What Are Personality Types?
We all have unique traits and characteristics that make us who we are. And while these traits are what make us unique, there are also broader generalizations about types of personalities that can be extracted from these personality traits. These generalizations can give an idea about how a person's personality is. This means taking a look at how you respond to situations, how you approach situations, where you get your energy, and how you think situations through.
Personality Types are a collection of personality traits that occur together consistently.
It's important to note that personality types are distinguished from personality traits, as personality traits are smaller groupings of behavioral tendencies.
Psychologists have spent much of time discussing and researching to determine what, exactly, the different personality types are. Based on this research about personality types, we are able to extract some broad generalizations about different personality types, that can be helpful when looking at how to one might interact and communicate with others.
What Are The Personality Types?
There are many different classifications, tests, and ways to approach personality types.
However, these types of personality assessments are generally split in to similar categories, based upon the Myers-Briggs personality test. The Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory is accepted as one of the most prominent and well-researched set of personalty types and one of the more thorough personality tests available. It was adapted from the typological theories proposed by Carl Jung.
The theory of psychological type, as developed by Carl Jung, is one of the fundamental bases of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Jung proposed the existence of two dichotomous pairs of cognitive functions. These are:
- The Rational (Judging) Functions: Thinking and Feeling
- The Irrational (Perception) Functions: Sensing and Intuition.
Jung then suggested that these functions were expressed in two different forms:
The Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory is broken into four opposite pairs, with a possible combination of 16 personality types - none of which, of course, are better or worse to have.
These dichotomies (opposite pairs) are as follows:
Extroversion (E) - Introversion (I)
Sensing (S) - Intuition (N)
Thinking (T) - Feeling (F)
Judging (J) - Perception (P)
What Do The Four Dichotomies Indicate?
It's important to note that the Myers-Briggs Personality Instrument does not measure aptitude (or skill), but personal preferences. The four dichotomies are explained in more detail below.
Ideal World: Introvert versus Extrovert:
Being introverted or extroverted describes whether or not you get energy from other people. Introverted means "inward-tuning," while extroverted means "outward turning," the definitions in this particular context are important.
The preferences toward introversion and extroversion are often called attitudes (internal attitude versus external attitude).
Introverts are thought-oriented people, who seek a depth of knowledge and influence and prefer substantial interaction with others.
An introvert gets his or her energy by dealing with ideas, memories, and pictures inside his or her head, and spending time alone.
- Interested in their own thoughts and feelings more than others' thoughts and feelings
- Prefers small groups of people to big gatherings.
- May be described as "thoughtful"
- May be described as "reserved."
- Need to establish "territory"
- Rather than pushing ahead, prefers to plan out projects with a clear goal in mind.
- May forget to check with the outside world to see if ideas can actually be made into a reality
- Occasionally spends so much time reflecting that he or she doesn't move into action quickly enough
- Difficulty making new friends
- Prefers to know only a few people well
- Do not like unexpected situations or changes
- Prefer to be alone to being with people for down time
People often assume that those who are extroverted are shy; however, that is not always the case. In this situation, introverts are those who prefer to be alone, rather than a person who is shy and instead has a sense of social inadequacy.
Extroverts are action-oriented people who seek the a breadth of knowledge and influence and prefer frequent interactions.
Extroverts get energy from active involvement in events, and enjoy different activities.
Other traits of extroverts include:
- Interested in what is going on around them
- Likes being around others
- Feels comfortable in groups of people
- Enjoys working in groups with others.
- Likes meeting new people
- Has a wide range of friends
- Knows lots of people
- Compare opinions, thoughts, and attitudes with others
- Adapt well to new situations
- Seen as a "people person"
- Often described as "outgoing."
- Loves to make things happen
- Loves to roll out plans
- Sometimes forgets to stop and find clarity before acting
- May feel at home in the world
- Often understands a problem after talking it out with another person.
How Information is Processed: Sensing Versus Intuition:
Sensing and intuition refer to how a person processes information - either by taking it and processing on face value, or by looking at hidden or obscure possibilities of information.
A sensing person is someone who pays attention to the physical reality of things that can be touched, smelled, heard, tasted, and seen.
- Observes everything in the physical world.
- Notices details and facts.
- Likes the practical application and learns most by seeing how to use new information.
- Remembers events as snapshots of what happened.
- Looks at facts to solve problems.
- Begins to solve a problem by fact-gathering to form a bigger picture.
- Described as "pragmatic" and looking for the bottom line.
- Lives in the moment
- Trusts experiences rather than words or symbols
- Pleasure is derived from physical sensation
- Practicality and realistic
- So fact-oriented that sometimes misses out on new possibilities.
People who are intuitive rely less upon facts and more upon impressions as well as patterns of information.
- Reflect on the past or future, rather than the here and now
- Learns best by thinking a problem through
- Recalls events by what happened between the lines.
- Interested in the future and what might happen.
- Loves to work with symbols and abstract theories
- Trusts impressions, metaphors and symbols more than the actual experience.
- Worry/think much more about the future than the past
- Interested in new and unusual things
- Don't like routine
- Attracted to the theory behind something
- May be doubtful
- Occasionally thinks so much about new possibilities that he or she never tries turning them into a reality.
Decision-Making: Thinking Versus Feeling:
Thinking and feeling have to do with how a person processes the function of a situation and deals with the remaining circumstance.
Those who are thinkers believe that facts and objective principles carry much more weight when it comes time to make a decision. It's important to note that being a Thinker says nothing about actual intelligence.
Additional traits of thinkers are below:
- Interested in how things work, patterns, and structure
- Interested in the basic truth and applied principles regardless of the situation
- Notices inconsistencies
- Believes that there is a logical explanation or solution to most problems.
- Logical and analytical
- Decisions are made from the head and are fair.
- Believes that telling the whole truth is more important than tact.
- Occasionally misses or doesn't apply value to the personal part of a situation or problem.
- May be seen as uncaring, too task-focused, and indifferent by others.
- Evaluate situations intellectually
- Difficulty discussing feelings and emotions
It's important to distinguish that this particular type of personalty has nothing to do with actual emotions. Someone who is a feeler uses personal concerns and people involved to make decisions. Other traits of feelers may include the following:
- Interested in others and their feelings
- Uses what people care about and point of view of everyone involved in a situation.
- Concerned with values and what the best solution to a problem is for all parties involved.
- Will go above and beyond to maintain harmony.
- May be described as warm, caring and tactful by others.
- Pass moods to others.
- Becomes nervous when harmony and peace are disrupted.
- Belief that being tactful is more important than telling the whole truth.
- Evaluate situations by ethics involved, not the facts.
- May miss seeing the truth of a situation
- Can be described as too-idealistic, indirect and emotional.
- Can be manipulative in a situation.
- Wants to please others.
Structure of the World: Perceiving Versus Judging
Perceiving and judging describe how a person is motivated into action based on how they view a situation.
Those who prefer a more flexible and adaptable lifestyle and orientation to the outside world are called Perceivers. It's important to note that being Perceiving does not have anything to do with organizational skills.
Other Perceiving traits may include the following:
- Act impulsively
- Open to new experiences
- Would much rather adapt to the world than organize it
- Responds to situations no matter what happens.
- Likes to be loose and casual.
- Looks at work as play or a mixture of work and play
- Can start and work on many projects without finishing them
- Works in short bursts
- Acts by an approaching deadline or pressure
- Prefer to have fewer obligations
- Productivity is related to mood
- Sometimes misses making decisions after being open for too long.
Uses decision-making preference (Thinking OR Feeling) in outer life. Those with the judging trait prefer a planned, organized way of outer life.
- Do not like unanswered questions
- Feels more comfortable when decisions have been made.
- Enjoys things being settled and organized.
- Tries to bring life under control.
- Work ahead and finishes projects
- Appears to be task-oriented.
- Makes to-do lists
- Plan for work rather than rushing to meet a deadline
- Decisions are firm and changing them is difficult
- Follows rules and is disciplined
- Occasionally focuses so firmly on the end-goal that new information is missed.
What Personality Type Am I?
Determining your personality is often as simple as answering some questions. You've probably read a description of a personality type and above and been able to determine where you fall.
Personality types are all based upon self-report, meaning that you answer questions about your perception of yourself. After all, you know you best.
Here are some online tests that are similar to the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory.
My Personality Test (requires registration)
Below is a brief description of each of the sixteen types of personality.
Results of The Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator:
After the personality inventory has been performed you will get a series of four letters of one in sixteen personality types.
Descriptions Of The Sixteen Personality Types:
ISTJ - an ISTJ is a serious, quiet person who is interested in security and living peacefully. This person is very thorough, dependable, and responsible with very good concentration skills. An ISTJ is interested in traditions and establishments, and are hard-working, well-organized as they work toward their goals. Can accomplish most tasks if they have their mind set on it.
ISTP - an ISTP is a quiet, reserved person who is interested in the way things work, especially when it comes to mechanical things. An ISTP is a risk-taker who may love extreme sports and behaviors. An ISTP is uncomplicated, loyal, but not overly concerned by laws. An ISTP may even appear detached and analytical.
ISFJ - an ISFJ is a quiet, sweet, and perceptive; a conscientious person who can be depended upon to follow through, often putting his or her needs behind the needs of others. An ISFJ is stable, practical, enjoys security, traditions, has a well-developed sense of function as well as an inner world full of observations.
ISFP - an ISFP is quiet and sensitive; not fond of conflict and confrontation; someone who is loyal but does not want a leadership or power role. An ISFP person is flexible, creative, has an artistic appreciate and enjoys the moment.
INFJ - an INFJ is quiet and sensitive, strong and has good follow through; intuitive about others and concerned with feelings. An INFJ person is respected for doing the right thing and perseverance, and is often individual.
INFP - an INFP is quiet and reflective - the thinker who considers how to help humanity; interest in values and living up to those values; laid back writers, and mentally agile.
INTJ - an INTJ is an analytical person who is determined and unique; has a strong capability to turn ideas in to action, competent, and hold high personal standards. An INTJs have a natural ability to lead but will defer to others they respect.
INTP - an INTP is someone who is creative and logical; excited about theories and putting theories in to useable knowledge. INTPs are extremely competent, but very difficult to get to know.
ESTP - an ESTP is a friendly person who is known as a "Do-er;" interested in immediate gratification and are viewed as risk-takers or adventurous; very loyal but not respectful of rules, very charismatic.
ESTJ - an ESTJ is practical and well organized; athleticism is a strong trait, don't engage in ideas unless they have a practical use; loyal, hardworking, and like to lead. An ESTJ is able to run activities capably.
ESFP - an ESFP is a people person and is often the life of the party; they live for the moment and love experiencing new situations, helping others, and being the center of attention; however, still practical and rational.
ESFJ - an ESFJ is warm and people-focused, placing the needs of other people over his or her own needs. Responsibility is a big theme, as well as traditions. ESFJs need reinforcement from others for a strong sense of self-esteem.
ENFP - an ENFP is a person who is enthusiastic and idealistic, has a strong drive to do what interests them, and is great with others. ENFPs have a strong sense of values and lives life in accordance with those values; open-minded, flexible, and excited by new ideas, which range greatly with ability and interests.
ENFJ - an ENFJ is popular but tuned in to the needs of others, particularly how they think and feel; dislike being alone, very intuative about others and dislike analysis as being too cold. ENFJs are great people managers and good with conflict resolution and often place the needs of others above their own.
ENTP - an ENTP is creative and has a quick mind, resourcefulness allows for great debate, but being competitive is definately a trait of an ENTP. They are excited about new ideas but it may come at the detriment of other parts of life; outspoken, assertive, stimulating; great at understanding and applying logic.
ENTJ - an ENTJ is outspoken and assertive and are natural-born leaders. They understand organization and are excellent and generating solutions and then putting those solutions in to action. ENTJs become frustrated with disorganization and are considered quite competent.
What Are The Practical Applications Of Understanding Personality Types?
There are many practical uses of understanding types of personality. These practical applications of personality type can be seen in the following:
- Career Counseling
- Group Dynamics
- Professional Development
- Training for Leadership
- Marriage Counseling
Things To Remember While Gauging Personality Type Results:
The Myers-Brigg Personality Type Indicator does not measure strength of ability.
You are your own best judge of your personality type - if what you've been typed as doesn't match what you believe you are, the test is likely wrong.
There is no right or wrong personality type. No type of personality is better than another.
Additional Personality Resources:
Socionics.com - This website contains a description of the Meyers-Briggs personality qualities.
mypersonality.com - This website contains a description and categorization of each of the personality types according to the Meyers-Briggs personality test.
Personalitypage.com - This website contains a brief and in-depth description of all the Meyers-Briggs personality types.
Livingroom.org.au - This website contains many resources to personality tests, information about the Meyers-Briggs personality test, and other personality-related information.