Whether it’s an official Myers-Briggs questionnaire or a “Which Bridgerton Character Are You?” quiz, why is that we’re fascinated with categorizing our personalities into bite-size explanations? In an article for Psychology Today, Jennifer V. Fayard, Ph.D., an Associate Professor of Psychology at Ouachita Baptist University, hypothesizes that personality tests satisfy our inherent need to belong and understand how we relate to other people. Sounds about right. So, what are the personality types? Below we dive into four common models used to determine personality types: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), 16 Personalities, The Big 5 and Type A, B, C and D Personalities. Note that many of these tests rely on self-report questionnaires, which means, more or less, take your results with a grain of salt—these aren’t medical diagnoses. Still, if you’re curious, go forth and figure out what dog breed you should have based on your personality type using one of these four common models.
From Myers-Briggs to the Big 5, Here Are 4 Models Used to Determine Personality Type
1. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
Developed in the 1920s by mother-daughter team Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers and based on Carl Jung's theory of personality types, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator attempts to describe personality type based on where you fall within four categories: introversion or extraversion, sensing or intuition, thinking or feeling and judging or perceiving. Using these traits, users come up with four-letter personality types that more accurately describe their personalities (INTJ, ESFP, etc.)
In developing the MBTI, the pair addressed two related goals: first, the identification of basic preferences of each of the four dichotomies specified or implicit in Jung's theory; and second, the identification and description of the 16 distinctive personality types that result from the interactions among the preferences. According to the MBTI Foundation, these are preferences of the four dichotomies:
- Favorite world: Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world? This is called Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I).
- Information: Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning? This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition (N).
- Decisions: When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances? This is called Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).
- Structure: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options? This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).
The MBTI Foundation has a series of paid-for services like certification and consulting services, and the test is administered by those who have completed the MBTI Certification program or on the foundation’s website for a fee.
2. 16 Personalities
In a similar vein, 16 Personalities is a framework for determining types of personalities that evolved from the MBTI. Unlike Myers-Briggs, the 16 Personalities test is free for anyone through the 16 Personalities website. (There’s no certification or consulting provided.)
This model goes a step further and groups different Myers-Briggs-like types into four groups (which you can explore in more detail on the 16 Personalities website):
- The Analysts: the Architect (INTJ), the Logician (INTP), the Commander (ENTJ), the Debater (ENTP)
- The Diplomats: the Advocate (INFJ), the Mediator (INFP), the Protagonist (ENFJ), the Campaigner (ENFP)
- The Sentinels: the Logistician (ISTJ), the Defender (ISFJ), the Executive (ESTJ), the Consul (ESFJ)
- The Explorers: the Virtuoso (ISTP), the Adventurer (ISFP), the Entrepreneur (ESTP), the Entertainer (ESFP)
3. The Big 5
Developed in 1980s, the five personality types of this model are typically referred to as CANOE:
- Conscientiousness (efficient/organized vs. extravagant/careless)
- Agreeableness (friendly/compassionate vs. critical/rational)
- Neuroticism (sensitive/nervous vs. resilient/confident)
- Openness to experience (inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious)
- Extraversion (outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved)
Studies, like this one published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, have shown it that it effectively predicts behavior, and the test is often used in academic psychological personality research. You can determine your Big 5 personality type by taking online tests like The Big Five Inventory or the longer, more nuanced IPIP-NEO.
4. Type A, B, C and D Personalities
In 1976, cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman discovered the two main personality types: the Type A personality, who is prone to stress (and therefore cardiac issues), and the Type B personality, who is more laid-back (and less likely to have cardiac issues). Over the years, their model has been expanded to include Type C and Type D personalities, all described as such:
- Type A: Known as The Director, The Overachiever or The Go-Getter, this person is a natural leader and wants to be in control as much as possible.
- Type B: Known as The Socializer or The Peacemaker, Type B personalities are on the opposite side of the spectrum from Type A personalities. These outgoing folks are enjoyable to be around in positive situations but can verge on being needy.
- Type C: Though similar to Type A in their focus on details, accuracy and control, Type C personalities are typically more introverted. Also known as The Thinker or The Analyst, they use logic and rationality to make sense of the world and can become easily overwhelmed when they aren’t in control.
- Type D: More similar to Type B personalities, Type D personalities (or The Supporter/The Philosopher) are in touch with their emotions and can have a hard time feeling optimistic. Sensitive and enigmatic, they experience joy and happiness more intensely than others, but can become more easily anxious and depressed as well.
Like many of the other models on this list, you can find tests online (like this one from Hire Success) to determine your type, but remember, as with any self-reported test, there’s likely going to be some bias.
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