Exploring the MBTI and Myers Briggs Personality Types and applications | Personality Pathways

Verifying your Myers Briggs Test * score. Organizing the 16 Personality Types into Type Families

redPage 1 - Organizing the 16 Personality Types (this page)

redPage 2 - Underlying mental processes of the MBTI test

redPage 3 - Choosing between two Myer Briggs or MBTI types

What's Your Personality Type?

According to Myers Briggs Educator Danielle Poirier, the dominant mental function is the most distinctive marker of a person’s personality type (aka mbti type). Following this principle, she organizes the 16 Myers Briggs Personality Types in four clusters:

The Four Primary Myers Briggs Personality Types

Dominant Intuitive Types


Dominant Sensing Types


Dominant Thinking Types


Dominant Feeling Types


redPoirier's Descriptions of the 16 Myers Briggs Personality Types

* While commonly called a "test" the MBTI ® is not a test but a personality inventory in which there are no right or wrong answers.

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These four groups are similar to the four Temperament Types developed by David Keirsey who divided Myers' 16 types into four groups, 4 types in each group. Keirsey "sliced the same pie" grouping the 16 types as follows: 4 types with NF in the code, 4 types with NT in the code, 4 types with SJ in the code, and 4 types with SP in the code. Using the type letters you can form many groupings in which the personality types within the group share many characteristics. For example you could have four groups composed of IJ, EJ, IP, and EP types. Within each of these groups there would be commonalities.

While all of the alternative groupings, including Keirsey's Temperament Types, are interesting and provide worthwhile insight, I've come to believe that the most helpful is the organization favored by my friend Danielle Poirier. She believes of the 4 mental processes that are present in all personalities (Sensing, Intuition, Thinking, and Feeling, the one that is the most dominant mental function or mental process for that type exerts the most powerful influence on the nature of that personality.

If you examine the MBTI Type letters within each of the four family groups, you’ll note the Personality Types within a given cluster sometimes share only one letter with another member of their group. Some would find this odd, yet none-the-less all the types within a cluster have a solid basis for collaboration and communication because they share the same dominant mental function or mental process.

Next, in my estimation, in influence on the characteristics of the personality types is the energy orientation: Introversion or Extraversion. So if we further divided Poirier's four groups we'd have the following:

The 8 Secondary Personality Types

Dominant Introverted Intuitive Types


Dominant Extraverted Intuitive Types


Dominant Introverted Sensing Types


Dominant Extraverted Sensing Types


Dominant Introverted Thinking Types


Dominant Extraverted Thinking Types


Dominant Introverted Feeling Types


Dominant Extraverted Feeling Types


Note within each of these 8 sub-groups, the individual Personality Types share 3 out of 4 MBTI ® letters. So not only do they share the important core mental function, individuals within each of these groups will likely share a number of behavior traits that are correlated with the three MBTI Type letters they share.

Organizing or ordering the Personality Types in this manner flows into a more recent extrapolation of the Myers-Briggs -Jung mental functions amongst the community of scholars and practitioners who subscribe to the Jung-Myers model of Personality Type. The original four mental process (Intuition, Sensing, Thinking, and Feeling) now become eight when one considers the attitude or direction of the mental function (either Introverted or Extraverted).

Thus the mental function of Intuition is divided into two forms: one mental function is Introverted Intuition and the second is Extraverted Intuition. While the two are related, Type educators who hold to this model believe the differences are enough to warrant the distinction. Some educators, like Hartzler and Nardi (see references and sources at this end of this article), have developed coaching models on these 8 functions - helping people learn to sharpen skills associated with one or more of the 8 mental functions.

Using the 8 Jungian mental functions (mental processes) to determine "Your Best Fit" Personality Type

Hey, Let's Go Explore Myers Briggs Personality Types

Verify your MBTI  personality type What is My Personality Type?
Take our online self-scoring "Personality Test" and learn more about your Myers-Briggs Personality Type

While the MBTI ® meets the conventional test standards for reliability and validity, accurately measuring something extremely complex like the whole of a person's personality type is beyond the power of our traditional psychometric tools. A whole host of conditions impact the "test taking" situation, including mood, life situation, aspirations, work implications, degree of self-insight, gender expectations, level of psychological maturity, to name just a few. Then add the fact that the human mind is constantly evolving, learning and unlearning things, and maturing-growing. All of these factors are why Isabel Myers originally called her instrument an "indicator." The instrument points in a direction - gives a clue - but not a definitive answer; the MBTI and other similar instruments attempting to measure Personality Type (including my own - the Cognitive Style Inventory) are not tests. They can only point the way; give a general direction.

Sometimes this directional pointing is spot-on. At other times, a course adjustment is needed; the identified MBTI Type letters may be close but not correct in identifying which of the 16 Personality Types is a person's best fit. For this reason, an important part of the accredited MBTI administration process involves having the client verify the score through a variety of processes that assist in better understanding key concepts related to psychological type and in doing a degree of self-reflection in understanding (and appreciating) one's own inner workings.

As an MBTI Administrator, one of the most common "type score" uncertainties I've encountered is when the score on the MBTI personality type instrument is close to the borderline between two type letters. For example, a person might score close to the borderline between ENTJ and ENTP. Too frequently they remain uncertain when they employ the accepted practice of reading the respective Personality Type descriptions of the two competing types; they will find a number of phrases in each of the descriptions of characteristics of the two Personality Types that seem to fit.

This is understandable as the two Types do share 3 of the 4 MBTI letters. But if you look at the core mental function of these two types in the above example, they are quite different. ENTJ has at its core Extraverted Thinking; ENTP has at its core Extraverted Intuition. So while the two types share a number of characteristics, the "primary engine" driving each type is different. So what needs to be explored in this case to determine the proper Type affiliation is the nature of these two different mental functions and to what degree each fits the person exploring their Personality Type fit.

Another example. Sometimes the the uncertainty between two type affiliations is not around the core mental function. Perhaps the Type score is near the borderline between INFJ and INTJ - both sharing the core Introverted Intuition as their dominant mental function. Here the distinction is between Extraverted Feeling and Extraverted Thinking. The person may indeed feel equally drawn to Feeling and Thinking - but Type Dynamics theory suggests most typically each would be more comfortably oriented in opposite energy dimensions. A sensitive INTJ will more comfortably Introvert his Feeling nature; a logical INFJ will more comfortably Introvert her Thinking nature . . . and visa-versa.

So it is my belief that by better understanding the nature of the 4 mental functions in their attitudes (Extraverted and Introverted forms) one can determine with greater certainty the best fit within the 16 Personality Types. These are illustrated in more detail on the next page - Understanding the Mental Process Functions of the 16 Myers Briggs Personality Types

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

If you are person who is uncertain of your type preferences examine which of the descriptions in the next section seem to best fit your experience and then look at the MBTI type letters aligned with that description.

According to the model, one of the 8 basic styles should seem a natural fit as your core essence and perhaps another one or two styles that act as an auxiliary or complement to your core function. Some of the other functions will seem quite a stretch - being that way would feel foreign. Yet within each of us is a template for better developing all the mental functions (a total of 8 when you consider both the Introverted and Extraverted forms of the 4 basic functions of Thinking, Feeling, Sensing, and Intuition). To the extent you can learn to stretch yourself enough to experience how it is to operate on these functions that are opposite your natural preferences, you’ll find it easier to bridge the gap with those Personality Types who naturally operate on those opposite preferences and mental functions.


® MBTI, Myers-Briggs, Meyers Briggs, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Trust in the United States and other countries (aka meyer briggs or myers briggs).

arrow Learn more about the MBTI

arrow Verifying your MBTI or Myers Briggs Test *

* While commonly called a "test" the MBTI ® is not a test but a personality inventory in which there are no right or wrong answers.


Myers Briggs Article Index for Educators & Students

About the MBTI - an Introduction to MBTI & Myers Briggs Personality Types

Myers Briggs Test - What is Your Personality Type?

Verifying MBTI ® Myers Briggs Personality Test

Organizing the 16 Myers Briggs Personality Types into similar families

Understanding the 4 Letter MBTI Code of 16 Myers Briggs Personality Types

Personality Types & Emotional Intelligence

Career Planning & the MBTI

Bookstore. Our Recommended Books on Personality Types & the MBTI ®

Master Index of Articles on Personality Type and Carl Jung's model of Psychological Type

* While commonly referred to as the Myers Briggs Test or the MBTI test, the MBTI ® is not a test but a personality inventory or instrument in which there are no right or wrong answers.

Gifts Differing: Isabel Myers

Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type
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About the MBTI ®
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Master Index of Articles on Personality Type and Carl Jung's model of Psychological Type

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