10 Positive and Negative Traits That All Personality Types Can Have

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on March 17, 2022

Every personality in the 16-type system has a set of unique traits that sets them apart from other types. But the 16 types also share a lot of similarities that may leave you feeling confused about who you are and why you bothered learning your personality type in the first place. 

The fact is, every type has its strengths and weaknesses. Understanding the positive and negative traits that all personality types can have may shed some light on why you can sometimes feel so very similar to others around you, even when your four-letter codes are the opposite.

1. Forgetfulness  

All personality types may experience a forgetful, flighty attitude from time to time, and it isn’t type-specific. Due to the fast-paced, modern lifestyle of the 21st century, you may pack your schedule as full as possible. It’s easy to overlook the voices in your head telling you not to book another work event or social engagement. Still, when you begin forgetting tasks or priorities (or even where you placed your cell phone when you just had it a moment ago), it might be time to reconsider your schedule and lighten your load. 

2. Selflessness 

When you think about selfless personality types, you might think of people-oriented types like the ENFJ, INFJ, or ESFJ. The truth is, all personality types have the capability of being selfless when they’re put under the right circumstances and find their hearts inclined to forget their own needs. It doesn’t matter if you’re an ENTJ or an INTP—the bottom-line is every human possesses the capability for selfless acts when they’re called upon to do them. 

Of course, particular types may neglect their feelings more than others, such as the ESFJ (called “The Provider” for a reason) or the INFJ (“Counselor” types known for listening to others’ problems) due to stronger dutiful or empathetic traits. But it’s important to remember that your ENTP boss, who may appear cold-hearted in the name of their ideals, has displayed their fair share of selfless moments, too. 

3. Selfishness 

Though all personality types can show their humanity through kind acts, each type can also showcase some selfish behavior once in a while. Even the most caring Idealists can be selfish when the circumstances are right, but the idea that a “selfish” act is terrible shouldn’t always prevail. Sometimes setting aside the needs of others for what’s best for you is important, and though others may perceive this as “selfish,” you should remember that self-care and putting yourself above others is sometimes the best thing you can do. On the other hand, each type is also capable of a negative selfish act, defined as something that puts you ahead but puts others in financial distress, danger, or even emotional turmoil.

4. Unreliability

Many of the 16 personality types will move mountains when their family or friends need something, but everyone is human, which also means each personality has its limits. Sometimes you won’t feel like going out for a coffee or even attending a party or wedding. Introverted or extraverted, you may decline the invitation at the last minute. The last-minute RSVP isn’t because you’re a flakey person. The odds are, you were debating about whether to go and how much attending would mean to you and the persons involved. By the time you decide others may not miss your presence much, the date is nigh. Your short-notice response might leave some people close to you feeling a bit put-out.

Each personality type may also be unreliable in the beginning stages of a friendship or dating because they’re unsure of its potential or whether the investment is worth their time.

5. Kindness

Each personality type has a measure of kindness, ready to dole out to unsuspecting strangers or shower on friends and family when the moment calls for it. Although some types may not be as open about their kind heart, most personalities will express this human trait in their way, whether through showing loyalty or friendship, or through a more actionable kindness like cooking, caretaking, financial assistance, or otherwise. 

Although you might construe kindness as selflessness, it’s essential to differentiate the two. Kindness may contain an ulterior motive, such as the desire to be repaid with kindness later. In contrast, a person who displays real selflessness gives without any expectation of return.

6. Adaptability

Every personality type has a level of openness. Thus, no matter your type, you’ll have a self-perceived level of adaptability. You may think you’re open to change depending on the circumstances and feel lost when it comes to transitional periods, but you may be limiting yourself by placing boundaries on how far you can go. “Other personalities adapt better than I do,” you might say. All personality types are adaptable when necessary because it’s ingrained in human survival instincts, which means you can usually go a lot farther than you think.  

So while it’s easy to say you’re going to feel lost when you change a career, lose a best friend, or feel a new promotion is too much responsibility, odds are you’ll adapt much quicker and easier than you think once the initial shock passes.

7. Determination

You don’t need to be a specific personality type to have a high level of determination. Each type experiences determination in their own way. The key is finding what brings out your most determined nature and what you find valuable. 

For instance, an ISFJ may feel the most passionate about providing for and protecting others. When they can pursue these innate goals, they will find a determination that surpasses any other. Meanwhile, INTJ finds their determination highest when solving problems or stretching their understanding of complex systems and concepts.

8. Self-criticism

All personality types are self-critical, and that’s because it’s human nature to be your own worst critic. While this doesn’t mean you’re without moments of self-confidence, it does mean you’re critiquing your work harder than anyone else does. When a mentor, family member, or friend tells you something you’ve accomplished is top-notch, you may still find yourself seeing the negatives. Being critical isn’t a bad thing! When you’re focused on areas that could use improvement, you’re more apt to do better the next time. It’s important to remember it’s okay to give yourself some well-deserved praise now and then to recognize what you’ve done right.

9. Optimism and Pessimism

You may experience a mix of optimism, pessimism, and realism through your life. It's normal for people to easily label themselves as one or the other, and seemingly embody that, but more often every individual will have shifting attitudes about the world around them, and their life circumstances. You may feel like a pessimist one day and an optimist the other because all personality types have a little bit of both.

10. Stability and Mercuriality

Because it’s normal to contain positive traits and their opposites, you’ll go through periods of feeling like you’ve got a sturdy attitude. Stability in your attitude will make people around you feel secure in their expectations of you, but it isn’t possible to remain constant all the time. No matter your personality type, you’ve probably also had times of your life when you were much more mercurial, with an unpredictable mood that waxes and wanes. 

This mercurial temperament may extend to include your feelings about friends, family, or your job. So while you used to feel a particular way about something, when it changes back and forth, it shouldn’t be cause for alarm. It’s normal to experience these changes of temperament and sometimes when you’re feeling mercurial there’s a reason you should listen to. For example, it could be a signal that you’re ready to change your career or feel a relationship is no longer benefiting you.

Wrapping it up

All personality types of the 16 type system are unique, but each also shares similar positive and negative traits that define what it is to be human. Because everyone has these personality traits, it’s a way to connect with others, even when you’re different in so many other ways. From being kind to self-critical, the slew of personality traits make everyone both beautifully similar and strikingly different.

Cianna Garrison

Cianna Garrison holds a B.A. in English from Arizona State University and works as a freelance writer. She fell in love with psychology and personality type theory back in 2011. Since then, she has enjoyed continually learning about the 16 personality types. As an INFJ, she lives for the creative arts, and even when she isn’t working, she’s probably still writing.

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About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.

Comments

John Isham (not verified) says...

    This is fascinating. I know little about the subject and certainly don't know my Personality Type. Where can I find the test that will supposedly tell me what Personality Type I am?

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