Why The Big Five is A Science, While The MBTI Isn’t, And Why That’s Okay
Are you someone who loves to talk about the Myers-Briggs personality type, while your best friend prefers the Big 5? Have you ever wondered which one is the “true” measure of personality and why? If so, this post is for you. I will discuss what makes each one unique and explain why it matters in today’s world.
Despite their differences, both frameworks are useful tools for understanding our personalities – with different strengths and weaknesses. By acknowledging these nuances within each framework, we can gain deeper insight into ourselves and others. It’s time to get to know the Big 5 alongside the MBTI a bit better – let’s begin!
First, let’s get the facts on the table. The Big 5 is considered by most psychologists to be a superior model to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Why?
- It has been shown to be a more stable and accurate predictor of human behavior.
- While it may have some bias, it has more cross-cultural validity than the MBTI, which was primarily developed for an American and Western audience.
- It has been found to be a more effective tool for career counseling and development than the MBTI.
Still, the MBTI is more popular. Why?
Why The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Is More Popular
The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a popular and widely used tool for understanding personality, despite being considered less accurate than the Big 5. Why? Because of its success in defining specific and distinct personality types. These archetypes provide a popular framework to organize people in a group or company. While the Big 5 statistics are more accurate and nuanced, the MBTI creates patterns in human behavior, and slices personality into 16 slices of a pie. These types become shared as they promise to describe “the full package” of a person, making it feel like a full-course meal, while the Big Five looks more like a receipt showing all the individual ingredients in a dish.
These 16 personality stereotypes are also addictively fun, as people can get immediately started with organizing all their friends and family members as well as their favorite celebrities into their best-fit personality type.
The popularity of the MBTI clearly highlights the challenges faced by the scientific community. When an academic speaks about science, they use careful words, like tend to, may, and try to be as specific as possible. When a YouTuber or blogger picks up or shares information, they use strong and action-oriented words, sparking passion in their audience. While these personality types are clearly simplifications, they provide an easy tool that can be used by laymen without having to try to understand a complex cognitive theory or trying to understand specific behaviors or reasons.
Why The Myers Briggs Type Indicator Is Flawed
The problem though is that many of these articles about personality types are highly inaccurate, and rely on gross generalizations. Many are prone to the problem of the Forer effect. These articles and descriptions are so general, and so vague, that any person in the world would agree with the description. The risk is that the MBTI community perpetuates misunderstanding and oversimplification without gaining a proper understanding of the individual and their specific situation and thought process. The challenge for any MBTI enthusiast then is to try to make sure that:
* That they not only focus on trying to type people but try to understand the traits and cognitive functions of a person, as well as the person’s unique development and subtype.
* That they try to connect their insights and findings with findings in the Big Five or in neuroscience.
* That they spend less time on vague and ambiguous patterns, and focus more on clear and measurable differences in behavior, thinking, or decision-making.
Similarly, the challenge for any Big 5 enthusiast is as follows:
* To try to make Big 5 tests and results more easily digestible by a wider audience, by showing or attempting to make more patterns in the data. Break the numbers down into categories, to improve the overview, and give people a more easy starting point.
* To try to use design and copywriting, to make the system more playful and entertaining or share-worthy.
* To focus more on the application in a business setting or by individuals without a scientific background.
How Do We Move Forward?
In conclusion, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a popular and widely used tool for understanding personality. While it may not be as accurate as the Big 5 statistics, its success in defining specific and distinct personality types has made it an addictively fun way to categorize people into archetypes that provide a shared framework for organizing them. However, there are challenges with this system that must be addressed if we are to gain a proper understanding of individual traits, cognitive functions, and unique development.
To do so requires both MBTI enthusiasts to focus on more than just typing people while also taking cues from neuroscience findings; as well as Big Five enthusiasts making their results easier to digest by showing patterns in data or improving design/copywriting techniques. By doing so we can ensure that everyone benefits from having access to reliable information about human behavior and cognition.
Do you agree or disagree? Leave a comment below!
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