As an MBTI® practitioner I work with a lot of people who aren’t sure of their type, or who ARE sure of their type but probably shouldn’t be. Over the course of the last 10 years I’ve realized that there are certain types who nearly always mistype as other personality types, and that the online tests out there are really skewed in favor of certain types.
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Why Your Personality Type Result Might Be Wrong
Probably 9 out of 10 people who come to see me say that they’ve taken an online personality test and gotten one of 5 results (we’ll get into those later). Here’s how online tests get it wrong (in a nutshell):
Flawed Question 1 – Do you like alone time?
Test: You’re an Introvert
Flawed Question 2 – Do you have an imagination?
Test: You’re an intuitive!
Flawed Question 3 – Are you emotional or logical?
Person: Umm….both? Uhhh….maybe emotional? I’m not sure. Emotional.
Test: You’re a feeler
Person: I’m definitely logical. I’m smart. Emotional people are stupid.
Test: You’re a thinker!
Flawed Question 4 – Do you like having a plan?
Test: You’re a judger
Okay, soo….the tests don’t actually have those exact same questions, but they have variations of those same questions and as a result anyone who likes alone time, plans, is emotional and has an imagination will test as INFJ.
Anyone who likes alone time, plans, and considers themselves logical and imaginative gets an INTJ result. These are the two most common mistypes I come across (but there are more, believe me!)
What’s wrong with this?
Extraverts like alone time, too. We live in a world where everyone is addicted to technology and their phones, so more and more people are testing as introverted who are actually extroverts. Wanting to stay home and binge on Netflix or use Snapchat doesn’t make you an introvert.
Everyone gets worn out from excessive socializing. Everyone needs peace and quiet sometimes.
Extraverts have energy that flows outward to projects, activities, and people. Extraversion isn’t all about socializing. It’s about how much stimulation you can handle and how much stimulation you seek. I could write more about this, but I’ll save it for a later post. The point is, most people type as introverts, especially because of the misconception that extraverts are shallow party animals and introverts are deeper and wiser than extraverts.
Everyone has imagination. Yes, sensors as well as intuitives. Everyone loves exciting possibilities and thinking about the future to a certain extent. So most people test as intuitives, even if they aren’t. Sensors are more focused on the real world and tangible opportunities and intuitives are more focused on abstract meanings, symbols, and theoretical possibilities. Both types can be imaginative and creative. Most sensors mistype as intuitives because tests are really limiting the scope of sensing.
Also, a feeling preference isn’t related to how emotional you are. A thinking preference doesn’t indicate intelligence.
The Main Problem…
The tests widely available on the internet are not using the proper methods to type people. In fact, even the official MBTI® isn’t great at typing people without the paired consultation of a knowledgeable practitioner. Tests and indicators are focusing on dichotomies rather than the cognitive functions which form the entire foundation of personality type. If you’re testing yourself based solely on dichotomies (E/I, S/N, F/T, J/P) then chances are you’re not getting the right type.
We should be testing based on the functions…
What are the functions, you ask?
Here’s a (very) brief breakdown:
Extraverted Sensing (Se): The real world is a springboard for current opportunities, experience, and interaction. Realistic. Adventurous.
This is the dominant function of the ESTP and the ESFP, auxiliary function of the ISTP and ISFP.
Extraverted Intuition (Ne): The real-world is a springboard for future possibilities, theories, ideas, connections. Questioning. Abstract.
This is the dominant function of the ENTP and the ENFP, auxiliary function of the INTP and INFP.
Introverted Sensing (Si): The inner world of memories, impressions, details, and concrete facts is what drives you. Practical. Nostalgic.
This is the dominant function of the ISTJ and the ISFJ, the auxiliary function of the ESTJ and the ESFJ.
Introverted Intuition (Ni): The inner world of unconscious meanings, symbols, hunches, theories, and predictions is what drives you. Abstract. Future-focused.
This is the dominant function of the INTJ and the INFJ, the auxiliary function of the ENTJ and the ENFJ.
Extraverted Thinking (Te): You trust empirical evidence and objective logic when you decide. You like to organize your outer world to be as efficient as possible. Decisive. Directive.
This is the dominant function of the ENTJ and the ESTJ, the auxiliary function of the INTJ and the ISTJ.
Introverted Thinking (Ti): You categorize everything you know into an internal blueprint or framework. You seek the most accurate, precise conclusions. Effective. Intensive.
This is the dominant function of the INTP and the ISTP, auxiliary function of the ENTP and the ESTP.
Extraverted Feeling (Fe): You seek to create harmony in your environment and are highly aware of the moods and values of others. Tactful. Empathetic.
This is the dominant function of the ENFJ and the ESFJ, the auxiliary function of the INFJ and the ISFJ.
Introverted Feeling (Fi): You seek internal congruency and dedication to your morals and ethics. You value authenticity and you mirror other’s emotions. Individualistic. Sincere.
This is the dominant function of the INFP and the ISFP, the auxiliary function of the ENFP and the ESFP.
So as you can see, there are BIG differences between both types of sensing and intuition, both types of feeling and thinking. There is a lot more to the cognitive functions than what I listed there, so if you’re interested you can read more about them here.
The point is, the personality system isn’t as black and white as most online tests would lead you to believe.
Now let’s talk about the 5 most common mistypes.
The Most Common Mistype – The INFJ
INFJs are driven by an awareness of future implications and underlying meanings. They trust symbols, value strategy, and see everything from many perspectives. They are abstract and trust impressions over details. INFJs tend to test as perceivers because their dominant function, intuition, is a perceiving function.
Unlike many articles (or online memes) would imply, INFJs are not deeply in touch with their feelings and emotions. They are more focused on abstract future ideas and the emotions and feelings of others.
INFJs make up 1.5% of the US population, but probably 60% of the people who take online tests get this result.
What You COULD Be Instead:
ISFJ: Down-to-earth, loyal, detail-oriented, and empathetic. The ISFJ is the most common type in my experience to mistype as an INFJ. If you value facts over hunches, veer towards nostalgia, and enjoy having a consistent routine then this is more likely to be your type. You can find out more about ISFJs here.
ISFP: Creative, in-tune with nature, realistic, and idealistic. ISFPs are deeply in touch with their values and personal morals. They appear easy-going and reserved but are intensely adventurous. They are simultaneously highly realistic and highly idealistic about the future. This type is the second most-common type to mistype as an INFJ. You can find out more about ISFPs here.
INFP: Imaginative, creative, and future-focused. INFPs are deeply in tune with their emotions and values. They enjoy brainstorming and thinking about endless future possibilities and ideas. They crave uniqueness and freedom and enjoy theories and abstract ideas over facts and realities. You can find out more about INFPs here.
If you got an INFJ result on a test, I would highly recommend looking into the ISFJ, ISFP, or INFP personality types. These three types are MUCH more likely to be your type (but there is always a small chance you got the right result and you are an INFJ).
Truth be told, I’ve had ESFJs, ENTPs, ESTJs, ENFPs, INTJs, and ISTJs also mistype as INFJs from online tests, so pretty much anyone who gets an INFJ result should be skeptical.
Now to the second most common inaccurate type result…
You throw around a label like “The Mastermind” enough and EVERYONE wants to be one. This is another type to be very skeptical of. If you test as introverted, even slightly imaginative, logical, and planful, then you’ll get an INTJ result on an online test. This is really a shame because there are a lot of great thinking types out there who you COULD be, but most people really want to be INTJs (and INFJs) so they stick to their guns on these two types.
INTJs are DRIVEN by the unconscious world. If you don’t relate to this, you’re not an INTJ. INTJs look for complexity in everything, are fascinated by abstract theories, and they see everything as having symbolic meaning. They are interested in the unknown over the tangible and philosophy over facts. They get premonitions and hunches out of the blue and can’t explain them right away. Most likely if you’re a real INTJ you’re going to seem a little bit odd to other folks because there are SO few of you in the real world.
Here’s what you might be instead:
ISTJ: Reserved, grounded in reality, lover of facts and knowledge, highly practical. ISTJs are the most common type to mistype as INTJs. Like INTJs they value logic, crave knowledge, and have a reserved, private nature. Unlike INTJs, ISTJs love routine, are detail-oriented, and prefer evidence and pre-established facts over theories and abstract data. You can find out more about ISTJs here.
ISTP: Independent, adventurous, skeptical, logical. ISTPs live to question things. They are deeply analytical and also intensely realistic. They value real-world experience and facts over theories and extrapolations. They hate being tied down, crave hands-on experience, and are determined to reach goals. In mid-life they develop intuition, which results in many ISTPs mistyping as INTJs. You can find out more about ISTPs here.
ESTJ: Productive, fiercely logical, determined, goal-oriented. ESTJs are all about getting things done, facing facts, and achieving long-term goals. They are ambitious, they value facts over theories, and they are extremely down-to-earth. In mid-life ESTJs develop intuition and enjoy brainstorming future possibilities. This, combined with the fact that they are more focused on productivity than socializing, often causes them to get an INTJ result. You can find out more about ESTJs here.
Now let’s move onto the third most common mistype…
If you love people, have even the slightest bit of imagination, and don’t like having a plan for everything, chances are you’ve gotten an ENFP result from an online test. But wait…what is an ENFP really like?
Real ENFPs are stimulated by theories, hypothetical possibilities, ideas, and contradictions. They are more focused on the future and theoretical possibilities than they are on the present and current opportunities. They are skeptical, prone to playing devil’s advocate, and more than anything they want to generate ideas and change up everything so that it can be improved upon.
Here’s what you might be instead:
ESFP: Adventurous, independent, enthusiastic, creative. ESFPs are by far the most common personality type to mistype as ENFPs. It doesn’t help that most type descriptions for ESFPs are terribly one-dimensional. These individuals are driven by opportunities in the real world. They are intensely realistic and down-to-earth. They usually have an amazing sense of humor, and a rich enthusiasm for life. They are adventurous, free-spirited, and empathetic. You can find out more about them here.
Now let’s move onto the fourth most common mistype…
If you consider yourself outgoing, logical, future-focused, and planful, chances are you’ve been typed as an ENTJ.
ENTJs are fiercely determined and ambitious. They are driven by a vision or insight of the future and are less concerned with the pre-established facts and traditions. They are more interested in theories and abstract data over tangible realities and details and would probably rather discuss philosophy than football.
Here are some other types to consider:
ESTP: Independent, logical, opportunistic, adaptable. ESTPs are the most common type to mistype as ENTJs. They are probably the most objective thinkers of all because their main function is all about looking at the world for what it IS in the most realistic, observable sense. This combined with their thinking function makes them the ultimate realists. They are extremely grounded in reality, highly adventurous, and quick to sniff out opportunities for action and achievement. You can find out more about ESTPs here.
ESTJ: Hard-working, determined, ambitious, logical. ESTJs are the second-most common type to mistype as ENTJs. These individuals share the ENTJ’s fierce determination and work ethic, but they are more focused on facts and tried-and-true methods over theories and innovative risk-taking. They are more detail-oriented and linear in their work process, whereas ENTJs are more impressionistic and work less sequentially. You can find out more about ESTJs here.
Now let’s move onto the fifth most common mistype…
If you recharge from being alone, have an imagination, empathy, and don’t want a lot of structure, chances are you’ve been given an INFP result.
INFPs on the outside seem very open-minded, adaptable, and easy-going, but INSIDE they are extremely dedicated to their values and personal purpose in life. They can be very driven to reach an ideal future, and so a lot of INFPs mistype as INFJs because goal-orientation and productivity is often used in tests as a sign of a judging preference. INFPs are deeply in touch with their values, highly creative, and love the abstract and theoretical over the real and tangible.
Here are some other types to consider:
ISFP: ISFPs are creative, idealistic, and deeply in touch with their own values. BUT they are more focused on the real world and tangible opportunities than the abstract world and theoretical possibilities. They are adventurous, quick-thinking in a crisis, and practical. You can find out more about them here.
INFJ: What, really? Yes, because INFJs are actually dominant perceivers (their dominant function is a perceiving function) they tend to test as INFPs more often than INFJs. They have a more adaptable, curious perspective on life and don’t actually prefer a lot of structure and routine. They value theory and abstract data over facts (similarly to INFPs) but they tend to have more of a singular focus and are less aware of their own feelings about things. You can find out more about INFJs here.
If you want to know more about mistyping, you can check out Heidi Priebe’s article on intuitive mistypes here.
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