Anderson (2004) studied female students at Cedarville University to determine the relationship between bulimia and personality type. Students who consented to participating were given Myer-Briggs type indicator and eating disorder inventory-2. This was meant to determine whether the MBTI personality characters of sensing and judging were interrelated with high bulimic tendencies on eating disorder-2 subscales.
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The sensing trait of the MBTI was analyzed because of the similarity between the impulsive attributes of bulimic individuals and the ability to focus on sensors immediate understanding and present moment (Briggs-Myer & McCauley, 1986). The sensor explores the need for immediate gratification hence impulsive behaviors regardless of the consequences. On the other hand, judging is associated with people who make abrupt decisions without humble considerations (Abraham et al., 2006).
Bulimic individuals are unable to control their eating habit and resolve to binging and purging to solve their emotional problems. The study used a correlational design to infer the relationship between the Myer-Briggs indicator traits (sensor and judge) and bulimic behavior assessed against the bulimia subscale.
221 female students aged between 18-22 years from psychology department chose to participate in the study. The participants were identified as either bulimic or non-bulimic after the analysis of the data provided in both the MBTI and EDI-2.
A chi-square test was calculated to compare the personality traits of MBTI with bulimia subscale in the eating disorder type indicator-2. After the analysis, there was no notable dependence on the variables (Newton & Rudestam, 1999). A t-test conducted to compare the average of nonbulimic and bulimic female noted no significant differences.
A study to discover the relationship between eating disorders and personality type in adults was carried out by Williams (2010) at Western New York clinics in collaboration with eating disorder organizations. Personality type was evaluated using Myers-Briggs inventory, filled in by 55 patients from various clinics in Western New York. The study provided evidence that internal psychological conflicts can manifest themselves in various ways (Marino & Zanarini, 2001).
The results were intended to shed light into individual suffering at different levels and initiate personality-specific psychotherapy in the treatment of eating disorders (American Psychiatric Association, 2006). The study focused on the two different functions of acquiring information namely sensors and intuition. Sensors are attentive to details, are sensible and goal oriented at work. Intuitive individuals are cautious, inquisitive and creative (Boyd & Brown, 2005).
From the research, INFJ were perceived to have a strong drive and derived satisfaction from helping others. Judging is based on thinking and feeling. Thinkers decide on their moves basing reason and facts, and upset people involuntarily.
On the other hand, feeling types are warm and consider human issues in their decision making (Boyd & Brown 2005). INTJ are self-possessed, make decisions with ease, and ENFJ are good judges of others intentions and perceive life as an exciting drama. The research findings were INFJ individuals made up 18.5% of the population, INTJ were 10.63% and ENFJ were 6.59%.
Characteristics of Myer-Briggs Type Indicator
The Myer-Briggs Type Indicator uses different scales in the analysis of personality types, which include the favorite world, information, decision, structure and personality type. The favorite or preferred world consists of extraversion and introversion, which refer to individual’s mind-sets in directing their vigor or energy vigor use. Extraversion involves deriving pleasure from active participation in activities.
Extraverts are excited about socializing and inspiring others. They like sharing ideas, and appreciate other people’s contributions. They are not keen to details and make decisions without considerations, and at times may be caught in the middle of a project that they are not sure of the right directions.
Introversion persons are stimulated by psychoanalysis of thoughts memories, responses and pictures which are within the brain or mind. They prefer doing things on their own or with close allies whom they feel comfortable with. They take time deliberating on their course of action, and at times are blown by illusions.
Information entails the need for interpretation, and more information in deriving meaning. Sensing focus on whether an individual pays attention to the information they acquire using all their senses. “On the contrary, intuition is concerned about the possibilities and patterns in the information received. Sensing pays attention to physical reality, what one can hear, see, taste, touch and smell “(Abraham et al., 2006, p.5).
Sensors are concerned with the present, actual, real and current. They like to use practical things and learn best from putting theoretical knowledge into practice. Experience is more critical and sought after than empty words. Quite the opposite, intuition people focus on to connotation founded on patterns and impressions in the information gotten.
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They prefer through studying a situation through detailed analysis of facts rather than experience. They are interested in new experiences and possibilities, and future advancements. They like working with symbols and theories (Abraham et al., 2006).
Decision making enquires whether individuals prefer the use of logic and consistency or consider implications of the decision on other people. Thinking and feeling focus on whether, an individual prefers use of objective principles or personal concerns. Thinkers base decision-making on truth and principles without consideration of the underlying situation.
They analyze the advantages and disadvantages of the issue at hand and then base their decisions on logic and consistency. They are impersonal in that they do not let their wishes and other people’s wishes influence their decisions. Feeling individuals believe that the best decisions put into consideration other people’s feelings and wishes. They advocate for actions which maintain harmony among participants.
Structure enquires whether an individual prefers decisions to be made on his or her behalf or is open minded and considers new information and possibilities. Judging individuals make decisions about the external world systematically. They like planning, organizing and are controlling. On the other hand, perceiving individuals prefer flexible and unstructured way of life, and are more concerned about adapting and understanding the world rather than planning. They are open to new experiences and information.
Personality type outlook asserts that people with different interests and preferences have different views, character, and are derive motivation from different things. Awareness of personal differences helps people understand and value other individuals who think and act differently. The MBTI (Myer-Briggs Type Indicator) expresses personality in eight letters, which are (E or I, S or N, Tor F, For J). According to MBTI, different personalities represent variations in information, decisions, approach to the world and other people.
Purposes and uses of Myer-Briggs Type Indicator
Mental health professionals administer MBTI tests to determine patient’s behavior and help in structuring of their counseling sessions. MBTI is used in research studies concerning personality disorders like bulimia, serial killers and homicide to help in identifying patient’s particulars which are critical in his or her treatment for example patients with unipolar depression tend to have high ISFPs (American Psychiatric Association, 2006).
It helps in identifying individual strengths and understanding of personality traits through determining personal strengths. This knowledge leads to the understanding of individual preferences in decision-making and communication. In institutions, it is used to assess professional skills and facilitate development of teamwork, problem-solving and communication skills.
It is also used in the identification of group dynamics. Through understanding of individual’s strengths and weakness, supervisors can be able to access an individual’s traits, and how they affect the group’s performance and productivity (American Psychiatric Association, 2006). For example, the need for integration of logical thinkers and feelers. Understanding different personality types in a group can help improve communication and productivity.
Career counselors use Myer-Briggs Type Indicator tests to help their clients determine the professional field they are best suited for. Educators and career counselors use it in exploration of clients or students capabilities, and help in giving directions on the preferred career path. Identification of an individual’s personality type vital in selection of a career that correspond to an individual’s preferences, through giving insights into preferred learning styles and available strengths for exploration in the process of job search.
For example, intuitive individuals may prefer to venture into counseling while sensors may prefer analytic professions. Educators may use it in educational settings to assess students learning styles and help them learn efficiently (American Psychiatric Association, 2006).
Relationship between Myer-Briggs Type Indicator and Behavior Theory
Both behavioral theory and Myer-Briggs Type Indicator use observation to identify behavior traits which have already been internalized by the subject. They focus on understanding how people understand and manage their world. In both, individuals assess their abilities in regard to their environment and the course of action selected depends on individual assessment and preference.
Both behaviorists and Myer-Briggs Type Indicator are interested in individuals learning processes. For instance, behaviorists are interested in learning process from birth, and how the inner personality influences the visible characteristics. On the other hand, Myer-Briggs Type Indicator focuses on different learning processes for different personality types.
Behavioral theory suggests that personality is influenced by individual’s interaction with the environment. Behaviorists study measurable and observable behavior, and reject ideologies which consider internal feelings and thoughts.
On the contrary, Myer-Briggs Type Indicator studies personality traits through identifying both visible and invisible traits. Behavioral theories describe surface traits, and are not interested in non visible traits. On the contrary, Myer-Briggs Type Indicator focuses on thought process and influences of individual’s way of life.
In the study carried out at Cedarville University, the researchers target population was chosen without any personal considerations on weight. Participants were students from the psychology department who were motivated by a promise of getting a credit for participation. The researcher identified the students as either bulimic or non-bulimic from the data collected at the end of the study.
The participants were identified from non-participants through identification of their scripts using their registration numbers which was given as part of informed consent before the commencement of the study. After performing a chi-square test on the feedback on the Myer-Briggs forms and Eating Disorder Type Indicator, the researcher did not find any dependence between the variables. In addition, an average computed between bulimic and non-bulimic students showed no notable differences.
In the study carried out at Western New York clinics, the participants were identified by virtue of being patients and were qualified to participate in the study by the data provided to the researcher by clinicians. The study classified patients in different personality groups, identifying factors which influenced their cats and thoughts.
The results from the study carried out at Cedarville University lacked validity probably due to the method used in selecting the subjects. The researcher could not find any relationship between the variables of the study. On the contrary, the study at Western New York clinics showed consistency because all the participants were patients who had eating disorders. From the analysis of the study, the researcher was able to come up with groupings to show the specific traits underlying each group.
The study carried out at Cedarville University did not yield the desired results. On the other hand, research conducted at Western New York clinics yielded results which were used to facilitate treatment of the patients. The MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) guidelines states that the researcher should ensure that respondents receive clear, accurate and helpful information about the meaning of their MBTI results.
The respondents should have informed consent, the results of the study should not be used to discriminate the respondents and results should be confidential. The researcher should administer the inventory without coercing the respondents and should not force his or her interpretations on the respondents.
Abraham, S., Brown, T., Boyd, C., Luscombe, G., Russell, J. (2006). Quality of life: eating disorders. The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 40 (2), 150-5.
American Psychiatric Association. (2006). Treatment of patients with eating disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry, 163 (7), 4-54.
Anderson, L. (2004). Personality characteristics of bulimic behavior in college women analyzed with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. New York, NY: Prentice Hall.
Marino, F. & Zanarini, C. (2001). Relationship between ednos and its subtypes and borderline personality disorder. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 29, 349-353.
Myers, B. & McCauley, H. (1999). MBTI manual: a guide to the development and use of the Myers Briggs type indicator. 3 edn. California, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.
Williams, S. (2010).The association between Myers-Briggs personality type and eating disorders. South Carolina, SC: BiblioBazaar