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Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

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    With countless personality assessments available, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is most often chosen over the others. Based on the theories of Carl Jung, this assessment identifies personality constructs based on four different scales. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is often used to determine the level of leadership ability that an individual possesses. This information can be beneficial in team building in both educational and organizational settings. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Professionals in the field of psychology have countless personality assessment tools at their disposal.

    The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is one of these instruments. The characteristics, uses, and purposes of this instrument will be described. The relationship between the MBTI and the leadership abilities of individuals will be analyzed. A summation of the research findings, particularly the ability of the MBTI to differentiate between the general population and the target population will be provided. Psychometric properties of the MBTI will be identified. Finally, the adequacy of the MBTI to measure leadership skills will be reviewed.

    Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. The Myers-Brigs Type Indicator is based on the personality theories of Carl Jung. Jung theorized that much of human behavior which appeared to be random in nature was “actually quite orderly and consistent, due to certain basic differences in the way people approach life” (Carlyn, 1977, p. 461). This assessment was developed by Isabel Briggs-Meyers and her mother Katherine Briggs (Jing & Dan-min, 2007). They developed this assessment tool as a means of making the type theory useful to both groups and individuals. Currently, approximately two million individuals in the United States alone are given the MBTI per year.

    Characteristics The MBTI is a self-report instrument in that the testtaker marks his or her own responses on the form. This assessment is considered to be in a forced to choice format because the testtaker is forced to choose between certain response options. Two types of items exist with this assessment: phrase items and word items. Phase items contain one question that gives response choices which are in sentence form. Word items are stated as phrases with response choices presented as word pairs (Jing & Dan-min, 2007). Uses One use of the MBTI is by organizations in their team building efforts (Coe, 1992).

    Increased communication is also possible through the information gained by the MBTI. This test is useful by organizations in the decision-making process as well. The diagnosis of dysfunctions within the organization can also be done through the use of the MBTI and further disruption can be avoided. Another use of the MBTI is in the training of employees within an organization (Coe, 1992). As with all testing instruments, the MBTI has the potential to be misused (Coe, 1992). One way this assessment can be misused occurs when used in the selection of employees.

    Employees should not be chosen solely on their performance on the test because it does not always lead to the best choice for the position. Another misuse is in the typecasting of employees. This can lead to criticism and showing individuals in a negative light (Coe, 1992). Purposes The MBTI as an assessment of personality has become the most widely used tool in the field (Jing & Dan-min, 2007). Perhaps the reason for such wide use is that the MBTI is useful in so many areas. In educational settings the MBTI allows educators to better understand the personalities of their students and to better tailor their teaching styles.

    The MBTI is also useful in psychotherapy career development, and organizational behavior. Organizations can also use the MBTI to build teams that are extremely successful and work well together (Jing & Dan-min, 2007). The MBTI and Jung’s Theory of Personality Traits Carl Jung developed his theory of personality based on two personality traits that are exact opposites: extroversion and introversion. These two concepts are opposite ends of a continuum, and all individuals fall somewhere along the continuum. From these original two types of ersonalities, Jung further developed the four temperaments that include thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition. According to Jung, every individual is oriented toward one specific temperament in his or her conscious. This would be their dominant temperament with the opposite one forming an auxiliary temperament. The MBTI is based on Jung’s theory of personality (Morehouse, Farley, & Youngquist, 1990). This assessment includes four scales: Extraversion-Introversion, Sensation-Intuition, Thinking-Feeling, and Judgment-Perception. The most recent version has been used in over 400 studies since its publication in 1962.

    Each individual’s scores are totaled into eight scores that are then interpreted into “four pairs of scores” (Carlyn, 1977, p. 462). Individuals are then classified as one of 16 possible personality types. Psychometric Properties of the MBTI for Leadership Skills When identifying leadership skills in individuals, the MBTI can be said to have psychometric properties. The MBTI is the assessment used most often as an assessment of personality. In a study conducted by Nordvik and Brovold, the MBTI was used to measure four leadership tasks (Nordvik & Brovold, 1998).

    These tasks included administration, integration, production, and enterprising. Construct validity of these traits were supported by the common variances between the personality traits and task preferences. This study used 1040 Norwegian adults which included 219 women and 821 men the ages of these individuals ranged from “18 to 71 years” (Nordvik & Brovold, 1998, p. 61). In another study concerning the relationship between leadership skills and personality, the MBTI again produced results that indicated that it was an accurate measure of leadership skills.

    The managers and leaders who were employed at an African petroleum company was the target population (Sieff, 2009). This test sample included 53 subjects. The Leadership Focus Questionnaire was used in addition to the MBTI was used in this study. This study was conducted to increase knowledge concerning the relationship between leadership skills and personality type. Both assessments yielded the same results confirming the strong correlation between personality type and leadership skills (Sieff, 2009). The MBTI can help organizations and schools determine which individuals have the potential to be the best leaders when working in teams.

    This is possible because the MBTI increases an individual’s self-awareness (Duhe, 2009). Once the organization determines which individuals have the desired qualities of leadership, they can place these individuals in leadership positions. Doing this will increase the productivity of the organization. This concept will also help the teams within the organization work together more efficiently and more effectively (Duhe, 2009). Schools at all educational levels can benefit from the knowledge of individuals’ leadership skills.

    The University of Phoenix for example requires students to work in teams on numerous projects. These teams run more effectively and more efficiently when the teams have leaders with strong leadership skills. Reliability of the MBTI The reliability and validity of the MBTI has been established several ways. According to Carlson, originally reliability studies “yielded split-half reliability coefficients (Pearson rs) commonly exceeding . 80” (Carlson, 1985, p. 357). Test-retest reliabilities have also been established with the MBTI.

    With most tests of reliability, the four different scales were examined separately. Currently few studies concerning the reliability of the MBTI exist, but the ones that do “show satisfactory internal consistency of each of the four scales” (Carlson, 1985, p. 359). Validity of the MBTI The MBTI has been shown to have construct validity in that it measures the “attribute or quality that people are presumed to possess” (Carlson, 1985, p. 359). The research conducted in the early beginnings of the test indicates that the MBTI is useful in measuring personality constructs.

    In criterion-related studies, the instrument has also established validity according to Carlson. This was specifically true in research and treatment settings (Carlson, 1985). Countless other studies indicate that the MBTI has strong, positive relationships with other assessment instruments and is indeed valid (Edwards, Lanning, & Hooker, 2002). Normative Procedures of the MBTI Normative procedures used with the MBTI include three basic areas (Ozer, 2004). The first of these areas is the scaling of responses. Another are is in the qualification of association.

    The third area of normative procedures is reduction of redundancy. If any of these areas is not properly addressed, the results of the assessment can be inaccurate (Ozer, 2004). The MBTI successfully completes normative procedures. Adequacies of the MBTI in Measurement of Leadership Skills The MBTI can successfully predict an individual’s potential in the area of leadership. According to Gardner and Martinko, the MBTI is adequate when used to determine if an individual has leadership characteristics (Gardner & Martinko, 1996). However, they do state that more research in the area is needed.

    Pittenger states that the lack of empirical evidence is because the MBTI must be interpreted (Pittenger, 2005). However, this is an issue with most if not all personality assessments. Pittenger also states “that the MBTI does measure constructs related to personality ” (Pittenger, 2005, p. 218). The MBTI is useful in presenting the concept of personality differences to general audiences. Despite its shortcomings, the MBTI does have a “strong theoretical structure” (Pittenger, 2005, p. 219). This strong structure allows for predictions concerning links between the personalities of individuals and their behaviors.

    Whereas the MBTI is an adequate measure of leadership skills and countless other personality constructs, it should be used in combination with other personality assessments (Pittenger, 2005). Furthermore, the results must be interpreted by qualified individuals for the most accurate results to be obtained. Ethical Considerations and the MBTI Several ethical considerations of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator exist. The first of these is that the MBTI should not be used in the selection of employees. Screening potential employees to eliminate undesirable personality types is unethical.

    The results of the MBTI should not be over simplified or over generalized by the test administrator. Doing this has the potential to cause harm to the individual who has taken the assessment. Another ethical consideration of the MBTI is that the test administrator should not indicate to the testtaker that the test results do not predict their intelligence, ability, or potential success of the testtaker. Conclusion As with any personality assessment, the MBTI must be used in an ethical manner to be most effective. The MBTI has been determined to be an adequate measure of the leadership skills of individuals.

    Reliability and validity are extremely important in personality assessment and the MBTI has been shown to be both reliable and valid. In the identification of the leadership skills of individuals, the MBTI can be described as having psychometric properties. Based on Carl Jung’s theories of personality, the MBTI is used to identify different traits that compose an individual’s personality. Identifying specific characteristics such as leadership ability can aid both organizations and educational systems to build better more successful teams.

    References

    Carlson, J. G. (1985). Recent assessments of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49(4), 356-365. Carlyn, M. (1977). An assessment of the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator. Journal of Personality Assessment, 41(5), 461-471. Coe, C. K. (1992). The MBTI: Potential uses and misuses in personnel administration. Public Personnel Management, 21(4), 511-522. Duhe, S. (2009). What’s your type? Using the Myers-Briggs personality inventory to improve team performance. Communication Teacher, 23(4), 142-147. Edwards, J. A. , Lanning, K. , & Hooker, K. (2002).

    The MBTI and social information processing: An incremental validity study. Journal of Personality Assessment, 78(3), 432-450. Gardner, W. L. , & Martinko, M. J. (1996). Using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to study managers: A literature review and research agenda. Journal of Management, 22(1), 45-83. Jing, C. , & Dan-min, M. (2007). Introduction to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. US-China Education Review, 4(3), 44-53. Morehouse, R. E. , Farley, F. , & Youngquist, J. V. (1990). Type T personality and the Jungian classification system. Journal of Personality Assessment, 54(1 & 2), 31-235. Nordvik, H. , & Brovold, H. (1998). Personality traits in leadership tasks. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 39(1), 61-64. Ozer, D. J. (2004). Personality out of proportion. Journal of Personality Assessment, 83(2), 131-135. Pittenger, D. J. (2005). Cautionary comments regarding the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 57(3), 210-223. Sieff, G. (2009). Personality type and leadership focus: Relationship between self and line-manager perceptions. Journal of Human Resource Management, 7(1), 63-72.

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