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Updated: May 29

Unveiling the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): A Journey to Self-Understanding



In a world where personal and professional success hinges on effective communication, self-awareness, and understanding others, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) stands out as a powerful tool. Developed by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers, the MBTI provides a comprehensive framework for understanding personality types.

Based on Jung’s personality theory

Measures people on 4 factors:

  • Introversion-Extraversion (I-E)

  • Sensing-Intuition (S-N)

  • Thinking-Feeling (T-F)

  • Judging-Perceiving (J-P)


  1. Extraversion - You prefer to focus on the outer world of people and things or

  2. Introversion - You prefer to focus on the inner world of ideas and impressions

  3. Sensing - You tend to focus on the present and on concrete information or

  4. iNtuition - You tend to focus on the future with a view toward patterns gained from your senses and possibilities

  5. Thinking - You tend to base your decisions on logic and on objective analysis or

  6. Feeling - You tend to base your decisions primarily on values and on of cause-and-effect subjective evaluation of person-centred concerns

  7. Judging - You like a planned and organized approach to life and prefer to or

  8. Perceiving - You like a flexible and spontaneous appreciation to life and prefer have things settled to keep your options open

Everyone falls into one of 16 categories as below;

















MBTI – A Carl Jung Legacy

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) offers managers a window into the minds and preferences of their teams. This personality assessment tool, built on the theories of Carl Jung, categorizes individuals into 16 distinct types based on four key dimensions: Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I), Sensing (S) or Intuition (N), Thinking (T) or Feeling (F), and Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).


MBTI – Understand Styles


By understanding these preferences, managers can unlock a treasure trove of insights into how their team members approach tasks, make decisions, and interact with others. For example, An ENFP leader, , for example, known for their infectious enthusiasm and creative spark (Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving), might excel at brainstorming sessions but struggle with following through on implementation. Recognizing this, the leader can delegate project execution to an ISTJ team member, for example, (Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging), who thrives on structure and meticulous detail.

For example, a person who is type ESTJ is described as ‘practical, realistic, matter of fact, with a natural head for business.  Not interested in subjects they see no use for, but can apply themselves when necessary.  Like to organise and run activities, may make good administrators especially if they remember to consider others’ felings and points of view.’


The opposite to ESTJ would be INFP, who would be described as ‘full of enthusiasms and loyalties, but they seldom talk of these until they know you well.  Care about learning, ideas, language and independent projects of their own.  Tend to undertake too much then somehow get it done.  Friendly, but often too absorbed in what they are doing to be sociable.  Little concerned with possessions or physical surroundings’.


MBTI – Communication Preferences


The MBTI goes beyond just activity levels and problem-solving styles; it sheds light on communication preferences as well. An INFP team member, for example, (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving) might prefer written communication to allow for thoughtful reflection, while an ESTJ, for example, (Extraverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging) might favor direct and concise communication to ensure everyone is on the same page.

MBTI – Fostering Collaboration


However, the MBTI's true strength lies in its ability to foster collaboration. By understanding the communication styles and decision-making processes of their team members, managers can create a more inclusive environment. They can tailor their communication approach to suit individual preferences, ensuring everyone feels comfortable contributing their ideas.


MBTI – Conflict Predictor


Furthermore, the MBTI can help identify potential areas of conflict within a team. An ENTJ leader (Extraverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging) known for their decisive nature might clash with an ISFJ team member, for example, (Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging) who values a more collaborative approach. Equipped with this knowledge, the manager can proactively address these potential conflicts by encouraging open communication and fostering a spirit of compromise.


MBTI – Typology – Not Rigid


Personality typology is like a map of the human psyche, offering a framework for understanding the diverse ways people think, feel, and behave. Imagine a vast continent with distinct landscapes - some regions bustling with extroverted energy, others introspective and calm. Typology helps us categorize these landscapes, grouping individuals with similar traits and preferences. Common systems, like Myers-Briggs with its 16 types or the Big Five with its core characteristics, use familiar concepts like introversion, openness, or conscientiousness to navigate this personality terrain. It's not about rigidly defining individuals; it's about appreciating the unique blend of traits that shapes each person's approach to life. 

By understanding why someone might crave quiet reflection (introvert) or be drawn to constant stimulation (extrovert), we can bridge communication gaps. In the workplace, typology helps managers create high-performing teams by recognizing how individuals prefer to work. An ISTJ, for example,  known for their detail-oriented nature, might thrive on structured tasks, while an ENFP, brimming with creativity, might excel at brainstorming sessions. Typology also empowers individuals to understand themselves better. By recognizing their dominant traits, they can leverage their strengths and work on areas for development. Ultimately, personality typology isn't a rigid classification system; it's a dynamic tool for fostering self-awareness, improving communication, and building a more harmonious world where everyone can navigate the complexities of human interaction with greater understanding.

The MBTI isn't a rigid system for categorizing people; it's a framework for understanding individual preferences. By leveraging this knowledge, managers can build stronger relationships, foster a more productive work environment, and empower their teams to achieve their full potential.


History and Origins of the MBTI


The MBTI's roots can be traced back to the early 20th century, drawing inspiration from Carl Jung's theory of psychological types. Katharine Cook Briggs, intrigued by Jung's work, began developing her ideas about personality in the 1920s. Her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers, later joined her, bringing a more structured approach to the development of the MBTI.


The duo aimed to create a tool that would help individuals understand themselves and others better, fostering improved communication and relationships. The first version of the MBTI was published in 1962, and it has since undergone numerous revisions and updates to enhance its accuracy and applicability.

The Four Dichotomies of MBTI


At the heart of the MBTI are four dichotomies, each representing a continuum between two opposing preferences. These dichotomies combine to form 16 unique personality types. Let's explore each dichotomy in detail:

1. Extraversion (E) vs. Introversion (I):

  • Extraversion: Extraverts are energized by social interactions and external environments. They tend to be outgoing, talkative, and action-oriented.

  • Introversion: Introverts gain energy from solitary activities and internal reflections. They are often introspective, reserved, and focused on their inner thoughts.


2. Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N):

  • Sensing: Sensors prefer concrete information and focus on details. They rely on their five senses and are practical, realistic, and detail-oriented.

  • Intuition: Intuitives seek abstract information and focus on patterns and possibilities. They are imaginative, future-oriented, and enjoy conceptual thinking.


3. Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F):

  • Thinking: Thinkers base decisions on logic and objective analysis. They value fairness, consistency, and are often seen as analytical and impersonal.

  • Feeling: Feelers prioritize personal values and the impact on others when making decisions. They are empathetic, compassionate, and value harmony.


4. Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P):

  • Judging: Judgers prefer structure, organization, and planning. They like to have decisions made and seek closure.

  • Perceiving: Perceivers are flexible, spontaneous, and open to new experiences. They prefer to keep their options open and adapt to changing circumstances.


The 16 MBTI Personality Types


The combinations of these four dichotomies result in 16 distinct personality types. Each type offers a unique perspective on how individuals perceive the world and interact with it.

Being described as an extrovert means that you probably relate more easily to the outer world of people and things than to the inner world of ideas.  An introvert, on the other hand, is more aware of what is going on inside their own mind.  Much of this form of analysis is based on Jung’s division of people into groups who like action and activity, and those who like their own space.


Much of it is a question of where you get your energy and drive from, and what takes away your energy and makes you feel drained.  In extreme cases, it is sometimes hard for an extrovert to understand an introvert’s form of activity and attitudes, and vice versa.


Then there is the second, bi-polar dimension, that of sensing compared with intuition.  People who are sensing prefer to work with known facts rather than look for possibilities and relationships.  Those with a high preference for intuition would rather look for possibilities and relationships than work with known facts.  Sensing people are practical, cautions and handle routine well.  By contrast, intuitives don’t like routine, and prefer ideas.


The third scale is thinking compared to feeling.  What do you do when you have gathered your facts and impressions?  A thinking person will base their judgements more on impersonal analysis and logic than on personal values, whereas a feeling person will base judgments more on personal values.


Finally, the fourth scale looks at judging as opposed to perceiving.  The judging attitude probably means you like a planned, decided, orderly way of life, more than a flexible and spontaneous way.  The opposite of this is a perceptive attitude which probably means you like a flexible, spontaneous way of life better than a planned, decided or orderly way.  This scale also separates those who value being well organised and structured, from those who thrive on ambiguity.

Overview of each type:


1. ISTJ (Inspector): Responsible, detail-oriented, and dependable. ISTJs value tradition and are meticulous in their work.

2. ISFJ (Protector): Warm, empathetic, and dedicated. ISFJs are loyal and committed to helping others.

3. INFJ (Counselor): Idealistic, insightful, and compassionate. INFJs seek to make a positive impact on the world.

4. INTJ (Mastermind): Strategic, analytical, and independent. INTJs are visionary thinkers with a strong drive for knowledge.

5. ISTP (Craftsman): Practical, logical, and adaptable. ISTPs excel in hands-on problem-solving.

6. ISFP (Composer): Gentle, artistic, and sensitive. ISFPs value personal freedom and creativity.

7. INFP (Healer): Idealistic, empathetic, and imaginative. INFPs are driven by their values and a desire to help others.

8. INTP (Architect): Innovative, analytical, and curious. INTPs are logical problem-solvers who love exploring theories.

9. ESTP (Dynamo): Energetic, pragmatic, and resourceful. ESTPs thrive in fast-paced environments and enjoy taking risks.

10. ESFP (Performer): Outgoing, playful, and spontaneous. ESFPs love socializing and bringing joy to others.

11. ENFP (Champion): Enthusiastic, creative, and empathetic. ENFPs are driven by their values and inspire others with their passion.

12. ENTP (Inventor): Inventive, curious, and quick-witted. ENTPs enjoy debating ideas and exploring new possibilities.

13. ESTJ (Supervisor): Organized, practical, and reliable. ESTJs excel in leadership roles and value efficiency.

14. ESFJ (Provider): Warm, social, and conscientious. ESFJs are nurturing and focused on creating harmony.

15. ENFJ (Teacher): Charismatic, empathetic, and inspiring. ENFJs are natural leaders who motivate and guide others.

16. ENTJ (Commander): Strategic, decisive, and assertive. ENTJs are born leaders with a strong drive for achievement.


Applications of the MBTI


The MBTI has a wide range of applications, making it a valuable tool in various contexts:


1. Personal Development:

  • Self-awareness: Understanding one’s MBTI type can enhance self-awareness, helping individuals recognize their strengths and areas for growth.

  • Goal Setting: Identifying personality traits can guide individuals in setting realistic and achievable personal goals.


2. Career Development:

  • Fit For Purpose: The MBTI can help individuals choose sports, hobbies, interests, career roles that align with their personality traits, leading to greater life - job satisfaction and performance.

  • Leadership Development: Understanding one’s personality type can inform leadership styles and improve managerial effectiveness.


3. Team Building:

  • Enhancing Communication: The MBTI can improve team dynamics by fostering better understanding and communication among team members.

  • Conflict Resolution: Recognizing personality differences can help in developing effective conflict resolution strategies.


4. Education:

  • Tailored Teaching: Educators can use the MBTI to tailor their teaching methods to suit different learning styles, enhancing student engagement and success.

  • Career Counseling: The MBTI can guide students in making informed career choices based on their personality traits.


5. Relationships:

  • Improving Relationships: Understanding personality types can enhance relationships by fostering empathy, communication, and mutual respect.

  • Conflict Management: Recognizing and respecting personality differences can help in managing and resolving conflicts more effectively.


Criticisms and Limitations of the MBTI


Despite its popularity, the MBTI has faced criticism and scrutiny. Some of the main criticisms include:


1. Validity and Reliability: Critics argue that the MBTI lacks scientific validity and reliability. Research has shown that some individuals receive different results when taking the test multiple times.

2. Binary Nature: The MBTI’s binary approach to personality traits (e.g., Extraversion vs. Introversion) oversimplifies the complexity of human behavior, ignoring the nuances and spectrum of traits.

3. Predictive Power: Some studies suggest that the MBTI does not have strong predictive power regarding job performance or success, questioning its utility in career counseling and organizational settings.

4. Overemphasis on Type: Critics argue that categorizing individuals into distinct types can lead to stereotyping and limit the understanding of personality as a dynamic and fluid construct.


While these criticisms highlight important considerations, the MBTI remains a widely used tool for self-awareness and personal development. It is essential to use the MBTI as a starting point for exploration rather than a definitive measure of personality.


Enhancing the MBTI Experience


To maximize the benefits of the MBTI, consider the following approaches:


1. Combine with Other Assessments: Use the MBTI alongside other personality assessments, such as the Big Five, to gain a more comprehensive understanding of personality.

2. Continuous Learning: Recognize that personality is dynamic. Regularly reflect on your MBTI type and consider how life experiences and personal growth may influence your traits.

3. Contextual Application: Apply MBTI insights contextually, considering the specific demands and dynamics of your personal and professional life.

4. Seek Professional Guidance: Work with a certified MBTI practitioner to interpret your results accurately and develop actionable strategies for personal and professional development.

By approaching the MBTI with an open mind and a willingness to learn, individuals can leverage its insights for meaningful growth and transformation.


Expectations of work choices


  1. Extroverts Type - Work interactively with a succession of people, or with activity outside the office or from the deck.

  2. Introverts Type- Work that permits some solitude and time for concentration.

  3. Sensing Type - Work that requires attention to details and careful observation.

  4. Intuitive Type - Work that provides a succession of new problems to be solved.

  5. Thinking Type - Work that provides a succession of new problems to be solved.

  6. Feeling Type - Work that provides service to people and a harmonious and appreciative work environment.

  7. Judging Type - Work that imposes a need for system and order.

  8. Perceiving Type - Work that includes flexibility, spontaneity, and adaptability in their work environment.

MBTI – Exploring Personality.


The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) offers a fascinating lens through which to explore personality, providing valuable insights into our behaviors, preferences, and interactions. While it has its limitations, the MBTI can be a powerful tool for self-awareness, personal development, career planning, and improving relationships.


Understanding the 16 personality types and the four dichotomies allows individuals to appreciate the diversity of human personality. By applying MBTI insights in various contexts, from personal growth to team building and leadership development, we can foster better communication, empathy, and collaboration.


As we navigate the complexities of modern life, the MBTI serves as a guide, helping us understand ourselves and others more deeply. By embracing the MBTI as a tool for exploration and growth, we can unlock our potential, enhance our relationships, and achieve greater fulfillment in both personal and professional realms.


In the end, the journey of self-discovery is ongoing. The MBTI provides a map, but it is up to each of us to walk the path, continuously learning, evolving, and striving to become the best version of ourselves.

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