The 16 Personality Types: Why Knowing Your Type Is Important

Medically reviewed by Nikki Ciletti, M.Ed, LPC
Updated April 29, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Many personality theories have been spread throughout time, with one of the most popular being the 16 personalities theory as part of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test (MBTI). These personality types are considered to make up the social dynamics of people worldwide. Understanding one's personality type in this model may offer insight, self-reflection, and connection. 

Navigate the strengths and weaknesses of your personality type

What is personality?

Personality is unique to each person and represents a composite of the characteristics and temperament each person possesses. Personality is considered a collaboration or the sum of its parts. That entity (your personality) is what makes you distinct. In theory, there are as many personality types as there are people. However, packaging them into 16 personality types may make the broad concept of personality easier to investigate and understand.

The American Psychological Association (APA) defines personality as individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving. The study of personality focuses on two broad areas. One of these areas is understanding individual differences in particular personality characteristics, such as sociability or irritability. The other is understanding how the various parts of a person come together as a whole.

The theory behind the 16 personality types

As a mother-daughter team, Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers created the MBTI based on their review of the work of Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who is often considered the father of analytical psychology. Jung often used characters or archetypes to describe personalities. As a result, individual scores on the MBTI are sometimes referred to as generic characters, such as "The Architect" and "The Inspirer."

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator consists of four pairs of factors that may influence personality, including the following: 

  • Extraversion (E) and Introversion (I)

  • Sensation (S) and Intuition (N)

  • Thinking (T) and Feeling (F)

  • Perception (P) and Judgement (J)

Extraversion – introversion 

Extraversion applies to a more objective and action-oriented person who likes frequent contact with others and may enjoy growth from interpersonal interactions. Conversely, introversion applies to a more subjective person. They might be known as thinkers who enjoy meaningful contact with others but grow primarily through time spent independently. 

Sensation – intuition 

Sensation, sometimes called sensing, applies to those who rely heavily on using their physical senses. They may prefer facts and details that they have witnessed over ideas that aren't concrete. Intuition, on the other hand, is used for people who prefer abstract information. These individuals may look for patterns to aid their understanding and trust their gut feelings, even when concrete evidence is unavailable.  

Thinking – feeling  

Individuals inclined to the thinking personality type may stand back and judge situations based on facts and rules instead of their emotions. Depending on the spectrum an individual experiences within this thinking-feeling scope, some may be described as having hard to read personality types while others may wear their thoughts and feelings more so on their sleeves. For those who veer more toward the feeling personality type, decision-making may involve putting themselves in the other person's shoes and considering how the outcome of their decision could affect their emotions and those involved. These individuals may also make decisions based on their emotions. 

Perception – judgment 

Perception speaks to how people prefer to gather, interpret, and understand information about the world around them. Judgment relates to how people make decisions once they have perceived information using their sensation and intuition functions.

The 16 personality types from the MBTI

Below are summaries of all 16 personality types. Consider taking the official MBTI with a professional and examine your results to understand your type better.

ISTJ: Introverted, sensing, thinking, and judging

People with the ISTJ personality type may come across as calm, quiet, formal, proper, serious, and intimidating. Their archetypes are "The Inspector" and "The Logistician." These individuals may have an eye for detail, prefer to follow the rules, and strive to fulfill any assigned duty. Tradition and hard work may be significant to ISTJs, as they are considered to have a keen sense of responsibility in all spheres of their lives. They may take the time to consider all angles before forming an opinion. As a result, their conclusions may be well thought out.

ISTP: Introverted, sensing, thinking, and perceiving

People with the ISTP personality type are often described as hard to read. They may be quiet, reserved, and reflective. However, when a problem or crisis arises, they spring into action and can take the lead in troubleshooting to find a quick, effective resolution. Once the solution has been achieved, they may blend back into the shadows. 

ISTPs are drawn to find out how and why everything in their environment works the way it does. Their problem-solving skills and skill with their hands may mean they are likened to "The Craftsman," "The Mechanic," and "The Artisan" archetypes. 

ESTJ: Extroverted, sensing, thinking, and judging

People with the ESTJ type are considered hardworking traditionalists who enjoy tackling tasks immediately. They may have little patience with niceties and struggle to pay attention to the feelings of others. Characteristics of ESTJs include but are not limited to the following: 

  • Logical

  • Realistic 

  • Dedicated

  • Honest 

  • Responsible

  • Efficient

Others may see and appreciate the ease with which ESTJs organize situations and take the lead to achieve goals. As a result, they are often likened to "The Executive" and "The Supervisor" archetypes. ESTJs may have a penchant for remembering milestones, such as birthdays and anniversaries, and often have an extensive network of contacts.

ESTP: Extroverted, sensing, thinking, and perceiving

ESTPs are considered "The Dynamo" and "The Entrepreneur" of the archetype system. Those with this personality type can also be thought of as go-getters. They may seem constantly on the go and can think quickly, analyzing people and situations before coming to conclusions. These individuals may be considered the life of the party, as they can enjoy taking center stage. They may also be athletic and spontaneous, with the tendency to engage in feats for the excitement and attention they bring.

ISFJ: Introverted, sensing, feeling, and judging

ISFJs may appear shy and reserved to others. However, they are considered people-centered individuals who give their all to any cause, group, or system they are a part of. They are often identified as "The Nurturer" and "The Caregiver" within a group. They may take the attainment of group objectives seriously and prefer it when others in the group have similar beliefs. ISFJs are considered naturally adept at remembering names and faces and may be more methodical when gathering information.

ISFP: Introverted, sensing, feeling, and perceiving

ISFP personality types may not be leaders of social situations. They are, however, regarded as quiet, dependable, and trustworthy friends who may willingly offer support to those in need. ISFPs may appear more introverted to strangers but can be social and friendly with close friends. However, they may only keep a few close relationships. ISFPs are often spontaneous, enjoying living in the present and following their intuition. This factor, along with their aesthetic sense and inclination towards the arts, often labels people with the ISFP personality type as "The Adventurer," "The Artist," or "The Composer." 

ESFJ: Extroverted, sensing, feeling, and judging

As "The Caregiver" or "The Provider," ESFJs are dedicated and enthusiastically take on their responsibilities. They may be considered warm and outgoing individuals who are in tune with the emotions and needs of others. In addition, they may go out of their way to satisfy those needs. 

Individuals with the ESFJ personality may be acutely aware of how others see them. They can be well organized and may seek all necessary facts before drawing conclusions in a situation. These individuals are also well known for their ability to devise effective strategies.

ESFP: Extroverted, sensing, feeling, and perceiving

"The Performer" and "The Entertainer" are archetypes often assigned to ESFPs. These individuals may be described as lively, popular, and interested in attention. ESFPs relish the chance to embark on a new adventure and have exciting experiences. They take a down-to-earth, practical approach to life. 

If not wholly focused, ESFPs may be distracted by the tendency to become overindulgent. Devoting time and energy to encouraging others and dedication to loved ones may come naturally to these outgoing individuals. ESFPs exhibit a heightened aesthetic sense with a keen appreciation for style and fashion. They may enjoy careers as models or travel influencers. 

Getty/Xavier Lorenzo

INTJ: Introverted, intuitive, thinking, and judging

INTJs are often considered intelligent, quiet, and reserved. They may make positive leaders but can also thrive without significant interpersonal contact. Their intuitive and thinking ways make INTJs independent thinkers with strong personal opinions. 

INTJs often possess a questioning nature and problem-solving skills when complex concepts are involved. However, they may ignore basic approaches and are more drawn toward convoluted solutions to problems. Their pronounced analytical skills often earn them the titles of "The Architect," "The Scientist," and "The Mastermind."

INTP: Introverted, intuitive, thinking, and perceiving

INTPs are logical and rational thinkers who take pride in their intellectual abilities. They are often driven to explore and build knowledge. In the company of others, they may come across as reserved, impersonal, hard to read, and lost in their heads. However, they may show passion and animation if they are passionate about a subject. Seen as "The Logician" and "The Thinker," INTPs may love patterns and designs and find common threads within complex theories or concepts. They are not often considered leaders or followers but may prefer to figure out challenges independently. 

ENTJ: Extroverted, intuitive, thinking, and judging

Often regarded as "The Commander" or "The Executive," individuals who display the ENTJ personality type often appear "larger than life" to those around them. They are strategic leaders, able to organize others and delegate duties to effect change and achieve objectives. Those around ENTJs may appreciate their "take charge" attitude, as tangible results may follow their lead. Getting the job done quickly and efficiently is often the primary focus of an ENTJ. As they go about this process, ENTJs may show less regard for interpersonal actions, such as thanking and congratulating others.

ENTP: Extroverted, intuitive, thinking, and perceiving

Standing up for what they believe in is one of the primary characteristics of ENTPs. These individuals are unafraid of questioning the status quo and often present arguments to support their viewpoint. They are also curious and innovative, intrinsically motivated to solve problems while challenging themselves and others. For these reasons, ENTPs become known as "The Debater," "The Visionary," or "The Advocate." They can present a mix of skepticism and optimism while being open-minded about all the possibilities. ENTPs often develop ideas and enthusiastically transmit these to others.

INFJ: Introverted, intuitive, feeling, and judging

INFJs are caring motivators focused on striving to actualize their vision of harmony for humanity. Although they are reserved, they may be positive and supportive listeners. INFJs are identified as sensitive to the emotions of others, with the ability to read people and situations clearly. Their genuine warmth and depth of caring can be evident to those close to them. While they may shy away from social attention, they can work behind the scenes to ensure all plans are met. An INFJ in love may act cautiously at first and give their all when they find an authentic connection.

INFP: Introverted, intuitive, feeling, and perceiving

Individuals with the INFP personality type are often considered imaginative idealists with a knack for finding creative solutions to problems. Normally quiet and sensitive, INFPs may hold their values dearly and become forceful and agitated in support of them. They are often described as idealistic perfectionists who think their solutions are the best for everyone. However, they can be sincere in caring for others, and those around them may readily sense it. 

INFPs tend to set high goals and can be rude to themselves for not attaining them. They are regarded as the "The Mediator," "The Healer," and "The Idealist" personality types in the archetype system. 

ENFJ: Extroverted, intuitive, feeling, and judging

"The Teacher," "The Protagonist Personality," and "The Giver" are the most common descriptions associated with those with an ENFJ personality type. These individuals are often considered natural-born leaders who thrive on inspiring others. ENFJs are people-focused, often showcasing significant interpersonal skills. They are confident and charismatic, which may cause others to be drawn to them and look to them for advice and direction. 

ENFJs can become too concerned about and involved in the issues other people face. They may benefit from downtime spent alone. However, their time alone may be spent harshly judging themselves for not doing more. For this reason, these individuals may benefit from healthy social boundaries. 

ENFP: Extroverted, intuitive, feeling, and perceiving

Individuals who have the ENFP personality type are often given the archetype labels of "The Champion," "The Campaigner," and "The Inspirer." They are project-oriented, bringing a wide range of skills and talents to any group they are a part of. 

ENFPs are also often considered genuinely warm. They may show an innate appreciation for the value interpersonal relationships bring to their growth. With their charming personalities, these free-spirited people may spread positive energy wherever they go. ENFPs may also possess a natural curiosity to seek out deeper meanings in the complexity of life.

Benefits of understanding your personality type 

Below are a few potential benefits of taking the MBTI and learning more about your personality type or archetype. 

You can learn your potential strengths and areas for growth 

Regardless of which of the 16 personality quiz outcomes apply to you, the MBTI can be an exercise in self-knowledge. You can use your results to better grasp your potential strengths and areas for growth. If you're unsure where to focus your energy on change, you can see what personality traits you might struggle with to strive for personal development. 

At work and in other areas of your life, you may be better able to identify situations where your strengths can make a positive impact. In the same way, you may recognize when a task provides the opportunity to strengthen one or more of your areas of growth. For example, in a group setting, you might offer to do the research part of the assignment if you know you wouldn't do as well as a group leader.  

You may become more aware of your likes and dislikes

Your preferences for certain situations could lie in your personality type. Perhaps you experience intense irritation when you see the toothpaste tube not squeezed from the bottom up. Maybe you feel joy after completing a cryptic crossword puzzle. Your personality type could explain these feelings. 

Knowing your personality type could also help you identify and cope with stressors. It allows you to understand why you react to some situations emotionally. You may also understand why you are drawn to certain people in love or friendships. This knowledge may influence your career path and how you show up socially. 

You may understand your career options 

Some people find that their career is one of the most fulfilling areas of their life. However, others may find that their career doesn't match their personality, desires, or dreams. When a mismatch occurs, they may not experience personal fulfillment. 

Knowledge of your personality type, strengths, weaknesses, and likes and dislikes can inform a decision about a career you'd like to have. If you are already in a career you enjoy, you may be better equipped to understand how to use your strengths to your company's advantage. 

You may hone your decision-making skills

When learning about the 16 personality types, you may notice that there are different mechanisms behind how people make decisions. Decision-making often determines the paths people take in their careers and personal lives. As you achieve more significant insight into yourself, you may start to make more balanced decisions, which could bring about positive life-changing consequences. These might include changing jobs, relocating to a new city or country, introducing intimacy into a relationship, getting married, or having children.

You may further appreciate the diversity of personalities

Exploring the 16 MBTI personality types may remind you of the diversity found in group settings. While conflicts may arise out of interpersonal differences, there is also the opportunity for each to shine based on the characteristics of their personality and the varying abilities they bring to the group. 

When you are aware of your personality type and how this differs from others, you become more appreciative of the positive contributions that anyone can make. It can also show you how to include others more in team decisions. For example, if you know other people might be introverted, you can consider calling on them to give them a cue to express their insights, which they may be hiding due to extroverted people dominating the conversation.

You may become more aware of how to improve your relationships

Although personalities may be categorized into 16 types, no two people with one personality type may be 100% the same. For this reason, there can be unique interactions between the personality types in relationships. Knowing your personality type may strengthen the relationship by consciously noting your partner's or friend's traits. It may also help you find relationships with people who complement you. For example, an extrovert might help an introvert come out of their shell, whereas an introvert may enjoy listening to the extrovert speak and appreciate their social nature at events. 

Navigate the strengths and weaknesses of your personality type

Learn more about your personality in therapy 

While psychological theories and frameworks can offer insight into your personality and cognitive functions, the methods psychologists use to treat patients are backed by vetted academic research. If you have questions about personality, consider consulting a licensed mental health professional.

For introverted people who prefer to stay home, you can also consider an online therapy platform like BetterHelp. Studies show that online therapy can be as effective as in-person therapy, with one study finding that 71% of participants preferred online methods and 100% found them more convenient. 

If you choose online therapy, you can schedule and attend therapy sessions from home. In addition, your counselor can provide you with at-home journaling prompts, worksheets, and recommendations. Some online therapy platforms offer group therapy or support group sessions, allowing you to meet with people similar to you or start seeing how the different personality types interact.  


Understanding the 16 personality types may be a stepping stone to understanding yourself. Reading articles or looking through your MBTI results may help you in your initial discovery of the diversity of personalities. However, if you wish to precisely identify the personality type that applies to you and receive personalized support, consider contacting a therapist online or in your area to get started.
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