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The Myers-BriggsTM Personality System and its Place in Science

The Myers-Briggs^TM^ Personality System and its Place in Science

By Norbert Grygar

Shakespir Edition

Copyright 2016 Norbert Grygar

The Myers-BriggsTM Personality System and its Place in Science

by Norbert Grygar


Psychological type by its very name is a subset of psychology that is itself a subset of biology. Last, biology is a subset of Natural Sciences. This is clearly recognized by colleges and universities when they place Psychology in their schools of Natural Sciences.


During the middle of the last century, Catherine Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers, put together a personality program to assign normal individuals into sixteen types based upon three pairs of characteristics and a fourth characteristic, being a preference or choice between two of the first three pairs.


The key that allowed individuals to be grouped into the sixteen types was the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (or MBTI). Once individuals were grouped, they could be studied and compared. There is no doubt that much good has come from these studies in helping to advise individuals on how to cope with and co-exist with others. The system works because the four pairs exist and can be identified in individuals. This author has posited that there is a genetic basis for the E-I pair and for the S-N pair with the first listed of each pair being dominant and latter, recessive, and that there is a third gene controlling the T-F pair but with a gene switch involved.


How can it be that there are many knowledgeable psychologists who reject MBTI studies outright because they see such studies as unscientific? Where unscientific?



“As Jung points out in Psychological Types, humankind is equipped with two ways of perceiving. One means of perception is the familiar process of sensing, by which we become aware of things directly through our five senses. The other is process of intuition, which is indirect perception by way of the unconscious, incorporating ideas or associations that the unconscious tacks on coming from outside.” (Myers and Myers, Gifts Differing, p.2)


Those that use the first described method are described as being Sensing individuals and this shortened to a (S). These individuals learn best by experiencing what they are learning through multiple senses. And, they usually wait for the entire explanation of how something new works before asking any questions they may have about an explanation. These individuals also almost always need hands-on training to acquire new physical skills.


Those that use the second method are described as being intuitive and this shortened to an (N). The second description of how an Intuitive individual acquires new knowledge per the description from Gifts Differing makes no sense. Myself, being a life long “Intuitive”, can tell you that all learning begins by acquiring knowledge through my senses. Yes, I have interrupted speakers, during presentations, to get information that probably would have been provided later in the presentation. Yes, I have been known to complete sentences spoken by others. And, I have been known to make comments about alternate uses of the information being provided that seem unrelated to the topic but that are valid.


What seems to be happening with intuitive individuals is from within and not without. This process, which I would call “Sensing Plus”, appears to be a process where the mind, while acquiring new knowledge through the senses, is trying to choose places to establish new neuron links or brain connections with similar knowledge already acquired. And, occasionally the brain needs more information for the connections process and that special question or comment comes into the conscious and the question is asked or the comment is made. If the above paragraph quoted from Gifts Differing is not meant to exclude direct learning through the senses for intuitive individuals, then the explanation in this paragraph would be only a simple extension.


If the new “intuitive” thoughts come from without, then we should have had the theory of relativity long before Einstein. Einstein’s connection that the amount of energy contained in a given mass involves the speed of light is probably the most “intuitive” thought in the last 200 years. What’s more, we should have had many other major revelations in other areas where scientific discoveries are involved. We should also have people searching for such new truths literally coming from all walks of life about subjects that they, the person with the “intuitive” thought, are mostly unfamiliar. This has not happened.


Gifts Differing is not the Holy Bible or the Koran. Both of the latter books have followers that believe that every word is unchanging truth. Is that also true for Gifts Differing? The scientific process involves, in part, identifying a happening or event, confirmation that the happening or event is consistent, and, then, promulgating a theory as to why what was observed took place. With testing and more observations, better theories may occur and the old theory is super-ceded by the newer, better theory. We may not be sure that the current working theory is truth, but we need to use it until a better theory is promulgated. Where is the scientific objectivity to be found concerning “intuitive” and its definition?



“A basic difference in judgment arises from the existence of two distinct and sharply contrasting ways of coming to conclusions. One way is by use of thinking, that is, by a logical process, aimed at an impersonal finding. The other is by feeling, that is, by appreciation—equally reasonable in its fashion—bestowing on things a personal subjective value.” (Myers and Myers, Gifts Differing, p.3)


To indicate a Judging preference, Myers-Briggs chose a “T” for Thinking and an “F” for Feeling. I would suggest that all judging processes for both “T” and “F” individuals begin with the same thought streams of verbal and non-verbal information available. Given no other information but facts devoid of any sensual or prior contact side information, both “T” and “F” individuals would reach the same conclusion just as we do with math problems. However, in the world of people and things, in many given situations, there is much additional information available from the realms of non-verbal information including prior meetings which included verbal presentations (inflection, cadence, tone, etc.), body language and prior experience. When this additional information is used, all or most of the decision process is not “remembered”. For the average individual, such unexplainable decisions are frequently called “intuition”. For the thinking (T) person, it sometimes happens that the non-verbal information is so strong and so near their conscious state that it is difficult for the strictly fact based solution or conclusion to be presented and it may severely qualified. The “facts” mentioned in the above sentence, can include some observed behavioral information that some, if not most, “F” individuals use unconsciously.


Such decisions by an (F) individual may be based upon non-verbal data and the choice or choices are not about “impersonal”, “personal subjective” or “ reasonable in its fashion”. Such (F) person decisions are about using all of the information that is available, though some of the information is not available to our conscious self.



None of what is presented above should invalidate any completed valid research. A recognition that there are other points of view would allow may doubters to join in accepting MBTI methods and conclusions. A statement like the following should meet that goal.


“Others looking at underlying basics of the Myers-BriggsTM system believe:


1. That “N” or Intuition is more like Sensing Plus with all new knowledge being acquired through the senses. These individuals have active minds that are trying to categorize new data immediately and that questions concerning such classifications come to mind and these questions or comments made may confirm connections or find other uses for the information.


2. That “F” or Feeling is a process that includes all thoughts that are available to us consciously that we can recall as well as data acquired in non-verbal ways including cadence, tone, body language, prior exposures, etc. that we cannot easily put into words. That information is from our sub-conscious memories. All available information is used to arrive at a decision or decisions and many times the “F” person cannot explain or justify their choice or choices with hard information.


These thoughts and ideas are available as an alternative for those that need a more scientific path in understanding the Myers-BriggsTM system.”


The Myers-Briggs Personality system has a place in the scientific community. It needs the recognition of the above to claim that place. If one rejects the inclusion of Myers-BriggsTM as being within the realm of natural science, then where would it belong?



Gifts Differing” by Isabel Briggs Myers with Peter B. Myers © 1980


“The Genetics of Personality Type” by Norbert Grygar © 2016 (self published on the website Shakespir.com)

The Myers-BriggsTM Personality System and its Place in Science

This article looks at the Myers-BriggsTM Personality System and looks at the original definitions for "Intuition" and "Feeling" and offers an alternative definition for each.The system works but these two original definitions are in need of review.

  • Author: Norbert Grygar
  • Published: 2016-07-15 23:50:06
  • Words: 1471
The Myers-BriggsTM Personality System and its Place in Science The Myers-BriggsTM Personality System and its Place in Science