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The MBTI® assessment was developed by Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers. Both were highly educated college graduates who employed the scientific method in creating the assessment. Although neither were psychologists, they spent years studying Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types and join the ranks of people like Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, and Jane Goodall, who made lasting contributions to their fields despite a lack of formal training.

Myers worked with the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, New Jersey, a major assessment publisher, who helped develop the MBTI assessment and publish it in 1962.

Since then, the MBTI assessment has been updated regularly based on continuing research by trained psychologists.

Were Briggs and Myers qualified psychologists?

Briggs earned a bachelor’s degree with honors in agriculture from the Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State University) and Myers achieved a bachelor’s degree with honors in political science from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. During the time period when the MBTI® assessment was initially being developed (mid 1940s to 1950), only 3 to 5 percent of women and only 5 to 7 percent of men held a bachelor’s degree in the United States.

While neither Myers nor Briggs were psychologists, they based the MBTI assessment on the work of Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and founder of analytical psychology. Both Briggs and Myers spent many years studying Jung’s theory of psychological types in order to create the assessment.

In later years, Myers also worked closely on MBTI research projects with Dr. Mary McCaulley, a clinical psychologist at the University of Florida.

After the death of Myers, her work was continued by a variety of experts, among whom most are doctoral level psychologists. As an example, the most recent commercial forms of the MBTI assessment were developed by a core team of five PhD level psychologists and researchers. There were two additional PhD level psychologists to support statistical analysis, and a larger team of psychologists in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa, and Japan as consultants to the project.

The history of the MBTI® assessment spans many years, from its inception by Katharine Briggs, based on Carl Jung’s theory, development by Isabel Myers until her death, and to the ongoing development today by teams of psychologists including the research team at The Myers-Briggs Company (formerly CPP, Inc.).

  • 1943: The first version of the MBTI assessment is developed
  • 1962: Educational Testing Service (ETS) publishes an updated form of the MBTI assessment
  • 1977: CPP releases Form G, the original commercial version of the MBTI assessment
  • 1997: OPP Ltd (UK distributor of the MBTI assessment) releases the European English Step I™ assessment after extensive national data collection
  • 1998: CPP releases Form M of the MBTI Step I™ assessment after extensive national data collection
  • 2001: CPP releases Form Q of the MBTI Step II™ assessment
  • 2003–2007: OPP and CPP research and release new version of the MBTI Step IITM assessment in European English and 8 other European language
  • 2018: The Myers-Briggs Company (formerly CPP, Inc.) releases an international revision, the Global Step I™ and Global Step II™ assessments

The MBTI global assessments more accurately measure personality type across different countries and cultures and provide a consistent assessment and reporting experience for all respondents, with no reduction in the accuracy of the resulting type preferences.

The MBTI® assessment is most often used by organizational development professionals, coaches, and consultants, as well as by career counselors and educators. A fundamental step in any change process is to develop and improve self-awareness. For the MBTI® assessment, this awareness is about one’s own and others’ predilections to behave in specific ways. This information can then be used to improve interpersonal skills, manage conflict, improve relationships, and inform career choices. Researchers in a variety of domains make use of the MBTI® assessment and type concepts when examining normal personality and related attributes. The MBTI assessment is not used to a great extent by clinical psychologists because it assesses normal personality, not mental health and disorders. The MBTI® assessment is also used by human resource professionals, for a variety of purposes. However, the MBTI® assessment is not intended for use as part of a hiring process, nor to assign people to specific teams, roles, or functions within an organization.

More about who uses the MBTI assessment

The MBTI® assessment was designed to help people understand personality differences in the general population. While there are no “better” or “worse” personality preferences, the MBTI assessment can help people understand their strengths and blind spots and how they might differ from others. Organizational experts have drawn on these insights for many years to help individuals and teams be more effective at work. It is most often used by organizations to help individuals develop and build self-awareness and to help teams work better together. For example, the MBTI assessment can help in conflict resolution, leadership development, career coaching, team development, managing change, improving communication, and decision making. Similarly, other professionals use insights from the MBTI assessment to advise students about educational decisions, to counsel couples, and to help people in various nonwork settings.

Businesses, government agencies, colleges, universities, schools, charities, and sports teams use the MBTI assessment. For examples, read these European case studies and US case studies.

The MBTI assessment should not be used to identify personality “disorders” or mental illness. Therefore, it is not used in clinical psychology settings or to diagnose conditions such as depression, narcissism, or anxiety. The lack of use in clinical populations has, on occasion, been taken out of context as a way of denigrating the MBTI assessment. For example, critics sometimes cite a 2012 article in the Washington Post in which Carl Thoreson, PhD, psychologist, Stanford Emeritus and former Chairman of CPP, Inc. (now The Myers-Briggs Company), is quoted as saying he didn’t use the MBTI assessment in his research at Stanford because “it would be questioned by my academic colleagues” (Cunningham, 2012). What was missing from the article, however, was the fact that the focus of Dr. Thoreson’s work at Stanford was on altering “type A” behaviors to reduce heart attack mortality (Friedman et al., 1986). Since the MBTI assessment is not designed to measure type A personalities, it simply isn’t an appropriate tool for the topic—so naturally, its use in his work would have been questioned had he used it. When an assessment isn’t used because it’s not the appropriate assessment for the intended purpose, that just means it’s not the right tool for the job—but that doesn’t invalidate the assessment.


Cunningham, L. (2012, December 14). Myers-Briggs: Does it pay to know your type? The Washington Post.

Friedman, M., Thoresen, C. E., Gill, J. J., Ulmer, D., Powell, L. H., Price, V. A., Brown, B., Thompson, L., Rabin, D. D., Breall, W. S., Bourg, E., Levy, R., & Dixon, T. (1986). Alteration of type a behavior and its effect on cardiac recurrences in post myocardial infarction patients: Summary results of the recurrent coronary prevention project. American Heart Journal, 112(4), 653–665. doi: 10.1016/0002-8703(86)90458-8