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Cracking the Code - Decoding the MBTI

INTJ? ESTP? ISFJ? ENFP? Have you seen these letters and wondered what these mean? Ever wondered if they are some kind of code or a new trending Social Media fad? Well, if you have, you may not be alone. In reality, these are references to an individual’s personality type based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

Personality Types are a system of categorizing individuals according to their tendencies to think and act in particular ways. This method attempts to find the broadest and most important ways in which people are different while trying to assist in making sense of these differences by sorting people into meaningful groups. The MBTI is a self-report personality inventory designed to identify an individual’s personality type, strengths, and preferences. The MBTI also aims to looking at the differing psychological preferences in how we perceive the world and make decisions. The test attempts to assess individuals on 4 paradigms which we will look into in more detail in this blog. These include Introversion (I) or Extraversion (E), Sensing (S) or Intuition (N), Thinking (T) or Feeling (F), and Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).

Before we look into what each of the 4 paradigms of the test are which contribute to making the 16 ‘types’, it is important to remember that all preferences are equally valuable and each type brings an important point of view when people interact. There are no right or wrong answers or good or bad personality types when it comes to the test. The result of this test merely indicate and individuals preferences but not their ability or character. We should use the personality type as a way of understanding ourselves and for assisting us in making choices. These types should not be used as labels to make judgements about individuals or to try and look at one type as being superior to the other as that is not the case in the way the test has been devised. Every type has its own value. Although each type approaches situations differently, and another person's approach may not be what we would choose, each way can be effective in a particular situation.

Introversion (I) or Extroversion (E)

This aspect focusses on the source of energy for an individual.

Individuals identifying as Introverts often like working in small groups or alone and like to focus on one task at a time while drawing in their energy from solitude or the company of very trusted few individuals who they consider to be part of their inner core circle. They could be described as reserved and private as they choose to observe as opposed to being the centre of attention. They prefer working at a slow pace which can give them enough time for contemplation and to think things through internally.

Individuals identifying as Extroverts on the other hand are energised by being around people. They are also good at multitasking they also enjoy working on a variety of people. Extroverts can be described as talkative, outgoing and enjoy being the centre of attention. Additionally, they like working in fast paced environments and tend to think out loud and work out ideas with others.

Sensing (S) or Intuition (N)

This aspect focuses on the way an individual takes in information.

Sensors are realistic individuals who like to focus on facts and details and tend to resorting to applying common sense and prior knowledge to come up with practical solutions to problems. With regards to sensing, there is a preference to focus on the reality of things as they are while paying close attention to concrete facts and details. They additionally prefer ideas with practical applications and choose to explain things in a specific literal way.

On the other than, Intuitives prefer to focus on the possibilities and larger picture. They easily see patterns and seek creative solutions to problems. When it comes to intuition, individuals with this trait tend to imagine the possibilities of how things could be and enjoy ideas and concepts. When it comes to describing things, they are more likely to opt to do so in a more figurative way.

Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)

This aspect focusses on the way an individual choses to make decisions.

With Thinking, individuals tend to make their decisions using logical analysis as they objectively weight pros and cons. They have a tendency to place value to fairness and consistency. Their decision making process is impersonal and they tend to find flaws in arguments. They could also be described as reasonable and level-headed.

With Feeling, individuals on the other hand tend to be more sensitive and cooperative. Their decision making process is guided by their own values and how they think others will be affected by their actions. As they place value on harmony and forgiveness, they tend to point out the best in people. They can also be described as warm and empathetic.

Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)

This aspect focusses on an individual’s lifestyle and how they choose to organise their life.

With regards to the trait of Judging, it is important to state that this has nothing to being judgmental or making judgements about people. Judging in this context refers to the trait of individuals to be organised, prepared and liking to make and stick to plans. These individuals prefer to follow the rules. They are those who prefer having matters settled and feel that rules and deadlines should be respected. They also prefer having detailed, step-by-step instructions going ahead.

On the other hand, when it comes to Perceiving, these individuals prefer to keep their options open while liking to act spontaneously. They also prefer to be flexible when it comes to making plans. As they choose to leave options open, they see rules and deadlines as being flexible. They also have a tendency to improvise and take things as they come along as they enjoy surprises and new situations.

Each of these clusters helps to form the 16 MBTI personality types. That being said, it is important to remember that these types are all distinctive and were defined to help us understand ourselves and others better and not as barometers of judgement. There is no ‘good type’ or ‘bad type’ of personality here and neither is one better ranked than the other. All 16 are individual clusters of traits in an individual and all these types and equal and unique.

Let’s celebrate them and individuals rather than choosing to judge or categorise people for their result on the MBTI, because that is absolutely not what this is for.


Written by: Yash Mehrotra

October, 2021


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