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Our company has been using the MBTI®.  How does that differ to the NBI™?


The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®) is a measure of personality type, presenting the questionnaire results in terms of 16 different personality type sets, each with its own particular characteristics.

After more than 50 years of research and development, the current MBTI® is one of the most widely used instruments for understanding normal personality differences as opposed to personality disorders.

One of the best web sites we have found with a full description of the MBTI is:


The NBI™ is a measure of thinking preference, presenting the results as a profile in 4 quadrants, with each quadrant divided between two dimensions.  Thinking preferences and personality are different constructs, with the basic differences best explained by looking at the pyramid or ‘iceberg’ diagram below.

The black line is the water line – with most of the iceberg below the water.  Most of our human characteristics are also hidden from view.  Just our behaviour is visible above the water line.  As well as being instantly observable, behaviour is also instantly changeable – you can stop doing one thing and start another.

As you go down the chart – deeper under the water – the characteristics become more fixed.  For example, most psychologists and researchers seem to agree (roughly!) that around 70 to 80% of thinking preference is environmentally determined, with only 20 to 30% being hereditary.  The opposite applies to personality.  Personality would also seem to be more ‘fixed’ than thinking preferences.

As you can also see from the chart, thinking preference is closer to and therefore has a more immediate impact on behaviour.

Given that thinking preferences are more changeable and more closely related to behaviour the NBI™ would therefore be the better choice in a learning environment.  If we learn about our relatively fixed characteristics we will find it hard to change them anyway!

The NBI™ is very easy to understand, has very high validity, reliability – and more importantly in a short training situation – high face validity.  The NBI™is also extremely rich in insight, understanding and application.

Given that many training sessions and workshops are becoming shorter due to time and cost constraints in business, there is a need to reduce the time taken to understand the instrument and increase the time available to consider application of the insights for personal development. 

The MBTI® is extremely complex and very difficult to recall all 16 types instantly.  Check the descriptions to see what we mean!  We would use a personality test to help an individual understand more about their personal issues but not in a workshop setting.

There are some correlations between personality type as measured by the NBI™ and the MBTI® and the research report showing these correlations can be viewed elsewhere on our website.

Within our sister company, The Thinking Network™, we do use personality instruments as well as the NBI™, especially in one-on-one coaching situations.  But we also believe that the feedback to the individual client on personality issues should only be carried out face to face and one-on-one by a properly qualified practitioner.  Our preference as far as personality tests are concerned is the Saville and Holdsworth (SHL) Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ).  The OPQ is reliable, well validated and with up to date research in today’s business environment.

Having said all that, we must remember that the MBTI® is probably the biggest selling instrument of all time, and that’s not entirely due to the fact that it has been around longer than almost all the others, having been available since before WWII.  Many people still use the MBTI® and are very comfortable with using it in a learning environment.

As with many things, as well as having strong supporters there are also the critics. Over the years there have been a number of questions asked about the MBTI® and the qualifications of both Myers and Briggs as test developers, the reliability of the instrument and the meaning of the results.  For a better understanding of theses issues go to:


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