Creation of the MBTI® Types

About the MBTI® Instrument

Creation of the 16 MBTI® Types

      Sensing     Intuition

To read about all 16 types, click here.

The Foundation for the 16 Types

Myers and Briggs found to be such an important theory for human understanding, that they created the MBTI® instrument to help people identify their type.

In essence, Jung’s theory is that we have a predisposition to use our energy in certain ways and to process information, or think, in certain ways. Our energy preference (Jung’s attitudes) in combination with the way we think (Jung’s functions) yields eight different patterns, or “psychological types” (also known as the eight Jungian mental processes).

The Four MBTI® Dichotomies – An Extension of Jung’s Theory

Myers and Briggs considered their work to be an extension of Jung’s theory. Based on their study and knowledge of the theory, and the extensive testing of questions on friends and family, the mother-daughter team created a self-report instrument with questions on four separate dichotomies. The questions were constructed to require a person to select from opposite poles on these dichotomies (forced choice questions) to mirror Jung’s opposites. A person’s preferences on each of the dichotomies are scored and reported in the form of a four-letter type code.

The first three dichotomies (thus the first three letters of the type code) came directly from Jung’s theory:

  • Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I) – How our energy most naturally flows
  • Sensing (S) or INtuition (N) – How we Perceive, or take in information
  • Thinking (T) or Feeling (F) – How we Judge, or evaluate information

The fourth dichotomy (and letter of the type code) was added to incorporate what Jung had only mentioned in a brief paragraph in Psychological Types; a secondary or auxiliary function. Jung had created his descriptions of the eight psychological types by writing only about a “superior function” (the dominant function) to the exclusion of the other seven functions. Myers and Briggs saw these descriptions as limiting; not comprehensive enough to account for how we operate in everyday life.

This dichotomy, called the JP dichotomy ((J) for Judging or (P), for Perceiving) provided a formula for the identification of a dominant function, as well as auxiliary function – turning Jung’s eight types into the well-known four-letter 16 MBTI® types. The dichotomy is an indicator to which kind of function we extravert or show the world:

  • Judging Function (J) — We show the world our Thinking (T) or our Feeling (F) function
  • Perceiving Function (P) — We show the world our Sensing (S) or our INtuition (N) function