In the 1940s, mother-daughter team Isabel Briggs-Myers and Katharine Briggs worked to create a system to explain these differences in the ways people think, feel, and behave. Based on the theory of "psychological types" proposed by the psychologist Carl Jung, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) was first published in 1962. Then, with his 1978 book Please Understand Me, psychologist David Keirsey helped popularize and expand upon the framework. Today, millions of people have taken the test to understand the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types and learn their own.
There are actually distinct patterns in the way people use their perceptions and judgments to process information.
Personality might seem completely random and unique—and in some ways, it is. How you operate is informed by your life experiences, beliefs, relationships, and more. But the theory behind personality typing is that there are actually distinct patterns in the ways people use their perceptions and judgments to process information. And by learning about the four dimensions that impact personality, you can become more understanding, avoid conflict, and recognize other people's strengths—as well as your own.
Keep reading to learn more about Myers-Briggs personality types, and discover what yours is.
Determining your Myers-Briggs personality type first requires you to check in with four different aspects of your personality. Do you get your energy from being around other people, or do you prefer to recharge alone? Do you make your decisions with your head or with your heart?
Weigh the options listed below to decide which one sounds more like you. Think both could work? That's totally normal. Every person's preference can be found on a spectrum, so just choose the letter you identify with most.
(One quick caveat: The Myers-Briggs organization recommends using the official MBTI instrument or working with a certified MBTI practitioner for your full assessment. So play along here, but for fun only.)
Introverted vs. Extroverted
Introverted (I): You tend to feel overwhelmed after socializing at length, and need some alone time to recharge (whether that be with a rejuvenating bathroom ritual, sweat sesh, or moment of meditation). You probably have a few good, close friends.
Extroverted (E): You get your energy by being around others, whether that's at a large party or by grabbing matcha with a friend. You tend to feel listless after being alone for long periods of time.
Intuitive vs. Sensing
Intuitive (N): You are an abstract thinker with an eye on the bigger picture. You love to play with ideas and theories, enjoy talking about possibilities and potential, and always think three steps ahead.
Sensing (S): Concerned with the here and now, you have your feet firmly planted on the ground. You take information at face value and tend to be very detail-oriented. You like concrete facts and information that’s immediately useful.
Thinking vs. Feeling
Thinking (T): You are rational. In your world, decisions are best made using logic and reason after considering the issue from an objective viewpoint. You consider underlying principles and constant truths to determine the right course of action.
Feeling (F): You are relational. You make decisions with your heart, using emotion and concern for others. You think about the best decision from a subjective viewpoint and consider how the decision will impact the people involved.
Judging vs. Perceiving
Judging (J): You operate best when you tie up loose ends. You’d rather make a decision or create a plan than fly by the seat of your pants. This makes you appear decisive, focused, and quick to act on new information (people might call you a go-getter).
Perceiving (P): Planning isn't exactly your forte—you'll never be the one to make a vacay agenda for your squad. You operate best when you leave your options open and would rather see how things play out than make a decision before you have all the necessary information. You appear adaptable, laid-back, and spontaneous.
Got your answers? Now mash them together to create your type. For example, if you’re introverted, sensing, feeling, and perceiving, your Myers-Briggs type is an ISFP. Scroll down to find the description or your type below and learn more about how you move through the world.
The disciplined and honest worker who can always be counted upon
As an ISTJ, you're known for your incredible attention to detail and are always willing to step up when a job needs to get done. You might be the dedicated manager who quietly pushes projects (and the team) forward, or a calm and patient parent guiding your children to become better human beings. More than anything, though, ISTJs are just great to have around. Your “do the right thing” attitude is refreshing in today’s double-tap world.
The reserved romantic who is a pillar of support for her friends and family
ISFJs are the kindest, most soft-hearted of all the types. You're an excellent listener and cheerleader—you love to watch others achieve their dreams as much as you chase your own. You rarely step into the spotlight yourself, though; ISFJs are more at home working behind the scenes with and for others, whether you're making dinner for a sick friend or helping your sister plan her wedding. You can also be a bit of a traditionalist at heart: You're family-oriented (how many times have you called your mom today?) and value a stable, supportive partner—let's just say swiping for love isn't your thing.
The cheerful social butterfly who is the first to step up and help out
You were Class President in high school, the sorority leader in college, the committee chair as an adult... As an ESFJ, you're typically at the center of your social circle (with good reason, you have amazing people skills) and never fail to step in so others feel cared for and events get handled. You like to show affection by lessening the burdens of others. And in the romance department, you might have a tendency to fall in love easily—with someone who doesn't take your kindness for granted.
The motivated and focused boss, always able to get the job done
As an ESTJ, you're among some of the world’s most tough-minded bosses. You have the unique ability to see the most efficient way to get a project to the finish line, and naturally earn the respect of your peers thanks to your winning combo of tenacity, competence, and compassion (you help others do their best because you know it makes the team stronger). In your personal life, though, you can be much more chill. You like to be around people and enjoy having a group of ride-or-dies who know how to help you de-stress after work (be it through a Bachelorette viewing party or a power flow). No type has a better ability to focus on the here and now while also understanding life’s bigger picture of happiness and balance.
The lively and fun-loving entertainer, always down for laugh and a good time
There are few types as fun-loving and free-spirited as ESFPs. You rarely plan ahead, preferring to do what feels right at any given moment—whether that’s spontaneously taking a road trip, or planning a last-minute party. A pro at thinking on your feet, you're amazing in a crisis—especially ones that deal with emotions or require an empathetic spirit. You have the ability to build strong connections with the people in your life, and everyone (bosses, love interests, family) loves you for it.
The smooth and perceptive risk-taker, always searching for the next big thrill
The type most likely to declare, “I’ll try anything once,” ESTPs live for an adrenaline rush. You excel in situations where you have to analyze what's going on around you (from reading a room to deciphering the variables that could affect the problem you're working on) because nothing can ruffle you feathers. You also make others feel good about themselves, always have a sharp comeback, and like to play the field romantically. Long-term commitments of any kind are kind of your weak spot, though, so the most mysterious, challenging prospect will probably draw you in—and keep you around.
The chill and capable rebel with a tendency to fly solo
As an ISTP, you fly under the radar—and that’s exactly the way you like it. You like to make independent decisions based on your personal interests, and allow others the space and freedom to do the same. When it comes to relationships (of every kind), you avoid drama and energy vampires, only truly opening up to people who share your goals and interests. But this doesn't mean you like to play it safe! You'd rather live in the moment than worry about what tomorrow will bring—which might be why you have a not-so-secret love for adrenaline-boosting activities like skiing, surfing, and mountain biking (who's up for hang-gliding?).
The quiet, sensitive artist with a big heart and the desire to roam free
As an independent and sensitive soul, people might tell you you're hard to get to know. ISFPs often express themselves in non-obvious, artistic ways (rather than by gabbing), so you may have a knack for music, painting, film, poetry, design, or another form of self-expression that captures the beauty of the world or the complexities of the human spirit. Deep wells of emotion lie at the heart of everything you do and create, and you always put your relationships first.
The passionate, friendly motivator who wants to see others reach their potential
Of all the types, ENFPs are the most in want of company. You absolutely love people, and your drive in life is typically to entertain, motivate, and support those around you. Always game to try something new, you love soaking up knowledge—and sharing what you learn with others. You're an excellent teacher because you can get your point across in just the right way for your audience to understand (without ever seeming aloof or condescending). You simply see hidden potential in nearly everyone and everything.
The deep, mysterious dreamer with a heart for humanity and charity
INFPs have earned a reputation for being soft and naive, but that isn’t the case. You're simply an idealist who wants to see the good in others first. You tend to be a romantic and will often follow your heart wherever it leads, whether that’s pursuing an unlikely relationship or an offbeat career like songwriter, novelist, or lobbyist. You're also extremely passionate about your morals and beliefs, and likely pursue work with a cause or deep meaning at its center. Friendly and welcoming to everyone you meet (you're totally that person who pays for the guy behind you in line at Starbucks), you really only let a few special people into your inner world.
The wise and brilliant instructor, always there to lend an ear
INFJs are one of the more complex, reserved of all the Myers-Briggs personality types. You have an incredible ability to sense when someone is off—and usually you know exactly why. (Your friends might ask if you're psychic, but there's a bit of truth in it.) Your calm, trustworthy demeanor puts others at ease, making them more likely to open up to you quickly (which totally explains how you end up in deep conversations on the subway). The downside here is that you can sometimes struggle to grasp the complicated nature of your own emotional world, and are picky when looking for someone to open up to in return.
The charismatic and driven empath who just wants to love and be loved
If there’s one type that can charm just about anyone, it’s the ENFJ. Typically pulled-together and articulate, you're quick-witted, passionate, and can usually be found holding court at social events. Whether you're telling stories or bantering with new friends, you have a knack for inspiring others and lifting morale. But tend to do you a disservice by mistaking your carefree demeanor for a lack of seriousness. In reality, you're dedicated in almost everything you do, whether that’s building a career you love, spreading a meaningful message through charity work, or creating a romantic relationship that will go the distance.
The mysterious, insightful visionary, always working on a plan or two
You have a well-deserved reputation for being smart, hard-working, and dedicated. A logical thinker, you'll consider all the variables to a complex problem and come up with a few possible solutions. But you're also deeply passionate about the causes and people that give your life meaning, and frequently choose friends and romantic partners who you can help grow (and vice versa). Although you rarely show it, INTJs are relentless in their loyalty—you'll never give up on someone you've let into your heart.
The deep and philosophical intellectual with a need for understanding
INTPs are the “why” people. You don’t just want to create systems that work, but to identify the underlying principles. Learning about new theories (and reading as much as you possibly can on any given subject) makes you tick, so you're often on the cutting edge of ideas and technology. Emotions might be your blind spot, though: You tend to choose friends and romantic partners solely for their ability to be mind mates versus their ability to incite deep feelings.
The charismatic and creative leader with a vision for change
If there was a vote among the types for “most likely to succeed,” ENTJs would take top honors. You might choose to work in a competitive field like finance, business, or entrepreneurship because you don’t just want to excel, you want to be the very best. You tackle any problem by diving right into it, using logic and analysis to feel your way toward the best conclusion, and rarely second-guess yourself. But all this striving doesn't make you cold: You're incredibly devoted to your friends and family, applying the same work ethic to your relationships that you do to your career goals.
The bright and excitable inventor with the drive to test ideas and theories
Charming, quick-witted, and engaging, people are drawn to you. You love to generate discussion, and will sometimes play devil's advocate during debates—not to incite arguments, but to test wild ideas. You love creativity, wordplay, theory, and anything that allows you to stumble into a new layer of understanding. Although social in nature, ENTPs are probably the most introverted of all the extroverts. You like to get to know people one-on-one, and have just enough solitude to digest all the information you take in on a daily basis. If you don't journal, you might want to consider starting.
Originally published August 25, 2017. Updated August 3, 2020.
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