Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Personality Talk, part 2

So many of you responded positively to part 1 (thank you!) that I couldn't put off part 2 any longer. As promised, let's explore what personality type each of us is. First, the theory in a nutshell. If you're not the type (pun intended) that gets into theory discussions, scroll down to the links for online tests. I'm focusing my discussion on the most widely used theory-- the Myers-Briggs Types.

Carl Jung developed a personality typology to classify the way people deal with the world. He first defined the distinction between introversion and extraversion. Then he theorized that there are four functions or ways to process our world: sensing, intuiting, feeling, and thinking. We all can use these "tools", but we tend to prefer one or two over the others.

In 1962, Katharine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers developed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) based on Jung's typology. They placed Jung's four functions into two dichotomies: sensing vs. intuiting and feeling vs. thinking, included Jung's introversion vs. extraversion observation, and they added a new dichotomy: judging vs. perceiving. Each function is represented by a letter.

introversion(I) vs. extraversion (E) : preference for how and where you get your energy

These functions refer to the way a person is energized. An Extravert draws energy from outside themselves, from people, activities, and things. They tend to be action-oriented and their energy declines when they are inactive. An Introvert draws energy from an inner world of ideas, emotions, and impressions. They tend to be thought-oriented and need time to reflect to renew their energy.

intuiting (N) vs. sensing (S) : preference for what you pay attention to when you are gathering information

These are the information gathering functions. A person who prefers Sensing focuses on what actually exists, paying attention to their five senses. They like concrete facts and details, and find meaning in the data. A person who prefers iNtuiting gathers information from internal sources such as insights or a sixth sense, and they focus on future possibilities. They like information that is abstract or theoretical. And they derive meaning from how information relates to a pattern or theory.

feeling (F) vs. thinking (T) : preference for what system you use to make decisions

The decision-making functions are both used to make rational decisions based on information gathered in their preferred way (iNtuiting or Sensing). Those who prefer Thinking use a logical, objective approach. They decide things from a detached viewpoint, using reason, logic, and sets of rules. A person who prefers the Feeling function makes decisions based on emotions and value systems. They make associations, consider the needs of others, and empathize with a situation to achieve balance, harmony, and consensus.

judging (J) vs. perceiving (P) : preference for lifestyle

These functions refer to how you relate to the outside world. Judging types like a planned, organized life. They show the world their 3rd function (Feeling or Thinking). So TJ types appear logical, while FJs appear empathetic. Perceiving types, on the other hand, prefer to live in a more spontaneous and flexible way. They show the world their 2nd function (iNtuiting or Sensing). So SP types appear concrete, while NP types appear abstract.

That's the basics. When you take a personality test, your preference for each of the functions is determined and your type is determined by the four-letter code (ESFJ, INTP, etc…)


The MBTI must be administered by a trained tester. However, there are several free tests online that I have found to be reliable. Before you start a test, here are a few tips:

- Choose the answer that reflects your most comfortable response or first instinct. Sometimes it's helpful to think about how you would have answered the question when you were 20 years old (our personality type is most pure during young adulthood). As we age we strengthen our weaknesses, so we may not choose to act in our preferred, natural way.

- Take several tests to see if you get the same type consistently

- When you get your results, read several descriptions of your type and read several descriptions of types that are one letter off. In most cases, when you find the one that fits, you'll know it.

Here's a few online tests:

1. HumanMetrics test
2. Skeletus test
3. Similar Minds test

Oh, and I promised some predictions. I expect the majority of you will be "IN" types. Let's see if my "inner eye" has clarity...

(on to part 3)
(back to part 1)


Ello - Ellen Oh said...

Aine!!! I didn't realize you had your own blog until I saw it over at Sarah's! How wonderful! You are definitely going to give Jason a run for his money, that's for sure! And what a great post! I do an MBTI presentation for one of my intro classes. I love it! And of course I completely agree with my type - I am an INTJ. Although I hear that law school will change people into TJs and in fact it has held true in most of my law offices. We might have Is and Es and Ss and Ns - but the TJ part was a near absolute!

Jaye Wells said...

I'm an ENFJ.

Sarah Hina said...

Great rundown, Aine! And song. Hmm...I have the feeling you're really familiar with this or something. ;)

It will come as no surprise that I tested INFJ on 2 of the tests. :) On the third, I tested INFP, but it was 50/50 F/P so they just broke the tie for me. I guess I'm a little bit organized and a little bit "flexible." I think that's just a nice way of saying that I'm okay with my messiness. ;)

You picked a good range of tests. I can't wait to see if your prediction holds true...

Precie said... usual.

Now you know you have to explain why you predicted the majority of responses would be INs (as I am). Are most writers INs? Drawing energy from an inner world of ideas and gathering information from internal sources?

Precie said...

Well, that last test kind of answered my question...I scored INFJ on all three tests, and the last test said:

INFJ - "Author". Strong drive and enjoyment to help others. Complex personality. 1.5% of total population.

Aine said...

Ello, I'm so glad you found my little place here! Jason a run for his money?? Who can possibly compete with his creation? I just hope to have some fun exploring ideas that interest me.

That is great that you use MBTI in class (maybe you can share more of your knowledge and experience with it as this series continues). I wish it had been introduced in my therapy program-- anyone in a service profession would find it to be a very valuable tool! (And, many lawyers are INTJs? Fascinating-- I would think more INTJs are found in science. But I'll get into types more later...) ;)

Jaye, another idealist, eh? ENFJ-- the teacher or "envisioner mentor". The world needs more of your type! :)

Sarah, ha! No surprise, the same thing happened to me. I think I've become messier from living with a "P"-- so I've embraced it. :)

Precie, it's becoming a club! I'm INFJ also. And there's nothing "usual" about it... you/we are rare! ;)

Ack! You called me on it! Here's the reasoning behind my prediction. I don't think most writers are INs, but I think most bloggers are introverts (most extroverts would not be spending hours at a computer when they could be out with people in "real life.") And, most writers are iNtuitives because they pay attention to abstracts and look for meanings. "N" types are often dreamers. So I'm guessing that we'll see a lot of INs since many of the bloggers that find me come from Jason's writing circle.

Aine said...

Precie, I missed your second comment when I was responding. I'm surprised that they used "author" to describe INFJ. I've seen the type described as counsellor, forseer developer, or the mystic. But the rest of their description is common to INFJ profiles. Of course, many INFJs are writers because they want to share their ideals and writing gives them an organizing framework to put their feelings into words.

Kim said...

My result was ISFJ on all three tests. Long ago when I was studying psychology in college, I took the MBTI and my recollection is the same result. Being a psych major, I find this stuff interesting to begin with, and I love all the comments on this post.

I came over from Jason's. I've been reading his blog for about a year. He was my first commentor and tagger, so I'm a bit attached to him. :) Glad to see you with your own blog!

Precie said...

hee hee...How funny that, for such introverts, we find ways to find each other.

I'm pretty sure I've tested INFJ consistently since college...well, except for that one year when I temporarily turned into an ENFJ. But I'm feeling much better now. ;)

Charles Gramlich said...

Great stuff. As a psychologist, albeit an experimental one, this is quite interesting to me. I'm definitely introverted. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Miladysa said...

INFP x 2 and ENFJ x 1

Most interesting and enjoyable :-D

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

ACtually - with lawyers, you get Is and Es, Ss and Ns all over the place - but what seems to be most commonplace for them is the TJ part. The thinking and judging function is so trained into them in law school that they claim a person might start FP going into law school but end up either changing to a TJ - or at the very least having their preferences zero out on these letters so that they would be comfortable in either of the preferences.

If you ever need more info on MBTI, let me know, I do a whole lecture series on it and would be happy to share!

Aine said...

Kaycie! It's so good to see you! Thanks for stopping by. ISFJ-- a guardian protector... interesting! You're the same type as my mom (yes, that's a good thing!).

(Oh, and Jason's easy to become attached to... what a great guy!)

Precie, egads-- ENFJ! Glad you're feeling better now. :D

Charles, I greatly enjoy your blog. And the fact that you're an experimental psychologist intrigues me. If I could go back and do it over, I believe I'd study more neuroscience, perhaps clinical neuropsychology or behaviorial neurology. As an OT, I've done cognitive rehab and such-- it is fascinating.

Miladysa, thanks for sharing your test results! If you are interested in nailing down your true type, you could read several online descriptions of each type as well as others with "NF". I think you'll find that one is eerily accurate, while the others are just sort of you. Both of those types are "idealists" but INFP (the healer) is very different from ENFJ (the teacher).

Ello, ha-- I've always known Jason was different-- he's an INTP lawyer! :D

But seriously, I've been taught that you can't change your true type. You can strengthen preferences by growing new skills that are required in your life circumstances (such as career) and therefore appear to be a different type, but the way you perceive the world at your core, most comfortable, genuine level remains fixed. Is your understanding different?

I'll definitely pick your brain! Thanks for sharing!

Jaye Wells said...

I'm enjoying this discussion. I've found that my results can fluctuate between ENFJ and ENFP. This mean that I run late a lot, but I feel guilty about it. ;)

The Quoibler said...

Hello, hello!

I'm an ENFP... I used to be a solid ENTP, so I'm a bit surprised. Wonder if having my son pushed me from a "T" to an "F"? Hmmmm...

Congrats on taking the blog jump!


FANCY said...


Thank you for your comment in my "cottage"...:)

I have always wondered if we can be both a introvert and a extrovert person in the same time...I think maybe it is so that sometimes we have to be with ourself and sometimes sharing time with others...I think I have thoughts like a fast going carousel ;) Sorry I am one expert on dizzy comments some times ...*LOL*...

SzélsőFa said...

Although I disagree with this: the question when you were 20 years old (our personality type is most pure during young adulthood). As we age we strengthen our weaknesses, so we may not choose to act in our preferred, natural way.

I'll be taking all three tests, but I'm sure to be IS...

SzélsőFa said...

Because I think the more I age the more natural I become...and I'd love to see a debate on this topic, provided you feel appropriate and/or have time... :)

I'll be back with the results in a few hours' time - now it's early morning here, kids are going to schoool, I have to make breakfast and so on...

Lena said...

that was quite an interesting experience, got twice ISFJ and one time INFJ so i guess the results are quite accurate :)

Thanks for stopping by my blog :)

SzélsőFa said...

Just about as I expected :)

Aine said...

Jaye~ I know that feeling! :P Do you get a clearer sense of which type is more accurately "you" when you read the descriptions? I wasn't going to delve into the more complex aspects of the theory about how the functions interact (which is why the differences between ENFJ and ENFP are more than simply one prefers schedules and one is spontaneous), but I may have to. It seems that everyone may be interested.

Angelique! Hi! I'm really happy to see you. Welcome to my new digs! :D

You may have strengthened the F function as you've matured, but you are probably an ENTP (the Inventor!) at your core. I'll write more about this in the next post.

Fancy~ welcome! Yes, an introvert can learn to be more extroverted (often by necessity) or vice versa. But the way you get energy (either outwardly or inwardly) is part of your temperament. That doesn't change. And the preferred way always feels just a bit more comfortable.

Szelsofa~ I love having you here! I'll write more about this issue in the next post. But for now, I'll just say that as we grow and mature we (hopefully) strengthen all the functions so that we can use our "natural" preferences well and use the other preferences comfortably when they would be more appropriate. There's also the possibility that external influences (such as parents) may have caused someone to use preferences other than their natural ones. That could explain the feeling of becoming more natural/comfortable with age.

These functions refer to brain processing. Just as a natural left-hand dominant person can train their brain to feel very comfortable using the right hand, (but they will always be a natural "leftie"), so can an F type train themselves to solve problems with a more rational, logical "T" approach.

You got an interesting range of results. Next post I will also talk about how to decide which is your best fit.

Lena~ I'm glad you enjoyed the experience! You'd have to read the type descriptions to determine which is most accurate, but chances are the ISFJ is you (another guardian protector!)

Anil P said...

Are such distinctions so clearly in black and white, for e.g., a person might look within himself because there's no one else to share it with. Does that make him an introvert by nature?

SzélsőFa said...

I'd love to read your thoughts further on, Aine, b/c to me (perhaps, it is based on some translation problems on my part) you seem to say one thing first and the opposite the next time. I'm almost positive that it was me who did not understand you correctly, but I will sure to come back to sort this one out.

What I was trying to say was that at a younger age, people are more easily influenced by their guardians (parents) or by their peers (friends). While older people tend to act on their very own self - provided they are comfortable with it.
b/c if they dislike the person they have become they might keep on pretending.

unm...sorry for the xtra long comment.

Aine said...

anil~ Welcome! According to the theory, everyone has a preference along each of the four function dichotomies. But we all can develop our ability to use the "opposing" function. However, our natural preference will feel most comfortable (just as our physically dominant side, or "right vs left handedness," always feels more comfortable).

Introversion and extraversion can become confusing because we are using specific definitions of those terms, not the commonly used meanings. For example, most people think of an introvert as a withdrawn, perhaps timid person. But the introversion function is defined as someone who gets their energy from inner ideas and emotions. They require time to reflect to renew their energy. But-- outwardly they may appear to be very outgoing and sociable around other people (so others would not use "introvert" in its common definition to describe them).

Do that help answer your question?

Aine said...

Szelsofa~ Oh no! :P I hope I'm being consistent....

But now that you've clarified your original question I think I understand better. You are correct about feeling more natural when you become an adult in the situation you described (though for most people the type is most pure during young adulthood, before they've learned to use other, less comfortable functions.) If someone has enough environmental pressures during their childhood to adopt behaviors that are not consistent with their natural preferences, then they will probably feel out of sync, until those pressures/influences are gone. Then, their natural preferences can be acted on. But they will have always been a particular type, they just didn't express it. For example, an INFP child may need to develop a strong T function if their parents do not value emotion. They will learn to use rational, logical arguments to persuade their parents because the child knows that feeling a certain way would not sway the parents (and may actually result in negativity). Once they grow up and leave home, they can start to allow themselves to use their natural "F" function when they make a decision without fear of being reprimanded. They may feel more "natural" or true to themself than they did as a child.

Does that clear it up? Or have I made the confusion worse? :D

Lena said...

well, yes, Aine, i read the description, and i guess ISFJ is much more me than the other type :)
I just wonder how is it possible to work out such an accurate system of determining the personality, in most cases it really seems to be very fitting

SzélsőFa said...

Yes, your last comment made it clear that we agree :)
Pressure and/or fear for not being loved and accepted might lead to 'acting' against one's own natural way. But then there has to be a point when one says 'I am what I am' and 'love me as I am', and 'no more masks'.
Like: *If I'm an introvert, and head-in-the-clouds-person (learned this expresssion from the tests, btw) love me that way and so on.*

I guess this point comes at various age for various people and there are people who never reach this point at all.

This was my main point, I think.
But the mere act of talking about these makes me happy, so lead the conversation anywhere you please.:)

JaneyV said...

I found this an incredibly difficult exercise. I found the lack of context in the questions infuriating because I'd have answered differently for any number of situations. No surprise then that I got three different answers!

In some ways this doesn't surprise me because I have a very odd brain. I am quite scientific in my thinking and I use logic quite a lot but I am equally a very intuitive and emotional person. As a result I find that all my experiences become internalized and logically inform my intuition. I don't separate logic from emotion; to me instinct and emotion are thoroughly logical. Without a doubt I am a feeling person and I am analytical but despite the result I would never have called myself an extrovert. Just because I am comfortable in group situations doesn't mean I seek them out. I spend my life either in or seeking out, quiet and solitude. Hence the frustration with the lack of context in the questions. I knew as I was answering them that they would give a false impression of who I am.

Is there a dithering, I-know-who-I-am-but-I'm-not-who-you-think-I-am, likes to sleep and daydream a lot, personality type?

Maybe I'm just a schizophrenic!

Aine said...

Lena~ That's why I'm so fascinated with this stuff. I think I understand at a basic level why it works, but it gets really complex when I read psychology scholars discussing how each function interacts with the others to create tendencies of thought and behavior.

Janey~ :D
You are a classic example of why the MBTI should only be administered by a trained, certified professional.

My gut tells me that you are an INFJ, like me (and that is a typical statement from an INFJ-- we rely on hunches often). There are several things you have said that fit that "type" including "Is there a dithering, I-know-who-I-am-but-I'm-not-who-you-think-I-am, likes to sleep and daydream a lot, personality type?", believe it or not. INFJs, more than any other type, question what type we are. However, you tested as Sensing twice as opposed to iNtuiting only once, so maybe you are ISFJ. The best thing to do is read several of the type descriptions until you find one that makes your jaw drop. (I've seen that happen again and again!)

Here are a few links to sites with descriptions. None of the online descriptions are as detailed as books that I've read, so read several different versions to find your "best fit".

If you are really interested in figuring out your type, email me ( and I'll try to help and send you some info from my books.

Anonymous said...

What a great conversation! (That guy from the other blog peeks his head in. ;) )

One thing to keep in mind is that these are online tests. They are only so good as their structure and programming behind them. Anyone truly interested in these theories should spring for a more advanced test. Aine can point you in the right direction there. :)

As we have mentioned elsewhere, I'm an INTP. I used to test as INTJ, the more scientific minded rational type, but one test placed me in INTP,the architect. When I read the description, I was blown away.

Precie said...

aine...I suspect you and I would get along very, very well IRL. :)

And Jason reminds me of another question I was going to ask...Are you, at some point, going to discuss something like which types work well together?

JaneyV said...

Thanks Aine. I'm devouring all this stuff. I think you could be right about my being an INFJ. There were certainly a lot of resonance there. I wonder what Hubby is? As he thinks it's all a pile of doodoo I think that I might have a bit of trouble convincing him to take the test!! (He's a very down-to-earth/practical type).

It'd be very interesting to see what types make good mates, as Precie said.

Aine said...

Jason~ thanks for peeking in! I'm glad you shared your type, too. (Have I ever told you that you're my type?-- :D)

Precie~ we probably would find much in common! Yes, I will give my thoughts on relationships (how could I not resist? After all, we INFJs find our meaning in relationships... ;) )

Janey~ I'm so glad that you are enoying this! I'll post some book recommendations, too. You may want to read more of the descriptions there. The online information is more limited.

One book in particular includes a very good test that could be useful with your husband (and for confirming your own type). Rather than him grumbling about taking a worthless online test, you can ask him the questions yourself, then it doubles as a "getting to know you better" experience. I've learned so much about my sister, niece, and parents by doing it that way. We've really enjoyed comparing how we see the world differently. The book is "Please Understand Me II" by David Keirsey. I'm going to start talking more about Keirsey this week.

Hoodie said...

On the three tests I was

But my scores between S/N where right around the fifty percent mark on all of them. What does that mean?

I was definitely the strongest on the Es and the Fs. The tests were consistent, but I still don't really get what that says about me accept that I talk a lot at parties.

Fascinating stuff though.

Aine said...

Hoodie~ Those are very different types: one is an "idealist" temperament and one is an "artisan" temperament. I'll explain what that means in my next post. Google ENFP and ESFP and read the descriptions of both types. Does one sound more like you?

The free online tests are not as accurate as the true MBTI or versions that you buy. So the one test may have simply been incorrect. Or, your S/N function may be close because you have developed your ability to use either preference equally. This is why personality type is most pure in our young adulthood-- life experience forces us to strengthen functions that are less "natural"-- that's a good thing, we strengthen our weaknesses. (I'll write more about this in the next post.) If you want more info to help you determine if your natural preference is iNtuiting or Sensing, email me ( I can send you a scan from one of my books that has a better breakdown of how those preferences look in your behaviors.

If you are ENFP, you are the type called the Champion. ENFPs are enthusiastic initiators of change. They inspire themselves and others, prefer the start-up phase of a project or relationship, and are at their best in situations that are fluid and changing, where they can use their creativity and charisma. They are always seeking the new and novel. (Is any of this familiar?)

Hoodie said...

I looked up the two types and I would definitely say the ENFP sounds more like me. It is interesting how some of the statements were dead on and some not so much, perhaps from cultural influence and such. Particularly when it mentioned careers that ENFPs enjoy I considered most of them at one time or another, so that was an affirmation for me. I do feel as if some of the traits, if they were strong in my at one time, have been repressed by the practical needs of being a stay at home wife and mother. Also, I've dealt with Depression since I was a teenager and its interesting the way it distorts traits that might have naturally been strong for me. A paradox, I think, to be an ENFP with Depression, no?

I'm curious if you put any stock into the color personality types and if, in general, any of them tend to correspond with these tests. In the color code, I am true blue with a smattering of white.

The video was fun too, BTW.

Aniket Thakkar said...

I am an INFJ...

# slightly expressed introvert
# distinctively expressed intuitive personality
# moderately expressed feeling personality
# moderately expressed judging personality

Famous people I share traits with: Immanual Kant, William Shakespeare, Ludwig Beethoven, Pearl Buck, Arthur C. Clark, Sarah Hina.....Whoaaa!!! :)

On a serious note: Now I can see how different mine and her's personalities are and probably that's why we see things differently on most occasions! Thank you very much for this.

Aine said...

Aniket~ Yes!! I was right! I had a feeling you were an INFJ-- welcome to the club! Yes, I am one too. And, no, Sarah Hina is not-- she's actually an INFP. We figured that out after these initial posts.

Do you know what type your girlfriend is? (I assume that's who you're talking about?) I have lots of resources about Myers Briggs (I'm a bit passionate about the theory if you hadn't noticed...) and some of my books describe the dynamics of different type pairings. If you want more info, let me know-- you can email me if you'd prefer.

Aniket Thakkar said...

Aine, glad to be in good company. So Sarah left our club, huh? No issues together we can take er down, bring it on Sarah! lolzzzzzz!!

And, she is not my girlfriend (I would have very much liked her to be... Its toooooo complicated... it'll take me 4 beers too sit and pen it all down and in the end you'll have a full blown novel to read if I tried to pen it down) but She is a counselor herself with masters in Psychology, so she knows about Myers Briggs (It was in her course book :P) and I know more than half the answers she's gonna give (having been smitten by her for 8 yrs now) and that's why know how diff. we are. She is quite enthusiastic about taking the test, I'll let you know the result.

Off late, we had a lot of difference in opinions about things and it led to a troublesome patch, but its all sorted out now (Thanks to the 12th letter of Sarah's :) )

I'll go through all of your posts when I get back home (I am currently visiting my elder brother over the weekend, hence not getting enough time.)

And am very much interested in the different type pairings (I could use any help now :P), so do let me know about the books you mentioned (Are these written by you? Even she can use your guidance then, considering she is just finishing her studies.)

My mail Id is :

(In case you have something to send across. :-D )

PS: Its so weird that you and Sarah (people I hardly know) can grasp what am feeling so easily. If you have any clones/long distant single female cousins who are my age do let me know! :) :) :)

Just kidding'! :-D

Aniket Thakkar said...

Aine, I took the tests again...

Got 2 INFJs and one INFP. :)

On to your other posts.