I totally get it. Why pay for something that you can find for free? All you have to do is Google ‘free personality test'(or ‘free MBTI test’or even ‘free Myers Briggs test’) and you’ll find dozens of free personality type assessments.  Why bother paying anybody a cent? We’ll be covering several reasons, and here is #1.

#1: Wording Matters

I spent nearly a decade in a highly-successful healthcare start-up (now worth more than $100m) that focused on survey research for the healthcare industry. That was when I was introduced to the science of item creation. Did you know that Rate how clean your room was gets vastly different results than Rate the cleanliness of your room? Big difference, and there are people who get PhDs in this stuff. It is not an exercise for amateurs, even incredibly smart amateurs.

Yet I see examples every day of people taking the real Myers Briggs instrument and tweaking the questions just enough to avoid copyright violations. The results are often laughable. On one test, I found the following question that was, presumably, trying to measure Thinking vs Feeling: I often get engaged in soap operas. Millions of men, purely due to machismo, would answer a big fat NO to this question, including millions who really do have a Feeling preference. (Note: 70% of men show a Thinking preference, and 70% of women have a Feeling preference; this is the only aspect of MBTI that has been correlated to gender.)

The official MBTI instrument has been tested, tweaked, and validated by some serious brains over the course of many decades. The wording of each question has been vetted by psychometricians, neuroscientists, linguists, item creation experts, and a never-ending buffet of Big Brains. The average free test was ‘crafted’ by a complete amateur with only the most basic understanding of cognitive functions. I’ve seen several examples of free tests that don’t even meet that criteria.



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