Our personalities are as distinct as our clothing choices, but commonalities exist among people with similar psychological traits just as they do with shoppers who are guided by similar fashions. Among the options available to learn more about what makes us tick, becoming aware of one’s Myers-Briggs personality type is perhaps the most powerful. For me, a reflective individual who has spent years contemplating why I think and behave as I do, identifying my personality type — and studying its characteristics — has been life-changing.
I recommend three online resources for learning more about your psychological wardrobe. If you wonder why you instinctively feel drawn to the noisy center of a crowded room or why you exhaustively analyze all of the competing variables before making a decision, these three websites could provide meaningful answers. Whether you possess a casual interest in gaining more personality insight or a gnawing hunger to interpret the complex inner workings of your mind, these platforms serve as worthy portals to the knowledge you seek.
First, a brief background.
Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung (1875-1961), who was a younger peer of the legendary Sigmund Freud, developed a theory of personality concepts as part of his pioneering work in analytical psychology. Two of the best known of these concepts are introversion and extroversion, which many contemporary practitioners believe exist on a continuum. Those who are more introverted in nature generally gain energy in solitude; those who are more extroverted typically charge their batteries when in the presence of others.
In the 1920s, an American educator named Katharine Cook Briggs (1875-1968) took a keen interest in Jung’s work in personality concepts. She did so after investing considerable time and energy formulating her own personality theories while raising and homeschooling her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers (1897-1980). After Katherine Cook Briggs read Jung’s work in the early 1920s, she dove into the psychiatrist’s theories and convinced her daughter to follow her on the intellectual journey.
What emerged from their collaboration — and the resulting decades of scholarship with her husband, Lyman Briggs (1874-1963), an engineer with the National Bureau of Standards in Washington D.C. — was a four-letter personality type. Today it is identified as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® or MBTI®. Once you become aware of which of the 16 four-letter code combinations you most closely align with, an extraordinary door opens into a room (or a walk-in closet) filled with wonder and understanding.
My first recommendation for learning more about your personality type is the official Myers & Briggs Foundation website, which is the authority on all things related to this renowned — yet still sometimes controversial — framework. The beginning of the “MBTI® Basics” page is featured here:
My second recommendation is for MBTIonline.com, which allows you to discover your official MBTI® identifier by taking the 93-question Myers-Briggs assessment for $49.95. The estimated time for this instrument is 15 minutes. (Note — A link to MBTIonline.com is also found on the Myers & Briggs Foundation site.)
The welcome page of MBTIonline looks like this:
My third recommendation is for 16Personalities, which is hosted by UK-based NERIS Analytics Limited. This user-friendly and pleasingly visual website offers insightful descriptors of NERIS’ own modified versions of the official MBTI® four-letter designator.
The modified versions, which feature a fifth letter — A or T, representing assertive and turbulent, respectively — still include the sixteen separate personality types. However, each one is complemented by the fifth A or T descriptor*. The sixteen basic types are presented here using names, illustrations, and four categorical groups (Analysts, Diplomats, Sentinels, and Explorers).
You can identify your type by taking their free NERIS Type Explorer®.
Each of these sixteen types features its own detailed series of pages that offer insights into how that type’s tendencies (in thought and behavior) manifest in such areas as Friendships, Romantic Relationships, Parenthood, Career Path, and Workplace Habits.
Here is an overview of the ESFP type, which 16Personalities identifies as “The Entertainer.” The four-letter acronym stands for Extroverted Sensing Feeling Perceiving.
As an INTJ (“The Architect,” pictured below) — a type that describes introverted individuals who rely on intuition and deep thought to navigate their lives — I have found tremendous value in both the Myers & Briggs Foundation website and 16Personalities.com. By revisiting these destinations, I am reminded why I possess the psychological wardrobe that I do — the symbolic pants, shirts, sweaters, and shoes that reflect the different parts of my personality.
When I find myself struggling to understand why and how I act, I am grateful for the insights that these sources offer. Although I give serious consideration to the materials they provide, I also scrutinize them as a healthy skeptic. I think it is best to be cautious about adopting any framework in its entirety. The three resources recommended in this post provide general roadmaps for greater understanding — not prescriptive, turn-by-turn directions for living a better life.
* — Please be aware that this fifth letter is an element that is not endorsed by the Myers & Briggs Foundation.