MBTI Fever Sweeps Korea
MBTI Fever Sweeps Korea
  • Reporter Kim Seo-jin
  • 승인 2020.09.03 14:42
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▲MBTI Chart / allkpop
▲MBTI Chart / allkpop


The popularity of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is soaring in Korea as an aftereffect of people’s boredom due to the COVID-19 quarantine. Since spring, feeds about MBTI can be easily found on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media. Starting with rather common topics such as “the strengths of each MBTI type”, peculiar features such as “how each MBTI type would react to an airplane delay” emerged. On June 14, an MBTI-focused Instagram page mbti_lab even updated a post titled shower habits of each MBTI type. What is MBTI exactly, and is it a dependable source of understanding ourselves? Are people holding too much faith in what is not trustworthy?
MBTI is a psychological test that classifies people’s personalities into 16 different types by applying four dichotomies. The four dichotomies—attitude, perceiving function, judging function, and lifestyle preference—are used for categorization. If a person is more extroverted (E) than introverted (I), uses sensation (S) than intuition (N), thinks (T) more than feels (F), and judges (J) before perceiving (P), he or she would be regarded as an “ESTJ” type person. Based on the results of a self-questionnaire, people are categorized into 16 different personalities in this way.
However, is MBTI adequate to evaluate people? A proper psychological test must satisfy a few principles, including reliability and validity. Reliability refers to how consistently a test measures what it attempts to measure. According to the Myers & Briggs Foundation, MBTI meets and exceeds the standards for psychological instruments in terms of its reliability. It explained that people receive results with the same three to four type preferences on retests 75% to 90% of the time. Validity is the degree to which an instrument measures what it intends to measure and the degree to which the thing intended has quality meaning. The foundation asserts that MBTI has proven to have validity in three main categories—the four separate preference scales, the four preference pairs as dichotomies, and whole types or particular combinations of preferences—which makes MBTI more reliable.
Sunny sides to MBTI exist. By taking the test, one can comprehend one’s behavior more thoroughly than before. In specific, one can understand the pros and cons of his or her personality and the general characteristics of its actions. Also, people become capable of acknowledging the differences between themselves and others, which can contribute to reducing conflict provoked by dissimilarity. This means that society can grow to become more aware of the importance of mutual respect.
However, criticism toward MBTI is also to be considered. As a self-report type psychological test, respondents can deceive their answers, whether it was intended or not. Furthermore, even if they seemingly scored the same, how they think of each question is not consistent. Also, there is an argument that it is impossible to divide people’s personalities into 16 classifications. Moreover, since the foundation that developed the instrument promotes that the test is reliable itself, the assertion lacks credibility. Finally, there is a concern that MBTI may cause the Barnum effect, which is a psychological phenomenon whereby individuals give high accuracy ratings to descriptions of their personalities when these descriptions are in fact vague and general enough to apply to a wide range of people. Therefore, people should be cautious not to fall into blind faith in MBTI.

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