One Personality Test, Four Letters: What Does It Mean?

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson, MA
Updated June 20, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Have you ever paused to wonder why certain situations energize you while others leave you drained? Or why specific problems seem clear-cut to some but complex to others? Welcome to the fascinating world of personality types. 

Discovering your personality type isn’t just about labeling yourself as an introvert or extrovert. Your personality type can shed light on your mental well-being and how different experiences or events may affect your mental landscape. In this article, we’ll dive into the Myers-Briggs personality test, the four letters represented in this test, and how online therapy may be beneficial on this journey. 

Getty/AnnaStills
Wondering how your personality type affects your mental health?

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator 

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a widely used personality assessment tool that categorizes individuals into one of 16 personality types based on preferences in four dichotomies. The tool was developed by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers, in the early-to-mid 20th century and is based on Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types.

Here are the basic components of the MBTI:

  • Extraversion (E) vs. Introversion (I)
  • Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N)
  • Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F)
  • Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P)

16 personality types

By combining each of the preferences from the four dichotomies, we get the 16 personality types:

  • ISTJ - The Inspector
  • ISFJ - The Protector
  • INFJ - The Counselor
  • INTJ - The Mastermind
  • ISTP - The Craftsman
  • ISFP - The Composer
  • INFP - The Healer
  • INTP - The Architect
  • ESTP - The Dynamo
  • ESFP - The Performer
  • ENFP - The Champion
  • ENTP - The Visionary
  • ESTJ - The Supervisor
  • ESFJ - The Provider
  • ENFJ - The Teacher
  • ENTJ - The Commander

Let’s look more closely at how mental health might present differently within the dichotomies.

Extraversion (E) vs. introversion (I)

One of the most common personality distinctions people discuss is extroversion versus introversion. This dichotomy reflects how people direct their energy. Extraverts are outgoing and gain energy from interaction with others, while introverts prefer solitude and feel more energized in more solitary, introspective activities.

Extroverts and mental health

Imagine a crowded festival with live music. Extraverts are often those dancing right in the middle, drawing their energy from the crowd and being in a collective environment. Extroverts are considered to thrive on social interactions and often seek them out. This social energy can be therapeutic, a way to process emotions. But there’s a flip side. Relying heavily on others might make extroverts vulnerable, seeking validation or approval constantly. 

Extraversion has been linked to higher levels of well-being and social support, which can be protective against mental health issues. However, while the network size is often large, this does not directly correlate to the depth of these relationships.

Introverts and mental health

Now, picture someone leaning against a tree, absorbed in the festival’s ambiance, perhaps jotting down notes or thoughts. That’s your typical introvert. They find strength in introspection, diving deep into their internal world. This reflective nature is powerful, offering clarity and depth. However, too much inward focus can sometimes lead them down a rabbit hole of over-analysis or even feelings of loneliness.

Introversion isn’t necessarily linked to poor mental health, but highly introverted individuals might face challenges in highly social contexts, potentially leading to feelings of isolation or misunderstanding. Having deeper social connections may increase happiness and better mental health in introverts.

Rawpixel

Sensing (S) vs. intuition (N)

This letter reflects how people gather information. Sensing types rely on concrete, present facts and details, whereas intuitive types are typically more focused on big-picture concepts and possibilities. 

Sensing types and mental health

Sensing individuals are like detectives of the present. They want evidence, facts, and clarity. Hand them a puzzle, and they’ll examine each piece meticulously. It’s a grounded approach, but when the answers aren’t evident, or situations are undefined, they might become restless or even anxious. 

However, sensing individuals, who are more grounded in the present, might have fewer tendencies towards rumination compared to intuitive types, which is a risk factor for depression.

Intuitive types and mental health

Now, meet the intuitive folks. They’re the dreamers, the “what if” thinkers. Instead of the puzzle pieces, they’re captivated by the image those pieces could form. They’re often drawn to abstract concepts and possibilities. While this gives them a unique ability to think outside the box, it can also be a double-edged sword. The very same broad thinking can sometimes become overwhelming, leading to anxiety or indecision.

Thinking (T) vs. feeling (F) 

We often hear phrases like “Listen to your heart” or “Let’s be rational about this.” The MBTI categorizes this as Thinking (T) and Feeling (F). This dichotomy represents how people make decisions. Thinking types tend to approach decisions logically and objectively, while feeling types make decisions based on personal values and how their choices affect others. 

Thinker types and mental health

“Thinkers” approach situations with a critical mind, assessing pros and cons. But there’s a hidden cost sometimes. In their quest for rationality, they might sideline their emotions. Picture a pressure cooker – it works efficiently until there’s too much pressure, and it erupts. 

Similarly, by constantly suppressing emotions, thinkers can encounter unexpected emotional outbursts or simmering internal stress. 

Feeler types and mental health

On the other side, we have the “Feelers.” These individuals wear their hearts on their sleeves, navigating the world with empathy and personal values. However, this deep emotional connection can be a double-edged sword. Feelers can sometimes take things to heart, internalizing external comments or situations. 

This heightened emotional sensitivity might lead to feelings of vulnerability or even frequent heartache. Feeling types might be more prone to mood fluctuations based on heightened emotional sensitivity.

Judging (J) vs. perceiving (P)

Ever met someone who always has a plan? Or someone else who just goes with the flow, embracing life’s unpredictability? Enter the letter dichotomy of Judging (J) and Perceiving (P). This dichotomy relates to how individuals approach their external environment. Judging types like structure and having things planned out, whereas perceiving types are generally more flexible and spontaneous.

Judging types and mental health

People with a judging preference treasure structure. Their world is organized, and decisions are made promptly. However, the chaos of life is inevitable. In such unpredictable scenarios, these individuals might seem like a fish out of water, looking for control and predictability. 

This intense need for order might manifest as stress or even micromanaging tendencies in group situations. Judging individuals might be more prone to stress when their sense of order or predictability is challenged.

Perceiving types and mental health

In contrast, those leaning towards the perceiving type often enjoy spontaneity. They revel in flexibility and adaptability, often changing courses on the go. But it’s not always a breezy journey. Their aversion to rigid structures might make them shy away from commitments, leaving them feeling adrift or lacking a clear direction in life. Perceiving individuals might sometimes struggle with procrastination or indecision, which can be sources of stress.

Exploring mental health and your personality type

The relationship between personality types and mental health is not straightforward. While you can find research exploring how certain personality traits or patterns might be associated with various mental health conditions or vulnerabilities, it’s essential to approach this topic with caution. Correlation does not imply causation, and individual experiences can vary widely.

Personality traits aren’t inherently “bad” or “good” for mental health. Context, individual differences, life experiences, coping mechanisms, and a host of other factors interact with these traits to influence mental well-being. While certain traits might predispose individuals to particular vulnerabilities, they might also offer strengths in other areas.

In addition, while certain personality traits or patterns might be associated with risk, they don’t determine one’s destiny. With the right support, coping mechanisms, and possibly therapeutic interventions, individuals can navigate challenges related to their personality and thrive. Online therapy is one way individuals can seek personalized care suited to their tendencies and personality type. 

Getty/AnnaStills
Wondering how your personality type affects your mental health?

How online therapy can help

Online therapy offers a range of benefits that cater to diverse personality types and can provide a safe space to discuss your personality type and how it may impact your mental health.  

For introverted individuals, online therapy provides a platform where they can express themselves without the intimidation of face-to-face interactions, helping them to open up more easily from the comfort of their own space. Individuals who are time-conscious or have demanding schedules can also benefit from the convenience of logging into sessions from any location, eliminating commute times and facilitating consistency in attending sessions. 

Online therapy has shown to be effective for conditions like depression, anxiety, and panic disorder, often having comparable results to traditional face-to-face sessions. 

Counselor Reviews

“Valerie had been a great therapist for me so far, I struggle with anxiety and depression and her techniques/counseling have helped me a lot. She seems supportive and understanding, a lot more so than therapists I have had in the past. She gives me realistic solutions and coping strategies that I can incorporate into day-to-day life and makes herself available at times convenient for me.”

“DeAndrea has been a godsend. She is patient, understanding, & honest. She has not only provided me an outlet for my anxiety but given me tangible techniques to help myself & my family. I appreciate her open ear, warm personality, and words of advice. Looking forward to working with her more.”

Takeaway

Different personality types offer insights into how individuals perceive and react to the world. For example, extroverts tend to gain energy from social interactions, while introverts lean towards solitude. Sensing types focus on present facts, whereas intuitive types ponder possibilities. Thinking types lean on logic for decisions, while feeling types consider emotions and values. Although certain traits might be associated with mental health vulnerabilities, they also have their strengths. It’s important to remember personality traits alone don’t determine one’s mental health, and a combination of factors influences well-being. Understanding and embracing one’s personality can be a stepping stone to personal growth. One way to explore your mental health and how you may relate to your environment is through online therapy.
Navigate personality traits with a professional
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet started