MBTI vs Discovery

MBTI vs DiscoveryIn our last post we compared two kinds of psychometric assessment that are used in business contexts: Discovery and Disc. Today we’re continuing that theme by comparing two more assessments, looking at MBTI vs Discovery. MBTI is one of the most popular forms of personality assessment used by the public, and it is in many ways similar to the Discovery. However, there are key differences between the assessments too. Let’s dive into MBTI vs Discovery and look at how the two compare so that you can decide which is right for your business needs.

Jung: The basis for both MBTI and Discovery

Both the Insights Discovery assessment and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment (MTBI) are based on the work of psychoanalyst Carl Jung. Jung proposed that there were four key cognitive functions (thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition), each of which could be presented in an introverted (self-directed) or extraverted (world-directed) form.

From these key cognitive functions, a set of personality types can be defined. The idea is that different people will tend to primarily use one type of cognitive function in their interactions with the world, so therefore you can assess which function people use most often in order to describe their personality. Both the MBTI and Discovery take this approach. It’s important to realize that when completing either of these personality assessments, which are typically done in the form of multiple choice questions, that there are no right or wrong answers in either case. Both assessments are non-judgmental of the worth and value of different personality types.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

The MBTI is one of the longest-running popular personality assessments, having been in use for more than 70 years. It uses a questionnaire to break down personality into 16 types, with each type given a four-letter designation. These four letters represent the four type preferences, each of which are dichotomous (i.e. they are opposite to each other on a scale):

  • Introverted (I) / Extraverted (E)
  • Intuition (N) / Sensing (S)
  • Thinking (T) / Feeling (F)
  • Perception (P) / Judgment (J)

The idea is that each person will have one aspect of each of these pairs that they tend to use to interact with the world. Introverted means someone more turned inward, who is thought-oriented, and who prefers time alone, while extraverted means someone who is sociable, who is action-oriented, and is attuned to the world around them.

Intuition is the use of your own previous knowledge and experience when gathering information from the world, and being future-oriented, while sensing is more reliant on information that is available in the present moment from the senses, making sensors present-oriented.

Thinking and feeling refer to decision-making functions: thinking is the use of a detached, rational approach that requires weighing data to reach a causal and consistent understanding of the world, while feeling is the use of empathy and association to understand how a situation could appear from the inside, aiming to reach a consensus view that meets the needs of everyone involved.

Finally, a distinction is made between people who have a preference for using their judging functions (thinking or feeling) or for using their perceiving functions (sensing or intuition). People who rely on using their judging functions tend to prefer certainty and like to have matters settled, while people who rely more on their perceiving functions like to keep an open mind and be able to react spontaneously to new information.

For example, one MBTI type is the INTJ which breaks down as follows: introverted (I), intuitive (N), thinking (T), judgment (J). These four letters designate the key aspects of a personality. The two options for each of the four letters can be combined to designate the 16 personality types of the MBTI.

Insights Discovery

As you can see, there is a lot of information contained in an MTBI type. However, the types can be difficult to understand and to remember due to the abstract nature of the four letter designation. The Insights Discovery tool takes a different approach, even though it is based on the same fundamental principles of Jung. The Discovery tool uses the concept of four colors to describe four different styles of personality (precise cool blue, caring earth green, sociable sunshine yellow, and confident fiery red). Within these four broad color types, personalities are assigned to one of 72 subtypes based on Jung’s cognitive functions. Following Jung’s theories, these types include looking at unconscious or less conscious aspects of cognitive processes – unlike MBTI, which focuses only on conscious processes.

Each of the four color descriptions is based on a combination of Jung’s attitudes (extraversion or introversion) and his rational functions (thinking and feeling). However, instead of being given a letter or a name for each combination, the Discovery tool uses the names of colors to make the concepts easier to grasp. Another advantage of the four color approach, as well as being easier to remember, is that it is easier to compare relationships between different color personalities. For example, it’s much more intuitive and easy to understand how a relationship between a cool blue and a fiery red will go than trying to imagine the relationship between an ESTJ and an INFP.

The color concept also allows for crossover between different color types to match the complexity of human personality. For example, the motivator is a description in Discovery for someone who is a mix between fiery red and sunshine yellow, and the coordinator is a mix between earth green and cool blue. These types can be tracked to Jungian functions too if required (the motivator is a term for extraverted intuition and the coordinator is a term for introverted sensing).

Finally, a key difference between MBTI vs Discovery is that Discovery information is given in a report that is specially tailored to the needs of businesses, such as giving information about how to best manage a particular personality type. The MBTI tends to give brief general information in its profile, while the Discovery profiles are in-depth and specifically relevant to the world of work.

Our next post will expand on MBTI vs Discovery and discuss another comparison of personality assessments – looking at Insights Discovery and Strengthsfinder systems.


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Breaking Down the Secrets of the Myers-Briggs


The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) is a psychological test that has become well known and is widely administered.

Carl Gustav Jung’s theory of psychological types is at the core of the Myers-Briggs. However, Jung’s theory was interpreted by the mother and daughter team of Katherine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers, who created the test for the MBTI. Although the MBTI was based on Jung’s theories, team Myers-Briggs didn’t use every notion in it and created their own twists here and there.

For example, team Myers-Briggs added a “judging-perception” dimension that was not a part of Jung’s original theory. The judging-perception is also referred to as “J vs. P.” Some say that because of the addition of “missing” portions to Jung’s theory to the MBTI both theories have their problems.

The Biggest Problem with the MBTI

According to, psychometrics is the measurement of mental traits, abilities, and processes. By this definition, the MBTI has serious issues in these areas.

For example, the results of a completed MBTI are put into only two boxes, Extravert (“E”) or Introvert (“I”). Human beings don’t work this way and are far too extraordinary and dynamic to be put into just two boxes with no room for a “gray area.”

Furthermore, the scores aren’t really consistent. A test taker could end up with 20 extraversion items and no introversion items, which would result in their being classified as an extravert. However, a second test taker could get a score of 11 extraversion items and nine introversion items and still be classified as an extravert, too. This is a perfect example of the test having little to no gray area to account for the uniqueness of human beings.

Is the MBTI Still a Good Test?

Absolutely! The best use of this test might be for self-reflection. If you have never taken a personality test to see how people can vary in their personalities, or how to work with people who have different perspectives than you do, the MBTI is a great source. Subsequently, any test taker should not over-interpret the test results and should remember the limitations of the test mentioned above.

There Are Other Options for Psychological Testing

There are quite a few other psychological type tests that can be used as an alternative to the MBTI, or even stand in place of it. A popular test that is gaining ground fast is the Insights Discovery® Personal Profile. Like the MBTI, the Insights Discovery Personal Profile is also based on the same teachings of Jung. So a person being extraverted or introverted still plays a major role in this test. However, there is far greater room for a gray area, and this test does not put humans in boxes with no wiggle room. Insights Discovery Personal Profile gives its takers a greater understanding of themselves, which includes their strengths and weaknesses. It also allows the individuals to develop effective strategies for interacting with others and can help them respond more effectively and be more aware of the environment in which they live and work.

This test also ties right into the Four- Color Wheel Theory. This test helps people learn what type of person they are by suggesting four colors (Cool Blue, Fiery Red, Earth Green, and Sunshine Yellow) with which to be associated. However, no one is put in a box and labeled as just one color. A person is allowed to “lead” with one color, but also have attributes of other colors as well, which makes it very unique.

So if you are a business and are ready to discover yourself by having you and your employees take our Insights Discovery Personal Profile and learn about the Four-Color Wheel Theory, schedule me, Scott Schwefel, as your keynote speaker.

I will come to your group and address the differences in personalities in a truthful, fun, and easy to understand way. Follow me on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter to share my blogs with the color energies you work with!