A friend and colleague recently forwarded to me a September 2004 article Malcolm Gladwell did for The New Yorker on the MBTI and other personality tests that employers may use (Personality Plus: Employers Love Personality Tests. But What Do They Really Reveal?). I respect and use the MBTI as a tool in my law and mediation practices. Indeed, I am a “qualified administrator” of the instrument, which is a “controlled instrument” whose access and use is regulated as further defined by its publisher:
Certain assessments published by CPP are available only to users who have appropriate training and credentials, and who adhere to the principals of proper use, including knowledge of assessments and their applications. The classifications are based on The Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (published by APA, AERA, and NCME and available here). The Standards is written for the professional and for the educated layperson and addresses professional and technical issues of instrument development and use in education, psychology, and employment.
I believe understanding and using concepts and tools relating to the MBTI benefits attorneys, mediators and other conflict specialists. I posted here about a workshop I gave last year for the New Mexico Mediation Association on using the principles in communication. Other uses include helping clients get through misunderstandings based on type differences, identifying blind spots in the problem-solving process based on type, using type concepts to bridge cultural and gender differences by focusing on type similarities, and understanding one’s own type to better identify the kind of practice one wants.
Use of this psychological type analysis is better studied in the legal field than in the mediation practice context. The most notable law-related works are University of Florida Law Professor Don Peters’ article, Forever Jung: Psychological Type Theory, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Learning Negotiation, 42 DRAKE LAW REVIEW 1 (1993); and Florida Coastal School of Law Professor Susan Swaim Daicoff’s book, Lawyer, Know Theyself: A Psychological Analysis of Personality Strengths and Weaknesses, American Psychological Association (2004). Direct works are slowly showing up in the mediation practice context, such as with Sondra S. VanSant’s Wired For Conflict: The Role of Personality in Resolving Differences, Center for Application of Psychological Type, Inc. (2003).
Gladwell, whose work I generally very much enjoy, makes good points, and I agree with much that he says. I’ll discuss his points as I continue this series exploring MBTI applications. At the same time as I appreciate his points I would reframe this discussion somewhat differently. Hence, this series. My thoughts, which I will expand on over the upcoming weeks, include:
My thoughts also include, about MBTI:
And, final thoughts include:
I intend to post to this series weekly. I will appreciate your thoughts so please write me in the comments or privately!
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