Understanding Personality Types – MBTI

Simplified Overview of the Myers-Briggs Type Instrument –
an individual’s preferences in thinking, being and acting

4 Questions

Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I) – the attitudes used to direct and receive your energy

What refreshes and revives you: being in the world (E) or being alone (I)?

Forget about being outgoing or shy: both extroverts and introverts may sincerely enjoy being with other people.  But introverts usually feel in need of time alone after being in a crowd, while being active in the world enthuses extroverts.

www.myersbriggs.org has interesting summaries:

“Extraversion: I like getting my energy from active involvement in events and having a lot of different activities. I’m excited when I’m around people and I like to energize other people. I like moving into action and making things happen. I generally feel at home in the world. I often understand a problem better when I can talk out loud about it and hear what others have to say.”

“Introversion: I like getting my energy from dealing with the ideas, pictures, memories, and reactions that are inside my head, in my inner world. I often prefer doing things alone or with one or two people I feel comfortable with. I take time to reflect so that I have a clear idea of what I’ll be doing when I decide to act. Ideas are almost solid things for me. Sometimes I like the idea of something better than the real thing.”

Thus, these words have a meaning in psychology that is different from the way they are used in everyday language.  Everyone spends some time extraverting and some time introverting, but, what seems more natural, effortless, and comfortable for you?

Sensing (S) or Intuition (N) – how you take in information

How do you process information: based on the information itself (S) or your own thoughts and interpretations about the information (N)?

Sensors are organised and logical, and may forget people in their practicality.  Intuitives are people of dreams and ideas, perhaps needing to be brought back down to earth.

Generalised example: in a rose garden, Intuitives wonder what the watering system is and who is in charge of it, while the Sensors are captivated by the sight, smell, and feel of the roses.

Thinking (T) or Feeling (F) – how you make decisions

How do you make decisions: by logically analyzing the situation (T) or by considering what’s important to the people involved (F)?

Thinkers will step back and critically analyze a situation before they make a decision.  They want to be known for their accomplishments and decisions.  Feelers tend to make their judgements based upon the emotions, feelings, and people associated with the decision.  Feelers want to be appreciated.

Generalised example: as a manager, a Thinker would let an employee go to balance the budget, while a Feeler would cut anything to save the company, besides the people.

Perceiving (P) or Judging (J) – how you deal with the world around you (collecting or evaluating information, respectively)

How do you organize your time: in a flexible, spontaneous way (P) or in a planned, orderly way (J)?

Judgers are detailed and see things in black and white, quickly coming to conclusions.  They are viewed by others as task-oriented planners.  Perceivers are flexible and adaptable in relationships and situations, all the info not yet being in to reach conclusions.  The outside world sees them as people-oriented and relational.

Generalised example: the night before a big speech, a Judger is running through the outline and laying out clothes that have already been picked, while a Perceiver is madly jotting down ideas knowing there won’t be any sleep due to continued speech writing.

Results: Profiles of the MBTI Personality Types

Putting the four letter choices together forms the 16 different combinations know as the MBTI.

Keirsey and Bates simplified this into groups by “temperament” (what they describe as the driving force for that particular type):

Rationals – NTs process information from a logical frame of reference

INTJ: The Mastermind – imaginative, strategic thinkers and planners.
INTP: The Architect – innovative inventors with a thirst for knowledge.
ENTJ: The Fieldmarshal – bold, imaginative, strong-willed leaders.
ENTP: The Inventor – smart, curious thinkers unable to resist a challenge.

Idealists – NFs facilitate harmony in the lives of other human beings

INFJ: The Counselor – quiet, mystical, yet inspiring and idealistic.
INFP: The Healer – poetic, kind and altruistic people.
ENFJ: The Teacher – charismatic, inspiring leaders, who mesmerise.
ENFP: The Champion – enthusiastic, creative and sociable free spirits.

Guardians – SJs provide structure for human societies

ISTJ: The Inspector – practical, fact-minded and reliable beyond doubt.
ISFJ: The Protector – dedicated and warm defenders.
ESTJ: The Supervisor – excellent administrators, unsurpassed at managing.
ESFJ: The Provider – the warmhearted host who facilitates community.

Artisans – SPs address the needs of immediate sensory experience

ISTP: The Crafter – practical experimenters, masters of all kinds of tools.
ISFP: The Composer – artists and musicians, ready to explore/experience.
ESTP: The Promoter – smart, energetic, perceptive, enjoys living on the edge.
ESFP: The Performer – loves to entertain people and have fun in life.


Look at the MBTI as a guide to preferences and not as a definitive, all-encompassing view of an individual. 

Myers-Briggs assessment doesn’t predict behaviour and was never supposed to – it tells you your type, which is a level underneath behaviour.

It’s about your motivations, your reactions, your natural tendency to pay attention to some things and not others.


For more information, the core book is Gifts Differing, containing the work of Isabel Briggs Myers and Katherine Cook Briggs on Carl Jung’s original concepts.

There are also lots of good MBTI business books that help managers with aspects such as team building, e.g. Introduction to Type and Teams.  Check eBay and similar sites for lower prices.

16Personalities free MBTI Personality Test

Please Understand Me, by Keirsey and Bates