Myers Briggs Personality Typing is one of many ways of defining how a person will psychologically respond to a given situation, how they perceive the world and what their preferences are in terms of how they spend their time or the activities they pursue and enjoy.
Right off the bat I will say that there are several of these systems and they all have their fans and their critics. What I will say is that I have done a number of Myers Briggs Typing assessments and they always come out the same so at least it is internally consistent. I also think that it’s a fair description of me in as much as a collection of fairly general statements ever can be.
So with the disclaimer and basic explanation out of the way, lets get into the detail!
An MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) is made up of four letters, each of which has two possible results. The mathematically gifted among you will soon realise that there are sixteen types. Below is a picture showing them all handily using Phineas and Ferb characters as a reference!
Each of the letters is known as a dichotomy and is selected from two mutually exclusive concepts.
- The first dichotomy is “Attitudes” and can be either I for Introversion or E for Extroversion. This relates mainly to where a person gets their energy from, and how they are likely to be drained of that energy. A person with the Introversion type rebuilds their energy from introspection and expends it through action whereas a person with the Extroversion type will be the reverse. This isn’t quite the usually understood definition so takes a little getting your head around. An extroverts “flow” is towards people and objects whereas an introverts “flow” is towards concepts and ideas. This description is what allowed me to absolutely nail which of these I was, and why all the tests I do always agree.
- The second dichotomy is “Perceiving” and can be either N for Intuition or S for Sensing. This is perhaps more easily understood. People with the Sensing type tend to rely on concrete hard facts and figures; they tend to be detail orientated. People with the Intuition type will tend to rely on hunches, gut feelings, and look for broad patterns and underlying trends; they tend to be “big picture” people.
- The third dichotomy is “Judging” and can be either F for Feeling or T for Thinking. This is all about how a person comes to decisions. Those people who prefer “Thinking” will evaluate things from a more distant standpoint and will act based on what is logical, consistent and fitting into a set of rules. Those people who are more “Feeling” will make a decision by empathising with the situation, getting “under the skin” of the issue and coming to a “best fit” solution that provokes the greatest harmony.
- Finally, the fourth dichotomy is “Lifestyle” and can be either J for Judging or P for Perception. This is slightly different to the others as it describes how a person interacts with the outside world based on their other three indicators. Those who are “Judging” tend to show the world their “Judging” identifier (Feeling or Thinking) so for example a xxTJ person would appear logical and a xxFJ person would appear empathetic. Those who are “Perception” based will show the world their “Perceiving” identifier (Intuition or Sensing).
It’s all a bit confusing until you look at an example, so I will use the best example I can get my hands on, me!
My MBTI is INFJ.
Introversion – meaning I get energy from being alone and introspective thought and study.
Intuition – meaning I trust my hunches and look at the “big picture”
Feeling – I empathise with situations and try to get the best result for everyone
Judging – I appear empathetic to the world
Overall, the INFJ type is sometimes referred to as “The Councellor”. Some notable INFJs (As assessed by people remotely I imagine) include Mohandas K Ghandi, Dr Martin Luther King, Robert Burns and Nelson Mandela.
We are the rarest of the MBTIs with about 2% of the population falling to it’s clutches. I quite like this quote about INFJs
I can relate to a lot of what the Dr is saying. I am a person who will analyse the hell out of a set of data, then intuitively come up with a reason for it based on a hunch or feeling given my own experience. I am creative/artistic with my photography and writing but also logical in my work which is heavily data analysis based. I often confuse people with my response to things which can be drawn form either or both ends of the above spectra!
So there is a very quick introduction to MBTI. I find it really interesting and plan on reading more about it to hopefully understand my type a bit more. I am hoping that understanding where my energy comes from and goes, and how I respond to certain things will allow me to be more comfortable and to choose to do (or not do) things in a fully aware way.
I would highly recommend anyone giving it a go. There are loads of web based MBTI tests around. I would always recommend doing several and seeing if the results match. You could then do as I am and use it as a bit of a springboard into further personal exploration (Stop sniggering at the back!).