Monday, July 19, 2010

Psyched! MBTI

This is the last instalment of Psyched! (At least for a while...) To see the earlier posts, check out:

Psyched! Sensual Perception

Psyched! Learning Style

Today we'll be doing a little overview of personality type as defined by the MBTI. For more information on MBTI, hit up the wikipedia article.

MBTI stands for Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and it's a psychometric instrument wihch seperates people into sixteen personality types. It's the most widely used instrument for personality testing.


The research started out with Carl Jung, who determined that people perceived things in one of two ways and made decisions in one of two ways. He then added that they did these things either in an internal or external way.

A mother daughter pair, Katherine Cook Briggs and Isabelle Briggs Myers, started with Jung's research and determined 4 dichotomies. They were originally meant to help women enterign the work force for the first time to identify what sort of war-tim jobs they'd be best suited for.


E/I - Extroverted/ Introverted

The first thing to remember about the Myers-Briggs pairs is that the terms used have definitions which may not agree with their layman definitions. So just because you can be the life the of the party does not make you an extrovert, and reading a lot does not make you an introvert.

This pair has more to do with how you relate to the world and where you get energy. When an extrovert is tired, he/she needs to do something: go to a social event, a class, etc. An exhausted introvert needs to spend time in reflection: read a book, paint a picture, etc.

Extroverts act first
Introverts think first

Extroverts are energised by being with people but drained by being alone
Introverts are drained by being with people but energised by being alone

Extroverts prefer many interactions (ie many acquaintances)
Introverts prefer deep interactions (ie close to 2 or 3 bffs)

S/N - Sensing/INtuition

This has to do with how we perceive the world. Do you prefer what is or what could be? Do you look at your bank account and see $3000 or do you see a trip to Italy?

Sensers like ideas to be concrete
Intuitives like ideas to be abstract

Sensers focus on the here and now
Intuitives concentrate on what could be or what might have been

Sensers prefer to deal with lists of facts
Intuitives prefer to notice correlations

T/F - Thinking/Feeling

This is how we make decisions.

Thinkers decide with logic
Feelers decide with emotion

A thinker would buy a blue Tshirt because they have a pair of shoes it matches, and they don't have any other blue Tshirts. A feeler would buy a blue Tshirt, because they like it, even though they happen to have 12 other blue Tshirts.

J/P- Judging/Perceiving

This is about whether you lean towards your Judging (T/F)or your Perceiving (S/N) function.

Judgers prefer to have decisions made
Perceivers prefer to have outcomes open-ended

Judgers like order
Perceivers like chaos

Knowing your type can help you deal with just about everything in life. For example, I'm an ENFP. On the E/I scale, I'm near the middle. For all the other scales, I'm near the extreme. These things combine to mean that I get really enthusiastic about new ideas (and things and places, and even people), but I can't follow through. My entire life, I've been fighting to be 'normal', but since MBTI, I don't. I just accept that I'm not cut out for that life, and keep moving.

MBTI can also give you a framework for dealing with others. My 2 bff from school days to now, are both ESTJ. We only have the E in common. As you might guess, it means we have severely different views on pretty much everything (It's kind of a miracle we've never killed one another, actually!). For example, when I felt like I was meant to go volunteer in India, money was tight. My BFF, O, said forget it and do it another time. That's the T in her. The F in me was having none of that. In the end, it all worked out and I went to India. But not before we had a huge blowout. Now I've learned to appreciate how much she needs things to add up.

There are a lot of character questionnaires out there with minuscule details. White or black? Beach or mountains? Cherries or strawberries? Frankly, I don't think a lot of that matters. I don't have a preference on two of those three. And while I prefer the beach to the mountains, I'm not sitting on a train for 3 hours to get to one. Plus, I don't know which of these my friends prefer. That does not make us any less friends.

Truth is the Pepsi/Coke question is only important if you're in a restaurant.

The dichotomies on the MBTI are much more important to knowing your characters.

If your MC is stressed, will she call up her friends and have an impromptu ice cream party? Or will she curl up with a book?
If she say a shoe heel on the ground, would she think that it's a hideous shade of green? Or would she wonder if the person had to cut a first date short when their heel came off?
Is she going to buy the black dress to have something sensible to wear to formal events? Or will she buy the pink one because she's feeling sparkles this week?
Does she prefer to have all the answers? Or will she leap before she knows where the next branch is?

I hope you enjoyed this miniseries, and maybe even learned a thing or two. Thanks for tuning in!


ElbieNy25 said...

without taking the "official test" I would say I'm a ENFP. You gave very clear cut explanations. I personally love taking personality profiles, I told you about the Strength Finder one I took back in January.

On a side note, missed you and your blog. Hugs!

Sarah Enni said...

Woooahhh, so much to think about! Gotta find a free online test to find what type I am. I think my MCs are probably the polar opposite, the frustrating things.