Lyman Briggs College Prowler No Essay

How is it that the world’s most popular personality test could have been created by two women who had no formal training in psychology, statistics, or psychometrics? The story of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®, its creation, and its rise to popularity is a remarkable one, and a testament to the determination of its creators: Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katharine Cook Briggs.

Katharine and Isabel lived in an era when women were not encouraged to develop their minds, and a traditional career path for a woman was nearly out of the question. They were devoted wives and mothers, but they were also highly intelligent, independent, and curious women who needed an intellectual outlet. When they weren’t tending their homes and families, they read, wrote, and studied a wide variety of topics, including the subject that would eventually make them famous: the theory of personality types. Although Katharine and Isabel sometimes struggled to have their work taken seriously–whether because of their gender or their lack of formal credentials–their theories of personality type have come to define the way we think about people and the differences between them.

The Birth of a Theory

The family’s interest in personality type began with Katharine Briggs, an educated and intellectual woman who had a lifelong love affair with knowledge. Katharine came of age in the Victorian era, when it was believed that too much education could harm a woman’s reproductive capability. Fortunately for bookish Katharine, she came from a family of academics who believed in the value of education for women and men alike. She earned a degree in agriculture and worked as a teacher, and after college married a physicist, Lyman Briggs.

Katharine Cook Briggs

Katharine was an avid reader and writer. One room of her home was designated her study, where she wrote articles and essays on child-rearing and education. As she cared for her only daughter, Isabel, she formulated strong opinions on the proper methods for raising children. She believed children were innately curious and that education should foster their natural instinct to learn. After a brief and unsatisfying encounter with traditional schooling, she brought Isabel home to educate her daughter herself, and encouraged her to spend long hours reading and writing on whatever topics interested her.

Katharine was also an aspiring fiction writer, and this is where her interest in personality types was born. She wanted to discover the fundamentals of personality and behavior, so that she might create better characters for her stories. Katharine’s interest in personality types intensified when Isabel entered college and met the man she would marry, Clarence “Chief” Myers. Katharine felt that Chief was different from the rest of the family, and turned to her study of personality types in an attempt to quantify what that difference might be. This was a crucial endeavor for Katharine, as she sensed that her ability to appreciate Chief was essential to her continued closeness with her daughter. Rather than judge or reject Chief, she set out to understand him.

Dr. Carl Jung

Katharine’s search for a definitive theory of personality type continued over many years, and led her to study the works of philosophers, psychologists, and scientists. She found no unifying theory of type in her studies, and eventually she began to formulate her own. However, in 1923, she read C.G. Jung’s Psychological Types and found the system she was looking for. The text described personality type in a way that she found definitive and complete, and she abandoned her own attempts at creating a theory of personality in favor of studying Jung’s work.

Katharine contacted Dr. Jung personally, corresponding with him over several years and even meeting him when he visited the United States. He provided her with additional notes on his work in the field, and she consulted with him in the application of his theories. At the same time, she began to use Jung’s theories in her writing. She composed a novel incorporating the concepts of personality type, and wrote an article for the New Republic magazine which explained to readers how they might attempt to classify themselves and the people around them.

While Katharine pursued her studies, Isabel was keeping busy as a wife and mother. She and her husband Chief had two children, and Isabel plunged herself enthusiastically into the task of raising them well. What time she had left over was occupied with her own interest in writing. After winning a mystery-novel contest, Isabel enjoyed some success as a writer of novels, short stories, and plays. During these years, Katharine tried to interest Isabel in type theory, without much success.

Isabel’s Indicator

Things began to shift in the early 1940’s, as Isabel’s children grew older. She felt compelled to help with the war effort, but the usual volunteer activities did not challenge her intellect. Her search for a meaningful contribution took a turn when she read a magazine article describing the Humm-Wadsworth Temperament Scale, a psychological test designed to place people in the appropriate type of work for their character. She wrote excitedly to her mother, expressing her desire to become involved in the task of allocating workers to the right niche within the labor force.

Isabel Briggs Myers

Isabel sought out a position within a personnel department which was already using the Humm-Wadsworth on their staff. She learned to score it and gathered empirical data on its effectiveness, but was disappointed when her data showed that the instrument was not a useful predictor of job performance. She discussed the problem with her mother Katharine, who proposed an alternative: to develop a new assessment, based on the theories of personality type that she had been studying for so many years.

With her children now in college, Isabel threw herself into the project of creating this “people-sorting” tool. Her mother contributed the enormous amount of knowledge she had amassed over decades of study, and Isabel went to work creating a questionnaire that could effectively sort people into personality types. Isabel wrote hundreds of questions, testing and re-testing them with people she knew and meticulously collecting data. Eventually, she selected 172 questions which she determined were the most effective at sorting people into personality types. These composed Form A of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator.

Isabel was resourceful in finding guinea pigs for her new tool. She gave the Indicator to her son’s high school class, to students at nearby colleges, and to the military units of family friends. In 1945, she signed a contract with a management consultant to use the Indicator with his clients. Her big break, however, came about with the help of her father. Through his contacts in academia, he arranged to have the MBTI administered to the entering classes of the medical school at George Washington University. Isabel used this work as a springboard to sign on more medical schools, and over the next few years she was able to give the Indicator to several thousand medical students.

As Isabel immersed herself in the development of the Indicator, Katharine became less involved. She didn’t understand the statistical methods Isabel was using to validate the instrument, and even suggested her name be left out of the title (Isabel refused). Katharine’s work had provided the theoretical basis for the instrument, but the MBTI was very clearly Isabel’s. Katharine contributed where she could, in particular providing much-needed funding, while Isabel pressed ahead with her research.

The MBTI Finds a Publisher

The large body of data Isabel gathered from her work with medical colleges allowed her to further refine the instrument. It also gave her the opportunity to gain more recognition. In 1956, a dean of one of the medical colleges she was working with met with the head of the Educational Testing Service, a publisher of psychometric assessments, and suggested that the company might be interested in the Indicator. Researchers at ETS invited Isabel to present the instrument and and were impressed. In 1957, ETS signed a contract with Isabel to publish the MBTI.

The contract with ETS offered Isabel more resources, but also more frustration. She was assigned to work with a team of researchers and statisticians who were suspicious–and sometimes outright derisive–of her unconventional background and methods. Although Isabel made important gains in her data collection while at ETS, the company never publicized the instrument, and Isabel grew increasingly dissatisfied with the way her creation was handled. In 1975, Isabel signed a new contract with Consulting Psychologists Press, a small but well-respected company in California. CPP made the Indicator a central focus of their catalog, and it grew to become their best selling product.

Gifts Differing

The Cover of Gifts Differing

Isabel’s family and colleagues had been imploring her for years to write a book on her theories of personality, but the project had always taken a backseat to her data collection and analysis. However, when she was diagnosed with cancer in the 1970’s, she realized her time might be running short. With the help of her son Peter, she wrote Gifts Differing, still considered the definitive text on Myers-Briggs personality type. As her health worsened, she worked from her sickbed to edit and proofread the book. She died shortly after completing the book, peacefully in her home.

Although Isabel originally conceived the Indicator as a career-placement tool, it came to define how she thought about all aspects of life. She viewed it as important tool in vocational planning, education, marriage, and personal relationships. She credited her own happy marriage to her awareness of personality types, explaining that the differences between herself (an INFP) and her husband (an ISTJ) were made easier to understand and appreciate with the use of the MBTI. Type was a way of life for Isabel, and her family members reported that in her later years she would talk of little else.

Isabel Myers’ passion was to show others their gifts, and help them understand how they might best contribute to the world around them. Her unflagging tenacity in promoting her Type Indicator was borne of her conviction that the tool could be of tremendous benefit to anyone who was given access to it. At the last professional event of her life, she told a colleague of her hopes for the future: “I dream that long after I am gone, my work will go on helping people.”

Myers Briggs Type Indicator and MBTI are registered trademarks of the Myers & Briggs Foundation, Inc.

Sources

  • Katharine and Isabel: Mother’s Light, Daughter’s Journey, by Frances Wright Saunders; Consulting Psychologists Press.
  • Gifts Differing, by Isabel Briggs Myers with Peter B. Myers; Consulting Psychologists Press.
  • The Story of Isabel Briggs Myers. Retrieved from http://www.capt.org/mbti-assessment/isabel-myers.htm.
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The Game Design department has several excellent professors that really pay attention to your work at all levels.
I have loved my experience at Michigan State University so far. It is a welcoming and diverse community that has something for everyone. The football team is fantastic and I loved going to each of the games and spending time with my friends. My major is Nursing which is a very competitive program at MSU but I am sure it will prepare me well for my future career. I have spoken with many other students and we all have the same opinion. Michigan State was the best choice for me and I can't wait to continue my education there for many years.
I loved the campus, dining halls, dorms, athletic events, and downtown area. I took great classes and feel very tied to this school. I didn't choose the best major for me in my undergrad, but that has worked out okay for me.
Overall a great school. The professors are incredible and very knowledgeable. The administration is currently under construction and will hopefully get fixed very soon.
I am a sophomore at MSU and I can say I am overall pleased here as far as academics, campus life, and people. You do have to do your research on teachers before enrolling in a class to ensure you get the best one. The only thing stopping me from giving 5 stars is the fact that living on campus is too costly and they gave me a hard time when I tried to move off campus. Otherwise, love it here!
Michigan State is a great place to earn a degree. Courses are challenging, but they provide great insight into the real world. There are plenty of organizations as well to help grow socially.
Michigan State provides a solid basis for their students to be themselves and discover who they are and what they love. This year Michigan State has had poor safety on campus. This is due to the lack of action of sexual assault victims who had been affected by Dr. Nassar and other sexual predators. My hope is that the board and staff continue to take responsibility for the mistakes they have made and Michigan State can rebuild trust from the community and the victims. Other than that, everyone can find their place at Michigan State and their people. There is a wide range of diversity, which allows students to get out of their comfortable zone and learn more about the world around us.Michigan State's safety is hopefully improving soon and the culture and overall student satisfaction with also increase.
Michigan State has a very diverse community. With its extensive campus, there is more than meets the eye. With every individual there is a whole story towards why or how she/he got into this college. The school has a very good athletics program and is up in the top in the country which is praisable
I love Michigan State University. This year has been hard between title IX violations, massive flooding, and the Nassar scandal, but I think MSU will come out stronger in the end. My only complaint is their unwillingness to cancel school during a snow storm.
The professors are very passionate about what they do and they teach in a way that helps you better understand the subject. I would suggest the university to add more reflection rooms in buildings to make meditation and prayers easier and more convenient.
Michigan State University is what you make of it. There are endless opportunities to pursue the things you are passionate about as a part of your undergraduate education. I will say though, if you are still struggling for direction in your course of study, it is difficult to "find yourself" as the saying goes. I do truly believe there is something for everybody at Michigan State, and I am a proud alum. However, like any 4 year university, everything comes at a price and given the rising cost of education, I would tell any incoming students to be decisive in their course of study as soon as possible. Again, MSU is a great university with endless opportunities. Go Green!!
At the ADS Competition I fell in love with the campus as well as the Honors College and Lyman Briggs residential program. However, I found the focus was placed primarily on students with an SAT score of 1500 or above. At that time it felt like they were mainly focused on gaining the attendance of those students for their numbers.
I have loved Michigan State so far. The atmosphere here is incredible and there is never a dull moment. There are so many clubs to join, something literally for everyone-- we even have a squirrel watching club. I suggest putting yourself out there and meeting new people, you wont regret it.
Michigan State University has been great to me. I've made many friends on campus. There are many opportunities at MSU. Over 200 majors are offered here. You can find a degree in about anything that interests you. MSU offers many non-academic activities. There are an almost unlimited number of clubs and intramural sports. For those that want a more community feel there is a Greek Life and many living-learning communities students can apply to live for. I have become involved in many of these opportunities Michigan State University may be a very large school, but it can easily become a small home.
Im a freshman at Michigan State, and so far, classes have been great. I have met a variety of people, and they have been very helpful in making my first year a good one.
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I really liked the diversity on campus. There are great resources for those with disabilities- RCPD. They give accommodations for difficult subjects and offer internship opportunities. MSU offers employment opportunities in each department. MSU's campus is beautiful and eco-friendly. They have amazing gardens and places to relax outdoors. The classes are awesome as well. As you get into your area of study, you can develop a relationship with your professors and classmates.
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Some of the classes are way too big reaching 300+ students. If you are transferring from a community college, be sure to know what your major is because they may not accept certain classes as transfers. If you want to choose a different major, some may take more classes and wait time to do that different major.
Michigan State University is an amazing university that prepares students for the professional word, by providing access to career preparing resources. I am a Spartan at heart and I have an ever-growing love for MSU and the Spartan community. If you are looking for a university that build all-inclusive positive relationships then MSU is for you. Go Green!

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