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The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing Hardcover – September 11, 2018
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“This is a sparkling biography—not just of a pair of remarkable women, but of a popular personality tool. Merve Emre deftly exposes the hidden origins of the MBTI and the seductive appeal and fatal flaws of personality types. Ultimately, she reveals that a sense of self is less something we discover, and more something we create and revise.”
—Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take, Originals, and Option B with Sheryl Sandberg
“Genius, passion, insight, love, heartbreak, war, family, competition, corporate villainy: the story of the Myers-Briggs personality assessment, and the extraordinary mother-daughter duo who conceived and developed it, has all the stuff of a great novel, with the added advantage that it’s true. Chances are you didn't know that Myers and Briggs were women. In the tradition of Hidden Figures, this brilliant book proves—yet again—that women were behind some of the most important scientific innovations of wartime and postwar America. I absolutely love it.”
—Liza Mundy, author of the national bestseller Code Girls
“Merve Emre pulls back the curtain on the world of personality testing and the mother-daughter duo whose work catapulted the field into a movement. The Personality Brokers is a fluid mix of history, research, and first hand reporting that speaks to both true believers and skeptics alike. With her engaging and persuasive narrative, Emre elucidates how personality testing became a cultural force, one whose influence persists.”
—Nathalia Holt, New York Times bestselling author of Rise of the Rocket Girls
“Scholar and trenchant literary critic Emre uses archival research to tell this story, revealing the fictions woven into a supposedly ‘scientific’ instrument.”
“An illuminating dual biography…Emre has dug deeply into published and archival sources to produce a deft, gracefully written account of Katherine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers…a discerning history of the quest for self-knowledge.”
“[Emre] tells the fascinating story of the origins of the world’s most widely used personality test…she is excellent at recounting how the MBTI began to sweep American institutions in the 1950s. [A] fine study.”
About the Author
MERVE EMRE is an associate professor of English at the University of Oxford. She is the author of Paraliterary: The Making of Bad Readers in Postwar America. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, Bookforum, The New Republic, The Baffler, n+1, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, where she is senior humanities editor.
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