Understanding Personality Types – MBTI

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

4 Simple Questions

Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I) – where you receive your energy

What refreshes and revives you: being with people (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 with people makes extroverts want to have another party.

In an airplane, an Extrovert turns a three hour flight into a party with the entire row, while an Introvert avoids the middle seat and pulls out a book as a defense against anyone who might want to start a conversation.

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.

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

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

How do you make decisions: do you focus on the cold, hard facts (T) or do you consider the people and situations 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.

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: do you like to be flexible in case something better comes along (P), or do you plan and prepare (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.

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 (the driving force for that particular type):

Rationals – NTs process information from a logical frame of reference

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

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

INFJ: The Advocate – quiet, mystical, yet inspiring and idealistic.
INFP: The Mediator – poetic, kind and altruistic people.
ENFJ: The Protagonist – charismatic, inspiring leaders, who mesmerise.
ENFP: The Campaigner – 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 Defender – dedicated and warm protectors.
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 Creative – 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