Today I have been thinking quite a bit about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which is a “psychometric questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions”. Each person can be assigned one letter from each pair of these traits: E (extraversion) vs I (introversion), S (sensing) vs N (iNtuition), T (thinking) vs F (feeling) and J (judging) vs P (perception) – resulting in combinations such as ENTP, ISTJ, INFP etc. These supposedly describe a person’s personality and ideal “role” (whether it be in a social situation or as a career).
I say “supposedly” because many people don’t put a lot of stock in it. They treat their results the same way as they would a horoscope – with utter disregard, disdain even, believing that it is a total nonsense. However, I personally don’t hold this attitude, and to be honest, I don’t quite understand why some people are so quick to dismiss it. Unlike a horoscope, your “type” is completely dependent on your answers to the questionnaire. To use a very poor, but hopefully useful, analogy: imagine you are asked “do you like carrots?”. If you answer “no”, then undoubtedly this says something about your actions. Perhaps you’ll ask for no carrots with your meal when you’re out at a restaurant. It’s a significantly less important question, but the principle is essentially the same – the questionnaire prompts you to admit details about your personality, and it then reveals how these traits impact on your day-to-day life and general attitude towards things. It’s just logic, when you think about it.
Of course, the real issue is that not everybody fits into a neat little category. Luckily for me, that’s not the case. I’ve been reading a few articles this afternoon about my own Myers-Briggs type – INFJ – and it seems I am eerily representative of this type (which, incidentally, is the rarest of them all with only 1-3% of the world’s population being INFJs). According to http://www.personalitypage.com:
INFJs have uncanny insight into people and situations. They get “feelings” about things and intuitively understand them…Consequently, most INFJs are protective of their inner selves, sharing only what they choose to share when they choose to share it. They are deep, complex individuals, who are quite private and typically difficult to understand. INFJs hold back part of themselves, and can be secretive.
But the INFJ is as genuinely warm as they are complex. INFJs hold a special place in the heart of people who they are close to, who are able to see their special gifts and depth of caring. INFJs are concerned for people’s feelings, and try to be gentle to avoid hurting anyone. They are very sensitive to conflict, and cannot tolerate it very well…They may tend to internalize conflict into their bodies, and experience health problems when under a lot of stress.
INFJs are also said to excel in areas which involve creativity, such as music, art, literature and fashion, but as “counselors” (the role they usually fit into within the Keirsey Temperament Sorter), they also succeed in careers such as therapy and teaching. Again, as a musician who aspires to have a career which allows me to “guide” others, this is highly accurate.
Do you know what type you are?
For an online test, see: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp (this isn’t the one I used, I did a more traditional pen-and-paper version at school, so I don’t know how good it is)
For more information, see: http://www.myersbriggs.org/