Social Reflection Series: Myers-Briggs Indicator

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (1942)

I thought we should start with an “odd ball” theory. It is an old theory, but widely recognised in some form or another.

Essentially the Myers-Briggs type indicator does not provide a framework for reflection, but provides us with a tool to understand the social context our marketing is rooted in.  People are mostly unlike us and this must be understood when it comes to working in social marketing and reflecting on how things went over the last week in developing the relationships we set out to gain.

The model suggests that we prefer and tend to process an experience (or event) in different ways, characterised by: thinking, feeling, judgment and perception.  The outcome of taking the test is our categorisation as one of 16 ‘types’ of people that approach the world in a similar way.



Although this may have an application in understanding our potential strengths and deficiencies in dealing with our experiences, it does not provide us with a structure of how to improve our personal circumstances. After all we can only directly change ourselves not others.   However it could be applied to a reflective process, as it can suggest potential conflicts we have had with a different personality type and highlight the need for changing our approach, our tone of voice etc.   It may also go as far as stimulating our own reflection based on the traits derived from the model and point to how we might want to adopt some of these traits in certain situations.

The core problem with this model in my view is that it is too weak to describe situations of certainty, as it does not stand up to statistical scrutiny (Matthews, 2004).  Ultimately categorising the human race into 16 types is considered overly simplistic to say the least.  Having said this though, it does provide a stereotypical view of sorts in how people are similar in general.  The problem is that there are many exceptions to general behaviour and so this must be considered when trying to understand what kind of personality people have, especially online where people often feel ‘out of themselves’, protected by the computer mediating their experience and communication with others.  This is indeed if they are not pretending to be someone else!

To conclude topological theories like Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (Briggs-Myers 1942) do not specifically address reflection or how we can utilise it for personal development.  It does however help us develop our own social knowledge and skill, to enable us to tap into the core of the people we are talking to, speak to them on their level and understand what makes them tick.  This is crucial for successful dialogue and to encourage people to open up to you through the development of mutual understanding and trust.  It is only with these skills and appreciation that we believe you can operate effectively and become the socialite that is needed of a social marketer.

Related Articles:

The Reflection in Social Marketing Series;

Part 1 – Reflection in Social Marketing

Part 2 – The Myers Briggs Indicator

Part 3 – Kolb and Fry’s (1975) reflection model

Part 4 – Johns (2000) model of reflection

Part 5 – Jarvis (1994) and Conclusions

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