What are the 16 Personality Types?
The Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI), commonly referred to as the Myers-Briggs personality test, is the most widely used and recognized assessment of personality in the world. Many have taken the test and received their results as a series of letters, but what do they mean? This overview covers the 16 different MBTI personality types, what they are like, what roles they play in society and the accuracy of the test itself.
Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI)
The Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI) was invented by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Meyers in the early mid-20th century. It is also said that Carl Jung, one of the founders of analytic psychology, had an impact on the creation of the MBTI. Briggs read some of Carl Jung’s work prior to creating the MBTI and decided that she wanted to make it more accessible. The instrument was first published in 1962.
The Four Personality Scales
The MBTI uses four main scales to calculate each person’s personality type, indicating a stronger personality preference one way or the other.
Extraversion (E) vs. Introversion (I)
This personality preference can indicate where a person prefers to focus their attention. It might also indicate where a person draws their energy from. If a person leaves large group settings feeling energized and invigorated, they might lean towards extroversion, but if they require time alone to recharge and reset, they might be closer to introversion on the preference scale.
Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N)
This might refer to the way that a person takes in information or the kind of information they are drawn towards. Someone who is sensing might prefer to focus on facts and logic, while someone who leads more with their intuition will prioritize theory, seek out new ideas and be led by creativity.
Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F)
This indicates the way that someone prefers to make decisions. Someone with a preference for thinking might apply logical reasoning and be task-focused, and a feeling-focused person might seek harmony and peace, focus on relationships and place a premium on understanding other people’s viewpoints.
Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P)
This scale will demonstrate how someone presents themselves to the outside world. Judging preference leans more towards planning and structure, and perceiving preference values flexibility, spontaneity and going with the flow.
MBTI Personality Types
These four scales and preferences come together to form many different combinations of potential personality types, each one with its own characteristic qualities.
ISTJ – The Inspector
Inspectors fall into the categories of introversion, sensing, thinking and judging. They may be:
- Dependable, attracted to clarity and organization
- Practical and thorough
- Strongly loyal in relationships
- Responsible and realistic
ISTP – The Crafter
Crafters are characterized by introversion, sensing, thinking and perceiving. They may be:
- Patient and calm
- Skilled problem-solvers
- Sometimes unable to see the larger picture
- Analytical and practical
ISFJ – The Protector
Protectors can be identified by introversion, sensing, feeling and judging. They might have the following qualities:
- Committed and kind
- Finding joy in helping others
- Dependable and loyal
- Organized and patient
- Accusatory and pessimistic
ISFP – The Artist
Artists might display qualities of introversion, sensing, feeling and perceiving. Some qualities that define them might be:
- Sensitive, paying attention to the needs of others
- Finding joy in creating community
- Accommodating and adaptable
- Prioritize freedom and self-expression
INFJ – The Advocate
Advocates fall into the categories of introversion, intuition, feeling and judging. They may be:
- Private and reserved on the exterior
- Imaginative and contemplative
- Able to intuit the needs of others
INFP – The Mediator
Mediators might display qualities of introversion, intuition, feeling, and perceiving. They may exhibit the following traits:
- Living in alignment with values is important to them
- Finding joy in coming up with creative solutions
- Sometimes shy and struggle with being assertive
- Flexible and insightful
- Compassionate and caring
INTJ – The Architect
Architects demonstrate introversion, intuition, thinking and judging. They may be:
- Skilled at seeing the bigger picture
- Appearing cold or distant
- Strategic and reflective
- Theoretical and insightful
- Appearing private and reserved
INTP – The Thinker
Thinkers fall into the categories of introversion, intuition, thinking and perceiving. They might display the following:
- Strong ability to understand difficult problems
- Analytical and skeptical
- Strategic and insightful
- Difficulty work on teams
ESTP – The Persuader
Persuaders show extroversion, sensing, thinking and perceiving. They may be:
- Spontaneous and resourceful
- Motivating others by bringing their energy to situations
- Using common sense and experience to solve problems
- Struggling with time management
ESTJ – The Director
Directors might display extroversion, sensing, thinking and judging. They might be:
- So focused on their goals that they ignore the needs of others
- Assertive and decisive
- Pragmatic and direct
- Taking relationships seriously
ESFP – The Performer
Performers fall into the categories of extroversion, sensing, feeling and perceiving. They might be:
- Adaptable and energetic
- Struggling to meet deadlines
- Enthusiastic and observant
- Fun-loving and playful in life and relationships
ESFJ – The Caregiver
Caregivers might show extroversion, sensing, feeling and judging. They could present as:
- Social and outgoing
- Team player that works well in groups
- Organized and warm
- Easily influenced by the opinions of others
- Deferring to others frequently when making decisions
ENFP – The Champion
Champions might display qualities of extroversion, intuition, feeling and perceiving. They might be:
- Skilled at developing multiple solutions to a problem
- Risking burnout as a result of over-committing
- Imaginative and innovative
- Spontaneous and persuasive
- Feeling a wide range of intense emotions
ENFJ – The Giver
Givers present with extroversion, intuition, feeling and judging. They might present the following ways:
- Following their values is important, but also taking into account the needs of others
- Empathetic and diplomatic
- Friendly and organized
- Find joy in encouraging growth of those around them
ENTP – The Debater
Debaters might show extroversion, intuition, thinking and perceiving. They might have the following traits:
- Ability to see connections and patterns and creative solutions
- Enthusiastic and resourceful
- Struggle with making decisions
- Can seem challenging
- Prioritizes independence
ENTJ – The Commander
Commanders show extroversion, intuition, thinking, and judgment. They might be:
- Skilled at seeing the bigger picture
- Neglecting the needs of others in pursuit of their goals
- Innovative and challenging
- Unafraid to make difficult decisions
The Four Personality Roles
If the four personality scales are the first level of personality development, personality types would be the second level, and the four personality roles come third. Personality roles divide the types into four categories, which are then generally divided by two shared traits.
Analysts have the intuitive and thinking traits (NT), Diplomats are intuitive and feeling (NF), Sentinels are sensing and judging (SJ) and Explorers share sensing and perceiving (SP).
The personality types that fall under the analyst umbrella are INTJ, INTP, ENTJ and ENTP. They all share the thinking (T) trait, and it is said that they share an affection for rationality and logic. Decision-making tends to be made more with the head than the heart. However, because of their shared intuitive (N) trait, they are also driven by curiosity and creative problem-solving. Analysts value independence and strong leadership.
Diplomat personality types are INFJ, INFP, ENFJ and ENFP. They share the traits of Intuition (N) and Feeling (F). This means that they value helping and connecting with others. They often display natural empathic abilities and enjoy working and creating with others. Diplomats believe that it is possible to build a gentler and more loving world, and they work toward that goal. A diplomat may have trouble balancing the need for belonging and connection with the need for authenticity.
Diplomats sometimes struggle with moving forward and accomplishing their goals, having a tendency towards overthinking. They do best when taking continuous action.
Sentinels share the traits of sensing (S) and judging (J). Sentinels include the ISTJ, ISFJ, ESTJ and ESFJ types. They are known as being practical and grounded, and they tend to be internally motivated with a strong ability to accomplish their goals. Sentinels offer stability and wisdom to the people in their lives.
They have a tendency to plan ahead and enjoy sticking to their plans. They do their best to plan for every eventual outcome, but Sentinels also possess perseverance and are quick on their feet.
Explorers share the traits of sensing (S) and perceiving (P). They include ISTP, ISFP, ESTP and ESFP. They are often characterized by independence and quick wit. They are quick on their feet and flexible, allowing them to adapt quickly even when they are not prepared. Explorers do best when they are stimulated and challenged, but this can also lead to a struggle with focusing on just one thing or project. Explorers value balancing work and leisure. They are natural risk-takers and it is rare to find them living a life of convention.
Most Common Personality Type
ISFJ is said to be the most common personality type in the United States population, at around 13.8% of the population.
- ISFJ – 13.8%
- ESFJ – 12.3%
- ISTJ – 11.6%
- ISFP – 8.8%
- ESTJ – 8.7%
- ESFP – 8.5%
- ENFP – 8.1%
- ISTP – 5.4%
- INFP – 4.4%
- ESTP – 4.3%
- INTP – 3.3%
- ENTP – 3.2%
- ENFJ – 2.5%
- INTJ – 2.1%
- ENTJ – 1.8%
- INFJ – 1.5%
Accuracy and Reliability of Personality Tests
There is some debate among experts as to the accuracy and reliability of personality tests. According to Simine Vazire, a personality researcher at the University of California, Davis, “Until we test them scientifically we can’t tell the difference between that and pseudoscience.” One criticism of the MBTI is that someone’s personality traits might change from day to day and it is hard to assess how accurate the test is over time.
16Personalities uses five distinct scales to find data. Through statistical analysis, they have determined that all scales are internally consistent, and people that retake their assessments are likely to get similar scores every six months or so.
Despite disagreement in the scientific community over whether personality measures fall into the pseudoscience category or have actual scientific value, personality measures are still widely used.
Other Popular Personality Tests
Personality tests are frequently used by employers to gain insight into their employees. Here are a few examples:
- Caliper Profile: Used frequently to determine if an employee is a good fit for the company, measures how employee personality traits might correlate with work performance
- Eysenck: Focuses on two specific factors, neuroticism vs. stability, and extroversion vs. introversion.
- Keirsey Personality Test: Speaks to your understanding of people, and divides people into four temperament types: artisan, guardian, idealist, and rational
- Enneagram Test: This test operates on the belief that each person can be divided into one of nine categories or nine distinct personality types. Although many will find bits of their personality in each personality type, the test will go off of which category a person fits into best.
Written by – Amalia Sirica, LCSW
Amalia Sirica is New York State Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a writer. She received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Duke University and her master’s degree in Social Work from New York University… Read more.
Medically Reviewed by – Dr. Angela Phillips
Angela is a licensed therapist and clinical researcher, and has worked in public, private, government, and not-for-profit organizations, across clinical and research-oriented roles. Angela’s clinical and research experience has included suicide prevention, cognitive behavioral… Read more.
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