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What is MBTI and how does it work?

You may have heard of terms such as “ENTP” or “ISFP '' somewhere and wondered what these cryptic-sounding letters mean and why they always change depending on the person. MBTI stands for Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which is a test that allows us to better understand and evaluate people’s personalities, behavior, and actions. Within MBTI, there are 16 types of personalities, each having very specific meanings and values. The test can provide explanations for everyday decisions, love life problems, and other intricate aspects involving your personality. In case you don’t know what your MBTI is, here is a test to find out (just warning you, it is a comprehensive test): After taking that inclusive quiz, you have figured out what type of personality you have, but what does each letter mean?

There are four letters to evaluate your personality type, and this is what each one means:

  • I or E: Introversion or extroversion: this measures how you feel in social situations. If you are quiet and reserved, you are an introvert (I). But, if you are more outgoing and social, then you are an extrovert (E).

  • S or N: Intuition or sense: this measures your ideas and values. If you are more realistic and focus your attention on facts and details, you are considered a sensor (S). Sensors focus more on measuring their ideas by facts and by actual knowledge. But, if you are more idealistic, and focus on the bigger picture, you are intuitive (N). Intuitives tend to Fantasize more when thinking about new ideas.

  • T or F: Feeling or thinking: this measures how you make choices. If you are a thinker (T), you tend to have more rational and analytical thoughts. They like to use more there head instead of their heart when making decisions and like to look one facts to determined their choices as well. Whilst if you are considered a feeler (F), your thought process is determined by emotion and compassion. Feelers tend to use more their heart and their emotions to make decisions, they can be considered more “irrational” for determining their choices.

  • J or P: Judging and perceiving: the understanding of your ability to make plans and how you go through with them. Judgers (J) tend to be more organized and more likely to stick to plans. Perceivers (P) like to have more open options and be more spontaneous. They are more flexible with plans and like to “go with the flow”.

Whew, that was a lot of information! But for you to get a better grasp of the concept, let’s talk about me. I am an ESTJ, which is an extrovert/sensor/thinker/judger. But, you are probably wondering how this system was created, and what it affects.

MBTI was founded in 1942 by Katharina Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers. Both Cook and her daughter were always keen on observing people’s similarities and differences. They got inspired by the work of Carl Jung, which created the idea of people being introverts and extroverts. The mother and daughter duo dedicated their time to developing a type indicator. They did this in the hopes of helping individuals around the world understand their tendencies and why they behave the way they do. Their hard work paid off: about 1.5 million people take the MBTI test yearly. But why do so many people take this test? Well, it helps us understand more about ourselves, why we communicate the way we do, and how we can approach general situations, and get a better understanding of ourselves.

All personality tests, including actual psychological assessments or Buzzfeed quizzes, can be stimulating, insightful, and just amusing. The MBTI is a perfect example of this: taking the test makes us relate to others and understand ourselves. But, remember that researchers have found and understood that over time people change. That’s why you should retake the exam every 2 years. We learn, grow, develop and have new life experiences throughout our lifetime. Those have to be accounted for!


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