MBTI: The BASICS
Every once and a while, an MBTI article of mine will make it out to a branch of the internet that I didn’t expect for it to. And while it’s occasionally met with open arms, in certain instances, once the user is done telling me that I should kill myself, it’s mentioned that they “don’t know what the letters mean.”
And though I feel we’ve gone too far to slow down now, it’s only fair that the new kids play too. After all, how can you expect anybody to even want to join in the game if you don’t explain the rules? So below is a brief summation of MBTI or rather- The MYERS BRIGGS TYPE INDICATOR!!!! Dun-dun-DUUUN!
MBTI: A Very Brief History
Isabella Briggs Myers (A Woman) and Katerine Briggs (Her mother) were highly interested in Swiss psychologist Carl Jung’s work on different temperaments. Jung devised the theory that everyone prefers one of four psychological functions- Sensing and Intuition, Thinking and Feeling. He claimed that we have them all, but only one is dominant. He came up with this through observation of others and introspection.
But once Myers and Briggs got a hold of this to create the sixteen types that (in theory) everyone fits. They would then use this personality assessment to figure out what the strengths and weaknesses were of the women during World War II so as to best match the job each person needed to do.
David Keirsey has also played a large part in the MBTI community, though his “Keirsey Temperament Sorter” isn’t directly related to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. We’ll get to that in a bit, but his analysis of the sixteen types was expanded even further and he created the different groups for the types, asserting that types with preferences for Sensing and Intuition are a part of not only different modes of thought, but also social roles, body language, interests, and so on.
Is there more? Of course there is! But right now, we’re just going over the absolute basics of the core curriculum, if you will.
Understanding that we all have differences and similarities, MBTI can help you figure out the whats and whys of your own personality.
After you take your test, or even if you don’t, you’ll get a result. You will get one variation of sixteen different combinations to tell you your answer. If you don’t know what they mean, you can have a hard time caring. So read up!
In the order they are below will always be the order they are in your result.
Extroversion or Introversion (E/I)- This section appears the most obvious to the general public on their definition but getting down to how MBTI uses them and how people have come to use them are very different. So what usually makes you feel energized? Being in solitude or interacting with others to one extent or another? Introverts need time alone to process information internally while Extroverts process information by interacting with the outside world.
So while there are truths to “One is quiet, the other is loud” it goes a lot deeper.
Sensing or Intuition (S/N)- What do you focus your attention on? The sensory or abstract? Sensors prefer to have their data in detail while Intuitives prefer to off of their insight. While one has an understanding of things, the other understands ideas.
Being that Intuitives make up less of the population, you’re likely to find many online touting intutive superiority for the sake of feeling special, but one is not better than the other in type. Both are necessary, with flaws and weaknesses.
Thinking or Feeling (T/F)- This area is how you prefer to make decisions. While dominant Thinkers want to decide using objectivity, truth, and logic, dominant Feelers prefer to meet the same results but often with people’s personal motivations in mind. While one uses their head, the others uses their heart.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking that Thinkers are smart and Feelers just cry. While dominant Thinkers are more apt to find the logical solution, the right answer can often be overlooked by being “too logical.” It’s why the robots always want to destroy humanity, as it’s the “logically humane” thing to do. Oh, those robots.
Judging or Perceiving (J/P)- Judging or Perceiving determines your lifestyle. While Judgers are more strict in their routines and prefer to have things finished, Perceivers are more likely to be okay with leaving things up in their air. Judgers go by a set of externalized rules that keep everything in place, while Perceivers live by internalized principles that guide them and only them. Like dogs and cats.
Both rules and principles are necessary in a person’s life but one is always more prevalent than the other.
For the individual types, read the articles! For the groupings that all sixteen types are divided into, check out the descriptions here.
Guardians (SJ) ESFJ, ISFJ, ESTJ, ISTJ
This group is all about tradition. Not necessarily age-old tradition but anything they view as working they will make a routine out of. Considered, the most common type, it’s this group that could be argued keeps the world spinning. This is the type you’re least likely to find online and it’s because they generally don’t care about theory and are out doing things in the real world. Every type in this category prefers Sensing (S) and Judging (J), putting them in a group that makes for dutiful, hard working people.
They are social people that like stability, logistics, and order. Due to this, the online community will do everything they can to distance themselves from actually being in this group though by numbers alone, around 50% of the population, you’re most likely one of them. Yes, you’re still special. If it weren’t for this type, all the jobs you hate doing would be jobs you would have to take because somebody has to do them and the SJs know this. Think your parents, teachers, and the military. It all makes sense now, doesn’t it?
Artisans (SP) ESFP, ISFP, ESTP, ISTP
Artisans, who all prefer Sensing (S) and Perceiving (P) are what makes them all people in touch with the real world and unafraid to do everything they can to enjoy it. While SJ types prefer detail oriented work, making them a perfect fit for all the stuff your dad enjoyed growing up, SP types are really interested in anything that gets their blood flowing, when they work or play. Their perceiver lifestyle makes them laid back as well so whoever your friend was growing up that always got you into trouble was probably an SP.
Keirsey named this group the Artisans because their love of the physical and their open-ended attitude on life makes them excellent in the world of sports, arts, and entertainment. The biggest problem with this group on average is that their love of a good time may spill over into them being reckless, selfish people. They might even know this and like it.
Idealists (NF) ENFP, INFP, ENFJ, INFJ
Idealists are all big picture types due to their preference of Intuition (N) over Sensing (S). Often considered the most spiritually minded, All types with NF in their letters will often be thinking out of the box, but specifically in matters that deal with people. Their long range thinking is highly useful in areas that specialize in helping others to one extent or another. This could be teaching, ministry, and psychology but due to their love of people on average, writing and other arts may be taken up.
Though the Artisans are gifted in areas of entertainment for the rush of the act itself, Idealists (NF) may love to write, act, paint, etc. for the love of the idea behind it. I.E., reaching people with analogies and metaphors. Things like that. The most diplomatic of all types.
Rationals (NT) ENTJ, INTJ, ENTP, INTP
Similar to the NF Idealists, Rationals are also abstract in thought, but prefer to deal with things as logically as the situation calls for. But with the odd combination of intuition and logic guiding them, there’s no denying the notable oddness that comes with the territory. All four types think in long range terms but systems are their specialty. The NT types will choose an area or several to apply themselves in and work in such a way so as to master said area.
NT types may find themselves in careers involving the sciences due to their love of organizing what seems unmanageable and creating a new place for it.
The Freaking Tests
Often times you’ll have people say that since they took the test, that MBTI did not give them an accurate result and is therefore inaccurate. Others will get a result that does not fit them in the slightest yet they love the description so much they run with it anyway and are completely wrong.
How do we avoid this?
Well, to start off, the test can only be as accurate as you are in answering it. And even if you’re being as honest as you can, pushing aside any image you may want to retain, the results can still be wrong. How? Well, while you know what’s going on in your head, you may not know why, which can lead to some confusion when coming across a question such as “Would you rather read a book or go to a party?” There is no objectively wrong answer, but there is a wrong answer for you.
When you really get into MBTI, you might discover how little you knew yourself before, as more objective descriptions can help pinpoint thoughts, feelings, and attitudes you’d had but didn’t know how common they were or why you do things that way. So while honesty on the test is important, reading through the various types may give you a better idea than taking a test.
Another interesting technique would be to read through the short list of Weaknesses that each individual type has. Reading a long general paragraph may just blur over after a while but a quick list of your own problems that you know you have may be a better factor in your decision.
While the letters matter, they’re almost more of a jersey that each team wears to let you know who their playing for, while the functions could be seen as the player itself.
Each type has a specific set of functions in a specific order that make up their “mental priorities” so to speak and explains the differences in similarities between each type. Each type has four main functions and are as follows-
First function is known as Dominant.
Second function is known as Auxilliary.
Third function is known as Tertiary.
Fourth function is known as Inferior.
The big letter tells what the function itself is while the tiny letter next to it tells you if it’s externalized or internalized.
Introverted Sensing (Si)- This takes in information and compares it with previous data to come to a decision about what is currently being experienced. All about the past. Lead Users, ISTJ, ISFJ.
Extroverted Sensing (Se)- This takes in the information the user experiences and acts in that moment. It trusts the present. Lead Users, ESFP, ESTP.
Introverted Thinking (Ti)- This function internalizes logic, mixing and matching with what they already know. It dissects information. Lead Users, ISTP, INTP.
Extroverted Thinking (Te)- Gathers reliable data to put to externalized use. Concerns themselves with rules and outside laws. While Introverted Thinking (Ti) dissects, Extroverted Thinking (Te) builds. Lead Users, ESTJ, ENTJ.
Introverted Feeling (Fi)- This organizes principles and values of the user. Their feelings may not to relate to the mood of the room causing them to blurt out thoughts and ideas if they choose to at all. Lead Users, ISFP, INFP
Extroverted Feeling (Fe)- Introverted Feeling (Fi) does not relate to the room but Extroverted Feeling (Fe) does. It seeks peace in the world around them rather than in themselves. Lead Users, ENFJ, ESFJ.
Introverted Intuition (Ni)- Long range ideas, this sees something in the external world and creates a plethora of possibilities from it. Lead Users, INTJ, INFJ.
Extroverted Intuition (Ne)- Immediate ideas, this sees a plethora of possibilities and narrows them into a single connecting result from them. Lead Users, ENFP, ENTP.
Other articles to check out-
Though I’ve written articles on the “Whys” of typing fictional characters, I don’t mind saying that there is so much information on MBTI, by the time you’ve graced me with your presence on my site, chances are that you’ve read a lot on the subject already.
So what do you do when you’ve learned enough to use it on your own at all? Apply it of course! It just so happens that we have an abundance of fictional characters that exemplify core traits of the MBTI types.