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You may have taken the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory one or more times throughout your life. If you haven't, or you did but can't remember your results, take a minute to take the inventory. This way, you will be able to read the rest of this info from a more focused perspective.
The military, universities, and businesses of every ilk have used the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory since it was first published in 1962. Created by a mother-daughter team, it is based on the teachings of Carl Jung and his archetypes.
The basis for the inventory is that seemingly random variations in behavior are not so random but are based on the individual ways people use their judgment and perception.
Originally, mother, Katherine Biggs was looking for a way to help teachers understand their students better so they could adapt their teaching styles to best help children learn. When her daughter was grown, she worked with her mother to adapt these theories for returning veterans of WWII in order to help them fit back into productive areas.
It took until 1962, however, to come up with an inventory that would suit the masses. Since that time, this inventory has even been used to assign spies to missions that best suited their personalities.
What Can You Learn From the Myers-Briggs Inventory?
You may have heard this referred to as a test, but the creators preferred to refer to it as an inventory that made known personality traits that came naturally to each individual. The word test implies that there is a correct answer, and this isn't the case as no answer is right or wrong. None of the sixteen personalities are better than any other.
This inventory can help you understand why you react to things in life. It explains why some people prefer to know all the facts, others need to make intricate plans, and others are free-spirited individuals that take things as they come. It can help you interact with family, friends, and coworkers better.
The inventory can help direct you to career choices that feel more comfortable for you. Keep in mind that people often adapt their natural tendencies to fit in with their environment.
This may result in an outward persona that doesn't fit the personality. By utilizing the knowledge of your preferences, you have a better chance of navigating life with greater ease and happiness.
What the Letters Stand For
The 16 personality types are a combination of four categories, broken down into eight expressions. Understanding the overall traits allows you to better understand how they combine. Let's take a look.
Extraversion (E) vs Introversion (I)
Do you focus on the world and what is going on around you or do you spend more time inside your head? Extraverts tend to be action-oriented. Social interactions are a necessity for most to keep them energized and happy.
Introverts, on the other hand, find social interactions difficult and energy-draining. They value their own thoughts more than what is going on outside.
Sensing (S) vs Intuition (N)
Do you prefer to base your decisions on observable information or would you rather try to interpret what your senses pick up and add deeper meaning? Sensing individuals use their five senses to take in information from reality. These individuals are fact-oriented and would rather learn by doing.
Those who lean toward intuition tend to notice patterns and love working with abstract theories. They prefer imagining what the future could bring.
Thinking (T) vs Feeling (F)
When you make decisions, do you prefer basing them on logic or do you prefer taking special circumstances and the feelings of others into account? Those who lean toward thinking are more likely to place emphasis on facts and available data.
Their decisions are often impersonal and logical. Those who lean in the other direction will first ask themselves how the decision will affect those involved. They will make their decision based on the feelings of those around them.
Judging (J) vs Perceiving (P)
This area deals with how you deal with the outside world. Do you prefer to have everything decided and in place before beginning or do you like to remain open to any new options that might arise? Judging personalities prefer to follow set routines and rules while perceiving individuals are more flexible and open to new pathways.
The 16 Personality Types
Whole books have been written about each of the 16 personality types. Obviously, the descriptions below merely scratch the surface. If you'd like to explore each personality further, you can do so at Humanmetrics.com.
1. ISFP – The Composer
Introvert, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving
The individual with this personality often doesn't appear to be an introvert. This is because they truly see the value in learning what other people have to give. Once they feel comfortable with someone, they become approachable and friendly.
They often find wisdom in understanding what makes other people tick and are tactful in their approach as they don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.
These are the trendsetters. They dislike restrictions and are always seeking the new and different. People with this personality can be somewhat of a conundrum. They appear spontaneous but are inwardly serious and disciplined. They can appear charming one moment and aloof and detached the next.
Following their dual nature, these people love facts and figures but are often found daydreaming. They enjoy poetry and philosophical pursuits but don't do well in organized education and learn better by doing.
Famous ISFP Personalities
2. ISFJ – The Protector
Introvert, Sensing, Feeling, Judging
People with this personality have a need to be needed. They are very dependable and they give freely, often returning a favor multi times over. They are great as co-workers, but if it comes down to family or work, family always wins.
They don't make great bosses, however, because they are poor at delegating. They often overwork to the point of making themselves ill and are often taken for granted because they are so dependable. Their meticulous work borders on perfectionism.
While these individuals can be moody, they are among the most warm-hearted of all the personalities. They believe in harmony and strive to cooperate whenever possible. They have a tendency to bring out the best in others and this makes them sought out often. They don't get close to many people, however, and have only a small circle of close friends.
Famous ISFJ Personalities
3. ENTP – The Debator
Extrovert, Intuition, Thinking, Perceiving
These individuals are unlike most extroverts in that they don't like small talk and aren't drawn to most social situations. That doesn't mean they don't like socializing or talking. They are at their glory when debating and love to play devil's advocate whenever possible.
They aren't afraid of questioning anyone or anything and can't understand when people get angry at their supposed arguing instead of treating it as a sport. They have no patience for anyone they consider to be unintelligent. Their preferred activities are ones that stimulate their mind.
These individuals love to theorize and they value freedom and won't stand being controlled by anyone. They can be sweet and loving and even emotionally demonstrative in the right arena. Their sense of humor is a bit perverse and not easily understood by many. They are basically optimists. Considering large roadblocks as a challenge, they can become petulant over small irritations.
Famous ENTP Personalities
4. ENTJ – The Commander
Extravert, Intuition, Thinking, Judging
The Commander lives in the world of possibilities. They are sure of themselves and often make plans that are larger than life. What's more, they are true salespeople and can convince others that these nearly impossible ideas are completely possible.
They are very project-focused, almost to the exclusion of everything else, and are thought to be perfectionists. They don't like to sit still and just let things happen. After all, they are confident that their way will be successful. This sign doesn't see failure as an option.
Wanting to be around people, this personality has trouble seeing things from anyone's perspective but their own. They are the most natural leaders of all the personalities and seek out every opportunity to take charge. When challenged, they can become argumentative. When pushed further, they become silent but their look says it all.
Famous ENTJ Personalities
5. INTP – The Thinker
Introvert, Intuition, Thinking, Perceiving
Those with this personality are among the most highly recognized minds in the world. They are notorious for their brilliant ideas, all of which are based on pure logic. In fact, these are the most logical of all the personalities.
They are known for their intelligence, knowledge, and unconventional thought patterns. Those with this personality often excel in the areas of linguistics, mathematics, and computers. They aren't very good at meeting the emotional needs of those around them. They often live in a world of ideas and become oblivious to the world around them.
In spite of their innate intelligence, these personalities are often unsure of themselves. They often second-guess their ideas and carry with them an internal sense of impending doom. They lack interest in practical day-to-day activities. There is a constant need to stretch their intellectual muscles and they are often thought of as unconventional.
Famous INTP Personalities
6. INTJ – The Mastermind
Introvert, Intuition, Thinking, Judging
Those with this personality are true introverts. They are more interested in big ideas than they are in small talk and are quickly bored with routine tasks and surface-level thinking. They value knowledge and competence and hard work and anyone, even authority figures, that they consider slacking will lose their respect.
These people value close friendships but often appear reserved and detached. Yet, they are long-range thinkers who strive to create a better world for everyone.
They portray a sense of self-confidence that others envy. It isn't that they are so sure of themselves. What they are sure of is that they know what they do or do not know and are willing to convey that information.
They are unsure only when it comes to personal relationships. Social rituals always seem to be just beyond their grasp. They are extremely private and others find them difficult to understand.
Famous INTJ Personalities
7. ESTP – The Persuader
Extrovert, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving
This personality draws power from feelings and emotions. They love social interactions for this reason. Not afraid to jump in and get their hands dirty, these individuals would rather leap first and deal with any issues as they arise.
They are blunt, straightforward, and definite risk-takers. They have a deep appreciation for the finer things in life and love being the center of attention. Fast-talking, they are excellent salespeople.
These personalities love competition. They are also full of respect for anyone that can beat them in a competition, but that doesn't happen often. Their spontaneous approach to life makes formal education difficult for them. They love “shocking” others with their words and actions.
They can handle logical processes, as long as the reasoning doesn't get in the way of their freedom of thought and action.
Famous ESTP Personalities
8. ESTJ – The Supervisor
Extrovert, Sensing, Thinking, Judging
Those with this personality place family above all else. They make it a point to celebrate holidays, birthdays, and any other traditional events. Most family genealogists can be found here.
This personality is always willing to provide guidance and counseling when asked and they are natural-born leaders who are not afraid to stand up for what they believe is right, even if that means standing alone. They believe power and prestige need to be earned and will not tolerate what they consider laziness.
These individuals are hardworking and ethical. They have difficulty dealing with the new, however, and prefer eliminating all uncertainties before embarking on a plan. They have the ability to make the difficult appear easy.
They prefer to make the rules, but will happily enforce the rules of others if that means standing by tradition. This is the ideal good citizen who loves bringing people together in harmony.
Famous ESTJ Personalities
9. ENFP – The Champion
Extrovert, Intuition, Feeling, Perceiving
Those with this personality type are the true free-spirits. They avoid anything that smells of details and routine, preferring creating their own way. This includes their looks, methods, and lifestyle.
They love people but tend to disregard the cookie-cutter mentality and won't tolerate being put into a box. They are not followers and are actually good at a variety of different things.
Enthusiasm for what they are doing often has many jumping on the bandwagon, but these personalities are soon off on other adventures, leaving their followers to continue as they will.
They take great pleasure in acting and many entertainers can be found in this personality category. These people usually relate well to others and they operate more from their feelings than most other people.
Famous ENFP Personalities
10. ENFJ – The Giver
Extrovert, Intuition, Feeling, Judging
People with this personality can be powerful. There is a great need to recognize this power early as it can lead to doing great things or doing evil things. Many of our greatest leaders have this personality, as do many cult leaders.
Those with this personality have the ability to manipulate others with their interpersonal skills. They don't see it as manipulation, however, as they truly believe in their dreams and are great communicators. They can juggle many different projects at once and excel in all of them. Very few people question their motivation.
These individuals are open-minded and highly accepting of others. They often take on the burdens of others with disregard for their own needs. They also have very thin emotional boundaries and often find themselves being at risk of becoming abused or being hurt.
They have the ability to connect with people from varying backgrounds and personalities. They are very idealistic and charismatic.
Famous ENFJ Personalities
11. ESFP – The Performer
Extrovert, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving
Those with this personality see the world as a stage and themselves as the star performer. They don't really believe it's all about them; they just love to hog the limelight.
They are the born entertainers who understand the realities of the world and feel it is their place to distract others from these harsh realities, if only for a short time. They love talking, excitement, telling stories, and having fun. Many kindergarten and preschool teachers have this personality.
Those with this personality also possess a great deal of common sense and are quick to recognize when they need help. They aren't afraid to speak up and ask if necessary. These individuals are very warm and generous and they truly care for the welfare of others.
The world needs to find a spontaneous escape from the harshness around us and these people are quick to provide that escape.
Famous ESFP Personalities
12. ESFJ – The Caregiver
Extrovert, Sensing, Feeling, Judging
These are the stereotypical extroverts who need to interact with others on a regular basis. Many with this personality are drawn to becoming a sports hero or cheerleader. They revel in the spotlight.
While they love being the center of attention, they truly care about what is going on in the lives of those around them. They are the family social organizers that make sure birthdays and other celebrations are duly remembered and celebrated. They are also the group peacemakers.
They relish being role models and strive for positions of power. This isn't just for power's sake; it is because it puts them in a position of caring for the group. They can be hypervigilant as a caretaker, much to any teenager's dismay.
They see problems easily and have no problem delegating. They work hard and play just as hard. They can be easily wounded, however, and then they don't hold back on the emotions. Their sense of what is right and wrong is often in conflict with their innate rescuing drive.
Famous ESFJ Personalities
13. ISTP – The Crafter
Introvert, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving
If you know someone who loves taking things apart to see how they work, you are probably dealing with someone in this personality category. These individuals are also among the most misunderstood of the personalities because their behavior is so mysterious.
They are defined by rationality and logic and then suddenly their spontaneity and enthusiasm burst forth because they have found something that captures their interest. Those with sedate occupations are often drawn toward high-risk hobbies.
Paramedics and other first responders can often be found in this category. These individuals are at their best in a crisis situation where they aren't bound by conventional rules but are free to act as they see appropriate to save the day.
They need a lot of personal space to be flexible and these normally easy-going individuals will often become inflexible if they feel this independence is being threatened.
Famous ISTP Personalities
14. ISTJ – The Inspector
Introvert, Sensing, Thinking, Judging
If these individuals have a motto, it is “We've always done it this way.” That is often all the reason they need as they place great importance on tradition and old school values. These individuals are non-confrontational, serious, and committed. Their sense of humor is unique.
They perform best when they can apply a step-by-step approach. They also make great referees because they have a great sense of what is right and wrong and don't have trouble making tough calls. They stand by their calls and are frustrated by those who don't keep commitments.
These individuals cherish hard work and honor social and cultural responsibility. They are normally reserved, calm, and quiet and they remain calm and clear-headed in an emergency situation. They can appear hard to approach and don't always pick up on social cues. They never assume anything and are often well-respected in their community.
Famous ISTJ Personalities
15. INFP – The Idealist
Introvert, Intuition, Feeling, Perceiving
These are the people who know all the deepest secrets of others yet people realize they know little about this individual. These are great listeners who prefer not to talk about themselves.
They are quiet and reserved yet people find them very approachable. They avoid conflict and are natural mediators. They are usually laid-back and flexible but can become aggressive defenders if they believe in a cause.
These individuals love analyzing things for hidden meaning and can be found daydreaming more often than not. They believe their main goal in life is to serve humanity and make this world a better place.
They are idealists who have the ability to find the good in almost anyone and everything and they believe that good ultimately wins. The depth of their emotion is a surprise to even themselves when it appears. They never seem to lose their sense of wonder.
Famous INFP Personalities
16. INFJ – The Counselor
Introvert, Intuition, Feeling, Judging
These individuals never accept anything at face value as they believe much more lies below the surface. They have a profound way of viewing the world and are not often understood by the masses.
They are visionaries who live in a world of hidden meaning. Their insight into people and situations is uncanny. Others often consider these individuals as odd or amusing. They often express themselves better on paper than by speaking.
Sensitive to stress and conflict, these people often feel physical pain when in stressful situations. They are genuinely kind and caring. They are also tactful, helpful, and cautious. While they truly love others, they find it difficult to connect emotionally except in rare cases.
When overwhelmed, they will withdraw into themselves and be totally unapproachable. Those who find a cause they believe in, however, will fight until the end. They don't do this for personal glory or political power. They do it because they truly believe.
Famous INFJ Personalities
Final Thoughts on the Myers-Briggs Personality Types
Learning which of the 16 personality types fits you is a big step in getting to understand both yourself and others. Knowing yourself is the first step toward a happier, more fulfilling life.
Another way to help you get a better picture of who you are is to practice journaling and keeping track of your moods.
There are times when your subconscious may be trying to get something out in the open… and free journaling is a great way to help it along. And with that, have fun getting to know your new best friend–you!
Finally, if you want to identify YOUR personality type, then take one of these 11 personality tests to better understand what makes you tick.