Personality Type Myth-Busting: Is The Myers-Briggs® Test Only Useful For Entertainment?

Critics of the Myers-Briggs® test have a whole host of complaints to bring against it. The test isn’t valid because you can get different results if you retake it, it uses false/limited binaries, it doesn’t predict work performance — the list goes on and one. And at the end of these sorts of articles, the writers say, “The Myers-Briggs is useful for one thing: entertainment. … like a BuzzFeed quiz.”

Some of the criticisms are true, at least at face value (e.g. you can get different results from retaking the test). But others betray a fundamental misunderstanding of Myers-Briggs® theory (e.g. the idea that it relies on limited binaries/dichotomies). And still others arise from expecting Myers-Briggs® types to tell us something they were never designed to measure (e.g. whether or not you’ll do well in a certain job).

Clearly, I think personality types are useful for more than just entertainment or I wouldn’t be writing about them as much as I do. But do I have a good reason for thinking this? Is the Myers-Briggs® test and theory useful? The answer depends what you’re using it for. Read more

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7 Fictional Characters That You’ll Relate To If You’re An ESTP

What fictional characters do you relate to as an ESTP?

Just as we can describe real people using the Myers-Briggs® typology system, we can also type well-written fictional characters. Some of fiction’s most iconic and intriguing characters are ESTPs and today we’re going to talk about seven that I think real-life ESTPs will find relatable.

One great thing about looking at character personality types is that it helps us better understand people who have different types than we do. Fictional ESTPs can serve as examples for what real-life ESTPs might be like, and also show how much variation can exist between individuals with the same type.

Much like ISTPs, ESTP characters make fantastic action heroes. But they’re also far more than that. You’ll find ESTPs in fiction (and in real life) using their natural strengths in a variety of ways as they lead others, solve problems, and adapt to life moment by moment. The way their minds work make them compelling, dynamic characters that often capture our hearts and imaginations.

James T. Kirk

Lenore Thomson types Jim Kirk as an Intuitive type in her otherwise excellent book Personality Types, but I’m more inclined to agree with Susan Storm that he’s an ESTP. To quote her article about The Greatest Movie Heroes of Every Myers-Briggs® Personality Type, “Jim Kirk embodies the impulsive, opportunistic nature of the ESTP personality type. He lives fully in the moment and is quick to react to changes in his environment. He loves a fast-moving, daring lifestyle and loves to experience new and novel things.”

Kirk is every bit as charming as you’d expect from ETP types with tertiary Extroverted Feeling. This function also gives him an edge in understanding people (though as a tertiary function it isn’t his strongest suit) and lends an easy carelessness to the way he presents himself to the world. People may initially misinterpret him as shallow and/or “boyish,” but he continually demonstrates that he thinks deeply about things. He’s quick to come up with clever plans, to understand what’s going on in unexpected situations, and often shares deep insights about complex ethical questions he’s working to make sense of. Read more

Here’s How Each Personality Type Can Change The World

Every personality type has something incredibly valuable to offer the world. Each comes with a slightly different way of learning new information, seeing the world, making decisions, and interacting with others. And that means that we each have the potential to positively impact the world in different ways.

A person’s Myers-Briggs® type doesn’t explain everything about them. But it does describe how our minds work, and that can give us an idea of how each type can use their strengths to make the world a better place.

For this list, I’ve paired the types that use the same primary and co-pilot functions together. For example, both ESFJ and ISFJ use Extroverted Feeling and Introverted Sensing as their preferred functions, just in a different order. If you’re new to Myers-Briggs® theory or want a quick refresher, you can click here for a quick intro to how functions work.

ESFJ and ISFJ

ESFJs and ISFJs change the world by connecting with and supporting other people, as well as preserving and passing on valuable lessons of the past. 

Having Extroverted Feeling as either their primary or co-pilot function gives SFJ types a strong desire to help and support other people. They tend to personalize everything they do and care so deeply about others that they may forget their own needs while selflessly serving those around them. They’re also really good at picking up on what other people are feeling.

With Introverted Sensing as either their primary or co-pilot function, SFJs have a strong desire to learn from the past. It’s the function that helps us make sure we remember what was learned in our personal and collective histories so we don’t keep repeating failures as we go forward.

ENFJ and INFJ

ENFJs and INFJs change the world by bridging gaps between people who have different perspectives and offering a vision for what the future could look like on both personal and societal levels. Read more

Personality Type Myth-Busting: Are Certain Personality Types Less Intelligent Than Others

If you’ve done much reading about Myers-Briggs® types, you’ve probably come across the claim that Intuitives are smarter than Sensors. Or perhaps you’ve seen people talk about Thinking types being more intelligent than Feeling types.

Both of these ideas are untrue. They’re based on inaccurate stereotypes about the types and/or misunderstandings about the unique sort of intelligence that each type uses. In reality, every personality type is intelligent and no one type is smarter than any other. They do have different kinds of intelligence, though, and there are situations where one type might appear smarter than others just based on what skills the situation calls for.

Are Certain Personality Types Less Intelligent Than Others? | LikeAnAnchor.com
Photo credit: Marianne Sopala via Pixabay

The Problem of Measuring Intelligence

The idea that Sensing types aren’t smart is actuality based on something Isabel Meyers mentions in her book Gifts Differing. She said that Intuitive types tend to score higher on IQ tests. What people who spread this rumor miss is that she also pointed out that the structure of IQ tests puts Sensors at a disadvantage which has nothing to do with whether or not they’re smart. Read more

ENFJs, the Dead Poet Society, and Ways To Change the World

When I wrote my list of 7 Fictional Characters That You’ll Relate To If You’re An ENFJ, I rewatched the movie Dead Poet Society. I think both John Keating and Neil Perry are ENFJs, but they’re often typed as ENFPs and that got me thinking about some of the main differences between these types. And that led me to pondering the ways that NF types, and ENFJs in particular, work to change the world.

Most people don’t think of ENFJs as a type that would buck the status quo. We see them as harmony creators, best friends, and mentors but not necessarily as someone who swims against the flow of culture. I think that’s the main reason people type Mr. Keating and Neil as ENFPs, who we more often think of as the outspoken champions of causes. But ENFJs do have a rebellious streak. In fact, all NF types are idealists who typically find some way to seek a better world. Though the ways they work toward this change (and what a better world means to them) differ depending on their individual personalities, interests, and experiences most of them do want to change the world in some way.

Just to be clear, NF types aren’t the only ones who care about social change or want to see improvements in the world. Every one of the 16 types does that in their own way, and I’ll be working on a post that covers all of them in the near future. But just for today, I want to focus on ENFJs, ENFPs, and Dead Poet Society.

The Teacher

I’m not a huge fan of giving the Myers-Briggs types nicknames because there’s so much more to each type than can be neatly packaged into a single description. But we can look at the different nicknames as roles that each type fills often enough for it to stick as a label. Teacher, Mentor, Giver, and Charismatic Leader are all descriptions that are used to try and sum-up the key traits of ENFJs. Interestingly, all those labels could be applied to John Keating from Dead Poet Society. Read more

7 Fictional Characters That You’ll Relate To If You’re An ENFJ

What fictional characters do you relate to as an ENFJ?

Just as we can describe real people using the Myers-Briggs® typology system, we can also type well-written fictional characters. Some of fiction’s most iconic and intriguing characters are ENFJs and today we’re going to talk about seven that I think real-life ENFJs will find relatable.

One great thing about looking at character personality types is that it helps us better understand people who have different types than we do. Fictional ENFJs can serve as examples for what real-life ENFJs might be like, and also show how much variation can exist between individuals with the same type.

The things that makes ENFJs such great fictional characters are also the things that make them so engaging in real life. ENFJs tend to have extraordinary charisma, keen insight into other people’s needs and desires, and a genuine desire to help others. They make wonderful leaders, teachers, and counselors and in many cases those are roles we see them filling in fiction as well as real life.

Charles Xavier

Professor X is usually typed either as an INFJ or ENFJ. But for the film versions at least, I think he’s more of an ENFJ (though all NF types could probably find him relatable due to his idealism and drive to help others). Especially as a young man, Charles is very outgoing and friendly in social situations and puts the well-being of others as one of the his primary concerns. He’s also more live-in-the-moment than most INFJs, which is partly a result of having Extroverted Sensing as his tertiary instead of inferior function.

In many ways, Xavier’s superhuman abilities are an extension of the ways that an NFJ’s mind naturally works. For example, Extroverted Feeling is often linked to an ability to feel others’ emotions. Pair that with pattern-recognizing Introverted Intuition and it can almost seem like INFJs and ENFJs have the ability to read minds. Real-life ones can’t, of course, nor can they predict the future or see into someone’s past. But they do have a keen insight into understanding how people think and can put together patterns well enough to predict probable outcomes. Read more