Have you ever heard someone describe themselves as an INTP or an ESFJ and wondered what these cryptic letters meant? Well, what they referred to is their personality type, according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator(MBTI).
The MBTI test is a personality test based on theories initially introduced by the Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung. It categorizes people into sixteen personalities, each with its unique characteristics that manifest in our feelings and behaviors based on our extraversion/introversion, intuition/sensing, thinking/feeling, and judging/perceiving.
History of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
It all started with Isabel Myers and her mother, Katherine Briggs. They were both fascinated by Jung's theories about the psyche.
Katherine started developing her own theories by analyzing people's behaviors and labeling them into meditative, spontaneous, executive, sociable. She later added more categories in the equation, using Jung's theories concerning: introversion vs. extraversion, thinking vs. feeling.
Katherine's daughter, Isabel, designed the first prototype of the Myers-Briggs Indicator in the early 40s.
Overview of the MBTI test
According to the Myers-Briggs indicator, our personalities consist of our behavior and our character traits. To know what we should do and how we should live, we must understand who we are. The MBTI provides extensive information about every aspect of our personality, by mixing our unique traits and allowing us to identify on this spectrum.
MBTI’s basic principle involves four dichotomies, which indicates how the person acts and feels. These dichotomies are:
This indicates the "attitude" of an individual. There is a world inside ourselves and a world outside of ourselves. When we are dealing with the world outside of ourselves, we are "extraverting": we participate in active physical activities. When we are dealing with what's inside our minds, we are "introverting," which manifests in reflection and ideas.
MBTI identifies which world gives us more energy, and which world drains us more than the other.
This function indicates the process of gathering and comprehending new information.
Intuitive people are the ones who tend to gather information based on theory and future possibilities. They perceive underlying meaning in what people do or say and focus on the big picture.
As for Sensors, they are dependent on their own five senses to learn about the world. They notice when details change and want concrete, useful data to work with.
This function is about decision making. Individuals who prefer "Feeling" tend to be empathetic when confronting a situation. As for the ones who prefer "Thinking," they are more neutral and detached in their decision making.
Most decisions involve both our Feeling and Thinking. Decisions that are easily made are the result of being in sync with both sides. As for the ones we find more difficulty in manufacturing is the result of a conflict between these sides. Eventually, our dominant function takes over.
This function indicates how we relate to the outside world. People with Perceiving preference like to keep their options open, they tend to be more flexible and spontaneous.
Whereas Judgers may see things as "black" or "white." They schedule things in advance and aim for them to stay neat and established.
The difference between these two functions is probably the most remarkable one because people with strong Judging preferences have a hard time accepting people with Perceiving preferences, and vice-versa.
How is the MBTI used?
Relationships and connections
The information that MBTI provides can be used as a source of growth and communication enhancement between people. It enables us to develop better ways to deal with conflict and to create a deeper connection within ourselves and the people around us.
The two middle letters in the MBTI type can profoundly influence your career choice (NF, NT, SF, ST). When you're aware of that, you make use of your natural type preferences and learn about what you can do best, and excel at it.
Extraverted people tend to be more physically engaged in a learning activity. As for introverts, they prefer methods that require quiet reflection.
By recognizing your learning methods, it would be easier to identify your strengths and work on your weaknesses.
According to a recent study, 80% of the Fortune 500 companies and 89 of the Fortune 100 companies use the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator personality test to analyze their employees, build better connections between them and create more effective teams.
MBTI can help people deal with a lot of their issues in counseling: self-esteem, relationships, decision making, life development.