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I'm trying to figure out how MBTI would be operationalized in scientific research. How could one operationalize the different types, E, I, N, S, T, F, P and J? How could one look at numerical measurements of individuals and say "That is an E"?

Is there any research on objective differences between the types (without using NEO-PI-R or other Big5 inventories as the objective reference)?

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  • $\begingroup$ I tried to clarify it. I'm trying to say that I'm not interested in correlations on MBTI vs NEO-PI-R or similar. When trying to measure MBTI objectively I'm not interested in having NEO-PI-R(or similar inventories) scores as the baseline. I'm looking for "everything else" than scores on other testing inventories. I.e is it proved that those E in MBTI talk faster and louder than I's? Is it proved that those who score S in MBTI are more interested in sports than N's? $\endgroup$ – Berit Larsen Mar 24 '16 at 20:30
  • $\begingroup$ I've read quite a lot about MBTI model a few years ago, and remember that there are 4 major archetypes within it. In your case it would be not so much the S score as the combination of S + P score causing people to be interested in playing sports. While the combination of N + T would be more interested in sciences and such. The other two archetypes are SJ and NF $\endgroup$ – Alex Stone Mar 25 '16 at 14:10
  • $\begingroup$ You can objectively measure your star sign. It's still hogwash. $\endgroup$ – jona Apr 11 '16 at 2:43
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with @jona. The difficulty comes from the ambiguity in your question. The question in your title is just about measurement and is trivial (though I would actually argue star signs are MORE "objective", because at least they are reliable over time and date of birth can be verified). But your question actually appears to be about whether there are differences between MBTI types. $\endgroup$ – splint Apr 20 '16 at 15:20
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks. I don't see any particular difficulties in operationalising the MBTI. Just like comparing Leos to Geminis you could compare INFJs to whatever. Or you could use a more continuous scale if MBTI gives you such numbers. $\endgroup$ – splint Apr 23 '16 at 17:21
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The main question here is "is there any scientific research into objective differences between people with MBTI types?" I suppose a second question is "does this research actually SHOW differences?". This is one aspect of the debate about the validity of MBTI, which is covered in other questions (e.g., this one).

There is not as much research as you might think, which is because most scientists avoid the MBTI. It is a commercial product (you have to pay for it) with poor reliability, which means that scientific psychology tends to use better-validated and published scales. This recent meta analysis includes MBTI as one of the "ipsative" measures, finding little validity for predicting occupation. This paper is similar and suggests that normative measures like the MBTI can predict GPA and job performance, although they do so less well than the Big Five. I haven't found any other studies looking more closely at behaviour, although given that some people consider the Big Five to subsume MBTI types, you could look for that instead.

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There is research ongoing to correlate MBTI with quantitative, neurological data. Dario Nardi, for example, has found differences in EEG patterns between people of different types. Here is a PDF from him on the topic.

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    $\begingroup$ While Nardi has published books about the MBTI and neuroscience, I question his credentials. I cannot find any official bio of him at UCLA, and his doctoral training is not related to experimental psychology or neuroscience. The PDF is simplistic and pseudoscientific. I have not found any peer-reviewed published research by him. $\endgroup$ – splint Apr 20 '16 at 15:31
  • $\begingroup$ He seems like the typical crank. $\endgroup$ – jona Apr 20 '16 at 17:03
  • $\begingroup$ @splint He does seem to hold a position at UCLA, although I can't find a specific personal page. $\endgroup$ – Steven Jeuris Apr 20 '16 at 17:53
  • $\begingroup$ I can confirm that he does have a lab and teach a class at UCLA (and host a D&D game). I know we'll need a more reliable source, but he's not just making it up. $\endgroup$ – Jacktose Apr 20 '16 at 17:56
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not meaning to be TOO snooty, I can see from google that he has held teaching positions but @P1h3r1e3d13 can you find any reference to his "lab". It appears he was affiliated to the dept of "human complex systems", but maybe this has closed? hcs.ucla.edu At any rate, he does not seem to have published any evidence for his claims. $\endgroup$ – splint Apr 23 '16 at 17:18

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