A Primer on Myers-Briggs & Personality Typing

Personality Typing

Personality typing (typology) is the concept of distinguishing people by their behavioural traits and viewing them as defined types.

Personality traits reflect people’s innate tendencies and are represented as opposed pairs – for example, Introversion and Extraversion. Multiple traits are measured to determine someone’s personality type, written as an acronym of their traits, such as INFJ-A in the Myers-Briggs analysis.

How Does Personality Typology Help People?

Many people find that understanding their personality type makes it much easier to see themselves objectively. This self-awareness helps them access their strengths and address weaknesses in ways that improve their lives.

One of the most rewarding aspects of personality typology is when people discover that they’re not alone in the way that they think and feel – or weird because of it. It can be a great relief to realize that many other people share surprisingly similar internal mechanics and that each personality type’s approach to life is valid.

Personality typology is also extremely helpful among people who don’t share similar traits. Learning how differently the personality types function lets diverse people communicate and understand each other better. This can have powerfully beneficial effects in anything from business to romantic relationships.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

The Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is an introspective self-report questionnaire indicating differing psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. The test attempts to assign four categories: introversion or extraversion, sensing or intuition, thinking or feeling, judging or perceiving. One letter from each category is taken to produce a four-letter test result, like “ISTJ” or “ENFP”.

16 Personalities offer a free test which puts you on a spectrum between each of the pairs. You may be an ESTP as your primary type, but you may have 30% I, 40% N, 10% F and 45% J to balance it. It’s important to remember you are not an absolute and will embody elements of the opposite traits.

At a high-level, we can get a sense of your personality from the dichotomies of the pairs.

  • The Extrovert/Introvert pair shows how we direct or receive energy
  • The Sensing/Intuition pair shows how we absorb information
  • The Thinking/Feeling pair shows how we make decisions
  • The Judging/Perceiving shows how we approach the outside world

To the astute, we can also reverse-engineer this by knowing a little about the person. We can make an educated guess about their overall type.

Dichotomies – Revealing Polarities of Types

These are broad-brush summaries to give you a working, everyday feel for the pairings and dichotomies. Myers-Briggs goes deeper and you can read more on the 16 Personalities site if you are so inclined.

E-I – How we direct or receive energy


  • Have a broad range of interests
  • Get energy by interacting with others
  • Consume and direct energy outwards
  • Tend to act before thinking
  • Talk things through
  • Think out loud

You can spot these types as they like to talk a lot but their sentences are not always final statements. They create meaning by having the conversation itself, though not by listening so much. They might start talking before you finish!


  • Are generally quiet
  • Consume their energy internally
  • Like to spend time in reflection
  • Have a small range of interests, but more in-depth
  • Tend to think before acting
  • Gain energy from concentrating

Their dialogue is more internal with long pauses and reflection. When they talk it’s more a final analysis, having thought through what has been said to them. They often pause before responding.

S-N – How we absorb information


  • Love facts and small details
  • Are rational
  • Are focused on what’s real
  • In the present, and in the moment
  • Enjoy a realistic approach
  • Like repeated things and structure
  • Observe and remember specifics

You can spot a sensing individual as they ask for details, like to understand timings and usually track things well.


  • Like to see the big picture
  • See possibilities ahead of time
  • Are interested in Innovation
  • Are focused on patterns and meanings
  • Like abstract concepts and imagination

Intuitive people see possibilities, visions, and ideas. They tend to talk in broad strokes.

T-F – How we make decisions


  • Are objective
  • Analyse
  • Look for cause & effect
  • Solve from a logic perspective
  • Act from the head
  • Are highly focused

The thinking type is attached to facts and cares less for the individuals involved; they are more focused on how it serves the larger picture. They also tend to follow rules.


  • Are involved
  • Have empathy
  • Embrace personal & social values
  • Assess the impact on people
  • Are subjective
  • Act from their Heart

Feeling individuals care more about each person: How will each person benefit from the situation? They may break the rules to ensure this.

J-P – How we approach the outside world


  • Are organised
  • Are systematical
  • Are methodical
  • Like short & long term plans & stick to them
  • Are deliberate

Judges tend to be methodical and tied to an outcome. They can be rigid and inflexible also.


  • Are adaptable & curious
  • Like different things
  • Are more casual
  • Are open-ended
  • Are flexible
  • Like new information
  • Are more spontaneous

Perceivers are all about the big picture and can be fluid and change opinions when they receive new information.

Character Forming

I have taken the Myers-Briggs test many times over the years and, it has drifted over time. With the 16 Personalities test, the actual point on the spectrum between two opposing traits is visible and you can see yourself drifting over time. I used to be more Judgemental but now I err on the side of Perceiving, for example.

As we experience life we adapt and change to the external stimuli. We choose new ways of behaviour which modifies our core. I haven’t strayed too far from my baseline of many years ago but, with the knowledge of the Myers-Briggs analysis, I could adopt a training program to become more Extrovert, for example. Or at least invest some time learning new behaviours to better adapt to certain situations in life.

Your personality type is not an absolute, as we have seen above, but more a spectrum of types which we tend towards one or another. It’s a great tool to better understand yourself and how you interact with others. By knowing ourselves, we can also better serve others as we can find work and play which fit our base type. This generates more inner happiness and, when we shine inside, we are much nicer to be around.

Me? I’m and INFP-A (Assertive Mediator and Diplomat).


From 16 Personalities:

On the outside, Mediators (INFPs) may seem quiet or even shy. But they often have vibrant, passionate inner lives. Because they make up such a small portion of the population, people with this personality type may sometimes feel misunderstood or out of step with the world. Fortunately, their caring nature can help them create and sustain deep relationships with their loved ones.

Mediators value authenticity, empathy, and harmony. These personalities tend to act with the best of intentions, and they are rightly proud of this trait. That said, they may feel isolated or discouraged when other people don’t share their idealism.

All that is gold does not glitter; not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither; deep roots are not reached by the frost.


Many Mediators are curious about the depths of human nature, and they often make an effort to understand other people’s true feelings. This can make them capable of great empathy. It can also enable them to communicate in ways that are sensitive, original, and quite moving.

Perhaps because of these strengths, Mediators tend to crave opportunities for creative self-expression. It comes as no surprise that many famous Mediators are poets, writers, and actors. People with this personality type often enjoy dreaming up all sorts of stories and possibilities.

Mediators may feel directionless or stuck unless they connect with a sense of purpose for their lives. For many Mediators, this purpose has something to do with helping and uplifting others. Empathetic by nature, these personalities may feel other people’s suffering as if it were their own. This only strengthens their motivation to be of service.

I guess that’s why I write, coach and consult!

If you want help re-aligning with your true inner nature, take the test on 16 Personalities and drop me a line with your personality type. We can discuss the plan and work out how best to proceed to a more fulfilled life.

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