The Rise Of The Myers-Briggs, Chapter 3: What Is It Good For?

The Myers-Briggs has arrived, but what does it tell us?

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When Isabel Briggs Myers imagined that her homegrown personality test would change the world, she couldn’t have pictured this. Today, millions take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator each year. Countless organizations use it, from General Motors to the CIA. But there’s one field that mostly rolls its eyes at the test: psychology. 

In our final chapter, Isabel rescues her indicator from the verge of extinction, but has to make some compromises. And we explore what the Myers Briggs does (and doesn’t) measure, and why people love it despite psychologists’ complaints.

Listen to Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 of this series.

Read a transcript of this episode.

Guests:

Merve Emre is a writer and English professor at the University of Oxford.

Annie Murphy Paul is a science journalist and author.  

Dan McAdams is a professor of psychology at Northwestern University. 

Quinisha Jackson-Wright is a writer and the author of Working Twice as Hard. 

Jeffrey Hayes is the President and CEO of the Myers-Briggs Company.

Rich Thompson is Senior Director of Global Research at The Myers-Briggs Company.

Peter Geyer is a Myers-Briggs practitioner.

Footnotes & Further Reading:

Check out Merve Emre’s book, ​​The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing.

Read Annie Murphy Paul’s book, The Cult of Personality Testing.

Credits:

This episode of Science Diction was produced by Johanna Mayer, Chris Egusa, and Senior Producer Elah Feder. Elah also edited this series. Daniel Peterschmidt is our composer, and they mastered the episode. We had fact checking help from Sona Avakian. Special thanks to Peter Geyer for providing archival audio. Nadja Oertelt is our Chief Content Officer. 


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Meet the Writers

About Johanna Mayer

Johanna Mayer is a podcast producer and hosts Science Diction from Science Friday. When she’s not working, she’s probably baking a fruit pie. Cherry’s her specialty, but she whips up a mean rhubarb streusel as well.

About Elah Feder

Elah Feder is a senior producer for podcasts at Science Friday. She produces the Science Diction podcast, and co-hosted and produced the Undiscovered podcast.

About Christopher Egusa

Christopher Egusa is a reporter and an Audio Engineering Fellow at KALW Public Radio.

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