The Myers-Briggs Personality Test

Yesterday our entire class took the Myers-Briggs personality test. I found out that I am an INFP, which means that my primary way of dealing with the world is Introverted Intuitive Feeling Perceiving. I was actually very impressed at how accurate the results seemed to me. Perhaps it is the horoscope effect (where all predictions are general enough so as to apply to anyone) but I was shocked at how much of myself I saw in the typology. For example, I am majoring in Psychology and minoring in Creative Writing and my top two careers according to the Myers-Briggs are, you guessed it, counselor and writer.

The Myers-Briggs Typology Indicator is one of the most commonly used personality tests today. It is used by employers, career counselors, psychotherapists and many others to help people understand themselves and their strengths better. It was developed with Myers and Briggs from writings by Carl Jung. When someone takes it they receive a four letter “type.” They can be deemed either extroverted (E) or introverted (I), intuiting (N) or sensing (S), feeling (F) or thinking (T) and judging (J) or perceiving (P).

In the context of this test, extroverts deal with the world through a primarily external lens. They are more objective and understand the world through interacting with it. Because of this they feel more energized the more they are around lots of external stimuli, such as a big group of people. By contrast, introverts have a subjective and individualized way of looking at things. They tend to focus on individuals more than groups. Also, they process the world by retreating into themselves. This is why introverts typically get exhausted by large group encounters but energized by one on one interactions. Introversion has nothing to do with shyness or even how outgoing a person seems to be.

The second pair of letters, N or S, indicate the way in which a person takes in information from the world. A sensing person tends to process the world through their five senses. They see, feel, hear, taste, and touch the world and experience it in a sensory manner. These would be people who enjoy doing things that are hands-on. They prefer to perceive the world based on what actually is. Intuiting people tend to pay more attention to the patterns and possibilities in the information they receive. They would rather learn by thinking a problem through than by hands on experiences.

F and T have to do with how a person makes decisions. Do they prefer to use logic and examine facts and consistency, as the Thinking disposition favors? Or do they prioritize the individual circumstances and the people involved? Everyone uses each of these capacities for making some decisions but most people generally prefer one over the other.

And finally, people who are Judging personalities prefer a more structured, organized, and decided lifestyle. They feel happier once a decision is made. Those who are perceiving personalities tend to enjoy things that open ended, adaptable, and enjoy understanding and adapting to the world rather than organizing it. They also enjoy leaving things open-ended. Neither one of these preferences refers to how organized or tidy a person is, nor does it have to do with being judgmental.

There are many criticisms of the Myers-Briggs. Its powers of prediction haven’t been very well proved nor has its reliability. However it is always useful and worthwhile to spend time contemplating the way that we deal with the world and how that might be fundamentally different from other people. The Myers-Briggs has been especially useful to couples in counseling. Understanding that you argue a point with objective logic while your partner understands emotional and subjective statements better can be quite helpful.

If you want to take it you can find a pretty good version here: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp

And more information about the different types (including career inclinations) here: http://www.personalitypage.com/html/home.shtml

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