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Do Personality Traits Affect Decision Making?

Al Hakim, A., Ball, F. and Dunstan, J.

Engineering Honours Degree, 2010

University of Adelaide


The Myers Briggs Types Indicator (MBTI) is a personality test based on Jung’s theory of psychological types. People are sorted into 16 categories based on their responses to the personality test. The impact of the test on decisions making biases has not been investigated. This is the focus of this paper. ‘Cognitive biases’ refer to the well documented tendency to form incorrect conclusions based on subconscious mental factors rather than presented facts. We have chosen to investigate five common biases: overconfidence, framing, pseudo-certainty, availability and packing/ unpacking. It has been shown that these biases can have disastrous consequences on projects in the petroleum industry. If it is possible, therefore, to use an easy and well-known test (MBTI) to quantify and predict susceptibility to bias, we can improve decision making in the industry.

We examined this question by distributing a survey, which included the complete Myers-Briggs test and questions to identify biases in the respondent’s responses to engineering students at the University of Adelaide, petroleum industry employees and employees from other industries. Individual MBTI types were studied for bias tendencies as well as common combinations of types.

These results show that if a petroleum industry professional knows their MBTI type, they can be somewhat more aware of whether they are susceptible to heuristic biases. However, the results are not strong enough to suggest that the MBTI is an accurate indicator of whether someone is more susceptible to heuristic biases. It is advised that all professionals are aware of heuristic biases and the possible consequences.

Australian School of Petroleum



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