Differences Between the Keirsey Bates Test & the Myers-Briggs Test


Both the Keirsey Bates personality test and the Myers-Briggs personality test categorize every individual into one of 16 groups. These groups are based on the answers to questions in which the test-taker reveals himself as predominantly introverted or extroverted, intuitive or sensing, judging or perceiving, and thinking or feeling. There are differences in how the tests were formed, how they are administered and which behaviors and traits they emphasize.


  • The Myers-Briggs test was published in 1962 by mother-daughter psychologist team Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers. It was based on the theories of Carl Jung, as described in his book "Personality Types," published in 1921. Jung divided people into personality types based on the four dichotomies listed above. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) focused on high school students.

    The Keirsey Bates test -- officially known as the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, or KTS -- is based on the best-selling book "Please Understand Me," published in 1978 by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates. This test is based on the Myers-Briggs test and expands on the MBTI.


  • The MBTI emphasizes a person's attitude toward life, based on which of the 16 categories the person falls into. Much of the theory is based on how people of various personality types interpret the world. An introverted, intuitive, feeling and perceiving person, for example, would have a different internal attitude than an extroverted, sensing, thinking and judging person.

    The KTS emphasizes the outward behaviors a person displays, as opposed to the inner attitudes a person has.


  • The MBTI does not assign a given name to each of the 16 categories and instead classifies each person by the initials of each of his four predominate dichotomies. An "Extroverted, sensing, thinking and judging" person is simply called an "ESTJ."

    The Keirsey test classifies people into roles based on their test results. The four roles -- known as "temperament groups" -- are Artisan, Guardian, Rational and Idealist. Four combinations of personality types belong to each role. For example, ESTJs are guardians, who are supposed to be responsible, duty-oriented and safety-conscious types.


  • Both the MBTI and Keirsey tests are administered by professionals who have undergone a certification process to be permitted to administer the program. Both tests can be taken online or in person. The MBTI can be administered online in a variety of versions, including the MBTI Form G, an abridged version with 94 questions that can be self-scored by the test taker, as well as the more complete MBTI II and III, with 144 and 222 questions, respectively.

    The KTS, on the other hand, is always 70 questions, regardless of how it is administered and scored.

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