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Personality Type Assessment Tools
A Rich Set of Options for Sorting for Jungian Type - Roger Pearman
Topics covered: Personality type instruments, Measures of psychological type, Jungian type, Myers Briggs Type Indicator, MBTI, Golden Personality Type Profiler, Majors Personality Type Inventory, Psychological Type Indicator
The Association for Psychological Type is an organization dedicated to the appropriate use of psychological type. As a way of thinking about gathering information and making decisions, personality type provides a useful and practical perspective on differences. The creation of the Association was initially driven by the interest in the use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator ®, an inventory of personality type. While the MBTI ® instrument is the legacy inventory for personality type, a number of other assessment tools are now available to determine and understand an individual's personality type. The purpose of this article is to explore how these various sorting assessments may be of value to the human resources, development, coaching, or counseling practitioner. Because of the ubiquitous nature of awareness of the MBTI ® instrument I have not spent a great deal of time discussing its characteristics; however, a summary of characteristics are reviewed in various ways to show the comparison to three more recent type assessment instruments.
The personality assessment tools to be compared to the MBTI ® are (in historical order):
Golden Personality Type Profiler® (GPTP) is published by Pearson (formerly Harcourt Brace). This is an instrument with 126 items. Dr. John Golden is a psychologist from a long line of family members who have been involved with psychological type. His mother, Sally Golden, was the first treasurer of the Association, and his father sponsored work in the 1980s for the development of Form K, or the Extended Analysis Report of the MBTI® tool. Dr. Golden focused on type development factors in addition to the type preferences. He relied on psychological research which relates a fifth dimension (Tense-Calm) tied to type development. The Golden Personality Type Profiler® provides a four letter type and sixteen facet scales, and a fifth dimension with two additional facet scales. The report provides detailed information on each preference, the facets, and various applications of the behaviors as leaders, team members, and for personal development.
The Golden Personality Type Profiler® scoring system uses a seven point rating system, thus avoiding dichotomous votes. The Golden Personality Type Profiler® provides data on all of the responses, not just of the clarity of the preference, and shows degrees of relative preference selection. For many critics of dichotomous items in personality assessment, this strategy addresses those critics and is reflective of what most people experience as a continuum of behavior. The publisher has produced a very user friendly manual that shows the supporting reliability and validity data are available. Focusing more on whole type and factor analysis to show the validity of the types, the manual summarizes key studies to date across a variety of career areas. The interpretative report is available for $22.00; the manual is free as an online download.
Majors Personality Type Indicator™ (Majors PTI™) is published by 16types.com. This is a 52 item instrument. Dr. Mark S. Majors, the developer of this tool is a counseling psychologist with extensive psychometric experience that includes data analysis on the 1994 Strong Interest Inventory, the MBTI® Form M, as well as the development of the IRT scoring. He was coauthor for the new MBTI® Form Q Manual. Mark is also the developer of the Majors Occupational Environment Measure™ (MajorsOEM™) and co-developer of the Interstrength® X-Styles Assessment, and has been central to the psychometric development of the Breckenridge Type Indicator, the first scientifically sound measure of the Enneagram personality model.
Two special features of the Majors PTI™ tool are related to the item weighting and type clarification process. These are described as follows:
The Majors PTI Manual straightforwardly presents the underlying psychometric principles and methods used in item selection, scale analysis, and report accuracy. Unlike most manuals, Majors outlines ethical issues in using personality assessment tools, and his in particular.
A feature that some practitioners will find beneficial is the absence of numbers or "scores" on the three available reports (type, cognitive style, interactional style). When you need to focus on content and descriptions without numbers being a distraction, the reports of this tool are very usable. The cost is $7.95 per report; the manual is free from the publisher.
Psychological Type Indicator which is published by HRD Press. This is a 116 item tool that provides a four letter type. The information is largely a mimic of the MBTI® instrument. I inquired with CPP, Inc. regarding the legality of the publication's near total replication of the MBTI® structure and was informed that HRD Press was within its rights. Somewhat troubling is the absence of reference to any researcher or main author. The manual may be purchased from HRD Press ($49.95). The manual is lacking in details and presents virtually no data on item selection. Other than a passing reference to a correlational study with "another personality type instrument", there is no real validity data. On the face of it, the items look reasonable enough, though the lack of supporting psychometric data leaves the practitioner in doubt about how robust this tool may be.
Scoring is a straightforward counting of item selection for each preference. The cost is $75.00 per packet of five inventories.
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Comparison of Four Inventories of Personality Type
The following tables compare the four type assessment tools on a variety of dimensions.
Table 1: Basic Characteristics of Each Inventory
The variation in the number of items between the different assessments reflects item construction, report complexity (e.g. indicating facets), and assessment goal. For example, the Golden Personality Type Profiler® intentionally seeks to tap into a fifth dimension, Tense-Calm, which provides insights into current situational stressors and development factors. A review of the item content reveals that the MBTI ® repeats 30% of the terms or phrases, while the other inventories do not. (For example, the word pair Reasonable-Compassionate is replicated three times on Form M and no such parallel exists with either the GPTP® or Majors PTI™.) While this may increase reliability, it reduces the overall information that could be available.
Table 2: Reliability and Validity Summary
Given the published data, the MBTI ®, GPTP®, and Majors PTI™ instruments report essentially the same internal reliability, test-re-test reliability, and similar validity strategies. The MBTI ® assessment is built on the assumption of a dichotomous variable (sort one direction or the other), while the other assessment tools use a rating system (from descriptive to very descriptive). The MBTI ® inventory suggests that the theory is dichotomous, thus the items should be. On this logic, the Item Response Analysis used for the 1998 revision is built on a basic sorting method. The other test developers have taken the view that while the theory is dichotomous (Extraversion at one end and Introversion at the other), the best measurement takes into account the range of behaviors rather than forcing an either-or choice. The HRD Press PTI also uses a dichotomous response set but the manual provides no evidence for reliability.
The MBTI ® instrument has fifty years of various research studies on which it bases claims for validity. The vast majority of these studies are correlational, which verifies the robust nature of the preferences. All three instruments report factor analytic studies, which confirm the underlying structure of the assessments. The GPTP® and Majors PTI™ tools focus on evidence of type dynamics, and though early in their histories, there is every reason to believe that evidence will build over time that these are measuring the same theoretical framework. The HRD Press PTI manual provides no supporting data.
Table 3: Access, Cost, and Support for Scoring
The MBTI® provides a full range of instruments: paper and web delivery. With the pencil-paper version, you have to decide if you want a computer report or to hand-score the answer sheet. Web administration is available after setting up an account ($300 plus $195 annual fee). The Golden Personality Type Profiler® and the Majors Personality Type Indicator® are web administered and scored personality assessments for which there are no set up fees or annual maintenance fees.
Users of personality assessments and those interested in assessing personality type of clients have the opportunity to select an assessment instrument that is most appropriate for their various audiences. For example, the Golden Personality Type Profiler® is an outstanding tool to use in executive coaching, especially with the optimism and confidence facets that allow type development exploration. The Majors Personality Type Indicator™ is an outstanding option when you do not need scores or feel that numbers will derail your audience, and this has the advantage of being the most cost effective. My lack of confidence in the soundess of the HRD Personality Type Indicator and supporting data provides me with little to recommend regarding its use. Of course, some audiences may be accustomed to the MBTI ® instrument and prefer both its report formats and scoring methods.
At last count, there are hundreds of self-awareness questionnaires on personality type that can be accessed through the web. Other than those noted in this article, I have had difficulty gaining access to data related to the way items were selected, reliability and validity established, or additional evidence regarding the utility of these tools. While a very good case can be made that a knowledgeable user of personality type doesn't really need an inventory to aid another person in understanding his or her type, when a sophisticated instrument is useful, the practitioner has has three viable options given the evidence to date: MBTI ® type inventory, Golden Personality Type Profiler®, and the Majors Personality Type Indicator®.
Fortunately, as practitioners we have three solid assessment tools to use in our work with personality type. Useful for very different audiences and purposes, we need to carefully consider the virtues of our options as outlined above and align our choices with client needs. When considering which tool to use, consider the following suggestions:
Table 4: An Assessment of Application Considerations
The psychometric strength of three tools, the MBTI ®, Golden Personality Type Profiler®, and Majors Personality Type Indicator™ can be ascertained by reviewing the manuals of all three tools, which have been summarized in the tables above.
® Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a trademark or registered trademark of the MBTI Trust, Inc., in the United States and other countries. Information on the MBTI can be had at the Myers & Briggs Foundation website
Related Products and Materials
Books Personality Type and Applications
Courses on Using Measures of Personality Type