Personality Types: Explained

The brain is in charge of everything from regulating our heartbeat, to remembering
what was for dinner yesterday. Many of these functions are unconscious – not a part
of our everyday awareness.
The conscious brain, in sum, oversees two tasks: perception and judgment.
Perception is to take in, interpret, and interact with information. udgment is to
organi!e information, and reach conclusions or decisions.
"lthough people are di#erent in many ways, Personality Types are speci$cally used
to describe how people di#erently perceive and judge the world.
The Cognitive Functions
Perception is either %ensing &%' or (ntuition &)'. %ensing is the use
of the $ve senses to interpret the physical world. (ntuition is a way of mentally
looking at concepts and possibilities.
udgment is either Thinking &T' or *eeling &*'. Thinking is the use of
logic to analy!e information. *eeling is based on e+perience, and is a judging
response based on whether past similar events were good or bad.
The four basic functions &%, ), T, and *' each have two forms, an inward version and
an outward version. This accounts for introspection – the ability to replace e+ternal
stimuli with an internal source.
The outward form is open and direct, living in the outside world. The inward form is
visceral and meditative, and can rely on information that is closely held. &,ven
being consciously aware of the process of storing and retrieving this information.'
- "n e+ample of .utward %ensing &%e' is actively looking around a physical
environment. People who are very %e tend to be good at spotting facts and
attributes, enjoy performing, and like to e+perience new sensations.
- "n e+ample of (nward %ensing &%i' is the replay from memory of a
conversation, place or motion. People who are very %i usually know when something
is out of place in their physical environment, and are often drawn to nostalgia.
- "n e+ample of .utward (ntuition &)e' is glancing around to scan a bunch of
ideas in the mind/s eye. People who are very )e tend to be good at brainstorming
and 0uickly notice the connections between ideas.
- "n e+ample of (nward (ntuition &)i' is storing connected things as a united
conceptual form. People who are very )i tend to develop sophisticated mental
models, and may 1just know2 things by interpreting di#erently from others.
- "n e+ample of .utward Thinking &Te' is thinking out loud, or by writing facts
down on paper. People who are very Te often manage to directly spot the deductive
reason that " implies 3.
- "n e+ample of (nward Thinking &Ti' is !oning out to think and organi!e
information. People who are very Ti are gifted at synthesi!ing a logical
understanding that is fully-formed.
- "n e+ample of .utward *eeling &*e' is having an urge to share and
demonstrate one/s feelings. People who are very *e are usually sympathetic to the
feelings of others, and easily grasp cultures and communities.
- "n e+ample of (nward *eeling &*i' is having a core set of e+periences and
feelings &i.e., values' that are closely held. People who are very *i innately
empathi!e with others, and are often very artistic.
The Sixteen Types
,ach type has a speci$c order of preference for the cognitive
functions. *or e+ample, an ()*P has the ordering *i, )e, %i, Te. ,ach of the four basic
functions is used, and each is given a particular direction – outward or inward.
The reason for the small number of types is that it/s assumed to be unbalanced to
use two similar functions predominantly, or at once. The 45 archetypes can be
regarded as the set of e0uilibria, or the lowest energy states given the above
The four letters in a Myers 3riggs type are a code for referring to the 45 possible
orderings. ,-( indicates whether the $rst &most dominant' function is an outward or
inward one. )-% and *-T each select for the basic function that is higher ranking.
*inally, -P refers to whether the $rst outward function is judging &*6T' or perceiving
The code was constructed so that each of the traits is conveniently revealed by
easy survey 0uestions. That is, ,/s are usually more social and outgoing than (/s,
and so on. /s tend to more actively enforce structure on the world around them,
compared to P/s.
These are just archetypes – you can be a very di#erent person within each type.
7owever, the value is that adjacent types are very distinguishable. That is, an ,)TP
is not simply an ,)*P that has become a little bit more T. (n fact, the ,)TP
predominantly uses introverted thinking and outward feeling, whereas the ,)*P
predominantly uses introverted feeling and outward thinking. (n this way, people of
a given type are likely to share certain de$ning characteristics, even if their speci$c
functions are developed to varied degrees, or if they have a very di#erent life
But that seems too simple! The brain may be incredibly comple+, but regardless
of the biological processes involved, it/s reasonable that a higher level of
organi!ation can emerge. "lso, this discrete characteri!ation is de$nitely not
intended to fully describe an individual/s personality.
sn!t "yers Briggs #ust $pop psychology!% (t is true that it is based primarily on
observation. 7owever, to dismiss observation as pop psychology implies that there
is a superior form of psychology being practiced by academics. (t seems to me that
scienti$c methods such as writing surveys are &at the moment' insu8cient for this
problem. 9hereas observational psychology is an entirely rational alternative
&o' do use all the (unctions% ( believe the most helpful way to become a more
balanced person, is to learn to identify all the functions, and pay special attention to
their use. 7ere/s a brief description of how each of the : basic functions might be
used in problem solving:
% – 9hat details can ( remember about this; 9hat does it look like; 9hat worked in
the past;
) – 9hat are all the possibilities; 9hat is the shape of this problem and where are
complications likely to arise;
* – 9hat feels right or wrong, based on my subjective e+periences in the past; .r
based on the e+periences and reactions of others;
T – 9hat can ( prove; 7ow can this be broken down into pieces and analy!ed; 9hat
is the most powerful argument;
)hat type should *e in a relationship 'ith% The most complementary
relationships often involve symmetry. *or e+ample, any two types that di#er in all
e+cept the :th letter will tend to be compatible.
,)TP is <)e Ti *e %i=, (%*P is <*i %e )i Te=
Their 4st functions each complement the >rd function of the other. %ame with the
?nd and :th.
(t might also be agreeable to keep each function the same but in the opposite order
by switching all : letters.
,)TP is <)e Ti *e %i=, (%* is <%i *e Ti )e=
"nother compatible relationship is to swap all but the >rd letter for ,–/s and (–
P/s, or swap all but the ?nd letter for ,–P/s and (–/s.
,)TP is <)e Ti *e %i=, ()* is <)i *e Ti %e=
Their 4st and :th functions are complementary, and their ?nd and >rd functions are
simply reversed.
(t/s a common work relationship to switch the 4st and :th letters.
,)TP is <)e Ti *e %i=, ()T is <)i Te *i %e=
"ll : functions are complementary in order.
"symmetric relationships also have plenty of merit. "nd not all symmetric
relationships make sense. This is only intended to provide some archetypes to
)hat ma+es your test di,erent (rom others% .ther personality tests ask an
e0ual number of 0uestions for each letter, and count up the number of responses on
each side. This one is adaptive – it selects 0uestions based on the outcome of prior
responses. (t also uses a statistical approach to scoring, rather than going letter by
letter. This is an early version, but ( think it/s as accurate as e+isting tests and
signi$cantly shorter.