Understanding human personality is all about subjectivity and unpredictability. It is not an exact science at all. The reason is, we all are a combination of different strengths and weaknesses that makes us unique and exclusive. No two people will think and feel alike in most of their life situations. There will always be subtle variations.

A pertinent question that may come to your mind is, does 16 personalities work? Is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator accurately categorizing people into types that have similar personality traits? Would two people with the same personality type always behave in the same way?

There are so many uncovered issues of personality theories that we need to understand before we get into evaluating the efficacy of the 16 personality types described by Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs.

Does 16 Personalities Work?

Since the early days of psychological understanding of personality typing, it has been found that personality is just one of the many factors that determine human behavior. In reality, humans are a combination of nature and nurture and both these play a significant role in the way we behave or respond to situations in our daily life.

It will be unjust to say that we behave in situations only because of introversion-extroversion traits, or just because a person who has a predominant sensing function will prefer to stay present-focused always.

Human actions, decision-making, and overall behavior patterns are influenced by the environment, varied life experiences, and individual goals of living. The personality typing described in MBTI explains how people belonging to a specific type will likely behave in any situation. There will be minor variations in the behavior patterns of two individuals belonging to the same type. 

For example, Two persons with ENTJ personality type may show variations in their behavior when exposed to the same life situation. This is because both these individuals are brought up in different ways and were exposed to different life experiences throughout their lives.

Therefore, being the same type doesn’t guarantee similar behavior patterns or the same response to the environmental stimulus that they were exposed to.

16 Personalities – Framework and Efficacy

16 personalities is a framework that has typed human beings based on certain similar traits. The concept provides insight into how a person perceives information, makes decisions and interacts with the outer world.

According to the concept of 16 personalities, there are four broad categories of personality types. They are analysts, diplomats, sentinels, and explorers. These four broad categories have four personality types under them.

  1. Analysts – INTJ, INTP, ENTJ, ENTP
  2. Diplomats – INFJ, INFP, ENFJ, ENFP
  3. Sentinels – ISTJ, ISFJ, ESTJ, ESFJ
  4. Explorers – ISTP, ISFP, ESTP, ESFP

The efficacy of the MBTI test and the concept of 16 personalities were under the scanner in the field of personality psychology for a long time. As each individual is a blend of his/her life events and experiences, it is difficult to type people and say that all the people belonging to a particular MBTI type will behave in the same way when exposed to more or less similar situations. 

Moreover, the bottom line is, we are born with certain qualities that are innate and then exposure to varied life experiences has shaped our one-to-one nature. Just typing people in 16 different categories doesn’t assure the accuracy of personality typing and knowing the types in all their subtle forms.

There is a lot of debate with regard to the reliability and validity of the 16 personalities test. The test is like a pseudo-science that does not predict how people will actually react, respond, or behave when exposed to various life experiences. It’s for sure that each one of them will behave differently; even if they belong to the same type.

The MBTI test is not a reliable one as per some experts because of its inconsistent results. The same person who has taken the test on two different online or offline platforms may get different results. 

It is also there that the basics of the MBTI test were taken from the psychology theories of Carl Jung. So, the research findings of Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs lack empirical evidence. Most of the data collected were through observation only.

Therefore the test was criticized in spite of its immense popularity.  

The Limitations of MBTI and 16 personalities’ concept

There are several limitations of MBTI and the concept of the 16 personalities theory. Some of the notable ones are as follows:

  • MBTI test results vary for the same person when retaking the test. This questions its reliability. If test results vary, it means the same person will show two different personality types in two instances. This will lead to chaos and results will be inconsistent. It means the MBTI has poor test-retest reliability.
  • The test is time-consuming and many professionals do not like it because of its wide number of items that need to be responded to.
  • It is not a cost-friendly test if one undertakes the original test either online or offline. 
  • MBTI and the concept of 16 personalities’ are not comprehensive as per certain researchers. They believed that there is no reference to emotional stability and its impact on the person’s decision-making and overall behavior.

To Sum Up

From the limitations discussed above, it is quite clear that MBTI is good but only to a certain extent. The type classifications that come out of the MBTI testing do not define individual variations of personality types in finer ways. 

The concept of 16 personality types gives you a general idea of the various types but doesn’t include the subtle variations that these types can have with regard to their interaction with the outside world.

 Thus, the 16 personalities’ will work only to a limited extent. It fails to define why two individuals with the same personality type behave differently with regard to their exposure to varied life events and experiences.

Personality is highly subjective and it is hard to generalize the types always.