‘box’ every person in the world into 16 types – one ISTJ may well be different in type to another ISTJ.
Within the Step II each of the dichotomies is broken down into 5 ‘facets’. You could also call these ‘sub dichotomies’ . As an example, The Extraversion and Introversion dichotomy has the following facets:
- Initiating or Receiving
- Expressive or Contained
- Gregarious or Intimate
- Active or Reflective
- Enthusiastic or Quiet
The left hand end of the above facets are generally where people with an Extraverted preference will find themselves, whilst the right hand words are associated with Introversion. Having said that, a person with an Introverted preference may find themselves as having a facet preference for ‘Initiating’ which can then help the individual understand why they may not concur ompletely with their four letter type.
Undertaking the MBTI should always be voluntary, and it should never be used as a recruitment tool. Furthermore, it does not measure intelligence or competence.
It does, however, allow a person to understand themselves more clearly, and then look at how to develop the less preferred aspects of their type. Once a person understands their type, they can then move on to how their type potentially impacts on how they manage conflict, make decisions or work within a team.
It can also be used with teams to help them understand each other and work more effectively together. The Step II is particularly useful when working with a person in a one to one coaching relationship. It is a powerful tool.
If you have any other specific questions about it I am, of course, happy to answer them.