The True MBTI Preferences as Defined by Myers-Briggs

The True MBTI Preferences as Defined by Myers-Briggs

(And Why You Should Take the Real MBTI Assessment Before Talking About Your “MBTI” Type)


Before you delve into the (hopefully) clarifying and enlightening info below regarding the actual MBTI preferences, I gotta tell you why I heart the world of the MBTI® assessment. As the rarest Myers-Briggs® personality type (INTJ female = 0.08% of women globally), I’ve felt more like an alien than a unicorn most of my life, and understanding why has made—and continues to make—my world infinitely better.

There’s a trending fascination (fetishization?) with INTJ females that makes zero sense if you are one. True INTJF’s don’t want to be “speshul” or in the spotlight…we just want to keep doing our thing. Mostly because it’s what we do, but also because being different from the other 99.2% of females can be brutal when you’re seen as an outsider and perceived as a threat. Especially when they band together. (I’m talking to you, bitchy moms of White Pine Elementary.)

Amplifying the outsider thing, the gist of my formative maternal influence is that I had the worst kind of mother someone with my personality type could have. I’m still jettisoning the damage from my subconscious. Which the MBTI® assessment and MBTI preferences play a ginormous part in. Thanks to my dad, I entered into adulting as a relatively intact (albeit smartassed) optimist with the fundamental skills to mom hard for my kids. (I also babysat for two fabulous moms I couldn’t have maneuvered my parents’ divorce and teen years without, so yeah, the village thing.)

But deep down, I felt like there was something wrong with me growing up. My first certified Myers-Briggs® assessment was in 5th grade for the GATE (gifted and talented) program and I was the first INTJ girl the woman evaluating me had encountered. She was excited about it, but 11-year-old me already got bullied for being different and viewed it otherwise.

By my twenties, my inability to fit in despite being (painfully) self-aware, intelligent, and actually trying—hard—agonized me. Not because I wanted to actually fit in, because honestly, I barely tolerated most females I had to coexist with since I straight-up didn’t get them, but rather, so I wouldn’t stand out as much. Or be constantly mortified by my awkwardness. Or make things awkward for my kids. Which I did anyway, but I think (hope?) they’ve forgiven me.

In college, I took the MBTI® assessment again for a class, and I was (obviously) still an INTJ, but too busy getting educated and doing the mom thing to explore it. A few years later, I worked for a company that hired a business psychology firm to improve and strengthen things internally, which was actually pretty cool. Everyone in a leadership role was given the full Myers-Briggs® workup (guess who the only INTJ was) but learning about my MBTI® type got the back burner again since I was recently divorced (best. decision. ever.) and focused on being a two-in-one parent.

A decade(ish) later <insert radiating light beams, sparkly rainbows, and angelic harps playing>, I not only had the time to learn about me, I had to take the time to do so after a couple of egregious sideways developments knocked me on my ass and kicked me while I was down. And that was how I finally discovered that I’m actually a pretty okay and funny badass who’s hardwired to function the way I do…there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m a perfectly normal INTJ. (And yes, there is almost such a thing.)

I’m not saying I’m perfect, because OMFG, do I ever have some flaws. But for the first time, I’m doing that thing where you embrace who you are (not intuitive or comfortable for INTJs), and wow…total game changer. It’s also the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve always owned my faults and taken responsibility for fixing my mistakes, but celebrating the strongest parts of me (introversion, objectivity, autonomy, analytical insight, logic, sarcasm) was challenging because those are also the things that make me a quirky misfit. That said, this love child of a unicorn and a Vulcan is well on her way to becoming a high-speed train of INTJ F*ck Yeah (thank you, Jen Sincero). Which is theoretically unstoppable. And that’s the point.

The MBTI® toolbox is intended to help people discover, explore, embrace, and understand who they are. It also functions as a sort of outer navigation guide for our inner propulsion systems…if I engineer my train in the wrong direction, it will derail or take me somewhere I don’t want to be, but in the right direction on tracks I build? Seriously unstoppable. Maximizing your strengths and recalibrating or finding workarounds for your weaknesses empowers you to overcome your biggest obstacle…you.

Myers-Briggs® personality types were never intended to be self-determined via memes, humblebragged about as an excuse for shitty behavior, or faked because certain profiles were deemed more “desirable” than others. That leads to a Divergent scenario, and the last thing we need as a species is another categorical hierarchy that pits people against each other, so if you’re doing any of those things, knock it off.


‘Kayso, now you know what the MBTI® assessment did for my world, and I’m a proponent of finding whatever helps you thrive. BUT…if one more fake INTJ bitch wastes one more minute of my real time, I will implode, so out of fierce loyalty to the real Myers-Briggs® tools: I implore all of humanity to either take the real MBTI® assessment or stop referring to alternative test results as “MBTI” because they. are. not.

I took it four times for school and work, but it really only needs to be taken once, because barring catastrophic life events or DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder, fka Multiple Personality Disorder), if you’re being honest*, well-constructed tests give consistent results regardless of your breakfast or how your day was. The Myers-Briggs® instrument measures your innate MBTI preferences (which don’t change**), not your mood (which morphs continually).

There aren’t many valid reasons for repeating a personality test. Being on an acid trip the first time might qualify, but unlike most free online tests, even landing on the midline of a preference pair wouldn’t call for a retake. Because guess what…Myers and Briggs were smart enough to account for that, along with variations within each of the types. With their online test, you can actually interactively verify your type result, and access other useful goodies if you want.

It costs ± the same as a Friday night out ($49.95 + tax), which is actually incentive to take the experience seriously, and you get WAY more out of it than a hangover. One alternative company claims that making their test free increases the accuracy of its results over time as more and more people take the test. But it’s all based on their data, which includes the percentage of people who give false answers and/or keep retaking it until they get an outcome they like. Which they can do because they have no skin in the game. Human nature (for most of the 16 types) is to deny the shadowy parts, especially when no one is watching and it’s free.

Taking the real test gives you the right to totally shout out how you’re embracing your MBTI® type from the rooftops. Or Instagram or Pinterest with cool free Shareables from The Myers-Briggs Company, like Typies®, Type Heads, and Stress Heads. (Ahem, just read the Terms of Use first. And I’m not getting paid to say that or anything else I’ve written in this article, nor do I work for The Myers-Briggs Company, Myers & Briggs Foundation, or any MBTI® affiliates, though I’d most definitely like to discuss the possibility of doing so if anyone from those companies is reading this.)

*Lying to a personality test = something needs tending. “You might as well answer the door, my child, the truth is furiously knocking.” — Lucille Clifton

**Your behaviors, attitudes, and habits certainly evolve, but the preferences you were born with stay surprisingly consistent.

This is the part where it’s important to clarify something about 16 Personalities, Personality Hacker, and all other free online “MBTI” tests that’s in their best interest and yours, which is that they are not the MBTI®. Or affiliated with it. They are based on Myers Briggs concepts and borrow portions of it, including the personality type acronyms, but there are significant differences in the way various tests interpret the four sets of preferences. Comparing my INTJ results to those of someone who’s an INTJ according to a free alternative test is like comparing apples from the tree to applesauce with “natural flavor” added to it. There are over a thousand ingredients in the “natural flavor” category, and nobody is required to tell you what they are.

Legally, there have to be differences between the real MBTI instrument and other personality assessments, because unlike FDA ingredients, copyright laws are pretty straightforward regarding taking someone else’s stuff and using it as your own. (Spoiler alert: you can’t.)

 FYI, I still got INTJ as my result with all of the alternative tests, so there is a certain amount of consistency with the MBTI, but there are numerous accounts of people getting opposing results with different tests or deviating results with the same test.

16 Personalities is validly informative, fun, educational, and potentially accurate in its own right, all of which ultimately has a positive impact. But it’s important to know that they constructed their own theoretical model. They use the Myers-Briggs® personality type four-letter acronym system, but subtracted Jungian cognitive concepts, and stirred in the currently trendy “Big 5” personality traits to come up with their test, which is actually called the NERIS Type Explorer®. As a result, they do not use the true MBTI preferences as defined by Myers-Briggs.


Speaking of copyright laws, this is the part where I tell you that everything from “EXTROVERSION AND INTROVERSION” on below is adapted from Looking at Type: The Fundamentals by Charles R. Martin (CAPT 1997) via the Myers & Briggs Foundation website1. It and The Myers-Briggs Company are the only official Myers-Briggs® organizations. And the Myers-Briggs Company owns and runs, which is the only place that you can take the real MBTI® Assessment online legitimately without going through a certified practitioner. Like CAPT (the Center for Applications of Psychological Type), which was co-founded by Isabel Briggs and is the organization that published Looking at Type.



The first pair of psychological MBTI preferences is Extroversion and Introversion. Where do you put your attention and get your energy? Do you like to spend time in the outer world of people and things (Extroversion), or in your inner world of ideas and images (Introversion)?

Dr. Carl Jung used the terms Extroversion and Introversion to explain the different attitudes people use to direct their energy. The meaning of these words in psychology is separate from the way they are used in everyday language. Everyone spends part of their time extroverting and part of their time introverting, so don’t confuse Introversion with shyness or reclusiveness – they’re not related.

Take a minute to ask yourself which of the following descriptions seems more natural, effortless, and comfortable for you.

Extroversion (E)

“I like getting my energy from active involvement in events and having a lot of different activities. I’m excited when I’m around people, I like to energize others, I like moving into action and making things happen, and I generally feel at home in the world. I often understand a problem better when I can talk out loud about it and hear what others have to say.”

The following statements generally apply to me:

  • I am seen as “outgoing” or as a “people person.”
  • I feel comfortable in groups and like working in them.
  • I have a wide range of friends and know lots of people.
  • I sometimes jump into an activity too quickly to allow enough time to think it over.
  • Before starting a project, I sometimes forget to stop and get clear on what I want to do and why.

Introversion (I)

“I like getting my energy from dealing with the ideas, pictures, memories, and reactions that are inside my head, in my inner world. I often prefer doing things alone or with one or two people I feel comfortable with. I take time to reflect so that I have a clear idea of what I’ll be doing when I decide to act. Ideas are almost solid things for me. Sometimes I like the idea of something better than the real thing.”

The following statements generally apply to me:

  • People see me as “reflective” or “reserved.”
  • I feel comfortable being alone and like things I can do on my own.
  • I prefer to know just a few people well.
  • Sometimes I spend too much time reflecting and don’t take action quickly enough.
  • Sometimes I forget to check with the outside world to see if my ideas really fit the experience.


The second pair of psychological MBTI preferences is Sensing and Intuition. Do you pay more attention to information that comes in through your five senses (Sensing), or to the patterns and possibilities you see in the information you receive (Intuition)? Everyone uses both Sensing and Intuition some of the time. Don’t confuse Sensing with sensual – they’re not related.

Take a minute to ask yourself which of the following descriptions seems more natural, effortless, and comfortable for you.

Sensing (S)

“Paying attention to physical reality—what I see, hear, touch, taste, and smell—I’m concerned with what is actual, present, current, and real. I notice facts and I remember details that are important to me. I like to see the practical use of things and learn best when I see how to use what I’m learning. Experience speaks to me louder than words.”

The following statements generally apply to me:

  • I remember events as snapshots of what actually happened.
  • I solve problems by working through facts until I understand the problem.
  • I am pragmatic and look to the “bottom line.”
  • I start with facts and then form a big picture.
  • I trust experience first and trust words and symbols less.
  • Sometimes I pay so much attention to facts, either present or past, that I miss new possibilities.

Intuition (N)

“I pay the most attention to impressions or the meaning and patterns of information I get. I’d rather learn by thinking a problem through than by hands-on experience. I’m interested in new things and possibilities, so I think more about the future than the past. I like to work with symbols or abstract theories, even if I don’t know how I will apply them. I remember events more as impressions of what they were like than as actual facts or details of what happened.”

The following statements generally apply to me:

  • I remember events by what I read “between the lines” about their meaning.
  • I solve problems by leaping between different ideas and possibilities.
  • I am interested in doing things that are new and different.
  • I like to see the big picture, then to find out the facts.
  • I trust impressions, symbols, and metaphors more than what I actually experienced.
  • Sometimes I think so much about new possibilities that I never look at how to make them a reality.


The third MBTI preferences pair describes how you like to make decisions. Do you put more weight on objective principles and impersonal facts (Thinking) or on personal concerns and the people involved (Feeling)? Don’t confuse Thinking with intelligence or confuse Feeling with emotion. Everyone has emotions about the decisions they make, and everyone uses Thinking for some decisions and Feeling for others. In fact, a person can make decisions using his or her preferred preference, then test them by using the other preference to see what they may not have considered or missed.

Take a minute to ask yourself which of the following MBTI preferences description seems more natural, effortless, and comfortable for you.

Thinking (T)

“When I make decisions, I like to find the basic truth or principle to be applied, regardless of the specific situation involved. I like to analyze pros and cons, and then be consistent and logical in deciding. I try to be objective, so I won’t let my personal wishes—or other people’s wishes—influence me.”

The following statements generally apply to me:

  • I enjoy technical and scientific fields where logic is important.
  • I notice inconsistencies.
  • I look for logical explanations or solutions to most everything.
  • I make decisions with my head and want to be fair.
  • I believe telling the truth is more important than being tactful.
  • Sometimes I miss or don’t value the “people” part of a situation.
  • I can be seen as too task-oriented, uncaring, or indifferent.

Feeling (F)

“I believe I can make the best decisions by weighing what people care about and the points-of-view of persons involved in a situation. I am concerned with values and what is the best for the people involved. I like to do whatever will establish or maintain harmony. In my relationships, I appear caring, warm, and tactful.”

The following statements generally apply to me:

  • I have a people or communication orientation.
  • I am concerned with harmony and nervous when it is missing.
  • I look for what is important to others and express concern for others.
  • I make decisions with my heart and want to be compassionate.
  • I believe being tactful is more important than telling the “cold” truth.
  • Sometimes I miss seeing or communicating the “hard truth” of situations.
  • I am sometimes experienced by others as too idealistic, mushy, or indirect.


The fourth MBTI preferences pair describes how you like to live your outer life­. What are the behaviors others tend to see? Do you prefer a more structured and decided lifestyle (Judging) or a more flexible and adaptable lifestyle (Perceiving)? This preference may also be thought of as your orientation to the outer world. Everyone extroverts some of the time – this pair describes whether you extrovert (act in the outer world) when you are making decisions or when you are taking in information.

Some people interact with the outside world when they are taking in information. Whether they use the Sensing preference or the Intuitive preference, they are still interacting in the outside world. Other people do their interacting when they are making decisions. It doesn’t matter whether they are using a Thinking preference or a Feeling preference; they are still interacting in the outside world.

Everyone takes in information, and everyone makes decisions. However, when it comes to dealing with the outer world, people who tend to focus on making decisions prefer Judging because they like things decided. People who tend to focus on taking in information prefer Perceiving because they stay open to a final decision in order to get more information.

Sometimes people feel they have both, which is true – the J or P only tells which preference the person extroverts. One person may feel very orderly and structured (J) on the inside, yet their outer life appears spontaneous and adaptable (P). Another person may feel very curious and open-minded (P) in their inner world, yet their outer life looks more structured and decided (J). Don’t confuse the Judging and Perceiving MBTI preferences with a person’s level of organization – either preference can be organized.

Take a minute to ask yourself which of the following descriptions seems more natural, effortless, and comfortable for you.

Judging (J)

“I use my decision-making (Judging) preference (whether it is Thinking or Feeling) in my outer life. To others, I seem to prefer a planned or orderly way of life, like to have things settled and organized, feel more comfortable when decisions are made, and like to bring life under control as much as possible. Since this MBTI preferences pair only describes what I prefer in the outer world, I may feel flexible and open to new information on the inside (which I am).”

Do not confuse Judging with judgmental, in its negative sense about people and events…they are completely unrelated.

The following statements generally apply to me:

  • I like to have things decided.
  • I appear to be task oriented.
  • I like to make lists of things to do.
  • I like to get my work done before playing.
  • I plan work to avoid rushing just before a deadline.
  • Sometimes I focus so much on the goal that I miss new information.

Perceiving (P)

“I use my perceiving function (whether it is Sensing or Intuition) in my outer life. To others, I seem to prefer a flexible and spontaneous way of life, and I like to understand and adapt to the world rather than organize it. Others see me staying open to new experiences and information. Since this MBTI preferences pair only describes what I prefer in the outer world, I may feel very intentional or decisive on the inside (which I am).”

Remember that perceiving means “preferring to take in information” in MBTI preferences type language. It does not mean being “perceptive” in the sense of having quick and accurate perceptions about people and events.

The following statements generally apply to me:

  • I like to stay open to respond to whatever happens.
  • I appear to be loose and casual. I like to keep plans to a minimum.
  • I like to approach work as play or mix work and play.
  • I work in bursts of energy.
  • I am stimulated by an approaching deadline.
  • Sometimes I stay open to new information so long I miss making needed decisions.


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1 Looking at Type: The Fundamentals by Charles R. Martin (CAPT 1997)

2 Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type by Isabel Briggs Myers, pp xii-xv, March 1995 Preface by Peter Briggs Myers, published by Davies-Black Publishing, Mountain View, CA, copyright 1980, 1995

3 16 Personalities, Articles, Our Theory, 11 May 2019

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