Book Review: The Personality Brokers by Merve Emre

39721925.jpg*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Title: The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing

Author: Merve Emre

Publisher: Doubleday

Publication Date: September 18, 2018

ISBN: 9780385541909

Synopsis from Goodreads:
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is the most popular personality test in the world. It has been harnessed by Fortune 100 companies, universities, hospitals, churches, and the military. How did the Myers-Briggs test insinuate itself into our jobs, our relationships, our Internet, our lives? First conceived in the 1920s by the mother-daughter team of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, a pair of aspiring novelists and devoted homemakers, the Myers-Briggs was designed to bring the gospel of Carl Jung to the masses. But it would take on a life of its own, reaching from the smoke-filled boardrooms of mid-century New York to Berkeley, California, where it was honed against some of the twentieth century’s greatest creative minds. Drawing from original reporting and never-before-published documents, The Personality Brokers examines nothing less than the definition of the self – our attempts to grasp, categorize, and quantify our personalities. 


This interesting book dives into this history of the Myers-Briggs personality test to show how it came to be what it is today and how it competed against hundreds of other personality tests as the field of psychology developed and grew. As someone who has been interested in personality typing and theory for a few years now, this book was right up my alley. This book was so much more than I expected it to be.

Emre dives into the history of the creators, Katherine Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers to show us who these women were and what lengths they had to work through to publish their work. The Myers-Briggs test took these two women their full lifetimes to gain recognition and credibility and it was only after both of their deaths that the test really took off. Emre explores the vehement devotion that both mother and daughter have to their belief in personality type, but she also explores the cynicism that they faces and struggled against. To this day, personality typing is not generally considered to be the most scientific. The Myers-Briggs test upholds that your type will never change, which many people question and doubt. Emre’s book confronts the pros and cons, and although the writer does carry her own biases, she ultimately is seeking to do her part to share this bit of history with the reader.

I think that this book will be an excellent choice for anyone interested in personality types. I’m someone who believes that knowing our personality types can help us with self-care and self-understanding and it can help us to recognize needs and wants in others in order to be more open and empathetic.  This book offers a fascinating perspective and history of how such a widespread test came to be so prevalent in today’s world.

And just in case you’re interested, I myself am an ISFJ-T.

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