For decades a multitude of companies have been using trait-based personality tests such as Myers-Briggs to understand individual and team dynamics. However, are these trait-based tests out of date and should companies instead be using preference tests to understand their employees?

The Myers-Briggs test

The Myers-Briggs personality test has been popular in the business world for a long time. The Independent highlights that “More than 10,000 companies, 2,500 colleges and universities and 200 government agencies in the United States [using] the test… and [at] one point, 89 of the top Fortune 100 companies”. The test has been used as both an internal communications tool as well as an HR resource.

Myers-Briggs is a trait-based test that assesses individuals on their relative propensity for the following traits:

  • “Extraversion or introversion
  • Sensing or intuition
  • Thinking or feeling
  • Judging or perceiving”

The test generates 16 different personality types and each individual is assigned one of these types.

Issues with trait-based personality tests

Myers-Briggs focuses on individuals’ traits defined by Springer as “characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving that generalize across similar situations, differ systematically between individuals, and remain rather stable across time”.

However, traits do not account for individuals’ preferences for thinking, feeling and behaving across different contexts and in different situations. This is better understood by examining state-based approaches that recognise how preferences change over time.

The Basadur Profile

At Make Happy we prefer to use preference tests such as The Basadur Profile with our clients. The Basadur Profile assesses employees’ problem-solving preferences to “develop happy, collaborative teams and individuals that can innovate effectively and sustainably”. 

The profile helps individuals identify which key problem-solving styles they prefer:

Preference tests recognise that you can shift your preferences based on learning and experience. I.e. despite having a preference for one problem-solving style you can and should be able to shift between all four.


To conclude, one could argue that we are moving away from a personality traits-based understanding of individual and team dynamics. Instead, we are turning to preference-based approaches that recognise that humans can shift, change and develop.