Katharine Briggs and Isabel Meyers developed the Meyers-Briggs type indicator (MBTI). They based the indicator on the work of Jung who studied behaviors for many years (Hirsh & Kummerow, 1995). Other MBTI instruments have been developed, including the Kersey sorter, and the Jung typology test (ITT), which have been designed to determine an individual’s personality type, as defined by the work of Meyers and Briggs. The MBTI is commonly used in organizations around the world to help people better understand their personality type. Furthermore, the MBTI is a tool that helps people in organizations by assisting in career choice and professional development, and understanding and adapting to differences in management style (Hirsh & Kummerow, 1995).
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The MBTI is used more than any other instrument in the United States to identify normal personality differences that may result in poor communication and conflict. The MBTI is based on Carl Jung’s thesis that apparently random differences among people are actually consistent differences based on preferences developed early in life. Furthermore, there are patterns of difference that can be measured (Jung, 1971). According to the MBTI, opposing preferences exist on four dimensions: interaction with the external world, decision making, information gathering, and structuring lives (Kroeger & Thuesen, 1989; McCaulley, 1990). From these dimensions come the indicator’s four dichotomous scales: Extraversion-Introversion (E-I), Sensing-Intuition (S-N), Thinking-Feeling (S-F), and Judging-Perceiving (J-P). Each person taking the MBTI will prefer one of the two categories in each scale, resulting in 1 of 16 possible 4-letter types (e.g., ESFP or INTJ).
Extraverts (E) are believed to be oriented toward the outside world and engaged in many endeavors, whereas Introverts (I) are described as having a more internal orientation and resisting participation in social activities. Extraverts (E) are described as gaining energy from social encounters, and Introverts find social activities draining. Sensing (S) types tend to be concrete in their perceptions while focusing on information primarily gained via their senses. On the other hand, Intuitive (N) types are believed to enjoy dealing with abstractions and hidden meanings in situations. Thinking (T) types tend to see things in bipolar dimensions and are logical and organized, whereas Feeling (F) types are described as being skilled in analyzing and understanding others’ feelings. Judging (J) types are organized, enjoy being in control, and are planners. Perceiving (P) types are more flexible, curious, and open-minded. They are also thought to be spontaneous and able to adapt well to life. The interplay of these preferences within each type affects how people think, act, and behave (Kroeger & Thuesen, 1988).
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