Personality typing is something many people find fascinating. It can give you an insight into yourself and others. Personality typing can be used as a tool in a variety of contexts. It can be helpful in a work or team environment. It can also be helpful in more intimate relationships. These assessments can provide information about a person’s strengths, weaknesses, conflict style, motivations, and more. If you can maximize the information gleaned from personality typing, it can be extremely valuable. The overwhelming interest in personality assessments is a large reason why the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) has been so popular for so many years.
If you are unfamiliar with the MBTI, it is rooted in psychologist Carl Jung’s theory of personality types. He described four main functions of consciousness: sensation vs. intuition and thinking vs. feeling. He found the four functions influenced the two attitude types: introversion and extroversion. It is from Jung’s theory that the MBTI was built. Katherine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers developed the four letter acronym associated with each personality type. There are 8 aspects that make up the personality indicator. Each person embodies either:
Introversion (I): People become drained by social interactions and usually need some solitude to replenish energy.
Extroversion (E): People become energized by being social and typically do not prefer spending long amounts of time alone.
Intuition (N): People pay attention to their own impressions and the derived meaning of particular situations.
Sensing (S): People focus more on what is actually present by trusting their senses and they tend to notice facts and details.
Feeling (F): People tend to be more in tune with their emotions and are typically more sensitive to their own feelings along with the feelings of others.
Thinking (T): People focus more on what is objective and rational, tending to utilize logic rather than their own emotions.
Perceiving (P): People tend to have more flexibility and have the ability to adapt when the plan changes suddenly.
Judging (J): People like to be decisive and organized and focus their desire on intentional structure and planning.
There also two aspects of identity that reinforce the other aspects: Assertive and Turbulent. Assertive people are more confident and less stressed, not worrying too much and do not tend to overwork themselves towards achievements. Turbulent people have the tendency to be more self-conscious and react more easily to stress. They often focus more on their emotions and seeking success.
The types also make up groups: roles and strategies. The roles include:
Analysts (Intuition and Thinking): They desire logic and reason and enjoy fields where they can utilize that way of thinking. They are strategic thinkers and have a high amount of confidence in their own abilities and particular approaches. However, these individuals can struggle when it comes to having relationships with others.
Diplomats (Intuition and Feeling): They tend to be more empathetic and prioritize working well with others. They want to create harmony in their relationships and interactions surrounding them. At times, if these individuals get in a situation that needs ration and logic, it can be difficult for them to make decisions.
Sentinels (Sensing and Judging): They want to cooperate with others while also bringing about order and stability. They are typically diligent workers and find success towards areas where they can utilize their logical mind and leadership abilities. These individuals might be seen as too rigid and inflexible, focusing too much on their own views.
Explorers (Sensing and Perceiving): They are the personality type that demonstrate the most spontaneity and have the ability to connect with those around them in a unique way. They thrive in scenarios where they have to think and act quickly as well as have a way to apply their personal skillset. However, their spontaneity can lead them to more risk-taking behaviors.
The strategies include:
Confident Individualism (Introversion and Assertive): They prefer to be in solitude and tend to rely on their own abilities and instincts. They stick with their strengths and have confidence in themselves. This leaves them more likely to trust and rely on themselves as opposed to trusting and relying on others.
People Mastery (Extroversion and Assertive): They seek out social interactions and have the ability to communicate well with others. They tend to feel comfortable in social situations and value knowing and understanding people. However, they are not the least bit concerned with what people think of them.
Constant Improvement (Introversion and Turbulent): They focus their efforts on being the best they can be and desire to be successful. They are high achievers to the point of seeking perfectionism. This tendency can lead them to worrying too much at times about their performance.
Social Engagement (Extroversion and Turbulent): They enjoy being social but also tend to focus on achievements. They carry a wide range of emotions varying from positive to negative. However, they tend to care more about what others think of them and prioritize their personal status and success.
Individuals can take an assessment and receive their four letter acronym. There are 16 variations or types. Each acronym has a more in-depth description of the type that can provide more analysis and detail for people to explore. The types include: ISTJ (Architect), INTP (Logician), ENTJ (Commander), ENTP (Debater), INFJ (Advocate), INFP (Mediator), ENFJ (Protagonist), ENFP (Campaigner), ISTJ (Logistician), ISFJ (Defender), ESTJ (Executive), ESFJ (Consul), ISTP (Virtuoso), ISFP (Adventurer), ESTP (Entrepreneur), and ESFP (Entertainer). Understanding the aspects and groups can help you dive in further after discovering your specific type.
These brief descriptions merely scratch the surface of the full range of information personality inventories can provide. There are two recommendations to take into consideration. The first is to explore your type and dive deeper into understanding the characteristics your type truly entails. It does not help to only have an abbreviated version of each type. The second is to take the inventory knowing these assessments are not a full description of who you are as a person. Personality typing can help you understand yourself better by providing insight and awareness that you might not have had before. Even though you might share a type with many people, you will experience your particular type through the lens of your own uniqueness and subtle differences.
Michelle Overman is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist working as a counselor for students, faculty, and staff at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. She works with athletes, bridging the gap between athletics and mental health at ACU. She is becoming a Certified Mental Performance Consultant in sports psychology. Michelle ran her own private practice in Austin, Texas where she worked with a diverse population, including couples and families. Michelle earned a Master’s in Marriage & Family Therapy and has been working in the field for 6 years.