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A critic assails the insightfulness of the Myers Briggs personality instrument

The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) has a wide following in corporate America. Many law departments have their members complete the instrument and purportedly make good use of personality preferences depicted on four dichotomies, such as extroversion-introversion. It is widely thought to tap something real and useful about the way people think, decide, and respond to the world. Even so, an article in the NYSBA J, Nov./Dec. 2010 at 14, clobbers the MBTI because “Myers Briggs does not have a standardized base and lacks construct validity.”

“A standardized base for psychology assessments is a large and relatively current sample of people who definitely have the characteristics of the psychological disorder or disorders (sic) being assessed.” The author says that no standardized base exists for Myers Briggs, nor, by the way, for the famous Rorschach inkblot tests.

The second charge goes to the lack of MBTI’s construct validity. “A construct is research-based and its meaning is agreed upon by a consensus of professionals qualified in the appropriate field of study.” To have construct validity, there would need to be a shared definition of “personality” and experienced professionals would have to agree, in the main, that the instrument actually reflects that real-world, understood phenomenon of personality. Both sides of construct validity fall very far short for Myers Briggs.

Being unqualified to take a position, I lapse into silence. Even so, a while ago I accumulated the posts to that point on psychometric measures (See my post of Nov. 8, 2007: psychometric tests with 17 references.).

Since then, seven more posts have joined the corpus (See my post of Feb. 17, 2008 #3: Insights Preference Evaluator; Sept. 3, 2008: four challenges to MBTI and each rebutted; Sept. 3, 2008: for senior hires, a law department insists on psychometric, IQ and EQ analysis; April 2, 2009: Kirton psychometric instrument to assess cognitive styles of adaptation and innovation; June 24, 2009: Hogan Personality Inventory; Nov. 12, 2009: six personality reasons why change may be particularly difficult in legal departments; and March 23, 2010: Birkman Method.).

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