personality page

What makes you tick?

Myers-Briggs vs Jungian theory

Personality type theory was developed in the mid-20th century by the mother-daughter pair of Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers. It is based on the psychological type theory of Carl Gustav Jung, first published in 1921. Most people, including experts, believe that the two versions of the theory are virtually the same. However, from the 1930s on, Jung complained that his work was being misunderstood and he condemned the practice of sticking labels on people. In the 1950s, he refused a request a meet Isabel Briggs Myers, refused to comment on research that used her questionnaire, and in an filmed interview said 'God preserve me from my friends' (C.G. Jung Speaking, p. 304).

Stereotypes and schematics

There are in fact many differences between the Myers-Briggs and Jungian versions of the theory, most of which are minor. An important one is that Jung viewed the personality types as stereotypes, they are not descriptions of individuals. He compared them to 'points de repere'. These are points of reference that act like landmarks on a map. Your location is different to the landmarks, but by comparing yourself with the landmarks it can help you to identify where your unique location is. In a similar way, by comparing yourself with a typological stereotype, it can help you understand your own unique personality. Some people are close to one stereotype, but most people are between two or more types (Psychological Types, pp. 515-16).

A second important difference is that Jung objected to his theory being 'schematised' (C.G. Jung Speaking, p. 304). Experts in the field debate at length the hierarchy and orientation of each of the four typological functions. For Jung, however, such debate is pointless. Some people introvert all their functions, others extravert them all, and some don't have a typological dominant function at all. Every individual is different.

Your personal type dynamics

The MMDI questionnaire combines both Isabel Briggs Myers' and C.G. Jung's theories. It provides a snapshot of how you are currently using each of the four mental functions.

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