Explaining Demographics

Why Do We Ask Demographic Questions in our Questionnaires?


Our questionnaires require respondents to complete certain questions prior to completing the questionnaire, and these include mandatory and optional questions.

In relation to the optional questions, these provide information which we use in our research and development activities.   It is a matter of choice as to whether a respondent answers these questions, but the information if given, is very helpful to our research and development activities. It assists in terms of the validity of our questionnaires in formulating norms, and in our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Validity and inclusion

Historically, researchers in a variety of fields failed to be inclusive when sampling from a population. When samples are not inclusive, erroneous conclusions can be drawn, and erroneous generalizations made to people not included in the research sample.

The Myers-Briggs Company strives to ensure that our measures meet the highest psychometric standards and as part of this effort seeks to include and evaluate people across genders, ethnicities, and cultures. In order to do so, and consistent with recommendations of major research organizations, we therefore ask a variety of demographic or biodata questions that allows us to accurately describe the samples that comprise norm groups and representative samples, as well as summarize the samples used in ongoing research.

Psychology associations guidance

The decision to do so is based on ethical guidance from the American Psychological Association, The British Psychological Society who provided input to the guidelines for the International Testing Commission, and the U. S. National Institutes of Health. 

Some of these guidelines, along with commentary, include:

American Psychological Association Ethical Guidelines
3.01 Unfair Discrimination
In their work-related activities, psychologists do not engage in unfair discrimination based on age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status, or any basis proscribed by law.
9.05 Test Construction
Psychologists who develop tests and other assessment techniques use appropriate psychometric procedures and current scientific or professional knowledge for test design, standardization, validation, reduction or elimination of bias (emphasis added), and recommendations for use.

APA Policy and Practice Guidelines
Fundamental Guidelines:
Guideline 1: Psychologists strive to recognize and engage the influence of race and ethnicity in all aspects of professional activities as an ongoing process.
Guideline 9: Psychologists strive to provide assessment, intervention, and consultation free from the negative effects of racial and ethnocultural bias
Guideline 13: Psychologists are encouraged to be aware of the critical role of science in informing practice and policy and therefore strive to conduct and disseminate research that promotes the well-being of racial and ethnic minorities.
Guideline 14: Psychologists strive to identify and reduce the negative effects of racial and ethnocultural bias in research methods, analysis, and interpretation of findings.
Specifically, psychologists are encouraged to recognize the impact of emphasizing internal validity over external validity when generalizing research to racial and ethnocultural groups. Psychologists therefore aim to address external validity issues and clearly identify the populations to which their research findings are applicable (D. W. Sue, 2017; S. Sue, 1999). For example, psychologists are encouraged to consistently describe their human samples. If psychologists have samples that consist of predominantly White European American participants, they are encouraged to explicitly note this and describe limitations of generalizability to racial and ethnocultural groups. Additionally, psychologists are encouraged to diversify their research samples to enhance methodological rigor and better address external validity.
Guideline 15: Psychologists aim to explicitly operationalize ethnicity, race, and related constructs in research.
Guideline 16: Psychologists aim to maintain racially and ethnoculturally responsive ethical standards in conducting research.
Guideline 17: Psychologists strive to promote practices that ensure racial and ethnic equity in research systems.

These guidelines require us to have information about the ethnic and racial composition of our samples for our ongoing research on our psychological assessments.

APA Style Guidelines for Academic Research
Reporting of Gender:
Authors are strongly encouraged to explicitly designate information about the gender identities of the participants making up their samples (e.g., whether participants are transgender, cisgender, or other gender identities) rather than assuming cisgender identities.

British Psychological Society and International Testing Commission
Guidelines on Test Use:
2.3. Give due consideration to issues of fairness in testing
When tests are to be used with individuals from different groups (e.g., groups differing in terms of gender, cultural background, education, ethnic origin, or age), competent test users will make all reasonable efforts to ensure that:
2.3.1. The tests are unbiased and appropriate for the various groups that will be tested.

National Institute of Health
Peer Review:
Scientific Review Groups will assess each application/proposal as being "acceptable" or "unacceptable" with regard to the inclusion of minorities and both genders in the research project. For additional information on review considerations, refer to the Guidelines for the Review of Inclusion in Clinical Research.


The inclusion of optional demographic or biodata items focused on ethnicity or race, gender and age allow The Myers-Briggs Company to ensure that we are meeting the guidance provided by a variety of organizations for inclusion and freedom from bias. These items allow us to demonstrate that our instruments work as intended across a broad spectrum of people and help to ensure fairness in the interpretation and use of the assessment results.

For further information on the issues raised here or in relation to our research or our assessments generally, please contact support.eu@themyersbriggs.com.

The Myers-Briggs Company
January 2021