APTi Ethical Standards for All Users of Psychological Type

2. When you are seeking an introductory psychological type experience for yourself, for acquaintances, or for professional clients, obtain or provide an interactive experience conducted by a trained professional. Obtaining a report from the Internet is not enough. Ethical use of psychological type, and of related type assessments and appraisal methods, requires that people be able to evaluate the accuracy of assessment results and come to their own conclusion about which type pattern fits them best (their “BestFit Type”). The effectiveness of every type application depends on people having verified their Best-Fit Type.

The fundamental goal of every type identification or assessment process must be to help individuals determine their own Best-Fit Type pattern. No questionnaire and no expert is accurate enough to substitute for a person’s own knowledge of how they experience life. Few of us find that descriptions of our Whole Type (4- letter type) fit us like a glove, so each of us must come to a nuanced understanding of how our mind functions, and how our behavior reflects what comes naturally to us and what doesn’t. Ethically minded trained professionals guiding the process will aim to reach this sort of understanding.

To illustrate the harms of failing to verify type results, here is a typical scenario:

An organizational decision maker elects to hold a type-based team-building program for a work group. Employees are directed to a particular website to take a questionnaire that will tell them their type. At the end of the questionnaire, the website informs the employee of their four-letter type result, providing a paragraph or two of description. The decision maker’s administrative assistant collects the individual type results and forwards them to the consultant conducting the workshop. (This procedure contributes to the misidentification of type - see Standard #9 concerning the ethical requirement that taking a type instrument be voluntary and the results confidential.) The consultant is told, “Everyone knows their type,” and plans the program on the assumption that these types, and the group type distribution, are a good representation of the makeup of the team.

In fact, some proportion of the group will have been misidentified. As a result, they will not respond to exercises and interventions in the ways that are typical of their assumed types. The consequences of this are non-trivial.

Implications for organizations and consultants using type:

• Exercises and interventions will be less effective than the consultant expected, and may fail entirely.

• Mistyped participants will find that program content is inconsistent with their own view of themselves and others. As a result, they may decide that the type framework is not helpful, and that using it is a waste of time. Negative views of the training will likely extend to the consultant who provided it, and perhaps to the decision maker who contracted for it.

• Repeated such experiences across an organization can lead to significant numbers of employees discounting the type framework entirely and resisting its use.

Further implications for program participants:

• When the identified type pattern is not a person’s Best-Fit, there is a chance that they may give credence to the authority of the expert or the instrument, and assume they should try to behave more like the identified type. They will then live a falsified type, and when that causes discomfort they may assume there is something wrong with them.

• Even when the identified type matches the Best-Fit Type, if the person has not verified it for themselves, they will not know that they are the final authority. They will likely have a simplistic view of what psychological type is about, and may miss out on the exploratory journey of increasing self-understanding that type can stimulate.

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