Myers-Briggs® Overview

This section will teach you about the Myers-Briggs® framework and general type concepts. If you do not know your personality type, you can take the official Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® assessment.

What is the Aim of the MBTI® Assessment?

The MBTI® assessment is designed to help people identify and gain some understanding around how they take in information and make decisions, the patterns of perception and judgment, as seen in normal, healthy behavior.

Perception and Judgment

Perception and judgment, in type theory, describe how people prefer to use their minds. Perception involves all the ways of becoming aware of things, people, happenings, or ideas. People naturally perceive in opposite ways. Judgment involves all the ways of coming to conclusions about what has been perceived. There are also opposite ways in how people naturally make decisions.

We call these opposites preferences because most people prefer one side more than the other but can access and use both sides of a preference pair if a situation calls for it.

Perception and judgment are mental processes, mental activity or how people use their minds. Differences in perception (what people see in any given situation) and judgment (what they decide to do about it) result in corresponding differences in personality characteristics, behaviors, interests, reactions, values, and motivations.

Innate vs Learned Preferences

According to type theory, our personality type preferences are innate, inborn predispositions that develop over the lifespan. Frequent use of one side of a preference pair leads to the development of certain personality characteristics. Although we find similar characteristics and behaviors in people with the same preferences, there are also differences.

First, type does not dictate behavior; although the preferences describe behavioral attributes corresponding to those preferences, type theory recognizes that we have a choice in how we behave. We can choose to act upon our natural preferences (strength) or use an opposite preference (stretch) if it is better suited to the situation.

Second, life experiences and our environment impact the development of, and how we express, our personality type preferences. With awareness, we can learn to use the opposite preferences. They will likely never feel easy or natural, but nonetheless, we have access to them when necessary. The MBTI Step II assessment is a good tool for pointing out areas of our personality that we may have learned, as opposed to that which is natural.

The Myers-Briggs Framework

The Myers-Briggs framework consists of eight preferences organized into four pairs of opposites. Your MBTI personality type represents your natural preferences in four important aspects of personality. We use all the preferences, but most people prefer one side of a preference pair more than the other which accounts for the natural personality differences between people.

What do you prefer?

Preference pairs

Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I)

Opposite ways to direct and receive energy
Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or your own inner world?

Sensing (S) or Intuition (N)

Opposite ways to take in information
Do you prefer to focus on the facts or the big picture?

Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)

Opposite ways to decide and come to conclusions
Do you prefer to take an objective or an empathetic approach for deciding?

Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)

Opposite ways to approach the outside world
Do you prefer to seek closure or stay open to new information?

When you combine your preferences (E or I, S or N, T or F, J or P), they make up your MBTI type (four-letter type code)—your psychological or personality type. There are 16 possible combinations of letters leading to 16 distinct MBTI personality types.

The theory of psychological type says that people with different preferences naturally have different interests and views, behave differently, and are motivated by different things. Awareness of differences between types can help people understand and value other people who think and act quite differently.

Characteristics associated with each of the 16 personality types can be found in the "type table" below. Place your cursor over your type for a quick look or browse through all 16 personality type descriptions. Which one describes you best?

















Type Table as a 16-Room House

Type is not static; it is dynamic. Even though the type table is represented by boxes, type is never meant to limit you or box you in. Rather than see the type table as 16 separate blocks, think of it as a 16-room house.

In this house, your type preferences represent your favorite room, where you feel the most natural and comfortable. So, you likely hang out there the most, but it is important to tend to all the rooms of your house. There are times when you may need to go to a different room to better communicate, solve a problem, or tend to a task.

Some people like their room so much that they are biased against the other rooms. All rooms are equal, have value, strengths, and challenges.

People who "lock" themselves in their room are often rigid and one-sided. People who are self-aware honor their preferences first and stretch to the others when appropriate to the situation. They understand, appreciate, and value personality differences, which can lead to working with others in constructive ways.

Here are some important key points to keep in mind:

  • Most people prefer one side more than the other of a preference pair, but we use all the preferences every day—not necessarily with the same level of confidence or comfort.
  • Type is inborn; we are predisposed to develop along certain typological lines.
  • Type does not limit you or box you in.
  • There are no better or worse types.
  • All types are equally valuable; they each have potential strengths (gifts) and possible stretches (challenges).
  • Type does not tell you how to think, be, or act; although predispositions are innate, you can choose to develop a strength or a stretch.
  • The MBTI assessment sorts for preferences; it does not measure traits, ability, skill, or character.
  • There has been more than 70 years of research on the MBTI system. The MBTI instrument is scientifically reliable and valid.
  • Learning about your personality type helps you to identify your natural strengths and unique gifts.
  • Type awareness enhances self-understanding and brings to light potential areas for growth.
  • Type awareness can help you understand and appreciate personality differences in yourself and others.

This is just the beginning. There is so much more to type than people realize. Go deeper with advanced education on type dynamics and discover the ways you can use type in your everyday life!