What Happens if You Type in the Middle of the Briggs and Myers Scale?27 August 2018 / By Jayne Thompson Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on August 27, 2018
"Hmm," said a small voice in his ear. "Difficult. Very difficult. Plenty of courage, I see. Not a bad mind either. There's talent, my goodness, yes - and a nice thirst to prove yourself, now that's interesting.... So where shall I put you?"
Harry gripped the edges of the stool and thought, not Slytherin, not Slytherin.
"Not Slytherin, eh?" said the small voice. "Are you sure? You could be great, you know, it's all here in your head, and Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness, no doubt about that - no? Well, if you're sure - better be GRYFFINDOR!"
I doubt JK Rowling had Isabel Briggs Myers in mind when she imagined the sorting hat. Yet, unwittingly, she created a perfect symbol for personality testing. Like the sorting hat, the questions of a personality quiz are designed to probe your mind, behaviors and preferences and sort you into one of 16 houses based on your answers. But just as Harry Potter realized, it's a self-reported test. If you really, really don't want to be an ISFP, ENTJ or Slytherin, you can always tweak your answers and get sorted into a different house.
Even if you answer the questions honestly, the fact is that some of your personality traits – your "courage," for example, or your "nice thirst to prove yourself" – can place you into well over half the houses. The 16 types involve a complex constellation of characteristics that layer and interact, and are actually quite tricky to separate out from each other. This explains why the fandom really can't agree whether Harry is an ISTP, INFP, ISFJ, ISFP, INFJ, as his observed behaviors make a strong case for each of these types and more.
So don't be surprised if you're also drawn to several "best fit" profiles, all of which describe you to a T – or if you type in the middle with no firm profile at all.
Fifty Shades of Myers and Briggs
Everyone of us is an Extravert and an Introvert, an Intuitive and a Sensor, a Thinker and a Feeler, a Judger and a Perceiver. Whenever we take a test, all we are measuring is our preference on each of the four spectrums. For each scale, there's a numerical value for how strong your dominant trait is compared to its opposite number, ranging from 51 percent (very weak) to 100 percent (totally dominant). So, you could be an ESTJ scoring Extravert (98 percent), Sensing (75 percent), Thinking (88 percent) and Judging (100 percent), or you could be an ESTJ scoring 51/ 58/ 53/ 52.
Superficially, both ESTJs have the same label but psychologically, there are going to be massive variations in how these people express themselves. We just conveniently dump all these different personalities into the house of ESTJ because that code is the best fit compared to the other houses (and a system with hundreds of codes would be impossible to manage). "Best fit" does not mean "perfect fit" – that's important. Most people will agree with some aspects of their personality profile and barely recognize themselves in others. Which is a rambling way of saying – an ESTJ is not an ESTJ is not an ESTJ.
In terms of the numbers, most people type somewhere in the middle for each scale. The graph looks like a bell curve, with most of us clustered around the 50 to 65 percent mark. So, if you score 48 percent Introverted/ 52 percent Extraverted, for example, that's normal. It's actually pretty unusual to find someone who tests in the outer reaches of the scale; say 95 percent or even 100 percent for a certain letter. Only a tiny percentage of outliers will score large percentages, showing a massively dominant preference, on any of the four scales.
Why? Because humans are diverse and adaptable creatures. None of us lives in a silo, and we adapt our behavior according to the circumstances. We learn and we grow. This sometimes means that a parent, for instance, will observe in a test that she "makes sure everyone is taken care of" – a behavior that's associated with a Feeling preference –because that's what she does every day. It comes with the territory of parenthood. In other situations, her Thinking preference might give the opposite answer.
What If I Type in the Middle?
It's really unusual to get an exact 50/50 split for every letter unless you've put the middle (neutral) option for every single question. If you're truly coming up with nothing, try re-taking the test and ask if you're being really honest with yourself. There should be some lean to one side or the other, no matter how small.
That said, personalities tend to be inconsistent and not all of us will color precisely within the designated type lines. It's very likely that you'll test "in the middle" for one or two letters, or that one or more of your traits come up very weak, say 55 percent or less. If that's the case, you may be left wondering what the heck is your personality type?
Here are some techniques for figuring it all out.
1. Miss out the weak letter
Try replacing the weak trait with an "X" and then read up on all the profiles that could potentially fit. For instance, you could get ENTX, which would imply that you type as ENTJ or ENTP. These two profiles are actually quite distinct, so you should get some clues about the right one very quickly.
Obviously, this method is not foolproof. Often, you'll get a result that sounds like you – and then get another result that also sounds like you, but is for a completely different type. Now you need to.....
2. Look at the cognitive stacks
The cognitive stacks deserve an article in their own right so instead of reinventing the wheel, I'll refer you to this article over on Thought Catalog and this one on Personality Hacker, both of which do a good job of explaining this complex system. Essentially, what we're looking at here is the order in which you use your cognitive functions, starting with the two letters in the middle of your four-letter code, which are considered the core of your personality. Every four-letter code contains a dominant, auxiliary, tertiary and inferior function – and these functions make a massive difference to how your personality type stacks up.
Here's an example of how it works: I type INTJ with a very weak "I" of around 52 percent. So, there's a fair chance I could be INTJ or ENTJ. Certainly when I read those profiles, I can see aspects of myself in both. Looking at the cognitive stacks, we can break down each type as follows:
INTJ: Dominant Introverted Intuition - Auxiliary Extraverted Thinking - Tertiary Introverted Feeling - Inferior Extraverted Sensing
ENTJ: Dominant Extraverted Thinking - Auxiliary Introverted Intuition - Tertiary Extraverted Sensing - Inferior Introverted Feeling.
In other words, INTJs develop their traits in the following order: Intuition, Thinking, Feeling, Sensing. Dominant Intuition means they're always looking for patterns in things and apply insight into how systems are connected. But an INTJ's Intuition is Introverted (Ni), which means that all this innovative pattern-seeking happens in their heads – it's hidden or turned inwards. Outsiders might only ever see their auxiliary or second-best function, Thinking, which is extraverted or turned outwards. This is why so many INTJs are confused for ENTJs.
ENTJs operate in a slightly different order: Thinking, Intuition, Sensing, Feeling. Their dominant trait is Thinking, which is best described as logical reasoning or the ability to see the most effective outcome in any situation. And their logical reasoning is extraverted (Te), meaning they'll put their plan of action out there for the world to see. Everyone knows what an ENTJ is thinking and what is expected of them. It's why ENTJs make good, if domineering, leaders.
Even from this woefully brief analysis, you can see that INTJs and ENTJs approach problems in different ways. The INTJ has a strong desire to gather as much information as possible and use that information to create a vision or goal (Ni), before they will take action (Te). ENTJs focus first on the goal (Te – decide, decide, decide!) and then analyze the steps they might take to accomplish that goal (Ni). The difference is subtle, but it can shed a bright beaming light on your personality preferences when your code is stuck in the middle – if you can decide which cognitive functions you lead with.
Still with me?
Good, because my INTJ/ENTJ example is actually a poor illustration of how the function stacks work as these two types are very similar (E and I are generally the hardest traits to differentiate using function stacks). Running this exercise can shed much more light about your true type when the types you're testing out have very different function stacks. For instance, look what happens if you type ENTX. The difference is jarring:
ENTJ: Dominant Extraverted Thinking - Auxiliary Introverted Intuition - Tertiary Extraverted Sensing - Inferior Introverted Feeling: Te, Ni, Se, Fi
ENTP: Dominant Extraverted Intuition - Auxiliary Introverted Thinking - Tertiary Extraverted Feeling - Inferior Introverted Sensing : Ne, Ti, Fe, Si
What you're looking at here is not only two completely different function pairs, but ones that are also in a different order. The dominant preference for an ENTP is Intuition, and her Intuition is extraverted. This means that an ENTP is going to spend an awful lot of time gathering and testing out ideas in an outward-facing way – if you're a Ne dominant, it will be really obvious to others that you like to bounce ideas off others, think aloud, and have multiple interests that you're trying to feed at once. Your Thinking, by contrast, is introverted, so people won't see how you process all that brainstorming; they'll just see your final conclusions as a flash of brilliance.
Long story short – if you are typing in the middle of a scale, learning the cognitive function stack of the two relevant types may cast a pretty clear beam on which way you lean.
3. Take a different test
The final option for getting clarity on your personality type is to take a different test. That might be another 16-type test created by a different author, an in-depth (typically paid) test issued online, or an in-person assessment administered by a qualified practitioner. It's a good idea to repeat the test at different times, in different situations, as your position can change according to the environment, your mood and the people around you. What you're looking for is patterns of behaviors, not absolutes.
Another good option is to take a complementary test such as the Big 5 Personality test. This is a completely different tool with a distinct mission, but there is a degree of translation between the two systems – scoring high on agreeableness correlates to a preference for Feeling, for example, and scoring high on Openness can be predictive of Intuition and/ or Perceiving. Try running both tests and drawing merits from both to give yourself the bigger picture.
Or Just Let It Go?
If you can't quite pin down your type or you legitimately fall between two personality stools, then more power to you. People don't fit neatly into boxes, and personality typing was never meant to be an exact science. It will always oversimplify your characteristics and tie them up in neat blue ribbons. Our personalities are more complicated than that! I cringe when someone insists that I can't be an INTJ because of an idea I've expressed, or the way I've phrased something in an article, as if there's only one version of each type and you must be completely wrong about your personality if you don't exactly match the "official" descriptions.
Bottom line: take the tests, check out the cognitive stacks and see how it all shakes down. If you're still coming up with two or more types, be both! You may be a wonderfully rounded and developed person with no strong preference between Thinking and Feeling or whatever the pressure point may be. Take what fits and throw away the rest. The idea behind these assessments is not to nail down every facet of who you are but to start a lifelong quest for knowledge about yourself. The four-letter code simply starts the conversation, so you can work with the traits you do recognize and apply them to your advantage. The rest is just window dressing.
James (not verified) says...
I think the more in the middle you are, the less you care about MyersBriggs (in terms of interest or value), and the more extreme your scores the more you find the information useful.
I've also thought about that if you're more in the middle, it could also mean that you're not too familiar or don't know yourself too well. Pretty much undecided.
Tiger (not verified) says...
whatsthistiger (not verified) says...
what do you eman this? i actually invented a profile to ask you this...lol. cause i just googled the same thing, haha.
hope you are well tiger!
xoxo beth and hurley
RIBEQAH (not verified) says...
JAMES' ANSWER IS THE KINDEST AND I AS AN ENFP (EVEN THOUGH I FEEL INFP) (THEY BOTH) LIKE KINDNESS!
jujubee39 [INFJ] (not verified) says...
I love this article, and have been asking myself this question for a loong time. Both my dad (ENTJ) and a close friend (INFJ) have been pretty in the middle in at least two dimensions, and they are some of the most well-rounded and brilliantly smart people I've ever met: able to see from so many angles and perspectives and choose the best option as situations come.
Honestly, I wish we focused on using MBTI to better appreciate other people and perspectives rather than defining and limiting who we can be. MBTI simplpy gives a very watered down description of how we tend to perceive the world around us. Sure, we all have innate tendencies, but that doesn't mean we need to tie ourselves down to one "type." Act like an ENTP in one situation and an ISFJ in another, and don't worry too much about it. Be the aggressive, bold INFP who goes after the competitive tech job. Be the ESTP who gets sentimental about his girlfriend around his pals. Just take off with what you believe in and let everything else go!
INFJ Though (not verified) says...
What an INFJ thing to say! Basically I wish there was a test that the people around you took thinking about you and then told you what you were. Like basically I want other people to ask themselves how the feel about me to and then they give the results to me and I interpret how I feel about them to give myself a type. If that's not the most I want other people to tell me how they feel about me to tell me how to feel about me. Then I can interpret it out and send it out to the world the identity type I feel I most identify with.
Kent Jerome Nauman (not verified) says...
I typed INFJ on a paid test but type all over the place on free tests. My processing stack is Ni-Fe-Ti- Se. INFJ is supposed to be the chameleon which can mimic all other types.
I'm FiNe (not verified) says...
Please pay careful attention to the use of the words “weak” and “strong” in this article, especially if you are relatively new to typology. I believe that Jayne has accurately related what the test is measuring in the sentence, “Whenever we take a test, all we are measuring is our preference on each of the four spectrums [sic].” It seems that the sentence immediately following may misdirect one towards a different appreciation of the measurements: “For each scale, there's a numerical value for how strong your dominant trait is compared to its opposite number…” I believe that had she written, “…for how strongly you prefer one aspect of the dichotomy over its pair…”, it would have continued clearly conveying what those numbers are about: delineating based upon response patterns the individual’s preference between A vs. B and not comparing if A is stronger (against some nebulous scale) than B.
Random guy (not verified) says...
Personally, when I think of someone who is more typed in the middle, I would think of them as being more of a flexible type rather than gauging the factor of strong or weak interest itself. The Myers Briggs is designed for a scale of "preference" and not a scale of permanence. Meaning the test itself is a flexible bound of preference. Each type may have a typical reaction, but in reality everyone reacts to every situation differently. Now, this is just my current opinion of what it means to be in the middle of the scale and does not mean it is true, just a personal perspective.
Donna varady (not verified) says...
I’ve always been intrigued by these tests, I was given one a quite a few years ago and they made me retake it three times, saying I was testing in the 50% on all the scales and that they had never seen a score like mine, finally they did a tie breaker by giving me a completely different test.
All of my life I have been an extrovert who was secretly very shy. Only those close to me really know how socially shy I am because my extrovert personality is learned ....being raised in a huge Italian family it was be loud or be forgotten!
I have often wished that I had had a more in-depth conversation with our test giver to fully understand what all the fuss was about my score and what exactly my score was . I know that they had to ask a local professor what my results meant and I was left feeling like there was something wrong with my personality. In the end I chose to bury my curiosity until just recently when someone asked me to take the test again and I declined out of fear that the results would be embarrassing.
My personality is summed up as follows. If you knew me you would say I’m different then what I really am... I’m shy, but you would say I’m outgoing, im outgoing but you would say I can be quiet at times, I’m insecure but you would consider me confident, I’m confident but you would say that I’m modest. I’m a caregiver but you would say I’m dependent. I’m dependent but you would probably say I’m the head of my family! And so it continues the dicodomy of who I am and what people perceive me t be depending on the situation I find myself in.
When I tell ppl that I am shy at heart they usually look at me like I have two heads but in truth I’m painfully shy it’s my greatest secret.
No test can explain me and I have no idea why
Binky D (not verified) says...
Donna... Reading your post, I would suggest the testers react to a perfect mid-point score because you flummoxed both their ability to pidginwhole you and to validate their testing fees.
Donna Varady (not verified) says...
This recently came back up as a topic at a dinner party and I remembered writing to you. I never realized you had responded. The tests I took were for employment positioning within a company I already worked for at the time (Fortune 500 company) and I was at the time given a very large advancement after the test which served me well....
I am a very good leader, once I get past the getting to know you part most ppl stop viewing me as a bitch, why ppl are always viewed as bitches or assholes depending on our sex when we are merely shy or introverted I will never understand.
i cringe when I think back to my oldest sons wedding rehearsal where I knew nobody and I sat in a chair silent unable to push myself to be extroverted....i think my daughter in laws mother to this day not ever having given me a second chance just summed me up as a bitch. Personality types are hard when your hard left and hard right on the personality scale.
I seriously doubt however that I was given so many tests to justify the money spent because the 3rd test was done outside of the office out of curiosity by the test giver and his old professor.
Anonymous User (not verified) says...
This is totally 100% me, word for word. Except that I’m an extroverted introvert instead. Either way that’s interesting because I was always so balanced in everything. Even the cognitive functions are balanced for me
Binky D (not verified) says...
IVE BEEN TOLD I WAS EITHER UNBALANCED MENTALLY, or SHOULD WORK AS AN FBI NEGOTIATOR FOR HIGHLY DELICATE SITUATIONS THAT WERE EMOTIONALLY AND TECHNICALLY COMPLEX... BECAUSE I'M 50/50/50/50 ON REPEATED TESTINGS. I THINK I'M JUST CONFLICTED AND CURIOUS ABOUT ALL ASPECTS OF EXISTENCE.
ChrisChris (not verified) says...
Hello, I'm a 50% in everything also, but I'm not surprised by it, my teachers noticed that I have a "paradoxical mind", meaning the capacity to unite/synthesis diverse and/or unconnected subjects in a sensible logical way, and yes, I'm also interested in everything in this world - so I'm telling you this because probably it's similar to your case, it's not "unbalanced", on the contrary, it's much more balanced and dynamic than average, and only appears "conflicted" and "complex" to non-paradoxical thinkers - it's a dialectical way of converge the incongruous and therefore create something better! Just don't bother yourself with the strangeness of others, is simply a matter of perspective of life, yours is a panoramic! Chris
Zelkar (not verified) says...
I am 51/49, give or take, on all 4 categories. A therapist told me that it means high mental instability, when undeveloped. However, as we develop, psychologically and emotionally, that instability transforms into adaptability. It implies that people of type XXXX or, in my case, easily shifting traits, can be introverted when they need to, but also switch over to extroverted traits, as needed.
INFJ Though (not verified) says...
Pretty much saying that personality type starts out undecided and then as we grow as a person we show the personality type we realize we need to be. A late bloomer. A later blooming flower on the journey to discovering ourselves.
TLR (not verified) says...
How much stock one puts in the test is certainly up to the individual. My Myers -Briggs regularly comes up as INTP and INTJ , Logician and Architect. I have, for the sake of experiment, paid for the long form test just a few days apart, answered completely honestly, and one and the other, both times, a total of 5 times, 3 INTJ/2 INTP. I don't know if this happens to other people. Although I can see where the types are sometimes somewhat similar, I find it odd that it comes up a different type within just a few days of testing. I am known to be a moody bitch, however, & change like the wind... ;)
Shadowman (not verified) says...
Hello Fellow INTP/INTJ. I also fall under this stupid yet intruiging Dilemma. As a University Student with anual visits to both my Guidnce Counsellors + Physician for mental health I've been advised by my workshops + fellow peers to take the Myers-Briggs Test. I started off as a Logician (INTP-"T/A"), though the "-T" sub-part over time became more dominating. ~1/2 of a year later I tried again but this time got INTJ-"T". Initially, while this brought me doubts with this personality testing, (since i kept on getting either INTP/INTJ based SOLELY on my damn moods), while working in my jobs / group works vs. independent work I REALLY BECOME 2 VERSIONS OF MYSELF. When trouble shooting problems I become more open to various probabilities given specific parameters, which makes me more analytical in practical use with regards to knowledge and understanding as helpful tools. However... after completing tasks involving more than one person... I quickly become more judgmental. When thinking of how I myself would amusing myself within my own interests, I really break away from any restrictive paremeters and construct my 'own rules + regulations' to deepen my own understandings without any interfering outside factors. Knowledge +Understanding then become pillars to my own Cognition unless I find a VERY necessary need for change. Anyways, i guess I flip-flop between being an INTP-T and an INTJ-T. Your not alone... cause really Life's a Colossal B*tch in general
Pinkk (not verified) says...
Fall into this as well. First time I took the test I was INTJ with 51/49 on Tactics and even then it left me curious as to how on the line I was on it. The others fell decidedly where they were. Took it again years later, with 49/51 on Tactics for INTP, with the others again, far enough away from the middle to be decidedly so.
So came here, because I was curious on it.
TLR´s döppelganger (not verified) says...
I took the test the same time you did, and had the same results.
Humptydumpty (not verified) says...
I've taken many personality tests and my results are always either INTP, or INFP.
I think naturally I am INTP, but the T changes to an F depending on my mood and/situation.
I would just describe myself as INxP.
Kaprow (not verified) says...
Sounds like you're more likely to be ENTP or ENFP actually.
You're unsure about F or T - which means these are likely your 2nd and 3rd function.
First function is therefore Ne which remains a constant, hence, you're an extrovert.
(yeah, I know, but Ne is the least extroverted of the extroverted function - as in, it's the least social, the most distanced one. In particular ENTPs tend to think of themselves as introverts)
As for T/F dilema, it's really about finding out - Ti/Fe or Fi/Te - these two are VERY different axis.
Fi/Te has a strong inner personal emotional world dealing with ethical dillemas and whatnot, but the thinking is very standardised, efficiency oriented. Fi/Te is like having a group of humans surrounded by dangerous enviroment they try to conquer, or is like a human inside of a mech-body that tries to push its emotional desires onto the enviroment.
Ti/Fe is about figuring out one's own system of knowledge, whereas emotions are oriented at group harmony, getting along, these kinds of things. Ti/Fe is having humans detached in interpersonal void and then trying to find connections and communication, It's like a robot with a human interface for emotions - an Android.
PAUL HUBERT (not verified) says...
I consistently test 100% INT and virtually 50% P & J with both personality types describing me clearly. I have said that my "J" compensates for the weaknesses of the "P" (thanks to the odd number of questions, my P comes out one point higher than the J). I do not BELIEVE in emotions. They are messy and interfere with logic. But I must grudgingly admit their existence. As a Christian, it is my OBLIGATION to LOVE ALL people, friend and foe. But "love" need not BE an emotion!
Kaprow (not verified) says...
When figuring out my type, a person more knowldegable in MBTI gave me a very simple suggestion:
- Try to figure out your dominant function (Te, Si, ...). This is the one that will stand out regarldess or everything else. Usually percentage wise, it's the most obvious one.
- From dominant function, you'll also get E/I and P/J (these two can help in getting clues while finding the dominant function, but otherwise come secondary)
- for the tertiary and secondary. If you can't make up your mind, then look - are your 2nd and 3rd function a Ti/Fe axis or Fi/Te axis (or Si/Ne, Ni/Se)? Easier to figure out whether "I preffer T or F" it's realising it's more Te/Fi situation than Fe/Ti.
What's really the issue here is that MBTI tests test for categories that have very few things in common between themselves. I/E isn't about being more or less social, but requiring outside world for action or not. Fi and Fe work very differently. As any intorverted/extroverted pair of functions. So, the MBTI tests are just the general clue for further inquiry.
Chantal Chan (not verified) says...
I have taken the test for many times(different tests) since I am really curious.... ISFJ, ESFJ and ENFJ are the results.... I am just 1% more introverted.... Super unsure... But I am certain that I am a BIG BIG feeler and judger...
Blue Chicken (not verified) says...
It's the same for me! I remember when I was in middle school my friends and I decided to take this test and the result was ISTJ. But as I grow older, I feel more like a Feeler. So when I take the test the F and J are always high for me! So now I identify myself as xSFJ. And the problem is - I'm not sure if I'm E or I! I always score somewhere in the middle. Looking back I'm not really sure I was that introverted. It's more like shyness.
I could just say that I'm an ambivert and let it go. But it is said that every person has more preference for either E or I (no matter how small). I have taken this test several times + many other tests on various sites.
The first time I took MBTI test, the result was ISFJ (54% Introverted). After that no matter how many times I take the test - ESFJ (55%, 60% Extroverted).
Many other tests often show me ESFJ as the result, and more seldom - ISFJ. I feel like description of ESFJ is more like me but anyway, I'm confused.
I'm wondering wether I'm just a shy extrovert or social introvert. Learning about cognitive functions doesn't really help.
The truth says...
I'm so frustrated about that I am completely certain that I'm a totally different type of person and what tells me that,
I have been blessed with a of the keys to the classification in every way possible operating all simultaneously in almost every aspect of my life and everything about my life reflects that so somebody please help me because what led me here after 40 years of life is I've been on a personal journey and was able to pinpoint everything about myself and not only that came across something on the Internet that I cannot find now confirming everything that I said to a t like I wrote it
HELP PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE ??