What do the letters in the Myers-Briggs test stand for?
First, let’s start with the word test. We generally try to steer away from the word test when talking about the MBTI assessment because test implies there are right and wrong answers, and high and low scores that are good (high) and not so good (low). While there is scoring involved to get to one or the other preference, it is a self-assessment that reports out on how you answer the questions – but there is no right or wrong.
We covered this a little in a previous post, A Crash Course in MBTI Lingo, but below we’ll give you the short answer and link to the longer answers if you’re interested.
Each MBTI personality type consists of 4 letters. The first letters are either E or I, the second letter is either an S or an N, the third will either be a T or an F, and the last letter will either be a J or a P. Below is what each of those letters mean:
The first letter in your MBTI personality type (also known as your first preference) is how you get your energy
Extraversion – E stands for Extraversion, and people who have this personality preference are energized by the outer world of people and things. They generally share their ideas verbally and “recharge” by being around other people.
Introversion – I stand for Introversion, and people with this personality preference are energized by their inner world. In contrast to people with preferences for Extraversion, Introverts use their energy interacting with people and things and gain energy by spending time alone and in their heads. They usually prefer to go through all their ideas and then share them out loud.
NOTE: Any one person is not completely extraverted or completely introverted, you actually use both preferences throughout your day. One just comes more naturally to you – just like you naturally cross your arms one way and the other way feels a little awkward (but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it!).
The second letter in your MBTI type is how you learn
Sensing – S is for the Sensing preference. People who have the letter S in your MBTI type tend to process things in a step-by-step linear sequence and observe and remember specific information. They also tend to focus on the facts and what can be observed via their five senses.
Intuition – N is for the Intuition (because we already used the letter I for Introversion) and people who have a preference for Intuition generally learn by seeing the big picture and themes, and thinking about how specific information is connected.
The third letter in your MBTI type is how you make decisions
Thinking – the letter T is for Thinking, and people who have this preference tend to make decisions based on pros and cons, and weighing logical consequences from an objective point of view.
Feeling – the letter F indicates someone who has a preference for Feeling, meaning that they make decisions based on how those decisions might affect other people involved.
Another Note: Just because you have a preference for Thinking or Feeling doesn’t mean you can’t see things from the other side, again it just means when you first consider making a decision, you’re going to use this preference FIRST and may or may not use the other preference (depending on how self-aware you are, if someone else involved brings in the opposite preference, etc.)
The fourth letter in your MBTI personality type indicates how you organize your life
Judging – the letter J stands for Judging, and people who have a preference for judging are the list-makers and planners. They like to have a structure and schedule to their time and will generally space out projects so they get work done a bit at a time.
Perceiving – the letter P stands for Perceiving, and people with this preference are the ones who want flexibility in their lives and in how their time is managed. They would rather be open to new opportunities for events and like making decisions on the fly, and can sometimes enjoy working on things at the last minute or on their own schedule.
Want to learn more about these preferences? Take the MBTI assessment here to find out your MBTI personality type and get access to a ton more content that goes in-depth as to how personality type can affect your career, the way your communicate, your love life and more, and learn how you can use that knowledge to be happier, healthier and better at what you do.