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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, hospita 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?


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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, hospita 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?

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

  1. 4 out of 5

    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 higher. Then it took a turn toward the bizarre when Katherine had a strange relationship with Mary “Tucky” Tuckerman. Overall, it was fascinating and there were moments of, “What did I just read?” Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an unbiased review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    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" covered come to riotous life--Hitler, Jung, Truman Capote, to say nothing of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers themselves. Emre is always witty and always sharp, but never condescending to her subjects, no matter how eccentric they can be. An amazing book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    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 incredibly well-written and well-researched and raised interesting questions about personality psychology, which interest me greatly. I also loved how it delves into the history of the test - how it weaves together the psychological frameworks of Jung and the made-up parts by Isabel Myers and Kathar 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 incredibly well-written and well-researched and raised interesting questions about personality psychology, which interest me greatly. I also loved how it delves into the history of the test - how it weaves together the psychological frameworks of Jung and the made-up parts by Isabel Myers and Katharine Briggs - and the widespread use of it across institutions like the military, universities, and churches. It uncovers the corporations behind the type indicator test and how they strive to protect the legitimacy of it. What I loved most about the book was how it challenged this widely-accepted personality test and shows how it's flawed. People who love and live by Myers-Briggs may not like to read about it, but it's an important book and it's written for those people as well. An overall fascinating read that will serve as a great talking points in future Myers-Briggs conversations!

  4. 4 out of 5

    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 institutions from the CIA to Fortune 500 companies. Highly recommend.

  5. 4 out of 5

    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 think even more about how dubious they are -- and how dangerous they can be when used as tools to sort, assess, and direct people in personal and professional lives. I never realized it was so heavily influenced by Jung, and I never realized the fact that types are meant to be unchanging; it's this, the 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 think even more about how dubious they are -- and how dangerous they can be when used as tools to sort, assess, and direct people in personal and professional lives. I never realized it was so heavily influenced by Jung, and I never realized the fact that types are meant to be unchanging; it's this, the idea of it being unchanging, that maybe bothers me the most (after, of course, the fact they're based on the ideal straight, white, cis, able-bodied male in American culture as "norms" for all 16 types). It was interesting to think about the time period when the test was created, too. The 1950s, post-war, when money became more flush and white Americans enjoyed far more leisure time and opportunity to "find themselves" (even though this never met that critical mass until the 1980s, it was the dream of the creators). The audio was solid. (INTJ, if you're wondering).

  6. 5 out of 5

    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 and compulsively readable history will make you think a little more deeply about all the professional development activities or Tinder profiles you come across that reference MBTI results. Super fun and informational read!

  7. 5 out of 5

    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 daughter who developed the MBTI (much earlier than I would have imagined), and a broader examination of other personality tests, theories and research. It grapples with the question of why we as Americans, or maybe as humans, are so drawn to these types of categorical tools to sort ourselves and de 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 daughter who developed the MBTI (much earlier than I would have imagined), and a broader examination of other personality tests, theories and research. It grapples with the question of why we as Americans, or maybe as humans, are so drawn to these types of categorical tools to sort ourselves and define our lives. And the writing is brilliant. The author powerfully and convincingly makes her arguments while simultaneously painting vivid and interesting characters. I found myself wanting to binge watch episodes of this book on Netflix.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Cronin

    The Personality Brokers is an engaging read that takes the reader on a journey of a mother and daughter’s passionate and challenging pursuit to bring the concept of “Type” into society at large. The various settings of experimentation—from dream analysis to house parties, and Type’s clash with psychological and organizational thought leaders, makes every chapter uniquely captivating. This book isn’t just history—anyone who reads it can’t help but think of their own personal discovery of Type and The Personality Brokers is an engaging read that takes the reader on a journey of a mother and daughter’s passionate and challenging pursuit to bring the concept of “Type” into society at large. The various settings of experimentation—from dream analysis to house parties, and Type’s clash with psychological and organizational thought leaders, makes every chapter uniquely captivating. This book isn’t just history—anyone who reads it can’t help but think of their own personal discovery of Type and how it has shaped and continues to impact their lives.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tina Panik

    This well researched, wild ride of a story follows the mother-daughter team (with no psychological training) who design and influence contemporary culture with their personality theories which succeed through a serendipitous combination of timing and tenacity. Combine their hysterical passion with some Jung, the Nazi resistance, and Truman Capote, and you’ve got a completely astonishing tale.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    The first third of the book was interesting. The rest of the book could have been 25 pages total.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jaclyn

    Fascinating account of the history behind the Myers-Briggs personality test, and the women who developed it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Don Heiman

    Merve Emre’s 2018 book “The Personality Brokers” is a biography about Katherine Briggs and her daughter Isabell Briggs Myers who co-developed the popular and very controversial Myers-Briggs Personality Type Index. In the book Merve explains the various ways the Index helps us understand how we inherit and self-create personalities that evolve throughout the timeline of our lives. I found the book fascinating and well worth reading. (L/P)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Dahnoor Noviansyah

    Last year I took this test and the result was INTP. After I read this book then I took the test again and surprisingly the result was INFP. Deep down I know that I’m a logical person but you know, people change.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    Fascinating! This was not just about Myers-Briggs, but also about the way the study of psychology has infiltrated and affected the culture at large. I wish I had read this with a book club--so much to think about and discuss!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Amber Daugherty

    What's your type? Bet whatever type you are - ENFJ, ISTJ - you didn't realize that the Myers-Briggs test got its start in the early 1900s when Katherine Briggs began 'training' her daughter Isabel and other children in her neighbourhood to be obedient. She documented everything, recording how Isabel walked, talked, responded to games and experiments, certain that she could help impact how Isabel's life would evolve. As Isabel grew older, she became fascinated with the experiments her mom did and What's your type? Bet whatever type you are - ENFJ, ISTJ - you didn't realize that the Myers-Briggs test got its start in the early 1900s when Katherine Briggs began 'training' her daughter Isabel and other children in her neighbourhood to be obedient. She documented everything, recording how Isabel walked, talked, responded to games and experiments, certain that she could help impact how Isabel's life would evolve. As Isabel grew older, she became fascinated with the experiments her mom did and worked with her to create personality types based on Jung's research as a way to better sort people - into jobs, marriages, hobbies. Both Katherine and Isabel's lives intersected with some of the biggest names in psychology (including their hero, Jung) - many who looked down on the mother-daughter duo for their lack of scientific knowledge and expertise. But what they lacked in those areas they made up for in energy, enthusiasm and a neverending belief that their test could make a positive impact in people's lives. After decades of difficulty finding people to sell and share the test broadly, a million tests were sold in 1979 to institutions and individuals and today it's used by people all over the world as a method of self-discovery, job placement and more. Such a fascinating journey of struggle, family, obedience and the refusal to back down, even when everyone is saying you should. Would HIGHLY recommend this book if you're interested at all in the birth of personality testing.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Matt Schindel

    Strange story about the even stranger concept of personality testing. The writing made an already wild story even more interesting. WILD!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Niklas Pivic

    To investigate the history of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the most popular personality inventory in the world, is to court a kind of low-level paranoia. Files disappear. Tapes are erased. People begin to watch you. The first start of this book made me think of scientology, how closely guarded and paranoid they are, and it turned out to be right all along this story. However, this book is not about the mechanics that surround what makes the Myers-Briggs Indicator Type test, but its core, its To investigate the history of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the most popular personality inventory in the world, is to court a kind of low-level paranoia. Files disappear. Tapes are erased. People begin to watch you. The first start of this book made me think of scientology, how closely guarded and paranoid they are, and it turned out to be right all along this story. However, this book is not about the mechanics that surround what makes the Myers-Briggs Indicator Type test, but its core, its beginnings, and its life through its makers and where it's ended up today, as a kind of fortune cookie that's entirely made without basis in science, still used by major companies and institutions. Although they were not the only figures in the history of personality psychology to pose these questions, Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers, were among the first to perceive how hungry the masses were for simple, self-affirming answers to the problem of self-knowledge. As proud wives, mothers, and homemakers with no formal training in psychology or psychiatry, they believed they could craft a language of the self that was free from judgment and malice; free from the coldness and impassivity that, in their minds, characterized the attitudes of professional clinicians. Their first subjects were the people they loved the most, their husbands and their children; their first workplaces were their homes. While they did borrow much of their language of type from Carl Jung, their relationship with him was vexed: at times mutually admiring; at times dangerously, even sexually, obsessive. No matter what obstacles or disappointments they faced, they believed they could overcome their amateurism with a stubborn, sometimes infuriating dedication to their cause, a belief that persisted even when it cost them their friendships, their marriages, their sanity. Their personal lives were everywhere bound up with the life of their invention, so much so that once it passed from the private into the public realm, they would eventually become eclipsed by it, in much the same way that the name “Frankenstein” has come to stand for the monster rather than his creator. Emre does a good job in navigating the reader through the home-styled makings of the "type", and permeates the innards of how a highly bizarre and damaged mother turned her daughter into making the test with her, while being obsessed with Jung. Katharine spent the next five years doing little else but scrutinizing every word of Jung’s book, copying paragraphs from it into her notebooks with the quiet determination of a monk in his cell. To say there are a lot of parts of Jung in the Myers-Briggs test is a complete understatement; the family wont to justify the simplification of people into stereotypes, where one can—simply by identifying the existence or lack of a single letter in one's "character" as defined by Myers-Briggs—know who to glom to or avoid, is everywhere, based on obsession and also om psychological transference; Katherine Briggs (the mother) wrote erotic fiction about Carl Jung even. This book started veering a bit boringly towards the last third, but still, it was interesting. Its author is also laudable for listening to in radio interviews. Check this book out, it's likely to charm, and mainly, to in a gentle and scientific way expose the Myers-Briggs test for what it is: a vehicle made not for scientific purpose, but to make money.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nicolette

    Felt a weird, tense, stomachache of emotions reading this book because trying to sympathize or relate with the mother-daughter duo that was detailed, so precisely, was uncomfortable. They aren't relatable and I don't think it's the time period, necessarily, or even the historical context. The desires to go beyond a limited station in life, to contemplate one's path, are reasonable. Bringing oneself up to the level of a doctor, a licensed psychologist, or other roles to justify making up a fun qu Felt a weird, tense, stomachache of emotions reading this book because trying to sympathize or relate with the mother-daughter duo that was detailed, so precisely, was uncomfortable. They aren't relatable and I don't think it's the time period, necessarily, or even the historical context. The desires to go beyond a limited station in life, to contemplate one's path, are reasonable. Bringing oneself up to the level of a doctor, a licensed psychologist, or other roles to justify making up a fun quiz based on a smattering of understanding of the fields and, at points, the subtlety of an 8 ball with answers, is plain strange. Some it felt like a creative outlet, which the author made fantastic points about, and some of it is definitely to justify the personalities and neuroticism of Katharine and Isabel in their own minds to deal with their position of subservience. I'm baffled by the letters written to Jung, and that he wrote back. It's insane that these standardized tests, now fully in the realm of making people and personalities a billion-dollar business, have roots in a woman that was going after a vulnerable child to try to save her soul. It has the window trimmings and veneer of a cult, like a fanciful pyramid scheme made in a lab to try to capture people like animals in traps. To say it nicely, these are incredibly eccentric and self-absorbed people trying to "save" others with the intensity of a proselytizer, and it begs the questions: Are there people who should be in charge of others, and be allowed to draw the lines in the sand of "enlightened?" and "non?" Do we not see these types of people run companies, invent devices and ideas and paradigms and cures, convinced it's all for the common good? Run countries and install governments, even? If my opinion is unforgiving, it's because I'm skeptical and sometimes dually irritated and fascinated with personality quizzes. It's relaxing and alluring to look at horoscopes and imagine that the answers float the surface easily - that's what we want, isn't it? Easy answers? The faux spiritual quest involved in Katharine's doggedness of pursuit is also totally unsettling and frustrating. What blows me away is how ingrained it's become in actual institutions and the ramifications of that - educational testing, mindless internet quizzes morphing into talking points, determinism in workplaces - it's ludicrous. Musing on workplaces, a manager of mine has her results from some red-and-green leadership type-IQ-nonsense pasted up in her cube. The undercurrent of anger I have about it is admittedly driven by skepticism and irrational anger that someone in a position of power is leaning on a quiz to understand the "self." On the other hand, if we start thinking about all the ridiculous things we use as crutches in the pursuit of self, we'll be angry all the time. You should read this book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Daphne

    After I completed the Myers-Briggs personality test in Guidance class, I thought the test was an interesting way of identifying people’s personalities and wanted to know more about it. When I came across The Personality Brokers from a Goodreads recommendation, I knew I wanted to read about how this test came to be the way it is today. When I finally got it from the library (I was the first person to get the book after its arrival!), I was really disappointed to see that 3 people were in line aft After I completed the Myers-Briggs personality test in Guidance class, I thought the test was an interesting way of identifying people’s personalities and wanted to know more about it. When I came across The Personality Brokers from a Goodreads recommendation, I knew I wanted to read about how this test came to be the way it is today. When I finally got it from the library (I was the first person to get the book after its arrival!), I was really disappointed to see that 3 people were in line after me; that meant I had to rush to finish the book in two weeks. Turns out, there was no need to rush, as this book is as interesting as it sounds. In the history of the Myers-Briggs test, Katharine Briggs and Isabel Myers (Katharine’s daughter) faced many adversities, including much discrimination because they were women. Despite that and the fact that nany companies did not trust the pair of them as trained psychologists, they persevered and created their life’s work that is now the ubiquitous personality test. This book is an interesting overview of the history of the Myers-Briggs personality assessment that introduced many ideas and its interesting history. After reading The Personality Brokers, I definitely have a better idea of why I can get along with some people well and become friends with them, while I am annoyed with other people and cannot stand to be in the same room as them. It’s all a question of personality type.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dawn (The Reading Column)

    Free copy provided by the publisher. | What type are you? Extrovert or introvert, thinking or feeling, sensing or intuiting, judging or perceiving? Almost everyone has completed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator because we like to know we fit into some type of descriptive box. Employers like it for its people sorting purpose. THE PERSONALITY BROKERS explores the popularity of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a widely used device to assess one’s personality, free from judgment, and generates only p Free copy provided by the publisher. | What type are you? Extrovert or introvert, thinking or feeling, sensing or intuiting, judging or perceiving? Almost everyone has completed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator because we like to know we fit into some type of descriptive box. Employers like it for its people sorting purpose. THE PERSONALITY BROKERS explores the popularity of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a widely used device to assess one’s personality, free from judgment, and generates only positive results. No wonder everyone loves finding out their type! Shaped by Carl Jung’s Psychological Types, Katharine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers formulated a prescript to identify and understand people’s personalities. I found Katharine’s early interest in personality fascinating. She used her ‘obedience-curiosity’ method to raise Isabel. When she disobeyed she was slapped and punished, when she obeyed, rewarded with stories and her inquisitiveness encouraged. I was drawn to Katharine’s typing of political leaders: Hitler (extravert / thinker) and FDR (extravert / feeling). She believed if you could determine a leader’s type (and expose his weakness) this could be his fall of leadership. This book is not a fast read and slowed down at times and other times I found it bizarre but plenty of intriguing information to hold my attention.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Deb M.

    If you have ever taken the Myers-Briggs and wondered how it came about. If you've ever had an employer who used it in order to assign you to a pigeon-hole and wondered why. This is your book! My introduction to the Myers-Briggs was myself and a few friends taking it and being surprised how well it seemed to ferret out our personalities. My next experience was with an employer who tried to use it so they could pigeon-hole me. FYI, it did not work because I quit! After reading this book I can say q If you have ever taken the Myers-Briggs and wondered how it came about. If you've ever had an employer who used it in order to assign you to a pigeon-hole and wondered why. This is your book! My introduction to the Myers-Briggs was myself and a few friends taking it and being surprised how well it seemed to ferret out our personalities. My next experience was with an employer who tried to use it so they could pigeon-hole me. FYI, it did not work because I quit! After reading this book I can say quitting the job was good. My experience with my friends was the best use for the Myers-Briggs. It would be a great party game if you didn't have to use math. We all laughed, talked, and wondered how it worked. Had I stayed on the job with the pigeon-hole I would have been unhappy and my brain would have atrophied. Since I hate reviews that chew the book, digest it, and vomit it back in a somewhat different form I will just share my thoughts. This is an interesting book, it will answer many of those niggling questions about personality testing. It surprised me!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jessi

    I requested this book from NetGalley not only because of my interest in the Myers-Briggs but also the title. "The Personality Brokers" conjured up for me the image of two women making their livelihood from the personalities of others. Sort of vampiric. And Emre sort of sets Katherine up that way, feeding off the life of her daughter, becoming incredibly entangled. This was an interesting look at the women behind the still-popular personality tests. Emre sometimes feels like she veers into histor I requested this book from NetGalley not only because of my interest in the Myers-Briggs but also the title. "The Personality Brokers" conjured up for me the image of two women making their livelihood from the personalities of others. Sort of vampiric. And Emre sort of sets Katherine up that way, feeding off the life of her daughter, becoming incredibly entangled. This was an interesting look at the women behind the still-popular personality tests. Emre sometimes feels like she veers into historical fiction more than nonfiction and, while she tried to seem impartial, sometimes she seems a bit contemptuous of Katherine. And that could be somewhat my reading as Katherine was definitely a strange figure, especially seen through the lens of today's restrictions on psychology/psychiatry. It was a bit hard to plow through this book in places but it seemed well-researched and I did finish. The most astonishing to me was the absolute lack of scientific testing involved in this test that so many people use.

  23. 4 out of 5

    RebeccaReads

    A summary: two bright women go a little bit nuts when confronted with the realities of staying at home raising children. I was first introduced to Myers-Briggs typing as a pre-teen, and from the start, I was confused by the weight that was the indicator was given, seeing as how easily it could be gamed. Though I, too, have experienced a sense of relief in knowing how type explained me (understanding what it means to be an introvert helps me to better acknowledge how I interact with the world), I A summary: two bright women go a little bit nuts when confronted with the realities of staying at home raising children. I was first introduced to Myers-Briggs typing as a pre-teen, and from the start, I was confused by the weight that was the indicator was given, seeing as how easily it could be gamed. Though I, too, have experienced a sense of relief in knowing how type explained me (understanding what it means to be an introvert helps me to better acknowledge how I interact with the world), I felt an even bigger sense of relief after reading this book. Letting go of the rigid implications of "being type" though the course of this narrative has been freeing. The book itself is well-written, though the first 2/3 could have been tightened considerably. In the end, I would recommend it as an antidote to the sticky-sweet blogs that use personality typing as little more than Seventeen quizzes for mommies.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kristine

    The Personality Brokers by Merve Emre is a free NetGalley ebook that I read into early September. I had come in, already curious about what I recognized from an episode of Drunk History: its origins in the mother/daughter duo of Katharine Cook (pious, marries young to Lyman Briggs who is a scientist) and Isabel Briggs-Myers (Katharine's only child, diligently and punitively disciplined by her mom, codes her journal with initials to indicate what kind of boy she's dating until she meets 'Chief' My The Personality Brokers by Merve Emre is a free NetGalley ebook that I read into early September. I had come in, already curious about what I recognized from an episode of Drunk History: its origins in the mother/daughter duo of Katharine Cook (pious, marries young to Lyman Briggs who is a scientist) and Isabel Briggs-Myers (Katharine's only child, diligently and punitively disciplined by her mom, codes her journal with initials to indicate what kind of boy she's dating until she meets 'Chief' Myers). It's philosophically rich and thought-provoking, ventures into a lot of welcome side plots (the lifelong power play between Katharine and Isabel, the test's deep inspiration from Jungian theory, and Katharine's mean, pre-Dr Spock articles on parenting), but ultimately loses me with the test's WWII espionage and academic implications.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    I tend to think of things like the MBTI as a sort of astrology dressed up in modern clothes ... and the history of MBTI's development seems to confirm that this isn't too far off the mark. But, Emre writes the story with some real sympathy for the mother-daughter duo at the origin of the ubiquitous MBTI, even if she remains ultimately skeptical of the promises of "type." Would have liked even more analysis and more investigation of just why the MBTI (and other tests like it) have such broad appe I tend to think of things like the MBTI as a sort of astrology dressed up in modern clothes ... and the history of MBTI's development seems to confirm that this isn't too far off the mark. But, Emre writes the story with some real sympathy for the mother-daughter duo at the origin of the ubiquitous MBTI, even if she remains ultimately skeptical of the promises of "type." Would have liked even more analysis and more investigation of just why the MBTI (and other tests like it) have such broad appeal.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    I appreciate the work and effort that went into this book (hence 4 stars), but I found it almost too in depth at times that I was "bored" and just wanted the book to be over. I love the world of psychology and it's tests, results, etc. However, I was left at times wondering if I really cared about this tiny corner of psychology. At the end of the day, not really, and I probably wouldn't recommend this book unless you have a serious interest in the history of this test.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Meagan

    3.5 stars. I’ve taken the MBTI at least once and remember being frustrated on the all or nothing feel. Sometimes I can answer one way. Sometimes the other. And that’s one of the biggest critiques- that user results can change when they take it multiple times. And that the instrument isn’t statistically significant. And that it allowed companies and universities to use the results to form prejudices against others. Very interesting read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kendra Reed

    This book was a struggle to get through. I struggle to find anything good to say about this book. When not being bored to death with day to day details of the MBTI creators, you're being feed irrelevant information or name dropped. It's chaos. The book doesn't cover any of the controversial issues either, just side skirts them. http://www.adventuresinpoortaste.com/...

  29. 4 out of 5

    Whitney

    As an INTJ, I am often very frustrated by conversations about personality “types” and how they determine every step of some people’s lives. Ha. I think I wanted this book to be more of a scathing examination of the notion of fixed personalities. Instead, it was a biography of the mother-daughter team that created the test. I’m glad it was the latter. I learned something AND had most of my suspicions confirmed.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Gali

    The defensiveness in the introduction really threw me off because it seemed to be a very negative way of starting a book... overall it's not a bad book as the negativeness is toned down a bit after that introduction. I would liked to have some more discussions on the repercussions of the MB tests because, while the author does say multiple times that it is bullshit and that companies should stop using it, there are no real concrete examples of the impacts that it has had.

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