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The Myers-Briggs theory of personality types was developed by the mother-daughter partnership of Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, and is an adaptation of the theory of psychological types produced by Jung (see Jungian character archetypes).
The premise of Myers-Briggs begins with four preferences. The four preferences could be simplified and rephrased as:
Each of us is said to respond to the preferences in one of two ways (again, rephrased for simplification):
- People: introvert / extrovert
- Facts: data / intuition
- Logic: thinking / feeling
- Lifestyle: structured / free flowing
The 16 Myers-Briggs personality types are constructed from the various options created by combining the choices above. For example:
Introvert, Data, Thinking, Strutured would be called ESTJ (the actual terminoloy being Extraversion, Sensing, Thinking, Judgement).
Below you can find succinct summaries of Myers-Briggs personality types to inspire and inform character development - including both the positive and the negative.
Scroll down to see the information in a colourful infographic.
INTJ – The Strategist
Strategists are the architects of the world, strategically brilliant, and extremely capable. They are able to keep track of complex situations and act decisively. They have powerful imaginations and the ambition and determination to make almost anything happen. They are not restricted by conventions and are able to think outside the box to come up with influential innovations.
They hold others to their own high standards, which can be difficult, as others may find it hard to keep up. They have little time for things they consider frivolous, which can cause friction in areas such as personal relationships, which don’t always behave logically. They can be arrogant and judgemental and may tend towards a neurotic level of perfectionism.
INTP – The Engineer
Vigorously intellectual, Engineers are logically precise but also inventive and creative – they pride themselves on their unique perspective. They are responsible for many scientific discoveries throughout history as their ability to identify and analyse patterns is second to none. They are enthusiastic and objective and are honest to a fault.
They can be insensitive and unsympathetic to emotional considerations, as they dismiss them as irrational, and don’t understand them. They can also become so immersed in their intellectual analysis they become absent minded to the point of neglect. Their disdain of rules and guidelines, can sometimes cause them to disregard quite useful ones. As they are constantly hungry for new information, they can find it hard to commit to a decision.
ENTJ – The Commander
Commanders are natural born leaders, oozing charisma and confidence. They are efficient and energetic, and excellent strategic thinkers, they always have one eye on the big picture while decisively dealing with minor crises. They meet obstacles with enthusiasm, and enjoy setting their willpower against obstacles and overcoming them one by one.
They can be stubborn and lack the ability to compromise or listen to the input of others, and even be impatient with those who take a little more time to consider options. They are scornful of emotional considerations, which they consider subordinate to their primary goals, so can be hurtful in their bluntness. They can come across as cold, ruthless and arrogant.
ENTP – The Visionary
Visionaries love mental sparring, especially with abstract concepts. They have a hunger for knowledge, which they absorb fluidly, without a need for a practical application. They are extremely intelligent and curious and like to attack an idea from all angles, just for the fun of it, even if it’s not something they personally agree with. They have a quick wit and are able to link disparate ideas.
As they value challenging all ideas for the sake of it, they can be very argumentative, which can cause tension and unhappiness in more consensus loving types. They can be insensitive to the fact that others might not appreciate their commitment to digging out the truth over all else and they may find it difficult to focus or concentrate on practical matters.
INFJ – The Campaigner
Campaigners have a strong sense of idealism and morality, but they are no dreamers. They have the determination and willpower to change the world for the better. They fight for noble causes with creativity, conviction and sensitivity. They are warm and connect well with others, genuinely caring deeply for the feelings of those around them.
They a sensitive to criticism and can flare up if their motives are questioned. They are also extremely private, preferring the world to see their most ideal image. Their passion for easing the suffering of the world can lead to burnout, especially as they sometimes have little patience for the mundane but important parts of taking care of themselves and their desire for privacy may leave them isolated.
INFP – The Idealist
Idealists see the good and kind in everything. They are guided by their principles, which revolve around honour, beauty and virtue. They are led by their genuine inner compass for right and wrong, rather than by external rewards and punishments. They have a talent for self-expression, though metaphors and parables.
They can become too focused on their quest for virtue and neglect common day-to-day demands, even to the point of losing touch with reality. They see the world with such broad brushstrokes that sometimes they may ignore the detail, especially when facts contradict their outlook. They are reserved and self-conscious and can be racked with guilt for not giving more of themselves.
ENFJ – The Leader
These are natural born leaders. They take pride in guiding individuals and communities and taking a stand for truth and justice. They have a knack for tailoring their communication to different people in order to reach them in a way that is meaningful to them. They are altruistic and genuinely want the best for others, and their authenticity often inspires those around them to self-improvement.
They can become over idealistic, and fail to accept reality when people disagree with them or their views. They are so sensitive to the needs of others, their own can get lost and if they spread themselves too thin they can become debilitated. Their self-esteem fluctuates depending on how successful they are in achieving their goals, meaning they can be prone to highs and lows.
ENFP – The Dreamer
Dreamers are free spirits and thrive on connection with others, often being the life of the party. They are always searching for the deepest meaning of life and take joy in seeing the world as a complex, mysterious system of emotion and compassion. They love to innovate and be creative and they like to play as hard as they work.
They can rely too much on their intuition, when sometimes a good look at the facts might serve better. They are not very practical and find it difficult to focus, but at the same time can overthink things, looking for ulterior motives where none exist. They can be highly emotional and become stressed easily. Their need for complete independence can make working within societal and work structures a challenge.
ISTJ – The Worker
Workers have a tireless dedication to duty. They live with integrity and are guided by practical logic. They don’t make assumptions, preferring to work with facts they can confirm for themselves. They are autonomous and self-sufficient and consider dependency a weakness. They are honest even to their own expense.
They can be stubborn and insensitive in the face of what they consider impractical theories and time consuming debates that delay progress. They follow all the rules and go by the book, even when a bit of flexibility and understanding of context may be more appropriate. They can heap responsibility on themselves them unfairly take the blame personally if results aren’t delivered.
ISFJ – The Carer
Carers are kind and humble, going above and beyond while underplaying their achievements. They are practical, loyal and hard-working and can be relied upon to get the job done. They are good listeners and take time to remember the details of others’ lives and make them feel special. They are thoughtful gift givers and are meticulous to the point of perfectionism.
Their shyness and humility means people may walk over them and take advantage. They take small things personally, but repress their feelings, which can lead to stress and frustration. They tend to overload themselves, trying to help all those around them while not burdening others with their own troubles. They can be reluctant to change.
ESTJ – The Governor
Governors represent tradition and order, and often organise and bring together communities, bringing people together and leading by example. They stick to their principles and believe strongly in honesty and hard work. They are practical and able to manage even large, complex tasks. They are patient and reliable and prefer straightforward and provable over abstract or overly complicated.
They can be stubbornly resistant to new ideas and modernisation, and can become stressed when places in unconventional situations. They are focused on social status and may be judgemental of those they consider ‘deviants’. They find it difficult to let loose and show their weaker or less dignified side, and find it difficult to express emotions. They don’t value beauty for beauty’s sake.
ESFJ – The Cheerleader
Cheerleaders are popular people, and can be found brightening any party. And it’s not just for show, they genuinely love people and hearing about everyone’s lives. They take their guidance from established authority rather than philosophy or mysticism. They are practical and love participating. They like feeling valued and appreciated, and make devoted and loyal partners and parents.
They care more about fashion and gossip than science or politics, and can be preoccupied with social status. They can be inflexible of embracing anything beyond the mainstream, and reluctant to step out of their comfort zone. Their need to be valued can turn into neediness and they can be oversensitive if people criticize or are simply indifferent to their efforts.
ISTP – The Mechanic
Mechanics love to pull things apart and put them back together better. They explore the world physically and believe in trial and error and first-hand experience. They have a permissive nature and are optimistic and energetic, happy to roughhouse and get stuck in. They go with the flow and are good in a crisis, not afraid to take risks and get their hands dirty, while remaining calm.
They can be easily bored, especially with long term projects that don’t change much, and similarly, they dislike commitment, preferring to live in the moment. They might push boundaries just for fun, or take risks for kicks and can be insensitive to others’ concerns. They often suffer from foot-in-mouth disease, so often prefer just to stay silent and aloof.
ISFP – The Artist
Artists are inspired by ideas and by the colourful, sensual world around them. They love experimenting and thinking outside the box. They are spontaneous and enjoy upsetting traditional social conventions, although they are sensitive to people’s feelings. They are constantly reinventing themselves and chasing their passions with vigour and aplomb.
They can lose their tempers in spectacular fashion and are prone to gambling and risky extreme sports. They are unpredictable and struggle to plan for the future. They can be selfish, manipulative and egoistic. They are emotional and can become stressed easily, and their self-esteem relies heavily on the opinions of others. They can be over competitive and bad losers.
ESTP – The Adventurer
Adventurers prefer to get on with it, rather than sitting around making plans. They love to be the centre of attention and will entertain people with their straightforward sense of humour. They prefer energetic, intelligent conversation, but don’t like to get bogged down with details or abstract concepts. They dive into the eye of the storm and believe rules were made to be broken. They are extremely perceptive and original.
They can be insensitive, and their blunt honesty can ruffle feathers. They are impatient with those who don’t move at the same breakneck pace as them or if they are forced to focus on minor details. Their tendency towards risky behaviour can land them in hot water or lead to unexpected fallout and their focus on the here and now means they may not appreciate the longer term objectives.
ESFP – Entertainer
Entertainers love the spotlight and will make every outing feel like a party. They are sensitive and supportive friends, happy to provide emotional support. They prefer to focus on immediate pleasures and they recognise value and quality. They are playful and fun and have a keen sense of aesthetics and showmanship. They are original and stand out in a crowd.
They can be over-sensitive and respond badly to criticism They avoid conflict at all costs, preferring to ignore it or say or do anything to avoid it. They can become bored easily and are terrible long-term planners, preferring to take things as they come. They struggle to focus on static topics that require long-term dedication.