What's your Myers-Briggs type indicator and what does it say about you?

Q&A With Shay Each Sunday

I’m sure most people know what the Myers-Briggs test is by now. It has been a well-known personality assessment for many years. It was established based off Carl Jung’s theory that people use four principal psychological functions, and that one of these functions is typically dominant over another. Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers created the test. I am very fascinated by these ideas, and by psychology in general, though I certainly don’t have any sort of degree or expert knowledge/teaching. As a writer though, I like to observe human behavior, choices, and responses. I think the Myers-Briggs test is a starting point for understanding who we are as people, our differences from one another, and how we construe our experiences, both inside our heads and in the outer world.

Q: What’s your Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and what does it say about you?

A: INFJ- Introversion, Introspection, Feeling, and Judging.

According to research this is the rarest result for the test, approximately 1-3% of people have this result. 

My exact breakdown is as follows: 

Introverted (I) 69% Extroverted (E) 31%
Intuitive (N) 62% Sensing (S) 38%
Feeling (F) 58% Thinking (T) 42%
Judging (J) 66% Perceiving (P) 34%

It’s no secret that I’m an introvert, as you have learned from previous blog posts, especially my post on selective mutism, and last week’s on how it contributes to the reason that I’m a writer. I also wrote a personal essay many years ago about my shyness and introversion: Don’t Quiet Down Please. So, introversion has been ingrained in me for a while now, and I obviously knew the test would peg me as an introvert.

In the Myers Briggs test, the difference between introversion and extraversion is described as preferring your own inner world to the outer world. That’s definitely true for me, and this test is just a base for these traits, so I’d go much further to say that being a shy introvert is vastly different than justan introvert. I have the desire to connect with people and take part in outside activities, and for introverts this can get a little exhausting and they need to recharge alone or in quiet after socializing. This is true, but being shy on top of it brings in a whole new level of exhaustion and anxiety in social situations—even though I actually have the desire to interact! Instead of it just feeling exhausting it can also feel scary, unsafe, and embarrassing. It’s complex and confusing, but maybe not hugely because everyone extraverts to different degrees, obviously they kind of have to. We can’t all sit in complete solitude for our lives—that’d be terrible! I think this is a misconception about introverts that they don’t have any desire to connect and interact and only want to be alone. It’s not the case even if maybe we prefer solitude more than extraverts do. But, knowing whether you are an introvert or extravert is really important to understand how you approach the world and your social interactions and what you need in order to not be totally drained by these interactions, and to gain energy. I’d say that enjoying and becoming energized by being inside my inner world is certainly helpful with my writing!

The second pair of psychological preferences is Intuition or Sensing. This is the difference between taking in basic information or interpreting that information and adding meaning. I REALLY dissect everything. I always knew I had a dominant intuition, so I also knew this would be the result I’d get from the MBTI. I think intuition and introspection kind of go hand in hand, and from my blog post several weeks ago about which four words describe me best—Introspective was one of them. The difference between my dominant intuition over being a “senser” is paying more attention to the impressions I get based off what is said or happening—ie: Reading between the lines vs. the actual physical reality of what is taking place. I’d also say that interpreting and adding meaning is helpful to being a writer. 

The next pairing is Thinking or Feeling. I actually sometimes forget whether I’m a T or F when it comes to this test because I feel like I do both, but it makes sense to me that I’d be slightly more on the feeling side. I’m extremely sensitive and I get very impacted by what people are going through, my own emotions, and having empathy. This pairing is specific to how people make decisions, and one descriptor about having a dominant feeling preference is about not wanting to upset harmony. That is so me. “Feelers” can also be seen as too indirect at times and not wanting to tell the hard truth. This isn’t to say that feeling directly means emotion or that thinking means intelligence. It’s more how we approach decision making with either looking for the basic truth or principle, or with taking into account the people involved. When it is broken down that way, I can certainly see why I’m the feeling preference. 

Lastly there is Judging or Perceiving. This is based only on how we live our outer lives and it pertains to either making decisions or taking in information. The judging preference is about wanting to have things decided. I really relate to this but it’s also kind of funny because I’m a very indecisive person. Since it relates to how we deal with the outer world I wonder if that means I feel all my indecision on the inside? I do know that being indecisive brings me a lot of anxiety though, so maybe this is why, since I wantto have decisions made. Judging is also about wanting to bring life under control. So, even though I may struggle with these things, they are also aspects of my life that give me the most stress, so it makes sense that I’d prefer it this way even if it isn’t always the case (inside my head). I have no idea if that made total sense.

I actually learned a lot about the MBTI and psychology while writing this blog post. I feel that I had a decent grasp on the first two preference pairings, but by the third and fourth I wasn't totally sure what functions they played, but now I’m understanding more. As I said, I have no training or true teaching in psychology at all, so I’m totally open to anyone else’s knowledge or ideas on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator! I think I took one psychology class in college and it wasn't interactive at all, it was just textbook stuff and exams—aka boring.

After studying my breakdown of my four dominant preferences, I’d say they make total sense to my life as a writer. My first two preferences undeniably play into my writing, and I’m going to be trying to harness my “judging” preference more because I think if I get a better grip on it, then it will benefit me as a writer—ie: MAKING DECISIONS! I’m interested in learning more about the MBTI if anyone has anything to add. I also took the test at least five years ago, so I’m curious if it ever changes or if these are simply our lifelong preferences? That could speak a lot to the long debated idea about people changing and how much change is possible. And, of course, what’s your Myers-Briggs type??