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Book REVIEW: The Personality Brokers by MERVE EMRE

Book REVIEW: The Personality Brokers by MERVE EMRE

The historical research, embedded into an easy-to-read and exciting narrative, made a heavy topic a breeze to read and difficult to put down.

Rating: 4/5 Stars from me. 


"The Personality Brokers" by Merve Emre is a thought-provoking exploration of the history and impact of personality testing, with a particular focus on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Emre delves into the lives of the creators of the MBTI, Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, and examines the evolution of personality testing in the context of psychology and corporate culture.

The historical research, embedded into an easy-to-read and exciting narrative, made a heavy topic a breeze to read and difficult to put down.  

Key Themes:

First conceived in the 1920s by the mother-daughter team of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, a pair of devoted homemakers, novelists, and amateur psychoanalysts, Myers-Briggs worked tirelessly to bring the gospel of Carl Jung to the masses. The book explores the mother/daughter journey and provides some amazing insight into the roots of behavioral psychology.  

The book critically examines the origins of the MBTI and its widespread adoption, shedding light on its development, marketing, and the controversial aspects of its application. Emre explores how personality testing has shaped and, in some cases, limited our understanding of human behavior, both personally and in the workplace.


Emre's writing is engaging and well-researched, providing readers with a comprehensive understanding of the personalities behind the MBTI and the societal influences that contributed to its popularity. The book challenges readers to question the validity and utility of personality testing, offering a nuanced perspective on its implications for self-discovery and organizational dynamics.


While Emre thoroughly critiques the MBTI, some readers might find the book leans toward a more skeptical view without fully exploring potential benefits or positive applications of personality testing.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is one of hundreds of assessment companies, some better than others.  Not all assessments are validated or stand up to validation. However, a strong workplace behavioral tool, implemented correctly, can be game-changing. 

Personal Reflection:

The book positions it as a critical look at the personality indicator. It examines the attempt to categorize and qualify personalities. Still, I feel it was more about the incredible journey of two women who, despite multiple barriers, including lack of academic support/background, working in a male-dominated environment, and lack of resources, managed to bridge a gap between science and practical application to support people and organizations to work better together.  

Their work laid the foundation for the hundreds of incredible behavioral tools we use today.  


"The Personality Brokers" is a must-read for anyone interested in psychology, personality assessments, coaching, and an interest in the impact of these tools on our understanding of human behavior. Emre's exploration of the personalities behind the MBTI provides a captivating lens through which readers can reassess the role of personality testing in both personal and professional spheres.

In conclusion, "The Personality Brokers" offers a critical examination of the MBTI, challenging readers to reconsider how we categorize and understand ourselves and others.



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