“Personality is to a man what perfume is to a flower.” – Charles Schwab

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a test that gives a four-letter code relating to one of sixteen personality types. Seems simple, right? Wrong. From its humble beginnings to its many intricacies, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is more than meets the eye.

Katharine Briggs was an avid writer and educated woman in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She became more interested in personality theory upon meeting Clarence Myers, her son-in-law. Clarence had a different personality from the Briggs family, and this difference inspired Katharine to take a deeper look. Katharine turned to the works of Carl Jung, who published Psychological Types in 1921. Briggs and Jung corresponded regularly, and Jung’s works had a heavy influence on Briggs’s outlook. Isabel Myers, Briggs’s daughter, was initially disinterested in personality type theory. This would change during World War II, after Myers read an article about the Humm-Wadsworth Temperament Scale. Companies used the Humm-Wadsworth Temperament Scale to match workers with appropriate jobs. After entering the workspace, Myers saw the inefficiency of the Humm-Wadsworth Temperament Scale and set out to improve on it.Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs-Myers Myers and Briggs set out to create their own personality test – the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. The MBTI has four separate indices based on Jung’s theory of psychological types. Jung’s theory stated that people use their mental capacities in different ways. He noted that people tend to use one of two mental functions – perceiving or judging. Jung also observed that people either gained energy in the external or internal world. There are also many different tests like the Myers-Briggs test. Examples of such tests include the Enneagram, the Big Five Test, and the Keirsey Temperament Sorter.

General Terminology

Introvert vs Extravert

The first letter (I or E) indicates how you react in social situations. The letter I correlates to introvert, while the letter E correlates to extravert. Introverts gain energy from being alone and are often more introspective. Extraverts gain energy from being in action-packed social situations.
Note: This blog post uses the spelling “extravert” due to the more prevalent use of “extravert” in psychological literature.

Sensing vs Intuitive

The second letter (N or S) indicates how you take in information. The letter N correlates to intuition, and the letter S correlates to sensing. The letter N stands for Intuitive due to the letter I standing for Introverted. Intuitive types pay attention to patterns that they see, while sensory types take in information from their senses.

Thinking vs Feeling

The third letter (T or F) indicates whether you interpret situations via logic or feelings. The letter T correlates to thinking, and the letter F correlates to feeling. Thinking types weigh information more than relationships when making a decision. This can come off as impersonal. On the other hand, Feeling types take people’s feelings into account when making a decision.

Perceiving vs Judging

The fourth letter, J and P, indicates how you live on a daily basis. The letter J correlates to judging, and the letter P correlates to perceiving. Judging types think plans out in advance while perceiving types make plans on the fly (after perceiving information). Putting these four letters together gives your Myers-Briggs personality type.

Cognitive Functions

MBTI types have a variety of cognitive functions. These functions can be split into two categories – Perceiving (Sensing/Intuition) and Judging (Thinking/Feeling). Each of these overarching functions has four sub-functions. The perceiving functions are Introverted Sensing (Si), Extraverted Sensing (Se), Introverted Intuition (Ni), and Extraverted Intuition (Ei). The Judging functions are Introverted Thinking (Ti), Extraverted Thinking (Te), Introverted Feeling (Fi), and Extraverted Feeling (Fe).

Dominant, Auxiliary, Tertiary, and Inferior Functions

The dominant cognitive function is the guiding function in one’s mind. The prevalence of the dominant function depends on whether someone is introverted or extraverted. Introverts tend to show their auxiliary function. Extraverts tend to show off their dominant function. In extraverts, the auxiliary function supports the dominant function. In introverts, the opposite is true – the dominant function supports the auxiliary function.  The tertiary function is the opposite of the auxiliary function. If your Auxiliary function is Feeling, then your Tertiary function will be Thinking. The Inferior function is the opposite of the Dominant function. This function tends to develop later in life and can manifest in negative ways.

Function Pairs

The most efficient way to divide Myers-Briggs results is by their function pair – the second and third letter of the type. Using the second and third letters is often considered the most effective way to group Myers-Briggs types. This is because Sensing/Intuitive and Thinking/Feeling go hand in hand with how one interprets a situation.

ST (Sensing and Thinking)

ST function pairs are logical, practical, and value efficiency. ST types also tend to like detailed expectations right off the bat to avoid surprises. Due to the Thinking type, ST types also may struggle to adjust to quick changes. With an analytical nature, ST types tend to look at situations objectively and are rarely swayed by their emotions.

SF (Sensing and Feeling)

SF function pairs are often described as “people people.” Much like ST types, SF types like detailed expectations upfront. However, the SF and ST types differ in how they use these expectations. SF types use expectations to preserve harmony. SF types value harmony and consistency above all. In the pursuit of harmony, SF types often attempt to cut conflict, even if constructive conflict would lead to a better product. The Feeling trait also makes an SF type prone to taking criticism overly personally, despite its delivery.

NF (Intuitive and Feeling)

NF function pairs are people-oriented idealists. Like both the ST and SF types, they like to know expectations while doing things their own way. They want to help others find their passions and allow others’ voices to be heard. They are trailblazers. NF types also tend to take criticism personally, similar to SF types due to the shared Feeling trait. Alongside the SF types’ pursuit of harmony, NF types value genuineness. Due to the shared Feeling trait between the SF and NF function pairs, both SF and NF types tend to take criticism overly personally.

NT (Intuitive and Thinking)

NT function pairs are logical and idea-focused. They like to know what is expected to design their own logical systems. They value competence and a proven track record. This is largely due to the Intuitive type – making out a pattern from information that they’re given. These types like constructively critiquing ideas while keeping an eye on the bigger picture. Along with that, they may struggle to take ideas that don’t fit with their plans. NT types tend to struggle in charged situations where they have to think on the fly. On the contrary, NT types like to have time to pick out patterns (Intuition) and think out a plan of action (Thinking).

Attitude Pairs

The other two letters – the first and last letters of your Myers-Briggs identity – show the attitude pair. As the function pairs show how the second and third letters interact, the attitude pairs show how the first and fourth letters react. Attitude pairs also play a major role in determining one’s dominant, auxiliary, tertiary, and inferior functions.

IJ (Introverted and Judging)

IJ attitude pairs gain energy by spending time alone. These types tend to be product-oriented and begin with the end goal in mind. IJ types are heavily deadline-oriented. Like IP types, they enjoy knowing a few topics in depth. Both IJ and IP types like to focus on tasks alone before showing a group. IJ types may appear rigid, but they are simply taking time to judge information. After the information is processed, IJ types tend to become more flexible. IJ pairs’ auxiliary function is T or F, and their dominant function is S or N. Both the introverted IJ and IP pairs show their auxiliary function while keeping their dominant function hidden. 

IP (Introverted and Perceiving)

IP attitude pairs also gain energy by tending time alone. Contrary to IJ types, IP types tend to like knowing how processes work and don’t function well under excessive deadlines.  This can be extremely prevalent in the fields of science and mathematics – two fields that tend to attract IP types. Contrary to IJ types, IP types start flexible until they perceive something that forces them to act more rigidly. IP pairs’ auxiliary function is S or N, and their dominant function is T or F.

EJ (Extraverted and Judging)

EJ attitude pairs gain energy by spending time with others. They tend to be product-oriented, similarly to IJ types. Similar to EP types, EJ types enjoy having some knowledge of many topics – being a jack-of-all-trades. In a group, EJ types tend to be outward leaders and lead their group to a completed project. EJ types may also appear rigid like IJ types until they gather more information to judge. EJ types work well in a workplace with lots of interaction and strong deadlines. EJ pairs’ dominant function is T or F, and their auxiliary function is S or N. Both the extraverted EJ and EP pairs show their dominant function while keeping their auxiliary function hidden.

EP (Extraverted and Perceiving)

EP attitude pairs also gain energy by spending time with others. Like IP types, EP types tend to be process-oriented and go with the flow. EP types like to gather information and other resources to complete their tasks. EP types (alongside EJ types) like to process ideas with a group. Also similar to IP types, EP types tend to appear flexible and spontaneous until they use their auxiliary decision-making function. Like both EJ and IP types, they struggle with overly-structured time and little interaction. EP pairs’ dominant function is S or N, and their auxiliary function is T or F. 


There are various criticisms of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. The first major criticism cites the Forer (or Barnum) effect. The Barnum effect is often seen in horoscopes – more specifically bad horoscopes. Horoscopes tend to fool people into thinking their horoscope is unique, despite being so general that it can apply to anyone who tries hard enough to justify it. A statement such as “At times you are extroverted, affable, sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, reserved” is an example of the Forer effect Another aspect of the Forer effect involves giving the answer you want to be perceived as, which is often an inaccurate result. Your Myers-Briggs result can also change based on which website you take it on. In the article “A Critique of The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) — Part Two: a Personal Review”, the author took 10 Myers-Briggs Tests and received a different result from every test. To test the article’s theory, I took 9 free Myers-Briggs tests and recorded the results.
My results were not as drastically different as the results in the aforementioned article, but there is still a wide range of types. The result I received most was ISTJ, along with my most common function pair, ST. With this evidence and the article in mind, your Myers-Briggs type may depend on which site the test is administered.

What did we learn?

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a self-administered (or professionally administered) test that gives you a four-letter code that correlates to a personality type. Despite the surface-level simplicity, we can dig a lot deeper into what a Myers-Briggs type says about someone. Cognitive functions showcase how someone interacts with the world. Function pairs showcase how a group of types interprets a situation. Attitude pairs show a type’s auxiliary and dominant functions. Despite this, there are valid criticisms of the Myers-Briggs test. Type descriptions can often be extremely general. The site on which you take the test can also impact your results, so it is best to do research on the eight different indices. With the proper research and introspection, you can truly learn a lot via the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

Tests Taken

Test 1 – https://personalitymax.com/personality-test/
Test 2 – https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test
Test 3 – https://www.humanmetrics.com/personality/test
Test 4 – https://practicalpie.com/myers-briggs-type-indicator/
Test 5 – https://www.crystalknows.com/jung-myers-and-briggs-personality-test#assessment
Test 6 – https://www.truity.com/test/type-finder-personality-test-new
Test 7 – https://www.idrlabs.com/test.php
Test 8 – http://jupiter-34.appspot.com/ (John’s Personality Test)
Test 9 – http://keys2cognition.com/




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