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Thread: experimentation and reputation

  1. #1
    Junior Member Array
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    Jan 2009

    Question experimentation and reputation

    Hi, I'm new to this board, but have been heavily interested in the MBTI for the better part of a year, and would like to throw a few questions out into the void for anyone more knowledgeable than I to answer if they so choose.

    I've always been curious as to the MBTI's scientific merit. It seems to be fairly well thought out and reasonable, but it also seems to be a potentially hard theory to test through traditional scientific methods (i.e. experimentation). Even as I type this message I fail to think of a way to determine or prove the MBTI's effectiveness other than behavioral observation.

    But it is important to note that I personally have found the MBTI to be fairly accurate in theory, and the only flaws I've discovered in it are those derived from human error either in test design or test taking. People with a skewed sense of self are going to yield incorrect results. It is definitely a better used system when typing others rather than typing self, unless you have the ability to be objective about yourself.


    If a theory cannot be tested through experimentation merely due to the complexity of its parameters, is it invalid? One could say, and many often do (albeit in lieu of proper knowledge of the subject), the same of Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection, and by extension Macro Evolution. Only recently have Scientists been able to physically observe the changes that species go through over time. This can be accredited to a more robust fossil record and an ever deeper wellspring of observational data dating back to Darwin's original trip to the Galapagos Islands.

    Can the same be said of the MBTI? Will its popularity among certain circles lead to an eventual validity in the scientific realm? Will enough hard data be gathered to support its grand claim of understanding the complex nuances of the human condition? Or will it fall into obscurity and dwindle into nothing more than a glorified astrological system?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Array Engler's Avatar
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    Dec 2008


    In essence, the MBTI is highly subjective. While it may yield strikingly accurate results (if administered correctly), it is based solely off of human observation. In other words, you cannot scientifically validate the observations made. While the cognitive processes may apply very nicely to each individual type, one cannot test for the tangible presence of introverted feeling.

    With that said, it seems way too general to be considered scientifically legitimate. It seems as though the makers of the MBTI simply looked for consistencies within certain types, and then generalized. So, while it may become more popular as time goes on, I doubt it will ever be embraced by the scientific community.


    Oh, and welcome to Typology Central.

  3. #3
    ish red no longer *sad* Array nightning's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007


    The official opinion from the psychology research community is MBTI has zero scientific merit.

    However when you talk to people in counseling psychology (aka those applied "psychology") often times they'll bring up MBTI as a model for understanding personality.

    Perhaps cognitive functions and the distinctive 16 types are artificially created... but nonetheless these categories are useful for us to come to grasp the variability that exists in human personalities.
    My stuff (design & other junk) lives here:

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