The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator


"The Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is an introspective self-report questionnaire with the purpose of indicating differing psychological preferences in how people perceive the world around them and make decisions.[1][2][3]

The MBTI was constructed by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers. It is based on the conceptual theory proposed by Carl Jung,[4] who had speculated that humans experience the world using four principal psychological functions – sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking – and that one of these four functions is dominant for a person most of the time.[5]

The MBTI was constructed for normal populations and emphasizes the value of naturally occurring differences.[6] "The underlying assumption of the MBTI is that we all have specific preferences in the way we construe our experiences, and these preferences underlie our interests, needs, values, and motivation.""  wiki


The MBTI personality classification test has many detractors but I am not among them.  I tend to classify people on this basis and from empirical observation this  classification is fruitful.  I use this test a lot as well as its descriptive terms so I have thought to provide this reference.  pl

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61 Responses to The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

  1. Degringolade says:

    Well then: That made me smile.
    I am a half/half INTJ/ENTJ. Never have figured out if I was introverted or not.

  2. shepherd says:

    We can now test things like MBTI using global data from social networks. What we’ve found, generally, is that most personality test systems hold up fairly well under data scrutiny. The detractors are simply wrong, at least at scale. The Big Five (OCEAN) typically fares better than MBTI, but both are good, rough and ready systems for understanding, predicting, and influencing mass behavior.
    Cambridge Analytica, which has been dragged into the Trump thing, is a small firm that provides Facebook targeting based on OCEAN personality profiles. They’ve been imagined to have some exotic capability, but personality tests is what they really do, and they are hardly the only people doing it.

  3. Eric Newhill says:

    I always kind of dismissed the test off hand. I don’t know why, but I did. When it came up on the UFO thread – and I was having a slow week at work – I looked into the background of the test, validity, interpretations, etc. and have decided that it is meaningful and useful after all. Also, I was inspired to delve into it more because you appeared to put stock in it.
    I have always come up INTJ. Now that I’ve explored what that means, I have gained some helpful insight into myself.
    So, thank you.

  4. Clueless Joe says:

    I’m very wary of psy tests, and they usually display ridiculous results when I take them. MBTI is actually the only time I ever saw one that was remotely close to reality, and it was actually quite spot on.
    Clueless INTJ reporting for duty

  5. Elrond says:

    Here is a good book that elaborates on Meyers-Briggs. There are others but I like this one the best for the detailed breakdown. It casts light on how the typology applies to inter-personal relationships.
    *Please Understand Me*

  6. kao_hsien_chih says:

    Nothing really magical or mysterious about MBTI, I think.
    The questionnaire simply asks about thinking/behavior patterns and the results merely add up the responses given by the subject in a neat summary form. The types are a good predictor of how people think/behave since they are based on what the respondents said about themselves. Since it is much harder for people to change how they think, rather than what they think, MBTI is probably a much better way of evaluating people than on the basis of what they know/believe.

  7. LeaNder says:

    the Statistician declares. 😉
    Pleased you are around, kao. No need for double emphasis.: “engineer” ( plus further – p.c.? – relativization).
    Nature or Nurture?
    Now the “engineers” you may have in mind, if you aren’t feeling superior, are a much bigger debate. Why condemn them to be the single cogs in a larger not so well running wheel? I know many, many rather well paid cogs in the larger wheel. Times no doubt seemed more easy then, thus maybe the task was easier?

  8. Stefan says:

    Colonel, I know it’s off topic, but what do you think of the recent op-ed by Rice in the nytimes regarding Afghanistan?
    pretty honest for a member of the Borg no?

  9. A.Pols says:

    Of course you have to give authentic answers for it to work.
    I found it pretty accurate, even if in ways that were unflattering, or should I say not conforming to my idealized and maybe aspirational view of myself.

  10. Covergirl says:

    You should read up on your Jung. Quite an interesting and thoughtful man.

  11. BLL says:

    When I was in highs school my mother arranged for me to take a test to see whT my interest in life was and to help select a college and career one question was would I rather be an usher in a movie theater or a cowboy herding cattle. Raised in Brooklyn and suburban NJ I had been too lots of movies and thought it would be fun to be a cowboy. So they told her I was not social oriented and should be an engineer. I went to Newark Colle of Engineering also known as N E C which we said reall stood for no college education. I was not require tto take a foreign language or English. I hated it and when I graduated just barely and to law school. Pat knows I’m a lawyer. I work with “people” all the time. So I am not fond of such tests.

  12. Mark Logan says:

    Most of the discrediting seems to stem from folks who confuse it with a complete psych work-up. I offered to foot the bill for any employee who wished to take it, but I let them keep the results to themselves if they chose too. Naturally, they did not. Naturally, the spent the boss’s nickel too.
    My goal was only to start conversation over how different people are hardwired to process things differently, seeking to stem some of the needless s-fighting from personality clashes.
    I’m convinced it actually helped, here and there anyway.

  13. kao_hsien_chih says:

    I don’t think I’m being hostile to “engineers,” per se. But I do have a bit of stereotype of the “ultimate” engineer, in the form of a US Navy nuclear engineer that I met some time ago(much more than other people with engineering degrees I know). The focus of how Navy trained engineers was to develop people who knew what to do when a given problem arises in a methodical and “formulaic” way very efficiently and very fast. They were not there to make new “discoveries” about nuclear power on a submarine. They were there so that, if a known problem arises (and there aren’t that many problems that could arise under practical circumstances that we don’t know yet, as he emphasized), they would know how to apply a known and established practical solution fast and effectively. Absolutely no time to waste on trying to go out of box and meander about things not in the manual, so to speak, and indeed, people who didn’t go by the books and formulas tended not to make it through the Navy training–he pointed to another applicant who was a very good engineering student who couldn’t make it because he just couldn’t put up with the super practical and regimented way the Navy ran the program. BUT, after hearing the way the Navy guy describe the program, I could not disagree that, given the needs of the Navy, this was exactly the kind of solution they needed for the challenge on hand. The problem that I could see is that this approach to the solution did not necessarily translate to other problems, e.g. policymaking and electioneering, where imagination, curiosity, and willingness to go off the beaten path could be more valuable.

  14. turcopolier says:

    How would I know that you are a lawyer? In my experience some types dislike and denigrate the MBTI. generally the SJ and SP dislike it because ot is something outside their sensory experience and they sense it may be used to think them limited. pl

  15. turcopolier says:

    Jung? Jung? I may have heard of him. pl

  16. turcopolier says:

    Yes, if you lie about your preferences on the test the result will be distorted. Research shows that few people do. pl

  17. turcopolier says:

    After having caused so much trouble with projected mushroom clouds, she at last tells the truth. pl

  18. Walrus says:

    The uses of the MBTI are many and varied. Coupled with a knowledge of communication styles, if you are skilled, you can tailor your communication to either deliberately antagonize your chosen victim or get them to resonate with you.
    For example, just ask a “J” how they feel about the solution to some problem or tell a “P” that the answer is black or white. Then ask a visual thinker what they would say about an event instead of asking them how they see it….. You get the drift.

  19. turcopolier says:

    I confess to having done just that for decades. I developed the technique of assessing MBTI types from behavior if I could not get them to take the test. This manipulation is an easy thing to do, but you have to be smarter than the dog. A/B classification is also useful. I am Type B, a predatory Type B. I can wait in ambush forever. In talking to As in a situation in which I didn’t need them to like me, I would do things like ask a question and then wait silently until they were compelled by their natures to give an answer, any answer … Maigret was obviously a predatory Type B. pl

  20. DianaLC says:

    Your comment made me giggle. A person cant get to be my age without having taken the MBTI several times. Just recently, someone sent me a new one that was something like “The 16 personalities” test.
    But, I’ve also gone through the astrology testing and studies.
    Having been given these tests several times each and having had a really good astrologer do my chart and the charts for some kids I raised, I find them all credible guides for reaffirming what I already know about myself and what I already knew about those kids. THey were good tests for assuring me that I was not misjudging myself and them.
    The astrology reading of one of the girls I raised–a daughter of a schizophrenic woman (not my daughter) made me laugh. The astrologer gave some very specific information. Then he stopped and asked if she had really fat calves. I was amazed because her fat calves had been a problem for us. The fashion was to wear skinny jeans, and her calves would not allow for theat. Then he said to me: “I swear this girl is the reincarnation of Genghis Khan. And, by golly, that did indeed fit her personality.
    The thing is, as far as I am concerned, I have always been introspective and have always known who exactly I am. When who I was and am was not who my mother wanted me to be, she had to learn just to deal with it.
    The only psychological tests I give no credence to are those stupid Rorschach tests. It’s just too easy to mess with the minds of the people administering the tests.

  21. kao_hsien_chih says:

    I’m a bit taken aback by people drawing analogies between survey based “personality” tests and astrology. While the former may not be infallible, there’s a lot more substance to them than not.
    There really is nothing more or less “real” about MBTI types than any other “products” of survey research–say, the types “liberal” and “conservative.” We run all sorts of surveys to place people into liberal or conservative categories, for example. We do so because we think, knowing where people fall in with regards to these categories, provides useful clues about how they will vote, what kind of messages they’ll respond to, etc. We are often, or even, usually right, enough to make it a useful exercise, but not so reliably as to believe it to be ironclad. Much the same thing with personality “types”: useful clues about how people behave/think/believe, nothing so ironclad to be infallible, but, I suspect, at least as reliable as whether someone is “liberal” or “conservative.”

  22. BLL says:

    You were an expert for me in one of my cases. Albeit awhile ago. I thought you would recognize the initials. I forgot that I have my personal email on this.

  23. JJackson says:

    I could not possible do that it would drive me mad.
    Did you ask what the procedure was if a problem occurred which was not covered in the Training. He said it was very unlikely but on something that complex, and dangerous, it seems a tad arrogant to assume you have thought of every possible thing that might go wrong and already have the solution. Did the flow chart end with “Panic” once you had exhausted the procedures.

  24. Fred says:

    Doesn’t the MBTI essentially give a probability of behavior in a certain circumstance rather than an absolute indicator?

  25. turcopolier says:

    In my experience the probability is very high. pl

  26. Linda says:

    I had to take this test when I was at the Naval War College. It was absolutely amazing to me the degree that it nailed me perfectly.

  27. turcopolier says:

    And? I would guess an NF. I always liked you. pl

  28. Peter AU says:

    I see in the wikipedia link there is a table with Intuition/Sensing, and Feeling/Thinking
    More generally termed gut feeling?
    I have found that when I have a feeling of unease about a person, it is the subconscious mind that has picked up signs. Sometimes this will be wrong, but more often than not, I have come to grief by ignoring this. This would be more to do with a persons honesty or dishonesty.

  29. kao_hsien_chih says:

    Same here. I had trouble even imagining myself in that situation–and I could empathize with the engineering student who couldn’t put up with the course that he referred to. But I could see that there are roles where knowing what the right formulas/procedures/etc. are and knowing how to follow them expeditiously and efficiently without meandering is valuable. If that type of mindset approximates what the Colonel calls the SJ approach, that’d make a lot of sense.

  30. rkka says:

    INTP here. I’ve found it very useful for understanding why I go about things the way I do, and for identifying both my strengths & weaknesses are

  31. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Engineers are not all SJ.
    Question is why 16 and not 64 types?
    How could one understand that as a result of historical or evolutionary process? And are the ratios of types stable over historical periods? Were there ages dominated by large numbers of ETs, for example?

  32. kao_hsien_chih says:

    Did not mean to imply that “all” engineers are SJ, but only that “engineering mentality” does seem to accentuate the SJ aspects. Some circumstances, e.g. being in very goal/mission-oriented organizations, might exaggerate this tendency even further. I’ve seen something similar in attitude towards data among people whose training is mostly in engineering: they take the model/theory as sacrosanct and consider deviations from the model (i.e. statistical “errors”) as waste. So they believe that, once they build the “best” model, everything is settled. This always struck me as very strange: the statistician’s mindset is that all models are wrong somehow somewhere and everything interesting is in the patterns of “errors,” what the models got wrong in a given set of data. To us, models are just how we get interesting errors that we can study to understand what’s “really” going on.
    Does the number of “types” even really matter? In the end, all the types are semi-arbitrary classifications that offer “approximate” summary of the answers given. One could deal with 2 types, 4 types, or 64,000 types, I could imagine. But the more types there are, the more headache it would be to process them.
    I am curious about the historical/cultural patterns of which types were dominant under which circumstances, too. My stereotypical “engineering” mindset is something I suspect is common in East Asia, for example: very good at dealing with problems on hand using formulaic approaches, but not especially good at thinking out of box. Historical institutions of Asia encouraged this sort of approach. There has been some interesting thinking done along these lines, which you might find interesting (e.g.

  33. Eric Newhill says:

    MBTI may not be magical and, in fact, is fairly simple. However, it cuts through a lot of fog and gets right down to nuts and bolts. That is its value.
    There have been types of people that I have never been able to understand (and vice versa). The MBTI shows that those people and I simply don’t process life the same way. We don’t understand each other because we are fundamentally different. That is an important understanding if we are work together toward a common goal on the same team. If we keep those differences in mind there will be less enmity and more guiding towards roles that maximize individual style.
    Again, it’s fairly simple, but, like many simple/basic realities, too often overlooked to the detriment of individuals and organizations. I am surprised at myself for not taking the MBTI more seriously for so many decades.

  34. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Engineering education is designed to impart on its students the capability to design and build systems. It is for INTJs and others like them – STs can recieve engineering degrees but it is a degree wasted on them since tempermentally, they are not suited to it. Just like the intellectual education of LS&A is wasted on those that are not INTJ or INTP.

  35. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I do not believe the types are arbitrary; the archaic people empirically must have observed it, hence the theory of the 4 temperments, with its association to 4 Elements, 4 cardinal directions etc.

  36. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Orientals, Indians, Africans, and Middle Easterners suffer the same cultural malaise; almost negligible intellectual curiosity, they live and plan for here and now. I think Koreans are the only East Asians that respect intellectual achievement. Talk of Reason in Iran will be met by incomprehension among most.

  37. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Look at Thor Heyerdahl and Kon-Tiki in 1948; anyone outside of the Western Diocletean states would have thought him mad.

  38. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yes, one could use such knowledge to develop coping strategies for dealing with others as well as oneself.

  39. Babak Makkinejad says:

    There is also KAI which gauges one’s approach to problem solving

  40. LeaNder says:

    I have always come up INTJ.
    well Eric, that may be why I on some subjects I can connect to you more easily then to others? Outside more partisan matters, that is. Were you were more hard to take lately. 😉
    Checked it the first time. Used different online sources. They are all limited of course.

  41. jld says:

    Must be because she is female, I am INFP and you don’t seem to appreciate my snark very much 🙂

  42. jld says:

    BTW, I forgot to mention that the Enneagram also has some interesting assessment of personality traits.
    It is also much older, Sufi origins IIRC.

  43. turcopolier says:

    I have known Linda for a long time. We worked together. I attribute your NF status to your cultural origins in central Africa where you still live. Being an NF does not make you a nice person, It just gives you the possibility of being one. pl

  44. doug says:

    I’m a strong INTP and the stereotype fits. But I was also lucky. While, in college, I wanted to fly a fighter, the VN war was ramping down and my eyesight wasn’t good enough (20/20 both eyes w/o glasses), so wound up agreeing to an interview with a local, small tech company. I was not prepared. No coat and tie, no resume, and it was at the peak of the ’71 recession. They hired me.
    The luck was that their engineering needs spanned power, control theory, RF, and small signal stuff and I found that exciting and fun. It was also small enough that I was exposed to customer, manufacturing, and company financial constraints. What I designed impacted all of these so it was always a giant optimization problem. Very cool.
    A side effect of working in a tiny company was realizing that different customers wanted different things including protecting their value added. I looked at ways to expand designs to incorporate some of this much to the consternation of pressure from marketing to protect some of their segments.
    Several times I simply disobeyed direct orders to do a design a certain way or pushed to expand products beyond what marketing wanted (typically the same thing they were getting but faster and cheaper – yuck). I figured they could fire me but I damned well was not going to design stuff I wasn’t both proud of and filled a commercial need I believed in.
    I was promoted, not fired. But I could have been. I’m sure it came close at times.
    I eventually got talked into starting a company by co-worker. A tech. with a military background but w/o credentials. Very smart guy and not quite as much of an INTP as me. But close.
    Worked out well.
    So engineers, even hard core INTP types, can go out of box. It’s really a lot of fun.

  45. blue peacock says:

    I am now very intrigued by MBTI. Would anyone have a suggestion for a free online questionnaire you have used that determines the type reasonably accurately?

  46. Mark Logan says:

    re: Maigret was obviously a predatory Type B.
    “Columbo” is a predatory Type B as well, if my understanding is correct.

  47. Charles says:

    Thank you for that data. In all of the combos where feelz is involved women rank hire than men.
    In all of the pigeon holes where thinking is involved the opposite occurs.
    That is the only pairing where there is any significant statistical difference between the sexes.
    It would help if we knew the sample size, and the economic class.
    I doubt that MB is used to select janitors or fry cooks.

  48. LeaNder says:

    I already know about myself
    the biggest riddle at the center of perception. I wish I was as sure as you are.
    You feel I should get a chart with the precise constellation at my birth? The influence constellation, like Babak arguing somewhere else the flood, mind you, not the moon, may well influence fertility, vs. let’s say versus the menstrual cycle? That’s all that comes to mind, anyway. And that would help to understand myself? Like you apparently understand yourself?
    Diana, the people I was raised with, arguing with the challenges confronting one of the other 12 vs 16 individual mental constellations, may only have not have looked deep enough? And I misunderstood?

  49. Grazhdanochka says:

    I did one of these Tests back in 2004~ thanks to a Representative I spoke with by incident (No Professional Reasons)
    The result I got was ESTP, I never was sure of the accuracy of the Myer Briggs Test and always questioned it, indeed to this Day I am unsure how much relies not only on Circumstance but frame of Mind one has at the Time, certainly my Life has changed a lot since that Point so I have no certain Answers.
    To the Colonels Statement of being a “Predatory Type B”, I remember a Discussion with a Friends Father long ago, his suggestion was ‘The best Defense is a good Offense’, my Response was ‘A good defense can make the basis for a good Offense’ which touches I guess on similar Ambush Tactics.
    I am also very certain I am a B Type Personality, mostly being used to People talking to me and providing just enough Feed to keep them going….. But these could seem contradictory – Hence my belief this can be very circumstancial and open to interpretation.
    Personally I think I enjoy and need social interaction but that does not require Energy on my behalf so I do not feel a contradiction, but among comfortable Friends I am far less on guard and very very open to what I say.
    The whole subject is quite interesting but I feel woefully inadequate to really understand it all

  50. turcopolier says:

    ESTP? A lot of results are culturally driven. pl

  51. TonyL says:

    blue peacock @48,–Briggs_Type_Indicator
    Click the picture on the right on that Wiki page.

  52. Christian Chuba says:

    Interesting topic, if I can find an online test, I’d take it, preferably before reading their categories so that I don’t taint the results.
    I read Marshal Zhukov’s autobiography about a year ago and think that he has been misjudged by people who accuse him of being unfeeling, cold, ruthless, …
    As I read his description of the war I could tell that he was an analytical thinker. When someone who is analytical really cares about something, they have to take a deep breath, take their emotions out of it and go back to, what happened, what did we do wrong and how can we fix this. When describing battle post mortems he just casually mentions himself along with others to the point where you could think that you were reading a book written by someone else.
    I’m not saying that analytical thinkers are uniquely qualified to handle problems, just that for them to be effective, have to control their emotions. There are other people who are equally effective but need a shot of adrenaline in order to focus. Something happens, you flip over table, pound a door, yell and then you are ready to get down to business. If they didn’t do this they would feel like they were suffocating.
    We are all different.

  53. Grazhdanochka says:

    Yes that makes sense….
    I guess for myself, I still do not know if my Answers/Response at the Time simply reflected my Persona of the Time and or if it still reflects me Today..
    (Or indeed does one unconciously Answer what they feel is desired?)
    It would be very interesting to hear your Views on all the different Personality Types/Categories as you clearly have considered it somewhat and have a little more confidence in said Subject than many of us.
    That said it is not my place to assign you Works or Tasks so take that as simple curiousity

  54. turcopolier says:

    I wouldn’t want to give my views of them all. that would quickly become judgmental as people of my type are prone to be. the best thing is to get a book that discusses all the 16 types. pl

  55. turcopolier says:

    Does astrology not posit that the movements of physical astral bodies determines bot the character of humans and events on earth? pl

  56. Eric Newhill says:

    Here is just one problem I see with astrology. Everyone born on the same day at more or less the same time would be the same and have similar life outcomes. However, that is, demonstrably, not the case.

  57. turcopolier says:

    The idea that the movement of astral bodies has any meaning other than their movements seems unlikely to me. pl

  58. Babak Makkinejad says:

    No one can argue with success. Demonstrate the utility of this idea and it will be accepted. Supply empirical evidence.

  59. RC says:

    In the early 1980s, the County Planning Office where I worked took the test — suggested by the Cooperative Extension Service of VA TECH — on a voluntary basis and then engaged in reflection.
    The bottom line: Introverts burning-out with front counter duty were revived with backroom, long distance report writing, thereby releasing burning-out extroverts in the back-room to excel handling 40 nervous / anxious / belligerent zoning clients per day. More subtle changes then gradually took place as people swapped positions to suit their particular skill sets, some more action oriented, some more big-picture and so on.
    These employees all had an interest in physical planning, but had ended up accepting jobs that did not match their psychological makeup. Myers Briggs helped them understand themselves and how to perform at a higher level.

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