Updated: Jul 15, 2021
One gold flecked evening in Manhattan as I sat at the window, my college roommate introduced me to what I see now as a roadmap to human behavior, The Myers Briggs Type Indicator. “You have to take this personality test,” she said and shoved a computer in my hands. She had been a believer in the test for quite awhile and I was interested but skeptical. The only thing I’d ever known of personalities was the zodiac section of the magazines I’d read. I expected just another deeply flattering and conveniently vague description of me that would leave me analyzing if I was in fact a fire personality with an overcharged ego like my Leo description. Setting aside my skepticism, I settled onto the windowsill and answered a slew of questions that ranged from topics of preference to deeply felt confessions. Yes, I held adventure close to my heart. No, I was not an organized person. After some time of self analysis, I completed the test only to find a somewhat anticlimactic result. The conclusion was not a dramatic label with a fantastical illustration to go with it. It was a meager four letters.
To her credit, my roommate amazed me with successfully guessing my four letter result before I’d shared it with her. Apparently there was a rationality behind the test which allowed for an accurate estimation of the results. My results were and have remained INFP, The Idealist. I quickly found out that these four letters stood for Introvert, iNtuitive, Feeler, and Perceiver. When I read through the explanation of this type it felt frighteningly accurate. At once I felt understood by the test. A wave of validation passed over me as I read about typical INFP behavior. The test explained things I’d found myself doing my entire life without realizing these habits had formed and guided me. For instance, it explained that an INFP preferred to assess a value system and spent a lifetime filtering situations through that personal value system. The INFP preferred to remain independent from the group and was often found alone. The INFP was creative and held onto deep emotions in an almost romantic way. The INFP was sensitive and struggled with impersonal data and structures. The INFP tended toward writing and language as I always did.
I learned that this test was based on Jungian theory and each of the four components had one of two options:
Introvert vs Extrovert
iNtuitive vs Sensor
Feeler vs Thinker
Perceiver vs Judger
In a deeper but similarly fun sense, like choosing heads or tails on a Pottermore quiz or which sort of potion you’d drink, this test stretched my self analysis to see which lens I’d been viewing the world through. An Introvert like me would tend toward independence and individuality rather than having a wide group of friends. I learned that iNtuitive (represented by the letter N so not to be confused with the aforementioned I in Introvert) involved abstract thinking rather than concrete thought like a Sensor. iNtuitives were philosophical in their perspective and focused on hypotheticals, while Sensors preferred a reality based on hard facts and data. Feelers made decisions based on emotions, while Thinkers made decisions based on logic. Perceivers were more flexible and preferred to improvise, while Judgers needed to stick to a plan.
The test yields 16 potential results and it just so happens that each personality type tends to resemble others of their type. An ESFJ, or Extroverted Sensor Feeler Judger, is most always a socialite with many friends and tends toward popularity and leadership. An Introverted iNtuitive Thinker Judger or INTJ will likely be an intellectual strategist. It should be noted that every individual has his or her own uniqueness beyond a personality test. This simply offers insight on a person's general preferences. I find myself in much of my interactions assessing a person in this format and then gauging where their priorities might lie. After a five minute conversation I can guess their type and make sense of their behavior thereafter. I believe this guideline offers one a roadmap to human interactions. I understand that someone like me will not prefer group interactions and will therefore avoid parties and big events. I understand that someone like my ISTP sister will use her logic skills of introverted thinking to tinker with puzzles and mechanics while another will not. I can gauge if a person will seek emotional validation in a conversation or if this person will prefer hard facts and data from me. Simply put, I understand the lens through which an individual is viewing the world.
Understanding these differences in the spectrum of human behaviors can guide you in relationships, whether personal or work related. It can help you understand your own motivations and where improvement can be had. It is my belief that young adults should analyze themselves in such a way while choosing a career path as well. Take some time to try it out for yourself and see if it is as much of a mind reader for you as it was for me.
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