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Reinterpreting the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator From the Perspective of the Five-Factor Model of Personality

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Abstract

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI; Myers & McCaulley, 1985) was evaluated from the perspectives of Jung's theory of psychological types and the five-factor model of personality as measured by self-reports and peer ratings on the NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI; Costa & McCrae, 1985b). Data were provided by 267 men and 201 women ages 19 to 93. Consistent with earlier research and evaluations, there was no support for the view that the MBTI measures truly dichotomous preferences or qualitatively distinct types; instead, the instrument measures four relatively independent dimensions. The interpretation of the Judging-Perceiving index was also called into question. The data suggest that Jung's theory is either incorrect or inadequately operationalized by the MBTI and cannot provide a sound basis for interpreting it. However, correlational analyses showed that the four MBTI indices did measure aspects of four of the five major dimensions of normal personality. The five-factor model provides an alternative basis for interpreting MBTI findings within a broader, more commonly shared conceptual framework.
Reinterpreting the Myers-Briggs Type
Indicator
From
the Perspective
of
the
Five-Factor Model
of
Personality
Robert R. McCrae and Paul
T.
Costa, Jr.
Gerontology Research Center
National Institute on Agmg, NIH
ABSTRACT The Myers-Bnggs Type Indicator (MBTI, Myers & McCauUey,
1985)
was
evaluated from
the
perspectives
of
Jung's theory
of
psychological
types
and the
five-factor
model
of
personahty
as
measured
by
self-reports
and
peer ratings
on the
NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI, Costa
&
McCrae,
1985b) Data were provided
by 267
men
and
201 women ages 19
to
93
Con-
sistent with earlier research and evaluations, there was
no
support
for
the view
that the MBTI measures truly dichotomous preferences or qualitatively distmct
types,
instead, the instrument meastires four relatively independent dimensions
The interpretation
of
the Judging-Pferceivmg index was also called into ques-
tion The data suggest that Jung's theory
is
either incorrect or madequately op-
erationalized by the MBTI and cannot provide
a
sound basis
for
interpreting
it
However, correlational analyses showed that the four MBTI indices did measure
aspects
of
four
of
the five major dimensions
of
normal personality
The
five-
factor model provides an alternative basis for interpreting MBTI findings within
a broader, more commonly shared conceptual framework
The Myers-Bnggs Type Indicator (MBTI, Myers & McCaulley, 1985) is
unusual among personality assessment devices for three reasons It is
based on one of the classic statements of personality theory, it purports
to measure types rather than traits or other continuous vanables, and it is
Thanks are due
to
Hamson Gough, Mary McCaulley, and Avnl Thome
for
valuable
suggestions
on
earlier drafts
of
this article, however, we retain full responsibility
for
the interpretations offered Correspondence concerning this article can be addressed
to Robert
R
McCrae, ftrsonality. Stress,
and
Coping Section, Gerontology
Re-
search Center, 4940 Eastem Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21224
Journal of Personality
57 1,
March
1989
18 McCrae and Costa
widely used to explam individuals' personality charactenstics not only
to professionals but also to the individuals themselves and to their
fnends, families, and co-workers These distinctions have made the
MBTI a popular personality instrument for organizational and lndustnal
psychologists (e g , Hirsh, 1985) and for individuals who wish to under-
stand themselves better
Personality psychologists, however, have generally been less enthu-
siastic about the MBTI Stacker and Ross (1964a, 1964b) conducted ex-
tensive and sophisticated analyses that led them to a cntical evaluation
of both the typology and the scales themselves, and their concerns have
been echoed by more recent cntics Theonsts complain that the Jungian
concepts that are supposed to underlie the MBTI have been distorted
(Coan, 1978, Comrey, 1983) Psychometncians are troubled by the con-
ception of psychological types (Mendelsohn, Weiss, & Feimer, 1982)
and the limited evidence that the MBTI measures anything other than
quasi-normally distributed personality traits (DeVito, 1985, Hicks,
1984)
Even cntical reviewers, however, see promise in the instrument, and
Its continued populanty, as well as empincal literature to date, suggests
that
It IS
effective at
some
level In
the
present article
we
assess the MBTI
from the perspective of Jungian theory, we then offer an alternative con-
ceptualization of the scales ofthe MBTI m terms of a taxonomy ofper-
sonality traits widely accepted in mainstream personality psychology,
the
five-factor
model (Digman & Inouye, 1986, McCrae & Costa, 1987,
Norman, 1963)
Jung's Types and the
MBTI
Scales
In
Psychological
Types,
Jung (1923/1971) reviewed the history of psy-
chological typologies from classical literature and poetry through the
wntmgs of William James as a basis for his own formulations His cen-
tral distinction was between introverted and extraverted attitudes, which
represent fundamental onentations to either the objective or the subjec-
tive world Further, he postulated that individuals relate to the world
through two sets of opposed functions the rational (or judging) functions
of thinking and feeling, and the irrational (or perceiving) functions of
sensing and intuition Finally, one of
the
four functions was seen as the
dominant, and a second as the auxiliary function
Although
It
provides nch insights mto some aspects of individual dif-
ferences, Jung's theory also creates formidable obstacles to the develop-
MBTI
and
NEO-PI
19
ment of an inventory for assessing types Much of his descnption con-
cerns the unconscious life of the individual, which is not directly
accessible to self-report The subjective world of introverts is populated
by archetypes and images that are not easily communicated, Jung wrote
that introverted feeling "manifests itself for
the
most part negatively" (p
387) and that the introverted sensing type "is uncommonly inaccessible
to objective understfuidmg, and he usually fares no better in understand-
ing
himself"
(p 397) Descnptions of attitudes and functions sometimes
seem to overlap—for
example,
sensing types often seem
to
resemble ex-
traverts—and all classifications are complicated by the intrusion of un-
conscious elements of the opposing function when the dominant, con-
scious function IS overdeveloped Finally, Jung's descnptions of what
might
be
considered superficial but objectively observable charactenstics
often include traits that do not empincally covary Jung descnbed extra-
verts as "open, sociable, jovial, or at least fnendly and approachable
characters" (p 330), but also as morally conventional (p 334) and
tough-mmded in James's sense (p 307) Decades of research on the di-
mension of extraversion show that these attnbutes simply do not cohere
in a single factor (Guilford, 1977, Guilford & Guilford, 1934) The
MBTI manual itself contradicts Jung by using tough-mmded to descnbe
the thinking function rather than the extraverted attitude (Myers &
McCaulley, 1985, p 13)
Faced with these difficulties, Myers and Bnggs created an instrument
by elaborating on the most easily assessed and distinctive traits sug-
gested by Jung's wntmgs and their own observations of individuals they
considered exemplars of different types and by relying heavily on tradi-
tional psychometnc procedures (pnncipally item-scale correlations)
Their work produced a set of internally consistent and relatively uncor-
related mdices measunng Extraversion-Introversion (EI), Sensing-In-
tuition (SN), and Thmking-Feeling (TF) They also added a Judgment-
Fterception (JP) index that indicates, in conjunction with the EI prefer-
ence,
whether the rational or irrational function is dominant Each ofthe
indices is dichotomized at a theoretically fixed zero point to show a
pref-
erence, and a four-letter code gives the type classification Numeric
scores indicate the strength of preference, and a continuous score can be
computed for each index that contrasts strengths of opposing prefer-
ences
Jungians might question the addition of the JP scale, or even the en-
terpnse of constructing a self-report type mdicator From the psycho-
metnc perspective, however, the MBTI may be looked upon as an ad-
20 McCrae and Costa
vance over Jung's largely untested speculations However
one
chooses to
evaluate the instrument, it is crucial to realize that it is not lsomorphic
with the theory on which it is based In consequence, using the MBTI to
test Jungian theory, or using the results of such tests to validate the
MBTI, must be viewed with caution
Continuous Scoring and Typologies
The MBTI is offered as a "type indicator" on the assumption that it can
classify individuals into
1
of
16
qualitatively different types, formed by
combination of
the
four dichotomous preferences In some respects, the
validity of this typology is the central question in the evaluation of the
instrument If qualitatively distinct types cannot be demonstrated, then
either Jung's theory is wrong, or the MBTI fails to operationahze it ade-
quately In the absence of evidence for the typology, the instrument be-
comes merely a series of scales whose information is reduced, rather
than increased, by dichotomous classifications, the charactenstics that
set It apart from countless other personahty instruments vanish, and it
must be evaluated and used m a more traditional context
MBTI theory specifies three levels at which distinctive typological
characteristics should be seen in qualitative differences between op-
posed preferences, in the identification of a dominant function through
the use ofthe EI and JP
scales,
and in statistical interactions among
pref-
erences on external cntena
The first issue concerns the validity of dichotomizing preference
scores Although most trait psychologists adopt the language of
types
in
discussing individuals (contrasting, e g , introverts and extraverts), this
IS
generally done as a convenient way of saying "above average on a nor-
mally distnbuted trait" or "below average " Jung himself appears to
adopt this position m some of his wntings, admitting that there are in-
termediate positions between pure introversion and pure extraversion, m
which individuals are "infiuenced as much from within as from without"
(1923/1971,
p 516) The authors of the MBTI, however, have adopted
the interpretation that types are mutually exclusive groups of people, and
that the cutting point between them is not arbitrary, but a true zero point
The most persuasive evidence for this would be a clear bimodal distn-
buuon of preference scores None of the MBTI indices shows bimodal-
lty, a point which Stncker and Ross (1964a) held against them
MBTI
and
NEO-PI
21
An alternative interpretation of the nature of types points to a more
subtle form of discontinuity, in which external correlates (or regression
coefficients) vary for the two types (Hicks, 1984, Mendelsohn et al ,
1982) The manual provides some studies showing such dispanties in the
relations between external cntena and opposite preferences For exam-
ple,
when grade-point average is plotted against EI scores, there appears
to be
a jump at
the
zero point, with introverts showing higher
grades
The
effect, however, is extremely subtle, and the authors admit that "for such
small differences to be visible, samples of 4,000-5,000 are needed"
(Myers & McCaulley, 1985, p 158) DeVito (1985) concludes that the
evidence provided by the manual on this issue is "weak "
A second typological charactenstic that must be addressed concerns
the JP index This preference is intended to show which ofthe two types
of functions—^judging or perceiving—is favored m dealing with the ex-
ternal world, m combination with the EI preference, it determines the
dominant and auxiliary functions specified in Jung's theory Individuals
classified as ENTJ (l e , Extraverted, Intuitive, Thinking, and Judging)
emphasize the judging function of Thinking in the external world, as Ex-
traverts, they would have Thinking as the dominant function and Intui-
tion as the auxiliary INTJs (Introverted, Intuitive, Thmhng, and Judg-
ing individuals) would also show a preference for Thinking m dealing
with the external world, but because they are Introverts, this would be
their auxiliary function The distinction between auxiliary and dominant
functions is important in Jungian theory, and forms the major rationale
for the JP index It is therefore surpnsing that so few studies have at-
tempted to validate it Myers and McCaulley noted that "according to
theory, the dominant function will show a clearer preference [l e , a
higher preference score] than will the auxiliary" (1985, p 58), but ad-
mitted that "scores for the dominant are greater than those for the auxil-
iary in only about half the types" (p 60)—as one would expect from
chance
Third, if
the 16
types represent unique configurations of attitudes and
preferences, as MBTI theory holds, there should be evidence of differ-
ences between types above and beyond that attnbutable to the four
pref-
erences themselves Although other interpretations are possible (Block
& Ozer, 1982), most researchers have interpreted this to mean that there
must be theoretically meaningful and statistically significant interaction
effects as well as main effects (Mendelsohn et al ,
1982,
Weiss, Mendel-
sohn, & Feimer, 1982) As Hicks (1985) noted, "without evidence for
22 McCiae and Costa
interactions there is no evidentiary basis for a 16-box matnx of distinct
types"
(p 13) Hicks (1984) herself failed to demonstrate predicted in-
teractions, and Stncker and Ross (1964a) found no evidence of interac-
tion effects m analyses of academic aptitude and performance measures
They recommended further study of this question using "other kinds of
vanables, particularly those from the personality sphere" (p 69) '
Finally, it might be noted that scale development apparently disre-
garded the hypothesized typologicd structure If the types are qualita-
tively distinct, one might need to create different scales to measure
Thinkmg-Feeling (and Sensation-Intuition) m extraverts and in intro-
verts Instead, the indices were developed as four independent scales,
with Item selection pooled across all different types
Ezpenmental and Conelational Approaches
to
Scale Validation
Most studies
on the
validity
of
the MBTI have focused
on
individual
m-
dices rather than
the
full typology Because
of
its explicit theoretical
ba-
sis,
some researchers have adopted
an
expenmental, hypothetico-deduc-
tive approach
to
validation
of the
MBTI indices
(J G
Carlson,
1985,
DeVito,
1985) For
example,
R
Carlson (1980) conducted
a
study
m
which students were asked
to
wnte letters mtroducmg themselves
to an
imagined foreign correspondent
As
hypothesized, intuitive types were
more likely to make references
to
the imagined other, sensing types were
more likely
to
provide physical descnptions
of
themselves
An alternative
to
the expenmental approach
in
personality research
is
the correlational study,
in
which
a new
scale
is
related
to
established
meastires It is possible to test specific hypotheses if alternative measures
of the same or theoretically related constructs are used
In
the case
of
the
MBTI, the problem is that few other mstruments attempt to measure Jun-
gian constructs Aside from those
m the
Jungian Type Survey (Wheel-
wnght, Wheelwnght, & Buehler, 1964), which do correlate with the cor-
1 The dependent vanables
for
which interaction effects should be found must,
of
course, be different from the MBTI categonzmg vanables
If
MBTI mdices
are
themselves simply nMsasures
of
tr^iitional personahty vanables,
it
would not make
sense to lode for interaction effects on other measures of
the
same perscmality van-
ables
HK
MBTI
typology,
however, claims
to be
sometfung
other than
an inventory
of personality traits, and
umter this
hypothesis, an examination of pMsonality mea-
sures as dependent vanables is appropnate
MBTI
and
NEO-PI
23
responding MBTI indices, there are few alternative measures of sensmg
versus mtuition or thinking versus feeling
Correlational research may also be exploratory, seeking an interpreta-
tion ofthe scale from a pattern of convergent and discnminant relations
There is no lack of correlational data on the MBTI, as the manual (Myers
& McCaulley, 1985) amply attests What is needed, however, is a mean-
ingful framework in which to organize and interpret the many corre-
lates—a set of standard dimensions by reference to which the MBTI in-
dices can be understood Ideally, this set would systematically sample
the full range ofpersonality traits, providing the basis for a comprehen-
sive assessment of
the
MBTI
One classification of traits—the
five-factor
model—seems to provide
a comprehensive taxonomy Beginning with the work of Allport and Od-
bert (1936), several studies have attempted to specify exhaustively the
range of personality traits by examining English language trait names,
on the assumption that native speakers would have evolved words for all
important individual differences Independently, Block (1961) and his
colleagues sought to provide a universal, clinically based language for
descnbing all important aspects of personality, and they developed the
California
Q-Set
(CQS) Research from both these traditions has con-
verged on the
five-factor
model ofpersonality (Goldberg,
1981,
McCrae,
Costa, & Busch, 1986, Nonnan, 1963), and the same factors have also
been identified in studies of several standard personality inventories
(Costa & McCrae, 1985a, McCrae & Costa, 1985a, 1987)
The
five-factor
model is not based on any single theory ofpersonality,
but has been shown to encompass scales that operationalize a ntimber of
theoretical perspectives (McCrae & Costa, 1985a, 1985b) The model
has been recovered m ratings (Tlipes & Chnstal, 1961) as well as
self-
reports (McCrae & Costa, 1985c), in German (Amelang & Borkenau,
1982) as well as Enghsh, m children (Digman & Inouye, 1986) as well
as adults Although not universally recognized as a comprehensive tax-
onomy (Waller & Ben-Porath, 1987), an mcreasmg number of person-
ahty researchers have adopted some version of the five-factor model
(Funder & Colvm,
1988,
McCrae & Costa, m press-a)
Each of the five dimensions represents a broad domain compnsing a
vanety of more discrete traits, or facets Neuroticism includes the pre-
disposition to expenence negative affects such as anxiety, anger, and
depression, and other cognitive and bdiavioral manifestations of emo-
tional instability Extraversion mcludes sociability, activity, dominance,
and the tendency to expenence positive emotions Openness to Expert-
24 McCiae and Costa
ence is seen in imaginativeness, aesthetic sensitivity, depth of feeling,
cunosity, and need for vanety Agreeableness encompasses sympathy,
trust, cooperation, and altruism.
Conscientiousness
includes organiza-
tion, persistence, scrupulousness, and need for achievement
Those familiar with the content and correlates of the MBTI indices
may note some conceptual similanties, beyond the obvious alignment of
the two Extraversion scales (Dachowski, 1987) In particular, Intuitives
seem to be open to expenence whereas sensing types are closed. Feeling
types seem to be agreeable and Thinking types antagonistic, and Judging
types seem high and Pfcrceivmg types low m Conscientiousness
^
Note
that these correspondences do not necessanly denve directly from Jun-
gian theory Jung (1923/1971) does descnbe both extraverted and intro-
verted intuitive types as "continually scenting out new possibilities" (p
400) in the outer and inner worlds, respectively, so the link of SN with
Openness
seems
justified However, as we have pointed out, Jung's con-
ception of extraversion is more diffuse than that embodied in the Extra-
version factor Moreover, it would be difficult to justify the association
of the feeling function with Agreeableness Fbr Jung, thinking is an in-
tellectual activity m which judgments are based on the rational applica-
tion of pnnciples,^e//«g is the assignment of value (acceptance or rejec-
tion) to objects of expenence An individual whose first reaction to each
expenence was a judgment of rejection (contempt, mistrust, or hatred)
without a logical basis would be classified by Jung as a feeling type, but
would probably score very low on the MBTI Feeling preference As de-
scnbed by Jung, the thinking and feeling functions seem to refer to em-
phases on different modes of expenence, and might be related more di-
rectly to facets of Openness (see Coan, 1974)
In the present research, we first examine charactenstics ofthe MBTI
typology, evaluating the utility of the JP scale in indicating dominant
function and searching for interaction effects on personality vanables
We then consider relations between the MBTI continuous scales and the
five factors ofpersonality as measured by the NEO Personality Inventory
(NEO-PI), usmg both self-reports and peer ratings ofpersonality In ad-
dition, we test the hypothesis that the TF scale is positively related to
2 Similarly, Conley (1985) associated Sensing versus Intuition with a Conserva-
tive-Radical dimension, and Thinking versus Feeling with a Tough-Mmded-
Tender-Minded dimension
MBTI
and NEO-PI 25
openness to Feelings, and negatively related to openness to Ideas These
analyses should provide a basis for understanding the MBTI scores
within the framework of
a
widely accepted personality taxonomy
METHOD
Subjects
Participants in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Agmg (BLSA, Shock et
al , 1984) and their spouses provided data for the study BLSA volunteers
are a group of predominantly white, community-dwelling individuals who
have agreed to return for periodic biomedical and psychological testing
Most have at least a college degree, and many have advanced degrees Com-
pansons with a national sample (Costa et al , 1986) suggest that they are
somewhat higher than the general population in Openness to Expenence, but
do not differ markedly m Extraversion or Neuroticism The 267 men who
provided complete data on both the NEO-PI and MBTI ranged in age from
21 to 93 (M = 62 7), the 201 women ranged in age from 19 to 93 (M =
58 9)
A subsample of 70 men and 35 women had previously participated m a
peer ratmg study Mean ratings on the NEO-PI were provided by from one
to four fnends and neighbors, details are given elsewhere (McCrae & Costa,
1987)
Measures
Form G of the MBTI (Myers & McCaulley, 1985) was used in this study
This form consists of 126 questions, of which only 94 are actually scored
Most Items offer a forced-choice between two responses, although some
have more response options, and respondents are occasionally allowed to
endorse two or more responses Separate sconng keys are provided for each
preference (e g , both E and I, both S and N), although most items are sim-
ply reverse scored for the opposing function Because the opposing prefer-
ence scores are almost completely lpsative, they are not analyzed separately
here Preference is determined by the greater of the two preference scores
(with provisions for breaking ties), and a four-letter code (e g , INTJ) sum-
manzes all four sets of contrasts and specifies into which ofthe
16
types the
individual is classified
Four continuous scores can also be obtained that correspond to the differ-
ence between opposing preferences, these scores have a theoretical neutral
point of 100 Both intemal consistency and retest reliability of the continu-
ous scores are adequate, according to the manual, from
31%
to
61%
of sub-
26 McCrae and Costa
jects showed identical four-letter types after retest intervals of from 5 weeks
to 6 years The four contmuous scores show low intercorrelations except for
SN and
JP,
which are positively related, r = 38, m both normative data and
the present sample
The NEO-PI (Costa & McCrae, 1985b) is a 181-item questionnaire de-
veloped to operationalize the five-factor model Early work emphasized the
three domams of Neuroticism (N), Extraversion (E), and Openness to Ex-
penence (O). each measured by six
8-item
facet scales and a total domain
scale The facets of Neuroticism are Anxiety, Hostility, Depression,
Self-
Consciousness, Impulsiveness, and Vulnerability, the facets of Extraversion
are Warmth, Greganousness, Assertiveness, Activity, Excitement Seeking,
and Positive Emotions, and the facets of Openness are Fantasy, Aesthetics,
Feelings, Actions, Ideas, and Values Global, 18-item scales measunng the
domains of Agreeableness (A) and Conscientiousness (C) were later added
NEO-PI Items are answered on a
5-point
Likert scale, and scales are bal-
anced to control for acquiescence Social desirability does not appear to bias
NEO-PI scales when used in volunteer samples (McCrae & Costa, 1983)
Intemal consistency for the five domain scales ranges from 76 to 93, and
scores for adults are very stable, with 3- to
6-year
retest coefficients ranging
from 63 to 83 (Costa & McCrae, 1988) NEO-PI scales have been corre-
lated with other questionnaires, observer
ratings,
and sentence completions,
and have been used to predict psychological well-being, coping styles, and
somatic complaints (Costa & McCrae, 1985b) A thu-d-person form of the
NEO-PI has been developed and validated for use by raters (McCrae &
Costa, 1987)
The 18 N, E, and O facet scales and the A and C domain scales were
factored to provide an optimal operationalization of the five-factor model
(McCrae & Costa, in press-b) Factors were rotated to maximize convergent
and discnmmant validity with a senes of extemal cntena, including peer
and spouse ratings and
self-
and interviewer Q-sorts The NEO-PI factors
correlate highly with their corresponding domain scales (rs = 79 to 96),
but show a somewhat stronger pattem of convergent and discnminant valid-
ity, particularly for the A and C factors
The MBTI and NEO-PI were mailed to subjects m June 1986 and retumed
by mail, peer ratings on the NEO-PI were
{*tained
m 1983 Because of the
stability of personality scores m adults, this time lag is unlikely to affect
results substantially (Costa & McCrae, 1985a) Both inventones were
scored according to directions in the manuals, and all subjects with com-
plete data are mcluded in the analyses
Finally, instruments offenng altemative operationalizations of the five-
factor model had been administered to subsets of subjects Factors from
self-
sorts on Block's (1961) CQS (McCrae et al , 1986) were available for 119
men and 49 women, factors from an adjective checklist (McCrae & Costa,
1985c) were available for 133 men and 58 women
42
65
35
48
72
80
46
68
28 McCiae and Costa
Tabtol
Cross-Tabulation
ot
Hypothesized Dommant Function by Observed
Stronger Preference
Hypothesized dominant function
Observed stronger preference Judging Perceiving
Men"
Judging
Perceiving
Women"
Judging
Perceiving
Note Data from
8
men and 4 women with tied preference scores are omitted
a Continuity-adjusted chi-square
=
1
37, ns
b Continuity-adjusted chi-square
= 0
01,
ns
square analysis showed
no
significant association
for
either
men or
women
It
is possible that these results are due to the fact that the range
for the SN score is greater than the range for the TF score, mcreasmg the
probability that all individuals will have a higher preference score on the
perceivmg function
To
examine this possibility, both SN and TF scores
were standardized to have
a
mean of
0
and
a
standard deviation
of
1,
the
higher absolute
value
was taken to indicate a more clearly preferred func-
tion Again, chi-square analysis failed to show
a
significant association
with the hypothesized dommant function in either men or women These
data provide no support for
the
MBTI system as a means of assessing the
Jungian dominant function
To
examine the configural effects ofthe MBTI classifications on nor-
mal personality dimensions, multivanate analyses of vanance were per-
formed on the five NEO-PI factor scores using the four MBTI dichoto-
mies
as
classifying vanables
A
total
of
55 two-, three-,
and
four-way
interactions were thus examined Overall
F
tests were significant for the
main effects
and
for
the EI x JP
interaction,
but
not
for
any
of
the
10
other
two-,
three-, and four-way interaction terms Inspection ofthe uni-
vanate
F
tests for the EI
x
JP interaction showed one significant effect
NEO-PI Neuroticism
was
particularly high among individuals
who
showed both
I
and P preferences However, when examined withm sex,
this effect
was
significant only for women These analyses do not support
the hypothesis that personality traits will be affected by particular com-
binations
of
MBTI preferences into qualitatively distinct types Instead,
MBTI
and NEO-PI 29
Table 2
Mean Levels of NEO-PI Factor Scores for
MBTI
Preferences
NEO-PI factor
Neuroticism
Extra-
version
Openness
Agreeableness
Conscien-
tiousness
E
48 6
55 7
504
50 3
487
N 214
I
50 4*
44
50
49
49
254
S
49 4
4***
48 8
2
1
8
45 1
49 0
49 9
264
MBTI
N
49 7
50 5
preference
T
47
48
56 9*** 49
50 6
48 5
204
46
50
297
7
7
6
9
3
F
52 8***
51 1*
515
54
4***
47 6***
J
48
48
49
49
51
171 357
9
8
1
5
4
P
51
51
54
50
42
111
8
9**
Q***
2
•7***
Note NEO-PI = NEO Personahty Inventory MBTI = Myers-Bnggs Type Indicator
E = Extraverted, I = Introverted, S = Sensing, N = Intuitive T = Thinking, F =
Feeling, J = Judging, P = Perceiving
*p< 05
**p< 01
**V<
001
the four-letter type codes of
the
MBTI simply summarize four indepen-
dent main effects
Analyses were then repeated using contrasting MBTI preferences and
gender as classifying vanables Because there were no Preference x
Gender interactions, only the mam effects for preference need be consid-
ered, mean values for the NEO-PI factors (expressed as T scores) are
given m Table 2 These findings show that individuals categonzed as In-
troverts by the MBTI score slightly higher in NEO-PI Neuroticism and
much lower in NEO-PI Extraversion, Intuitive types score higher in
Openness to Expenence, Feeling types score higher
m
Neuroticism, Ex-
traversion, and Agreeableness, and lower
m
Conscientiousness, and Psr-
ceivmg types score higher m NEO-PI Extraversion and Openness, and
lower m Conscientiousness
Analyses ol Continuous Scores
Although several of these effects are large m magnitude, the typal analy-
sis probably underestimates the true relations, because information is
lost when the MBTI indices are dichotomized A clearer picture can be
seen when the continuous scale scores are used, and correlations be-
tween the MBTI scores and self-reported NEO-PI factors are given in
30McCrae and Costa
Tabto 3
Correlations of Self-Reported
NEO-PI
Factors
With MBTI
Continuous
Scales in Men and Women
MBTI scales
Men
EI (Introversion)
SN (Intuition)
TF (Feeling)
JP (Perception)
Women
EI (Introversion)
SN (Intuition)
TF (Feeling)
JP (Perception)
N
16**
- 06
06
11
17*
01
28***
04
NEO-PI factor
E
_
•74***
10
19**
15*
_
69***
22**
10
20**
0
03
72***
02
30***
-
-03
69***
- 02
26***
A
03
04
44***
06
08
03
46***
05
C
08
- 15*
- 15*
-
49***
08
- 10
-
22**
-
46***
Note A' = 267 for men, 201 for women NEO-PI = NEO Personahty Inventory,
MBTI = Myers-Bnggs Type Indicator N = Neuroticism, E = Extraversion, O =
Openness to Expenence, A = Agreeableness, C = Conscientiousness
*p< 05
**p< 01
***p< 001
Table 3, for men and women separately Note that the MBTI continuous
scores are given in the direction ofthe second letter, that
is,
they measure
introversion, intuition, feeling, and perceiving For both men and
women, the correlations between the two extraversion measures and be-
tween the MBTI SN index and NEO-PI Openness factor are around 7 in
absolute magnitude, corrected for unrealiability, they would approach
unity There are also substantial correlations between MBTI TF and
NEO-PI Agreeableness and between JP and Conscientiousness in both
sexes
Among both men and women there is a modest correlation between
the JP scale and Openness, which is understandable in view of the cor-
relation between JP and SN Among women. Intuition shows a small as-
sociation with NEO-PI Extraversion, and feeling preference is related to
higher Neuroticism and lower Conscientiousness In general, however,
the pattem of correlations is very similar for men and women
Table 4 gives correlations between NEO-PI factor scores denved from
mean peer ratings with the self-reported continuous MBTI scores for
men and women separately Results provide strong cross-observer reph-
MBTI
and
NEO-PI
31
Tabl*4
Correlations of Peer-Sated
NEO-PI
Factois With
MBTI
Continuous
Scales in Men and Women
MBTI scales
Men
EI (Introversion)
SN (Intuition)
TF (Feeling)
JP (Perception)
Women
EI (Introversion)
SN (Intuition)
TF (Feeling)
JP (Perception)
N
05
07
- 11
- 10
08
16
15
12
NEO-PI factor
E
_ 34**
06
22
11
- 38*
09
- 01
00
0
15
61***
-
01
04
-04
41*
-
- 06
18
A
10
27*
25*
10
03
01
46**
11
C
17
- 15
- 16
- 34**
- 02
- 04
- 39*
-
55***
Note N = 10 for men, 35 for women NEO-PI = NEO Personality Inventory, MBTI
= Myers-Bnggs Type Indicator N = Neuroticism, E = Extraversion, O = Openness
to Expenence, A = Agreeableness, C = Conscientiousness
*p< 05
**p< 01
***p< 001
cation of the findings seen within self-reports in Tables 2 and 3 In both
men and women, EI is significantly (negatively) correlated with peer-
rated Extraversion, SN with peer-rated Openness, TF with peer-rated
Agreeableness, and JP (negatively) with peer-rated Conscientiousness
Two other correlations are significant, but not replicated across gender
Men who score m the Intuitive direction are seen by peers as being lower
in
Agreeableness, and women who score m the Feeling direction are seen
as being lower
m
Conscientiousness Note that none of the MBTI indices
IS
related to peer-rated Neuroticism
The relations shown in Tables
3
and
4
were replicated when alternative
measures of the five factors were examined in subsets of subjects The
EI index was correlated with Extraversion factors from the CQS (r =
- 58, N =
168,
p < 001) and the adjective checklist (r = - 62,N
=
191,
p < 001), the SN index with Openness factors (rs = 56 and
54),
the TF index with Agreeableness factors (rs = 46 and 32), and
the JP index with Conscientiousness factors (rs = - 29 and - 28, all
ps< 001) These correlations suggest that
the
correspondences between
the MBTI and the NEO-PI are generalizable to other measures of the
five-factor model that do not rely on standard questionnaire format
32 McCrae and Costa
Scatterplots of the significant relations in Tables 3 and 4 were exam-
ined visually for evidence of deviations from lineanty or discontinuity at
the transition point between contrasting types None was apparent
Finally, the MBTI TF scale was correlated with two relevant facets of
Openness to Expenence that provide a test ofthe distinctive onentations
of thinking and feeling As hypothesized, a preference for feeling was
directly related to Openness to Feelings in both self-reports (r = 30, N
= 468,p< 001), and peer ratings (r= 24,A^=105,p< 05),itwas
inversely related to Openness to Ideas (rs = -
16,
p<
001,
and - 21,
p < 05, for self-reports and peer
ratings,
respectively) Thus, although
the TF scale appears chiefiy to measure aspects ofthe domain of Agree-
ableness, It does show some ability to differentiate between onentations
toward thinking and feeling
DISCUSSION
The results of the present study provide the basis for a very mixed eval-
uation—-or a radical reinterpretation—of the MBTI Consistent with
much previous research (especially Stncker & Ross, 1964a), the study
found no support for the typological theory the instrument is intended to
embody There was no evidence that preferences formed true dichoto-
mies,
the 16 types did not appear to be qualitatively distinct, because
analyses of then-joint effects on personality dimensions showed that only
1 of 55 interactions was significant, and only m women, and, contrary to
hypothesis, the theoretically dominant function was no more clearly pre-
ferred than the auxiliary The Jungian prediction that opposing functions
should be developed in later life was not confirmed using the MBTI The
correlates of individual scales were consistent with their item content, '
but would probably not have been predicted from Jungian theory Froni
the perspective of construct validation, the MBTI appears to have very
senous problems Weighing the evidence to date, the MBTI does not
seem to be a promising instrument for measunng Jung's types, those
who embrace Jung's theory should probably avoid the MBTI
Conversely, those who have found the MBTI to be a useful instrument
for assessing and descnbing individual differences should senously con-
sider abandoning Jungian theory and some of the associated language
Yet how can the MBTI be interpreted or employed without reference to
Jung's psychological types'? One alternative is to adopt the perspective
of the five-factor model of personality Each of the four indices showed
MBTI and NEO-PI 33
impressive evidence of convergence with one of the five major dimen-
sions of normal personality, whether assessed through self-reports or
peer ratings It is these convergences that probably account for the many
meaningful associations between MBTI scales and extemal cntena such
as occupational preferences, creativity, and educational performance
The correspondences seen in the present study are generally consistent
with the body of literature on the correlates of the MBTI (see Myers &
McCaulley, 1985, pp 175-223) For example, the SN index, which is
highly correlated with Openness to Expenence m the present study, is
also related to the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF, Ca-
tell,
Eber, & Tatsuoka, 1970) Intelligence, Tender-Mmdedness, Imagi-
nativeness, and Radicalism scales, which are known to form an openness
factor (McCrae & Costa, 1985b) Studies summanzed m the MBTI
manual showing that creativity is characteristic of intuitive types are
consistent with recent evidence that most personality vanables related to
creativity measure aspects of Openness to Expenence (McCrae, 1987)
Again, the JP scale seems from the current perspective to measure an
aspect of Conscientiousness, and the manual shows that it is related to
other measures of orderliness and self-disciplme, such as 16PF Control
and Superego Strength
The view of the MBTI indices provided by the five-factor model ex-
plains some anomalous correlations reported in the manual For exam-
ple,
one might suppose that the Thinking Introversion scale of the Om-
nibus Pfersonality Inventory (OPI, Heist, McConnell, Webster, & Yonge,
1963) would be related to Thinking and to Introversion, m fact, it is vir-
tually unrelated (rs = 10) to either the EI or the TF index However, it
IS
strongly related (r = 53) to the SN index These relations make sense
if Thinking Introversion is viewed as a form of thoughtfulness or open-
ness to ideas The Thinking Introversion factor of
the
Guilford-Zimmer-
man Temperament Survey (Guilford, Zimmerman, & Guilford, 1976) is
known to load on a broader Openness to Experience factor (Costa &
McCrae, 1985a)
Similarly, a reinterpretation ofthe MBTI scales can make better sense
of some of the reported correlates of the TF index TF is positively re-
lated to needs for Affiliation, Blameavoidance, Nurturance, and Succor-
ance on Stein's (1966) Self-Descnption Questionnaire, and negatively
related to needs for Aggression, Counteraction, and Dominance These
correlations could not be predicted from Jung's definitions of thinking
and feeling functions, but are easily understood withm the broader con-
34McCiae and Costa
stmct of Agreeableness The TF index emphasizes a cognitive style as-
sociated with Agreeableness, the Stem scales represent interpersonal as-
pects of
the
same broad domain
The five-factor model is purely descnptive, it does not explain the
ongins ofpersonality nor
the
mechanisms that account for individual dif-
ferences Can Jungian psychology provide a theoretical basis for any of
the factors'' In particular, can individual differences in Openness and
Agreeableness, respectively, be attnbuted to different styles of perceiv-
ing and judging
"^
A brief examination of this possibility raises some
doubts Although openness is related to perception m the broad sense of
taking m information, the contrast between sensation and intuition does
not seem to capture the essence of openness Open individuals use their
five senses as much or more than closed individuals, they differ not m
the type of information they prefer, but rather m the quantity Similarly,
agreeable people differ from antagonistic people not simply in a prefer-
ence for feeling over logic, but in a preference for warm feelmgs over
cold logic Other psychologists, however, may perceive deeper connec-
tions between Jungian theory and the
five-factor
model, further explora-
tion of
this
issue would be welcome
The dimensional model offered here as an altemative to a Jungian ty-
pology may seem deficient in another respect In their cntique of the ear-
lier three-dimensional NEO trait model, Whitboume and Weinstock
(1986) argued that "What is still lacking is a set of predictions con-
ceming the interrelationships among the three dunensions and different
combinations
of
scores
on the three personality factors" (pp 224-225)
The MBTI types attempt to satisfy the need
to
consider the whole pattem
of traits and summanze personality m a single comprehensive Gestalt
In fact, however, there is no evidence that MBTI types represent unique
configurations, they merely summanze four additive main effects INTJs
differ from ENTJs only
m
the ways that mtroverts differ from extraverts,
EI does not interact with
the
other indices
to
form qualitatively new com-
binations
The fact that personality dimensions do not appear to mteract to form
distmct types of persons does not mean that traits do not mteract with
one another and with situations
m
determmmg behavior
At
a social gath-
ermg the anxious introvert may worry about meeting strangers, the anx-
ious
extravert
may
worry about
being
left alone These interactions, how-
ever, are dynamic determinants ofthe ongoing flow of
behavior,
and are
not useful m charactenzmg the mdividual
MBTI
and
NEO-PI
35
Some Implications for the Interpretation
of the MBTI
There are numerous books, chapters, and pamphlets devoted to an expla-
nation of the MBTI types for use by counselors, personnel psycholo-
gists,
educators, and laypersons They descnbe the
16
cells individually
or in subgroups (e g , Introverted Thinkers) The descnptions are based
in part on Jungian theory, in part on the item content of the indices, and
in part on empmcal research or personal expenence with the types How
well these descnptions square with known correlates of the indices can
be roughly gauged by substituting the corresponding factor names from
Table 3 for the MBTI codes Fbr example, the ENFJ type is, m terms of
the five-factor model, extraverted, open, agreeable, and conscientious
Myers and McCaulley's (1985, p 21) descnption of individuals of this
type appears to fit extraverted, agreeable, and conscientious individuals
(although there is httle m the descnption suggesting openness) Most of
the descnptions provided m the manual seem to be reasonably good by
this cntenon
However, the accompanying assertions about the dominance of partic-
ular preferences in inner and outer life are based solely on Jungian theory
and on the use of the JP and EI scales to determine the dominant func-
tion, and are not supported by data There is no good evidence that the
JP scale has any beanng at all on the relative importance of thinking or
perceiving However, MBTI users might wish to reconceptualize the JP
scale as an mdex of preference for structured versus spontaneous living,
this view
IS
supported by the item content and the extemal correlates
The use of dichotomous preference scores is also questionable, as
many reviewers have noted Some authors (e g , Keirsey & Bates, 1978)
have taken the reality of the dichotonues so senously that they estimate
their numbers m the population—surely an unwarranted reification In
mterpretmg scores, Myers (1980) advised individuals to explore closely
related types (differmg in one or two letters) to see if
a
better fit could be
found In fact, however, most individuals will probably accept at face
value whatever descnption is provided This system errs in two ways by
nusclassifymg many of the individuals who are near the cuttmg point,
and by failing to note the large differences that may be found within type
between those with strong and weak preferences At one time, tied
scot^s were designated by an "x" in the type code (e g , ExTJ), it might
be
useful to restore this practice, classifymg everyone in the middle third
36 McCrae and Costa
or so of the distnbution on each index as an "x " Data on the retest sta-
bility of types (Table 10 7 of the manual) show that such a policy could
substantially increase reliability
Merits of Alternative Instruments and
Approaches
Most personality inventones report scores in terms of continuous scales,
using all available information MBTI users have this option, by attend-
ing to the preference scores or continuous scores A companson of the
MBTI with the NEO-PI, however, suggests some ways m which MBTI
users might benefit from the supplementary use of other personality in-
struments Most conspicuous is the lack of a Neuroticism factor in the
MBTI Its absence is understandable on two counts first, because emo-
tional instability versus adjustment did not enter into Jung's definitions
of
the
types, and second, because the authors of
the
test were apparently
philosophically committed to a position which saw each type as equally
valuable and positive (Myers with Myers, 1980)—a view that is difficult
to hold with regard to Neuroticism ' Although it makes interpretation of
results palatable to most respondents, this approach also omits informa-
tion that may be cmcial to employers, co-workers, counselors, and the
individuals themselves For many, if not most, applications, some mea-
sure of Neuroticism would be useful
Further, the MBTI does not give comprehensive information on the
four domains it does sample The TF scale, for example, encompasses
the tough- versus tender-minded aspect of Agreeableness, but has no di-
rect measures of interpersonal aspects such as trust, altmism, and co-
operativeness All four indices give only
a
broad, global picture, without
any distinctions of traits within each domain Other personality mea-
sures give more detail For example, the NEO-PI provides information
on
SIX
specific facets of Extraversion—Warmth, Greganousness, Asser-
tiveness, Activity, Excitement Seefang, and Positive Emotions This is
especially important for understanding individuals who score in the av-
erage range on overall extraversion Individuals who are good leaders but
relatively sober and senous may score the same as others who are cheer-
3 To a lesser extent, the same cnticism applies to the TF and JP mdices Descnp-
tions downplay the antagonistic side of Thinking types and the lazy and disorganized
side of Ftrceivmg types
MBTI and NEO-PI 37
ful and jovial, but would rather let others make decisions Such differ-
ences would be important in a variety of applied settings, and show the
potential value of supplementing the MBTI with other measures
There are two ways in which the users of other psychological tests can
benefit from experience with the MBTI First, translation of the MBTI
mdices into the common language of
the
five-factor
model makes it pos-
sible to assimilate the extensive empincal literature on the MBTI For
example, dozens of occupations have been classified with respect to the
frequency of MBTI preferences (Myers & McCaulley, 1985) Intuitive
types are disproportionately found in such occupations as artist, wnter,
and psychologist, whereas sensing types choose vocations such as
farmer, mechanic, or clencal worker When the SN index is interpreted
as a measure of Openness
to
Experience, these data provide valuable rep-
lications of other work linking Openness to vocational preferences
(Costa, McCrae, & Holland, 1984)
At another level, those who develop and employ personahty measures
can leam a good deal from the strategies of application that have been
used with the MBTI Decades of expenence show that it is possible and
sometimes useful to descnbe personality m lay terms, to teach individ-
uals the nature and value of individual differences, and to increase un-
derstanding among people who interact by shanng information on per-
sonahty and explaining differences m styles Adapting such approaches
to instmments that include measures of ostensibly undesirable traits such
as Neuroticism will require tact and skill, but promises to be valuable in
the long mn Regardless of the mstmment used, information given to
laypersons should refiect current knowledge m personality psychology
If the MBTI IS used, evidence to date suggests that it may be better to
abandon its Jungian framework and reinterpret the MBTI in terms ofthe
five-factor model
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... Moreover, data can be collected over time on successful/unsuccessful collaborations and used to estimate these service rates. Additional research on determining the service rates of server teams is outside the scope of this paper, but we would like to point out that there is a significant body of research in this area, see for example Briggs and Myers (1976), Comrey (1983), Mas andMoretti (2009), McCrae andCosta (1989), Moore (1987), Schultz et al. (2010), Shunko et al. (2018). ...
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... The MBTI reorganises these, plus adding judging and perceiving as a dimension in its own right, to make four dimensions that result in sixteen possible personality types. McCrae and Costa (1989) concluded that the MBTI did not align with Jungian theory but that it did converge with the Big Five. ...
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