History of The MBTI® Step II™ Test

The concept of the MBTI® Step II™ test was a developmental goal of Isabel B Myers as a natural expansion of the Myers-Briggs® test. After her death in 1980, development of the MBTI Step II assessment transferred to David Saunders. The first iteration of the Step II test appeared in 1989 and was later revised in 1996 and 2001.  The current version, revised in 2001, is called the MBTI Step II Interpretive Report Form Q. The MBTI Step II Interpretive Report can be purchased by clicking Here: The MBTI Step II Interpretive Report

"Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net".

“Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

What is The MBTI® Step II™ Test?

The MBTI Step II test expands on the foundation created by the Myers-Briggs Test online. The goal of the original MBTI ®test was to give each person the best possible theory concerning their closest personality type. The MBTI Step II assessment was developed with the added goal of addressing the individual differences within each type.  In addition to providing the user with their four-letter MBTI type, the MBTI Step II test adds five facets for each of the MBTI’s four sets of preferences.

A facet can be viewed as a “zoomed in”, detailed look at the parts of each MBTI dichotomy. For example, the first MBTI dichotomy is the Extraversion-Introversion dichotomy. Based on your answer on the MBTI test, you will have a preference for Extraversion or Introversion, with your score dictating how “clear” your results are as opposed to how “strongly” you are Extraverted or Introverted.

The facets related to the Extraversion-Introversion dichotomy break the preferences down into five pairs of polarizing preferences. For example, one facet in this dichotomy is the Initiating-Receiving facet. You could have a preference for Introversion and Initiating or Introversion and Receiving. You could also have a preference for Extraversion and Initiating or Extraversion and Receiving. All these combinations paint a different picture of your preferences, which can make dramatic differences on how you act. Also, unlike the main MBTI dichotomies, each preference also has a “mid-zone” score. So in addition to being able to score in the aforementioned specific poles of a facet, you can also have a middle-ground preference for Extraversion with “mid-zone” Initiating-Receiving, or Introversion with a “mid-zone” Initiating-Receiving preference. Results meeting the “mid-zone” criteria can occur for numerous reasons. An individual could feel comfortable with both poles of the facet (i.e. comfortable initiating encounters as well as waiting for someone to initiate) or they could feel comfortable with neither (i.e. not quite comfortable with initiating, but also not wanting to stand by and wait for someone else to initiate). An individual could also prefer a specific pole of a facet in a specific aspect of their life (i.e. at work) and the opposing pole in a difference aspect of their life (i.e. at home). These are all valid reasons for scoring in the “mid-zone” of a facet.

The final overview point to know about facets is that each pair of facets has a specific facet that is naturally favored by each preference in the examined MBTI dichotomy. For example, take a look at the Initiating-Receiving facets associated with Extraversion-Introversion. It is considered “in-preference” for an extraverted individual to favor “Initiating” and an introverted individual to prefer “Receiving”.  When an extravert prefers “Receiving” or an Introvert prefers “Initiating,”, it is considered “out of preference.” These results are completely valid and provide explanations for the differences examined among people who share the same MBTI preferences (i.e. differences among introverts or differences among extraverts).  In your personalized MBTI Step II report, anything deemed “out of preference” will have special notations that explain the difference of these results compared to standard “in-preference” results.

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Below we will go more in depth about the different facets associated with each MBTI preference pair, as well as what it means to score in each pole and “mid-zone”.

The Facets Associated With The Extraversion-Introversion (E-I) Dichotomy:

  • Initiating-Receiving: This facet is considered the core facet of the MBTI Step II test E-I dichotomy. It describes how we prefer to communicate and connect with the outside world on a broad and general scale. People that prefer Initiating like mingling in both small and large groups.  They enjoy connecting as well as assisting others in making connections. People that score on the Receiving pole prefer conversations to come to them, especially in groups of people they do not know. At social gatherings, they are much more likely to be introduced by others and are

    most comfortable talking to people that they already know. Individuals in the “mid-zone” come off socially at ease with people they know well and initiate conversations in familiar surroundings. They are willing to make introductions if they are not being made by others.

  • Expressive-Contained: This facet focuses on how we communicate our emotions, including our feelings and experiences. Those preferring the Expressive pole freely share their feelings, thoughts, and opinions with others. Those preferring the Contained pole are much more selective about who they share information with and what information they share. This includes feelings, interests, opinions, personal history, etc.  They are more likely to share information if it’s a topic that highly interests them. People in the “mid-zone” show interest in others but are picky about what personal information they share. They share more with friends than with strangers and are able to converse at length about topics that they know well.
  • Gregarious-Intimate: This facet spotlights how extensive and deep our connections are with others. People at the Gregarious pole associate with a variety of people and enjoy friendships. They also tend to have a large amount of relationships, often revolving around social settings.  People that prefer the Intimate pole prefer social exchanges with others that they know well. They do not value chit chat or social mingling and prefer lengthy one-on-one conversations with little interruption. The “mid-zone” represents individuals that are moderately comfortable relating to strangers, depending on the circumstances. Comfort with their outgoingness is also situational, and they prefer to have deep and intimate relationships with a few people instead of a large number of acquaintances.
  • Active-Reflective: Focuses on how we engage with our environment when it comes to entertaining, learning, and socializing. If you prefer the Active pole then you like to be actively engaged with your environments. Individuals preferring the Reflective pole enjoy entertainment that evokes visual, mental, and intellectual responses. People scoring in the “mid-zone” prefer to communicate in person about personal issues and tend to write about technical issues.  They prefer to learn new information face-to-face while updating knowledge through reading.
  • Enthusiastic-Quiet: Spotlights the level and type of energy used when communicating with others rather than the content of the exchanges.  People that prefer the Enthusiastic pole tend to enjoy conversation for its own sake and are lively and talkative. Individuals that prefer the Quiet pole tend to be reserved and have a calm bearing. Those scoring in the “mid-zone” will show enthusiasm with people and topics that they know well, but otherwise tend to stay quiet and reserved.  Their desire for action or calm will depend on how calm or active their day has been. During a busy day, they may prefer to have a quiet evening, or on an especially calm day, they might want to go out and enjoy a lively atmosphere.

The Facets Associated With The Sensing-Intuition (S-N) Dichotomy:

  • Concrete-Abstract: The core facet of the MBTI Step II test S-N Dichotomy, with a broad focus on how we perceive the world and the specific things that catch our attention. Those that prefer the Concrete pole prefer factual information and tangible things over those that are abstract. People that prefer the Abstract pole put a higher importance on finding meaning in ideas and abstractions. They feel that the tangible world simply provides the associations from which meaning is created.  Individuals in the “mid-zone” want to have selected facts, as well as the meaning behind those facts. They can see the bigger picture without having all the facts, but do believe that the big picture needs to be grounded in facts.
  • Realistic-Imaginative: This facet describes how we develop something new through dealing with tribulations associated with daily living.  People that prefer the Realistic pole tend to focus only on things where you can make a useful difference. They emphasize activities, objects, and ways of doing things. Those that score toward the Imaginative side believe that tangible things are not as important as the possibilities they suggest. Matters of fact are valuable mainly for the associations and images that they bring to mind. Those scoring in the “mid-zone” tend to quickly apply a new idea and understand their limitations, but stay in touch with commonsense aspects of the situation.  They are less likely to follow up on ideas that they consider too “far-fetched.”
  • Practical-Conceptual: This facet deals with the outcomes of our perceptions instead of the process of perceiving. Individuals preferring the Practical pole feel that ideas are valuable and useful only when they can be applied to down-to-earth problems. They also tend to gravitate to others that display practicality and common sense. Those that prefer the Conceptual pole try to find meaning in what they see around them.  Those that score in the “mid-zone” enjoy juggling ideas and their applications. They want their best ideas to be used, not just considered.
  • Experiential-Theoretical: Focuses on emphasizing how we derive knowledge or meaning from our perceptions. People that prefer the Experiential pole require that something be validated before they give it any serious consideration. They are also wary of theory. Those that prefer the Theoretical pole tend to operate at a level or two removed from the immediately tangible. They look for patterns and then try and derive meaning from those patterns. Those that find themselves in the “mid-zone” are interested in theories that explain what is important to them, but are unlikely to pursue theories intensively. They are more interested in applying the patterns they find in a theory than the patterns themselves.
  • Traditional-Original: This facet gives us a social context background that provides meaning to our perceptions. Individuals that prefer the Traditional pole like to do things in established ways shared by most other people. In contrast, those that prefer the Original pole feel that doing things exactly the same way diminishes the meaning of the event, so they prefer to focus on variations of the event which conveys meaning to them. Those that score in the “mid-zone” follow established methods that work, but are ready and willing to change those that don’t work. They do value selected traditions in certain family activities, but enjoy novelty that doesn’t conflict with those traditions.

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The Facets Associated With The Thinking-Feeling (T-F) Dichotomy: 

  • Logical-Empathetic: The core facet of the MBTI Step II Test T-F dichotomy that emphasizes criteria used to make decisions. People who prefer the Logical pole understand the world best if it makes logical sense to them and believe objects and statements need to be analyzed using reason. For people preferring the Empathetic pole, truth is not separate from people and their lives. Relationships, life experience, and personal meaning are what is important to them. Those in the”mid-zone” believe that you should take both logical consequences and feeling values into consideration when making decisions and don’t appear to favor either over the other.
  • Reasonable-Compassionate: This facet focuses on the standards we use to maintain relationships when we make Feeling or Thinking judgments.  People preferring the Reasonable pole see their relationships as mainly task-focused.  They do not feel that sympathizing is a helpful way of making decisions or solving problems. Individuals that prefer the Compassionate pole see the world as personalized and interconnected rather than impersonal and detached. They pay attention to the needs that other people bring to a specific situation. Those scoring in the “mid-zone” make decisions based on concerns for others, while also taking into consideration the logic of a situation.
  • Questioning-Accommodating: This facet tells us how we deal with differences of opinion. Those preferring the Questioning pole look for detached and impersonal truth. For those that prefer the Accommodating pole, reality is socially defined, and they are much more concerned with how truth is understood, valued, and used. Individuals in the “mid-zone” ask questions only when it’s necessary, and when they do, do so in a mild and tactful way. They will only become confrontational when a value or principle that is important to them is threatened.
  • Critical-Accepting: This explains what we do after our initial judgments are made. People focusing on the Critical pole are interested in correcting what is wrong and setting things right. People preferring the Accepting pole, on the other hand, want to affirm a truth that focuses on the value and worth of other people’s ideas and viewpoints. Their environment is primarily human and social. Those that score in the “mid-zone” critique ideas and actions readily, silently or aloud, depending on the circumstance.
  • Tough-Tender: This facet focuses on the impact of our judgments and how we progress once our judgments have been made. People at the Tough pole stand firm in their judgments. For people at the Tender pole, the effects one’s decisions have on others are much more important than any logical process that they use to reach decisions. People in the “mid-zone” prefer being conciliatory at first but will be tough when needed. They are comfortable pushing others to necessary action, but are also devoted and loyal to those close to them. 

The Facets Associated With The Judging-Perceiving (J-P) Dichotomy:

  • Systematic-Casual: The core facet of the MBTI Step II test  J-P Dichotomy that focuses on how we organize our physical environment, primarily how we organize events, projects, and events.  Individuals that prefer the Systematic pole have various ways of achieving orderliness in their lives. They have a methodical and deliberate approach to doing both small and large tasks. Those preferring the Casual pole prefer a more spontaneous approach for accomplishing things. Systems and order are considered burdens to them.  Those in the “mid-zone” like to have general plans, but are inhibited by too much detail. They do not mind interruptions as long as no plan is in place.
  • Planful-Open Ended: Focuses on how we manage our leisure time activities, taking into consideration both daily and future plans. People that prefer the Planful pole prefer to have a pre-determined schedule for their leisure time. They tend to structure most areas in their lives into orderly and planned events. Individuals that prefer the Open-Ended pole prefer unscheduled leisure time so that they can take advantage of unexpected opportunities that may come up. Having variety and the freedom to choose among various events that may present themselves is very important to them. Those in the “mid-zone” will exhibit varying degrees of planning in everyday life. They tend to have some long-range plans and are more likely to plan when approaching big events than smaller ones.
  • Early Starting-Pressure Prompted: This is a more focused facet that concentrates on how we deal with deadlines. Those that prefer the Early-Starting pole like to deal with deadlines by starting far enough in advance that they have plenty of time to finish. Working until the very last moment of a deadline puts them under excessive stress. Individuals that prefer the Pressure Prompted pole are most efficient when they are under sufficient time pressure where meeting a deadline is a challenge. Without a time pressure deadline, they find it hard to work and stay motivated. People in the “mid-zone” have a hard time beginning a task too far in advance of a deadline. They need a little pressure to get started and are most efficient when the deadline is close enough to create some pressure, but not too much.
  • Scheduled-Spontaneous: This facet focuses on the degree of structure that we have in our daily activities. Individuals that prefer the Scheduled pole like routine because it allows them to function efficiently. It allows time and energy to not be wasted and things can be done “correctly.” People that score in the Spontaneous pole are energized by the idea of variety in their daily work. They feel confined and cramped by the idea of a set routine without change. Those that score in the “mid-zone” are comfortable with a moderate amount of routine, which allows some predictability while still maintaining some freedom to deal with the unexpected. They may prefer to be scheduled in their home life and spontaneous in their work life (or vice versa).
  • Methodical-Emergent: A narrowly focused facet that scores how we sequence the smaller tasks required to finish a larger project. Time and scheduling are not considered in this facet. People that score in the Methodical pole take the time to organize themselves and whatever materials, tools, and other capital they will need when they prepare to take on a big project. They make lists and take notes on the steps that need to be taken in order to fulfill the needs of the project at hand. Individuals at the Emergent pole go into projects in an exploratory and discovery mode, taking delight in finding out how to proceed as they go along. They also tend to not follow any specific order when completing projects. Instead, they prefer to go with the flow as the project moves along. Those individuals that score in the “mid-zone” are comfortable going into a familiar situation without a plan, but plan more for unfamiliar projects. They also don’t need to have all the steps in place before starting and can be seen as more flexible.
[MBTI® Step II-base information was taken from the following publication: (Allen, Hammer, et al. 2001, CPP Inc.)]

The Validity of The MBTI® Step II™ Test

The MBTI Step II test has been found to be a valid tool when used for its intended purpose by numerous studies. It has been optimized to avoid gender bias and tested cross-culturally to be available to a wide variety of individuals. The Myers Briggs test online has also been show to positively correlate with other established instruments such as the FIRO-B Test, FIRO Business Test, Strong Interest Inventory Test, and Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI Test).

Why The MBTI® Step II™ Test

The MBTI Step II assessment provides the user with the most in-depth analysis of their four-letter MBTI type. The additional facet results can also help them understand any MBTI preferences that need clarification. If you want the most complete picture of you personality type in one report, the MBTI Step II test is your assessment of choice.

How is The MBTI® Step II™ Test Used?

Examples of how the MBTI Step II test is used include, but are not limited to, how individuals process information, how they make decisions, how they present themselves to the external world, and how they focus their energy. MBTI Step II test results can optimize user’s methods of communicating, finding appropriate schooling pathways, career exploration, conflict resolution, team building, leadership, and management development.  Please note, the MBTI assessment does not assess abilities in any specific personal, school, or work field. The addition of facets to the MBTI Step II test provides deeper exploration opportunities for those seeking in-depth personality type analyses.

Free Versus Paid Assessments

There are many free personality and interest inventory tests and assessments located on the Internet.  Though one must know that these tests attempt to mimic The MBTI test, at no or sometimes a low cost to you, they are neither valid nor proven to assess your personality, nor are they what you are searching for. The MBTI test has been rewritten for validity and cross culturally tested for over 40 years and cannot be replaced by replicas that attempt to do so.

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MBTI Step II Manual  (Allen, Hammer, et al. 2001, CPP Inc.)