What is the Myers-Briggs Test (MBTI)?

The MBTI test, or the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, is a tool originally developed by a mother-daughter team, Catherine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers. Their goal was to sort of figure people out based on their personalities. According to the Myers-Briggs Foundation, Isabel Briggs Myers refined and published their findings in 1962, but she and her mother did the original research in the 1940s and ’50s.

What do the letters mean in the MBTI test?

When they first created this test, the ladies had a lot to consider. Personalities are complicated, and to categorize the personalities of EVERYONE into just a few letters? Well, let’s say that putting so much information into one little title called for some very creative thinking. So let’s talk about precisely what all those letters mean.

The Mind – Understanding the first acronym.

The first acronym in the Myers-Briggs personality test is for the Mind.  You can either be an “I,” which means you are an introvert, or an “E,” which means you are an extrovert. 

Extroverts are outgoing people who typically like to be around others in social settings. However, extroverts have also been more unreserved and crave external stimuli to keep their energy levels up. 

On the other hand, introverts would rather be home alone than in a large crowd of people.  Too many stimuli for an introvert can be very overwhelming and cause mental strain. In addition, it takes introverts time to recharge after social gatherings, which is very different from the extrovert.

Your Energy – Understanding the second acronym.

The second acronym in the Myers-Briggs personality test is for Energy.  People are either “S” sensing or “N” intuitive. 

If you are sensing, that means you watch the people around you, learn from them, want to be a part of the touching and feeling process of life.  They live life more in the moment than the intuitive person and prefer to focus on the present. 

If you are intuitive, you often wonder why things are the way they are.  Intuitive thinkers find themselves wondering when specific instances will occur within their lives and the lives of others.  However, they do find themselves capable of focusing on more than one task at a time.  If you are intuitive, you love to talk about your thoughts and ideas.

Your Nature – Understanding the third acronym. 

The third acronym for the personality test is your Nature.  How do you handle your emotions, and what types of decisions do you make?  How do you treat and interact with those around you? 

According to the Myers-Briggs personality test, you are either thinking “T” or feeling “F.” 

Are you more logical than your co-worker?  Are you generally rational? Do you have a clear and level head?  If so, then you are most likely a thinker. 

Or do you feel things with your emotions and let that guide your decisions?  Does your heart lead over your head?  Are you not afraid to let others know how you think, feel, and react?  This means you are feeling. 

Our Tactics – Understanding the fourth acronym.

In the Myers-Briggs personality test, the fourth acronym stands for our Tactics.  This touches explicitly on how we plan, handle, and structure our lives. 

You can be either a “P” (perceiving) or a “J” (judging). 

If you are judging, you are the one who always has five master plans and ensures the project or job gets finished.  You are either good at keeping notes with pen and paper or remembering them inside your head.  If you are the judging type, you often find yourself being strict with your life and others.  This can lead to good habits and a great work ethic. 

If you’re “perceiving,” you’re quite the opposite.  Have you ever met someone who is laid back, relaxed, rolls with the punches, and gets along with just about anyone?  This is a perceiving person.  They will help someone at a moment’s notice with no regard to themselves or previous plans sometimes.

Our Identity – Understanding the fifth acronym.

While most people identify as an INFJ, ENTP, INTJ, ESTJ, and so forth, did you know that there can be one more letter?  This letter helps us understand our identity related to the decisions we make and the different abilities we have.  Our identity takes in all the external stimulation from the outside world and other people in our lives and is the way we process and handle those things we call “life.” 

Turbulent or Assertive?

You can either be “T” turbulent or “A” assertive.  Assertive people tend to worry less and act more.  They are typically confident in their decisions and actions.  Always ready to take charge and get things done without all the stress.  Then we have the turbulent identity where the person is self-conscious and unsure of themselves and their decisions.  They will get stressed quickly and don’t mind walking away from situations deemed unsuitable for them or their mental state.  


  • 16 Personalities.com, 2021, https://www.16personalities.com/
  • Truity.com, 2021, https://www.truity.com/
  • The Myers-Briggs Foundation, 2021, https://www.myersbriggs.org/

Photo Credit: Jake Beech, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons