Insights into Psychology

What Is… the Myers-Briggs Type?

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In this series, I dig a little deeper into the meaning of psychological terms.  This week’s term is the Myers-Briggs Type.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) was created by mother-daughter team Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, neither of whom had formal training in psychology or psychometric testing.  The test was partially based on Jungian personality theory, but it falls within the realm of pop psychology rather than actual psychology.  It’s not considered to have strong psychometric properties due to poor validity and reliability.  For each of the 93 questions posed, the test-taker is given a choice of two possible responses.

There are 16 types based on a combination of 4 letters:

  • Introversion / Extroversion: introverts expend energy while in social situations, while extroverts recharge their energy
  • iNtuition / Sensing: intuition relies on hunches while sensing relies on concrete/tangible information
  • Feeling / Thinking: decision-making from an empathetic (feeling) or logical (thinking) perspective
  • Perception / Judging: this reflects a preference for using sensing/intuition (perception) or thinking/feeling (judging) functions when relating to the outside world

The actual MBTI is copyrighted and isn’t available for free, but there are a number of adaptations that are free: 16Personalities, PsychCentral, Truity, and Humanmetrics.  Three of these told me I’m an INFJ, while one told me I’m an INTJ.  They all showed I lean heavily toward introversion and judging, while I had relatively more balance between intuition/sensing and feeling/thinking.

In general, I’m not all that keen on these sorts of typologies.  Yes, they can give us a clearer picture of how we tend to interact with the world, but I’m not convinced that all people can be divided up among 16 neat little boxes.  We all have natural tendencies, but it seems overly simplistic to think that we are unlikely or unable to venture beyond that.

What are your thoughts on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator?

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45 thoughts on “What Is… the Myers-Briggs Type?”

  1. I think this is one of the more accurate psychometric tests around. I’m an ENFP, by the way! You might also want to take a look at FACET 5, which is also very accurate.

  2. Like being diagnosed with BPD, the test helped me understand myself, my strengths and weaknesses, and I like knowing there are others like me that I might relate to on a personal level. I remember finding out my husband was an INFJ. Atleast I knew he would understand my emotions and introverted nature. Better than zodiac signs! 😉

  3. I did some test based on MBTI a few years ago and it told me I’m an INFP. The characteristics were quite accurate, so I guess it could be true. However, you’re right, it’s a bit too easy to just put people into 16 simple categories, I’d at least thought about defining some subtypes or something. As much as I believe that our names can make a smaller or bigger difference in our personalities, it all hugely depends on our lives and other more important factors, so I would rather think about MBTI more like something that describes your tendencies, than that it describes your character as it is, it would be just too simple. What amazes me though is how often people seem to define themselves by their MBTI types, like I’ve seen people writing in their Twitter profiles or something what type they are, like it was a key information about them, or I’ve heard people saying “I don’t like ESTJ’s”. God, ESTJ’s have to be a huge group of people, how can you say you don’t like all of them not knowing anything about them as individuals?! We have a forum for introverts in Poland and I’ve found a few people who declared – I would like my girlfriend to be (insert a type) because they fit my personality. Hm, maybe, but there are also some cases where it’s not that good to be very similar in the relationship and it can cause more issues than really help them understand each other, plus, not everyone did the MBTI test. So, yeah, it’s a cool thing, like, for fun, or to get to know yourself better, or if you are interested in personalities as I am, or something like this, but I have an impression some people take it too seriously.

    1. That’s a great point about some people saying they don’t like a particular type. I think if people are focused so much on type that they’re not looking at people as individuals that’s taking it way too seriously.

  4. Im just now learning about all of this, so thank you for that! Im taking the tests right now. I’ve taken the 16 personalities one and it was a hit or miss situation. I found it kinda on the open ended side of a spectrum. Like those horoscopes of ‘if you’re a Taurus, I bet you do this’ and it’s something as common as ‘doing good deeds’. Just my two cents about it. taking these again 🙂

    1. Ah yes, the oh so scientific horoscopes. I have some characteristics of my Pisces sign, but I suspect that’s more coincidence than anything…

  5. I was always an INFP (and a very strong I). Now I’m INTJ but I’m much more towards the middle of I and E than I used to be. 😁 I love Myers Briggs

  6. I’m an introvert at around 90 or 95% accuracy. Very introverted.

    However, with the other three scales, I’m split exactly halfway down the middle. So I’m pretty much an INSFTPJ. I’ve read the sixteen personality descriptions (particularly the eight introverted ones), and sure enough, none of them are quite “me.”

    I do love personality tests, though. I think it’s fun to know your aura colors, your enneagram numbers, and numerology/horoscopes. I’m totally into it. So I’m not sure what the deal is with me and the Myers-Briggs!!

  7. I had to do this test at a job years ago. It was officially given and explained by some people from Myers Briggs. Anyway, I was INFP and it seemed pretty accurate. I was 21 then. Now I feel like I teeter between INFP and INFJ. Either way, I think it’s one of the more accurate tests and can help you understand yourself a little more. But you do not need to be defined by it.

    1. I think I’d be a little creeped out if a job wanted me to do a personality test. But agree, if it’s something that helps you understand yourself that’s a good thing.

  8. I have tried it a couple of the times and always get a different result. I don’t fit neatly into their system. However it is an interesting exercise and it did help a little when I had an identity crisis several years ago.

  9. I have used Myers Briggs several times in my life. I found it useful to understand myself and better and how to get along better with other people. In the last ten years, I have been studying the Enneagram personality tool. I find it even better than Myers Briggs. I like how the Enneagram Type shows you where you go into stress and gives you tools how to get out of your box. In the end, you want to get as healthy as you can in all nine types.

  10. I used to be heavily INTJ and most times I test, I still *do* generally get typed as INTJ, but a few times recently, I have gotten INFJ. Myers Briggs is interesting, but like all personality tests, I always take the results with a grain of salt — “what do you mean choose between the library and a museum? Concert? What type of concert, classical music?”

  11. I’m considered an INFJ-T personality 90% introvert. Some of the questions though were a little strange. For instance, I do enjoy being with my immediate little group of friends of 4 people, but yes…I do feel exhausted after being with them.
    I don’t like labeling myself, but at the same token… I know I’ve been more introvert as I have gotten older. I’d say it really started since my early 30’s.

          1. Yeah, me too. The hardest thing I ever had to do was sing a solo in a school choir… After that, I broke down in a full anxiety attack. I still felt a bit tense when I was younger (in my social crowd), but I thought that was because we were all awkward kids.

            1. It was. I actually still have nightmares about it. The funny thing was that I did good, but the afterward I was a mess. I really tried hard pushing through that fear of singing in public as a soloist because that was what I had always wanted, but the fear factor was overwhelming.

  12. I test as INFP-T on 16 personalities I think it is? I find the result to be really accurate! I like finding different ways to define myself, it’s fun 🙂 I don’t take it super duper seriously though – it just helps me to understand the way other people think and function vs how I think and function. For example, me and my partner test as the same type so the test has actually made me feel more in sync and closer to him. The yet has made me feel like I can understand how he works better, and also made me realise how similar we really are! I think tests like these also help me to love and accept myself for who I am. When I read up on INFPs I feel less alone, less weird and more a part of some badass group of people! We are all our own person, and will all score a different variation of percentages of each of our letters, but that doesn’t mean that each individual does not conform closer to one type than another and this system is purely built to help us understand ourselves and one another. I think MBTI is a pretty awesome tool personally, but shouldn’t be used as anything more than a useful tool 🙂

    1. Example of how different me and my partner are despite having the same type :

      My results: INFP-T (76% introverted, 59% intuitive, 73% feeling, 57% prospecting and 78% turbulent)
      My partner’s results: INFP-T (74% introverted, 77% intuitive, 68% feeling, 87% prospecting, 53% turbulent)

      He’s tested as being 30% more prospecting than me which is pretty significant!

  13. I am an ENFP. I feel this fits me perfectly as I am a very bubbly, full of life type person. In my review, the ENFP embodies everything about me from my strengths to nay weaknesses. It honestly blew me away how accurate it really was to the point I made all my friends take the test. They were amazed at the accuracy as well.

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