Criticisms of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Some people love the MBTI, find it describes them accurately and believably and get the same type code every time they take a test. Maybe they’ve used it at work, maybe it’s helped them understand colleagues or family. Some people wear t-shirts with their four-letter personality code on it and talk about it like other people might discuss their astrological sign.

If it works for you, then I guess that’s awesome. If you’ve gained insight from it that helps you understand and empathise with other people, then yay.

Personally, I don’t love it. I’ve never experienced a great deal of insight from the results of a test, each time I do it I get a different answer.

It’s surprised me to discover in recent years that academic psychology thinks a great deal less of the MBTI and the psychology behind it than the businesses that use it. MBTI wears pretty convincing psychology drag and one could be forgiven for thinking it strode from the halls of the academy a few decades ago, clothed in validity and shod in rigor.

Actually, not. In fact, the MBTI is widely criticized by the people who study personality and how it describes and predicts success in various jobs. The MBTI is a great deal more “fringey” than most people think it is.

Doesn’t mean it’s “wrong”. Doesn’t mean you’re a bad ( or dumb, ignorant or silly) person for liking your type and posting it on Facebook. I experienced a really high-level of self-insight reading Linda Goodman’s very popular astrology book “Sun Signs”, which I think is both sketchy astrology and not science-based in the slightest. I likewise got a lot out of a weirdo numerology book by Dan Millman (author of the much-loved “Way of the Peaceful Warrior”). Insight can come from unlikely places.

But I do think it’s useful to know that MBTI is in a similar scientific grey (black?) area to star signs and the Enneagram. Here’s a list of critical articles, which link to a bunch more critical articles. Please be warned, these vary a lot in level of politeness.

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