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How Myers-Briggs Conquered the Office

Mariella Frostrup asks how a questionnaire devised at a kitchen table became the preferred professional development tool of some of the world's largest corporations.

It was created by a mother and daughter team, neither of whom were trained as psychologists, yet today it is the world's most widely used personality indicator, used by leading companies like Shell, Procter and Gamble, Vodafone, and the BBC.

Mariella Frostrup tells the story of The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), created by Katherine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers. Participants are asked a series of questions intended to reveal information about their thinking, problem solving and communication styles. At the end of the process each participant is handed one of 16 four-letter acronyms which describes their "type." ENTPs are extrovert inventors, ISTJs are meticulous nit pickers. Mariella finds out what type she is- will it change the way she works?

Katherine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers devised their questionnaire during WWII to help women identify the sort of war-time jobs where they would be "most comfortable and effective." It was a long and arduous struggle to convince industry it could be useful to them. Today in academia many are still not convinced.

Despite this, as Myers-Briggs rolls out across the globe, how does it cope with different cultural attitudes towards celebrating individualism, particularly in more reserved Asian countries?

Mariella asks the key question; what does Myers-Briggs tell us that we couldn't have found out before?

30 minutes

Last on

Mon 15 Nov 2010 15:00


  • Tue 30 Mar 2010 21:00
  • Mon 15 Nov 2010 15:00