It’s so easy to take a pseudo-Myers Briggs test on the internet. You can click through a quick quiz, get your result and think, “Wow, I guess that does sound like me.” A few weeks later, you can stumble across another short quiz and take it again. Maybe you get a different answer, and the description still sounds like you. Now you’re wondering whether this whole Myers-Briggs thing is all it’s cracked up to be, and if it is, then why were your results different?
This is one of the reasons Myers-Briggs tests have come under fire from critics who don’t really understand how the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is supposed to work. They look at the short little quizzes with generic feel-good results, and say it’s too simple and unreliable. But if you dive into the theory behind Meyers Briggs, and especially cognitive functions (click here for my first and second posts explaining that), you start to realize how helpful the MBTI can be as a tool for understanding yourself and other people.
One of the principles of Myers-Briggs theory is that people only have one type, and it stays consistent throughout their lives. You grow and develop within your type, but you don’t change from an INFP to an ENFJ to an ISTP or any other combination of letters. So how can you find your true type with so many conflicting results floating around?
Take A Good Test
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If you can’t take the official MBTI, there are a few decent substitutes out there on the internet. My favorite by far is Personality Hacker’s Genius Style test.* They ask for an e-mail address, but it is free. Similar Mind’s Jungian test is another I’ve recommended (note May 2017: recent changes to the test questions may skew results). Some people really like the test from 16Personalities, but it’s not my favorite. These tests all give you a series of questions which are designed to learn what cognitive functions you use, then give you a four-letter test result.
I’d recommend starting with the Personality Hacker test, and then taking one or both of the other tests to compare results. Try not to read the full results of one test before you take the others — you want to take each one as unbiased as you can. If they all give you the same result, that’s a pretty good indication you’ve found your personality type. If they’re different, though, it’s time to start reading.
Now that you have one or more 4-letter type results, read some descriptions of your personality type. If you prefer physical books, Gifts Differing by Isabel Briggs Meyers is a good place to start. Online, your test results should include good descriptions and Personality Hacker has videos and podcasts as well. Personality Junkie is another excellent place to read descriptions of all 16 types.
Read the descriptions for each of your type results. Even if you only got one result, there are a few others you could look at which use similar cognitive functions. Here’s a few guidelines for which other types to look up based on your test results.
If you test as an …
- Introvert, read about the type which is opposite you on the J/P scale. The J/P preference describes how we interact with the outer word through our extroverted function, so an I–J type actually leads with a perceiving process and an I–P type leads with a judging process. This can affect test results.
- E–J, take a look at the type opposite you on the S/N scale. The tests found that you lead with an extroverted judging/decision making process, but might not have accurately found your introverted secondary process.
- E–P, take a look at the type opposite you on the F/T scale. The tests found that you lead with an extroverted perceiving/learning process, but might not have accurately found your introverted secondary process.
- -SFJ or -NFJ, read results from ENFJ, INFJ, ISFJ, and ESFJ. These types all use Extroverted Feeling, and can often be mistaken for each other. Shy ESFJs and ENFJs can be mis-typed as introverts, and outgoing ISFJs and INFJs can be mis-typed as extroverts.
- -NT- types, read the type opposite you on the E/I preference. ENT- types, especially ENTJs, are among the most “introverted extroverts” and might mis-type.
Think About Stress
Most tests look at your primary and secondary function — the driver and co-pilot processes that lead in our personality. This makes sense, since other functions are less well developed and we don’t use them as much unless we’re stressed. When we’re trying to discover our true type is, though, how we react under stress is a good indication of which type matches us best.
- If you test as an E-FJ or I-FP type, read about inferior Thinking.
- If you test as an E-TJ or I-TP type, read about inferior Feeling.
- If you test as an EN-P or IN-J type, read about inferior Sensing.
- If you test as an ES-P or IS-J type, read about inferior Intuition.
Good type descriptions will also talk about the inferior function. An excellent book on this topic is Was That Really Me? How Everyday Stress Brings Out Our Hidden Personality* by Naomi Quenk.
Keep In Mind …
No personality test result is going to be a 100% perfect match. You’re looking for the one that fits you best. You will find elements of other descriptions that sound like you, but there should be one that fits better than the others. Pay close attention to descriptions of how your type uses cognitive functions. Descriptions of INFJ and INFP types, for example, sound similar but they lead with very different mental processes.
Good luck on your journey of self discovery! There’s a plethora of resources out there that can help you, including type-based Facebook groups and forums where you can talk with people of different types to see how they think. And if there’s anything I can help with, just ask!
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