A Mini-History of the MBTI® Instrument

About the MBTI® Instrument 

A Mini-History of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® Instrument

Isabel Briggs Myers
Isabel Briggs Myers
Katharine Briggs
Katharine Briggs
An intriguing story of what a brilliant, creative mother-daughter team with a passionate sense of mission and awesome determination can accomplish.

Stage One: 1923-1941 — Study and Inspiration

1923 Katharine Cook Briggs (1875-1968), a lifelong student of human behavior and growth, reads Psychological Types, The Psychology of Individuation by Carl G. Jung, a Swiss psychologist. She realizes that she has found the person who for her best understands human behavior and its development and spends the rest of her life studying his work and endeavoring to bring the benefits of knowing his ideas out into the world.Katharine Briggs, her scientist husband, Lyman, and their daughter Isabel, closely observe people and their interactions through the lens of psychological type.

Stage Two: 1942-1962 — Development/Construction/Research

Distressed by the sufferings and hostilities following US entry into World War II, Isabel resolves to do something that might help people understand each other and avoid conflict. She determines to find a way to give individuals access to their psychological type. Thus is born the idea of a type Indicator which becomes her mission for the rest of her life. Isabel works tirelessly during this time of major development to create an instrument and culture of sound and valid statistical procedures and research. Her major accomplishments include:
  • Creating a sound, valid and reliable personality instrument based on type theory
  • Creating questions and conducting item testing on increasingly large research samples and undertaking longitudinal studies
  • Originating item criteria for a dichotomous theory, including forced-choice format and developing statistical procedures for item weighting based on item predictability
  • Overcoming her lack of formal training in psychometrics and statistics by following in her father Lyman Briggs’ footsteps in the tradition of sound statistical research
1942 Isabel and Katharine devise a beginning structure and set out to develop questions to predict a person’s preferences.
1943 Form A is copyrighted in 1943. This is pioneering work presenting a constant stream of problems to be solved.
1943-1962 For the next twenty years Isabel works in relative isolation. The MBTI® Indicator gradually gains the interest of a few assessment experts and users. 

  • Isabel develops a series of Forms in her constant search for increasingly accurate prediction and more effective methods
  • Parallel to her work on construction is her focus on research to validate both the instrument and the theory. She persuades heads of nursing schools, medical schools, high schools, colleges, and businesses to administer her Indicator, records the answers of thousands of respondents on 5 x 8-inch cards, and performs the statistics sitting in the arm chair in her living room before her typewriter with her calculator by her side

Stage Three: 1962-1975 — Publication

1962 Educational Testing Service (ETS) under the leadership of Henry C. Chauncey becomes the publisher of the MBTI® Indicator. Forms E and F are the current forms at this time. Computer scoring is used for the first time. A manual is published but little else is done by ETS staff. The MBTI® Indicator is not put into a publisher’s catalogue and remains a research instrument.Pockets of use develop around the country as practitioners happen across it by accident, try it, and find it useful.
1968 Takeshi Ohsawa, a Japanese industrial psychologist, receives permission to translate and publish the MBTI® instrument for distribution in Japan for use in management and in suiting the worker to the job – the first translation into another language.
1969 Mary McCaulley, a clinical psychologist on the faculty of the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL, initiates a visit with Isabel and a close collegial friendship is formed. They start the Typology Lab in Mary’s office to develop scoring and a data bank for their joint research.Intensive research and development continues. The pockets of use grow and increase in number.
1975 Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc. (now CPP, Inc.) becomes the publisher and the MBTI® instrument is for the first time accessible to qualified users through a publisher’s catalogue.

Stage Four: 1975-1985 — Growth

The contract with CPP, Inc. in 1975 marks the beginning of the phenomenal rise in use of the MBTI® instrument until it becomes the most widely used personality inventory in the world.
1975 The Typology Lab becomes the non-profit Center for Application of Psychological Type (CAPT). It is the center for research, data collection, information, training, and publications. It is the home of the Isabel B. Myers Library.The First International Conference for practitioners and those interested in type is held at CAPT. Isabel Myers makes the Keynote Address (click to download the keynote address). (Conferences are held biennially thereafter.)Major revisions of the indicator include a standardization of Form F and a new Form G.



The The first issue of the MBTI® research journal, The Journal of Psychological Type, is conceived, implemented and published by Tom Carskadon, Professor of Psychology at Mississippi State. It is still being edited and published by Carskadon through CAPT.  

The Association for Psychological Type (APT) is formed at the Second International Conference in Philadelphia, PA.  Katharine D. Myers is President.

1980 Isabel Myers dies at the age of 82; Peter and Katharine Myers become co-owners of the MBTI® copyrights.
1982 Katharine D. Myers and Margaret Hartzler create the first publisher-approved MBTI® Qualifying Program.
1985 The Second Edition of the MBTI® Manual A Guide to the Development and Use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® instrument, co-authored by Isabel Myers and Mary McCaulley, is extensively revised and published by CPP.
1990 The publication of Form K (Now Step II, Form Q) introduces insight into individual differences within type and David Saunders authors a manual for the form, the MBTI® Expanded Analysis Report (EAR).

Stage Five: 1989 to Present — Market Leadership

1996 CPP publishes MBTI® Applications, A Decade of Research; Edited by Allen Hammer.
1998 The Third Edition of the MBTI® Manual is published by CPP with authors Myers, McCaulley, Quenk, and Hammer. The manual is dedicated to a tradition of change and incorporates 13 years of research and practitioner experience, and reinforces the roots of the MBTI® Indicator in the psychological type theory of Carl G. Jung. The manual introduces new psychometric methods and computer scoring, and a National Sample.The MBTI undergoes a major revision of Form G with the introduction of the Form M (still used today).
2001 – Present Form K is revised using the new psychometric methods adopted in Form M and CPP introduces the Step II, Form Q. The MBTI® Step II Manual by Quenk, Hammer, and Majors is released by CPP.Expansion of APT members and local chapters; continuing tradition of biennial conferences.APT becomes an international organization and is re-branded as APTi.There is continued growth in both business and international markets. 

CPP continues to add material to to its catalog including Report formats, publications, training material, application guides and leaders guides.
CPP introduces its Regional Consultant Services program to provide resources and expertise to practitioners and clients.
CPP releases new tools and applications to keep abreast of the rapidly growing use of the internet and advanced technological applications:
  • MBTI® Complete: The only application on the web created and sanctioned by CPP that provides you with your authentic MBTI® type .
  • Educational Webinars: for professional development for internal and external MBTI® practitioners.
  • CPP ICON Success, an on-line community exclusively for type consultants, is created by CPP. It includes blogs, postings by practitioners, marketing resources, sales presentation aides and guides on “How To” guides for using the MBTI® tool with other instruments such as DISC, Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team and the Gallup Strengths Finder.
CPP develops its Master Practitioner Program and opens up the ability for programs created and facilitated by Master Practitioners to be certified to provide CE’s to Certified Practitioners.
CPP releases its supplements to the The MBTI® Manual (3rd ed.) and the Step II Manual for the purpose of providing analyses and answers to questions in the 1998 manual, with data from new samples.
CPP embraces the new world of social networking and develops a presence on Facebook Linked-In (with numerous MBTI related groups), and Twitter.
CAPT in conjunction with CPP, releases the MBTI® Step III® tool, an instrument and individualized report – available to counselors and coaches – that fulfills Myers’ goal of assessing and helping people develop their types.   Learn more about the Step III program on our blog, or from  CAPT.