The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing

The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing

An unprecedented history of a personality test devised in the 1940s by a mother and daughter, both homemakers, that has achieved cult-like status and is used in today's most distinguished boardrooms, classrooms, and beyond.The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is the most popular personality test in the world. It has been harnessed by Fortune 100 companies, universities, hospita...

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Title:The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing
Author:Merve Emre
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing Reviews

  • Anna

    I was totally engrossed in the story of the mother and daughter team behind Myers-Briggs. This test is nearly one hundred years old, and it's fascinating to see how it continues to impact huge institutions from the CIA to Fortune 500 companies. Highly recommend.

  • Charlotte

    This book was riveting and impossible to put down. A friend loaned me a copy and I finished it in three days even though I'm a slow and distractible reader.

    It's a fascinating history of the mother and daughter who developed the MBTI (much earlier than I would have imagined), and a broader examination of other personality tests, theories and research. It grapples with the question of why we as Americans, or maybe as humans, are so drawn to these types of categorical tools to sort ourselves and de

    This book was riveting and impossible to put down. A friend loaned me a copy and I finished it in three days even though I'm a slow and distractible reader.

    It's a fascinating history of the mother and daughter who developed the MBTI (much earlier than I would have imagined), and a broader examination of other personality tests, theories and research. It grapples with the question of why we as Americans, or maybe as humans, are so drawn to these types of categorical tools to sort ourselves and define our lives. And the writing is brilliant. The author powerfully and convincingly makes her arguments while simultaneously painting vivid and interesting characters. I found myself wanting to binge watch episodes of this book on Netflix.

  • Olga

    Weirdest true story ever! If you have any experience with the Myers-Briggs test (who doesn't?) or are just interested in the idea of personality testing, definitely check out this book. This bizarre and compulsively readable history will make you think a little more deeply about all the professional development activities or Tinder profiles you come across that reference MBTI results. Super fun and informational read!

  • Mitch Hedwig

    The Personality Brokers combines a conceptually sophisticated intellectual history with a thrilling narrative. It takes a special kind of talent to make ideas this interesting. The "personalities" covered come to riotous life--Hitler, Jung, Truman Capote, to say nothing of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers themselves. Emre is always witty and always sharp, but never condescending to her subjects, no matter how eccentric they can be. An amazing book.

  • Amanda O.

    My friend lent me her advance copy and I finished it in a week!

    The Personality Brokers is the fascinating history behind the Myers-Briggs test and the mother-daughter duo who created it. The book was incredibly well-written and well-researched and raised interesting questions about personality psychology, which interest me greatly. I also loved how it delves into the history of the test - how it weaves together the psychological frameworks of Jung and the made-up parts by Isabel Myers and Kathar

    My friend lent me her advance copy and I finished it in a week!

    The Personality Brokers is the fascinating history behind the Myers-Briggs test and the mother-daughter duo who created it. The book was incredibly well-written and well-researched and raised interesting questions about personality psychology, which interest me greatly. I also loved how it delves into the history of the test - how it weaves together the psychological frameworks of Jung and the made-up parts by Isabel Myers and Katharine Briggs - and the widespread use of it across institutions like the military, universities, and churches. It uncovers the corporations behind the type indicator test and how they strive to protect the legitimacy of it.

    What I loved most about the book was how it challenged this widely-accepted personality test and shows how it's flawed. People who love and live by Myers-Briggs may not like to read about it, but it's an important book and it's written for those people as well. An overall fascinating read that will serve as a great talking points in future Myers-Briggs conversations!

  • Robin Bonne

    3.5 Stars. The beginning really tried to sell me on the mystery of the author’s journey to uncover the history of MBTI. After such promise, it slowed down for awhile, which is why I can’t rate it higher. Then it took a turn toward the bizarre when Katherine had a strange relationship with Mary “Tucky” Tuckerman.

    Overall, it was fascinating and there were moments of, “What did I just read?”

    Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an unbiased review.

  • Gumble's Yard

    To which I will add my own three questions.

    Feel free to give me your answers in the comments and I can provide you my own unofficial but carefully researched Goodreads Myers Briggs Type Indicator.

    To which I will add my own three questions.

    Feel free to give me your answers in the comments and I can provide you my own unofficial but carefully researched Goodreads Myers Briggs Type Indicator.

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    This book is an excellent review of the history of what is now the world’s most popular personality test and in particular its creators Katherine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers.

    This is a subject which interests me as despite its flaws, this test (which I have probably undergone on at least half a dozen occasions from business schools, to work team bonding sessions to church discipleship groups) is one I enjoy discussing, one where I recall my type without effort, and one I have on an occasion even used (I would argue very carefully and for a very specific purpose) as a recruitment tool.

    Even while reading the book I Googled to check if there was an article on using type to predict the type of book you enjoy and found I was a lover of literary fiction. Confirmation bias perhaps, as I may have ignored the article with a different result, but I would say not entirely.

    The book makes no attempt to hide the lack of scientific rigour at the base of the test, or of statistical validity.

    Nor to disguise the really at times quite bizarre history of its creators.

    Katherine’s psycho-sexual, quasi-religious obsession with Jung and her sinister fixation with one of her first subjects - the daughter of her husband’s colleague.

    Isabel’s brief career as an award winning novelist of casually racist detective novels. Later her eccentric and paranoid behaviour when her test came under the auspices of the Education Training Service (purveyor of the SAT).

    Interestingly it places the role of the test and of the wider fields of personality profiling and testing, as being intrinsic to the post war development of a corporatist ethos in the white collar workforce in America (as effectively a capitalist antidote to the threat of socialism) - but with a smaller group of researchers concerned that the ideas of classification strayed too close to fascism.

    The author also draws out its links with reinforcing areas of social, gender and racial discrimination.

    I have two criticisms.

    At times the book can be surprising in its parochialism; in a way which reminded me of the World Series I was rather caught by surprise and then humoured when a reference to the test making the transition from “East to West” turned out to reference the two coasts of the United States.

    The book features various other figures in the history of personality testing/profiling who played an important role in the development of the profile of MBTI. At times MBTI itself can seem almost incidental to these chapters, which while interesting (showing how both Big Brother shows and the Stanford Prison experiment had their origins in this field, decades earlier) are too detailed for the casual reader.

    But the book is nicely balanced; opening and closing with the author (so as to access papers she wanted for her book research) being required to attend a 2 day Myers Briggs accreditation. There, despite her cynicism at evangelical nature of the true believers, she sees some of the ways in which understanding their type enables people to make sense of their lives, characters and relationships and concludes

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    In case you are wondering my own answers are:

    (c) but marginally so

    (a) strongly except in some areas of non fictional writing

    (f) and increasingly so

    (g) fiction by author, sports books by sport, history books by chronology

    Which matches, even in its nuances, my much tested Type.

  • Sarah

    3.5/5

  • Kelly

    My background is in psychology and I've always found personality testing fascinating, if dubious. Emre's exploration of the history of Myers-Briggs and the mother-daughter team behind it makes me think even more about how dubious they are -- and how dangerous they can be when used as tools to sort, assess, and direct people in personal and professional lives. I never realized it was so heavily influenced by Jung, and I never realized the fact that types are meant to be unchanging; it's this, the

    My background is in psychology and I've always found personality testing fascinating, if dubious. Emre's exploration of the history of Myers-Briggs and the mother-daughter team behind it makes me think even more about how dubious they are -- and how dangerous they can be when used as tools to sort, assess, and direct people in personal and professional lives. I never realized it was so heavily influenced by Jung, and I never realized the fact that types are meant to be unchanging; it's this, the idea of it being unchanging, that maybe bothers me the most (after, of course, the fact they're based on the ideal straight, white, cis, able-bodied male in American culture as "norms" for all 16 types).

    It was interesting to think about the time period when the test was created, too. The 1950s, post-war, when money became more flush and white Americans enjoyed far more leisure time and opportunity to "find themselves" (even though this never met that critical mass until the 1980s, it was the dream of the creators).

    The audio was solid.

    (INTJ, if you're wondering).

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