Deeper Signals vs MBTI
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The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is one of the most widely known and referenced personality tools out there, though that might be the only advantage it has over virtually any other personality assessment on the market. Although easy to understand, many prominent researchers have deemed the MBTI flawed and inaccurate. Psychologists have accused the MBTI of being as useful as a polygraph detecting lies, a workplace horoscope, even an “act of irresponsible armchair philosophy.”
In 1991, a National Academy of Sciences committee reviewed data from MBTI research and noted a “troublesome discrepancy between research results (a lack of proven worth) and popularity.” In response, scientists have pursued the development of more scientific and data-driven aids to provide insight and understanding of our own and others’ personalities and behaviors.
The Deeper Signals (DS) Core Drivers Diagnostic leverages the intuitiveness and ease of tools like the MBTI, though it is built upon a solid scientific and empirical model. The DS approach, centered on scientific rigor and user experience, provides organizations and individuals with personalized and data-driven feedback to help participants unlock their potential, work more productively with others and create lasting behavioral change.
The Science & User Experience
The central issue with the MBTI is the science behind it, or lack thereof. There is no evidence to back it up. In terms of reliability, research shows “that as many as three-quarters of test takers achieve a different personality type when tested again” (Paul, 2004). In her book, The Cult of Personality Testing, Annie Murphy Paul says, “The sixteen distinctive types described by the Myers-Briggs have no scientific basis whatsoever.” Another Fortune article explains that “if you retake the test after only a five-week gap, there’s around a 50% chance that you will fall into a different personality category” (Krznaric, 2013).
The MBTI was invented in 1942 by a mother-daughter duo, with no formal training in psychology, who were inspired by the work of Carl Jung. This was before psychology was an empirical science; the ideas were not tested before the tool was commercialized. The test includes 93 questions to assess the following dichotomous traits:
Introversion (I) versus Extraversion (E)
Intuiting (N) versus Sensing (S)
Thinking (T) versus Feeling (F)
Judging (J) versus Perceiving (P)
Then, based on the combination of traits, participants are assigned one of sixteen labels (e.g. INTJ, ESFP). In this way, the limitations of the MBTI are inherent in its conceptual design by forcing participant scores into just one of two categories. The resulting personality “types” put people in a box. The science of personality has progressed to show people don’t fall neatly into dichotomies, their personality traits fall on a spectrum. Another key flaw of the MBTI is it is not built upon the well established Big Five personality traits, which has high reliability and considerable power in predicting job performance and team effectiveness. For example, the MBTI fails to measure emotional stability, one of the most important predictors of individual and group patterns of thought, feeling, and action.
In comparison, the Deeper Signals Core Drivers Diagnostic is a personality inventory based on the Five Factor Model— the most scientifically validated and defensible model of personality. A scientific and robust development process was used to create the Core Drivers diagnostic. Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) with advanced degrees in I-O Psychology and psychometric assessments reviewed the scientific literature on the Five Factor model of personality, alongside more recent taxonomies such as the HEXACO model. Through this work they identified six behavioral domains most predictive of personal and professional success, then generated a pool of items hypothesized to measure the affect, cognitions and behaviors characteristic of the six domains. After using machine-learning to design the adjective pairs for participants to choose from, their psychometric properties and validity were thoroughly tested. The resulting Core Drivers Diagnostic measures 12 dimensions and 30 sub-dimensions (90 items) in one condensed online questionnaire taking around 7-minutes to complete.
Results from both the MBTI and the DS Core Drivers are available immediately, they are intuitive and understandable; they do not require a certification to interpret. However, the DS Core Drivers provides a much richer narrative. The DS results show a high-level summary and detailed explanation about who the individual is, the strengths others see, potential blind spots, and how they show up in a team. Not only do these results enhance the participant’s self-awareness, they turn this awareness into action, providing a digital coach and tailored resources to create a personalized, meaningful pathway forward.
Deeper Signals also provides users with a Digital Coach — a significant innovation over MBTI reports. Designed to turn self-awareness into action, the Digital Coach serves personalized Learning Journeys that provide users with highly practical strategies, nudges and intelligent reminders to shape behavior change. Each Learning Journey lasts 30 days, meaning there is a continuous cycle of feedback and development support over time. Further, the Live Coach provides individuals with a quick and seamless way to connect to a certified coach and receive more nuanced feedback and insight into their report.
Technology & Analytics
The ability to leverage accurate and scientific personality data is critical if organizations want to supercharge their people analytics capabilities. To achieve this, there are multiple hurdles: the seamless collection of accurate data, data storage and access, the ability to analyse data and turn it into practical insights. Here, MBTI and Deeper Signals again differ widely.
Currently, MBTI does not provide any additional talent or workforce analytics to their clients. Although the results are straightforward and easy to interpret, the limited data must be entered manually into any HRIS or data analysis software to investigate trends.
Deeper Signals’ provides all clients with a robust and powerful analytics suite. The intuitive and self-service nature of the Deeper Signals’ platform makes it seamless for clients to collect accurate data from their entire workforce and view real-time dashboards about their talent. The analytics platform offers many ways to segment results by teams, departments and business units, compare and contrast teams, understand group and cultural dynamics, and identify hidden talent using objective criteria. Furthermore, the Deeper Signals platform offers a variety of APIs to deeply integrate with HR’s most popular systems and technologies.
Usage & Price
The MBTI is meant for developmental purposes, it is unethical, and in many cases illegal to use the MBTI for workplace selection, as the personality types do not relate to job performance. However, even using the MBTI as a development tool may not be wise given its unreliable and invalid nature. The approximate cost for each MBTI is $35, whereas other unreliable and invalid tests that give similar typology results, are available online for free. The MBTI may spark insights, but so do palm readings, it doesn’t mean we should use those results to make important decisions at work. Personality psychologist Brian little says, “Insight from the Myers-Briggs can start the conversation, but unfortunately it often ends the conversation. You’ve got your type stamped on your forehead.” (Little, 2015).
For just $20 more, you could use the DS Core Drivers (prices start at $55 per user), which can be used for personal development, team development, and organizational change. It can also be used for selection if organizations first perform a local validation study, requiring support from the DS team and internal HR leaders. Due to the comprehensive nature of the report, results can be interpreted independently or in conjunction with a manager or coach. Certification is not required to interpret results, although accreditation is offered through Deeper Signals and requires less time and financial investment compared to other tools. Further, in support of their mission to democratize feedback, Deeper Signals offers subscription models that drastically reduce the per-user cost for high volume uses.
What should you choose?
When choosing what assessment you should use, first start with the science. DS Core Drivers is scientifically accurate, extensively validated, and predicts critical outcomes; the MBTI does not come close. Although the MBTI is affordable, accessible, easy to use, and conversational, it falls short in every other category.
DS stands apart not only in the science, but also in terms of technology, reporting, and user experience. For those wanting a team ice-breaker activity, the MBTI may be a suitable choice. However, if you are looking to assess and coach leaders across the organization, provide feedback and insight at all levels, support culture change, or expand your people analytics capabilities, Deeper signals’ scalable technology and modern reporting features is the clear choice.