Wow-- I'm amazed at the level of interest that this has sparked in all of you (I'm giddy with excitement! I love this stuff!) There is so much to share, so many questions to answer. I'll start by answering some of the more specific questions that you raised in this post. Then, later this week, I'll continue with my original plan of discussing David Keirsey's work and how he expanded our understanding of the Myers-Briggs types.
First, I want to say that no type is "better" than any other. We are all capable of using all of the functions, we simply tend to be more comfortable with certain approaches, and therefore have preferences in how we gather information, get energy, and make decisions.
Second, I have only shared the basics of the underlying theory. The four functions interact with each other in complex ways to create each type. So, an ISTP is not simply an introverted version of ESTP. If you delve deeper into the theory you'll discover that there are terms such as "shadow types" and "dominant, secondary, and tertiary functions." Each type uses the iNtuiting, Sensing, Thinking, and Feeling functions in different situations for different reasons. A scholar must understand how all of these preferences interact before they can write the wonderful descriptions of each type that amaze us.
Can one's type change?
No. I believe that we develop preferences in the way we process the world by young adulthood (if we are not in fact born with preferences-- that's still up for debate). These preferences form our personality type. It is the way we feel most comfortable when relating to others, making decisions, and thinking about our world. As we grow and have new experiences we may learn to use the less comfortable functions more easily. Our family background and careers often facilitate such growth. A "J" type who has "P" parents will learn to be more flexible and spontaneous to avoid discord. A physician who is an "F" type may need to develop their "T" function in order to succeed in medical school. But, our preferences don't change. It works much like physical preferences. A left-handed person can learn to use his right hand very competently, but he will always prefer the left-- it always feels more natural.
Why do I get so many different results when I take the tests?
That is the limitation of free online tests. The best way to determine your type is to go to someone who is certified to administer the MBTI. Second best is to read descriptions of all the types that are one letter removed from your test result to eliminate any other possibilities, and gain a deeper understanding of the theory so that you can discover your natural preferences. Asking others how they see you sometimes offers more accurate insight into your preferences.
Are there certain types that get along better or form more stable relationships?
As you can imagine, this is one of the hot topics on personality type forums. I've read scholars who say opposites attract (INFJ and ESTP, for example). Others say that people with similar temperaments make the best matches. And some even cite studies that the most frequent marriages are between Artisans and Guardians or Rationals and Idealists (these are Keirsey's terms, I'll explain them in the next post). But-- I believe that two people of any type can work well together. They simply need to understand and accept their differences. I found a book (Just Your Type, by Paul Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger) that pairs each type with the others and gives pointers on the "joys" and "frustrations" of each match as well as "how to reach your (insert personality type) partner."
If anyone has specific questions about your type, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have books that may prove helpful.
I'll leave you with some type humor (source: Doug Bates.) Isn't there always some truth in humor?
Illusions of the Unhealthy XXXX
ESTP - "I'm a stud and the world revolves around me"
ISTP - "I can make anything work"
ENTP - "I can come up with a solution for anything"
INTP - "I'm brilliant and you'd better bow to my genius"
ESTJ - "I am in control"
ISTJ - "I do everything right"
ENTJ - "I am all-powerful"
INTJ - "I am all-knowing"
ESFP - "I am the most glamorous"
ISFP - "Nobody has better taste than I do"
ENFP - "I have the most enthusiasm"
INFP - "I have the most sensitive conscience"
ESFJ - "Everyone likes me and wants to be like me"
ISFJ - "Nobody can get along without me"
ENFJ - "I can teach anyone anything"
INFJ - "I have the best intentions"
ESTJ Be back next year with flowers!
ISTJ Forever on time
ESFJ Arranged my own funeral
ISFJ Wish I could still help
ESTP Well, *this* is boring
ISTP Build a better coffin
ESFP Where did everybody go?
ISFP Smell a flower for me
ENTJ Whoever did this, I'll get you one day
INTJ *Now* try telling me what to do!
ENTP Death is being out of options
INTP Talk about "analysis paralysis"
ENFJ Another opportunity for learning
INFJ The ultimate clarity
ENFP Catch you on the flip side
INFP Eternal harmony
(on to part 4)
(back to part 2)
5 days ago