Here’s What Your Myers-Briggs Type Can and Can’t Tell You

It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Myers-Briggs. I’ll defend it against people who say it’s useless, write and re-write posts trying to come up with the simplest introduction to function stacks ever, and spend my time musing about how type influences both real people and fictional characters. But as much as I like the Myers-Briggs system of personality types, I also know there are things it’s not meant to do.

In fact, applying Myers-Briggs wrongly is one of the biggest reasons it has come under so much criticism. For example, you can find quite a few articles online that argue Myers-Briggs is basically useless in a work environment. They’ll tell you it’s not a good indicator of job performance nor is it all that useful for screening potential employees. But that shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering those aren’t the test’s purpose. And it’s unfair to dismiss a test for not doing something it wasn’t meant to do in the first place.

So what is the Myers-Briggs test supposed to tell you? And just how much can we apply what we learn from finding our type to real life?

This Is Your Brain On Decision Making

The Myers-Briggs test is designed to measure how people’s minds work. It describes their preferred mental processes or “cognitive functions” (to use the technical term). Contrary to what so many critics of the test think, it doesn’t force people into dichotomies. Rather, each type has a “stack” of preferred functions. So an ENFJ type isn’t someone who’s 100% extroverted, intuitive, feeling, and judging. They’re a type that prefers making decisions with Extroverted Feeling, learning new things with Introverted Intuition, and then also uses Extroverted Sensing and Introverted Thinking to a lesser extent (click here to learn how we get from the four letter type to the functions).

These characteristics of Myers-Briggs theory means that taking the test can help you: Continue reading

Part Two: “Unofficial” Disney Princesses MBTI Chart

Last week, I updated an old post called The Missing Disney Princesses with a brand new MBTI Chart featuring the 14 official princesses (well, technically there are 11 official princesses, plus Anna and Elsa who have their own line, and Moana who hasn’t been crowned yet. So it was more like the “Official + New/Popular Princesses Chart”).

There are other Disney women, though, who’ve been completely snubbed by the Disney princess line-up and I wanted to include those as well. I had them on a separate chart in my previous post and I wanted to follow that pattern this time as well. Eilonwy and Alice were the most requested characters I left out last time, so I’m adding them. And I’ve also added a character no one asked about from my favorite underappreciated Disney films — Maid Marion from Robin Hood.Updated Disney Princesses MBTI Chart, Part Two |

Note: I’m not using anything from sequel films (just to help narrow-down the typing choices), so that’s why you won’t see Ariel’s daughter Melody (for example). I also type using cogitative functions. If you’re not familiar with that aspect of Myers-Briggs theory, click here and here for a two-part introduction. Read on for detailed explanations for why I chose these types for the unofficial princesses, and click here for the post about the other princesses.

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Updated Disney Princesses MBTI Chart

A couple years ago, I made a Myers-Briggs chart called The Missing Disney Princesses that quickly became one of the more popular posts on my blog. Now (finally!!!) I get to update it to include our new princess, Moana.

But I’m not just adding Moana to my chart. I’m also moving around a few of the other princesses. Last time, my focus was on showing that we don’t see all the personality types represented by the Disney princesses. Both Intuitive and Thinking types are under represented among Disney’s ladies. That’s still the case, but this time my focus is on explaining why I typed each princess the way I did.

In the two years since publishing the last chart, I’ve learned more about Myers-Briggs typing. I’ve also re-watched several of these movies, considered comments from readers on the previous post, and asked advice from fellow personality type and Disney enthusiasts. In response, I’ve re-typed several characters (which is noted and explained in the individual character discussions).Updated Disney Princesses MBTI Chart |

Note: I type using cogitative functions. If you’re not familiar with that aspect of Myers-Briggs theory, click here and here for a two-part introduction. Read on for detailed explanations for why I chose these types for each character. Continue reading

Star Wars MBTI Chart

My Star Wars obsession has lain dormant for 10 years, buried under delta shields, gate addresses, consulting detectives, and madmen in blue boxes. As The Force Awakens, so has the part of me that used to spend hours on Star Wars message boards debating casting news and plot points for the prequels trilogy. I’ve seen it twice now — once opening night and then again yesterday.

I know the fact that most of the EU is no longer cannon has irritated/incensed some people, but at least it’s easier to catch-up on what’s in-cannon now. I’ve been watching Clone Wars (which I thoroughly enjoy) and reading some of the novels, so those will figure into this typing chart.

Readers have been so happy with my Disney princesses chart trying to sort characters by their actual type rather than shoe-horn one into each category that I decided to do something similar for Star Wars. Share it with your friends, spread it around Pinterest, comment with what you like and dislike. For interested parties, I’ve added some of my reasons for typing each character this way below the chart. Enjoy 🙂

Update January 2017: I’ve updated  the chart with characters from Star Wars Rebels. Click here to visit the post analyzing their personality to read article, "Personality Types in Star Wars Rebels" |

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Finding Your Real Myers Briggs Type

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?

Finding Your Real Myers Briggs Type |

Take A Good Test

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 screw 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.

Compare Results

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.

Good type descriptions will also talk about the inferior function. An excellent book on this topic is Was That Really Me? 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!


Learning from Our Stress Function – Inferior Intuition

When we’re talking about someone’s personality type in the Myers-Briggs system, we usually talk about their primary and secondary functions (also called mental processes). An ISFJ, for example, leads with a process called Introverted Sensing (a perceiving/learning function), which is supported with Extroverted Feeling (a judging/decision making function). An ESTP, on the other hand, leads with Extroverted Sensing, supported by Introverted Thinking. Using Personality Hacker’s car model, we can compare our primary function to an adult driving a car, and the secondary function to a second adult navigating in the passenger seat.

Each type also has a tertiary function (the opposite of their secondary function), and an inferior function (the opposite of their primary function). These are less well developed. In the car model, our tertiary function is like a 10-year-old sitting behind the co-pilot, and the inferior function is like a 3-year-old sitting behind the driver. The processes you use most readily are the ones typically visible, and they define your personality as others usually see it. Our less developed functions play a significant role as well, though. Today, we’ll be looking at types which use Intuition as an inferior function.

Learning from Our Stress Function - Inferior Intuition |

Characteristics of Inferior Intuition

ESTPs and ESFPs use dominant Extroverted Sensing, which makes Introverted Intuition their inferior function (this is also sometimes mistakenly called the “shadow”). Types like mine (INFJ) use Introverted Intuition comfortably, but for ESTPs and ESFPs it’s their least developed function. Naomi Quenk says inferior Introverted Intuition displays the following traits (I’ve put the traits of dominant Ni in parenthesis):

  • Internal confusion (instead of intellectual clarity)
  • Inappropriate attribution of meaning (accurate interpretation of perceptions)
  • Grandiose Vision (visionary insight)

ISFJs and ISTJs also lead with a sensing function. They primarily use Introverted Sensing, so that makes Extroverted Intuition their stress function. Here are the traits Quenk associates with inferior Extroverted Intuition (and their counterparts in Ne-dominant types like ENTPs and ENFPs).

  • Loss of control over facts and details (instead of comfortable inattention to sense data)
  • Impulsiveness (flexibility, adaptability, and risk taking)
  • Catastrophizing (optimism about future possibilities)

There are similarities in how a dominant Intuitive type and an inferior Intuitive type use their intuitive functions, but intuition in ESFPs, ESTPs, ISFJs, and ISTJs is poorly developed.

Everyday Life

For most types, the inferior function isn’t always visible. In ISFJs and ISTJs, though, it “seems to color the everyday personality” and they are typically seen as worriers (Quenk, Was That Really Me?, 215). It’s not all bad, though. When an Introverted Sensing type enjoys creative pursuits like writing poetry or music and creating a work of art (especially arts in an abstract form), they are tapping into their intuitive side. They might also daydream or enjoy escaping reality via fantasy and sci-fi. An interest in spirituality — especially aspects of God that cannot be understood with the five senses — might also be tied to the intuitive side.

Worries related to inferior Intuition frequently show up in ESFPs and ESTPs, who are often challenged by society for their apparent lack of seriousness. They rarely stay worried for long, though. Like the introverts, Extroverted Sensing types might also be avid readers, enjoy the arts, and can be attracted the spiritual or metaphysical as a way of explaining their intuition.

Stress Reactions

Learning from Our Stress Function - Inferior Intuition | marissabaker.wordpress.comMost of us don’t use our inferior processes on a regular basis. We’re so used to using the better-developed processes that we don’t spend much time worrying about the ones we don’t use. But under certain stressful conditions, we lose touch with our primary and secondary mental processes and fall-back on the undeveloped inferior function. Think back to the car model we mentioned, and imagine that something unexpected happened (like you swerve to avoid hitting a construction cone or small animal). It shakes up the passengers, the 3-year-old starts crying and suddenly the only thing anyone in the car can focus on is calming the baby.

Unknowns and future plans can trigger stress in all types that use dominant Sensing. ESTPs and ESFPs are most sensitive to situations and people that want them to make a commitment or think about what the future holds. They don’t like feeling trapped by planning, or being judged by people who are more serious and goal-oriented (Quenk 174). ISFJs and ISTJs experience anxiety about “the prospect of unknown, previously unexperienced activities” (Quenk, 218) They also hate it when someone contradicts evidence they can see with their eyes (e.g. they’re having a particularly bad day and someone tells them everything will be fine).

When Sensing types are “in the grip” of inferior Intuition (to borrow a term from Naomi Quenk), they display the characteristics associated with inferior Introverted Intuition or Extroverted Intuition. They are more likely to feel panicked, confused, and as if they’ve lost control over their lives. Intuition is great at coming up with future possibilities, but for dominant Sensing types the possibilities coming out of inferior Intuition often look terrifying. They’ll be distracted by worst-case-scenarios, and may seem paranoid. Instead of processing sensory information with their typical speed and accuracy before acting, they’ll second-guess everything and without careful thought.

Getting Out of Stress

Once we know what our inferior function is an how it affects us, we can start to learn from this hidden side of our personalities. Just knowing it’s there is reassuring, since now we have an idea of why we react to stress the way we do. It also opens up tools for understanding how our minds work, getting back to “normal” after we’ve gone through a stressful situation, and learning to use our inferior function effectively.

ESFPs and ESTPs frequently experience “inferior function episodes,” but they rarely last long. Their brains work quickly, and they don’t tend to dwell on things. If you are an ESFP or ESTP trying to get out of a stress-reaction, it often helps to have a contingency plan that you can fall-back on but still feel free to change. Talking it over with someone works for many ESFPs and ESTPs (both men and women), especially if they encourage you to reconnect with reality and find logical explanations for what’s troubling you. Others Extroverted Sensing types find that working through the experience and doing some hands-on activities also grounds them in their Sensing function (Quenk, 184-185).

As introverts, ISFJs and ISTJs need more alone-time to process the eruption of their inferior function. They might use this alone time to analyze and re-frame the situation to solve the original problem or plan how they can react better next time. Most people with these two types say physical exercise is one of the best ways for them to return to normal. The exception is female ISFJs, who rarely list exercise as useful. Female ISFJs are also more likely to want to talk about their stress reaction with someone else after they’ve had a chance to think (Quenk, 231-232).

Learning From the Inferior

Most type theorists will say people rarely start to incorporate their inferior function until mid-life, but you can start learning to use your Intuition any time. Isabel Meyer suggested that every type exercise all four of their functions when making a decision. Your dominant Sensing helps with analyzing facts, facing reality, and understanding exactly what sort of situation you’re facing. Tapping into Intuition (instead of being scared of it) allows for discovering possibilities you might not have otherwise considered, like how you might change the approach and attitudes that you and others bring to this particular situation (Meyers, Gifts Differing, 197).

As they learn to incorporate Intuition more fully, ISFJs and ISTJs seem to “mellow” and become more relaxed toward shortcomings in themselves and other people. They’re also less stressed by unexpected events (Quenk, 233-234). ESTPs and ESFPs who use their intuition more fully start to seem (a little) more mature. They also feel more comfortable and secure in themselves (Quenk, 186-187).

Learning from Our Stress Function - Inferior Intuition | marissabaker.wordpress.comcredits for pictures used in blog images:

  • The Shadow” by WhatiMom, CC BY-SA via Flickr
  • Shadow” by Nicola, CC BY via Flickr