Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Personality tests

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If you're not familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality test, read a bit about it before reading this post.

This is a post I have been thinking about writing for years, literally.  I just never seemed to get my thoughts quite organized enough to say something other than a string of thoughts that weren't really related.  Then my husband and I got talking the other night about a recent link we'd seen that matched animals to the different Myers-Briggs personality types (though, to be honest, it was really just me pontificating while my husband agreed here and there, which will seem obvious in a minute when I explain about our personality types).

The first time I took the Myers-Briggs I was in high school and immediately spent time trying to figure out my then-boyfriend's (now husband's) type as well.  It appeared we were exact opposites and still are.  I came out an ENFJ and he is an ISTP.  While I have occasionally questioned if I might be an I instead and we both agree we waffle on the J and P, we are firmly planted in our middle two letters.  These two letters define us both as people more than the other two ever will and are quite frequently the main reason we have misunderstandings.

I am such an F and he is such a T that sometimes it must be as though we are operating with brains that are not even the least bit similar.  When I was first introduced to the concept of a pro/con list as a child, I simply did not understand the exercise.  I have made a few pro/con lists in my life and I can be completely honest in saying that I have never found it to be helpful.  It's words on a page and a total waste of my time.  All the F's out there know what I mean.  I am a feeler.  No decision I make will ever be right if I cannot feel it.  It doesn't matter how logical a choice is.  My husband on the other hand is an absolute thinker.  You can almost see gears turning in his head like a factory or mill.  I imagine my head in comparison looks like floating clouds.

I was mentioning my status as a feeler to him when I realized that I am "feely", but I have never been "touchy", which to many may seem incongruous.  I mentioned before in my post about the 5 Love Languages that physical touch is not one of mine.  I don't hate it, but I don't seek it out usually and I have to remind myself to do it for others.

Which led me to talking about how my husband and I both have trouble claiming J or P for ourselves.  In many situations yes, he is the P and I am the J.  But not always.  We tend to flip-flop on this and almost never flip or flop the same way--we consistently remain opposite :-)  I pointed out that him being a P and me being a J sometimes seems incongruous with our other letters.  In general, people would expect a more abstract, people-oriented person like myself to be more free-flowing and spontaneous and a more logical, straightforward person like my husband to be a planner.  What seems most natural for the test is to have an ENFP and an ISTJ (in my opinion).  But that's the beauty of the Myers-Briggs having the 4 different facets of the personality.  It can better fit a personality because it allows for that incongruity.

This flow of thought led me to point out to my husband the fact that based on our first 3 letters for each of us that are much more obviously identifiable to others, people will expect him to be a J and me to be a P.  And that is important for us to be aware of.  Because I think on many occasions, we surprise people with our personalities when they finally see them in their entirety.  (My husband is more surprising, I think, than me.) 

When people see an introvert like my husband who is logical and an engineer, they expect less obvious facets of his personality to be a certain way.  But they're wrong.  He has been assumed to be an organizer, an ultra-practical, safety conscious guy.  But he's not.  For instance, he doesn't use a turn signal when he drives if no one is around.  People using other facets of his personality to piece together the rest would not think that's what he does.  People would be surprised to learn he plays the guitar and the piano and that he used to do watercolor paintings.

So I pointed out to him that other people might expect him to be a certain way and he should be aware of it.  And while we both flip-flop over the P and J, I feel pretty comfortable saying he's the P and I'm the J because even though when I read the description of the P or the J alone neither seems to fit, when I read the description of an ISTP as a whole, I know it's him.  And when I read the description of an ENFJ, I know it's me.  There is just something a little off when I swap our letters.

And that link I mentioned with the animals for the personality types?  An ENFJ is a dog.  And an ISTP is a cat.  Good match, no?


  1. Haha I've never heard of matching your Meyers-Briggs to an animal before. That's so funny. I looked it up and supposedly that makes me like a deer and my husband like a dog.

  2. Fun! I can't get to the link with the animal equivalents. I am an ENFP. :) I love Myers-Briggs!

  3. the time I took it, I was also an ENFJ :)

  4. I am kind of an INTJ...I never felt like MB really fit me very well, but the INTJ is where I usually test and it's probably the closest. I much prefer the enneagram :)

    Also...Brice used to do watercolors? That is SO COOL.

    1. I guess the thing that I like about Myers Briggs is that it doesn't make you fit in just one category. I suppose the ennegram has a bunch of different types as well, but then you can't see where you line up with someone else. I like to see that someone else is also a feeler, even if we're the opposite on everything else.

      And yes, watercolors indeed. He still has stuff we keep moving with and says he wants to again :-)


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