By: R. Mautner
What is MBTI?
You may have read or heard a term such as “INFP” or “ESTJ” somewhere, or even of “cognitive functions”. Often these come in the context of describing someone’s personality, behaviour and actions. But have you wondered what any of these meant?
These relate to MBTI personality typing, which essentially comprises of 16 different personality types that each match an individual by their behaviour and methods in everyday life. This allows anyone to find their own MBTI type from answering a simple questionnaire, which is usually designed to test the person’s preferences in relation to three main aspects:
How does this work?
MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) is funded on Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist, and his psychology theory of cognitive functions. He created this concept to explain the tools that humans use to behave and act their own way. There are 8 cognitive functions in total, and these are divided into the “rational” functions Thinking and Feeling, and the “irrational” functions Intuition and Sensing. (In this context, “rational” and “irrational” are simply describing how much awareness and control we have over these functions’ uses, and not about their logical rationality). For each one of those four, there are both its introverted and extroverted versions. So, summing this up:
Ni: introverted iNtuition
Ne: extroverted iNtuition
Si: introverted Sensing
Se: extroverted Sensing
Ti: introverted Thinking
Te: extroverted Thinking
Fi: introverted Feeling
Fe: extroverted Feeling
Whew! These look like a lot, but it’s quite simple what each of these stands for.
Firstly, every introverted function focuses on the individual itself, and every extroverted function focuses on the individual’s relationship with other people and the outside world.
Intuitive functions are pretty much “thinking outside of the box”, except there’s not much conscious thinking; introverted intuition (Ni) consists of insights and new, creative ideas, and extraverted intuition (Ne) consists of finding patterns within the bigger picture.
On the other hand, sensing functions stick to reality and experience. Introverted sensing (Si) focuses on the individual’s internal experiences and memories, and extraverted sensing (Se) focuses on experiencing life as it is, or on “seizing the day”.
Then, we have thinking. Introverted thinking (Ti) is essentially the use of internal logic, and extroverted thinking (Te) is about planning into the future and thinking on larger scales.
Finally, the feeling functions; introverted feeling (Fi) focuses on one’s internal values, morals and emotions, whereas extroverted feeling (Fe) focuses on their emotions and compassion towards other people or beings.
How are the types determined?
Each type is an acronym with four letters: I (introvert) or E (extrovert), N (intuition) or S (sensing), T (thinking) or F (feeling), J (judging) or P (perceiving). Altogether, in all possible combinations of these letters there are 16 types.
__ __ __ __
I or E / N or S / T or F / J or P
All of this depends on which four cognitive functions one uses: we all have a dominant function, an auxiliary, a tertiary and an inferior.
One’s dominant function can be any one of the previous eight, and it works together with their auxiliary. There are also the tertiary and inferior functions, which are used by them less often.
So, for example, if you consider yourself to be a very logical and thoughtful person, your dominant function might be introverted thinking (Ti). This already determines two letters of your type: I_T_.
Next, given that your dominant function is a “rational” one (T/F), your auxiliary will be an “irrational” (N/S). Also, since your dominant was introverted thinking, your auxiliary must be extraverted intuition or sensing (Ne or Se). Let’s take Se for example: IST_.
The last letter is either J (judging) or P (perceiving). Now here comes the tricky part: if the type’s dominant function is either Ti, Fi, Ne or Se, the letter at the end will be P, standing for perceiving. That’s because types with these dominant functions tend to be more prospective and spontaneous. Logically, types whose dominant function is Te, Fe, Si or Ni will end in J, for judging. In this case judging means practical and pragmatic rather than judgmental.
So, finally, since this example’s main function is Ti, the last letter will be P standing for perceiving: ISTP! There we have one of the sixteen MBTI personality types.
If you’ve already identified yourself with one or some of the cognitive functions, have a go guessing your type! Or, if you’re confused yet still interested in the subject, it’s helpful to take a test and find it out.