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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

New York Times review:

“On the face of it, this is supposed to be a history of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator; it turns out to be something much stranger — an inventive and beguiling biography of the idiosyncratic mother-daughter pair who developed the indicator using their own, decidedly unscientific, interpretations of human behavior.”

Featured in New York Times Critics’ Top Books of 2018.

NPR review:

“Author Merve Emre charts the unlikely origin of the personality test and the myriad ways it’s been put to use since (in college admissions, corporate hiring and firing, and matching spies to secret missions.)”

Featured in NPR’s Best Books of 2018.

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Ranked 169th in Books

Ranked 37th in History

Ranked 76th in Non-fiction

Ranked 13th in Science

$ 19

Adam Grant had once stated: the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is always preferable over a horoscope, but definitely less dependable than a heart monitor.  

The Personality Brokers captures the erratic and specific personalities of the two very own creators of this test: Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katharine Cook Briggs. On paper, both women were simple homemakers for the most part of their adult lives. But parallelly, they have also published writers, autodidacts, and ideologues of a distinct sort. As both the mother and daughter were well-endowed educated women, they were able to alternately obligate by their circumstances in the postwar period, a tension that would swerve the orientation of the introduction of MBTI to the world.

It was Isabel’s idea to adapt Jung’s type pairs to invent the first exemplification of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. In the early years and the time period during World War II, personality tests bourgeoned as a happening tool of workplace management in the United States of America. This provided a guarantee to help identify the type of employees who were best suited to perform specific tasks. Upon learning of the proliferating personality-consulting industry, Isabel excogitates her own questionnaire that was based on Jung’s types and named it as the Briggs-Myers Type Indicator ( in tribute to her mother’s influence).

Emre’s excellent study counterpoises some sharp critiques, such as from the renowned social theorist Theodor Adorno, with her own equitable testimonial to the MBTI’s suasiveness. Throughout the book, Emre restores Briggs and Myers to their rightful place in the chronicles of conventional psychology.

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