My Musings: On Myers-Briggs Typology

In recent months, some of my friends have taken to having hearty discussion about Myers-Briggs Typology, and encouraging everyone to take an online typology test.

I was first introduced to this system of describing people around ten years ago. I read a book about it and concluded that it was interesting, but the background theory was abstract, ungrounded and unprovable. One thing I did admire about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator was that, in having so many categories, it was much more likely to offer adequate descriptions of people than other simpler systems. I also found that I could relate more readily to one of the sixteen types of Myers-Briggs than to any of the nine types of the Enneagram.

When I first came across Myers-Briggs typology I concluded, with the encouragement of friends, that I fell squarely into the INTP category. The description fitted me very well, and it still does. Today when I take the 72-question test on, more often than not I end up being labelled as INTJ, with quite a strong score in J. And the description for INTJ also fits me quite well.

I don’t put much store on personality quizzes; they are never designed or worded carefully enough for my liking. But for theoretical reasons, the idea that I’m sometimes INTP, sometimes INTJ is intriguing. Despite appearing to differ by only one letter, INTP and INTJ are supposed to imply very different things. The dominant cognitive function of an INTP is supposed to be introverted thinking (Ti), with an auxiliary function of  extroverted intuition (Ne). In contrast, an INTJ’s dominant and auxiliary functions are supposed to be introverted intuition (Ni) and extroverted thinking (Te). The theory says that INTPs and INTJs direct their thinking and intuition along opposing “attitudes” to one another. At risk of over-simplification, let me put it like this: it’s not supposed to be possible to have a mid-point between INTP and INTJ.

I like learning things, and I see huge benefits in understanding oneself better, but I never bother trying to guess which of the 16 categories my friends fall into. I endeavour to relate to each person as an individual.

Now my challenge to you, dear reader, is to determine based on this article and whatever else you know about me whether (a) I am an INTP; (b) I am an INTJ; (c) I fall into one of the other 14 categories; (d) the theory is flawed; or (e) there’s not enough information to make a judgement in this matter. I also understand if you decline my challenge because you endeavour to relate to each person as an individual.

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