Reasons why MBTI is not a sound metric

  • Published: 09-24-2015 Edited: 09-24-2015
  • The MBTI test is one of the most popular personality-tests available and is often used in Human Relations (HR). Even though it is very popular it have never been shown that the dichotomies that MBTI tries to measure, actually exists as dichotomies in reality.

    MBTI is a ipsative self-reporting test, meaning it forces people to pick between two alternatives for each question. It have been mathematically shown that ipsative tests can never be statistically verified. I will try to explain why.

    Here is some example-questions to concretise why ipsative questions never can be verified statistically.

    Question: Do you prefer books or TV?

    1. Books
    2. TV

    People answering this question will indicate that they like one over the other, while in reality it might be the case that people like books equal to TV. This kind of question synthetically generates a dichotomy while in reality there might be none.

    Question: Do you prefer imagination or reality?

    1. Imagination
    2. Reality

    People might like imagination equally to reality.

    Question 3: Do you prefer food or water?

    1. Food
    2. Water

    Again liking one doesn’t mean a person is not liking the other equally much.

    Question 4: Do you prefer breathing in or breathing out?

    1. Breathing in
    2. Breathing out

    Of course, liking to breathe in isn’t mutually exclusive to liking breathing out, and a preference is irrelevant.

    But if we use these questions and collect the statistics the statistics will indicate that these answers are mutually exclusive, but the reason for that is that people didn’t have to option to answer neutral, so a neutral option is not possible in the data.

    Even if we would add a neutral answer-option, it doesn’t capture the possibility that a person might like two options equally much and that options aren’t mutually exclusive.

    So the dichotomies in MBTI has not been proven to exist in reality. This means:

    Intuition is not mutually exclusive to Sensing
    Judging is not mutually exclusive to Perceiving
    Thinking is not mutually exclusive to Feeling
    Introversion is not mutually exclusive to Extroversion.


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