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What is Myers Briggs?
Myers Briggs is a popular personality testing that places people into 1 of 16 personalities. These personalities are based on four spectrums: introversion to extroversion, sensing to intuition, thinking to feeling, and judging to perceiving. The more you know how the personalities work, the easier it will be to type someone. You may have a situation where you can actually have someone take the test, but that may seem awkward to the individual.
There's a couple of things to keep in mind before breaking down the spectrums. There's also personality families, so to speak. There's four main groups where personalities belong: the artisans SP, idealists NF, thinkers NT, and strategists SJ.
Breaking Down Introversion and Extroversion
Introversion and extroversion mainly has to do with how a person gets their energy. Some people get more charged by ideas while others get energy by being around people. An introvert does not mean that a person is socially awkward or incapable, it means that they recharge their batteries by ideas and can get more easily drained by social situations. Extroverts on the other hand need to be around people more and get drained when having too much time only with ideas. This is often one of the easier traits to pick out with people. However, some personality types at the end of the day veer more toward the middle, like an INFJ who is actively social because they like people, but really need time reading books, making food, and remembering who they are because they tend to feel like a chameleon. Other introverts are more obvious, like the INTJ and INTP who need a great deal of time thinking on philosophical ideas.
Extroverts tend to be more at the center of parties. They have a busy schedule that revolves around people. They want to know what's going on, who's popular, and how they can get people included. They're not always friendly as they may have more of a manager like personality, but they tend to thrive off social interactions. A lot of extroverts like to talk, be in many different social circles, and thrive on gossip. Depending on other parts of their personality, they make like being center stage and have less of a problem expressing themselves openly. Extroverts like to be seen and heard. They like to share their ideas. They're usually engaging people who smile, make affirmative body language, and can multitask around several people in a sitting. An extrovert may show signs of depression or loneliness if they are taken away from people for too long. It might be difficult for them to cope, like in winter, though they might not be sure why.
Introverts on the other hand, like learning things by themselves. They have the same kind of energy that extroverts have, but it's inward. They tend to one to stay in one part of a place when at a party rather than constantly be moving. They can go much longer in periods of isolation and not struggle with it. They may need time reflect in their own private world before expressing themselves out in the open. They're great at one on one connections. They're good listeners and one on one time with a person works well for them because there's not as many distractions that you would find at a larger social gathering. Introverts are more like cats where extroverts are more like dogs. Introverts can have an army of friends, but if you see them needing a lot of space and time on their own, they're probably lean more on the introverted side.
Spends a great deal of time seeking social interaction
Needs lots of private time with ideas
Likely to volunteer in a class setting first
May appear shy or modest
Loves to be the center of attention
Loves a quiet area without distraction
Always knows where there is a good party
Knows good books, movies, art, etc.
Comfortable performing in front of others
May have stage fright
Wants to get people involved
Great listeners, one on one conversations
May overdo social interactions
May be too quiet and in their head
Sensing and Intuition
Sensing and intuition is one of the hardest spectrums to understand and type. This has to do with how people gather information for their brain, and since you can't literally see how a brain is doing that, it makes it difficult. You'll have to pick out clues from how they act and interpret information. Remember every person has parts of all 8 possible preferences -- intuition, extroversion, sensing, etc. Someone who has a strong preference for sensing gathers their information through their five senses. These people tend to be more down to earth and literal. If you're using a lot of metaphors and analogies, you'll probably wear them out or annoy them. They are good with details but not so great at big picture or global understandings. They tend to be more sensual and physical. They'll want to make sure that all the basic necessities are in stock from food, clothing, and daily comforts. In this way, they can be a but more normal.
As for the intuitives, they thrive on metaphors. They read a lot between the lines. They tend to be creative and don't need every detail told to them. The easiest way to annoy an N person is to constantly be going over every detail. They don't see the point when they know the big picture and how things fall into place. There are less N than S in the world. The introverted intuitives make up an even smaller proportion. Those are some of the rarest personalities, but also some of the smartest. The INTP, INTJ, and INFJ tend to top the charts when it comes to intelligence tests and grades. That doesn't mean that intuitives are automatically smarter than their counterparts. They are great at reading, writing, and getting a good idea of a person's motivations.
Great with details
Great with big pictures
Uses their 5 senses to gather info
Down to earth, normal
Into physical appearances
Good at managing physical environment
Great at theory
In the moment
In the past and future
Needs structure detailed
Needs structure open and explorative
Knows their environment
Knows the potential
Thinkers and Feelers
All people experience thinking and emotion. Thinkers and feelers has to do with how people make decisions. If you make decisions based more on objective information, you're a thinker. If you base your decisions more on subjective information, like people, than you are a feeler. Both of these are different forms of logic. A thinker may see what is the best optimal plan to carry out, but they may not account for how other people feel and how that plays into a situation -- this is where a feeler thrives. A feeler can gage the room's emotions and know where things are best to fall.
Thinkers tend to make their decisions without having to worry about others. They're more likely to take jobs or go to school away from their family. They can get overwhelmed if there's too much outpouring of emotion around them, or they can be easily manipulated (in their minds) by it. They thrive on getting the right answer, they're more likely to argue, and they're harsher toward stupidity. A lot of them don't need lots of color in their wardrobe or more superfluous items -- especially those that are NT. Thinkers tend to be better at making money and thinkers are great at board games. An ST likely will be good at sports and keeping up their physique.
Feelers are more likely to pick up an animal off the street and keep it. They'll want to be around their family and will make their decisions based off their family. They tend to be better at expressing their emotions. They're creative types and may want to do things their own way, even if it isn't tried and true. They base their decisions on experiences. They can find arguments hostile and can even feel overwhelmed by them. This doesn't mean they do not know how to argue, but they prefer different methods of communication. Feelers tend to care about others feelings. They're good at empathy and want others to feel good. This may cause them to slide into being people pleasers or gossipers.
Motivated by objective reasoning
Motivated by subjective reasoning
Great at arguments
Great at taking others opinions into account
May struggle with being cynical
May struggle with accepting reality
Great at logistics
Great at expressing emotions
Does well with information systems that do not involve people
Does well with information systems that involve people
Can make decisions without worrying about people, such as taking a distant job
May feel the need to stay close to home to be close to family
May come off cold or sterile
May come off neurotic or overly expressive
Sees the problem first
Sees the humanity first
Judging and Perceving
Judging and perceiving has to do with people's perceptions of time and cleanliness.
Judgers tend to be more pressed for deadlines and in having things clean and in order. They like for things to be neat, clean, and have some amount of structure to them. These people like routine, they tend to dress nice, are more conscientious of what they eat and drink, and worry relentlessly about how clean are their homes. They have a strong awareness of time and schedules. Be aware that NFJ types think on a whole other plane when it comes to this. It's easy to mistype them as NFP because they are less "J" than the others. NFJ can fit easily around the P group. They're NF are so strong that they don't worry as much about details and they care more about others so they'll sacrifice their needs for their J preference.
Perceiving types don't care as much about time or cleanliness. They can be messy, spontaneous, and easy going... if not to the point of passive aggressive. They can procrastinate and then be baffled by their schedules. They are more likely to do things by the seats of their pants. They don't tend to put as much thought into their clothes -- expect mismatched clothing, unruly hair, or strange eclectic pieces like a giant owl necklace. They start and stop projects all the time. They have gusts of energy for what they want to do, but keeping it longterm can be difficult. They're generally a lot fun, but sometimes wishy-washy if they haven't got their P under control. They prefer things uninhibited. Common P traits are tattoos, messy desks, and fields of unfinished projects and ideas. Plenty gets completed, don't worry.
Makes lots of projects
Desires clean home
Needs the interchangeable
Gets things finished
Loses track of time
More easy going
It's important to think of the letters in combination of each other. There's a big difference between an INFJ and an ENFJ -- the ENFJ is a super extrovert, while the introvert might show mild qualities of an extrovert. An ENFP has the veracity of Robin Williams where the INFP has the cool demeanor of Johnny Depp or Ryan Gosling. One letter makes a big difference in the personality typing, so it's important to know how the letters all come together. I recommend reading about several personalities so you can get a feel for it. Some letters for certain personalities stick out like a sore thumb -- it's easy to tell that an INTP has strong N and T. It should also be easy to tell that an ISTJ has strong... all of those letters. The big divide really has to do with sensing and intuition. People tend to click better if they're the same when it comes to S and N. It's difficult for an S to understand an N who is constantly in the world of double meanings. An N will get frustrated that an S doesn't understand them. Peoples friend groups tend to be mostly S or N.
With the temperaments, you can figure out a person's personality by their motivations. The NF idealist family tends to be creative, people oriented, friendly, and strange. The SJ group tends to be methodical, down to earth, and excellent strategists.
Functions are not easy to understand right off the bat, but knowing them will make it even easier to type someone. Functions has to do with the dominant giftings of a personality. For instance, an INFJ personality is guided by Introverted Intuition -- they're constantly pulling information subconsciously. This means they're weakest gift is Extroverted Sensing -- they struggle with the physical world and may be clumsy both in gesture and in conversation. They may not mean for something to be funny when they say it, but it just kind of is.
It would take too long in a single hub to breakdown all 16 personalities functions. There's 8 different functions and each personality has 4. This means only 2 of each personalities have one of the functions at a dominant level. I hope that makes sense -- essentially only two personalities would have something like dominant introverted intuition, which are the INFJ and INTJ. These personalities do not have extroverted intuition nor introverted sensing. Instead the ENFP and ENTJ have dominant extroverted intuition. Seeing how they use their intuition in an extroverted or introverted way is a big clue into how to type a personality. If you can figure out what dominates a personality, then that will give you a big hint on where their personality falls. Also, whatever their strongest quality whether intuition, sensing, feeling, or thinking -- will show you what is their weakest quality. If your strongest quality is feeling than your weakest is thinking, then the other two qualities will fall in the middle. If you're struggling to tell whether someone is a thinker or feeler, than those are probably a person's middle qualities. If someone is more dominated by information gathering N or S, than they tend to be guided more by a perceiving like quality -- regardless of whether they're a INFJ, INTJ, etc. This is where Myers Briggs can be confusing. On the other hand, if someone is more dominated by feeling or thinking, they have a judging preference. A perceiving person is more guided by their information gathering skills while a judger has a preference for their decision making.
*Never tell someone what their type is. If you disagree with what someone says they are, don't be rude and tell them they are wrong. Gracefully show them where something might fit them better.
*If someone isn't interested in Myers Briggs, don't force it down her throat.
*Myers Briggs is theory and theory always has problems. This isn't a perfect measure.
*The more you know the easier it will be to read people.
*Know yourself before you start trying to know others.
-S personalites are more common. ISTJ for males is one of the most common.
-The least common is INFJ, but you'll find lots of them in the same place -- writing oriented places, churches, coffee shops, etc.
-Not everyone expresses the same amount of each category. Some are far more introverted than other fellow introverts.
-Those who are in the same temperament tend to get along -- NF, NT, SP, SJ -- and those who are opposites tend to not understand each other. Whatever is your dominate function will dictate what is your opposite.
-There are more extroverts than introverts
-There are more feelers than thinkers
-If you're stuck on one letter of someone's personality, read about those two personalities and that may solve your questions.
-Judger are more decisive; you'll annoy them by not coming to resolution.
-Intuitves need metaphor and other worldly concepts. They're not trying to annoy you... and they can't turn it off.
-Introverts do not automatically dislike people -- they just have a smaller diet of being around people. NF introverts are more social than NT introverts.
-The best formula for dating is having someone who has similar functions, but expressed differently. An INFJ does well with an ENFP -- INFJ has dominate introverted intuition while the ENFP has dominate extroverted intuition.
-One letter makes a huge difference.
Andrea Lawrence (author) from Chicago on June 01, 2020:
The difference between an INFJ and an INTJ is that an INFJ's second trait is extroverted feeling. INTJ's second trait is extroverted thinking. Both are dominated by introverted intuition. These two personalities make for good friends and blend together quite well.
INTJ might be a little more stoic and socially awkward. They might not be as drawn to religion or more abstract ideas. INTJ will be better about making practical decisions where INFJ will make better social decisions, the INFJ will look to what is happening around them socially first before making a decision. INTJ will look to their logic, what they know, and see if they already have the answer first.
Billy Jay Burton from Earth on May 23, 2020:
Very interesting hub !
What if someone is almost as much an INFJ as he is an INTJ (10% T) ?
What would it entail ?
Andrea Lawrence (author) from Chicago on April 05, 2018:
Not sure I agree... or understand. But more importantly, I do appreciate your input
I've found it easier lately to think of feelers as having social rational and thinkers as having non-social rational. Both of these have their place, and usually for a personality it's easier to favor one or the other.
Michelle Dalson on March 07, 2018:
Good insight here, but I don't think the major difference between Thinkers and Feelers has to do with objectivity vs subjectivity in making decisions. If you think about the 8 possible cognitive functions of the MBTI (Ne, Ni, Se, Si, Te, Ti, Fe, Fi), the extraverted functions (Ne, Se, Te, Fe) have more to do with objectivity in info-processing and decision-making, while the introverted functions (Ni, Si, Ti, Fi) involve more subjectivity in info-processing and decision-making. The way I see it, Thinkers and Feelers differ mainly in whether they prefer reasons or values their judgments. Thinkers prefer to judge reasons for something, they are more interested in asking "why." Feelers prefer to judge values of something, they are more interested in asking "what's the worth." They may or may not use an objective approach to assess the reason or value.
Raine Law Yuen from Cape Town on August 13, 2015:
this is a wonderful, insightful and well written hub. I think it should be mandatory for everyone to know their profile - in this way we will make better use of our talents and not be so quick to judge others.