I’ve always been a fairly introspective person, so when the wave of personality tests came around, I was all for it. While some are less important (yet nonetheless, fun), there are some that can potentially be productive. There are plenty of “productive” tests out there, but I’ll be focusing on two different tests and how I think each of them can be helpful! Get ready to read … there’s a lot to find out!
1. Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
I think a lot of people have heard of this test because of the 16 Personalities website. The 16 Personalities test is alright, but it doesn’t really get into the psychological aspect of MBTI. The real MBTI tests are based on Jungian cognitive functions and don’t simply answer if you’re introverted or extroverted. To put it simply, real MBTI tests figure out how you think and make decisions. I recommend this test. I’ll admit a lot of the wording is quite odd — just remember that none of this is actually that serious so don’t stress about answering everything perfectly.
I implore you to look more into the explanation behind why you are who you are if you’re interested. Although it can get kind of confusing, the basic premise is that you will have one cognitive function that is your main one — the one that comes the most naturally — and a subsequent three functions stacked accordingly. The four categories are thinking, intuition, sensing and feeling.
For reference, here are my results:
After taking the test and reading into the theory, I found that my two main functions are extroverted thinking (Te) and introverted sensing (Si) — making me an ISTJ or ESTJ. Between the two, I found myself more like an ISTJ. And what can I take away from this mish-mash of letters? Using the Type In Mind Website, I can read about “my personality type” and my functions:
1. Si – Introverted Sensing
“SiTe’s naturally use Si to catalog experiences and information they deem important. In particular, they remember their impressions of experiences they’ve had. They have an organized internal world and their mind can easily put similar pieces of information into appropriate categories. They learn straightforward, practical systems, rules and strategies with ease and grace and love when something is done right. Si gives the sense of the SiTe being grounded and having a linear, black and white way of thinking about things.”
2. Te – Extroverted Thinking
“Te is the primary way SiTe’s interact with the world around them. Te makes them love efficiency and getting things done, and can enjoy a bit of healthy competition at times if they feel like they have a chance at winning. It is the SiTe’s primary decision-making process, which means that if a decision is needed in the moment, they tend to rely on what makes the most sense logically. They are more concerned about moving forward than they are about it being the perfect solution. Because Te is the primary external function, it is usually the first thing other people will notice about SiTe’s.”
So what does this really mean? What can I take away? Well, I’ve learned that the way I make decisions is probably very logical, and I rely heavily on my previous experiences to come to these logical conclusions. While this doesn’t tell me necessarily what I should do for a career, it does tell me what I definitely should not do. I’ve also found that by researching this topic, it’s made me a lot more aware of others and how they make decisions too. I may use logic as the main basis for my decisions, yet others might not — and that’s okay!
Enneagram is, unfortunately, prone to be another mishmash of letters and numbers — don’t worry I’ll keep to the simple version. This test attempts to figure out what motivates you. Whereas MBTI focuses on how you make decisions, think of Enneagram as the why behind these decisions. I recommend this test or just reading through the nine descriptions.
In the Enneagram system, there are nine categories. Each has its own basic fear and desire. While more complicated versions of this theory exist (which is definitely worthwhile if you’re interested), the simplest way to think about Enneagram is that you identify with one of the nine types.
For reference, here are my results:
Notice the test says I am “most likely” a Type 5. Looking further down at the results, I can see I also have a very high score for Type 1. Using the official Enneagram Institute website, I decided to read the descriptions of each. I found both of the descriptions to be fairly accurate, yet I found myself agreeing more with Type 1. Type 1, “The Reformer” has the basic desire to “to be good, to have integrity, to be balanced.” Of course, a lot of people may have this desire too, but what the Enneagram suggests is that, one will be your main desire. If you think this is impossible, then that is why the more complicated theories such as tritypes or wings exist because they believe that no one is solely one type (and honestly, that makes the most sense to me too but it’s a bit too much for one article!)
With this information, we’re brought back to the age-old question: how does this help me? Similar to MBTI, I think it’s important to be self-reflective. Instead of simply ascribing personality traits to yourself, it gets at why you may be that way. In my case, one of the words used to describe Type 1 is perfectionistic. I’d never actively thought, “I wonder why I’m so perfectionistic?” With Enneagram, I can think more critically about that and why I make certain decisions. Like MBTI, it can also make you realize how different everyone is and how to work better with others. I may be motivated to be balanced and have integrity, while others may be motivated by creating a distinct identity or feel loved.
I will admit that is a lot of information to take in all at once. Trust me, I have read about these things for a while and I still am by no means an expert. I do know that there is always that one question in your mind: is this all a pseudoscience? The answer is, truthfully, maybe. But, I’ve found that regardless, you get to spend some being self-reflective and really thinking critically about yourself as a person. You acknowledge your strengths and your weaknesses.
Of course, it’s important to not put yourself in a box because of your “personality type;” definitely don’t let it limit yourself! Use it to guide your thinking. Whether you decide to swear by these personality theories or just want to take them to procrastinate for a little longer, I would say it’s worth your time. You’ll never know what you’ll learn about yourself in the process.