The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a personality indicator based on the work of Carl Jung. The MBTI is based on Carl Jung's theory of individuation (understanding of the self) and was developed by Katherine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers. The MBTI attempts to pick up on patterns of behaviour that reflect individual differences in the way people perceive information and make decisions.

The MBTI measures four scales with 8 preferences.

Introversion <----> Extraversion
Sensing <----> iNtuition
Thinking <----> Feeling
Judging <----> Perceiving

A good summary of the 8 preferences (from follows:

The Eight Preferences
(E)xtraversion: Focus on outer world of people, many friends with brief contact, Talk more than listen, Approachable, keep up with social happenings.
(I)ntroversion: Focus on inner world of ideas. Few friends with longer contact, Good listeners, reserved, reflective, private.
(S)ensing: Focus on the present, like tangible results, facts and figures, Sequential--Front to back, literal, down to earth, specific answers, routines.
i(N)tuition: Focus on the future or past, patterns & possibilities, ideas and theories, head in the clouds, like general answers, fantasies and daydreaming.
(T)hinking: Decisions based on logic and objective analysis, remember numbers & figures better than names & faces, prefer truth over agreement.
(F)eeling: Decisions based on personal feelings and values, think with the heart, compassionate, puts self in others' shoes, prefer harmony over truth.
(J)udging: Likes to-do lists and schedules, organized, neat, do what you're supposed to do, deadlines, order, get things done, work first, always on time.
(P)ercieving: Flexible, spontaneous, adaptable, doesn't plan, like the unknown, easily distracted, wait till last minute, turns work into play, keep options open.

The eight preferences are combined to define 16 distinct personality types, as follows (source:

Supervisor ESTJ Inspector ISTJ
Provider ESFJ Protector ISFJ

Promoter ESTP Crafter ISTP
Performer ESFP Composer ISFP

Teacher ENFJ Counselor INFJ
Champion ENFP Healer INFP

Fieldmarshal ENTJ Mastermind INTJ
Inventor ENTP Architect INTP

Unfortunately many people erroneously interpret their type by reading across the four letters and relating the significance of each letter independently. The real way of examining the four letters is to identify your dominant and auxillary functions. Again from

Your functions are your 2nd (Sensing/iNtuition) and 3rd (Thinking/Feeling) letters of your type.

Your Dominant and Axuillary functions are always your preferences in the S/N and T/F letters. Your 3rd and 4th place functions are always your non-prefernces in the S/N and T/F letters.

Your 1st function (2nd letter) is your perceptive / data collecting function.

Your 2nd function (3rd letter) is your judging / processing function.

The last letter (Judging/Perceiving--J/P) determines whether your 1st function (perceptive) or your 2nd function (judging) is your extraverted function: J=Thinking/Feeling (T/F), P=Sensing/iNtuition (S/N)

The first letter (Extroversion/Introversion--E/I) determines whether your xtraverted function is Dominant or Auxiliary. Extravert = Extraverted function is dominant; Introverted function is auxillary. Introvert = Introverted function is dominant; Extraverted function is auxillary.

Confused? You can still use the MBTI types as a mental plaything See also the The Keirsey Temperament Sorter which has an online test site at and is based on the Jungian Types

As with any personality test, it should not be taken too seriously, especially since it was written by two laypeople. It can, however, be used as a rough indicator of some of your obviously strong personality traits. In any of the categories in which you score at one extreme or the other, chances are that you and others will be able to percieve this in your behavior.

For example, I am almost entirely a P, one of the traits of which is the extreme dislike of being tied down to a schedule. P people like options, and lots of them, and they don't like making a decision until they absolutely have to. This pretty accurately describes me most of the time. I may or may not be in the right mood to do things, so why bother scheduling them?

My fiance is a J; J's like everything nice and neat and organized in the temporal sense; they schedule everything. My fiance has a little hp palmtop that he has set alarms in to remind him to go to class, as well as any other event that he has scheduled.

I find the first letter of the test, which indicates if one is an introvert/extrovert, to be not that useful, since this is pretty easy to tell anyways. Any letters in which you are 60/40 in, or even 70/30, I wouldn't pay attention to - you don't register enough in one category for the test to say anything definitive about you.

Factoid: The Myers-Briggs test fails the most basic criteria for validity. A person who pays attention in just one undergraduate-level class on test design will be able to point out a number of fatal flaws (trust me, I should know!) Despite that, a lot of people seem to find it useful. Go figure.

Since people were curious, I've explained a small bit about how to design a psychological test. If you read this, the failures of the Myers-Briggs will be obvious.

The interesting thing about Myers-Briggs is that while it doesn't particularly conform to current psychological theory and fails a few criteria for accuracy, it has been used well over a million times world wide and most people find it difficult to argue with the sheer range of samples gathered (and its surprising accuracy).

Another point should be noted. MBTI is a type indicator - it gives an indication of your preferred mode of operating, not a strict definition of the way you are. It readily admits that people change, people react differently based on where they are, who they are with and how they got out of bed this morning.

The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a self-report questionnaire designed to make Jung's theory of psychological types understandable and useful in everyday life. The authors, Katherine Cook Briggs (1875-1968) and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers (1897-1980) studied and elaborated the ideas of Jung and applied them to human interaction.

After more than 50 years of research and development, the current MBTI is the most widely used instrument for understanding normal personality differences. The Kiersey test is a cut-down version of the MBTI, and as such is less robust. Kiersey also makes use of a labelling system, giving the types titles, like "Field-Marshall".

In essence, the MBTI is a tool to aid in awareness and understanding of yourself and others.

MBTI test results are described as a profile. Each person's profile is a list of four preferences.

The preferences describe four main factors of your life: (The highlighted letters show how the profiles are made up)
  • Where you direct your energy
    The Extravert/Intravert scale. The spellings here are specific and technical, and do not reflect whether a person is 'outgoing' or 'shy' but rather whether they find it more energising to be in the company of other people (Extraverts) or to be able to have their own space to focus in (Intraverts). People described as Extraverted will generally bounce new ideas off other people in the first instance, and Intraverted types will tend to think an idea through first before presenting it to others. Extraverts may find Intraverts reserved and stand-offish, Intraverts will often consider Extraverts pushy and 'loud'.

  • How you take in information,
    The Sensing/INtuitive scale. Sensing people tend to be detail oriented, whereas Intuitive types will focus on the big picture. The area of conflict on this scale is that Sensing types will tend to consider Intuitives sloppy or slapdash, Intuitives will tend to think of Sensers as nit-picking.

  • Your method of decision making
    The Thinking/Feeling scale. Thinkers make decisions based on an objective analysis of the facts to hand, Feelers on the basis of human values and the effect a decision will have on other people. Thinkers tend to find Feelers 'fluffy' and Feelers to consider Thinkers as callous.

  • How you prefer to organise your lifestyle
    The Judging/Perceiving scale. Judgers tend to prefer to make plans and take decisions quickly, Perceivers to consider all the options and to be spontaneous. Conflicts on this scale centre around the Judger's seeing Perceivers as procrastinating and disorganised and perceivers considering Judgers hasty and regimented.

The more areas of opposite preference people have, the less likely they are to get along well together.

The MBTI emphasises that no preference or combination of preferences can be judged as right or wrong - they simply describe how a person is likely to act or react.

Each scale shows a natural preference for a group of behaviours, which can be mild or extreme depending on the strength of the preference. In addition, upbringing, training and so on can enable people to learn to act more like people of the other preference - Intuitives, for example can learn to focus on detail, or Thinkers to consider the likely reactions of people as one of the 'facts' to be considered in taking a decision.

Like any psychometric instrument, the MBTI is just a tool, and should only be used to promote understanding and to identify potential areas of conflict, difficulty, or strength, not to label people - strength of preference, learned behaviours and environmental factors will mean that people with the same type will not always show the same behaviours in the same circumstances, although there will be a tendency to gravitate towards certain behaviour sets.

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