The 16 Personality Types: Why Knowing Your Type Is Important

By BetterHelp Editorial Team|Updated April 13, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Lauren Guilbeault, LMHC

There are 16 personality types that humans exhibit. Through our interactions, they create the social dynamics of the world we live in. We engage in all kinds of relationships in our daily lives: from interacting with family members and coworkers, to being around our good friends and casual social acquaintances, to the exchanges we have with perfect strangers. Whether these relationships are long-standing or fleeting occurrences, how they pan out has much to do with the personalities of the people involved.

We will take an in-depth look at how knowing your personality type benefits you. But before we begin, it is wise to understand what we mean by 'personality.' We will follow up that definition with a breakdown of the 16 personality types as suggested by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality test.

Personality

Personality is unique to the individual and represents a composite of all the characteristics each person possesses. One way to think of personality is that it grows out of those characteristics to become something greater than the sum of its parts. That entity (your personality) is what makes you distinct. So in reality, there are as many personality types as there are people. Packaging them into the 16 personality types, however, makes the broad concept of personality much easier to investigate and understand.

The idea is expertly brought out in the American Psychological Association's definition of personality and how it is studied:

Personality refers to individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. The study of personality focuses on two broad areas: One 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.

Theory Behind The 16 Personality Types

The mother-daughter team of 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 considered to be 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 for ascertaining personality type consists of 4 pairs of factors which influence personality.

Extraversion (E) - Introversion (I)

Sensation (S) - Intuition (N)

Thinking (T) - Feeling (F)

Perception (P) - Judgement (J)

Extraversion applies to a person who is more objective, action-oriented, who likes frequent contact with others, and who grows mainly from interpersonal interactions. Introversion, on the other hand, applies to a person who is more subjective. They might be known as a thinker. They may enjoy meaningful contact with others but grow primarily through time spent on their own.

Sensation (sometimes referred to as sensing) applies to people who like to rely heavily on the use of their physical senses. They prefer facts and details that they have witnessed themselves. Intuition, on the other hand, is used for people who prefer abstract information. They look for patterns and theories to aid their understanding and are much more likely to trust a gut feeling about something.

Individuals who are more inclined to the thinking function like to stand back and judge situations based on facts and the rules that apply. For those who veer more toward the feeling function, decision-making often involves putting themselves in the other person's shoes and considering how the outcome of their decision will affect all involved.

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

The MBTI 16 Personality Types

ISTJ - Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, And Judging

People with the ISTJ personality type come across to others as calm and quiet, formal and proper, serious and somewhat intimidating. They are often described as 'The Inspector,' and 'The Logistician' types who have an eye for detail, prefer to do things by the book, and can be depended upon to fulfill any duty assigned to them. Tradition and hard work mean much to ISTJs and they have a keen sense of responsibility in all spheres of their lives. They take the time to consider all angles before forming an opinion. As a result, their conclusions are generally well thought out.

ISTP - Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, And Perceiving

People with the ISTP personality type are often described as hard to read. On the one hand, they are quiet, reserved and introspective. But when a problem or crisis arises, they spring into action and will often take the lead in troubleshooting to find a quick, effective resolution. Once the solution has been achieved, they blend back into the shadows, again. ISTPs are drawn to finding out how and why things work (cause and effect). Their problem-solving skills and the fact that they tend to be good with their hands often get them likened to 'The Craftsman,' 'The Mechanic,' and 'The Artisan' character types.

ESTJ - Extroverted, Sensing, Thinking, And Judging

These hardworking traditionalists like to get things done—now. They have little patience with wasting time on niceties and can be somewhat clueless about the feelings of others. Characteristics of ESTJs include being logical and realistic, dedicated and honest, and responsible and efficient. Other people are very likely to see and appreciate how good ESTJs are at organizing people in the most effective ways to achieve goals. As a result, they are considered to be 'The Executive' and 'The Supervisor.' ESTJs have a penchant for remembering milestones, such as birthdays and anniversaries. They usually have an extensive network of contacts.

ESTP - Extroverted, Sensing, Thinking, And Perceiving

Often seen as 'The Dynamo' and 'The Entrepreneur,' those with the ESTP personality type can also be thought of as go-getters. They may seem to be constantly on the go and can think on the fly - quickly analyzing people and situations before acting on their conclusions. Being the life of the party comes naturally to ESTPs who relish taking center stage. They enjoy living in the moment and are typically athletic and spontaneous, with the tendency to engage in extreme feats for the excitement and attention they bring.

ISFJ - Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, And Judging

ISFJs may generally appear to others to be shy and reserved. They are, however, also 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 take attainment of group objectives seriously and prefer when others in the group feel and act that way, too. As another dimension to their personality, ISFJs are naturally good at remembering names and faces, which is in keeping with the fact that they tend to be methodical when gathering information.

ISFP - Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, And Perceiving

You are unlikely to find someone with the ISFP personality type upfront and taking charge in any situation. They are, however, widely regarded as quiet, dependable, and trustworthy friends who willingly offer support to friends in need. The initial perception that an ISFP is introverted tends to fade among those who get the chance to know them very well—but very few do. ISFPs are spontaneous, and they enjoy living in the here and now. This, along with their strong aesthetic sense and inclination towards the arts, frequently gets individuals with the ISPF personality type labeled as 'The Artist' and 'The Composer.'

ESFJ - Extroverted, Sensing, Feeling, And Judging

As 'The Caregiver' and 'The Provider,' ESFJs are dedicated and take on their responsibilities with enthusiasm. They are warm and outgoing individuals who tend to be in tune with the emotions and needs of others. They will go out of their way to satisfy those needs. Individuals identified with the ESFJ personality are also acutely aware of how other people see them. They are well organized and are noted for seeking out all the necessary facts before drawing any conclusions. They are also well known for their ability to devise effective strategies.

ESFP - Extroverted, Sensing, Feeling, And Perceiving

'The Performer' and 'The Entertainer' are the labels most commonly assigned to ESFPs. They are lively, popular, and bask in all the attention they get. ESFPs relish the chance to embark on a new adventure and have new exciting experiences. They take a down-to-Earth, practical approach to life. If not completely focused, they are easily distracted by the tendency to become overindulgent. Freely devoting time and energy to encouraging others and dedication to family and friends comes naturally to these outgoing individuals. ESFPs exhibit a heightened aesthetic sense with a keen appreciation for style and fashion.

INTJ - Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, And Judging

INTJs are often seen as smart, quiet and reserved. They make good leaders, when required, but thrive perfectly well without much interpersonal contact. Their intuitive and thinking ways make INTJs independent thinkers with strong personal opinions. INTJs typically possess a questioning nature and good problem-solving skills when complex concepts are involved. They do, however, tend to ignore basic approaches and are more drawn toward convoluted solutions for 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 great pride in their intellectual abilities. They are driven to explore and build knowledge. In the company of others, they may come across as reserved, impersonal, and lost in their heads. When the subject is one they are interested in, however, INTPs become very excited and animated. Seen as 'The Logician' and 'The Thinker,' INTPs love pattern, design, and finding the common threads within complex theories or concepts. They are neither leaders nor followers but prefer instead to figure things out on their own and find their way.

ENTJ - Extroverted, Intuitive, Thinking, And Judging

Most frequently regarded as 'The Commander' and '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 readily appreciate their 'take charge' attitude, as it is generally followed by tangible results. Getting the job done quickly and efficiently is their primary focus. As they go about this, ENTJs will tend to show little regard for the niceties of interpersonal relationships, such as thanking and congratulating others.

ENTP - Extroverted, Intuitive, Thinking, And Perceiving

Standing up for what they believe in is one of the unmistakable characteristics of ENTPs. They are unafraid of questioning the status quo and voraciously present arguments to support their viewpoint. They are also curious and innovative, with an intrinsic motivation to solve problems while challenging themselves and others. For all of these reasons, ENTPs become known as 'The Debater,' 'The Visionary' and 'The Advocate.' They are a mix of skepticism and optimism while being open-minded about all the possibilities that exist. ENTPs develop ideas and enthusiastically transmit these to others.

INFJ - Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, And Judging

'The Advocate,' 'The Protector' and 'The Counsellor' are common descriptions used for individuals who indicate as INFJ out of the MBTI 16 personality quiz results. INFJs are caring motivators who focus on striving to actualize their vision of harmony for humanity. Although they are reserved, they are good, supportive listeners. INFJs are identified as sensitive to the emotions of others, with the ability to read people and situations very well. Their genuine warmth and depth of caring are very obvious to those close to them. While they shy away from the limelight, INFJs will work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure everything flows smoothly.

INFP - Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, And Perceiving

Individuals with the INFP personality type are imaginative idealists with a knack for finding creative solutions to problems. Normally quiet and sensitive, INFPs hold their values very dearly and will become forceful and agitated in support of them. They are often described as idealistic perfectionists, inclined to think that their solutions are good in everyone. They are sincere in the caring they show for others, and those around them can readily sense it. INFPs tend to set very high goals and can be unrelentingly hard on themselves for not attaining them. They are regarded as the 'The Mediator,' 'The Healer' and 'The Idealist' among us.

ENFJ - Extroverted, Intuitive, Feeling, And Judging

'The Teacher,' 'The Protagonist' and 'The Giver' are the most common descriptions associated with these natural born leaders who thrive on inspiring others. ENFJs are people-focused, typically with fully developed interpersonal skills. They are confident and charismatic, which causes others to be drawn to them and to look to them for advice and direction. ENFJs can become too concerned about and involved in the issues other people face. They need downtime spent alone, but there is the danger that this will be spent harshly judging themselves and thinking that they should be doing more.

ENFP - Extroverted, Intuitive, Feeling, And Perceiving

Individuals who are identified as ENFPs out of the 16 personality types are usually seen as 'The Champion,' 'The Campaigner,’ and 'The Inspirer.' They are project-oriented, bringing a wide range of well-developed skills and talents to any group they are a part of. ENFPs are genuinely warm. They have an innate appreciation for the value that interpersonal relations bring to the growth of an individual. These free-spirited people bring positive energy to the party with their charming and easy-to-be-around personalities. ENFPs also possess a natural curiosity and are always seeking out deeper meaning in the complexity of life.

You Understand Your Strengths And Weaknesses

Regardless of which of the 16 personality quiz outcomes apply to you, it is important for you to identify and understand yourself. The MBTI is an exercise in self-knowledge. You can use it to better grasp your potential strengths and weaknesses. By so doing, you are better able to channel your energies in the right directions for personal development. You will know when and where you perform at your best and which areas you need to focus on for improvement.

At work, as well as in other areas of your life, you will be better able to identify situations where your strengths can make a positive impact. In the same way, you will easily recognize when a task provides the opportunity to strengthen one or more of your weaknesses, or is simply outside of your scope.

You Become Aware Of Your Likes And Dislikes

Your preferences for certain situations or ways of doing things 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 enjoy euphoria after completing a cryptic crossword puzzle. Your personality type could explain these feelings. Knowledge of your personality type can also help you to better identify and handle your stressors. It allows you to understand why you react to some situations the way you do. Likewise, you will be more aware of why you are drawn to certain things and certain types of people. This knowledge can greatly influence different areas of your life, such as your choice of career path.

You Are Better Able To Select A Satisfying Career Path

Your job can be one of the most fulfilling aspects of your life. This is not the case for many people, however, as they seem locked in professions that are not suited to their personalities. They get no sense of fulfillment due to this mismatch. Knowledge of your personality type, your strengths, your weaknesses, and the likes and dislikes you possess can inform any decision. Or, if you are already in a career you enjoy, you will be better equipped in choosing from among the professional development opportunities that arise.

You Can Hone Your Decision-Making Skills

When learning about the 16 personality types, one of the biggest surprises can be the realization that there are inherently different mechanisms behind how people go about decision-making. Decision-making is a big part of who we are. It determines the paths we take and helps to shape our lives. Knowing how you (often unconsciously) go about decision-making can help you to make more balanced decisions. This is especially important when those decisions will bring about life-changing consequences. These might include changing jobs, relocating to a new city or country, introducing intimacy into a relationship, marriage, and having children.

You Appreciate The Diversity Of Personalities

No matter your personality type, as you come to know it better, you will truly begin to appreciate that not everyone is like you. The diversity in the 16 personality types generates much of the energy found in group settings. While there is always the possibility of conflicts arising 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 keenly aware of your personality type and how this differs from others, you become more appreciative of the positive contributions that anyone can make to the group dynamic.

You Gain A Better Understanding Of Other People

As you delve into the facets of your personality type, it is an almost certainty that you will also come to learn a great deal about the others. Those insightful 'Aha!' moments you experience about yourself and why you function the way you do will be matched by similar sudden clarity about the actions of others. You could end up developing quite a bit of tolerance for personalities that would normally rub you the wrong way.

You Become Aware Of How To Improve Your Relationships

The wonderful thing about personalities is that, even when we categorize them into 16 personality types, no two are ever quite the same. This makes for interesting interactions within relationships. Sometimes, personality differences and similarities can naturally and effortlessly result in the strong bonds of long-lasting and satisfying relationships. On other occasions, however, they require more work from those involved. By knowing your personality type, you are better able to make an effort to strengthen the relationship consciously. It may mean toning down your naturally bubbly ways or being willing to come out of your shell a bit more than you normally would.

You Can Actively Seek Out People With Whom You Are Compatible

It is never easy to pinpoint what makes two people click. Compatibility can occur between people who are very alike, as well as between people who are very dissimilar. You will never be 100% sure of who you will mesh with. But if you are armed with the knowledge of your personality's characteristics, you will be better able to identify characteristics in others that could go well with yours. One advantage of taking a professionally administered MBTI personality test is that you are often given this kind of advice upon completion of the test.

You Become Better At Conflict Resolution

Very often, conflicts arise out of the varying viewpoints people have. This can bring about a feeling of intimidation. An awareness of your personality type helps you to understand how you operate in conflict situations and how people typically react to your actions. You are then better able to consciously choose responses which will de-escalate the tensions in the situation.

Over the years, some have called the scientific or psychological merit of the MBTI into question. But you should know that, while psychological theories and frameworks can take on lives of their own, the methods psychologists use to treat patients are backed by vetted academic research. If you have questions about personality, you may want to consult a licensed mental health professional from an online platform like BetterHelp. Online therapy has been repeatedly proven to deliver the same results as in-person care for most conditions.

If you go with a licensed online counselor from BetterHelp, you will be able to conveniently schedule therapy sessions and attend them from the comfort of your own home. Your counselor will be able to address any concerns you have about your personality and, if you wish, help you get to know yourself better. Read what others have to say about their time with BetterHelp therapists below.

“Victoria has turned into my anchor during these crazy times! Being able to lean on her with whatever issues I'm coming across, she knows how to handle my big personality and how to calm me down. She does such a great job of keeping me accountable as well!”

“I was highly skeptical when I joined BetterHelp...I had been in therapy before and the therapist, while a nice person, didn’t have the tools and advice that worked for me..I mostly just kept going because I liked that I could vent to someone that wasn’t biased. But when I had my first meeting with Jamie, she was so kind! She had real feedback and offered actual advice and tools for helping me cope with my anxiety. I love that I’m able to send messages in between my video sessions and still get the support I need. I would recommend BetterHelp and Jamie to anyone. I know everyone has a personality type they vibe with, but Jamie suits me wonderfully.”

Understanding the 16 personality types can be thought of as a stepping stone to understanding yourself and building a better you. Reading articles, such as this one, can greatly help in your initial discovery of the diversity of personalities and appreciating just how intricately similar and vastly different everyone can be. You should seek professional assistance, however, if you wish to precisely identify the personality type which applies to you and receive guidance on how to best utilize your personality's strengths and overcome its weaknesses.

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