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Type vs Trait

Type vs Trait

By Donna Dunning

I’m responding to yet another article stating that personality type models are not useful or valid because they don’t measure traits.


Yes. It’s true, personality type tools, such as the MBTI® don’t measure traits.

Yes. It’s true, personality type tools can’t predict or measure your behavior.

Yes. It’s true, personality type tools are not good for recruiting or assessing if a person will be successful in a specific role.

Yes. It’s true, if you have a slight result on one of the preference pair assessment items, the tool has lower reliability. This means your result may be different on that pair the next time you take the indicator, which makes sense because personality type tools are sorting out, not measuring preferences. This is a whole different post… See my Introducing Type post.

Also True

This is the nature of personality type, which is a tool for understanding and figuring out your natural preferred approaches for: restoring your energy, taking in information, evaluating and deciding, and dealing with the world around you.

Personality type tools are designed to help you figure out which one of two approaches in each of these four areas is most comfortable and natural for you. When you figure out which approach you prefer, you discover 16 patterns of personal preferences and gain insight into some of your potential gifts, strengths, and challenges.

Personality type helps us understand these 16 unique ways of processing information and dealing with the world. Rather than measuring any specific “quantity”, personality type helps people understand “qualitatively” different personality type patterns.

In a world where we tend to measure and compare, it is useful to have a different kind of model that helps us identify, understand, appreciate, accommodate, and leverage healthy, normal, positive personality type patterns.

Apples and Oranges

Comparing type to trait is like comparing apples to oranges. We wouldn’t say apples are no good because they are not oranges or vice versa. We wouldn’t say oranges are not good because they don’t have the apple characteristics. They are two different foods.

Trait models and type models are simply two different ways to look at personality. It makes no sense to argue that one is not good because it isn’t the other.

This entry was posted on Monday, May 8th, 2017 at 2:01 pm and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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