Despite the criticism, about two million people take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (or the MBTI) annually, and it’s become widely popular among the millennial generation. Even though the test resembles certain psychological theories, it’s called a pseudoscience, and the subject of its validity as a psychometric assessment is the source of much criticism.
But admittedly, it’s fun and I loved it when the test declared me an ENTJ, thus stroking my “Commander” ego further. Is perhaps the reason why the MBTI test is beloved is that it speaks to our generation?
Firstly, what is the MBTI?
For those who don’t know what the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is, it is an introspective self-report questionnaire that produces different psychological personalities. The mother-daughter duo, Katherine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, created the questionnaire based on Carl Jung’s conceptual theory. Essentially, it calculates and evenly distributes people into boxes according to their personality type based on sensation, intuition, thinking, and feeling. As a result, there are 16 possible personality types in total, combining Sensing (S) or Intuition (I), Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I), Thinking (T) or Feeling (F), and Judging (J) or Perceiving (P). Each MBTI personality even has a quirky name associated with it.
The 16 types are as follows:
ISTJ- Inspector, ISTP- Crafter, INTJ- Mastermind, INTP- Architect, ISFP- Composer, ISFJ- Protector, INFP- Healer, INFJ- Counselor, ENFJ- Teacher, ENFP- Champion, ESFJ- Provider, ESFP- Performer, ENTJ- Field marshal, ENTP- Inventor, ESTJ- Supervisor, and lastly ESTP- Promoter.
Why is it so famous?
MBTI has garnered recognition and has become extremely popular for its so-called “accuracy.” Now I quote accuracy because even though the test is loved, it has a diverse base of users, some for and others against it. MBTI memes and pages are famous all over social media and even tempts some young people to select careers according to what each personality type suggests.
For example, my personality type suggests that I am decisive, and I love momentum and accomplishment. Therefore, I would make a great lawyer or a politician, which honestly I would love to do, but who doesn’t like accomplishing something? Is it a completely stereotyped way to divide people into neatly categorized boxes, or does it actually contain grains of truth?
Let’s talk about stereotyping:
Sure, people are similar in virtues and enterprises, and it’s okay to sort people into groups via psychological similarity collectively. However, psychologists rarely agree on the correctness of the MBTI. Therefore, it isn’t easy to define whether it is an actual psychometric evaluation or simply stereotyping people like any standard quiz. Again, many of the studies that endorse the MBTI lack scientific merit. Moreover, with time, each personality type has become associated with ever-changing stereotypes making it a fallible issue.
So why has it garnered attention?
Psychometric tests such as the Big Five or Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory aren’t as common as the MBTI. This can be easily explained because the MBTI model is simpler to understand and better at being utilized as a label. Like that of Zodiac signs, having a similar system is easier to popularly share and discuss off the top of the tongue. Sharing that I am an ENTJ is easier to talk about than going into a detailed description of my Big Five results. To categorize into either an ISFP or an INTP easily is understandable and interesting enough to spread quickly without the additional scientific jargon. Additionally, the quirky names associated with each type help easy identification and create better meme material, I suppose.
This is reflected in how MBTI is widespread among social media profiles, with particular pages having curated content about each respective type and even outfits associated with each type. The popularity of Tumblr-styled mood boards dedicated to MBTI personality types is a testament to the extra attention devoted to this test.
So, pseudoscience or not, MBTI is widely cherished and adored with a devoted band of followers. Personally, I swear by every detail that was predicted about me from the test (but that is just my opinion). And while it might be simply stereotyping roles and considered pseudoscience, the Myers and Briggs mother and daughter duo’s work continues to resonate with modern youth. That, alone, is highly valuable.
Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!