About Myers-Briggs Personality Typing

Myers-Briggs personality typing might well be bunk, but it has been extremely interesting and oddly relevant bunk, and the corporate world is obsessed with it, so I find it interesting. Since people choose their own responses when being tested, you at the very worst have an idea of how they see themselves and how they want the world to see them, and that is not useless information.

At least it isn’t complete bullshit, like Scientology’s “Sucker Detector” tests, which they sometimes call “I.Q.,” “Stress,” or “Personality” tests, which ask very personal questions so the cult members testing you can “find your ruin” (your emotional triggers) and squeeze some bucks out of you or maybe even convince you to join the cult, and which are based on L. Ron Hubbard’s whackadoodle crap.

The Sixteen Types
ISTJ     ISFJ     INFJ     INTJ
ISTP     ISFP     INFP     INTP
ESTP     ESFP     ENFP     ENTP
ESTJ     ESFJ     ENFJ     ENTJ

The MB Type Indicator measures four bi-polar factors, Introversion/Extraversion, Thinking/Feeling, Intuition/Sensing, and Judging/Perceiving, but these names don’t exactly mean what we commonly understand when saying somebody is “extraverted” or “introverted”. Have a look at their meaning below.

As a test result you will get a 4 letter personality type and you can then read up on the description of this specific type as well as typical careers, how it relates to family/relationships and get suggestions for personal growth. And there are even tests for assessing children’s types.

EXTRAVERTED (E) vs. INTROVERTED (I): How we get our energy.

Those who prefer Introversion draw their primary energy from the inner world of information, thoughts, ideas, and other reflections. When circumstances require an excessive amount of attention spent in the “outside” world, those preferring Introversion find the need to retreat to a more private setting as if to recharge their drained batteries.

Those who prefer Extraversion are drawn to the outside world as their elemental source of energy. Rarely, if ever, do extraverted preference people feel their energy batteries are “drained” by excessive amounts of interaction with the outside world. They must engage the things, people, places and activities going on in the outside world for their life force.

I do tend to be a ‘flexible’ INTJ, but I think it is a defense mechanism. Our society as a whole rewards extraverted behaviors and praises extraverted celebrities. Being shy or less than socially adept is seen as a failure of personality.

I can exhibit E traits, but it wears me out. Case in point: I had some roommates, guys who were in a band (thus probably more E than not, though this is not an ironclad rule) and were friends who were used to seeing me in social mode and who enjoyed attending my house parties. In other words, they saw me when I was in a fit state to be out and about and socializing, and pushing myself to act like an E. When they moved in with me, they discovered that I still had E moments, and would be up for going out and being a social butterfly during those moments, but my default setting is I, and, as an introvert, I need a lot of solitude and downtime. Life was not one big circus at the house, and I think they were disappointed.

To make matters worse, I was in a depressive funk at the time, dealing with employment dissatisfaction and money concerns, and a certifiably batshit crazy landlady (it was my turn to be the Go-Between for the house, and I was not pleased to receive calls from her every day about stupid crap that was Someone Else’s Problem in the first place), and a few other irksome life events that normally would be background noise but had achieved Serious Issue status by virtue of being lumped in with everything else going on at the time that was weighing on my mind.

I’d come home and beeline to my room, where the colours were soothing, I had books and candles and joss sticks on hand, and music to play that I enjoyed, and NO TELEVISION AT ALL. They, being E types, were soon feeling neglected and lonely. As an I type, I rarely feel lonely. I entertain myself in solitude very well, and NEED to be alone to recharge my inner resources. The crappier a day at work I had dealt with, the more down time I needed. By the time I had spent sufficient time alone to be sociable, they were out and about or in bed asleep. Being E types, they seemed to take my need to be alone very personally.

My I type roommate, on the other hand, was completely at synch with my need to be alone, and since she had the same need, we got along beautifully. We’d nod hello and occasionally have long chats about Life, the Universe and Everything, and occasionally team up and go out into the world and pretend to be more E than we actually are.

Another interesting note about my I friends is that we were typically the ones to sit down and have those extremely satisfying discussions that are difficult to artificially arrange, but so delicious when they just happen. We’d sit on the porch or in each other’s rooms and resolve the world’s problems, one little problem at a time, and discuss books and philosophy and relationships and Deep Thoughts and, yes, our Feelings, which remained a mysterious and troublesome Enigma even after the longest chats.

A popular misconception is that being a T means you can’t experiences depths of emotion like an F type. In truth, we T types feel things and experience emotions just as strongly, but we don’t typically become enslaved to them. When my feelings are engaged, my mind still wants to know why I feel that way, and what prompted it, and whether it is useful for me to act on those feelings, and whether those feelings make sense. If I feel a strong emotion and it doesn’t make sense, or, for example, if I realize I love someone who is in some way “wrong” for me, I spend a lot of time analyzing the situation. I write out “pro” and “con” lists. I investigate, hoping to convince myself that it is possibly a smart act to give into my feelings. I weigh my options all the time. Shrinks and body workers (reiki / acupuncture / acupressure practitioners, for example) call this “being in your head” and smart ones don’t frame this as a bad thing. (Less wise ones may try to shape you into an Extraverted Feeler, assuming that extraversion and feelings are the key to spiritual happiness.)

In truth, there are times when being an Introverted Thinker is more difficult, and these times usually involve cases where you are involved with other people and emotions are involved. Introverted Thinkers in love, especially those that rank high in both categories, are not the types to blurt out declarations of passion, or to spontaneously rip off their clothes with people they don’t know very well. Passion comes after the Introverted Thinker has decided that the object of love or lust is worthy, and/or safe. and/or likely to be healthy to be around. This type of guarded-ness means that Introverted Thinkers may be attracted to others, and like them, but they don’t let those feelings of affection or lust determine their behavior. Typically. Making an effort to emulate Extravert Feeler behavior, even if it has been rationalized and determined to be worth giving a try, is likely to be labeled a mistake. Also, the Introvert Thinker doesn’t even have the luxury of blaming someone else, because, if they are honest, they know their poor decisions are no one’s fault but their own.

An Introverted Thinker can and will learn from mistakes others have made, and will make mistakes of their own, typically when it comes to trying to be more acceptable to a society that values Extraverted Feeler behaviors and personalities, but they rarely make the same mistake more than once. At worst, they will compound a poor decision that has some benefit to it by continuing to associate with a person they know is flawed in a serious way, reasoning that the mistake has already been made, so why not eke out what little “positivity” and enjoyment you can, given that the damage or fallout associated with the mistake is going to have to be dealt with anyway? As an example, an extraverted feeler may decide to have a one-night stand kind of affair with an acquaintance, and it is likely the decision was not thought about much in advance (act in haste, repent at leisure?), and there will be little analysis or deep critical thought given to the decision beforehand. They may even claim that they drank too much, or “it just happened” or any of a number of other excuses. An introverted thinker may make the same decision, but doesn’t have the luxury of blaming alcohol or the absence of a little voice saying “this is probably a bad idea” because Thinkers typically listen to that annoying voice All The Damn Time. An extraverted feeler might or might not repeat the behavior on any given night, and it will depend on how they feel, and what other people around them think about it. An introverted thinker will probably not repeat the same choice, but, again, if they do, it’s going to be done with the same running commentary in the brain chiding that it is still a bad plan. As far as feelings go, they are pretty pragmatic. If the person is likable enough, that may be good enough. What their peers think (or have to say about it) is not really an issue. Unless they are also intuitive, they may not even pick up on what peers who don’t talk about it know or think about the situation, anyway.

Introverts don’t typically “need” other people, or suffer from enforced solitude. Introverted Feelers might feel pangs of loneliness and openly bemoan their “shyness” or social awkwardness, but Introverted Thinkers typically won’t. An ideal partner for a high-scoring Intuitive Thinker type is another intuitive Thinker, because they will both want and need solitude, or, at best, congenial silence, and are less likely to take it personally or feel hurt. An Extraverted Feeler will feel frustrated that the Introverted Thinker needs to be left alone, doesn’t want to discuss every little thing, and doesn’t typically behave in a very emotionally demonstrative manner naturally.I’ve had relationships with all kinds, and Extraverted Feelers are typically fun friends, in small doses, while Introverted Feelers are typically needy and hard (for me) to relate to. Despite that, I have had long relationships with Introverted Feelers, but they succeeded only because I dissected my feelings via analysis before the relationship got serious, and had decided that my feelings were appropriate and demonstrations of my feelings were safe and welcomed. Even then, I was at a loss when moodiness made rules change in mid-stream, or behaviors based on pure feeling appeared to be random and illogical. I had to learn to speak F language, and yet I couldn’t learn to “just feel” and omit the thinking process beforehand.I don’t think MB types are supposed to mean “you’re this, thus not that and never that” but rather that they mean “you typically approach things from this angle first.” In other words, I can and do Feeling things just as intensely as an F does, but my approach to everything means I run all new input and information through that good ol’ T filter first.

Extraverts Introverts
Expressive Quiet
Outgoing Shy
Energized by action, people, things Energized by ideas, feelings, impressions
Speak before they think Think before they speak
Share personal information easily Reluctant to share personal information
Prefer to be in the company of others Prefer to be left alone
Distracted easily Can concentrate well
Have a lot of friends Small, close group of friends
Uninhibited Inhibited
Like working in teams Would rather work alone
Approachable, open with strangers Stand off-ish, keeps to themselves
Like meeting new people Prefer a small group of people they already know
Develop ideas through discussion Ideas come from thinking alone
Manager, salesperson, customer service rep. Librarian, mechanic, legal secretary
Party animal, social butterfly Wallflower

SENSING (S) vs. INTUITION (N): How we take in information.

Those who prefer Sensing favor clear, tangible data and information that fits in well with their direct here-and-now experience.

In contrast, those who prefer Intuition are drawn to information that is more abstract, conceptual, big-picture, and represents imaginative possibilities for the future.

Here, I vacillate between S and N behaviors. I am usually an N, but, especially when at work or dealing with a specific situation, I can operate as an S. My iNtuitive personality means that I pick up on information that has no apparent factual / externally sense-able basis, so I can make deductive leaps in logic that are correct more often than not, but I also am very attuned to S issues and must have S-related environmental factors “just so” or I am not as happy as I can possibly be. Right now, I am pretty perpetually miserable at my current home, because it needs so much work to make it comfortable. The data I am getting via my senses is mostly unpleasant, so it is forcing me further into my N self and typical modes of action. And so on.

S/N is not specifically about sensual input versus non-sensory information retrieval, though it often seems that way. My first step upon moving into a new place is to create a sensory oasis that uses the five senses to soothe rather than energize. An F type might like a red bedroom, for instance, and not be effected by the bright, energetic colour, but it would subtly impose itself on me and grate. Likewise, i may be surrounded by clutter or order, depending on how much free time I have had available to me, but if it is a controlled clutter (i.e., disorder, not filth), I can shut it out. I need a “pod of calm” or a little oasis I can retreat to, and if I have that, I am a much more effective human being in other areas of my life.

Certain decisions require S information, and others require N information. When debating a point, or writing a paper, you need S information. When dealing with interpersonal relationships, or appraising impressions of people or places, N information can be far more relevant. What is not said or demonstrated in a concrete manner can be just as revealing as information laid out in a clear S-type manner.

Sensors iNtuitives
Focused on the physical world Focused on the mental or spiritual world
Live by their five senses Use a “sixth sense”, “hunch”, and “gut feeling”
Concrete Abstract
Interested in “what is” Interested in “what can be”
Realistic Idealistic
Practical Imaginative
Understands details, particulars Understands meaning, generalities
Only see the obvious Look beyond the surface
Down to earth Head in clouds, deep
Use words literally Use metaphors, analogies, hidden meanings
Live in the present Live in the future
Needs evidence and facts Speculative and theoretical
Traditional and simple Original and complex
Banker, police, athlete, surgeon, pilot, cashier Artist, scientist, poet, mystic, social reformer, philosopher
Sees the trees instead of forest Sees the forest instead of trees


THINKING (T) vs. FEELING (F): How we make decisions and come to judgements.

Those who prefer Thinking have a natural preference for making decisions in an objective, logical, and analytical manner with an emphasis on tasks and results to be accomplished.

Those whose preference is for Feeling make their decisions in a somewhat global, visceral, harmony and value-oriented way, paying particular attention to the impact of decisions and actions on other people.

Thinkers Feelers
Value truth Value harmony
Use logic in making decisions Use personal feelings in making decisions
Notice wrong reasoning Notice when people need support
Driven by their rational mind Live by their passionate heart
Honest in speaking their mind Will hide the truth so the other person won’t be hurt
Firm with people Gentle with people
Uses justice in dealing with others Uses mercy with others
Can be labeled “cold, hard, heartless” Labeled “bleeding heart, softy, weak”
Impersonal with others Take things personally
Objective Subjective
Critical Empathetic
Prefers a logical, impersonal atmosphere Prefers a warm, friendly atmosphere
Thick-skinned Thin-skinned
Engineer, scientist, manager, computer programmer Therapist, nurse, teacher, artist, clergy
Uses feelings to serve their logic Uses logic to serve their feelings

I have learned a lot of F behaviors, perhaps because I am an artistic type. I tend to be kind and outer-directed when I deal with others one on one. I am the person many of my friends come to when they have problems, and am typically empathetic with others. In fact, a lot of the F behaviors above are typical behaviors of mine, but the clincher, and why I come up as a strong T in test after test, is that I always think about how I feel and reflect before I react.

I’m just as likely to tear up like an F when I am watching an emotionally-manipulative drama or reading an emotionally-wrenching passage in a book,  but  these feelings seldom take me by surprise.  On the rare occasions they do, my first reaction is to start analyzing why  I’m feeling emotional, not to indulge the emotion by “going with the flow.”

It thus makes sense that I typically get emotionally affected when watching people being selfless, or being kind to others for no particular reason or personal gain, or reacting with positive behaviors in the face of trauma. Example: I saw one of those low-budget “tits and explosions” filler programs so beloved by channels like FOX, with a title similar to “Moment of IMPACT! 4” or some such, and was troubled but not emotionally engaged by all the wrecks and devastating accidents. What engaged my feelings were scenes where two strangers, after a near miss thanks to black ice on a highway, where one car actually drove right over the other one, both exited their cars and instinctively gave each other a reassuring embrace rather than screaming at each other and arguing. Or a scene where rescue workers risked their own lives to comfort, and then save, a woman trapped in a car dangling off a bridge, and succeeded in getting her out safely. Similar situations, where two people involved in a minor fender bender experienced road rage and began beating the tar out of each other or shooting guns at each other did not engage me at all, beyond feeling disgust for all parties involved. When humans go beyond what they “have to do” for their jobs, be it to comfort another human being in distress, or when strangers are moved to express empathy and solidarity when they have been badly scared, rather than lashing out with machismo and violence, I find that emotionally touching.

I value human life, even if I dislike how the vast majority of humanity behave. I will be almost as distressed if, for instance, a Nazi is executed, justifiably, for war crimes, as I will be if an innocent person is gunned down  accidentally in a drive-by. I can intellectualize this type of program, and, in fact, am fascinated by forensics shows and police/detective procedural shows, and, to a lesser extent, hospital procedural shows, programs about history, programs about medical mysteries, shows about parapsychology, anything that discusses a problem to be resolved, tracks the process of solution or theory discovery and involves analysis. In short, I hate soap operas (set in hospitals or not) with a burning passion, but love “House, M.D.”

As far as being thin- or thick-skinned, I am highly sensitive to what people I care about say and think about me, because I value their opinions and value staying in their good graces. On the other hand, I am completely unaffected by the opinions of strangers, especially those online. When involved in any kind of discussion or argument online, I stay analytical and logical and non-involved, and ad hominem attack or appeals to feelings over logic leave me completely unmoved. When someone has an issue with me, I want to know the truth about it, what they really think, I don’t want to be fobbed off with “it’s not you, it’s me” or to be placated. Not knowing WHY or WHAT will drive me crazy faster than almost anything, and since I don’t react punitively to criticism, it frustrates me more that someone would hold back what they really think (if it involves me in some way) than it would if they shared a criticism, be it valid or invalid or somewhere in between. And that is pure J behavior.

Likewise, I am concerned about real people I know with real problems, especially if they tend to be stoic about them, and pretty much dismissive of any tales of woe and physical infirmity and drama online, especially if these tales of woe are intended to ward off justified criticism or to win sympathy from an online audience or to duck out of having to back up an assertion with logic and facts. In other words, it is a bummer that your dog died and you feel sad about it, but what does that have to do with the political / ethical / religious debate you were eagerly participating in until you got trumped by someone more articulate and/or with factual information that refuted your claim(s)? Isn’t it funny your dog died right as you were being thumped by better debaters?

Thinkers and feelers tend to approach controversial subjects in vastly different ways. If the topic of abortion comes up, the thinker will consider the big picture dispassionately, and probably conclude that the root of the debate is personal autonomy, and who controls your body and your decisions. The feeler will probably rely more heavily on religious faith, which is in itself a feeling rather than thinking position, or express sympathy for the microscopic cluster of cells at the heart of the debate by personifying it as an actual baby with a personality and wants and desires of its own. Thinkers will debate the rights of individuals to make their own decisions, even wrong decisions, when their personal rights or bodies are concerned. Feelers will debate theology and “slippery slopes” and use emotional language to make their points. Thinkers will be more concerned with what is correct and right, feelers will jump in and complain that thinkers are being cold and mean. Thinkers tend to abstract issues, feelers personify. A Thinker is less likely to take disagreement personally, and shrugs off abrasive comments as irrelevant, whereas a Feeler takes disagreement to heart and hears “you’re bad in some way” when told that they might be incorrect about something.

I may, like a Feeler, prefer a calm and friendly atmosphere, but it is because I am also an Introvert. At a workplace, a friendly atmosphere tends to keep people quiet and focused on their work or personal issues. A combative or impersonal atmosphere eventually requires interacting with people more often, because impersonal atmospheres irk Feelers, who are in the majority, and thus the people you end up having to interact with might also be emotionally impassioned or angry and less open to reason. A Feeler likes the chumminess, and feels a kinship with everyone by default. A Thinker likes the peace and quiet, has no interest in group activities like office birthday parties and team-building exercises and group projects, and greatly prefers the lack of distraction an impersonal workplace atmosphere has when trying to do his or her work.

On the surface, my interest in music and the arts seems non-Thinker. In practice, my art has to mean something and to serve a purpose or have a story behind it. My interest in music is more stereotypically “male” because I don’t care what the musicians look like or if it is popular, or if I will get some Cool Points for being into what someone else likes. I appreciate thoughtful lyrics and technical proficiency. I prefer certain genres because I find the people who also like those genres to be congenial and interesting. Musical groups with annoying fanbases will eventually turn me away, even if I start off appreciating the musical group for their artistry and skill.

JUDGING (J) vs. PERCEIVING (P): How we relate to the outer or external world.

Those who prefer Judging rely upon either their T or F preference to manage their outer life. This typically leads to a style oriented towards closure, organization, planning, or in some fashion managing the things and or people found in the external environment. The drive is to order the outside world. While some people employ an assertive manner, others “ordering touch” – with respect to people – may be light.

Those who prefer Perceiving rely upon either their S or N preference to run their outer life. This typically results in an open, adaptable, flexible style of relating to the things and people found in the outside world. The drive is to experience the outside world rather than order it; in general lack of closure is easily tolerated.

Judger Perceiver
Decisive, and makes decisions quickly Adapts to situations, and gathers more information before deciding
Makes life firm and controlled Makes life flexible and relaxed
Easier to finish projects Prefers to start projects
Organized Disorganized
More serious More carefree
Routinized and predictable Spontaneous and unpredictable
Uses schedules and timetables as a guide Does whatever comes up
Dislikes surprises and needs advanced warnings Enjoys surprises and spontaneous happenings
Needs issues settled Doesn’t like anything unalteratable
Hard-working Leisurely
Can be too close-minded Can be too open-minded and fickle
Gets things done as soon as possible Procrastinates
Can be overly responsible Can be irresponsible
“Goes down with the ship” “Changes horses in midstream”

I tend to flip-flop between J and P, but my default state is J. Like Ps, I can procrastinate, be “too” open-minded, “too” willing to alter an opinion or belief if someone gives me more data to consider, and I prefer to be flexible with my schedule and open to better ideas. I take my time coming to decisions. However, like Js, I work extremely hard, I’m loyal once I think all the facts are in, I don’t value a lot of spontaneity and surprise (though I make exceptions when in a relationship and a partner is trying to do something to please me), and my typical behavior is fairly predictable. If I say I am going to do something, I do it (which is why I resist making promises I am not certain I can keep, and why I can be stubborn once I am pushed to take a stand or decision). I’m easy-going, like most Ps, and can adapt to changes, but, like most Js, I don’t particularly LIKE or thrive upon change. I am definitely more of a serious J than a carefree P. Add the Thinking and Introverted qualities, and you get the classic Worrywart! I even worry when things are going “too well.” My mother is more of a worrywart than I will ever be, but I can’t deny my nature, and only so much of my worrywart tendencies can be blamed on learned behavior, because my brother goes through life like the “world owes me a living” grasshopper among the hyper-diligent workaholic ants, only experiencing fleeting twinges of worry on rare occasions, and never about hypotheticals or possibilities, only about specific and expected situations he knows about in advance. Unlike the grasshopper, however, who pays for not worrying about the consequences of his actions, my brother, who is also an Extraverted Feeler, has his personality style reinforced and understood and accepted by society in general. A Judging Thinker is more likely to blame him or herself when things go on, a Perceiving Feeler is more likely to try to find someone, anyone else to blame their messes on. This isn’t a universal mindset, just a more typical one. A Perceiving Feeler will make excuses for personal failures, and not see that their disorganized, free-wheeling approach may have contributed to the issue. A Judging Thinker might do so as well, but, at the end of the day, they are also likely to beat themselves up for overlooking something or making a mistake or rushing to decide before they had all the facts in hand. It is likely that any excuse-making is done to get out of having to interact with other people, if they are also Introverted. Or they may perceive that the small sin of making an excuse is worth an indulgence when compared to the larger hassle of having to direct some energy towards placating angry people, instead of focusing that energy on fixing and atoning for the problem somehow.

Example of Thinker Judger behaviors: moving from one household to another is incredibly stressful for me, and I tend to handle the problem in a very Thinking Judging manner, by doing research online, comparing properties, and worrying about adapting to a new neighborhood. I don’t enjoy the research part much, preferring to sit down and do my research work in one or two extended sessions rather than in more easily-handled and shorter chunks of time. I tend to “know” what I want, and be fussy about having to compromise on those wants, which sometimes feel more like needs than wants. I tend to take on more of the research angle if I am not the only involved party, drawing up charts and pros and cons and arranging for us to tour properties.

Just like some astrology systems, which talk of “evolved” and “unevolved” expressions of sun sign traits, I suspect that all MB personalities have positive and negative personality aspects. For instance, an “evolved” Libran (according to astrology buffs) loves beautiful things, is concerned about his or her appearance, is a gourmet, is romantic and happiest when coupled up with a partner, and appreciates fair play even when it doesn’t benefit him or her, but an “unevolved” Libran will take this to the extreme and be materialistic, vain, gluttonous, fickle / prone to cheat on partners because they fear they may not have the “best” one, obsessed with justice and not interested in mercy. An “evolved” MB personality type most likely shows some balance and comprehension of how people with opposing traits “tick,” and has learned how to compensate for the perceived weaknesses of his or her personality type. An “unevolved” MB personality is likely more inner-directed, and thus not obliged to worry about how he or she is perceived, and not inclined to think about how his or her personality type both benefits and impedes them when dealing with others.

Like I said, personality and psychology interest me. I find systems and theories fascinating. Do I think Myers-Briggs has all the answers, and that it can be used alone as a determination of whether or not two people will definitely get along well or not? No, I think that people are far more complex than that. However, since it is a self-selected process, it is probably more revealing than, say, “what’s your sign?”
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