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For every tool that millions of people find useful, there are millions of others who dismiss and discredit it. Such is the case of the MBTI, or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. It recently received a sound lashing from Forbes.com contributor Todd Essig, who stated that it is “pretty much nonsense, sciencey snake oil.”
It’s not the first time I’ve heard this opinion; criticisms pop up every once in a while on Facebook or Twitter. While I first discovered my introversion by taking an MBTI, and I find tremendous resonance in the INFJ description, I’m not going to fall on my sword defending the tool itself.
That said, I’m disappointed in Essig (a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst). He implies that because the test can’t be scientifically validated to his satisfaction, it’s meaningless.
I doubt anyone who’s taken it and found the results to be life-changing would characterize it as “meaningless.”
Essig is missing the point of the word “Indicator” in the title. It’s not “Definer” or “Perfection.” To “indicate” means to point the way or guide. That’s all this assessment does: it guides us towards information that may or may not exactly fit who we are, but still tells us something valuable about how we show up in the world.
Here’s my invitation to you: pay attention and give serious consideration to anything that gives you insight into what makes you tick. If you encounter information – from a horoscope, tarot cards, tea leaves, spirit animal, DISC, StrengthsFinder, or MBTI – and it strikes a chord and gives you pause, go with it. Do your introvert thing and reflect on it. Take what works and leave what doesn’t… and that includes what you hear from both the cheerleaders and naysayers.
If you’d like to read more about the MBTI, here are some links to get you started (including the researched cited by Essig, along with one blogger’s response):