By Juliana L.
“Who am I?” This question plagues our lives from beginning to end and we often follow many different paths in search of the answer. As a result, many scientists have spent quite a bit of time trying to develop tests that will help you determine fragments of the answer. One such test is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, or MBTI for short. Though there are many other personality tests like this the MBTI seems to be the most widely renowned, but is it the most accurate? The most reliable? If so, discovering your own MBTI could reveal a lot about yourself and your relationships with others.
The Myers Briggs Test organizes people into sixteen categories which is signified by a four letter code pertaining to your four strongest traits. The first letter is either an I or an E, Introversion or Extroversion, which indicates how the test-taker’s energy is directed. This distinction is quite simple: Introverts gain energy by spending time alone because their energy is directed inwards. Extroverts gain energy by spending time socializing because their energy is directed outwards.
The second letter is either an S or an N, Sensing or iNtuition (an I cannot be used for intuition because Introversion already uses an I). Simply put, Sensors use their five senses to pick up facts from the world around them and stick to those facts. They’re down to earth, pragmatic, detail oriented, and live in the past and present. INtuitives, on the other hand, use their intuition and imagination to think of theories, ideas, and concepts. They’ve got their head in the clouds, are innovative, understand the bigger picture, trust their hunches, and live in the future. The S or N preference mainly pertains to how the test-taker takes in and deals with their environment: do they look at the world around them and see the concrete details of the present or do they see the possibilities of the future?
The third letter is either an F or a T, Feeling or Thinking, which is linked with the S or N preference and indicates how the test-taker makes their decisions. Feelers focus on people and on their emotions when making decisions. They are diplomatic, compassionate, avoid conflict, motivated by appreciation, and value harmony and mercy. Thinkers make their decisions objectively through their own logic, preferring not to involve personal impact in their verdicts. They are direct, fair, rational, may begin conflict for fun, motivated by accomplishment, and value honesty and justice.
Finally, the last letter is either a P or a J, Perceiving or Judging, which indicates the average lifestyle of the test-taker. Perceivers have a looser definition of time and decision making. They are easy going, flexible, questioning of rules, less aware of time, and like to keep their options open. Judgers have a strict definition of time and decision making. They are responsible, punctual, organized, like to make plans and schedules and find comfort in those plans and schedules. Taking all four traits together, the test-taker’s MBTI is formed and they can read multiple profiles, career paths, even relationship advice based on their type.
This test, however, does have its downfalls. For one, the categories are mutually exclusive. A test-taker often has traits from both preferences and may switch from category to category. Additionally, as Adam Grant on ‘The Blog’ argues, the MBTI ignores another trait that exists in the personality. This is the tendency to stay calm and collected under stress or pressure, which psychologists call emotional stability versus reactibility. Grant argues that another test called the Big Five Personality Traits. It covers much the same areas as the MBTI and is a better judge of personality. The Big Five also includes a stability and reactivity trait.
However, many of the Myers Briggs categories have grounding in personal behaviour. MBTI Information offers many reasons as to the realistic applications of the preferences. For example, Introverts spend much more time doing individual work while Extroverts prefer interaction in their day-to-day lives. Additionally, I have found personally that upon meeting people with the same type as I (INFJ) we get along extremely well and have a deeper understanding than I have found with other types. That or we get along horribly, there is little to no middle ground. This is not abnormal, as types do impact relationships. I am not by this argument attempting to discredit other tests such as the Big Five personality test, DISC, and others, I am simply pointing out that the Myers Briggs test has merit as they all do.
So is Myers Briggs the best personality test out there? It really depends on the test-taker. Some tests work better on different people and to get the best understanding of yourself taking many different tests is the best way to do it, but I believe that the Myers Briggs test may be a good place to start.
Take the Myers Briggs test here: