The MBTI® Framework: Three Unique Instruments

The MBTI® framework and assessment are unique from other personality surveys. First, there are three different instruments, each designed to meet a specific need. Second, there are several reports, multiple resources, and certified professionals to support learning.

The MBTI Assessment

The purpose of the MBTI assessment, developed by Isabel Briggs Myers, and her mother, Katharine Cook Briggs, is to make the theory of psychological types, described by C. G. Jung, understandable and useful in people's lives.

The essence of the theory is that much seemingly random variation in human behavior is actually quite orderly and consistent, due to basic differences in the ways individuals prefer to use their perception (all the ways of becoming aware of things, people, happenings, or ideas) and judgment (all the ways of coming to conclusions about what has been perceived). The MBTI assessment is designed to help identify these patterns of perception and judgment as seen in normal, healthy behavior.

The MBTI assessment consists of three different instruments. Each instrument, interpreted by an MBTI certified professional, offers deep insight into different aspects of personality type. Here is a brief overview of each instrument. More in-depth information follows.

  • MBTI Step I instrument results identify preferences for one of the 16 MBTI personality types (whole type) and reveals how your type is different from the other types
  • MBTI Step II instrument results provide people with an individualized type (whole type plus out-of-preference facets) that reflects distinctive and unique ways they express their MBTI preferences (how you are different from people with the same whole type) and is especially useful for personal and professional development
  • MBTI Step III instrument results help the client explore identified issues and gain the necessary insight for becoming more effective in the natural use of their personality type through one-to-one dialog with a trained counselor or coach (sessions are personal and provide information on your type development without comparison to other types or people)

More information on each instrument is found below.

MBTI Step I Instrument

Understand yourself better through personality type. Begin with the MBTI Step I instrument which helps to identify your preference for one of the 16 personality types. Interactive feedback is required to help with verification.

Why Do I Need Interactive Feedback?

People are complex and multi-faceted. With any self-report questionnaire, such as the MBTI instrument, your mindset when you take it impacts how you answer the items and may, in turn, cause you to question the reported results—which is why a feedback session is vital for verification of your best-fit type.

A professional can help you sort through any pressures (work, family, culture) you may have felt when answering the items and separate those personality characteristics that are innate (personality type) from those that are learned (environmental).

Once You Have a Verified Type

The real value of knowing type comes through in how you apply this knowledge for personal and professional self-growth, improved communication, conflict management, career choice, and so much more. You can explore these areas under the Type in My Life section or with a type expert who has access to a variety of MBTI reports, books, and other resources.

Go to Take the MBTI Instrument, if you are interested in taking the official MBTI Step I assessment.

Go to MBTI Certification if you would like to be certified to use the assessment professionally with others.

MBTI Step II Instrument

Once people have a basic understanding of their personality type through the Step I instrument, the MBTI Step II instrument is a great next step. It offers an in-depth look into your type by providing a detailed report highlighting five facets (components) of each preference pair, leading to an individualized type description. You discover your whole type among the 16 MBTI personalities in the Step I assessment, and with the Step II assessment, you discover how you are different from others with your same whole type.

Tips on how to enhance your natural style for communicating, managing conflict, dealing with change, making decisions, and working together are included in the Step II interpretative report, along with an explanation of type dynamics (the interaction between the preferences in whole type). The report and interactive feedback are only available through an MBTI Step II certified professional.

Why Take the MBTI Step II Instrument?

The value of the Step II interpretive report and feedback is that you begin to recognize areas of your personality that may have been learned and/or influenced by your environment, whether that be through upbringing, work environment, stress, or life adversity. The report points to areas of personality that you may have developed based on life experience and provides extensive individualized descriptions along with personal development suggestions.

Interpretation of Step II Results

Step II results help define differences within the 16 personality types and may aid people who are having trouble identifying their best-fit type. For example, let's say you prefer ISFJ, and you meet someone who also prefers ISFJ, yet you notice many differences in your personalities.

First, people are complex and multi-faceted. Of course, there will be differences. Second, Step II results may show some of those differences through an individualized personality type.

To continue with this example, you may report preferences for the facets "gregarious and imaginative" which are considered out-of-preference for someone who prefers ISFJ. "Gregarious" is a facet under Extraversion and "imaginative" is a facet under Intuition.

In this case, the individualized type would be, "gregarious, imaginative ISFJ." Someone else may have out-of-preference facets for "logical and casual" leading to the individualized type, "logical, casual ISFJ." Even though they both prefer ISFJ in general, there will be personality differences based on the out-of-preference facets.

Unique Type Expression

A Step II feedback session is often lively, with an emphasis on examples and shared stories. Therefore, it takes longer to interpret the report. The session provides an opportunity to talk through why some facets may have developed the way they did, along with discussion on what the circumstances were that led to that development.

Knowing how the facets influence the expression of their personality type helps people to discern that which is natural from that which is learned. This is what makes each person unique in their own type expressions. Not all people who prefer ISFJ are the same; there are similarities but also differences. The MBTI Step II instrument may help identify some of those differences.

Fascinating, isn't it?! Want to know more? Go to our MBTI Master Practitioner Referral Network website to find an MBTI certified professional to take the MBTI Step II instrument. Contact a provider today!

Go to MBTI Certification if you would like to be certified to use the assessment professionally with others.

MBTI Step III Instrument

When Isabel Briggs Myers conceptualized the different applications of the MBTI assessment, she had a vision that went far beyond the identification of basic individual type preferences in the four letters of whole type (Step I). The body of work she envisioned was realized in the development of the Step II and Step III instruments.

The MBTI Step III instrument was designed only for use in one-to-one counseling or coaching settings. The highly individualized interpretive report serves as a unique catalyst for meaningful conversation between the client and practitioner.

Co-author of the Step III instrument and type expert Naomi Quenk wrote, "Dialogue is the centerpiece of the Step III process. It provides a rich and unique experience for individuals who are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work with a trained Step III professional."

Interpretation of Step III Results

The Step III instrument is the most individualized of the three MBTI assessments. Where the Step I assessment gives whole type and the Step II assessment shows differences within type, the Step III assessment shows the respondent's unique path of type development. Results indicate the current ways a person is using perception (all the ways of becoming aware of things, people, happenings, or ideas) and judgment (all the ways of coming to conclusions about what has been perceived), and the likely effectiveness of those uses, which is assumed to be evidence of type development.

In-depth sessions with a Step III professional help the client explore identified issues in how they are expressing and using type. Clients gain insight to become more effective in the intentional and focused development of their type.

As with all aspects of the MBTI instrument, Step III scoring is interpreted within the context of healthy personality and requires the respondent's verification of their results.

Professional Training for the MBTI Step III Instrument

Certification in the Step III instrument is offered only to MBTI certified practitioners. Currently training is not available. If you would like to be notified when we do offer it again, please submit your email address here.

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