Whether you are a practitioner, career counselor, clergyperson, avid reader, or layperson, you probably know your “type” according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). You know whether you prefer to be more introverted or extraverted, thinking or feeling, sensing or intuiting, or judging or perceiving. The MBTI has been one of the most popular tests in pop psychology for decades. People who have taken the test love to guess one another’s type (I’m an ENFP turned ENFJ).
Another test that has emerged as the main research-based test of strengths in the world is the VIA Survey. The VIA measures strengths of character and in a short period of time has had over 2.6 million takers reaching every country. The 24 character strengths measured have been found to be universal across countries, cultures, and beliefs. These include strengths such as fairness, social intelligence, kindness, curiosity, bravery, and humility. Like MBTI fanatics, people particularly love to spot character strengths in others. A few of my highest strengths are hope, curiosity, love, and perspective.
If you are a practitioner, you will encounter clients who have taken these tests or would like to. Understanding some of the similarities, differences, and potential ways to integrate the two tests can be useful to you, both personally and professionally. Let’s take a closer look at each:
Morality and goodness:
Deliberate intervention impact:
There is currently no precise approach for integrating the MBTI and VIA nor is there consensus on who would benefit most from such an approach. Studies and discussions are needed. Here are some starting points:
From Munro, Chilimanzi, & O’Neill (2012):
Boyle, G. J. (1995). Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): Some psychometric limitations. Australian Psychologist, 30, 71-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-9544.1995.tb01750.x
Choong, S., & Britton, K. (2007). Character strengths and type: Exploration of covariation. International Coaching Psychology Review, 2(1), 9-23.
McCrae, R R; Costa, P T (1989). "Reinterpreting the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator From the Perspective of the Five-Factor Model of Personality". Journal of Personality 57 (1): 17–40.
Munro, N., Chilimanzi, & O’Neill (2012). Character strengths and psychological type in university peer educators. South African Journal of Psychology, 42(1), 15-24.
Niemiec, R. M. (2013). VIA character strengths: Research and practice (The first 10 years). In H. H. Knoop & A. Delle Fave (Eds.), Well-being and cultures: Perspectives on positive psychology (pp. 11-30). New York: Springer.
Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York: Oxford University Press and Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Pittenger, D. J. (2005). Cautionary comments regarding the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 57, 210-221. doi: 10.1037/1065-92188.8.131.52
VIA Institute (2014). Overview of research on character strengths. http://www.viacharacter.org/www/Research/Research-Findings-on-Character-Strengths