The 16 personality types were created by Isabel Myers and Katharine Briggs as a way to categorize an individual according to their preferred way of thinking and behaving. Each personality type is designated with a four-letter code, like INFP or ESTJ, which is an acronym for the four key dimensions of personality.
To learn more about a particular type, click on one of the icons below. Or, you can read more about how personality typing works.
What is personality typing?
Personality typing is a system of categorizing people according to their tendencies to think and act in particular ways. Personality typing attempts to find the broadest, most important ways in which people are different, and make sense of these differences by sorting people into meaningful groups.
The pesonality types described here were created by Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katharine Briggs, in the 1960's. Their theories were based on the work of psychologist Carl Jung, although they extended his ideas to create a more complete framework of personality typing. Myers and Briggs proposed that there were four key dimensions that could be used to categorize people:
- Introversion vs. Extraversion
- Sensing vs. Intuition
- Thinking vs. Feeling
- Judging vs. Perceiving
Each of the four dimensions was described as a dichotomy, or an either/or choice between two styles of being. Myers and Briggs described this as a "preference" and proposed that any individual should be able to identify a preferred style on each of the four dimensions. The sum of a person's four preferred styles becomes their personality type.
Myers and Briggs theorized that our preferences on each of the four dimensions would combine to create predictable patterns in thought and behavior, so that people with the same four preferences would share many commonalities in the way they approach their lives, from the hobbies they choose to the work that might suit them.
What do the four letters in a personality type mean?
Each of the four letters in a personality type code stands for a preference in your style of thinking or behaving.
I/E: Introversion or Extraversion
The Introversion/Extraversion dimension describes how a person manages their energy.
Introverts are energized by spending quiet time alone or with a small group. They tend to be more reserved and thoughtful.
Extraverts are energized by spending time with people and in busy, active surroundings. They tend to be more expressive and outspoken.
S/N: Sensing or iNtuition
The Sensing/Intuition dimension describes how an individual processes information.
Sensors focus on their five senses and are interested in information they can directly see, hear, feel, and so on. They tend to be hands-on learners and are often described as "practical."
Intuitives focus on a more abstract level of thinking; they are more interested in theories, patterns, and explanations. They are often more concerned with the future than the present and are often described as "creative."
T/F: Thinking or Feeling
The Thinking/Feeling dimension describes how people make decisions.
Thinkers tend to make decisions with their heads; they are interested in finding the most logical, reasonable choice.
Feelers tend to make decisions with their hearts; they are interested in how a decision will affect people, and whether it fits in with their values.
J/P: Judging or Perceiving
The Judging/Perceiving dimension describes how people approach structure in their lives.
Judgers appreciate structure and order; they like things planned, and dislike last-minute changes.
Perceivers appreciate flexibility and spontaneity; they like to leave things open so they can change their minds.