Volume XIV | Issue 2 | Fall 2014
Photo: Corbis. Used with permission.

The MBTI helps us understand ourselves better

How we deal with people and make decisions

Photo above: Assigning MBTI profiles to fictional characters is one way to understand personality types. The main characters in the Wizard of Oz represent four major types:  Dorothy, probably an ESFJ, just wants to go home; Lion longs to be the courageous ESTP; Tin Man, the ENFJ idealist, nurtures his companions with his (yet-undiscovered) heart; and Scarecrow fits the INTP rationalist mold with his brain preoccupation. 


The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is designed around the use of four sets of dimensions that help us understand how our own preferences affect the way we deal with people and the way we make decisions. 

an aid to understanding careers 

It also is an invaluable aid to understanding the types of careers that we are suited for. The tool is the most widely used psychological testing instrument in the world. The book Do What You Love contains a comprehensive analysis of all of the 16 types identified by the MBTI assessment (see chart, below). 

The four dimensions of type are: Extroversion/Introversion; Sensing/Intuition; Thinking/Feeling; and Judging/Perceiving (E-I, S-N, T-F, J-P). According to the theory, everyone is born with a predisposition toward one of each pair of preferences, and these tendencies remain surprisingly stable as we move through life.

The exhaustive MBTI questionnaire measures people’s responses and assigns them a type. An “ESFJ” type, for example, is described as a practical harmonizer and worker with people: sociable, orderly, opinioned, conscientious, realistic, and well tuned to the here and now. ESFJ types are well suited for jobs as registered nurses, dentists, elementary school teachers, athletic coaches, social workers and loan counselors. 

An “INTP” personality, on the other hand, is an inquisitive analyzer: reflective, independent, curious and more interested in organizing ideas than situations or people. Popular occupations for INTP types include computer technology, technical health care, the legal field, and as mathematics and history teachers. 

The “INTJ” type is logical, critical, a decisive innovator of ideas: serious, intent, highly independent, concerned with organization, determined and often stubborn. There’s no surprise that these types gravitate to jobs such as software developer, scientist, computer science professor or archivist, and professional positions such as strategic planner, civil engineer and architect.

The “ENFP” personality is a warmly enthusiastic planner of change: imaginative, individualistic, pursues inspiration with impulsive energy, and seeks to understand and inspire others. Good jobs for these folks include journalist, playwright, actor, public relations, special education teacher, speech language pathologist or physical therapist.

While there is no right or wrong answer to the MBTI, knowing yourself is key to discovering what will make you happy in a career. 

Chart showing the 16 types identified by the MBTI assessmentThe 16 types identified by the MBTI assessment
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