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Missed No More: Katharine Briggs and Isabel Myers, Creators of a Personality Test


However the Myers-Briggs test had an intrinsic thematic quality that the others lacked. Most existing tests concluded that every personality category had a positive and a negative: An extrovert was good, an introvert was bad, as an illustration. But Myers felt that every personality type had strengths and weaknesses. Fairly than construct a test that favored one over one other, hers was judgment-free. She and her mother described their personality types when it comes to strengths and “gifts” and the way those could make clear whether an individual was the precise “fit” for a job, a profession or perhaps a social affair. It felt concurrently analytic and supportive, giving people a language to explain their best selves.

“We sometimes say that Isabel was the primary positive psychologist,” Elizabeth Styron, chairwoman of the nonprofit Center for Applications of Psychological Types, an M.B.T.I. research center, said in a phone interview, referring to a branch of psychology that took off within the Eighties. “It’s about what’s right with an individual, not what’s flawed with an individual.”

The mother-daughter team became a creative sales force as well. Myers tweaked and promoted her product while looking for guinea pigs. Her son’s highschool class took the test, as did incoming students to the George Washington University medical school. Soon dozens of medical schools across the country were added to her list. She wrote all of the questions (as an illustration “Do you favor to a) eat to live, or b) live to eat?”) and scored all of the tests by hand.

All of the while she pushed back against skepticism and sexism. Critics identified that neither Briggs nor Myers had a background or advanced degree in psychology; they were merely amateur “housewives” with an unusual hobby. And, the critics said, their personality indicator had no scientific foundation, no peer-reviewed research to validate it. Some said it was little more practical than reading someone’s horoscope.

Myers kept going nonetheless, and in 1956 she began working with Henry Chauncey, the president of the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, to publish the M.B.T.I. The tool posited that the 4 dimensions of personality produced a complete of 16 possible types, all noted with initials.

The primary dimension is whether or not a person is an introvert (I) or extrovert (E). The second is how an individual perceives the world, either through “sensing” (S) or through “intuition” (N). A 3rd focused on how a person makes decisions, either in a “considering” (T) manner or a “feeling” (F) manner. The ultimate dimension is predicated on how an individual deals with the skin world, either “judging” (J) or “perceiving” (P). Judging is a structured, organized approach, while perceiving means someone has an adaptable, flexible, spontaneous relationship with the skin world.

Myers herself was a proud I.N.F.P., which she described as someone with a “great faithfulness to duty and obligations” who didn’t pass judgment on others. Her mother was an I.N.F.J.

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