Better relationships. Better marriages. Better lives.
"Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves."
Carl Jung, INTP
Dear Wonderfully Unique Human Being,
Have you ever noticed that people can be difficult to get along with? Since the dawn of time, people have been plagued with all kinds of interpersonal conflicts.
Maybe it infuriates you when people obsess over minor details while being blind to the big picture. Maybe you're sick of people freaking out when something doesn't go exactly their way. Maybe you go crazy when your spouse doesn't squeeze the toothpaste tube from the bottom.
And while you might not be aware of it, everyone has similar feelings about you. You're constantly being labeled by others, according to however they happen to secretly judge people. They may wrongly see you as:
The possibilities are endless. People are always misunderstanding you, and this leads to conflict.
"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
Ronald Reagan, ENFJ
Fortunately, there is a psychological tool that allows us to better understand our differences, instead of having to feel guilty about them. It's called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
Until now, the MBTI has mainly been used only by people like psychologists. Seriously, how many people even know what their type is, let alone understand all its intricacies? But you're perfectly capable of learning to use this powerful tool.
Once you understand the MBTI, you'll see people like never before. You'll suddenly see why people make sense, despite all the crazy things they do. When you see people having an argument, you'll likely be able to trace it to a difference in types, and their failure to recognize that difference.
More importantly, you'll be able to use this knowledge to get along better with coworkers, friends, and family members. That means reduced stress and better relationships.
For some people, this knowledge has saved their jobs. For some, it has even saved their marriage. And for everyone, it results in a greatly enhanced understanding of themselves and others.
"I'd rather regret the things I've done
Lucille Ball, ESTP
Here is one example of someone's reaction to learning about their type:
"You know, this is the first time in my life I have ever felt that anyone understood me. All these years my family and teachers told me I was crazy, and I was about to believe it myself. I have tried and tried to see things their way, but they never once thought it would be worthwhile to try and see things my way. Now I know I am not crazy. It is such a relief."
"I'm not a smart man...but I know what love is."
Forrest Gump, ESFJ
Now, there are a lot of misconceptions about the MBTI, which unfortunately stand in the way of letting people benefit from it. So, on to the frequently asked questions:
What is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator?
It's a psychological questionnaire (not a test) that sorts people into 16 personality types based on certain preferences. It was designed to make the theory of psychological types understandable and useful in our lives. If you can grasp the ways we prefer to use our perception and judgment, our behavior can be seen as much more consistent and orderly than it might otherwise appear.
"I have to get Salazar in that chopper, in the air in the next 60 seconds,
Jack Bauer, ISTP
Where did it come from?
The ideas behind the MBTI started in Carl Jung's book Psychological Types, published in German in 1921, and translated to English in 1923. Independently of Jung's work, similar ideas were being explored by an American mother and daughter team, Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers. When they came across Psychological Types, they poured new passion into their work, and continued it for the rest of their lives.
During World War II, Briggs and Myers observed that many people were placed in jobs that did not fit their personality. They developed a questionnaire to measure personality differences, and refined it through painstaking research over the years. In 1962, the Educational Testing Service published the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
Today, the MBTI is the best known and most trusted personality assessment available, with more than 2.5 million people taking it each year.
"America just works better when more people
Bill Clinton, ENFP
What are the different types?
There are four pairs of preferences:
Extraversion* (E) vs. Introversion (I)
* Yes, that's the official spelling used by the MBTI. It comes from the original German, and it's an acceptable variant in English.
"I'm here to fight for truth, and justice, and the American way."
Please hold off on attaching too much meaning to these terms for now, because all of them are very misleading, even the ones that seem obvious. I know this because my article on the difference between extraverts and introverts hit the front page of Digg and drew tens of thousands of visitors. People know the words, but they don't know the meaning. However, this video will give you a very quick overview.
For each pair of preferences, you will naturally favor one side over the other. This is not to say that you don't use the other side at all. In fact, we all use both sides of each pair. But you have a preference for one over the other, just like you might prefer your right hand over your left. It may be a very clear preference, or it may be a very slight preference, but it's there.
By combining your four preferences, you arrive at your four letter type, which is one of these 16 possibilities:
"I'm whatever Gotham needs me to be."
This is offensive. Why would I want a test to tell me what I can and can't do?
There are personality tests out there that will judge you, saying that you're not creative, not assertive, etc. But the MBTI is intentionally called an indicator and not a test. There are no right or wrong answers; it simply indicates your preferences.
If you took a questionnaire about ice cream preferences, and it determined that you have a moderate preference for chocolate over vanilla, would you be offended? Of course not. It doesn't make any sense to be offended by your own preferences.
"Where does he get those wonderful toys?"
The Joker, ENTP
But what if I find out I'm one of the bad types, like an introvert?
There aren't any bad types; all types are equal. Your four preferences are just that...preferences. Your type indicates what you like to do, not what you can do. While there is obviously a correlation between type and behavior, all 16 types are seen excelling in all kinds of careers and situations.
Introversion in particular is such a misunderstood term that I set aside some time to debunk the myths surrounding it. Introversion doesn't imply poor social skills or shyness, and in fact it's no less desirable than extraversion. Likewise, all the other types are neither good nor bad, only different.
"Are you an idiot?" - Bob Kelso, ISTJ
I can be either an introvert or an extravert (or a sensor or an intuitive, etc.), depending on the situation. I'm not one or the other, I'm both!
No, you're not. I know you can change your behavior to fit your circumstances. In fact, all of us use all eight elements—extraversion, introversion, sensing, intuition, thinking, feeling, judging, and perceiving—every day. But we have our preferences.
Saying that someone is an introvert is just shorthand for saying that they prefer introversion over extraversion. It's not to say that they never use extraversion at all. In fact, they might prefer introversion only slightly to extraversion. But we use these terms to identify which side of the line they stand on.
"I feel the need...the need for speed!"
Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, ESFP
OK, then I'm exactly in the middle.
No, you're not. If you take an extravert/introvert survey with 10 questions, it's possible that you'll answer 5 questions one way and 5 questions the other way. But what if the survey had 100 questions? And in real life, there are an infinite number of variations from one extreme to the other, so you're not going to be exactly in the middle. Have you ever flipped a coin and had it land on its edge, coming up neither heads nor tails?
I can understand that you might be so close to the middle that you have a hard time telling which side you're on. I had a very hard time determining two of my letters at first. But once I really understood what they meant, it became clear. You'll find your type as well, no matter how split you might think you are. People who think they're exactly in the middle often turn out to have a clearer preference than they first thought.
"The buck stops here."
Harry S. Truman, ESTJ
Well, then I can change. I used to be more introverted, and now I'm becoming an extravert.
No, you're not. In theory, your preferences are set at birth or in early childhood, and they never change. Some psychologists will disagree, and I'm open to the possibility that your preferences can change. However, if it does happen, it happens much, much less often than people think. In the case of introversion and extraversion, people often identify themselves incorrectly because they don't understand what these terms mean, and there are other factors that can mask our preferences. But your true preferences aren't likely to change.
Let's say you're right handed. Although you can certainly use your left hand, you have a clear preference for your right hand. And then one day, you lose your right arm in an accident. So you start doing everything with your left. In time, you become competent with your left hand. Eventually, with a lot of hard work, you become more proficient with your left hand than you ever were with your right. But you'll always be right handed.
"The circle is now complete. When I left you I was but the learner;
Darth Vader, INTJ
But I can act very extraverted sometimes, enough to fool anyone.
Oh, you can definitely act against your preferences. After all, even the most unmistakable right hander doesn't let their left arm simply hang limp all the time. You might even be quite spectacular at using your non-preferences; you just don't like them as much. Remember that we're talking about preferences here, not abilities.
A terrific example of someone successfully acting against his preferences is the great introvert Johnny Carson, who brilliantly hosted The Tonight Show for 30 years.
"Real integrity is doing the right thing,
Oprah Winfrey, INFJ
If I act differently at home than I do at work, which is my real personality?
Your type is determined by your preferences, not your behavior. Most people will act differently in different situations. For example, you might be very deadline-oriented at work, or very imaginative when reading bedtime stories to your kids. But your type doesn't change in different situations, even if your behavior does.
"Just the facts, ma'am."
Joe Friday, ISTJ
I don't like to be labeled. Why should I confine myself to someone else's standards?
First, remember that we're only talking about your preferences here. Second, the official MBTI guidelines say that you are the best judge of your own type, and you can override the results you get from the MBTI assessment. If you decide that you have a preference for thinking over feeling, there's no reason that should offend you. After all, you're the one doing the labeling! There are no negative labels here, and anyway you're just saying that you generally prefer one element over its opposite. You're not constraining yourself in any way.
Think about who was responsible for creating the MBTI. Carl Jung didn't like to be boxed in; he loved developing esoteric theories that weren't accepted by the psychological community. Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers didn't like to be boxed in; they were women working in a male-dominated field, and they weren't even psychologists! Why would they come up with a tool that was meant to confine people to limited roles?
Besides, you're being labeled anyway. People are calling you things like big-mouth, shy, unimaginative, spaced out, cruel, wimpy, rigid, wishy-washy, etc. This is often because people misunderstand those who have different preferences from them. Wouldn't you prefer that people knew enough about human behavior to recognize that your differences are perfectly valid, and need not carry these negative connotations?
"Why do you find it so hard to believe?" - John Locke, INTP
But I mean, I really don't like to be labeled. I'm special and unique, and no one else is just like me.
Your fingerprints are unique too, but the FBI classifies fingerprints as arches, loops, or whorls, which are then broken down into sub-groups to make them easier to identify.
You're unique, but you also have a type. Albert Einstein was an INTP. Do you really think you're that much more complex than him?
"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
Albert Einstein, INTP
Why should I change? There's nothing wrong with me, and I don't need to be fixed.
That's right! There are no bad types, and since your preferences aren't going to change, you should run with them instead of trying to change them. But since we all have to interact with people who are different from us, it's very helpful to at least be aware of your non-preferences, even if you don't want to change.
However, just hear me out for a second. Every preference, at every point from one extreme to the other, has potential strengths and weaknesses. Many people find it helpful to be aware of this so they can continue taking advantage of their strengths, and yet not be completely blind to their weaknesses.
We saw a great example of this in "The Last Lecture." Randy Pausch was very aware of his strengths, but he had no idea that his great strengths also created a great weakness. Until one day, when his advisor said to him, "Randy, it's such a shame that people perceive you as so arrogant. Because it's going to limit what you're going to be able to accomplish in life."
He didn't know it, but he had learned a valuable lesson about his MBTI type, one which led to fame, fortune, and achieving his childhood dreams.
"If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased."
Katharine Hepburn, INTJ
Isn't this a little simplistic? Surely there are more than 16 different personalities.
There are an infinite number of different personalities. But if the MBTI defined an infinite number of personality types, it wouldn't be a very useful way to classify people, would it?
We don't need that many different personality types in order to gain great insight into our differences. In Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, John Gray classified people into only two types: men and women. Obviously there is more than one kind of man, and more than one kind of woman.
But while Gray's classification was extremely simple, it allowed many people to see for the first time that men and women are different because they're supposed to be different. And instead of complaining that the opposite sex is different, we should understand our differences and learn how to better live with them.
Many people found this framework helpful in spite of having only two categories, not to mention Gray's controversial ideas. So imagine how much more helpful the MBTI is, with 16 categories supported by decades of testing, validation, and refinement over 40 million administrations of the indicator.
There is an extended version called the MBTI Step II, which breaks each of the eight preferences down into five facets. For example, sensing is broken down into concrete, realistic, practical, experiential, and traditional. Instead of 16 types, this effectively results in more than a million (220 instead of 24). While this is definitely useful for people with a high enough level of interest, it's far too complicated for the average person. When you try to put your skills to use in the real world, are you even going to remember all 40 facets?
The beauty of the MBTI Step I is that it is both simple and powerful. Simple enough that it can be mastered by the average person and used in real life without having to consult a book all the time. Powerful enough that it gives us far more insight into someone's behavior than we would have through casual observation.
"If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember that
Walt Disney, ENTP
So if someone else has the same four-letter type as me, we can still be very different?
Definitely. INTP Albert Einstein was very different from INTPs Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. However, they have much more in common than you might think. But as the MBTI has no bad types, it doesn't measure things like intelligence or acting ability.
"Yo Adrian, I did it!"
Rocky Balboa, ISFP
So type doesn't explain everything?
No, nothing does. But that doesn't mean we should give up on understanding people.
"Say hello to my little friend!"
Tony Montana, ESTP
Is your personality just a straightforward combination of the different letters?
No, each letter affects how the other letters are expressed, so the whole is more than the sum of the parts. The way in which two or more letters affect each other is called type dynamics, and that's where it gets interesting.
"Even when I'm old and grey, I won't be able to play it,
Michael Jordan, ISFJ
Has the MBTI been scientifically validated? Someone told me he took the test three times and got three different results.
First, did he take the official MBTI, which can only be taken from someone who is certified to administer the indicator and interpret the results? Or did he take a knockoff he found on the internet? I'm sure I could come up with a knockoff that would be mostly accurate, but only the official one has been tested and refined over 40 million administrations.
Second, keep in mind that measuring personality is a lot more complex than measuring a car's speed. You can't just aim a radar gun at someone, pull the trigger, and read the results. Any psychological survey is going to be far from perfect. However, the MBTI meets and exceeds the standards for psychological instruments. This includes both reliability (how consistent someone's results are from one test to the next) and validity (how accurately the MBTI measures what it attempts to measure). It's not perfect, but name something that's better.
"Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants,
Henry Ford, ISTJ
I do agree that there's a chance of getting different results if you take it multiple times. For example, here's one of the questions on an unofficial MBTI survey I found on the internet, which looks similar to a question you might find on the real one:
"Do you want things:
I know why they're asking this question. And based on the type I am, I know what I'm "supposed" to answer. But this is the dimension that I'm most split on, and for me, this isn't such an easy question to answer. I could conceivably answer the question differently at different times, depending on my mood, recent events, and so forth. And if enough questions aren't polarizing enough for you, your results could be inconsistent over time.
That's why it's very important to not just take a questionnaire blindly, but to understand what the types mean and confirm your type for yourself. The MBTI guidelines say that you're the best person to determine your own type. And in order to do that, you really need to understand all the different types.
"In this life we cannot do great things.
Mother Teresa, INFJ
What about the Forer effect?
Yes, this poses a danger. The Forer effect says that if you're told what your type says about you, you'll tend to believe it even if it's not that accurate. For example, if you're told that you're very loyal, who is going to disagree with that?
In fact, this happened to me a little. Although my official results said I was an INTP, I decided I was really an ISTJ based on some incorrect things that people told me about the different types. I didn't find the ISTJ profile to be especially accurate for me, but I thought it was the best fit, and maybe I just didn't fit into any of the boxes very well.
Three years later when I happened to discover what the types really meant, I found that I was clearly an INTP, and just got thrown off by some well-meaning people who didn't know what they were talking about. It really pays to have a thorough understanding of all the different preferences, to read profiles of types similar to yours, and not to listen to uninformed people.
"You've made this day a special day, by just your being you. There's no person in the whole world like you, and I like you just the way you are."
Mister Fred Rogers, INFP
Can my type be used against me?
As far as job discrimination goes, it is inappropriate, unethical, and in many cases illegal to use the MBTI as a way of screening job applicants. Hopefully this won't happen to you, and statistically speaking, it's very unlikely.
However, I've got news for you: people are unfairly judging you by your type right now. Of course they know nothing about the MBTI so it isn't put in those terms, but that's what it boils down to. People are judging you, they always have, and they always will. I find people laughing at and complaining about all four of my preferences, both for being too far to one side and for being too far to the other.
So yes, people will criticize your type, but that's happening anyway. Being ignorant about the MBTI won't help, because people are still going to judge you. You're free not to reveal your type to someone (though I don't see any reason to), but understanding the MBTI will help you realize how other people might see you, and suggest how to respond.
"A sense of humor is good for you.
Bob Hope, ESFP
At work, they brought in an MBTI consultant and I've already been typed. Do I still need this ebook?
Maybe not as much as someone who's starting from scratch, but yes, it would still be very beneficial. During my research I learned many things that I didn't get from the MBTI consultants I worked with. Nothing against them, but there's always more to learn.
For people who know and love the MBTI, new books are always entertaining. Plus, I've got new ways of explaining things, pretty pictures, and typewatching examples using famous people and characters. What could be better than that?
"I think I'm allergic to mornings."
Does this ebook include the official MBTI questionnaire?
No, the official MBTI can only be taken from someone who is certified to administer it and interpret the results. I'm not certified, and even if I was, it would be wrong to sell it on the internet.
However, we don't need it. You'll learn how to validate your type on your own, which is something you should do even if you do take the official MBTI. You'll also learn what it means, how to determine other people's types, how they might see you, and how to interact with them.
"How many times do I have to tell you, John? I always have a plan."
Benjamin Linus, INTJ
Are there any disclaimers I should be aware of?
Well, yes and no. Look, I'm not a psychologist, a psychiatrist, or a career coach, and I have no relevant degrees or certifications (interestingly, neither did Katharine Briggs or Isabel Briggs Myers). I'm just a guy who understands this stuff and knows how to explain it, which in my experience can be worth a lot more than being certified (not to downplay the value of certification).
There are risks in everything. For example, while I can hardly imagine how, it's technically possible that you could die as a result of reading this ebook. But as with drinking hot coffee, the risk is quite manageable for an intelligent person.
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, ENTJ
I'm not responsible for any stupid actions that someone decides to take after reading this ebook, and I don't provide psychiatric or medical advice. If you're in need of professional advice, seek the help of a professional.
But if you're seeking an engaging, nicely laid out, deep but understandable explanation of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and how to use it to enhance your life, you've come to the right place.
And you don't have to take my word for it. Let's look at some reader testimonials:
"I've read lots of books about the MBTI, but nothing made it come alive for me like Hunter's E-book. I can't recommend it highly enough.
It really opened my eyes. If you don't know your type, this will really help you understand yourself. If you can also figure out your mate's type, it will help your relationship tremendously."
- Jay Schryer, INFP, porsidan.com
"Hunter is offering something insanely useful and interesting. And take it from someone who has studied psychology and spent hours poring over text books on the theories of folk like Jung, Mead and Freud and wishing Freud's mother had drowned him at birth; Hunter's book is a whole lot more interesting to read.
Being able to understand what makes different personality types tick has all sorts of advantages. If you have a business, it makes it easier to sell to customers, according to their personality type. If you have a husband, it makes it easier to get him to mow the lawn. If you have a boss, it comes in really useful when you want a pay raise, or time off. It really has unlimited advantages.
Hunter's book is a bargain. A little while ago, I spent a day on a course learning how to sell to different personality types. The course cost me £375 (around $750). And it was nowhere near as good as Hunter's book which is available at a fraction of that price."
- Cath Lawson, cathlawson.com
"This guy is damn good! Better than most psych professors, mind you.
Hunter distills complex information about the Myers Briggs into an essence we can all understand. He explains things in such a way that makes sense and isn't filled with boring rhetoric that slows things down. Not only does Hunter walk you through the tests that identify what your Myers Briggs type is, but he also discusses type dynamics, or in other words, why are you so weird and I'm so normal?
We spend our lifetimes trying to figure this out. And we go through all kinds of programs to get it. This little volume speaks volumes."
- Ellen Wilson, ENFJ, wilsonswordsandpictures.com
"One of the best aspects of Hunter's e-book is the way he combines psychological research and real-world examples. Here are just a few of the things you will discover in The Personality Puzzle:
Hunter has put a lot of effort into making this book fun. But I should also note that the MBTI has some important practical applications – e.g. it could help save a marriage or avoid conflict with a co-worker. If we each better understand the ways we're similar to and different from others, we will then know how to better get along with each other.
If you are like me you will find the book fascinating. I certainly wasn't disappointed with the insights this gave me about myself."
- Peter Clemens, INFP, pickthebrain.com
67 page ebook, $27, 50% affiliate commissions, 100% awesome. Buy it now.
The Personality Puzzle: Understanding What Makes People Tick