16 personalities meet the MBTI®

So most of the people that dived into their personality did this with the 16personalities.com website. Just like me you answered some questions on their test and there was a 5 letter result, stating your personality type. It’s pretty clear and definitive. But some of you might have found out already that the 16 personalities test has nothing to do with the original founding theory of the 16 personalities: The Myerss and Briggs Type Indicator, or the MBTI®.

Video about this blog – want to see me explain? Watch the video!

What if the 16 personalities would meet the actual MBTI? Let’s dive into the similarities and differences between the two.

Test versus assessment

The 16 personalities speak of a test, with a result, and then tell you who you are. This is nice if you would understand where the ‘test’ is for and what the effect on people taking the ‘test’ would be. And we don’t, we just start answering questions and before you know it you’re bound to some ‘type’ telling you where you are good at and where you might need development. It’s rather rigid and the MBTI even thinks this is unethical.

Example question from the 16personalities.com test

So when taking the assessment process with an MBTI practitioner you would first go through explanation, exploring and some guidance to come to a ‘best fit type’. And this is build up from your own preferences, knowledge about those preferences and an assessment. Since it’s just a word, test versus assessment, you might think: what gives? Well a test insinuates you can actually fail the test, while an assessment is just a measurement. Like measuring how long you are, that’s not a test unless you say small people cannot go further – in an amusement park for example.

Video from the MBTI® company explaining what their assessment can and cannot do

Really want to know your personality preference? Take a professional assessment and you’ll be able to develop further.

The questions asked – 16 personalities versus the MBTI

Another caveat in the 16 personalities test is that there are questions asked that imply a certain positive or negative bias. Asking someone about social accepted or unaccepted area’s with ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’ means you’ll have big risk of getting answers that have a bias in them – because people like to be different then they are, because the world they live in expects this from them. This even could be different in different countries.

The MBTI assessment has a structure differently where you are asked for you preference rather then asking you to agree or disagreeing on anything. There is no bias in there. Between languages they even figured out the UK English and American English needs different preferences in language usage and thus the assessments for both countries are different. They also measure, because of how the assessment is being delivered, how many people think their best fit type is the same type that came out of the assessment, while the 16personalities site just uses the actual outcome of any test taking as the truth.

So again: a more scientific and thorough approach is to be found on the MBTI, while the 16 personalities test does offer a very easy entree to the world of personality type but lacks some quality both in questions and followup on reliability. Having said that: I took both the 16p test and went through official best fit type assessment and they came out the same. So I’m absolutely not claiming the 16 personalities is bad or useless, but I do have doubts by the approach and reliability. And since the MBTI and personality theory from Jung is often being criticized I think it’s not particularly handy that so many people use the simplified version of this.

Strictly speaking, there are no Introverts and Extraverts pure and simple, but only Introverted and Extraverted function-types.

Carl Gustav Jung

Turbulent versus assertive – it does not exist in the MBTI

So Jung started with identifying four different personality traits that build up to 16 personality types. If you take the 16 personality test, you get an output with the four same letters, but with an extra T or A. Those stand for Turbulent and Assertive, which seem to be derived from the Big Five theory. That is a whole different theory, which has overlap with the MBTI but has a completely different way of measurement and intension.

While Jung and Myers and Briggs offered a wide range of proof and theory to show their reasoning why there are 4 preferences and underlying cognitive processes or functions, the 16 personalities test does not offer any evidence on their website. It’s just there, stating that it’s a thing and some statistics. On Quora, Reddit and other social media platforms people adopted this and now it exists. But if you wonder why personality theory is sometimes compared to horoscopes and other no scientific beliefs: here you go. I know many people really belief there is a difference between assertive and turbulent types, and I know other theories have taken this up, but the combination with the MBTI is not proven as far as I could find and also Dario Nardi’s work on showing personality in the brain with actual scans did not proof any of this.

Quality doesn’t come cheap

So while 16 personalities really got the online traction, and results and incredible amounts of video’s on youtube and other online platforms, it’s not even near the MBTI®. And it’s not so much the result you get, but it’s the way you get it, how it could help you improve your life and stimulate your development. I see so much 16 personalities fans falling into the biggest personality theory pitfall: using it as an excuse. The MBTI has the ethical code of conduct for this, and strives to make the MBTI a real psychoanalytical tool that can be used for certain things, but cannot be used for anything else.

The four functions are somewhat like the four points of the compass; they are just as arbitrary and just as indispensable. Nothing prevents our shifting the cardinal points as many degrees as we like in one direction or the other, or giving them different names…but the one thing I must confess: I would not for anything dispense with this compass on my psychological voyages of discovery.

Carl G. Jung

Painful truth: you’re not your personality type

The most painful thing is, that it was Jung that found out about these personality traits and saw we can develop each and any one of them. I will publish more on neurological elasticity soon proving this from the neuroscience side, but rest assured: you’re not your type. Your preference follows your development, and while you’ll probably keep the same preferences during your life, you can become as good as you want in using any other function or process.

Personal note: I’m a certified MBTI Practitioner and a fan of Jung’s work. I think 16personalities.com has a value, but I’ve become critical at the approach since noticing how people abuse the type theory to do the opposite as Jung once hoped it would do: help people understand others, and develop into better persons. Instead people use it as an excuse or disqualify others because of their preferences, just because they where not guided into using personalities properly.

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