Have you ever overheard a friend or coworker declare “I’m an INFJ!” or another seemingly random four-letter combination? It’s likely they’re talking about their Myers-Briggs test results.
This personality-related test was developed in the 1940’s, yet continues to be discussed and applied in modern instances. Why has it become so popular over the years, and how can you take the test yourself? Answers below!
What is the Myers-Briggs Test?
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a personality test, typically based on psychological attributes and is used to determine differing strengths and types of personalities in a workplace or other setting. The questionnaire’s battery of tests can provide insight into the subject’s perception, decision making, leadership skills, and other attributes may contribute to personal or professional success.
Myers-Briggs tests borrow from psychologist Carl Jung’s theory of dominant psychological functions: sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking. The theory suggests that these functions color how we approach solving problems and interacting with others. Despite its origin in psychological theory, MBTI is traditionally used in business settings, but has been questioned due to its lack of scientific validity and rigor.
That said, Myers-Briggs continues to be used by organizations across the globe to help individuals understand and apply their personal strengths.
How the Myers-Briggs Test Works
The Myers-Briggs test consists of 90-plus “forced choice” questions, meaning there is only one choice when selecting between two options. The MBTI then segments subjects into 16 distinct personality types, using combinations of the following personality designations.
Introvert (I) vs. Extrovert (E)
Introverts tend to consider the world from an internal perspective, allowing their ideas and creativity to flow from within themselves. Introverts tends to attach more emotional value to their thoughts and decisions.
Extroverts gain their inspiration through interactions and ideation with others. This external view tends to make extroverts more collaborative.
Intuitive (N) vs. Sensory (S)
Intuitive types focus more on the future by recognizing patterns and processes in order to have a greater understanding of potential results.
Sensory types tend to live more in the moment and rely on holistic views through their use of immediate senses.
Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F)
Thinking types take an objective approach to situations, and rely more on causal analysis and data to help form their opinions or decisions.
Feeling types place considerable weight to external values as part of their decision making, giving more emphasis to the subjective aspects of a situation, and considering personal differences.
Perceiving (P) vs. Judging (J)
Perceiving types go with the flow, and enjoy flexibility and spontaneity when it comes to agendas or decisions.
Judging types take an organized approach to life, and prefer that events be planned out or scheduled in order to go as smoothly as possible.
Example Test Outcomes
After the questionnaire is completed, the testee is assigned a four-letter code to help explain their personality type.
For example, if you’re an “INFJ” type, this means you’re highest on the scales for introversion, intuition, feeling, and judging. In combination these qualities mean you’re likely a private, organized, and process-driven person who considers the emotions of others as part of your decision making.
How to take the Myers-Briggs Test
There are a few ways to take the Myers-Briggs test, both officially and unofficially.
The official test
The official Myers-Briggs personality assessment test is available on the MBTI website here:
The test requires a one-time fee of $49.95 and includes a downloadable report, an interactive learning session, and other tips and tools related to your results.
There are other unofficial tests that mirror the Myers-Briggs’s intent, but provide results using their own terminology or qualifications. They often refer to themselves as “type-finders” or “personality tests.” Here are some options that may give you similar results to MBTI:
These tests are free, but their results may vary from the official MBTI designations. If you’re looking for a by the books Myers-Briggs assessment, you may want to consider the official test.
Should I Trust Myers-Briggs as a Personality Test?
There are many in both camps who can speak to the positive and negative attributes of the Myers-Briggs test. Quite simply, it’s an assessment to help us understand our personalities at a high level. Its results, however, have no scientific basis and are entirely open to personal interpretation.
If anything, the Myers-Briggs test gives us a surface-level understanding of our strengths and weaknesses. When compared to other’s results, it can reveal potential conflicts, or explain personality clashes. Again this isn’t based on rigorous scientific understanding and methods, but rather a theory of personality differences.
The Myers-Briggs test shouldn’t necessarily be taken to gain insight into the state of our mental health. Nor is it meant to serve as proof of our flaws. For this reason, therapists don’t administer the test as part of psychotherapy, nor does the therapist community give much credence to its results.
Looking to Truly Learn More About Yourself?
One way to understand and discuss personality traits is to talk with a therapist. While personality tests shed light on how we respond to different situations, therapists can give you concrete tools and exercises to apply to your life and help improve traits you feel may be holding you back.
Most importantly, therapy teaches you not to judge yourself on the surface, or tie who you truly are to the results of a 90 question test. We’re humans, not four-letter acronyms, and we deserve to be considered in the full context of our uniqueness.