Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine Briggs developed their personality system to make psychologist Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types understandable and enriching in people's lives. They hoped to help people better understand and use their strengths, and to improve relationships by helping people to appreciate one another. Today, the applications of Myers and Briggs' theory are probably broader than even they could have imagined. Their Myers Briggs Type Indicator® assessment, as well as other assessments based on their theory, have been found helpful in a wide variety of situations.

Personality at Work

Briggs and Myers' system provides organizations around the world with a framework to build teams and place people in the right roles. Learning and understanding how people tick can help workplaces manage conflict, develop leadership skills, provide managers with the understanding to give effective feedback, create career development plans, build relationships with clients, support diversity and improve and change the corporate culture. For many businesses, it’s a major component of developing a well-rounded workplace.

However, there are some circumstances where it can be dangerous to use the MBTI® and similar assessments in the workplace, namely recruitment selection and performance reviews. Studies have consistently shown that a person’s four-letter personality code fails to predict job performance in any meaningful way. No one type is better than the other, and while a person may have preferences based on their personality type, these preferences do not necessarily correspond to ability. People can be just as accomplished at a job they are not obviously wired to do, if they are willing to invest in the process.

Career Planning

Research shows that people perform better, and even earn more, in careers that allow them to make use of their natural type preferences. Knowledge of type (your own and others) can help you work better on teams and develop new skills, as well as understand the various ways that people manage time, make decisions, solve problems, manage projects and deal with stress. Typology assessment can help with career planning at every stage, from your choice of majors in college to choosing your first career, developing your leadership potential or taking a new path later in life.

It can also highlight the type of work environments that might influence how comfortable you are at your job. Someone with a preference for Extraversion, for example, may find it challenging to work in a quiet, closed door environment. When you know this about yourself, you can arrange to do your work in a more suitable location or transfer to a more energetic team.

The MBTI® and similar assessments were never intended to be used as an exclusive method for career planning, however, and your personality type does not provide the final verdict on which job is right for you. Career decisions will always require a lot of scrutiny and thought. Other tests, such as those based on the Holland Code, are equally relevant to career decision-making, and provide a good source of corroboration for your results.

Family and Relationships

Family and relationships represents a core area of miscommunication for many people, and it’s also the area that most people tend to care most passionately about. When you understand the 16 psychological types, you can more easily see and understand differences between you and the people closest to you such as partners, children, family members and friends. Personality typing provides a neutral language for discussing misunderstandings and conflict, and families find great value in it for weathering marital storms and raising children with differing types.

Personal Development

Personal development is fundamentally based on self-awareness—without knowledge of your strengths, weaknesses and motivations, you cannot improve. There’s also a tendency for people to become very self-critical, silently berating themselves for having weaknesses that they do not recognize in others. The 16 personalities system gives liberating insights that can quickly end that inner negativity. It tells people why they act they way they do, and shows that even gifted individuals still have areas of weakness. No one is perfect at everything, but we are all good at something. For many, the test is a powerful aid as they strive to understand themselves better and open the door to personal growth.

About the Author

Molly Owens is the CEO of Truity and holds a master's degree in counseling psychology. She founded Truity in 2012, with the goal of making quality personality tests more affordable and accessible to the general public. She has led the development of assessments based on the Big Five, Myers and Briggs' personality types, and Holland Codes. She is an ENTP, a tireless brainstormer, and a violently messy chef. Find Molly on Twitter at @MollyROwens.