Have you ever wondered where your personality comes from? Why does one person tend toward shyness while the other thrives in social settings? Thinking about it tends to encroach upon that "nature versus nurture" argument.
Still, we all have different personality traits. Who are we really? Are we born leaders? Are we idealists and mediators? Let's see how close we can get to the various personality types explained.
Carl Jung was a Swiss psychologist who created the area of study known as analytic psychology. It's where all the debate about personality types stems from. He believed we each had a psychological "type."
To start, he examined how people receive information (perceive things) and how they make decisions. He believed we perceived things either based on our senses or our intuition. He also believed we made decisions based on objective logic or subjective feelings. Whichever tendency we rely upon the most indicates our dominant feature.
Jung's Eight Personality Types
At the broadest level, Jung believed we can be broken into two categories: introversion and extroversion. Then, under those umbrellas, even more unfolds. Here are his eight personality types:
- Reflexive Extrovert: People with this personality type rely on their brain. That is, they use sound reasoning to go through life and only accept things that can be confirmed with evidence.
- Reflexive Introvert: A reflexive introvert is also highly intelligent. However, they experience a difficult time when trying to relate to others.
- Sentimental Extrovert: Sentimental extroverts are great at relating to others and developing strong relationships. They do it so well that they experience difficulty when they have to separate from the crowd and spend time alone.
- Sentimental Introvert: A sentimental introvert prefers to spend much time at home, alone. They even have a tendency toward a melancholic nature. While they like to go unnoticed, they are, however, very sensitive to the needs of others.
- Perceptive Extrovert: Perceptive extroverts are pleasure-seekers. They don't focus on idea development in the way reflexive extroverts and introverts do. However, they like to see the way new ideas take shape and become tangible things.
- Perceptive Introvert: Perceptive introverts seek out sensory experiences. These folks tend to become artists and painters. They like to see color and texture take shape in great color.
- Intuitive Extrovert: An intuitive extrovert is a true adventurer. They're not only active, but restless. While they possess a great ability to "get things done," once they've done so, they move straight onto the next adventure.
- Intuitive Introvert: Intuitive introverts are highly aware of everyone around them. They can sense how people are feeling. Beyond that, they're also great dreamers and, as such, struggle to "keep their feet on the ground."
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
Entry-level psychology classes are likely to touch upon the Myers-Briggs personality types. In the 1920s, Katharine Cook Briggs latched onto Carl Jung's work and developed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) that we know today. Briggs enjoyed analyzing the many different personalities in the world and, together with her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers, they developed a methodology to further describe Jung's tendencies.
Our personalities are one of many elements that make up the whole. If you've ever heard someone say they're an "INFJ" or an "ESFJ," they're indicating their level of introversion, extroversion, level of feeling, and/or ability to lead a group. That said, our life experiences, the environment, and individual wants and desires also influence our behavior.
16 Types Across 4 Spectrums
Today, 16Personalities has become the leader in discovering "who we are." They have a 10-minute test that's rather exciting and helps us see where we fall in the grand scheme of things.
They hold fairly true to the 16 categories developed by Myers-Briggs. Yet, their language makes the discovery quite fun. To review, each of the letters we're about to explore point toward the following character traits. You'll notice that they are offered as pairs, which are typically seen as opposite from one another in terms of personality traits:
Where do you direct your energy?
How do you perceive information?
How do you make decisions?
What lifestyle do you prefer?
While these traits are described as opposing dichotomies, they're more like spectrums. No one is 100 percent introverted, but rather they fall somewhere in between introversion and extraversion. Now, let's take a quick look at the 16 personalities outlined by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).
Personality types that begin with either INT or ENT are categorized together as the Analytics.
- The Architect (INTJ): INTJs are people who plan for everything. They're highly intellectual and tend to look at life like a chess match; they're likely to always be two moves ahead of you.
- The Logician (INTP): This personality type has a nice balance of inventiveness and creativity. INTPs are sometimes referred to as "dreamy professors," accounting for their imagination and high level of intellect.
- The Commander (ENTJ): ENTJs are natural-born leaders. They like to take command of the room and move projects forward. They're highly rational as well as high-achievers.
- The Debater (ENTP): ENTPs love a good fight. That is, they love to pick arguments apart almost as a matter of sport. As they engage in their many bouts of mental sparring, they demonstrate their quick wit and broad knowledge base.
This group consists of personality types that begin with INF or ENF.
- The Advocate (INFJ): INFJs tend to believe it's their purpose in life to help others. But, given their diplomatic nature, they don't just want to put a bandage on societal struggles. They want to get down to the heart of the matter and leave a lasting impact on the world.
- The Mediator (INFP): INFPs are natural-born idealists. They look for the good, even in the most horrid souls. They're often seen as shy or reserved, but their flame burns bright, especially when it comes to matters of social justice.
- The Protagonist (ENFJ): Like ENTJs, ENFJs are leaders. However, they don't just like to stand before the boardroom and take charge. Rather, they want to lead groups of people that will come together, build a sense of community, and do as much good as possible.
- The Campaigner (ENFP): ENFPs are those people you meet who always seem to be at the center of the room. They're the life of the party and truly free-spirited. They feed off social interaction and the excitement of the moment.
The grouping described as Soldiers have sensing (S) and judging (J) in common.
- The Logistician (ISTJ): ISTJs like to bring communities together. They're known for their high levels of integrity, making them important members of local communities and organizations.
- The Defender (ISFJ): ISFJs are an eclectic bunch. They're introverts (I) and possess the feeling (F) trait, but also the judging (J) trait. Even though they're considered introverts, they also do well in social settings and can set their feelings aside to analyze a situation.
- The Executive (ESTJ): ESTJs respect tradition and order. They're "strong and steady" and, as such, tend to be great advice-givers. They, too, possess high levels of dignity and stand as great influencers and leaders.
- The Consul (ESFJ): ESFJs are social creatures who not only enjoy a robust social life, but also enjoy being at the center of it. These personality types are often crowned homecoming king and queen in high school, and tend to go on enjoying a high level of popularity.
The Explorers have sensing (S) in common with the Soldiers, but they prefer perceiving (P) over judging (J).
- The Virtuoso (ISTP): ISTPs love to explore in a very physical sense. That is, they love to get their hands on things and pick them apart, making them great engineers and mechanics. ISTPs enjoy making things new again.
- The Adventurer (ISFP): ISFPs don't enjoy being dictated to. They like to create, making them fantastic artists. They love to design, paying special attention to the aesthetics of any given room.
- The Entrepreneur (ESTP): ESTPs also tend to be that person in the room that everyone gravitates to. However, they're a bit more impulsive, trusting their instincts over finely-honed analytical traits. Still, they're great thinkers and will correct their missteps immediately, before moving on to the next adventure.
- The Entertainer (ESFP): ESFPs are born nurturers. They don't just love to be happy and upbeat, they want others to feel happy too. ESFPs are very giving of their time and, as such, draw a lot of people toward them.
Do You Buy In?
So, do you think you fall into any of these categories? Are you just one type? It's quite possible we're more than just one, as you fall somewhere on the spectrum for each of the four character trait dichotomies. Beyond that, we also tend to adapt to different situations, meaning we're not always INFJs or ENFPs.
Adam Grant, Organizational Psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, asserts there's no science to back these 16 categories. He goes further, stating the characteristics measured in the Myers-Briggs test don't have the ability to predict how you'll perform in life or how happy you'll be.
Yet, even Carl Jung warned these "types" were merely rough tendencies he observed. Grant would challenge test-takers to take the test a second time. He believes most of us will get different answers each time. In fact, Grant thinks the test serves only one purpose: entertainment. What do you think?
Are There 16 Types or Four?
If and when you enroll in that entry-level psychology class, you could spark a great debate by asking the professor if he or she believes there are 16 types or four types. New research keeps percolating, suggesting there are only four types. The academic journal Nature Human Behavior published an extensive study outlining them as such:
- Average: Members of the "average" division tend to have a "type A" personality. That is, they're highly ambitious, competitive, and strategic. They're also highly extroverted yet guarded - on a personal level - along with their propensity for planning.
- Reserved: Reserved people tend to be emotionally stable but also guarded. They're not quite as extraverted as average people, tending toward a more agreeable nature.
- Role Model: Role models are quite dependable and open to new ideas. Since people naturally flock to them for advice, they're great leaders - a trait that tends to come more with age.
- Self-Centered: This group sounds just like their title. They're neither open nor agreeable. People tend to stray away from this category, proving them very difficult to deal with, and making them anything but natural-born leaders.
Who Are We?
Whether you dive into Carl Jung's theory, the Myers-Briggs framework, or a modern four-tier understanding, you'll continue to notice similarities. It all deals with extroversion versus introversion, and a competitive edge versus a laid back approach. It's interesting, though, since it helps us understand more about who we are and how we react to our environments.
Whether you're looking to learn more about yourself or develop a character in your next story, take a look at these character trait examples. They might help you paint a fuller picture, personally or fictionally.