When Jung first put forth his theory of the types, Jungian typology became the state of the art of its day. Since then, other schools of personality studies have emerged, and now modern science seems to be converging on the idea of the trait theory and the Big Five personality traits. As such, with regards to scientific recognition, typology seems to be taking a back seat to trait theory. However, four of the five of the ‘Big Five’ traits correspond to some degree to the four traits covered by Jung and Myers’s theory of the types. Thus, the machinations of Jungian typology do have some scientific validation, although at the same time there may be minor differences with regards to the definitions of individual concepts.
This means that the terms used on this website are broadly in agreement with current scientific thinking on the matter. But where Jungian typology diverges from scientific thinking is where typology forces binarities (e.g. you are either an introvert or an extrovert), whereas the scientific framework allows extroversion to fall along a continuous scale.
Thus, a purely scientific approach to personality does not yield 16 types, but millions of possible combinations of traits. And so while this may do more justice to the individual person being studied, it also makes comparisons of large groups of people harder. In fact, when the Big Five traits are used on a large scale, researchers sometimes resort to a “Jung-inspired” interpretation of their data, or use a “Jungian shorthand” to make sense of things, indicating, perhaps, that while the Big Five may indeed be more scientific, Jungian typology is still the best tool for the job of sizing up and comparing people.
 Capraro RM & Capraro MM (2002). Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Score Reliability Across: Studies a Meta-Analytic Reliability Generalization Study. Educational and Psychological Measurement.
 Furnham A (1996). The big five versus the big four: the relationship between the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and NEO-PI five factor model of personality. Personality and Individual Differences.
 McCrae R & Costa P (1989). Reinterpreting the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator From the Perspective of the Five-Factor Model of Personality. Journal of Personality.
Update, April 2013: A Certain Irony Concerning the Conception of Jungian Typology as Scientific
One of the most oft-repeated criticisms leveled at Jungian Typology from people who profess to represent a scientific mindset is the charge that Jungian typology concerns itself with binarities, while actual personalities tend to fall along a continuum. E.g. “people are not black and white, but various shades of grey.” This criticism is a fair one, although it often fails to address the Fallacy of Grey.
But at any rate, what concerns us here is not the cogency of the charge, but a certain irony. That irony is as follows:
- Scientific studies tend to find that while Jungian typology is not the “state of the art” with regards to the scientific study of personality, it is still scientifically substantiated to some degree.
- Thus, the scientific status of Jungian typology is neither black nor white, but some sort of grey.
Critics of Jungian typology then offer the following critiques of the system:
- Jungian typology deals in binarities, which is wrong.
- Since Jungian typology isn’t the state of the art in science, it must be completely unscientific. In the eyes of these critics, because the model only has some support, then it must, in effect, have no support. What they’re saying is that since it isn’t black, it must necessarily be white.
Thus, the irony:
- The people who point out how it is wrong to employ binarities, employ binarities.
- The people who forcefully reject Jungian typology because they claim to follow science, don’t actually follow science.
By pointing out the irony above, we do not mean to suggest that this in any way raises the scientific status of Jungian typology. We merely wish to suggest that some of the critics of Jungian typology, including those who say it is “no better than astrology,” are putting their own estimations of Jungian typology above the scientific findings that exist on the topic, which seems to us to be a very un-scientific thing to do.