The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing

The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing

An unprecedented history of a personality test devised in the 1940s by a mother and daughter, both homemakers, that has achieved cult-like status and is used in today's most distinguished boardrooms, classrooms, and beyond.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is the most popular personality test in the world. It has been harnessed by Fortune 100 companies, universities, hospitals, churches, and the military. Its language - of extraversion vs. introversion, thinking vs. feeling - has inspired online dating platforms and BuzzFeed quizzes alike. And yet despite the test's widespread adoption, experts in the field of psychometric testing, a $500 million industry, struggle to account for its success - no less to validate its results. How did the Myers-Briggs test insinuate itself into our jobs, our relationships, our Internet, our lives?

First conceived in the 1920s by the mother-daughter team of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, a pair of aspiring novelists and devoted homemakers, the Myers-Briggs was designed to bring the gospel of Carl Jung to the masses. But it would take on a life of its own, reaching from the smoke-filled boardrooms of mid-century New York to Berkeley, California, where it was honed against some of the twentieth century's greatest creative minds. It would travel across the world to London, Zurich, Cape Town, Melbourne, and Tokyo; to elementary schools, nunneries, wellness retreats, and the closed-door corporate training sessions of today.

Drawing from original reporting and never-before-published documents, The Personality Brokers examines nothing less than the definition of the self - our attempts to grasp, categorize, and quantify our personalities. Surprising and absorbing, the book, like the test at its heart, considers the timeless question: What makes you you?

Title:The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780385541909
Format Type:

About Merve Emre

MERVE EMRE is an assistant professor of English at McGill University. She is the author of Paraliterary: The Making of Bad Readers in Postwar America. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, Bookforum, The New Republic, The Baffler, n+1, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, where she is senior humanities editor.



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    The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing Reviews

  • Gumble's Yard

    In reading for pleasure do you (a) Enjoy odd and original ways of saying things or (b) Like writers to say exactly what they mean” To which I will add my own three questions. Feel free to give me y...

  • Robin Bonne

    3.5 Stars. The beginning really tried to sell me on the mystery of the author’s journey to uncover the history of MBTI. After such promise, it slowed down for awhile, which is why I can’t rate it ...

  • Mitch Hedwig

    The Personality Brokers combines a conceptually sophisticated intellectual history with a thrilling narrative. It takes a special kind of talent to make ideas this interesting. The "personalities" cov...

  • Glen

    I won this book in a goodreads drawing.A book that goes into the history and the provenance of the Myers-Briggs test. Mostly, it's a history of fraud and cult like behavior from the very beginning. Cr...

  • Anna

    I was totally engrossed in the story of the mother and daughter team behind Myers-Briggs. This test is nearly one hundred years old, and it's fascinating to see how it continues to impact huge institu...

  • Amanda O.

    My friend lent me her advance copy and I finished it in a week!The Personality Brokers is the fascinating history behind the Myers-Briggs test and the mother-daughter duo who created it. The book was ...

  • Kelly

    My background is in psychology and I've always found personality testing fascinating, if dubious. Emre's exploration of the history of Myers-Briggs and the mother-daughter team behind it makes me thin...

  • Olga

    Weirdest true story ever! If you have any experience with the Myers-Briggs test (who doesn't?) or are just interested in the idea of personality testing, definitely check out this book. This bizarre a...

  • Charlotte

    This book was riveting and impossible to put down. A friend loaned me a copy and I finished it in three days even though I'm a slow and distractible reader.It's a fascinating history of the mother and...

  • Jason

    I'm an INTP on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MTBI). The Logician. So is Gandalf and Yoda and Dumbledore. "INTPs are marked by a quiet, stoic, modest, and aloof exterior that masks strong creativity...