Why exactly is Meyers Briggs not scientific

What's wrong with the MBTI

Why the end of the MBTI is long overdue from a technical point of view and why Adam Grant proposes exactly what I do in the type test for the Big Five.

The MBTI: nothing but hot air?

The MBTI is a more than 50 year old personality instrument based on the typology Carl Gustav Jung from the 1920s. In the test and the theory, each person is assigned to one of 16 types, there are no intermediate types or exceptions. Due to its old age and the lack of adaptation to current knowledge, its application is very dubious, but in the USA it is still by far the most widely used personality test in the non-scientific area.

Adam Grant, a professor of organizational psychology in the USA, a book author and best known for his research on altruism, has written an article and a follow-up article on why the MBTI has a "Is a fad that is not dying out" and why he with the MBTI "Break up". To describe Grant's comments as critical or controversial would be wrong, because they only speak long-known, but for some uncomfortable truths. Grant speaks as the saying goes Tacheles. About what is going wrong in the MBTI system. He is not the only one, because the Guardian and Fortune have already published similar, much noticed articles about the inadequacies of the MBTI this year.

What's wrong:

The main reasons against using the MBTI: Unscientificness, dogmatic division into types without gradations, incorrect definitions of personality dimensions, and ignoring modern knowledge of the last 30 years. All reasons that I also repeatedly mention in my review of the MBTI. Accordingly, I fully agree with Adam Grant's remarks.

“Palmistry and horoscopes can also lead to insights. But that doesn't mean that we are concerned about these thingsat work should speak in our teams. "

Grant sees one reason for the MBTI's popularity, which is still so high in the USA despite all these reasons, in the fact that "Thousands of people have invested time and money in becoming MBTI-certified trainers". Such certification usually costs well over $ 1,000, which means that the trainers and coaches have to sell loads of tests to their clients to get that money back and even more to make a profit. A clever marketing scheme that clearly shows what the MBTI is primarily about: not about helping people to identify themselves (otherwise the system would actually be improved and adapted), but about a commercial money machine.

"If you want me back, you have to change too!"

In the following article, Grant describes his personal "love affair" with the MBTI. How he got to know him in high school and loved it for years, but how slowly he broke because the MBTI was unwilling to adapt to modern science and instead used the antiquated, unscientific armrests to this day -Psychology CG Jung’s resting. Grant compares this to the Catholic Church, which has held on to its belief that the sun revolves around the earth for far too long - and not the other way around. The central question he asks: why does the MBTI not change when you have known for decades that so many things are going wrong with him? It is significant that many of Grant's points of criticism were addressed with clear words 50 (!) Years ago in several studies (here and here) by Stricker and Ross - long before the Big Five existed. However, this criticism was not taken seriously by the MBTI side - then, as now, they were too resistant to necessary changes.

Futile love

Adam Grant's personal experiences coincide surprisingly well with my own: I, too, made the acquaintance of the MBTI in my youth at an age similar to his (Note: Adam Grant was born a year before me), was initially enthusiastic and fascinated by this way of explaining personality. Like Grant, I have come across the limitations, clear errors and questionable statements in the MBTI system over the years. If you look at it from a scientific point of view, you soon notice that so much is going wrong with the MBTI that almost nothing can be saved. Like an old used car that is so bad that it is no longer worth repairing. So why not buy a new car right away?

The Big Five do everything new

This new car is undoubtedly the system of the Big Five (and its variations such as Hexaco) in the field of personality models. Scientifically, it is the best that personality psychology currently has to offer. In addition - it's hard to believe - the Big Five don't even cost anything. You are free. However, they are still not particularly popular (In the USA, the Big Five in popular psychology and lay psychology still lead a shadowy existence behind the MBTI, in Germany both are not particularly well known). Because: they are an ugly duckling, that unfortunately has to be said. Since the Big Five are not based on a commercial system, nobody does marketing for them. There are no melodious slogans and no advertising brochures with full-bodied promises, lists of their advantages and anecdotes (which is what the MBTI has to offer by the tens, even if it is not always the truth). Above all, however, its five components are designed in such a way that only one side of it sounds good: nobody wants low tolerance or conscientiousness, because high values ​​undoubtedly appear more advantageous.

Adam Grant addresses this well-known problem of the Big Five and also suggests a solution: Renaming the negative Big Five factors so that each side has its own name, one that is positive. I couldn't agree more. Because I already use such positive terms, Mr. Grant. In the type test, personality test and in my book Knowledge of human nature - the great type test.

PS: Adam Grant doesn't speak German, so of course he doesn't know my German interpretation of the Big Five about MBTI in the type test.

PPS: The arguments made by myself and Adam Grant also apply to all other Jung-based personality models, such as David Keirsey's Temperaments, Socionics, GPOP, Insights Discovery / MDI, etc. Most of them have more and even greater inadequacies like that MBTI.

Other personality tests, independent of the MBTI: Reiss Profile, Disg, Job Test, Enneagram, Character Strengths

This post was filed under MBTI and tagged Adam Grant, Criticism. Set a Bookmark the permalink.