The limited scope of Myers-Briggs Personality testing (MBTI)

I strongly encourage people to time-limit their identity statements like the above "I am an ISTF."

Better phrasing might include "Recently I was measured as an 'ISTF'." Or "Several years ago I received an 'ISTF' measurement on the Myers-Briggs, and don't know if I'd be the same or different today. Etc.

I believe that taking on such identity statements is one causal element of what leads either to inflexible behavior, or to difficulty with change, OR to diminished self-awareness during & after personality changes occur -- i.e., personality change may still occur, but one's accuracy with self-knowledge deteriorates, holding on to old "test scores" as current indicators, when they may not be valid anymore as time goes by.

I have taken the Myers-Briggs test six times, and gotten six very different readings. The Myers-Briggs test is, IMHO, a reading of your present-tense-only behavioral traits along ONLY four metaprograms. The four they chose to measure are:

  • Introvert <--> Extrovert
  • iNtuitive <--> Sensing
  • Thinking <--> Feeling
  • Perceiving <--> Judging

I suggest to ALL of you that if you can effectively try on a different map/model of the world -- inclusive of the unique beliefs & values & outcomes of those different models -- then you WILL get different readings.

Also as you grow, learn, & change in life, subsequent Myers-Briggs tests may very well produce different readings from prior readings. It is only a snapshot of the present moment in the present context, and given that in NLP we teach & measure a lot more than four metaprograms, I personally think the Myers-Briggs test is an impoverished measurement producing certainly useful information which is still less useful than acquiring EVEN MORE information would be.

When meeting people anew, rather than knowing their Myers-Briggs score, I'd much rather know the present-tense answers to where they are on these metaprogram scales (not to mention many others that are also useful):

  • Towards <--> Away-from   (Motivation Direction)
  • Proactive <--> Reactive   (Leadership behavior vs. Problem-Solver?)
  • High Chunk Thinker <--> Low Chunk Thinker (Engineer or Visionary;  Chunk Size)
  • Chunk Up? <--> Chunk Down? <--> Chunk Lateral (Chunk Direction tendency)
  • Procedures <--> Options  (Productivity Process Preference)
  • Sorts by Self <--> Sorts by Others (Frame of Reference - Internal vs External?)
  • Difference <--> Sameness <--> Sameness w/ Diff <--> Diff w/ Sameness (Patterns of Agreement &/or Disagreement)
  • Visual <--> Auditory <--> Kino (Primary sensory system)
  • Introvert <--> Extrovert   (Attention orientation)
  • Sorts by People / Things / Dates / Faces / Emotions / Time  (Sorting Methods)
  • Abundance <--> Scarcity  (Generosity vs Miser behavior, & Abundance/Scarcity patterns)
  • Towards Pos or Neg Necessity <--> Towards Pos or Neg Possibility (Modal Operators & sequences)
  • Direct Communication <--> Indirect Communication  (Influence Style)
  • And others...

Now I can identify some of these nonverbally just by observing people's behavior. For others, I require some time listening to how they speak. Or I require some time conversing with them & cataloguing their responses.

The hardest thing to do initially when learning how to elicit peoples' metaprograms-- was learning how to DISCARD these measurements as less-than-accurate, in any other context other than the one in which they had been elicited, or even in the same context if a lot of time had gone by since they'd been elicited. In other words, I'd initially hoped to rely on the information in every other context, or for "too long" into the future. But eventually one gets good enough at doing this quickly & easily, and the desire to 'save time/effort' and rely on old information becomes less relevant & attractive.