Viewing Personalities Through the Correct Lense: MBTI Reflection Essay Example

There's a quote that says "different is not bad. It's not weird. It's not wrong, or ugly. It's just different." People aren't all the same. We view things differently than each other and thus come to different conclusions. We clash over our differences which then leads to anger, frustration, and broken relationships. The Myers/Briggs indicator is a facinating and useful tool that helps us to understand ourselves and the people around us. 

The Letters

The Myers/Briggs type indicator divides people into 16 personalities using 8 different characteristics. Reading People  by Ann Bogel descibes these characteristics as "Physchological preferences, which are broken into 4 opposing pairs" (118). Though every individual is a unique blend of all 8 preferences, each personality depends most heavily on 4 of these preferences (one from each "Opposing pair").

The first set of opposing preferences is extrovert (E)/introvert (I). Extroverts are focused outwardly, on the external world, and recharge by being with people. Introverts are absorbed by their own inner world of thoughts and ideas (Bogel 119). They recharge by being alone.

The second set of characteristics is intuition (N)/sensing (S). Those who are intuitive focus on possibilities and underlying meanings. They are known for interpreting and adding meaning to thoughts or ideas (Emre xiii). According to Reading People only 15% of people are intuitive (Bogel 120). Sensors are quite different from intuitives. They take in information through the 5 senses and are more focused on what is, instead of on what could be (Bogel 119-20).

The third set of oppossing preferences is thinking (T)/feeling (F). This is not a description of emotional vs unemotional as some would think by looking at the names. Instead it focuses on how people make decisions. Feelers tend to use their hearts more then thinkers do (Bogel 120). They consider how their dicisions will affect the people around them. Thinkers are logical and analytical. They take an impersonal approach to decision making.

The last set of opposing preferences is judging (J)/perceiving (P). As Isabel Myers wrote in her book Gifts Differing, "[Judgers] order their lives, perceptive people just live them" (9). Judgers like to have their decisions made. They strive to meet their goals, plan ahead, and bring closure to their plans (Bogel 121). Perceptive people are always looking for new information (Bogel 121). They try to stay open to new possibilities for as long as possible. 


Katharine Briggs, born on January 3, 1875, helped to create the Myers/Briggs indicator. According to the The Personality Brokers, Katharine began her personality research at home, conducting most of her first experiments on children, including her daughter Isabel (Emre 9). She believed everyone could be placed into one of her 4 personality categories - medative, sociable, critical, or spontaneous. While studying these different types, Katharine came to the conclusion that certain personality types were better suited to certain jobs and that some types got along better in relationships than others did (Emre 34).

Then she read Jung's book Psychological Types and it changed everything. Katharine disposed of her own 4 category method and began using Jung's idea of dividing everyone into sixteen categories. From this theory she began developing her own ways of typing people - first the index card method and then the paint box method which became her first type indicator available to the public (Emre 43-46).

During her childhood, Isabel Briggs was watched closely by her mother and over  her growing up years became almost like an experiment to her mother's theories and ideas (Emre 9). Thus, Isabel's interest in type developed and she built off of both Jung's and her mothers work to create the Myers/ Briggs type indicator (MBTI). The Humm-Wadsworth scale, started in 1935, put people with jobs into one of 5 categories - "normal worker, antisocial worker, manic-depressive, paranoid schizophrenic, or epilepticl" (Emre 121-22). It was directed specifically towards people with mental illnesses who carried jobs. Hay, who ran the company, hired Isabel to work for him. As she became more familiar with how the scale worked she began to see it as useless because it didn't make people feel valued in the way she thought personality typing should (Emre 122-24).

It was while working here that Isabel created type A of the MBTI indicator (Emre 119). Along with the 3 opposing preferences Jung already used in his theory, Isabel added the preferences judging/perceiving (Emre 131). In her book The Personality Brokers Emre says that Isabel's goal was for it to be an indicator, not a test. Isabel wanted the results to be positive and give only helpful information, not judgement on each type. Eventually Isabel advanced from form A to form B and then to form C of the indicator which Hay, president of the Humm-Wadsworth scale, distributed for her (Emre 135). Form C used 117 multiple choice questions to divide people into the 16 differest personalities (Emre 135).

According to Emre, Isabel's first client was the office of strategic services. They used her personality assessment to match covert operatives with the job best suited to their type (Emre 139-41). Between earnings from the indicator and her wage from Hay, Isabel earned a total of $1108.00 (Emre 159).

Then there was the first conference based on personality measurement which Chauncey started and Isabel spoke at. The point of the conference was to stop the rivals going on between schools focused on personality testing (Emre 201). Chauncey also started a new research center that focused on validating different approaches to personality testing (Emre 202-03). This Personality Research Center (PRC) helped Isabel to better her product in several ways. They convinced Isabel to change the name from BMTI to MBTI. They also helped her to discard and rewrite some of the questions in her indicator (Emre 204). Another needed change they made was the abbreviation of intuition with a N instead of with an I (Emre 205). This helped to better distinguish between the word introversion (also abreviated with an I) and the word intuitive. 

Chauncey found the MBTI to be quite promising with it's simple theory, but he recognized the fact that so far no one had proven the indicator to be scientificlly valid (Emre 205-06). As founder of the Educational Testing Service (ETS), Chauncey decided to start an office that would focus on this issue (Emre 208). While here, forms D - F of the indicator were made (Emre 208). Isabel, hired by Chauncey as the ETS consultant, drove the staff crazy with her unique ideas and work ethic (Emre 210-11). Finally the ETS pronounced Isabel's work scientifecally invalid and fired her (Emre 220).

After the death of her mother, Isabel became more determined than ever to find a producer for her work before it was too late (Emre 227). Merve Emre writes that Isabel was more concerned about preserving her and her mother's work then about any possible profit she might obtain from it. She met Mary Mchaully who became interested in her product and together they worked to find a publisher (Emre 227).

After Mary and Isabel were turned down by one company, Mary contacted Consulting Pychologists Press (Emre 241). They agreed to take the MBTI if Isabel would agree to their standards. First, they wanted unlimited access to the MBTI answer sheets and test booklets. They also asked her to shorten the indicator (this would become form G). Isabel agreed (Emre 242-44).

Letting CPP use her work allowed for Isabel's assessment to be made known to more and more people. By 1979 over one million copies of the MBTI had been sold (Emre 244) and by the twenty-first century it was the most popular personality indicator with over 2 million people using the indicator each year (Emre 256). Isabel died in 1980 knowing her work was safe (Emre 244).

The Cognitive Functions 

The cognitive functions are the base on which the MBTI is built. These functions tell how you process information. Below is a short description of each of the cognitive functions. Extroverted intuition looks at all sides of of a situation and finds ways to connect seemingly unrelated ideas to each other (Bogel 144). Introverted intuition is future oriented. It focuses on understanding how the world works (Bogel 144). Extroverted sensing is very in the present, using the 5 senses to take in information (Bogel 145). Introverted sensing uses a very detailed method of storing information.

It looks to the past to understnd the future (Bogel 145). Extroverted feeling values and seeks to keep harmony in the external environment (Bogel146). Introverted feeling is focused inwardly though it is very empathetic towards others emotions. People with this function value consistency (Bogel 146). Extroverted thinkers focus on what is and are very productive, being able to make things happen in the external world (Bogel 147). Introverted thinkers are wired to notice inconsistencies. They are good at organizing ideas ad figuring out how things work (Bogel 147). 

Like with the opposing preferences, there are 8 cognitive functions divided into 4 pairs - introverted sensing/extroverted sensing, introverted intuition/extroverted intuition, introverted feeling/extroverted feeling, and introverted thinking/extroverted thinking. Introverted functions are focused inwardly, while extroverted functions are focused towards the external world. The two intuitve and two sensing traits are perceiving functions meaning they are used to " take in, process, and make sense of new information" (Bogel 141). The two feeling and two thinking traits are judging functions. They are used in decision making.

Each personality has 4 cognitive functions - one sensing, one intuitive, one feeling, and one thinking trait. Your strongest function and the one you rely on most is called your dominant function. The auxiliary function comes next, then the teritiary function, and lastly the inferior function. Since each personailty has one of each type of function (feeling, thinking, sensing, and intuitive) each personality type will also have two perceiving traits (one sensing and one intuitive) and two judging traits (one thinking and one feeling). One of the perceiving traits will be introverted and one will be extroverted. One of the judging functions will be introverted, the other extroverted. This means that each type will have two extroverted and two introverted functions. Especially during your younger years, you will rely heavily on your dominant and auxiliary functions. Your teritiory and inferior functions are often not noticeably developed until twenties - middle aged (Bogel 148).

It is no random process that determines which of your functions are introverted or extroverted, or which functions are judging or perceiving. In fact, it is a very orderly process.

Whether your dominant function is introverted ar extroverted is directly related to whether you are an introvert or extrovert yourself. People who are introverted will lead with an introverted dominant function. Those who are extroverted will lead with an extroverted dominant function (Bogel 142-43). It makes sense that introverts who are so focused on thoughts and ideas inside their minds will also have a dominant function focused inward and that extroverts who are so focused on the exterernal world will have a dominant function focused outwardly.

The first and last letters of your personality type, judging (J)/perceiving (P) and introverted (I)/extroverted (E), determine whether your dominant function is a perceiving or judging function. An extrovert with the last letter of their personality type a J (judging) will lead with their dominant judging function (feeling or thinking trait). An extrovert with a last letter of P (perceiving) will lead with their dominant peceiving function (intuitive or sensing trait)(Myers 15-16). Thus a personality type such as the ESTJ will lead with a dominant function of extroverted thinking. It works the opposite for an introvert. Thus an introvert with a last letter of J will lead with their dominant perceiving function. An introvert with a last letter of P will lead with their dominant judging function. A personality type such as the INFJ will lead with a dominant function of introverted intuition.

The auxiliary function is always the opposite of the dominant function (Bogel 142-43). If the dominant function is extroverted the auxiliary function will be introverted. If the dominant function is a perceiving function the auxiliary funtion will be a judging function (Myers 12). The auxiliary function provides a needed balance for each personality type.

Since the dominant function of an introvert is focused inside themselves, people will tend to notice their auxiliary function at work instead of their dominant function (Bogel 142-43). This can lead to introverts feeling misunderstood because the world is not seeing the main way they think and process (Bogel 143). An introvert that does not develope their auxiliary function will not be able to easily interact with the external world.


As an indicator, not a test, there are no right or wrong answers and no bad personalities. MBTI was created to show people their strengths and weaknesses and help them grow. "Personality is used to illuminate the differences and similarities among people" (Emre 94). Viewing personalities in the right way can help us to understand ourselves and the people around us better.

Works Cited

Bogel, Anne. Reading People. Grand rapids, MI: Baker's Books, 2017

Emre, Merve. The Personality Brokers. NY: Doubledat, 2018

Myers, Isabel. Gifts Differing. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Pychologists Press Inc. 1980



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