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"I was a personality before I became a person - I am simple, complex, generous, selfish, unattractive, beautiful, lazy and driven."
— Barbra Streisand

  • The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a system designed to identify and categorise specific personality types through psychological cognitive functions. It is presented in the form of a questionnaire that investigates cognitive preferences and motivational stimulus. All personality types are quantified using a matrix of sixteen models. Eight of the models are an extraverted type and the other eight are an introverted type. Each model is identified by four letters, i.e. E.N.F.P. The first letter will either be an E which stands for Extravert or an I that stands for Introvert. The next three letters in the acronym define other cognitive functions which I will return to shortly. But, first let’s rewind slightly.

    The MBTI system was created by a mother and daughter duo, Katherine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers respectively. They based the system on psychiatrist Carl Jungs research into psychological functions of the mind. He believed that human cognitive functions could be categorised into four principle groups: Extraversion/Introversion, Sensing/Intuition, Thinking/Feeling, Judging/Perception. This grouping of four personality types can be traced back much further to ancient Greece where the physician Hippocrates described the balance of four principle fluids of the body; blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm as an explanation for changes in behaviour and mood. This has been adopted by subsequent physicians and philosophers throughout history, updating the grouping as four temperaments to explain various theories on the relationships between the elements; Sanguine: sociable, choleric: authoritarian, melancholic: avoident and phlegmatic: balanced. The present MBTI system uses a much more robust data set than previous iterations of personality assessment, but that is by no means a validation for the efficacy of the system. Some professional psychiatrists and analysis’s shun the MBTI system for not being very scientific as in relation to the five-factor model. It is true that the questionnaire can sometimes give contradictory results when used by the same person on different occasions. But that could be as much to do with the individual as the questionnaire itself.

    So with that said let’s continue with the remaining three groupings for each type; (thinking: T / feeling: F), (sensation: S / intuition: N), (Judging: J / perceiving: P). →



“In Budapest, surgeons operated on printer's apprentice Gyoergyi Szabo, 17, who, brooding over the loss of a sweetheart, had set her name in type and swollowed the type.”
Time Magazine 1936. From the book  Just My Type,
by Simon Garfield.