Meanwhile, for anyone who thinks that the rejection of the functions that Reynierse advocates would represent a revolutionary shift as far as the "official" MBTI is concerned, I'd argue, to the contrary, that the MBTI has essentially been centered around the dichotomies from the beginning. Aside from the test instruments themselves, the analysis in Myers' Gifts Differing
focuses substantially more on the dichotomies than the functions. Myers was a nobody who didn't even have a psychology degree — not to mention a woman in mid-20th-century America — and I assume that background had at least something to do with the fact that her writings tend to somewhat disingenuously downplay the extent to which her typology differs from Jung. So it's no surprise, in that context, that the introductory chapters of Gifts Differing
, besides introducing the four dichotomies, also include quite a bit of lip service to Jung's conceptions — or, at least, what Myers claimed were Jung's conceptions — of the dominant and auxiliary functions. But, with that behind her, Chapters 4-7 describe the effects of the "EI Preference," the "SN Preference," the "TF Preference" and the "JP Preference," and those four chapters total 22 pages
. Chapter 8 then describes the eight functions — and that chapter consists solely
of a half-page table for each function, for a total of four pages
. What's more, those four pages were simply Briggs' summaries of Jung's function descriptions, and Myers ignored
(and/or adjusted) substantial portions of those in creating her own type portraits. (As one example, Myers' IS_Js bear little resemblance to Jung's Si-doms. [See this TC post.
] And for a detailed discussion of the surgery Myers performed on Jung's conception of Te, see this post
But most tellingly, following Myers' introductory and portrait chapters, the second half of Gifts Differing
— covering a variety of topics, including "Use of the Opposites," "Type and Marriage," "Learning Styles" and "Type and Occupation" — focuses almost exclusively
on the dichotomies, both singly and in combinations that don't correspond to the functions. She talks about introverts and extraverts, thinking types and feeling types, intuitives and sensing types, judging types and perceptive types, "INs," "ESs," "NF types," "STs," "introverts with thinking" (i.e., ITs), "EF types," "ESF types," "ISTs" and on and on. At one point in the Type and Marriage chapter, "FJ types with extraverted feeling" are mentioned, but that's very much the exception that proves the rule. References to the functions (and the dichotomy combinations that correspond to them) are almost entirely absent from the book's second half, and on the rare occasions when she refers to one of the two-letter combinations that corresponds to a function — e.g., SJ (Si) — she most often makes no reference to the function. At one point, for example, she notes that "Judging types, especially those who prefer sensing (the –S–J types), like their work to be organized, systematic, and foreseeable." I'm not suggesting that this means Myers didn't really believe in the functions (necessarily, anyway), but she was certainly not a theorist who thought the functions were anything like the main event.
Five years later, the 1985 edition of the MBTI Manual, co-authored by Myers, was even more lopsided in favor of the dichotomies. In a 1990 article ("Review of Research on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator." Perceptual & Motor Skills, 70, 1187) in which John B. Murray concluded that the MBTI's "indices of reliability and validity have been extensively investigated and have been judged acceptable," Murray noted that over 1500 studies were included in the 1985 Manual — many of them either discussed in the text or included in one or more tables of statistics. And good luck finding any results
in that manual that are framed in terms of the cognitive functions. The 1985 Manual is full of statistics correlating type with interests, occupations, scholastic achievement, other personality measures, etc. — and the reported correlations almost exclusively
involve the four dichotomies, the sixteen types and/or dichotomy combinations with no meaningful function correspondence — with the combinations most often included (by a wide margin
) being ST, SF, NT and NF. So, on top of the fact that Myers and the rest of the official MBTI establishment were predominantly dichotomy-focused, it's also clear that the independent psychologists conducting many of those studies weren't laboring under any misconception that the MBTI dichotomies were relatively superficial indicators (convenient for testing and/or labeling purposes) while the cognitive functions were what the typology was really about
The third edition of the MBTI Manual was published in 1998 and, according to the Reynierse article I linked to above, it cites a grand total of eight studies
involving "type dynamics" (i.e., the functions model) — and Reynierse summarizes them as "six studies that failed, one with a questionable interpretation, and one where contradictory evidence was offered as support." He then notes, "Type theory's claim that type dynamics is superior to the static model and the straightforward contribution of the individual preferences rests on this ephemeral empirical foundation."
And finally, I think it's also worth noting that the 17-page report that an ENFJ (for example) receives after taking the relatively recent MBTI Step II
test includes page after page of dichotomy-based analysis (including five separate subscales for each of the four dichotomies) and not a single mention of "extraverted feeling" or "introverted intuition" other than a diagram near the end that shows that "ENFJs like Feeling best, Intuition next, Sensing third and Thinking least," and one brief note about tending to use Feeling in the "outer world" and Intuition in the "inner world." All the rest
of the ENFJ descriptions in the report — after the brief initial profile, which isn't broken down by components — are descriptions of N (not Ni or Ne), F (not Fi or Fe) and so on, and they're the same descriptions
of N and F (and the five subscales of each) that ENFPs receive in their reports (notwithstanding the fact that ENFJs are Fe-Ni and ENFPs are Ne-Fi). And Nancy Harkey has pointed out
that "there is no discussion in the Step II manual of applying type dynamics (dominant, auxiliary etc.) to the overall preferences. I really don't know what that means at the moment, but it is curious."
The more I reread Psychological Types
, the more I appreciate the extent to which getting from Jung to the Myers-Briggs typology involved substantial adjustments and additions. I think the formidable job Briggs and Myers did in separating the Jungian wheat from the chaff and modifying and supplementing Jung's theory is grotesquely underappreciated by many internet forumites. Myers may not have been as smart as Jung, and she may not have had a psychology degree, but she and her mother had the benefit of standing on Jung's shoulders, and Myers then spent many years, as a labor of love, designing and refining her test instrument and gathering data from thousands of subjects, leading her to conclude — among other things — that the four dichotomies (as she conceived them), and not the functions, were the main event. I think Myers' conceptions of the dichotomies and the types still leave plenty of room for further improvement but, fifty years later, the results of many more studies — and, in particular, the correlation of the MBTI dichotomies with the Big Five — suggest that, in terms of the basics, Myers pretty much got it right. If Jung were still around, I think he'd mostly approve.