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Meet Myers-Briggs

The Myers-Briggs system begins with a test in which participants respond to questions that provide clues about their basic outlook or personal preferences.

January 28, 2013
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Meet Myers-Briggs

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is an instrument designed to evaluate people and provide descriptive profiles of their personality types. It's said to be the most popular and widely used personality-assessment tool of its kind in the world, with as many as 1.5 million assessments being administered annually to individuals, including to employees of most Fortune 500 companies, according to CPP Inc., which bought the rights to Myers-Briggs in 1975.

Based on the theories of psychologist Carl Jung, Myers-Briggs was developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katharine Cook Briggs, during World War II. The two women were acquainted with Jung's theories and sought to apply them to help civilians choose wartime jobs well-suited to their personality preferences. Myers and Briggs felt that this would make people happier and more productive in their work.

The Myers-Briggs system begins with a test in which participants respond to questions that provide clues about their basic outlook or personal preferences. These responses are scored to see where participants' preferences lie within four sets of attributes:

  • Extraversion/Introversion: Differentiating people who direct their energy primarily outward toward other people and events from people who direct their energy primarily inward toward their inner environment, thoughts and experiences.
  • Sensing/Intuition: Differentiating people who take in information primarily through the five senses and immediate experience from people who take in information primarily through hunches and impressions and are more interested in future possibilities.
  • Thinking/Feeling: Differentiating people who make decisions primarily based on logic and objectivity from people who make decisions primarily based on personal values and the effects their decisions will have on others.
  • Judging/Perceiving: Differentiating people who prefer structure, plans and achieving closure quickly from those who prefer flexibility, spontaneity and keeping their options open.

Sources: CPP Inc., Inc.com and Workforce.com

Michele Chandler is a writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com.

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