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Background

I've got an idea for a web site that uses one's Myers-Briggs type as part of the value.

I've seen various web sites offer "quick quizzes" to assess one's MBTI, but I'm not sure how legitimate / effective / ethical it would be to utilize one of these "knock-off" assessment techniques. I haven't decided any of the business angles yet; for now it's just a cool idea, so I can't speak to whether it would be commercial, non-profit, etc.

Questions

  • Is there an official "test of record" or set of questions that I can use in my application that is reasonably open or inexpensive? I'd like to get results that are as accurate as possible but I'm just one guy on a shoestring budget.
  • Could I run into legal trouble from the Myers-Briggs institute over this? How open are they with the methodology for this assessment? While I'm strapped for cash, I also have no desire to be a jerk; I'm admittedly ignorant on how this realm of science/industry views these matters.
  • Is there any need for an official MBTI interpreter (other than privacy ethics, etc. which of course I would be respecting as the founder of said web site)?
  • How much accuracy does one lose in using a quiz that isn't "personally reviewed"? That seems to be the main purpose of a "licensed MBTI interpreter" as far as I've been able to see with some quick research.
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4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I was alerted to your post here and would like to respond to a non-technical side of the question. I'm an Intellectual Property Assistant for CPP, Inc., publisher of the MBTI® assessment tool. I help protect the instrument's trademarks and copyrights, and ensure ethical use of the instrument.

The names MBTI®, Myers-Briggs®, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® are all registered trademarks, and they refer to a particular, copyrighted product: the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment tool. There is no open-source version of the MBTI assessment. Also, it would not be correct or legally appropriate to use the trademarks to refer to a different product, such as one of the personality assessments which may be found online. (Some of them already infringe on the MBTI trademarks, so don't be fooled into thinking that's OK!)

I'm glad to read that you're aware of the legal and ethical implications of your idea. I hope what I've said helps, but if you have any more questions, I'll check back here and try to answer them.

My impression is that the actual MBTI assessment is not appropriate for what you're considering, but if you'd like more information about the instrument, its development, psychometric data, and so on, I'd recommend the Myers-Briggs Foundation (www.myersbriggs.org), CAPT.org, or CPP.com. In the meantime, I hope what I've written will provide some clarity about the legal/IP side of things.

MBTI, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and Myers-Briggs are registered trademarks or trademarks of the MBTI Trust, Inc., in the United States and other countries.

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Hi Emily! I appreciate your frank and thorough answer; it is absolutely the definitive answer to my question. Unfortunately, Myers-Briggs personality types have some commonly accepted profiles and traits that I was going to attempt to leverage. I respect and appreciate your group's work but it saddens me that something that could truly benefit humanity has been stripped of use by a business interest. It's incredibly disheartening when people can't attempt to innovate around science because of business. But thank you for the answer; I will seek another path. –  SeanKilleen Oct 6 '12 at 3:29
    
I understand what you're saying. Just to clarify, the names "MBTI" and so on are trademarked, and the questions, descriptions, and other materials published by CPP are copyrighted. However, for what it's worth, CPP doesn't hold a copyright or trademark on the idea of personality type. As long as you avoid misusing the trademarked names, and don't use copyrighted material without permission, you should be fine. –  Emily V. Oct 11 '12 at 19:34
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The IPIP may provide what you are looking for.

This IPIP Website is intended to provide rapid access to measures of individual differences, all in the public domain, to be developed conjointly among scientists worldwide.

In general, the scientific literature tends to focus more on a dimensional approach based on the Big 5 model of personality than the type approach. There are strong correlations between MBTI and Big 5 measures.

The IPIP website provides measures of the Big 5. The following table from Furnham (1996) summarises some correlations across a few studies between the NEO Big 5 and the MBTI.

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You can find a listing of some of the multi-construct measures including Big 5 measures on the ipip website.

References

  • Furnham, A. (1996). The big five versus the big four: the relationship between the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and NEO-PI five factor model of personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 21, 303-307.
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As stated above, everything related to MBTI is trademarked, but the theory behind it, based on Jung's personality types, have no such limitations as far as I know.

There are a few differences between the two (having to do with the functions I believe), but for a "quick and dirty" version like the one it sounds like you need for your site, it should do fine.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personality_type http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_Types

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Would you recommend any particular measure based on Jung's theory of personality types? –  Jeromy Anglim Nov 5 '12 at 10:44
    
I don't know of any open source libraries or frameworks you can implement directly in your solution. I think you have to make your own. The Maidenbaum Personality Inventory is a good base for your test: greenlightwiki.com/lenore/inventory.html –  erikric Nov 5 '12 at 14:48
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Interesting that you mention ethics. Regardless of the validity of the MBTI (or rather lack thereof - try searching the web for independent professional opinions rather than just listening to the Myers-Briggs Foundation marketing), my main problem with it is that I personally believe it is foremost a money-making scam.

The Myers-Briggs Foundation will not let you do the test unless it is delivered by a certified practitioner, supposedly to safeguard against it being administered incorrectly. Only certified practitioners are allowed to purchase copies of the test.

However, I have personally done the formal test before as part of a professional development workshop and know from experience that the test itself no more difficult to administer than countless other free online personality tests. The seminar bundled with the test also requires no particular skill to deliver, and the content could be summarised in a few pages of reading. In spite of this, the cost to undergo MBTI "certification" ranges in the order of $1000.

Furthermore, after making such a fuss that one cannot undergo the MBTI without help from someone "qualified" with thousand-dollar certification, the Myers-Briggs Foundation then actually does offer the MBTI online, just like countless other automated online personality tests, only this one costs $50.

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