One of my many interests is self-discovery. In order to discover myself, I have spent the past year researching on MBTI. Although I find it to be quite generalized at first since I seem to be able to fit in 3-4 personality types, learning about the cognitive functions that Carl Jung developed has changed my mind. I am now a believer of MBTI.
After spending a year on the topic, I could analyse people’s personality types more easily and is able to better understand the motivation behind each person’s action. I realise that I can identify people’s personality types if I were to meet and talk to them for just several times. However, I cannot analyse the people I have known before I become good enough to identify people’s personality type. I realise that I am not good enough at this topic but I do know more than normal people who just started out. This post is a reminder of what I have learnt from my research on the topic. I have no intention to continue learning about MBTI, but hopefully, as I discover more about the topic, I will add on to this post.
In MBTI, there are 16 personality types which is made up from the combinations of:
extraversion or introversion
intuition or sensing
feeling or thinking
perceiving and judging
Below is my understanding of what each functions mean:
These description may help you in typing someone’s personality:
Extraversion/Introversion: You can typically determine the extraversion and introversion of a person based on how much they talk and what they do when they are sad. Looking at their social skills may help, but I have met introverted people with great social skills as well.
Intuition/Sensing: You need to talk to the person to identify if they are an intuitor or a sensor. Typically, for me, you look at the way they dress. Sensors usually dress better than Intuitors. This does not mean that intuitors dress horribly – the people who tend to dress “crazy” or act “crazy” are intuitors though. The people sensors hang out with usually dresses well as well – they care about their image a lot. Smart intuitors usually realise the importance of presentation as well so it can be difficult to determine, especially if they are of an older age. The best way to determine if someone is an inutitor or sensor is through the way they talk. Intuitors usually talk about theories and deep stuff while sensors talk about their experiences and shallow talk. Intuitors also tend to be “smart but lazy” while sensors are “hardworkers”. It is sort of like high school – you see a bunch of kids who doesn’t study but gets good grades vs those who work so hard to get good grades. (Note that talent is overrated though, hard work is the best way to do things)
Feeling/Thinking: The thinkers that I have met are usually pretty cold-blooded. They are insensitive to people’s feeling and may lash out at you without feeling remorse. They are usually system oriented and care about achieving their goals a lot. They do find it difficult to comprehend why someone is acting the way they do because their feelings is hurt. This does not mean that they do not have feelings and doesn’t care about anyone in their life though. (I described these while thinking of someone with dominant thinking function. People with auxiliary thinking function would be less extreme compared to this). Feelers are the ones who usually greets you with a smile, gets emotionally involved easily and care a lot about friendships and feelings. It is really easy to identify feelers for me, so I needn’t think about it much.
Perceiving/Judging: A method of determining this is through the way they achieve goals (look at the table above). Another method is by looking at how “okay” they are with you making last minute changes to plans. Perceivers tend to leave things open-ended and do not mind changes in their schedule. Judgers tend to be more strict on their schedule and dislike changes. You need to plan ahead with them.
To be honest, reading the meaning of each function, taking tests and reading description on each personality types from www.personalitypage.com doesn’t help in determining your personality types. The reason for this is that everyone has every functions in them. Everybody is both intuitive and sensing/ feeling or thinking. The difference is the extent to which you are of a certain type. The best way to determine personality type is through cognitive function and the order of these functions.
According to Carl Jung, the four basic functions (sensing, intuition, feeling and thinking) are based on two dimensions:
1. Perceiving/Data collecting method: Sensing or Intuition
2. Decision making functions: Feeling or Thinking
These are further divided into extraversion (the world) and introversion (self) dimensions, leading to 8 main functions:
Introverted Intuition (Ni): See possibilities by changing the way we perceive something to solve a problem or achieve an aim.
Extraverted Intuition (Ne): Look at the external world through experimentation or experience to understand the world. Sees different possibilities of actions and imagine how these actions will help achieve an aim or solve a problem.
Introverted Sensing (Si): Puts meaning into tangible objects and value them/experience and store information on that experience for later use.
Extraverted Sensing (Se): Look at the external world through experimentation or experience to understand the world. Enjoys tangible materials.
Introverted Feelings (Fi): Create own values and stick to them.
Extraverted Feelings (Fe): Take universal values and make them their own values
Introverted Thinking (Ti): Ability to discern anomalies in facts; define words and use distinct words. “Think internally”
Extraverted Thinking (Te): Organizing information and application of information. Some say, “Think out loud”
*These are my understanding of the function. Not too sure about Ni, Se, Ti and Te*. This link is a better descriptor of the functions.
The order of the functions is important as well. The order of the functions are dominant, auxiliary, tertiary and inferior. For an ENFP, it would be:
1. Dominant Function: Extraverted Intuition
2. Auxiliary Function: Introverted Feeling
3. Tertiary Function: Extraverted Thinking
4. Inferior Function: Introverted Sensing
Determining someone’s personality (based on my experience)
When you meet someone, you will have an idea of the person’s personality (E/I; N/S; F/T; J/P). Knowing either one of the processing information function or decision making function, it will be easier to determine the function since either one of this function is the dominant trait or auxiliary. A girl I met recently is an XSXJ. I notice that she isn’t necessarily nice or tactful of other people’s feeling, indicating that she is a thinker. However, she does show feelers tendencies as well which confuses me. From this, I know that her dominant trait is Sensing. She confirmed that her dominant trait is sensing when she told me that she is indecisive (people with decision making functions as auxiliary or tertiary function are usually indecisive). Looking at the function order below, there can only be two choice: ISTJ or ISFJ. This girl is definitely a thinker though, as her friend, an ISFJ is definitely much more caring than she is – she is not caring at all.
1. Have an idea of a person’s personality (E/I; N/S; F/T; J/P). Let’s say, A seem to be EXFP. It is obvious that he is an extravert, feeler and perceiver. However, you do not know whether they are a sensor or intuitor.
2. You may then probe some questions or talk about their life stories to determine that. When they experience something, do they talk about the experience itself (sensory part – sensors), talk about feelings (feelers), talk about what they learn from it (in theory form – intuitors) or how they can improve it (thinker)? Look at what they are comfortable with – talking about theories (which would light up an intuitor’s face) or preferring going out and experience stuff together (sensors). Listen to their stories to determine the order of the function.
3. Determine their cognitive function order. If they show both intuitors and sensors trait, most likely, these are their auxiliary and tertiary function. Their dominant would then be either thinking or feeling. Dominant function will be the most obvious function to deter mine so deciding on that wouldn’t be a problem.
4. Match functions with the extraversion and introversion orientation. Look for evidence that they matches the description.
5. If you are close to them, make them take the online quiz to confirm their identity/ Let them read the description to see if it fits them.