SAMPLE TEST CRITIQUE
1. Name of the Test, Purpose and Publisher:
a. Name of Test:
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
The purpose of the MBTI is to classify individuals based on four dichotomies of different theoretical dimensions (Extraversion vs. Introversion, Sensing vs. Intuition, thinking vs. Feeling and Judging vs. Perceiving). Individuals can be classified into four dimensions to create one “conscious psychological type” (Keyser and Sweetland, 1984). This “conscious psychological type” is derived and adapted from the Carl Jung’s personality theories of the 19th century. The original authors of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator are Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers (Keyser and Sweetland, 1984). These two women assembled the MBTI as an operational instrument of Jung’s theory of psychological types.
According to Tests in Print, the publisher of the MBTI is the Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc (Impara et al., 2002).
2. Construction Methodology:
The most recent form of the MBTI is the MBTI Form Q Step II. According to The 15th Mental Measurements Yearbook, the MBTI Step II develops a facet approach and uses IRT (item response theory) in order to select items (2003). The facet approach is used to distinguish an individual’s personality type more descriptively than without a facet approach. Originally, the MBTI did not use a facet approach, but instead used only the four dichotomies of personality type (as listed above under “Construction and Methodology”). Presently, the MBTI Form Q Step II uses 5 facets for each of the four dichotomies of personality. Thus, the total number of facets is 20. An example of the facet approach would be that if two people scored “Extraversion” on the MBTI, one might have a certain dominant facets of initiating, expressive and gregarious, while another individual might have certain dominant facets of expressive, gregarious, and enthusiastic.
The MBTI is also constructed using item response theory. Item Response Theory or IRT is a theoretical approach to test construction. In addition, this test is also constructed using a forced choice, self report inventory (Keyser, 1984).
3. Evidence of Reliability
Impara et al. in The 15th Mental Measurements Yearbook (2003) has found that the internal consistency of the MBTI is “particularly good given the small number of items (from 5 to 9) on each face.” They noted that alpha coefficients have ranged from of .57 to .85 (Impara et al., 2003). In addition, test-retest reliability has been shown to be good (Impara et al., 2003). In terms of reliability this is very important, because this shows that individuals will consistently receive the same MBTI type when retaking the test.
4. Evidence of Validity
Validity is when a test measures what it intended to measure. According to The 15th Mental Measurements Yearbook, the MBTI has been shown to provide three types of validity (Impara et al., 2003). First, it has been found that the facets of form Q, Step II have been shown to have convergent validity, because the facet items correlate with one another (Impara et al., 2003). Secondly, the MBTI facets have been shown to not correlate with facet scales from other dimensions, which provides the test discriminate validity (Impara et al., 2003). Additionally, Impara et al. also included that most of the research done in comparing the MBTI scales to tests similar or like it, have found that “most of the correlations are in the expected direction” and this gives some evidence of concurrent validity (Impara et al., 2003).
Despite the above evidence that validates the MBTI, there are still questions as to the issue of social desirability, which could hinder the validity of the MBTI. Unfortunately, one cannot know absolutely for certain whether or not an individual is providing a socially desirable answer or not. However, The 15th mental Measurements Yearbook stressed the importance of validity scales and concluded that the MBTI ought to include validity scales (like social desirability scales) in order to make better conclusions based on test outcomes (Impara et al., 2003). In addition, further research still needs to be conducted on the predictive validity of the MBTI (Impara et al., 2003). There is not much evidence that a person of a given MBTI personality will behave in a given way in a given social or work situation. The MBTI doesn’t provide evidence of any predictive behavior according to personality type.
5. The pros of the test according to reviewers
According to the reviewers, Keyser and Sweetland, one of the most favorable aspects of the MBTI is that the test has allowed individuals to “gain more self-acceptance, other-acceptance and an appreciation of differences in human behavior” (1984). Because of the above, the MBTI has been used to help individuals acknowledge differences, communicate better, make decisions, understand themselves better and help create awareness about individual differences in the work environment.
In addition, test reviewers, Keyser and Sweetland, have advocated positive outcomes of the MBTI. They stated that “the normality of test items and type descriptions, the positive nature f the instrument, the ease of administration and scoring, the usefulness of the theory, the development of the support organization CAPT, and the publishing dedicated journal— have shared a role in the wide acceptance of the MBTI” (Keyser and Sweetland, 1984). Indeed, the MBTI provides a constructive way for individuals to assess the positive nature of their personalities.
6. The cons of the test according to reviewers
Since the MBTI is a self-report test, it relies solely on the participant to answer items with accuracy. In many instances mood can invariably alter the way a person perceives himself or herself, and thus the individual might incur error into their MBTI assessment. Also, the test is forced choice and contains ipsative items. This is detrimental because an individual taking the test may not always want to choose one item over another. Instead, the individual may consider himself or herself to relate somewhat to one choice and somewhat to the other choice.
In addition, the categorization of persons into only one out of sixteen possible personality types may be very flawed. Of course this can aid someone in acknowledging their tendencies toward a certain type of personality, but two persons with the same type may vary in who they are a great deal. Thus, the MBTI cannot provide a more complex review of a person’s unique traits. As cited in Impara et al., Fleenor and Mastrangelo in 2001 noted that most individual’s score near the mean on at least on of the major dimensions of the test (2003). For this reason, these individual’s scores could fluctuate given different mood or circumstance. Therefore, type classification is often not fixed. Advocates of MBTI hope that the facet scales will help to provide a more descriptive and stable interpretation of an individual’s personality.
Impara, J.C, Murphy, L.C., Plake, B.S., Spies, R.A. (Eds.). (2002). Tests in Print: an index to test reviews and the literature on Specific Tests.
Impara, J.C, Murphy, L.C., Plake, B.S., Spies, R.A. (Eds.). (2003). The 15th Mental Measurements Yearbook.
Keyser, D.J., Sweetland, R.C. (Eds.). (1984). Test Critiques (Vol. 1).