What are your thoughts on ”The Forer effect”?


Wikipedia gives and overview of what this means and some history with an example.

The Forer effect is the observation that individuals will give high accuracy ratings to descriptions of their personality that supposedly are tailored specifically for them, but are in fact vague and general enough to apply to a wide range of people. The Forer effect can provide a partial explanation for the widespread acceptance of some beliefs and practices, such as astrology, fortune telling, and some types of personality tests, that mainstream scientists have labeled pseudoscientific.

In 1948, psychologist Bertram R. Forer gave a personality test to his students. Afterward, he told his students they were each receiving a unique personality analysis that was based on the test’s results and to rate their analysis on a scale of 0 (very poor) to 5 (excellent) on how well it applied to themselves. In reality, each received the same analysis:

“ You have a need for other people to like and admire you, and yet you tend to be critical of yourself. While you have some personality weaknesses you are generally able to compensate for them. You have considerable unused capacity that you have not turned to your advantage. Disciplined and self-controlled on the outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure on the inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You also pride yourself as an independent thinker; and do not accept others’ statements without satisfactory proof. But you have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. At times you are extroverted, affable, and sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, and reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be rather unrealistic. ”

On average, the rating was 4.26, but only after the ratings were turned in was it revealed that each student had received identical copies.

Do I believe this to be so? Yes

Does it apply to unofficial online personality tests? Most likely

Do people who wish to debunk personality assessments use this as an argument to prove their point? Perhaps

Does this mean that the MBTI published by cpp is invalid? No

Valid use of the MBTI
In the MBTI Manual there are 92 pages of research data on the reliability, measurement precision and validity of various official forms of the Myers Briggs Type Inventory. There is no claim for 100% results in any of these areas.

Type professionals are trained that the official assessment tool is only one part of assessing type. Each person is guided throught a process to determine the “best fit” for them. I have had people in workshops get clear that even though their results indicated a preference for Extraversion: they indeed preferred Introversion. I did not take this as proof that the tool was invalid but rather a great example of how the two step process in determining type was the right approach.

A type professional helps individuals understand the dynamic interplay of the four functions of Sensing, Intuition, Thinking and Feeling and the two attitude pairs of Extraverion/Introversion and Judging and Perceiving. People are not left with a vague description but are given a deeper understanding of personality dynamics. This helps people to understand and appreciate their own behaviour and the behaviour of others.

To sum up
I could go on and on about the importance of looking deeper than a superficial description. Bottom line- the MBTI is of great use in the workplace and those who think they know the true value of the MBTI through online assessments are mistaken.

If you want to deep your understanding of self and others through the official MBTI consider working with an MBTI professional, you can read more about my approach or contact me for some ideas on where to find other practitioners.

I sent out an invitation to people on Twitter and Facebook and through my blog to submit their burning MBTI questions for answer by Mike Jay. Mike is a Master Coach and a Global thinker – he may even be a one man think tank. He is a voracious learner and understands human dynamics and development which he teaches through his work at BCoach, coach training and Leadership University. Later on I will be posting some insights from the session with Mike but right now I wanted to answer these questions from my perspective as a type professional. I hope this sheds some light on these questions for you. Please ask anything that is on your mind about type in the comments below and I will do my best to answer or find another resource for you.


Category: MBTI Facts / Uncategorized
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