The MBTI is invented by Myer and Catherine Briggs to help people better find a suitable job in the post World War 2 era. They believe that each person has a special role in society according to his or her MBTI type. Today, let’s us explore the roles and super powers of the INFP and ISFP.
INFP’s superpowers: emotional insights, creative expressions or scientific minds
INFP – the Mediator, leads with Introverted Feeling (Fi) – a powerful yet often misunderstood function. Fi is a moral compass with its root taken from deep inside the human psyche. It is activated especially when one witnesses human suffering and social injustice, which triggers a powerful desire to restore the moral balance to the universe. Fi is somewhat an oxymoron. It is highly subjective based on one’s personal experiences, yet its very basis is the universal and timeless ethical rules of humanity.
Fi is shared between both INFP and ISFP. What makes INFP special is the addition of the auxiliary Extraverted Intuition (Ne). Ne is the master at seeing big-picture possibilities and connecting far-flung dots. It allows the users to easily speak in metaphors and parables and enable them to be highly creative problem solvers. Writing is a form of complex creative problem-solving as it often involves generating several options and picking the most suitable one to best describe the nuanced meanings ( And Fi is the master at pin-pointing feeling or meaning)
A powerful moral drivers combined with big-picture creativity results in a determined justice warrior who is also a powerful wordsmith. The term warrior may seem strange to describe the peace-loving INFPs who would often start out as highly sensitive individuals who shy away from conflicts or asserting themselves. However, as their Ne perspectives become more developed, they become more eloquent and flexible in navigating the world.
Ultimately, INFPs are over-represented in professions of writers, film-makers and psychologists. Their Fi and Ne allows them to have a keen structural understanding of human’s motivations and emotional make-ups. This combination also allows them to translate those insights into powerful story-telling device, be it poems or movies, to move thousands or even millions of audience in the moral causes of their interests.
Think of J. K. Rowling or J. R. R. Tolkien who are most likely INFP. Their highly developed Fi and Ne produced highly epic and intricate classics that can resonate and captivate millions of people worldwide. The more scientific-minded INFPs like Mayer Brigg (founder of the MBTI) are gifted psychologists who develop innovative yet practical theoretical frameworks to help generations of ordinary people to understand themselves better.
The third and more action-oriented INFPs are the true justice warriors who prefer hands-on work such as volunteering, nursing, animal rescuing… Joan of Arc, the famous heroine who mobilized and inspired the French population to fight against the English occupation of France, is often regarded as INFP. Their purity of heart and verbal eloquence can help them easily connect with and inspire people to follow their conviction.
ISFP: sensitivity, artistic expression and aesthetic sense
ISFP – The Adventurer, has only 1 letter different from INFP. Yet, that one letter results in fundamental difference. ISFP belongs to the SP (Explorer) group who thrives on spontaneity, sensuality and living in the moment, which is chiefly the result of Extraverted Sensing (Se). Se is a concrete, matter-of-fact way of perceiving which thrives on quick reflexes and fast decision-making.
At the core, ISFP shares with INFP Introverted Feeling. Fi is a powerful emotional motor and its aim is to control the external environment or oneself to restore a feeling of ethical balance. These seemingly passive and meek creatures have a sea of feelings bubbling within, waiting to pour over when there is injustice and unfairness present. Fi is keenly aware and gives absolute respect to individuals’ right to live autonomously without being forced to live against their nature or will.
However, Se instead of Ne results in ISFP being more in-tune with and also, limited by their immediate presence and surrounding. The Adventurer lives in the here and now and their concerns are often confined in themselves and their immediate family or friends. They are quicker with action and their senses instead of words. They make for excellent nurses, care-givers, chefs, painters or even athletes.
ISFP is often said to be the most intuitive among all the sensors personality. Their introversion and sensitivity might allow for a more introspective nature. Well-educated ISFPs also make good social-justice warriors, vehemently advocating for popular causes such as women’s equal rights, animal rights or climate change. They are similar to the action-oriented INFPs but are also more conventional.
ISFPs can also be well-known for their artistic inclination. They often can sing well and have good fashion sense. They are also good at appreciating good vibes and enjoying the finer and luxurious things in life. Their aesthetic talents serve them well in a wide range of outlets, from singing, painting, cooking to architectural designs.
Relationship is a complex topic that has been much written about. We all yearn for the right recipe to find “the one”, our soulmates, our missing halves. Yet how many of us feel confident that we find satisfying answers from internet articles? Again, this article may still not be “the one” for you, haha. But I will try my best to source and consolidate the best knowledge online.
First, let’s get some clarity on the feelings we are seeking. The English vocabulary gives us a wide confusing range of terminologies: true love, soulmates, chemistry, compatibility, crush, infatuation, limerence etc.
Let’s not get too technical, but focus on the 2 main things: the short-term romantic delusion and that elusive one true feeling. As a somewhat logical person, I cringe at the latter. But for the sake of truth-seeking, let’s delve in to see what the experts have to say. For the sake of simplicity, we called short-term feelings as Crush and long-term ones as Love.
Crush versus Love
Short-term feelings such as crush or infatuation are often characterized by having butterflies in the stomach, occurring early in the relationship when two people are not yet familiar with each other and fueled mostly by sexual drives and hormones. In general, it has all the emotional up-and-down of a typical teenage fantasy.
Meanwhile, Love relies more on compatibility than chemistry. It is characterized by trust, comfort and having common values. It is about “still water runs deep”, happening over a long period of time. Having compatibility often means having much similarity, which may seem boring at first.
Chemistry versus Compatibility
Chemistry refers to the sparks between two people. It is about energy and excitement. Chemistry can come from compatible sense of humor, physical attraction and even situations. We all know that famous tip of taking your crush to ride roller coaster because apparently the rising heartbeats may be mis-attributed to attraction towards you.
Overall, chemistry is caused by differences, which can make someone appear mysterious and awe-inspiring. A well-educated woman from a conservative upper-class family may feel very attracted to a brute yet athletic plumber for example. An introverted and anxious person may be mesmerized by someone with a more outgoing and confident personality.
If you want to explore further, there is Sternberg’s triangular theory of love which proposes 3 main components of love: intimacy, passion, and commitment. Having all 3 results in true love, while a combination of any two gives rise to other kinds of relationships.
Passion combined with intimacy but no commitment results in romantic love. Intimacy and commitment with no passion, like the case of most long-term marriage, is companionate love. Lastly, having passion and commitment but no intimacy is fatuous.
Signs of long-lasting relationships
Compatibility is actually the cornerstone of stable relationships. Most couples may start out with more passion, which is eventually replaced by intimacy and compatibility in various value and lifestyle factors. A couple also adapt and become more alike, as research has shown. But ultimately, having similar religious, political or philosophical backgrounds are important compatibility factors which are harder to change.
Psychologist John Gottman studied thousands of couples for four decades to determine what separates long-term couples from short-term ones. An important discovery is that the more physiologically aroused a couple (heart rates, sweating…) the more likely they will break up.
On a day-to-day basis, Dr. Gottman took note of the reciprocal responses between partners. These responses, or “biddings” are crucial for the couples to maintain their long-term intimacy. If a partner does a bidding related to his interest, like talking about his soccer game, the other partner has the choice of displaying interests or turning away. The more supportive and attentive the interactions are, the more likely the relationship will last.
Dr. Gottman’s finding, to a certain degree, confirms the importance of compatibility in relationships. Couples who come together because of passion with little similarity in values may lie to themselves and over-exaggerate their compatibility. But their heart rates don’t lie. Unconsciously, they are in the fight-or-flight mode because they are too different at the core.
I guess the main takeaway is that it is prudent to take a step back and ask yourself, if you truly feel comfortable around your partner. Putting aside desirable but superficial factors such as look, income or status, deep down below, do you respect who they are and what they value? Do you truly believe in the same things in life as them? A few decades down the road, when they become wrinkled all over, do you still want to hold their hand and listen to their stories?
1. Your functions’ percentages show how often you use them
There are many free online MBTI tests out there and some of them, such as from 16personalities.com, offer results in percentage. So you may get something like 30% Thinking – 70% Feeling, 49% Intuition – 51% Sensing, etc.
So does the test mean you use your feeling about 70% of the time and thinking the rest? The answer is: that is not how thing works. I would say showing a percentage scale is misleading to the audience. Whether you are 90% or 51% feeling, you are still a feeling type.
Your thinking and feeling are not created equal. If you prefer feeling, your feeling function receives most of the conscious energy in your waking moment. Meanwhile, the thinking directly opposing your darling feeling is “exiled” into the abyss of unconscious thoughts, turned into something childish and immature. A mature and conscious function are often more positive and forward-looking while an unconscious function play a supporting role, and often being egocentric and appear in negative tones.
For example, if you are an INFP (The Mediator) with dominant function of Introverted Feeling, you are pretty adept at feeling stuff such as empathizing with people, listening to your deepest conviction and aspiration. Your Extraverted Thinking, however, play a supporting role to help you organize your thoughts into action, turning your conviction into concrete results. However, especially under stress, your thinking has certain negativity. It is often perfectionistic and absolutist – classifying everything as black-and-white right or wrong morally.
The percentage may be helpful in showing how balanced a person is. Often as people grow older, they tend to move towards the centre of the scale. The inferior function, though diminished and distorted, is still of great importance to our psychological well-being. An INFP more balanced in thinking has mastered his feeling function enough to give more energy to extraverted thinking, which becomes more helpful and objective in its supporting role.
Hence, as you can see, it does not make sense to say you are thinking 70% of the time because the polarity of function produces a strong conscious function on one hand and a distorted function on the other. They are just not of the same quality to compare quantitatively.
2. Judging means judgmental
This dichotomy is probably the biggest pet peeve for people who have understood the functional stack. Judging is often regarded as a trait or function which causes a person to be more judgemental or more organized than their perceiving counterparts.
First of all, judging doesn’t mean judgemental. Judging and Perceiving are actually NOT psychological functions or traits. They simply point out how your other two dichotomies, thinking-feeling and intuitive-sensing, orientated. If you are a P, your Dominant Extraverted function is an Irrational or Perceiving function. Similarly, if you are J, your Dominant Extraverted function is a Judging or Rational function
This is extremely confusing, I know. Irrational functions are Intuitive or Sensing, while Rational functions refer to either Thinking or Feeling. In short, rational functions prioritize the perception of the objects, result or expectations of results while irrational ones are process-oriented. If you are an INFP, your dominant extraverted function is Extraverted Intuition as compared to an INFJ who possesses a Judging extraverted function of Extraverted Feeling. These two types differ by one letter but actually have no functions in common!
3. Feeling is the same as emotion
There is a common stereotype that thinkers, especially INTJ or INTP, are emotionless robots functioning purely on facts and numbers. This is certainly not true. Thinkers feel emotions too. They get angry when people get their facts wrong or they feel insecure about not being competent in their skills. The bottom line, they have emotions just like any other human being.
Feeling in MBTI is a form of making judgements. Its chief concern is ethics and morality, which overlap with but are not the same with emotions. Instead of the materialistic and objective bent of the thinking-dominant counterparts, feelers care more about things like honor, harmony and aesthetic. Being thinking-dominant means favoring logical criterion over ethics, but not an absence of emotions.
It is also not right to say thinkers are more immoral or unethical. It is a matter of balance and flavor. Morality can be subjective. An introverted feeler may be more likely to say that harming anyone innocent is wrong while an extroverted thinker would be more likely to agree to sacrifice individuals’s for the collective good.
4. Introverts are incapable of being talkative or gregarious
I often laugh when people label themselves as introverted extrovert or extroverted introvert. I know you are proud of the fact that you have bravely conquered your fear of the crowd to become more outspoken (as most people do), but those terms do not make sense if you truly understand Jungian and MBTI theories.
As mentioned before, being 51% introverted doesn’t mean you use extroversion about half the time. If the result is accurate, you are an introvert through and through. Your whole perspectives of life and judgement are mostly filtered through your dominant introverted function. Yes, being more balanced likely allows you to have more energy in the crowd when need to, but you are still an introvert inside. And if you think it is just a matter of inside or outside energy, you are missing the point.
Being an introvert doesn’t mean you are shy or anti-social all the time. Everyone can open up and be talkative with the right person or group of people. The fact that you are louder than your best friends do not make you an extrovert. Also, some introverts can actually have very large social circles, even if they maintain them through mostly one-on-one meetings. INFP is one example of an introverted type that can often make friend easily.
5. Your MBTI type can change
This is controversial and from what I know of, there has been no thorough research on people’s MBTI changes, whether through natural or deliberate causes. From my personal research and observation, one thing is clear: a person’s natural tendency is more pronounced when younger. As people get past the age of 25, they learn to be more balanced.
Your type is like a natural psychological patterns imprinted in your mind since birth, like right arm versus left arm. You can certainly work over time to mess and reshape these patterns but to totally change your type to the opposite will likely require significant environmental stress and personal effort.
Carl Jung in his work also mentioned that, through his observation, a child will face significant stress if parental influence requires him to act against his natural tendency for a long period of time. The damage is only remedied as he is allowed to be himself again in adulthood.
If people claim each time they take the test the result is different, then it is more of a problem with the test itself for not being able to overcome self-test bias-ness. The questionnaires often give too much room for different semantic interpretations, resulting in fluctuating results.
A more recent work by Dario Nardi who scans people’s brains to detect MBTI patterns indeed discovered distinct patterns among different types. He identified preliminary 20+ areas in the brain responsible for these patterns. One can certainly change from being left to right-handed given enough willpower and practices, but brain patterns are way more complicated and not yet understood well. You can mess up the natural patterns, but it is unlikely that you can replicate another type’s brain patterns through sheer willpower.
Do you have any questions or comments? Feel free to drop them below and I will be happy to discuss with you.
The table below shows the percentage of each type in the general population. Clearly, INFJ (The Advocate) is the rarest of all types followed by ENTJ (The Commander) and INTJ (The Mastermind). But apparently, INFJ is one of the most trending MBTI searches on Google, which means either there are more INFJ interested in reading up on MBTI or many people mistype themselves as one because ahem, we just love to feel special.
Data source: data is compiled from a variety of MBTI® results from 1972 through 2002, including data banks at the Center for Applications of Psychological Type; The Myers-Briggs Company; and Stanford Research Institute (SRI).
Digging a little further, we see an almost 50/50 split between Introvert and Extrovert (Sorry to disappoint the introverts out there, you are actually the majority). Sensors are the majority at about 75%. Perceivers and judgers are also close to 50/50 while thinkers are slightly the minority at 40%
The stereotype that women are more feeling-dominant while men are more logical does have statistical validity. Among females, ⅔ of them are feelers. For male, the difference is less pronounced with about 44% of guys are feelers. I suspect the actual figure is closer to 50/50 for males because men are traditionally conditioned to hide their feelings.
Income And Job Satisfaction
Believe it or not, there are markerly predictable patterns in earning by personality types. The infographic below is a recent comprehensive survey done by Truity Psychometrics LLC on over 4,300 volunteers. The ENTJ (Commander) and ESTJ (Executive) top the chart in yearly income. This is not surprising because they are typically pictured as CEOs and managers, and indeed over-represented in managerial positions according to this survey.
Some other useful observations include introverts in general earn less than extroverts, feelers earn less than thinkers and judgers earn more than perceivers. An interesting question for types at the short end of the stick, like ISFP, INTP or INFP, is whether you choose to be satisfied with having less of the material success or rather challenge the income stereotypes.
In terms of job satisfaction, the graph below shows an interesting dynamic. Extroverted feelers are the happiest at work even though thinkers are the highest earners. It can be explained by the tendency of feelers to pick jobs that makes them feel good and allow them to make positive social impacts such as in teaching, counseling or volunteering. Thinkers are more driven by income potential and professional prestige at the expense of their true calling. Both thinkers and feelers can learn from each other in this aspect.
Introverts, especially perceiving ones, are the most unhappy at work. I hypothesize that the typical workplace which often emphasizes teamwork and corporate politics are not suitable for the introverted tastes.
In terms of compatibility, different sources differ on the ideal match for each type. A popular school of thought is that the best couple are similar at the core, but complementary (opposite) in their orientation towards the world. This often translates into a relationship where one or two letters in the middle are common and the E-I and P-J are reversed. For example, an INFP is most suitable with ENFJ or ENTJ, while an ISFJ is most compatible with ESFP or ESTP.
Socionic, which derives from Carl Jung’s work and MBTI to assess intertype relationships, proposes an even more singular yet controversial recommendation. It categorizes and ranks the various relationships between types, proposing that relation of duality is the most optimal and closest to the so-called soulmates. Duality refers to two types of exact opposite in MBTI, such as INFP and ESTJ or ISTP and ENFJ.
An old survey by Tieger and Barron-Tieger (2000) offers a very interesting and comprehensive relationship satisfaction statistic. You may have been familiar with the 4 main temperaments in MBTI based on the 2 common letters and similar characteristics of each group: Analyst (NT), Idealist (NF), Sentinel (SJ) and Explorer (SP).
As can be seen in the below table which ranks the pairings in decreasing order of happiness, SJ are most happy with SJ, followed by NF paired with NF. The idealists paired with sensing groups, SP and SJ, produce the most dissatisfactory combinations. Analyst and Idealist pairings are also pretty suitable at 65% and 64%. Another pattern which can be deduced is that sensors and intuitives often do not make happiest matches, which can be attributed to the famous intuitive-sensing divide – the hardest divide to overcome according to many sources.
Ultimately, there has been rather scant research on relationship compatibility using MBTI framework. There are also many other significant factors which influence relationship satisfaction. Several MBTI authors have claimed that any two well-developed individuals regardless of type can form a successful relationship. But the above serves only as a guide for each of us to form our best judgement when choosing friends and romantic partners. References:
Your result is a personality type with a corresponding 4-letter combo such as INFP (The Mediator) or ENTJ (The Commander). The 4 letters come from 4 dichotomies: Introversion (I)-Extroversion (E), Intuition (N) – Sensing (S), Thinking (T) – Feeling (F), and Perceiving (P) – Judging (J).
What do these letter and dichotomies mean? Those free online tests often come with a general description of your type and functions. You can read them on your own. Below is my own brief but somewhat more advanced description of the functions in these 4 dichotomies that might be worth learning.
1. Introversion vs Extroversion
An extroverted behavior is one where objective (environmental) data contributes more weight than subjective input in decision making. If extroverted behaviors become habitual, then such individual is considered an extroverted type. Conversely, if a person spends more energy staying detached from objective data to listen to their own mind, he or she is considered introverted.
A very important point put forth by Jung is that introversion and extroversion are not mere deliberate choices that can be easily changed. They are more likely to be assigned by birth randomly in the population, representing two distinct yet balancing survival strategies in organisms. An organism can be greedy and aggressively grab food and mate around to maximize successful reproduction. While another is more selective to conserve energy, strike only when absolutely necessary. Basically, introverts prefer to conserve energy while extrovers expand.
Projecting the above strategies further into humans, Jung further points out that extroverts are more likely to adjust their behaviors faster to objective data and immediate surroundings. They are more driven by short-term immediate gains, be it business opportunities or valuable things. Their morals are heavily dictated by the prevailing demand from the society at the moment.
Extroverted behaviors may allow for quick adjustments and gains to a change in environment, but can be at odds with the universal trends or laws. This is where the introverts step in to gain advantage. They listen deeper within themselves and abide by the more universal, but often misunderstood rules coded in their genes and minds since birth.
Can one really change his attitude from introvert to extrovert and vice versa? According to Jung, it could happen, but with significant resulted psychological strains and disorders. For example, a kid having to suppress his natural attitude due to unfavorable parental influence will develop neuroticism when grow up, which can only be remedied by allowing his natural tendency to redevelop.
Another essential model to keep in mind as proposed by Jung is the insidious influence of the unconscious to the other functions which received less conscious energy from the subject. He emphasized the importance of the unconscious in balancing the conscious, which is most evident in the case of dreams. Dreams often have prophetic qualities in response to anything done excessive in a person’s waking moments.
According to Jung, no function will be entirely eliminated, it can only be greatly distorted. The suppressed functions become merged with unconscious content and become bizarre in character, though one of great importance to the overall psychological well-being.
2. Thinking vs Feeling
At the most basic level, thinking and feeling point to 2 contrasting approaches of survival for human beings as rational yet social creatures. On one hand, one may prefer collaboration and building relationships as a survival strategy. On the other hand, some choose a more independent approach with the aim of accumulating resources for oneself and devise plans to better compete with others. Of course anyone would need some mixture of these 2 strategies to navigate human’s complex social structures.
At individual level, thinking and feeling are somewhat more visible and easier to understand than the other dichotomies, especially in the case of extroverts. I find Socionic offered more detailed and interesting description to contrast this dichotomy (Note that they are often referred to as logic versus ethic in socionic, which I find less misleading than the term thinking and feeling): https://www.the16types.info/vbulletin/content.php/429
By socionionic models, thinking individuals are more energized by changes in the “logical world”, which are rules, systems, logical criteria and measurable results. They pay more attention to the demand of the material worlds, and are more black-and-white in terms of statement of facts being correct or incorrect etc. Feeling individuals, on the other hand, are often more expressive and energized by the “ethical world”, which ranges from overall momentary atmosphere to deeply held individual values.
3. Intuition vs Sensing
Intuition and sensing are often harder to understand and very often mis-typed in my experience. People would often prefer to be viewed as intuitive than sensing-dominant. Because if thinking is considered a more advanced function which develops later in human’s evolution, the same thing can be said about intuition. Another term for intuition is abstraction, the ability to perceive beyond immediate sensory data to see the hidden patterns and concepts. Intuitive people are big-picture oriented and energized more by abstract parameters such as timing, potential, expectations, meaning etc.
The rest of the animal kingdom is mostly unable to perform any intuitive task. Everything to them is immediate sensory input and responses. They live in the moment with no concept of time, let alone higher abstract thoughts such as the meaning of life.
Sensor is the term often used to refer to individuals dominant in sensing perception. They are often quicker in noticing surrounding movements and superficial impression: aesthetic beauty, vibe, concrete results and actions. They are often more attuned with pop culture and have highly-discriminated aesthetic tastes, making for great athletes, cooks, singers and artists. They prefer quick and concrete results and action, with little patience for theories or abstract discussions.
With that being said, there are pros and cons in being intuitive or sensing dominant. Intuitive people are stereotyped as being absent-minded professors, bland in taste and impractical. Meanwhile, sensors often have a bad reputation, especially on personalty forums, as shallow, conformist, superficial, impulsive and lacking in foresight. Sensors may be the majority in the general population, but they are probably too bored to discuss personality theories online, thus being the minority here.
4. Judging vs Perceiving.
This last dichotomy is probably the biggest pain point for many MBTI and Jungian purists. Judging and Perceiving are actually NOT psychological functions. They simply point out how your other two dichotomies, thinking-feeling and intuitive-sensing, orientate. If you are a P, your Dominant Extraverted function is an Perceiving function. Similarly, if you are J, your Dominant Extraverted function is a Judging function.
This is extremely confusing, I know. Perceiving functions are Intuitive or Sensing, while Rational functions refer to either Thinking or Feeling. I will have to explain the difference another time, but in short, jugding functions prioritize the perception of the objects, result or expectations of results while perceiving ones are process-oriented. If you are an INFP, your dominant extraverted function is Extraverted Intuition as compared to an INFJ who possesses a Judging extraverted function of Extraverted Feeling.
Even though they are important, (INFJ and INFP actually have no function in common), beginners of MBTI should be more comfortable to regard the J and P letter as functions denoting abstract concepts of Being Organized versus Being Impulsive.
It is important to remember to take them at face value, especially in the case of introverts, because they only denote the outward behaviours. An INFP is actually a Judger at heart because their dominant function is Introverted Feeling, a judging function. They would prefer to start the day with a goal and plan in mind, while an INFJ would actually go with the flow despite their outward quality of being more organized.
Jung, C. G. (2017). Psychological types. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
The effort to categorize humans according to temperaments and types dates back to thousands of years ago. In modern day, the number of personality-typing frameworks have actually proliferated and come in all forms of complexity, application and scientific validity.
On one side of the spectrum there is the infamous horoscope system which enjoys great popularity, but deemed almost superstitious among the more scientific-minded audience. On the other side is the likes of The Big 5 Model which is frequently quoted as the most scientifically validated framework but doesn’t seem to enjoy the same popularity as horoscope or MBTI.
Today, let’s us take a look at the 5 most popular frameworks and understand a little bit deeper about the origins and their applications.
1. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
The MBTI has an interesting back-story. It was authored by an American mother-daughter duo, Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, in the 1920s. They based their foundation on the work of Carl Jung, the famous Swiss Psychiatrist who developed the Theory of Typology. The two women contributed research and most importantly, created more comprehensive tests and systems of description to improve the applicability of Jung’s esoteric theory. Today the MBTI test is taken over 2 millions times every year.
The MBTI proposes four main ways in which the human mind categorizes and makes sense of information: Sensing, Intuition, Feeling and Thinking, forming the first two dichotomies of Sensing – Intuition and Feeling – Thinking respectively. In short, the more intuitive a person, the more abstract and imaginative are his thoughts. Meanwhile, a person may prefer to either make decisions based on moral values and beauty or logical reasoning instead.
The next dichotomy is Introversion – Extroversion. Introversion is a rather well-known concept heavily popularized in recent years by books such as Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain. In the context of MBTI, it characterizes how a person draws his or her energy from. If he is energized by social setting, he is more extroverted. Meanwhile, introverts are drained by social interaction and gain energy from listening to his inner mind.
The final result after taking the test is a combination of 4 letters, resulting in a variation of 16 personality types.
The MBTI is most frequently used for career planning, relationships, teamwork, self-understanding and personal growth. It is said that the majority of the Fortune 500 companies use the controversial practice of using MBTI for screening job candidates.
According to enneagraminstitute.com, modern enneagram is a synthesis of ancient wisdom traditions dated back as early as 345 AD. So there is no conclusive history about it, but there are several well-known pioneering figures including Armenia-born George Gurdjieff and Bolivia-born Ichazo, who was claimed to be the first person to put together the enneagram system.
Essentially, the Enneagram proposes 9 Higher Qualities or Holy Ideas corresponding to the three Centers of human intelligence, Thinking, Feeling, and Instinct.. Each Holy Idea also has a corresponding Virtue. The Virtues are essential qualities of the heart experienced by human beings when they are abiding in Essence.
As a person loses awareness and presence, falling away into the trance of the personality, the loss of awareness of the Holy Idea becomes a person’s Ego-fixation, resulting in his characteristic Passion. While everyone has the capacity to embody all of the Holy Ideas and Virtues, one pair of them is central to the soul’s identity, so the loss if it is felt most acutely, and the person’s ego is most preoccupied with recreating it, although in a futile, self-defeating way.
So the Enneagram is well-known for it’s 9-point star depicting the 9 main types and their corresponding movements. One arrow will show how a type move towards when healthy and the other shows how it most resembles when being unhealthy. Sound complicated? Not yet. One type can also have additional 1 or 2 wings which are secondary characteristics. The wing can only come from the adjacent type. A type also has 3 possible instinctual variants: social, sexual, and self-preservation.
If MBTI focuses more on how the mind makes sense of information, the enneagram focuses on the underlying spiritual and emotional motives. There has been research showing correlation between MBTI and Enneagram types, but in general, the later expand significantly the understanding about a person’s typological make-ups. Enneagram is well-suited for self-awareness as well as application in career and relationship consultation.
Socionics is a theory of how individuals process and select information. At its centre is the information metabolism model of the psyche, called Model A, and a model of interpersonal relations. It incorporates Carl Jung’s work on Psychological Types with Antoni Kępiński’s theory of information metabolism. From its core theories, socionic extends to categorize and predict individuals’ interpersonal, group dynamics, potential career, societal roles and more.
Socionics was developed in the 1970s and ’80s, primarily by the Lithuanian researcher Aušra Augustinavičiūtė, also known as Aushra Augista. She is an economist, sociologist, and dean of the Vilnius Pedagogical University’s department of family science. Augusta believed that each personality type has a distinct purpose in society, which can be described and explained by socionics.
The socionic test results give you a sociotype denoted by 4 letters, which look remarkably similar to the MBTI results. In fact, many sources agree that you can use your MBTI type as sociotype, just that for introverts, the J and P needs to be reserved. So if your MBTI type is INFP, your sociotype is INFJ and vice versa.
What makes Socionic distinct from MBTI is the 14 Intertype Relations. Using the Socionic relationship chart, you can quickly deduce the type of relationship that two societypes have. There is a ranking of how ideal a relationship is, from the most ideal (duality) to the less favorable such as Conflicting or Supervision. Ultimately, the description for each Relations shed more light on the nature of the interaction, giving insights to better understand and improve the situation.
Even though Socionic’s uses cover many topics including group interactions, career choice and personal value, its main purpose is still about understanding and describing intertype relationships.
The horoscope is also a synthesis of mankind’s tradition to observe the celestial bodies and assign divine meaning to them. Its system encapsulates 12 constellations captured as early as the Babylonian period in 1500 BC and finally set down in Ancient Greece with names similar to what we see today.
On the basic level, there are 12 different signs in the Zodiac, or “circle of animal” corresponding to 12 consecutive periods on the calendar. They belong to 4 main elements: earth, water, air and fire. Each Zodiac sign is supposed to come with a particular set of characteristics and temperaments, which are often derived from the depiction of the sign itself and its element group. For example, the Taurus sign is depicted as a bull so people in this sign are stereotyped as stubborn and loyal. They are also steadfast and sensual because of the earth element.
Diving deeper into the system you will find a myriad of other considerations such as influencing of other signs depending on a person’s relative date of birth, the sun, the moon, governing planets and houses. Interested readers can find out more in detail these aspects in the many online resources available.
The zodiac, even though widely criticised as non-scientific and even a fad, enjoys huge popularity in modern culture. The description is an easy-to-use tool for self-understanding and guidance into career choices and relationship compatibility. Some sources even go as far as having daily or monthly fortune telling for each Zodiac sign.
5. The Big-Five Personality Traits
The Big-Five personality model refers to the 5 basic traits which was widely used for research and journal of psychologists and scientists. It was first started and streamlined since 1930s by psychologists in an effort to produce more concise trait inventories for the field of personality research.
The five factors may be assessed using a number of measures, including self-report questionnaires. A subject is asked to read a number of descriptions or adjectives and to rate the accuracy with which they describe their own personality on a Likert scale (e.g. 1 – Strongly Disagree to 2 – Strongly Agree).
This is a quick description of the 5 traits under the Big-Five model:
Openness: Enjoy to explore and learn new things, being imaginative and have wide interests
Consciousness: People score high on this are methodical, organized, goal-oriented and reliable
Extraversion: Extraverts gain energy from social interactions, having qualities such as being talkative, outgoing and assertive
Agreeableness: People score high on this scale are more compassionate, coopperative and friendly
Neuroticism: Neurotic indivduals are more prone to negative emotions, often seem tense and moody while people score low on this are more self-assured and stress-resistant
The results of these tests estimate how high or low one is on each trait relative to other people. When many individuals take such tests their scores collectively shed light on issues such as how a particular trait tends to correlate with an outcome, such as success in a particular career.
As we can see, one reason the Big-Five is less popular even though it was claimed and refined to be more scientifically accurate, is because it is a rather new framework still pending ongoing research from the scientific communities. There are no central unifying theories or framework to enable a more in-depth exploration like the other 4 system does.
I am a digital marketer by day and a personality consultant by night…
I am surprised that I did not start a little something of mine much earlier. I discovered my passions for personalities and psychology theories 5 years ago and there are so many insights I have made.
My main interest is in the MBTI framework and hence you will see it being referenced throughout the content. However, the main purpose of this blog is to provide a holistic understanding and latest discovery about the human minds and personalities. It will therefore also cover the enneagrams, socionic, Big 5, and anything under the sun.