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MBTI Validity, Criticism, And Alternatives

Before I start looking at the 16 personality types more in detail I wanted to take a look at the criticism that MBTI gets, and I will also show the defender’s point of view regarding the criticism.

Critical voices

One of the more common arguments against MBTI is that neither Myer nor Briggs had any formal education in psychology.
It is also often argued that the results are not reliable, and often you hear the number of 50% of test-takers that took the test, even within just a few weeks, got a different result the second time around.
Another common argument against the MBTI is that the 16 personality types are just stereotypes presented in a positive manner, and does not describe individuals. That MBTI puts you in a box, and there is no mix or fluidity between the personality types. It is often pointed out that all the personality types are described in a very positive way, some even go as far as saying that the only value of MBTI is that it makes you happy.
It is often claimed that it is an unscientific method and that there is no validity data that shows its usefulness in predicting job performance.

Defenders

Just as there are critical voices there are also people that defend the method. When it comes to the argument about the lack of formal education the most common contra argument is that not all great ideas and inventions come from people with formal education. A few names are often used as a proof for this, Thomas Edison, Jane Goodall, and Steve Jobs are often mentioned.
When it comes to the 50% difference in test results the company (CPP The Myer Briggs Company) explains that as the statistic is old, from tests taken before 1979, and since then a lot of research and development of the test itself has been done, and the test has been improved a couple of time since then.
When it comes to the criticism of the lack of flexibility, and that it is a “happy pill” the defenders point to the fact that the MBTI is a descriptive measure of your preferences and not a measurement of traits. The same arguments are used when it comes to validity questions and the predicting of job performance. On the official test web site they state;
The MBTI can’t

  • measure or predict performance
  • tell you what job you will be best at

What To Believe

I will leave that up to you. I am still very intrigued by the method and haven’t come to any conclusion as of yet. And maybe I won’t. But I will keep on looking into the method for a couple of more articles.

Alternative to MBTI

I did look at two alternatives to MBTI this week. In today’s article, I will just give you a very general overview of them but I will most certainly come back to them both and take a deeper look later on.

Enneagram

The first test I looked at is Enneagram. This test, just like MBTI, uses types. It is built on nine types ( just named 1 – 9) divided into three groups;
Head (type 5,6,7) which reacts with analysis first
Heart (type 2,3,4) which reacts with emotions first
Body (type 1,8,9) reacts with an instinctive gut feeling
You will get a % score for each of the 9 types, and one of them will be your primary type. For this, you will be presented with an in a nutshell description, with both strengths and challenges. Your core weaknesses, belief, fear, desire, and traits. There is also a section about transformation, where you will be presented with your wings and arrows.
Your wings are the two types closest to your primary type and from those, you have some of your behavior as well, sometimes even contradictory to your primary type. The arrows are paths to development. one arrow points toward your primary type and you must grow from this point, the other points from your primary type, towards your development point.
This test has much more fluidity than MBTI, and I have just skimmed the surface here, but as I said I will return to this theory.

Big Five or Five-Factor

This personality test is the most commonly used in academic psychology. This is trait-based, opposite to both MBTI and Enneagram that both are type-based.
In the big five, you measure an individual in five dimensions, and you get a percentage score for each which is compared to an average;

  • Openness – your willingness to try new things, and level of abstract thinking the higher percentage the more willing
  • Conscientiousness – how goal-oriented and persistent you are, the higher score the more goal-oriented
  • Extraversion – How outgoing, sociable, and talkative you are, the higher score the more extravert, lower score more introvert
  • Agreeableness – your level of altruism, putting others before yourself, and how co-operative you are, higher number more altruistic
  • Neuroticism – your emotional stability, how well you handle the unforeseen, the higher number the more anxious

This was also a more fluid test than I experienced with MBTI. Besides the numbers from each dimension and a rather complete explanation, you also are presented with your personal patterns as your core patterns, your interpersonal patterns, social patterns, communication patterns emotional patterns, motivational patterns, and many more.
Also here, I have so much more to learn, and I will most definitely return to the subject of the big five.

My Final Thoughts

It was interesting to see the criticism of MBTI, but as I said, I have not made my final verdict yet. I must say at a first glance both Enneagram and The Big Five, looks so much more “forgiving” and flexible, but I still have much more to learn about both of them.
I have taken both personality tests and have long reports to go through, but I will save that until my series about MBTI is finished. Next time I am going to start looking closer at the different personality types MBTI presents.
As always, I will link my video down below if you are interested in watching.