I am often asked by clients and fellow practitioners to compare the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Multi-Rater Personality Inventory (MRPI). More often than not, I find that the MRPI has a broader usage and the ability to make predictions is very useful. That being said, the MBTI has been around for much longer and is a widely used tool. Why not use both! In this article I examine what each assessment measures and how they can be used together.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
Based on Jung’s personality theory, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) examines the personality by examining four trait dichotomies:
- Extraversion-Introversion (how we express energy)
- Sensing-Intuition (how we perceive the world)
- Thinking-Feeling (how we make judgements)
- Judging-Perceiving (how we deal with the outside world)
We are able to demonstrate all these traits, however we have a preference to use one over the other. Understanding which we prefer helps us understand our underlying motivations, work styles, and means of communication. The final stage of the MBTI asks participants to confirm that their four-letter type accurately describes them. If it does not, it is advised they examine the opposing trait and to use it if it provides a better match. To help in this, each trait has been further broken down into 5 facets:
Once again, each of these facets is a dichotomy but unlike before they are on a 10-point range, allowing for more detailed analysis. Within each trait dichotomy, there can be up to 2 facets that have scores pointing towards the “recessive” trait. For example, I might use intuition in perceiving information, yet have high scores on the concrete facet. On the positive, this may mean I can shift between present reality and the big picture, but could also lead to developing theories with insufficient data or disagreements about which data is relevant. This aids in better understanding each of the main traits and can help in identifying specific facets we can work on if we want to become more in tune with our less preferred traits.
It is important to remember two important points about the MBTI. First, there is no faking scale. The questions asked on the MBTI are easy to understand, especially if you have any knowledge of personality tests, making it very easy for an individual to skew results. Second, the MBTI does not have predictive validity. In other words, the results cannot be used to predict how someone will act or whether they will be good for a position in the company. As seen in the example above, no absolutes were used but rather “may” and “could”.
Multi-Rater Personality Inventory
Developed through extensive behavioural analysis, the Multi-Rater Personality Inventory (MRPI) breaks personality into 3 ego states which are further classified into 6 styles:
- Critical Parent
- Nurturing Parent
- Spontaneous Child
- Withdrawn Child
- Angry Child
Each of these states is measured on a scale with an ideal range. When we are within this range, each ego state contributes a positive competency to our behavior as follows:
If our ego states score higher or lower than ideal, they will either overpower or detract from any of the 20 competencies. For example, having a supporting score on Spontaneous Child means that you are able to be mobile while actively taking part in initiatives and starting projects, as shown by the Initiating competency. Having a higher than ideal score, however, results in an over sensitivity to failure and an unhealthy need for approval. A low score has a negative impact on the Initiating competency, as it can lead to a lack of confidence in suggesting new projects, and be introspective and serious resulting in low self-esteem.
Using indirect questions rated on a Likert scale and avoiding using ego state or competency names in the survey, the MRPI is nearly impossible to fake. By understanding the scores, we can identify which ego states need to be turned up or down for a more effective impact on others. The 360 element of 4 evaluators completing the MRPI on our behalf allows us to know how we are perceived adding to our understanding of our personality. Our behaviours are learned through past experiences, allowing us to not only identify why we act the way we do in a situation, but also predict how we will respond to future interactions and change our behaviour if necessary.
Read the rest of the article and find out how to use these assessments together here.