How to read my MBTI posts

Just a heads up.

A lot of people will say that in order to really understand MBTI you need to understand how cognitive functions work, what each of the Jungian functions means and what they indicate in each position (primary, secondary, tertiary etc).

Just going to mention upfront that I don’t buy into that. I don’t think MBTI is some kind of objective scientific truth about how brains work. I don’t think there’s sufficient evidence that there is Exactly This Number And Order of cognitive functions in each of the types. For example, I’m an INTP and according to the Jungian theory that would mean that my functions are Ti-Ne-Si-Fe with Fi somewhere down in the deepest pits of my psyche–yet every cognitive functions test I take indicates that my two most prominent functions are Ti and Fi, and I’d agree with that–so that particular attempt at description fails for me and I’ve noticed it fails for other people as well. People who subscribe to that whole thing also say that your MBTI type never changes throughout your whole life…well I don’t really see any reason why that would be the case, nor do they provide a convincing case for it. They suggest that even if you become more Sensing, you become so by using your iNtuition, but I don’t see how you can become more Feeling by using your Thinking or why one couldn’t overtake the other.

Basically, I just think it’s a kind of pseudoscience…it’s not falsifiable, there’s not much in the way of empirical evidence for it.

That sounds like I hate MBTI, which is a bit mad for someone who spends a lot of time writing about it. Here’s my thing: I think MBTI works as a descriptive tool. It’s there to categorise people, not to reveal some fact of their neurobiology. I’m not sure discussing in terms of cognitive functions really adds to that–it just provides a description that most people don’t understand, and most people who type by functions seem to get it wrong all the time anyway (no doubt they’d say I’m the one who’s wrong, but I’ve never been wrong predicting someone’s type yet).

Here’s how I advise getting into Myers Briggs.

-Write out all the types in a list (subdivided by their middle two letters): ESFP, ESFJ, ISFP, ISFJ,  ENFP, ENFJ, INFP, INFJ,  ENTP, ENTJ, INTP, INTJ,  ESTP, ESTJ, ISTP, ISTJ.

-Go through the people in your life–mum and dad if you have them, siblings if you have them, friends if you have them, colleagues etc. Type them according to the “four letters” method. How do they get their energy–from time alone (I) or time with friends (E)? How do they process information–by looking for patterns and the bigger picture (N), or focusing on facts in isolation (S)? How do they make decisions–by listening to emotions (F) or reason (T)? And lastly, how do they live their life–do they like to plan everything in advance and get the same flavour ice cream every time and organise everything and hate surprises (J) ? Or are they scatterbrained and spontaneous and not always predictable even to themselves (P) ?

-You can also type fictional characters, celebrities or historical figures that you know a lot about (though steer clear of seriously evil people–they’ll be atypical examples of whatever type you give them. For example, some people say that Hitler was an INFJ, which I sort of doubt anyway. But either way, that doesn’t at all help you to understand what a normal INFJ is like OR why Hitler was a genocidal dictator, so it doesn’t really achieve anything.)

-Once you’ve typed each person, write their name under the type you’ve given them. So if someone likes time alone (I), likes learning facts but not really analysing (S), makes a lot of decisions based on emotion (F) and doesn’t like planning (P), you would write their name under ISFP. Gradually, you should start to notice patterns emerging–that everyone under each personality type has a lot in common and you now have a clear idea of what each type means. While previously it might have all looked like a jumble of letters, each set of four letters will start to gain meaning.

-the four-letters method of typing isn’t foolproof. Each letter affects how the other letters manifest, so this is why an INTP is more confusable with an INFJ than an INTJ (the “J” softens the “F” just like the “P” softens the “T”). However, by writing out these lists, you’ll start to notice if one person fits better in another category. You’ll also see that each type has more in common than just what the four letters tells you, and also that there are patterns–such as xSxJ’s being particularly organised and tidy, xxTJ’s being dogmatic, or xNFx’s being interested in film or literature.

So yeah. Basically the way I do Myers Briggs is such that most people who are into Myers Briggs would hate me. But I am right though.


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