The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: Which Combination of Letters Describes Your Personality?

As a student in the dual education system at Bertelsmann, I took part in the "Insight into Your Own Personality" seminar together with 19 of my classmates. We were split into two groups and spent two days researching our personalities according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). After answering 90 questions, the result was: I am an ESTJ. And what does that say about me?

The questionnaire, developed by Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs, is based on the typology of the Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung. It uses 90 questions to determine a type profile, which represents a description of the central personality characteristics. Fundamental consideration is devoted to the functions and preferences that guide our personality. The basic functions determine what we focus our attention on and how we make decisions. We derive energy and strength from these basic functions. Preferences are the intermediaries between our basic functions and the environment. There are four pairs of opposites, known as dichotomies: 

Extroversion (E) ↔ Introversion (I)

Describes the attitude towards the environment. Extroverted people gain their energy for life from exchanges with the environment; introverted people gain it from within themselves. 

Sensing (S) ↔ Intuition (N)

Describes the perceptive function. S types tend to rely on their five senses and notice specific facts, while N types invoke their sixth sense more and notice connections and possibilities as precursors to the future.

Thinking (T) ↔ Feeling (F)

Describes the decision-making function. Distinguishes between clear, understandable decisions that are made on the principle of justice and fairness (thinking) and emotional decisions that can only be viewed as valid when they are accepted by all those concerned (feeling). 

Judging (J) ↔ Perceiving (P)

Describes the attitude towards life. J types spend only a brief amount of time obtaining information; they have more answers than questions and a clear view of reality. P types, however, spend a great deal of time collecting information and postpone decisions. They ask many questions and have a flexible worldview. 

Both types are used by a single individual, but one characteristic is usually preferred and is therefore better trained.

The questionnaire is designed so that the answers indicate the relevant preference in the dichotomies. In this way, the evaluation can lead to 16 different combinations of letters. Dependent on how strong the preference is, behavioral characteristics of the opposite type may be present as well. However, these are not expressed with the same spontaneity and certainty. 

I was very surprised how precisely our trainer knew about me and my personality based on the evaluation before actually getting to know me "personally." When reading my profile description, I often thought: "How on earth does she know that?" The things written there admittedly matched my behavior. Amazing. 

Even more amazing, however, was that I was much better able to assess the behavior of my classmates after the seminar. Before, I thought: "How can they be so unorganized!?" or "Just for once, actually finish what you start!" Now I know that their preferences represent the opposite type and that they therefore do not place the same importance on completion or order. However, they enjoy doing other things that I do not enjoy as much or that do not correspond to my type. When forming teams, it is a great help in many situations to know which type you are dealing with. This holds true for everything from learning groups all the way to top management. "One man's meat is another man's poison," so why not split up accordingly?! 

My advice: If you have the opportunity, do not miss the chance to take part in a seminar like this! It will make you more sensitive to the subject of personality – your own as well as that of others. And you will derive clear benefit from this knowledge in the future.  

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