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Common Misconceptions

Common Misconceptions about Type

Common Misuse

Unfortunately, poor use of the MBTI is quite common, and there is a plethora of inaccurate information on the internet.  This leads to misconceptions about the instrument and its viability and ability to produce results.  We have listed some of the more common misunderstandings below:

The MBTI® is a test

The MBTI is not a test; there are no right or wrong answers, no good or bad types and there are no  low or high scores.  The MBTI is an assessment that provides us with information about our preferences for how we process information and see the world.

The MBTI® produces your Type

Computerized results provide you with one hypothesis of what your type may be.  Research shows that 2/3 of the people taking the Indicator will answer in the direction of all 4 of their true preferences and 1/3 of respondents will disagree with 1 letter. That is why ethical standards require practitioners to provide people with an opportunity to self-select their preferences, before they are provided with computerized results.

Your preferences are “strong”, “weak”, “off the charts” or “in the middle”

Unlike other psychological assessments, the Indicator does not measure behavior. In fact, Myers’ first name for the Indicator was the “People Sorter”; it sorts us into preference categories. The graph that provides “scores” on the Indicator is called the Preference Clarity Index or PCI. This graph simply shows the consistency in response pattern of a respondent. Computerized results are calculated like “votes”.  For instance, if you consistently vote in the direction of one pole of a dichotomy, your response pattern would be “Very Clear”; if you split your votes, your response pattern will be “Slight”.

Getting your 4-Letter Type is the end goal

Many who have taken the indicator are handed their Reported Type and told, “you are such and such a type”. This is not the goal of the Indicator (and it is an unethical practice). Even when people are provided with the opportunity to self-select their Type, it is often not applied or put into practical use. Knowledge of your Type provides you with a map for understanding others, self-development and practical application in organizational settings.

You are “boxed in” to a Type

Your Type can be thought of as your favorite room in your house.  You can move from your favorite room any time you choose, but eventually you will end up back in your favorite room – where you like to be the most. Sometimes, people look at the Type Table, and assume that Type boxes you in because each type is in a separate box on the table. This notion could not be further from the truth.  We all engage all of the functions of Type, and have the ability to use the functions when we choose.  Type expands, it does not limit.

Type causes behavior

Type does not cause behavior, rather, we engage in certain behaviors because we are used to processing information in a certain way. In fact, people who have very different types may engage in the same behavior for different reasons. We can say though, that there are certain observable patterns of behavior that are related to particular types; but how we behave is a choice; there is no direct cause and effect related to our functions.

Common Misuses

The MBTI is often used in settings for which it is inappropriate. Indicator results are confidential; the Indicator was created to give people insight into themselves and others.  Additionally, the Indicator does not measure skills, behavior, competencies, or chances for success. It provides us with information about how we see the world, not how well we will do, or what we can do.

Therefore, the following are not ethical uses of the MBTI:

  • Using Type for hiring or creating teams
  • Using Type to determine skill level, behavior, competency, or to determine job-related problems
  • Providing employees’ MBTI® results directly to managers for their use
  • Putting MBTI® Type codes on name tags or doors
  • Recording MBTI® Type codes in internal personnel files