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Myers-Briggs or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a personality assessment test based on the work of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung. It was developed in 1940 by Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) – An Overview

According to a 2017 study, Carl Jung developed a psychological theory, in his work called “Personality Types” which categorized people in terms of various patterns of personality. Jung speculated that individuals tend to experience the world around them using four main psychological functions and any one of these functions are dominant in the individual at any given point of time. This theory forms the basis of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment. The MBTI is a self-assessment questionnaire that reflects how people tend to perceive the world and make decisions. It helps individuals gain insights about the way they learn and work and can be used to identify an individual’s personality types, preferences and strengths.

A 2016 study 1 states that the MBTI “offers an explanation of the individual’s decision-making process, perception of the world and mechanism of interacting with the external environment”. The assessment has four psychological scales derived from four main attitudes of humans –

  • Extraversion-Introversion
  • Judgement-Perception
  • Thinking-Feeling
  • Sensing-Intuition

It is further broken down into 16 different groups all of which have different human aspects of functioning related to it.

Read More About Introversion Here

Psychological Scales Of The MBTI

Psychological Scales Of The MBTI

There are four different scales on the MBTI. Each scale has two different psychological functions linked to it. The first letter of each psychological function combines in four different ways with the other functions and together make up the sixteen different personality types.

1. [E]xtraversion – [I]ntroversion

This scale deals with our energy flow and how people react to external and internal stimuli.

  • Extroverts are people who are stimulated by events and other people, external to themselves. They can express their feelings, tend to work in groups well and also learn from talking to other people.
  • Introverts tend to prefer self-examination, self-discovery and private reflection. They prefer working alone, try hiding their feelings and learn by watching other people.

2. [S]ensing – [IN]tuition

This scale of the Myers-Briggs indicator is concerned with the way we humans learn information.

  • Sensing individuals make use of their five senses of hearing, taste, touch, sight and smell to interpret and understand the world. They prefer practical exercises, real life examples and understand facts, while missing out on the main idea.
  • People who are intuitive tend to rely on their instincts. They work according to their feelings and hunches, make use of their imagination and understand the main idea while missing out on some facts.

3. [T]hinking – [F]eeling

This scale is concerned with the way we make decisions.

  • People who are thinkers use objective criteria and logic. They love asking “Why?” and enjoy discussions and debates.
  • People who can feel and sense by their subjective ideas and values. They tend to use a lot of words and prefer agreement and harmony. They are also altruistic in nature.

4. [J]udging – [P]erceiving

This scale concerns us dealing with the world around us.

  • People who judge are purposeful in nature. They like to adhere to rules, plans and structures.
  • People who are perceiving take a laid back and relaxed approach. They are more flexible than others, like to explore and are open to change.

The four psychological scales can have sixteen different combinations with each other, depending on which psychological function an individual is most dominant in. For example, a person who has a preference for Extroversion, Sensing, Feeling and Judging would have a ESFJ personality type according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. This way 16 different functions can arise from the combination of 4×4 different personality types.

There are also certain types of characteristics that are attributed for each type, which describes what an individual is like.

The Myers-Briggs Personality Types

The Myers-Briggs Personality Types

Sixteen different combinations of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator have different psychological characteristics to it. They are as follows:

1. Introversion, Sensing, Thinking, Judgement (ISTJ)

People who fall in this scale tend to be practical 2 , reserved and quiet. They love being organized and enjoy order in all aspects of their lives like work, home, family and even projects. They have an eye for detail and are observant in nature. On the other hand, they can be too judgmental, insensitive, subjective and have a tendency to blame others for their mistakes.

2. Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving (ISTP)

People with this type of personality are independent in nature and enjoy their own company. They are confident, easy going and love action, adventure and new experiences. On the other hand, they can be insensitive, can get bored easily, may not like commitments and can also prefer not to open up to people.

3. Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging (ISFJ)

Individuals who fall on this scale are practical in nature. They give importance to concrete facts and like to live a structured and consistent life. They are also sensitive and have an eye for detail. However, they tend to neglect their own needs and also dislike 3 any kind of change. They are closed to abstract theories and concepts and would more likely rely on solid evidence or facts.

4. Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving (ISFP)

People with ISFP personality type are easy-going in nature, quiet and peaceful. They are practical and enjoy hands-on learning. They are also loyal to their beliefs and values. On the other hand, they are generally reserved. They have a strong need for their own personal space and dislike conflicts or arguments of any sort.

5. Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging (INFJ)

Individuals who fall in this scale 4 of the Myers-Briggs type indicator are compassionate in nature and tend to help others. They are organized, highly creative and artistic. They value deep meaningful relationships and enjoy wondering about the meaning of life. On the other hand, they are overly sensitive and can be hard to open up to people. They dislike confrontations of any sort and hold very high expectations from people.

6. Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving (INFP)

People here tend to be very loyal and devoted in nature. They are caring for others and value close relationships. They work alone quite well and focus on their personal feelings and intuition while making decisions. However, they can be overly idealistic and can take things personally. They tend to overlook small details and sometimes miss out on the minute things in life.

7. Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging (INTJ)

Individuals here are hard working, self-confident and are good 5 at listening. They enjoy abstract and theoretical concepts and take criticism in a constructive manner. However, they can sometimes be judgmental and overly analytical in nature. They dislike talking about their emotions and can sometimes come off as insensitive or callous.

8. Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving (INTP)

People here are logical and objective. They are abstract thinkers and are independent in nature. They are also affectionate and loyal to their close and loved ones. On the other hand, they can be insensitive and have trouble expressing their feelings. They are also prone to doubting their own selves and have problems following rules.

9. Extraverted, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving (ESTP)

Individuals on this scale 6 tend to make decisions easily. They have strong social skills and are resourceful, adaptable and observant in nature. They are funny, energetic and are action oriented. However, they tend to be too impulsive or dramatic at times. They get easily bored and can also come off as insensitive to others.

10. Extraverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging (ESTJ)

People here in this scale of the Myers-Briggs type indicator are practical and realistic. They are confident and hard working and have strong leadership skills. However, they can be insensitive and poor at expressing their feelings. Sometimes, they might come off as too argumentative or bossy in nature.

11. Extroverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving (ESFP)

People in this scale tend to be resourceful and practical. They are optimistic in nature and enjoy socializing and spending time with people. They are practical and like to focus more on the present. However, on the other hand they are impulsive and can get bored easily. They also have a tendency of making plans at the last moment.

12. Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging (ESFJ)

People 7 here are organized, loyal and outgoing in nature. They are generous and enjoy helping other people. However, they sometimes can appear as too needy. They dislike change and are sensitive to criticism. They can also be controlling in nature and intolerant.

13. Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving (ENFP)

People on this scale are warm and enthusiastic in nature. They have strong social and communication skills and are also highly creative. However, they tend to seek validation from others and get stressed out easily over small things. They also overthink a lot and struggle to follow norms and rules.

14. Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging (ENFJ)

People on this scale are empathetic, affectionate and outgoing in nature. They are organized, warm hearted and have a wide social circle. However, they can be overly sensitive in nature and are indecisive sometimes. They can also be manipulative and uncompromising in situations.

15. Extroverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving (ENTP)

People in this scale 8 are innovative, creative and enjoy debating on various topics. They value knowledge and can make good conversations with people. On the other hand, they dislike schedules and routines. They hate being controlled by someone else and are often insensitive or unfocused.

16. Extroverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging (ENTJ)

People in this scale have strong 9 leadership qualities. They are good at taking decisions and are well organized. They are confident and also possess good communication skills. However, they can be impatient, insensitive and stubborn. They can also be intolerant and aggressive towards others.

Read More About Extroversion Here

Applications Of The MBTI Test

The purpose of the Myers-Briggs type indicator assessment is to help individuals understand themselves better. It also helps people strengthen their relationships with others. Although the test has its limitations as human personalities are more complicated, it finds some useful applications as follows:

1. Managing staff and new recruits

The test may be useful for determining the strengths and weaknesses of new hires in a company. It can aid the hiring process by determining which roles the individual is most suited for.

2. Guiding people’s careers

It can be useful to determine what type of jobs or positions a person will find the most fulfilling. This can help them make important decisions regarding their career.

3. Improving interpersonal relationships

It helps us understand which type of people we can best relate to and communicate with.

4. Developing training and education

It can help develop teaching methods that can ensure all the personality types understand and learn better.

5. Advising and coaching people

It helps individuals to understand and recognize themselves better. It can assist us in identifying our strengths and addressing our weaknesses.

Limitations Of The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

The MBTI has some limitations as it might not always be reliable and give individuals accurate results. Also, according to a 1995 study 10 , it has a “ number of psychometric limitations pertaining to its reliability and validity.” Thus, it is questionable whether people can solely depend on the MBTI for accurate information and results. The limitations of it are as follows:

1. Questionable test reliability

A 2005 study 11 found out that the Myers-Briggs type indicator can be unreliable because the same person can get different results upon retaking the assessment. This raises concerns over the reliability of the test and its accuracy even in the first attempt.

2. Poor validity

A 1996 study 12 found that the MBTI was a poor predictor of behavior or personality. This is because the MBTI does not seem to match results of other personality or behavior tests, except for those in the areas of extroversion and introversion.

3. Missing aspects of personality

A 1989 study found that the MBTI was not comprehensive enough as its categories or scales do not include the full extent of our personalities. For example, there is no scale to measure the emotional stability in a person, which is considered to be an essential predictor in terms of patterns of action, feeling or thinking.


The Myers-Briggs assessment was an important personality test assessment at the time it was developed and was widely acclaimed within the psychological community. However, more research has shown that there are some shortcomings to it, which are resolved by more recent and modern versions of a personality test assessment.

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