The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
Isabel Myers and Katharine Briggs, a mother-daughter team of psychologists from the World War II era, developed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator after becoming fascinated with Carl Jung’s work on personality types. The self-assessment helps to uncover an individual’s strengths, weaknesses, preferences, ways of relating to others, career possibilities, and much more. Myers and Briggs released their first pencil and paper version of the test in the early 1945. Today, it is the most popular personality assessment in circulation.
According to Jung, people can be characterized by their preference of general attitude (extroversion or introversion), their preference of perception (sensing or intuition), and their preference of judging (thinking or feeling). Jung also suggested that one of the four scales is dominant – either perception (S or N) or judging (T or F). Isabel Briggs Myers, a researcher and practitioner of Jung’s theory, proposed the judging vs. perceiving as a fourth scale that influences personality type.
Understanding the 16 Personality Types
There are 16 different personality types that emerge from the MBTI test, and the combinations come from four different scales, or dichotomies. These include:
- Extraversion or Introversion: These terms refer to how a person takes in what is going on around them. It signifies the source and direction of the manifestation of a person’s energy. Extraverts (E) feel energized being around others and are more action-oriented and enjoy social interaction. Introverts (I) are more oriented towards spending time alone, thinking, and forming deep relationships with fewer people.
- Sensing or Intuition: This scale refers to how someone gathers and processes information. Sensing (S) means a person mainly believes information received from their external world. A sensing person pays more attention to facts and details and prefers hands-on learning. Intuition (N) means a person believes information received from their internal or imaginative world. Someone who is more intuitive looks for patterns and prefers to think more in terms of possibilities.
- Thinking or Feeling: The thinking (T) in a personality type means the person prefers to interpret or process data based on logic and facts. They tend to solve problems in an impersonal way. Someone with feeling (F) places a greater emphasis on feelings and making other people comfortable. A feeling person would make a decision based on emotion – what the person feels she should do.
- Judging or Perceiving: The fourth scale reflects how a person implements the information he or she has processed. The judging (J) means that person prefers structure and is uncomfortable with ambiguity. This person organizes all of her life events and always sticks to plans. Those who perceive (P) tend to be more flexible and adaptable to most situations. This person is inclined to improvise and explore alternative options.
The 16 Type Acronyms
Each personality type can be assigned a four-letter acronym of corresponding combination of preferences across each dichotomy. The eight extroverted personality types include:
- ENTJ: Extraverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging types are assertive, outspoken, and make excellent leaders
- ENTP: Extraverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving prefer ideas as opposed to facts and have a good understanding of people
- ENFJ: Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging are sensitive, loyal, and outgoing
- ENFP: Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving are creative, enthusiastic, charismatic, and fun
- ESFJ: Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging are organized, dependable, and compassionate
- ESFP: Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving prefer spontaneity and are outgoing and resourceful
- ESTJ: Extraverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging are known for their take-charge and practical attitude
- ESTP: Extraverted, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving are outgoing, action-oriented, and often create drama
The eight primarily introverted types include:
- INTP: Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving are analytical and prefer to spend time alone
- INTJ: Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging are analytical and logical but also creative
- INFP: Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving are driven by their values, and are quiet and idealistic
- INFJ: Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging is the rarest of the 16 types. They are creative, reserved, idealistic, and sensitive
- ISFP: Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving are peaceful individuals described as quiet and easy-going
- ISFJ: Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging are responsible people who are compassionate towards others
- ISTP: Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving prefer to work at their own pace and are goal-oriented
- ISTJ: Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging are practical people who tend to be reserved
Next Steps: Using Personality in Career Selection
Knowing your personality type can help you choose the career that will bring you the most fulfillment throughout your life. Over the coming months, check back to read about your personality type and learn more about strengths, weaknesses, and recommended career paths for individuals with your MBTI type.
Also check out our 16 Types page to learn more about the various assessments (not just the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) that make use of the 4×2 personality typing framework.
And be sure to check out all of our career profiles to learn about hundreds of careers from actual people living in those career paths day in and day out. Each career profile is the result of a one-on-one interview with a professional, so you get real insider knowledge.