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Myers-Briggs Overview

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a psychological test that measures your behavior preference in regards to decision and how you interact with the world.

Your score is four letters which determine your particular preference in that area. Those preferences are:

Extroversion (E) vs Introversion (I)
Sensory (S) vs Intuitive (N)
Thinking (T) vs Feeling (F)
Judging (J) vs Perceiving (P)

I – Introversion vs Extroversion

This doesn’t mean social vs. anti-social. INFPs have friends and enjoy spending time with those friends like everyone else.

The first letter deals how a person relates to self and where a person directs their focus and energies. Introversion preference means that I’s focus their energies inward towards how they feel, how they think and who they are. Extroversion preference means that an E’s focus is directed outwards towards what they can changed, altered or affected with outward action.

Sense of self is determined by the first letter. An I’s sense of self comes from an internal barometer of ideals and values. I’s would say, I’m a happy person because that’s just the kind of person I am. E’s determine sense of self from external measurement. E’s say, I am a happy person because I know these people who are unhappy and I’m not like them. The more people an E knows, the more points of references an E has in defining who they are.

I should re-iterate the I or E preference does not indicate whether a person is social or not social, whether a person is talkative or keeps to themselves. Most of the I’s that I know are social and talk often with their friends. The biggest difference between I’s and E’s is that social interaction drains energy from I’s where E’s become more energized from the people around them.

Here’s what I consider the two biggest indicators whether you’re an I or and E.

1. E’s easily talk to people they don’t know, and readily and naturally start conversations with strangers in public situations like standing in line a store on in an elevator, etc.

2. I’s need to recharge by having time to themselves after long social functions, even if it’s a social function they enjoy.

N – Intuition vs Sensing

The second letter deals with how a person intakes information. These are the “perceiving” functions. How far extreme one way or the other is determined by how much trust you put into the information gathered.

Sensing people gather information by what they see, hear, touch, taste or feel. That’s the information they trust the most. Intuitive people trust the information from their “sixth sense”. It’s not as if sensing people don’t have gut instincts or that intuitive people don’t believe what’s in front of their eyes. It’s about the value they place on that information as being trustworthy over the other. Highly intuitive people will trust that gut instinct over something they see in front of them sometimes to their detriment.

I’s would say, this house is haunted because I can sense the presence of a ghost. E’s would say, I believe this house is haunted because the furniture shouldn’t be floating around the room.

My two biggest indicators of N or S preference are:

1. How a person gives directions from one place to another. S’s tend to give exact instructions, i.e. drive 4 miles south, look for the gas station on the left, turn left and go east 3 blocks. N’s give more general directions, it’s not far, drive until you see the gas station, it’s a couple blocks east.

2. N’s have a tendency to daydream. S’s don’t that often.

F – Feeling vs Thinking

The third letter deals with decision making. This is your default preference when making decisions. It’s what a person prefer to do when they aren’t thinking about it. Feelers do think through their decision and don’t just make decisions by “gut instinct”. However, the final decision usually boils down to how they feel about the decision more than weighing pros and cons.

It’s the small decisions, not the big decisions that mark Feelers and Thinkers. Walking out of a store, a Feeler and Thinker sees a shirt or blouse that’s on sale that they like. Of course both types will consider the price and whether it’s affordable. However a Feeler will weigh that against how that will make them feel wearing the item.

A Thinker will consider whether that clothing item matches anything else and whether the money would best be spend elsewhere before purchasing the item.

The third letter is considered a “judging” function.

Here are my biggest indicators of F or T preference:

1. F”s make impulse purchases. I’ve never known a T to just pick something up.

2. F’s have a tendency to keep knick knacks and mementos from previous relationships. T’s don’t.

P – Perceiving vs Judging

The fourth letter is deals with how a person relates to the world around them. Perceivers default to information gathering. Judgers default evaluation mode.

For example a P and a J wake up in the middle of the night. The P would think, I wonder how long has it been raining. The J hearing the rain would think, are my windows closed? P’s default to gathering information. J’s default to making use of the information they’ve gathered.

Here are my two biggest indicators on whether a person is a P or a J:

1. J’s are punctual. They show up on time. I’s are tardy or they overcompensate by showing up early.

2. J’s are methodical. They plan before they do. J’s have multiple projects but unlike I’s they finish one set of projects before they go to the next. I’s have multiple projects that have been sitting around for years.

Preference means what you prefer

The MBTI indicates preference not personality. It’s like right-handedness and left-handedness. I am right-handed but that doesn’t mean I don’t open doors or pick up things with my left-hand. Same with a the MBTI. Just because a person has a preference in one letter doesn’t mean they don’t use the opposite preference when required.

Someone who exhibits no preference for a letter is indicated with an X, i.e. INFX or INXP. Just as true ambidexterity is rare, someone who has no preference equally rare. Yes, I use my left and and my right hand, but that doesn’t make me ambidextrous. A preference is what you do when you’re not thinking about it.

It’s not decisions about careers and life choices that best signals a preference. It’s deciding whether to drop what you’re doing because your friend just invited you to a movie. It’s not how a person deal with the loss of a relationship that easily indicates a person’s type. It’s how they deal with the loss of their car keys when they have to be somewhere on time.

A preference is what you automatically do when you’re not thinking about it.

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