Personality tests are a funny thing. They tell you things you’ve always known about yourself but never quite knew how to contextualize. On Monday, January 9, we received our Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) results and spent the morning trying our new qualified identities on for size.
The MBTI is a test developed during the 40′s and 50′s from Carl Jung’s theory of personality types. Used across industry, academia, and society, its goal is “to understand and appreciate differences between people.” The idea is that by examining our natural tendencies, and the — at times opposing — tendencies of others, we can prepare ourselves for the clashes of style and perspective that inevitably arise from working closely with others. Which is not to say that such differences necessarily create conflict. When acknowledged as equally valid approaches with something unique to offer, they can be combined into awesome team power-harmony.
The MBTI delineates four pairs of traits, each pair illustrating a particular axis of one’s personality, resulting in sixteen distinct personalities. The first pair deals with one’s “favorite world;” introversion-dominant types prefer their own inner world, while extraversion-dominant types prefer and are energized by the outer world. The second pair examines how we perceive the world around us and process information; sensing-types tend to prefer hard data about the physical world gleaned through their senses, and intuition-types pay more attention to the “patterns and possibilities” they see. The third axis describes how we make decisions; thinking-types like to put more weight on “objective principles and impersonal facts,” while feeling-types like to maintain interpersonal harmony, giving more weight to the thoughts and feelings of those involved. The final pair makes a distinction between two ”orientations to the outer world.” To others, judging-types appear to lead an orderly and “decided” lifestyle, as opposed to perceiving-types who seem to enjoy a more “flexible and adaptable” lifestyle.
My own type turned out to be ENTP: Extraverted Intuition with Thinking.
While most of our results were split 50/50 across each dichotomy, we discovered an interesting abundance of intuition-leaning types, (as opposed to sensing) among the 2012 class of fellows. While an estimated 75 percent of the general population is characterized as sensing (S), our group was exactly the opposite, with 75 percent of our group leaning towards intuition (N). As an N-type on a team of N-types, I’ll have great company during our swims through the troposphere of hunches and grand ideas. Yet we must take extra care that our musings remain grounded in the hard-facts of reality, lest we float away…