MBTI, or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, isn’t a new personality test — in fact, it was developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine Cook Briggs in the early 1960s. But its recent explosion on social media has turned it into somewhat of a “scientific” (or more accurately, pseudoscientific) version of asking someone for their zodiac sign. What are the basics, and what does it all mean?
MBTI is really based on function, with things like extroverted intuition and introverted sensing. But these can be confusing, and when it comes to the pop-psychology aspect of MBTI, is often not really what people are talking about. Instead, it’s simplified into eight letters, of which you receive a combination of four.
The options are being either introverted or extroverted, intuitive or sensing, thinking or feeling and perceiving or judging — these are represented by I or E, N or S, T or F and P or J. And even though Myers-Briggs is a personality indicator, these types only have a little to do with your personality, and have more to do with how you process information and behave.
For example: Introversion and extroversion aren’t about whether or not you love to go out and party or stay at home with a book, but rather about how you feel most comfortable and where you feel you learn the best and get the most energy.
Someone who’s introverted would get their energy and learn the best on their own, would probably be described as “reserved” and might have trouble getting outside of their own head to acknowledge the outside world. And someone who’s extroverted would thrive learning in group settings, might not think as deeply about things before doing them (or just be easily excitable) and thrive in new, exciting situations.
To find out your type, there are plenty of quizzes online to help you. 16Personalities is popular, but is considered to be pretty unreliable in terms of its quiz. Though, it has some great explanations you can find about the types below to find expansions on how you could act in the workplace or a relationship.
Most people recommend you read about MBTI types and type yourself, but if you’re really desperate to have a site tell you, I recommend Truity’s quiz.
Here's what each personality type says about you in a nutshell:
INTJs are introverted, intuitive, thinking and judging. They love learning and gaining new knowledge, but can be a little cold, especially when it comes to new people. They value being rational, fair and most importantly, correct. They’re independent and can give great logical advice to people that will help them in the long run, but also might come across as hypercritical, even of loved ones.
INTPs are introverted, intuitive, thinking and perceiving. They’re ultra-logical and can solve any puzzle, but can tend to get too stuck in their own idea of what’s right and become dissatisfied with the world around them — if they’re not already disconnected from it, that is.
Open-minded and curious, INTPs love to follow new pursuits, but can be impatient if it doesn’t click right away. These perfectionists struggle with things not being done right.
ENTJs are extroverted, intuitive, thinking and judging. An ENTJ is a leader in pure stereotype of what a leader means. They’re confident, quick-thinking and charismatic, but can quickly fall into a domineering “my way or the highway!” approach that leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths.
That being said, they can accomplish any task and are full of ambition, but their ability to handle emotions, both their own and other people's, can be lacking.
ENTPs are extroverted, intuitive, thinking and perceiving. ENTP is also the ultimate devil’s advocate. They like to see all sides of a situation … before arguing that their side is correct, of course. ENTPs can be impractical and unfocused, but when their brilliance strikes (and it usually does) their ideas and passion could move mountains. They can also be a little insensitive despite their charisma, and can flip back and forth between expressing intolerance for others and charming them.
INFJs are introverted, intuitive, feeling and judging. These creative, sensitive types have a strong moral compass that leaves them itching to do the right thing, but they’re incredibly sensitive to the principles and ideas that motivate them to do that work being criticized.
INFJs are passionate dreamers, but easily get discouraged when things don’t go right and quickly burn out. They’re quiet but care about others, both emotionally and practically, even if sometimes their imagination gets ahead of them.
INFPs are introverted, intuitive, feeling and perceiving. INFPs are empathetic idealists, but they’re also incredibly vulnerable. They’re some of the most sensitive people around, and struggle with people-pleasing as well as their own criticism, which can make working with them difficult and frustrating.
Kind and creative, INFPs have a strong passion to do good for others in any way they know how. While sometimes their tendency to get overemotional and self-critical can be frustrating, INFPs just want to help.
ENFJs are extroverted, intuitive, feeling and judging. If there’s one thing an ENFJ wants to do, it’s get involved. Reliable, kind-hearted and hard-working, the ENFJ seems to never stop chugging, but their tendency to take on other people’s problems (even if you don’t ask them to) can lead to burnout. They’re intensely idealistic and can condescend people that don’t follow that worldview, seeing them as people who just need to be taught the right way of thinking.
ENFPs are extroverted, intuitive, feeling and perceiving. Cheerful and playful, ENFPs see the world as a place full of shiny colors and new things to experience. They’re bright, fun conversationalists who are enthusiastic, caring and considerate. But their lack of focus, restlessness and sometimes over-enthusiasm can be overwhelming.
ISTJs are introverted, sensing, thinking and judging. In a crisis, an ISTJ is who you want around. Direct and logical, an ISTJ can command a room with their presence and use their vast swaths of knowledge to help in any situation. The downside? If help requires breaking the rules, they won’t do it, and when it goes wrong, they’ll blame themselves. Though sometimes insensitive, you can always count on an ISTJ for honesty.
ISFJs are introverted, sensing, feeling and judging. Dedicated and protective, ISFJs are committed to helping loved ones and offering support to as many people as they can, as often as they can. Though logical, ISFJs have an imagination typically reserved for intuitive types. Overextending themselves can be a problem for ISFJs, and when this does happen, they’ll often repress it and become stressed or passive-aggressive. ISFJs are also incredibly and stubbornly resistant to change.
ESTJs are extroverted, sensing, feeling and judging. It’s easy to rely on an ESTJ, as they’re notoriously stable and dependable people. Their organizational skills and love for order is helpful, and their patience gives them an edge over many other thinkers. But, they can be judgy and rigid, and oftentimes have trouble relaxing or being their true selves without worrying about how others perceive them. An ESTJ might be more worried about looking smart than embracing their natural intelligence.
ESFJs are extroverted, sensing, feeling and judging. The helpers of the MBTI, ESFJs are always willing to lend an ear or a hand to solve problems. More practical than many feelers, ESFJs are excellent planners and doers with even better people skills and vast amounts of warmth and sensitivity. But, they can also be inflexible, over-concerned about other people’s perceptions of them and incredibly needy and vulnerable to criticism. Negativity, from themselves or elsewhere, can lead to a complete shutdown.
ISTPs are introverted, sensing, thinking and perceiving. Energetic and willing to help, an ISTP's inclination to solve problems correctly and quickly makes them another type you’d want to help you in the event of a disaster. But while many other helpers stay within boundaries, ISTPs actively decide they want to break them. They’re easily bored and prone to risky behavior. They’re also incredibly reserved and don’t always do the best with the emotional aspect of things.
ISFPs are introverted, sensing, feeling and perceiving. Charming and passionate, an ISFP makes for an excellent friend and companion. ISFPs are warm and creative, but can be easily stressed out and prone to being a little too competitive, and a little too hard on themselves when they lose. Rocky self-esteem aside, ISFPs often are artistically talented or otherwise skilled creatively.
ESTPs are extroverted, sensing, thinking and perceiving. While an ESTP will always be direct with you and tell you what they think, they have a tendency to be insensitive and struggle to focus on the bigger picture, often honing in too much on details they think need fixing. Paying attention and rule-following also aren’t really skills of the ESTP, but their original thought process and ability to make astute observations help them.
ESFPs are extroverted, sensing, feeling and perceiving. ESFPs are bold, original and sometimes attention-seeking. They love being around other people and despise conflict. But, ESFPs are also easily bored and can’t focus or plan on much of anything. Despite this, they’re fun-loving and true showmen, making them always entertaining and fun to be around even when practicality fails — though ESFPs aren’t dreamers, they’re doers, which takes some measure of this.
Knowing your personality type isn't only a fun way to connect with others, but it's also a great way to gain real insights into your strengths and weaknesses. So, if you haven't already taken the test, be sure to do so!