So, What MBTI Type Are You?

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This post is for people who love the MBTI (Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator). 

I realize that some people hate it.  That’s cool.  It has apparently been woodenly applied by overzealous managers (as, what hasn’t?).  And some people just don’t like to be “typed.”

If you hate personality typologies, feel free to skip this post.

How the MBTI Works

For the initiated, the MBTI is a personality typology that classifies people according to their “preferences” among four pairs of traits:

  • I vs. E: Introversion vs. Extraversion … This is about how people renew their energy: alone or through social interaction.  Extraverts are drained by the library, Introverts are drained by parties.
  • N vs. S: Intuition vs. Sensing … This is about how people take in information: basically, top-down (intuition) or bottom-up (sensing).
  • T vs. F: Thinking vs. Feeling … This is about whether people make decisions more according to impersonal facts or according to how the decisions will affect people.
  • J vs. P: Judging vs. Perceiving … This is about whether people like to plan things in advance. Judgers like to have everything planned out. Perceivers like to go with the flow, keep their options open, and can even feel stressed out about nailing down a decision.

Four pairs of traits times two options each results in sixteen basic types.  If you meet an MBTI nerd like myself, we love to describe ourselves with letters: “I’m an INTJ,” etc.  This is delightfully easy to parody: for example, I am a G-E-E-K and sometimes an S-L-O-B.

Limits of the MBTI

Obviously, the MBTI doesn’t and can’t describe every aspect of a person’s personality.  It doesn’t cover energy levels, for example, or sensory processing problems.   (E.g. you could be an Extravert who is nonetheless also drained by social situations because you’re so sensitive to physical stimuli.)

It’s possible to have a social style that masks your MBTI type. 

You could have values that don’t match your type preferences. (For example, you could be a Feeler who greatly values logical thought.)

Also, some people don’t have a clear preference between one or more pairs of traits.  If you read descriptions of the types, sometimes a type description will jump out at you and you’ll say, “I know that person!”  But you will also meet people who aren’t easily described by any of the types.

In my opinion, the most easily misunderstood pair of traits is Thinking vs. Feeling.  I have never heard a good explanation of this axis that doesn’t misrepresent it.  Any attempts at description always end up making it sound as though “thinkers” don’t feel or care about people, and as if “feelers” just emote and are incapable of logic.  Neither of those is true.  Obviously, every person both thinks and feels.

I’ve concluded there is no point in trying to explain this one.  It is seen most clearly in action.  For example, an ENFP child will tend to comply with any orders you give him because he wants to please you.  An ENTP kid will likely not follow an order unless he can see a good reason for it.

MBTI Types in Literature

My own type is INFP.  This is a quiet, reserved type that is also sensitive and dreamy.  In one analysis I saw (“The Types in the Apocalypse”), the INFP was “the first guy to get killed.”   That sounds about right!  In the Lord of the Rings, the INFP is Frodo. 

Introverted types might be over-represented among the Lord of the Rings main characters (compared to their distribution in real life) because there is an understandable tendency for authors to create characters who resemble themselves.  In looking at my own work, I notice with relief that I do have some extraverted types in main-character roles.  Nimri, for example.  He starts the story as an SOB (oops, that’s one letter short!), but ends as, maybe, an ESTP.

What about you?  What is your type?  Favorite type to read about?  Are you ever annoyed by encountering too many dreamy, sensitive types in literature?

Sources

Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence  by David Keirsey, Prometheus Nemesis Book Company, 1998

24 thoughts on “So, What MBTI Type Are You?

  1. Tristan

    I like reading about all types, anything interesting. I think the only thing that would annoy me is if somebody is limited by their type—for example, it’s clear that a man’s loyalty to his brother keeps dragging him down, but he can’t let go. But, maybe that’s just my personality, because stories about “personal journeys” are popular too.

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    1. Tristan

      Also—each dimension is meant to be a spectrum, I think. I took an online test and it gave me 51% introverted / 49% extroverted, which I think says more about me than just “I”.

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  2. Tristan, that’s interesting. I’ve heard there is such a thing as an ambivert, but not sure I’ve ever known one. I am an extreme introvert, and most people I meet usually either “get me” or they’re extreme extraverts who really, really don’t get it.

    I don’t put too much trust in the tests, TBH. I took one in my 20s and tested as an INTJ or something like that. I later figured out my type by reading descriptions of what the types are like as kids. I now think I was answering according to my values, not my actual personality preferences, which are closer to nervous system settings.

    I don’t know if you’re right about the functions being a spectrum, but this stuff is Jungian so it gets really complicated with the way the different preferences can influence and even flip each other. For example, Introverts tend to lead with their less preferred function when dealing with the external world … so someone who is an Introverted Perceiver is disorganized in their outer life … but in their inner life, they are a Judger with strong convictions.

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  3. Benjamin Ledford

    When I test, I get either ENTJ or INTJ. I think I get ENTJ more often, but a couple years ago I took one that had really good extensive descriptions of the types, and though it told me I was ENTJ, reading the INTJ description I realized, Wow, that’s definitely me! So now I identify as INTJ. You know, Elrond. 😉

    Actually, when characters are categorized by Myers Briggs types, it seems like INTJ is more often than not a villan.

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    1. Rachael McKeeth

      Ha! I didn’t even see you had commented before I had written my comment, stating that I also have gotten ENTJ or INTJ. Jen doesn’t think I’m either though, and she could be right so I’d like to re-take the test now. I can see you as an ENTJ or an INTJ. I can see you as a villain. No wait, Elrond.

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  4. Rachael McKeeth

    There is a lot I can say about this because I like talking about personality tests and my experiences and basically just myself, but I will try not to ramble since my thoughts on it are not exactly organized. I have taken the MBTI 3 times, all while I was in college. Before that, I had taken at least one or 2 personality tests that were not MB.
    I always have a very difficult time answering questions on personality tests, but now that I know myself better I would like to take the MBTI again. The first time I took it in either my freshman or sophomore year of college, I thought it was silly we were taking it (it was for InterVarsity as a student leader), but then when I got my results and read through them some things really resonated with me and I thought, “Yes, this test nailed it!” I got ENTJ. (Which is, apparently, the rarest type, and makes up only 1% of women.) The things that resonated with me were that ENTJ’s were frustrated with incompetence (big thing for me), want to get things done in a situation and know the logical steps to accomplish it, ambitious, and are articulate and sharp (I flatter myself). They also can be very blunt and brusque and hurt people’s feelings because of it.
    The second time I took it I got ENTJ again. Must have been my junior year.
    The third time I took it, my senior year in college, I got INTJ. On all 3 MB tests my J score was super high.
    Like I said, I would like to take it again because it could be that neither ENTJ nor INTJ are accurate. I have come to accept, nay, embrace, that I am an introvert, but it took a long time for me to figure this out and I am still confused about some aspects of my personality in that regard. I can be extremely out going and life of the party type in certain situations, but it usually when I feel really comfortable (obviously), or I have power or an advantage in some way. In college I always felt pepped up after social events, which I figured confirmed my extroversion, but years later when I analyzed it more then I think it was more nervous energy that made me shaky and tired.
    Oops, rambling about my life. I should definitely retake the test and let you know what I get.

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      1. Benjamin Ledford

        I would suspect that Nate is INTJ, too. I mean, he’s definitely I, certainly N, unquestionably T, and very probably J.

        But wouldn’t it make sense to find similar personality types in the same family?

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      2. Yes, he is more the sterotypical INTJ I would say, far more so than either of you commenters.
        For example, he would probably think all this personality typing stuff is hogwash. 🙂
        That’s what’s confusing, that three very different people could all test the same. But they say you should not type people by how well they match some description, but rather by the actual functions.

        As far as I know, personality comes hardwired at birth and you can get very different types in one family. As I like to think of it, it comes straight from God.

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      3. Rachael McKeeth

        Yeah, I don’t think that we are all INTJ’s; that just doesn’t make sense. Nate and I have very, very different personalities. And although Ben and I are more similar to each other than I am to Nate, we are still super different. I think you’re right that out of all of us Nate makes the most sense to have it.
        I’ve requested “Please Understand Me” from the library, so hopefully that sheds some light on things for me.

        Liked by 1 person

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