I'm a huge fan of the Myers-Briggs personality tests.

Here's a simple online unofficial version:

What does it measure?

I realize there's criticism of it, but in my personal experience, it's done a good job of partitioning the problem space regarding people's personalities.

Here are the 4 dimensions in the test, plus my simplified description of what each means:

* Introvert (I) vs. Extrovert (E): How energized are you be other people? I finds being in a crowd draining, whereas E finds it energizing.
* Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N):  N means more likely to go with a gut-feeling. S is more by-the-books.
* Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F): How much do you emotions weigh into your decision making?
* Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P): J means more punctual and driving for closure. P is more flexible.

I'm an INTJ. Anybody who works with me should be able to guess that. I show up as INTJ every time I take the test, so that seems to be pretty stable. I tried the above link and got INTJ there too, so while it's not an official test, it had sufficient accuracy for me.

Why it's valuable in a work environment?

Here are my personal opinions on why it's valuable, particularly in a work environment. As these are just my personal opinions, you'll probably disagree with them.


1. No personality is overall better than an other one. However, each personality has strengths and weaknesses. When you're on a team, you need to know your teammates strengths and weaknesses so that you can leverage their strengths and avoid their weaknesses. This is also essential for setting people up for success.
2. It's good for predicting where people will have tension. For example, A strong-N and a strong-S will have an extra burden communicating because they tend to operate at different abstraction levels and so can easily talk right past each other. I've also personally seen a lot of tension between strong-Js and strong-Ps.



(Other trivia:  If you spell "Myers" wrong in your search, you'll find Firaxis Games because of Jeff Briggs and Sid Meiers.)

Comments (14)

  1. nadaly says:

    Dear All,

    i have one question in my mind….while using excel is it possible that we can link two or more excel report in a way that if im making changes in one the other sub reports change automatically???? please help!!

  2. Sergey says:

    Hi Mike,

    Did you heard about Socionics?

    It is developed in parallel with Myers-Briggs typology and introduces concept of intertype relations.

  3. Dan McKinley says:

    I am not a fan. In fact, I have refused to take one at work. I have several reasons for this.

    First, as far as I have been able to determine, there is no real scientific basis for these things. The outcomes of personality tests tend to be worded in such a way that it is hard to disagree with their prognosis. Everybody has aspects of all of these categories in them, and will tend to identify with their "type" regardless of what they are told (this is known as confirmation bias).

    Second, while you may say that "no personality is overall better than an other one," there are a lot of dolts out there that won’t agree with you. And, plenty of these dolts are in charge. Is it fair to promote someone who scored "ESTP" over an "INFJ" on a test which may be purely pseudoscience? Of course it isn’t. But at some companies this happens.

  4. Hi Mike, I’m INTJ too. What’s funny is that most of my true friends are also INTJs … and software developers. Must be some correlation here.

  5. Steve Steiner says:

    I always get INXX on these tests.

    Have you checked out Marcus Buckingham’s Now, Discover Your Strengths?

    It provides a different style of test.  The result is more of a finger-print of behavior rather than a partition.

    (Warning – the test is given online with a license code from the book … so buying a used copy doesn’t get you the test!)

    I find the author’s latest book more useful. Rather than providing a test to tell you a set of categories it provides a method to identify the very specific instances of what you do that would fall into those categories:

  6. Rubio says:

    I think it’s extremely dangerous when you start to box personalities for the obvious reason that they come out overly simplified. I admit there can be found common traits, but the simple fact is that people are inherently complex and any attempt to classify their personality is bound to fail. This is a case applying science in a non-scientific domain.

    As for your arguments for the value of the test, if you use the test results to "leverage someones strengths", you have already made a decision based on a [scientifically] inaccurate test. Your second argument, "predicting where people will have tension", is, I admit, valid. Do you, however, need a personality test for this? You should know your teammates and be able to recognize their personality traits. That’s just common sense.

    Just so as not to dismiss your idea I took the test and it turns out that I am, like you, an INTJ. I also read a description of an INTJ person (, and it was, for the most part, spot on. I also admit it was interesting to read such an accurate description of myself. So what does this mean? How can I use this information (which I already knew)? Or if I were a member in your team, what exactly are my weaknesses based on this reult, and what kind of tasks would you NOT assign me because of this?

  7. Steve – I borrowed the Discover-Your-Strengths book; but I couldn’t take the quiz. From reading the list, I can guess what mine would be.

  8. Dan McKinley says:

    Rubio: I take issue with the idea that the domain is fundamentally beyond the reach of science. However, it is quite likely beyond the reach of present-day science. Furthermore, I am extremely skeptical that this method based on the teachings of a very non-scientific person (Carl Jung) counts as science at all.

  9. I’m an ENTJ, which probably fits pretty well with working with technical stuff but still with customer interaction.

    I agree that the test is probably scientifically inaccurate, especially considering the varying degrees of X that you can be and also that to a very large extent you answer the questions like you would like to be or you would like to be perceived. For example,

    the first question was something about "are you always in time for meetings", I answered yes because I’d like to think I am, but

    in reality that is probably not true.  

    Still I think your personality and how you interact is both based on what you want people to think of you, and how you really behave

    in different situations, so with or without the test I think that it definitely serves a purpose for allowing you to work better with

    people, and usually part of these lasses/books, show you really simple ways to figure out what someone is without getting their test scores.  

    I don’t think it’s fair to promote someone based on their personality type in a test, but to be perfectly honest, and I really don’t think one type is better than another, but pure logic says that the best place for a strong I is probably not in front of 1000 people on stage, and the best place for a strong T is probably not in a job where taking care of people is a big part of the job description, so I don’t see a problem with placing people in different job positions based on their personalities, assuming their qualifications match of course.  

  10. It’s definitely a pseudo-science, but most of human interaction is. So I see this is a useful data-point, but certainly not the entire picture.

    I would be concerned about placing a strong-J in a role that requires tremendous flexibility.

    I absolutely don’t think promotions should be based off just personality types (although perhaps we can make an exception for INTJ 🙂 ). Promotions ought to be based off accomplishments, merit, etc. Personality types are just very rough predictors.

  11. Rubio says:

    Dan – I think the test falls into the category of social sciences and therefore may (or may not) be science (I know nothing about social sciences). The test does, however, seem to try to use natural science methods. I think human personality as such is neither measurable nor quantifiable. This is what I meant by "non-scientific domain".

    I still fail to see what use this test would serve to anyone other than making them more aware of the differences in peoples personalities.

  12. As Mike , I’m also interested in the psychological and unconscious side if human beings… and after

  13. Howard says:

    Mike and all,

    I’m an INTJ too and I definitely find Myers-Briggs extremely useful. I think the important thing is to not get too strict with it and to remember that people express the same letter differently and that we grow and sometimes can begin to take on a little more balance in our letters. There is a mix of the universal and the individual.

    But just understanding the concept and realizing the fact that all of the types have strengths and weaknesses can be extremely enlightening and really help improve relationships. I talk a lot about how realizing I was an INTJ and coming to understand others’ types improved my life on my web page.

    Thanks Mike!

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