What’s the Myers-Briggs Test?

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment (simply known as the Myers-Briggs test) is a tool used by some psychologists to categorize a person’s basic psychological or personality type. The Myers-Briggs test produces four main categories – known as the Keirsey Temperament groupings – as indicated below:

  • Extraversion versus introversion: In short, an extraverted person prefers to be around people; an introvert feels he or she needs alone time in order to “recharge.”
  • Sensing versus intuition: A person whose dominant way of gathering information is “sensing” is someone who prefers tangible, concrete information. A person whose dominant mode is “intuition” is comfortable with abstract or theoretical information.
  • Thinking versus feeling: People who are more comfortable with making decisions based upon an analytical thought process are “thinking” dominant. People who are more likely to act on their emotions or their “gut” are “feeling” dominant.
  • Judging versus perception: “Judging” types are people who tend to see the world in black and white; they like conclusions to be clear and settled. “Perception” types are people who see the world in shades of gray; they are comfortable with leaving things open to change.

In all, there are 16 possible combinations, or “personality types,” described by the MBTI. In this article, we’ll briefly explain each of these 16 types according to the four Keirsey Temperament groupings.

The Guardians

The Supervisor: ESTJ

When they were children, ESTJs were industrious: Without having to be told, they worked hard to get homework done on time and usually followed directions the first time they received them. As adults, ESTJs are concrete rule-followers who excel at organization of people and resources. Football coach Vince Lombardi is one example of an ESTJ.

The Provider: ESFJ

Friendly, social and popular, ESFJs have no problem with speaking publicly, organizing large groups of people or chairing church committees. They are so friendly and outgoing that they often feel lonely and uncomfortable when on their own. McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc is a particularly famous ESFJ.

The Inspector: ISTJ

ISTJs tend to be quiet, serious and realistic. Although they are not always adept at dealing with others’ emotional needs, they are very logical and dependable people. Investor Warren Buffett is a good example of an ISTJ.

The Protector: ISFJ

While the ISTJ is dependable but not always emotional available, the ISFJ is almost too emotionally available. Above all else, ISFJs value being loyal friends and caring for others. As such, ISFJs make wonderful caretakers, including nurses, ministers, counselors and so forth. Mother Theresa and Rosa Parks were both ISFJs.

The Artisans

The Promoter: ESTP

ESTPs are charmers with a knack for understanding styles, trends and who and what will soon be popular. ESTPs tend to be confident, resistant to authority and unhappy when they have to be second-in-command. ESTPs do well in business professions that require a degree of panache. Donald Trump and Madonna are both good examples of ESTPs.

The Performer: ESFP

Above all else, an ESFP loves an audience. Filled with jokes, spontaneity and style, an ESFP needs a fast-paced life filled with people. ESFPs make excellent teachers, actors and emergency room workers. Elvis Presley and Bill Clinton are both examples of ESFPs.

The Crafter: ISTP

Despite their preference for introversion, ISTPs tend to have a spirit of adventure and are willing to try almost anything. They are not always easy to be in relationships with; like the ISTJ, they are not always very sensitive to the feelings of others. The ISTP should pursue a career that allows them to experiment and be energetic. Michael Jordan and Katherine Hepburn are both ISTPs.

The Composer: ISFP

While ISTPs are often concrete and impatient with things and subjects that are not, ISFPs are more dreamy and abstract. They enjoy challenges and are adept at noticing subtle changes in people and situations. Highly conscious of other people, the ISFP is empathetic and sensitive without being controlling. ISFPs often have a hard time describing their feelings in words; they often turn to art or to their work as a way of expressing themselves. Steven Spielberg and Bob Dylan are both ISFPs.

The Idealists

The Teacher: ENFJ

Organized and structured but trustworthy and sensitive, ENFJs are passionate, enthusiastic and great public speakers. They excel in fields that require teamwork and bringing out the best in others. Oprah Winfrey is an excellent example of an ENFJ.

The Champion: ENFP

ENFPs tend to be even more out-going than ENFJs. Skilled at reading other people and deeply interested in questions of good and evil, the human condition and meaningful experiences, ENFPs need jobs that keep them social and active. Nelson Mandela and Leo Tolstoy were both ENFPs.

The Counselor: INFJ

An INFJ’s life is most fulfilling when it is directed towards helping others fulfill their dreams. Like an ENFJ, an INFJ is good at bringing out the best in others; an INFJ, however, is more comfortable doing this in a one-on-one situation. Gandhi was an INFJ.

The Healer: INFP

An INFP is one of the quietest of all the introverts; inside, they are anything but quiet. Their inner life is often intense and deep, and INFPs have a capacity for caring unrivaled by most of the other personality types. Princess Diana was a famous INFP.

The Rationalists

The Field Marshal: ENTJ

ENTJs are born leaders. In business, the military and the government, they naturally rise to the top and command people and organizations. Napoleon Bonaparte and Hillary Clinton are both ENTJs.

The Inventor: ENTP

Pragmatists who are often good with their hands, ENTPs like building things and solving problems. Action-oriented, ENTPs prefer to act first and perfect later. Walt Disney was an ENTP.

The Mastermind: INTJ

The INTJ is an excellent strategist and planner, but usually prefers to stay in the background and leave the in-front leadership to the ENTJs and ESTJs of the world. The INTJ is usually far more interested in the best idea rather than the best person; an INTJ will only respect a leader whose ideas are equally respectable. President Eisenhower was an INTJ.

The Architect: INTP

Precise in their thought and their speech, skilled at identifying inconsistencies and hypocrisy, an INTP is curious, pragmatic and analytical. Difficult to get to know, the INTP prefers to live in the world of ideas than the world of people. Albert Einstein was one of the most famous INTPs.

You can find free versions of the Myers-Briggs test on countless websites. Although these free, short tests should be taken with a grain of salt and are not as reliable as an MBTI given by a professional psychologist, they are nonetheless a helpful way to think about career choices that might suit your own personality type.