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The Meaning Of The Four Scales In Myer Briggs (MBTI)

What do the letters used in MBTI to define the 16 personality types really mean? Today I look at the four scales used to define your personality type, and what they are measuring. Once again I want to point out that I am no authority on MBTI, I am just learning and I invite you to learn with me.

What They Measure

Let’s first start by saying that these scales measure your preferences to ….. they are no indicator of how competent you are. It is also important to remember that you still use both sides of the scales in your life, what MBTI looks at is your preferred, ideal way of approaching life. None is better or worse than the other, it is just about preferences.

  • The first scale, Extraversion (E) versus (I) Introversion is about how why interact with the world and how we get energized.
  • The second scale is Sensing (S) versus (N) Intuition which is your preferred way of taking in information
  • Scale three Thinking (T) versus (F) Feeling is about decisionmaking
  • And the last scale Judging (J) versus (P) Perceptionis about your preferred way of living

Extraversion versus Introversion

As I said this is about how you prefer to direct your energy and how you get energized.
Let’s start by taking a look at the extravert;
If you lean toward the extrovert (E) side of the scale you like to deal with people and situations in the outer world. You are action-oriented, and enjoy socializing and spending time with a lot of people. Spending time with people is what energizes you.
On the other side of the scale, we have the introvert (I) who prefers to deal with ideas, and beliefs. You are more reflective, and when you interact socially it is usually in a smaller group, maybe taking part in a deep philosophical discussion.

Sensing versus Intuition

How do you prefer to take in information? That depends on what side of this scale you are leaning towards.
If you are on the sensing side you prefer facts and reality, you like clarity and to describe what you see. You use practical attention to facts and details, and you absorb data in a literal and concrete way, and you probably like the hands-on experience.
On the intuition side of the scale, you are more interested in possibilities and potentials, you prefer to deal with ideas, generate ideas from your information, and anticipate what is not obvious to others. You pay abstract attention to patterns, and you easily imagine the future.

Thinking versus Feeling

Now let’s take a look at how you prefer to make decisions. Once again, this is not static and you may use both sides of the scales in different situations, but you probably have a preferred way of making decisions.
If you are a thinker, your decisions are based on objective logic, using an analytic and detached approach. Your focus is on logic and analytics, and you make decisions in a logical impartial manner. You start by looking at the logic and consistency before making a decision.
If you are more on the feeling side you make decisions based on values, what, or who you believe is important. Your focus is on personal values and the effect of your decision. You often make a decision on the individual case in a subjective manner based on what you believe to be right according to your inner value system. You take people’s needs into consideration and you seek harmony with your decisionmaking. Your first look is at people and circumstances.

Judgment versus Perception

Let’s first make sure that we don’t confuse Judgment with being judgmental, that is not a valid conclusion.
This scale is about how you adapt your life in an ideal world to how you want to live. Your attitude towards the world if you will.
The judgment side of the scale is if you prefer your life to be well planned and structured. You tend to be decisive and prefer structure and control. You want things to be neat and orderly, and like things to be settled.
On the perception side, you prefer to go with the flow. You like to maintain flexibility, and you respond to things and situations as they arise. You prefer spontaneity and like life to be open-ended. You are flexible and adaptable.

The Four-letter Combination

From these four scales, you will receive a letter for each one of them, and these for letters are the code for your personality type according to MBTI.
I did take the official MBTI test and my result came out as ENTP, which means that I am on the extroversion, intuition, thinking, and perception side of the scales. That would describe me as action-oriented, enjoying being around people, have an abstract mind full of ideas for the future, and making decisions based on logic and analysis. I also like to keep my options open, and I am flexible and adaptable.
Some of this feels very much like me, but not all.

My Final Thoughts

I am still in the early stage of learning more about MBTI, but as of now, I think we are more fluid between the two sides on the scales than the 16 personality types will describe. Although I am still very interested and fascinated by the theory I have still questions about how accurate it is and when, and how, it will be helpful to me in my life.
In my next article, I will focus on the different tests that you can find online that are based on MBTI, and take a look at the criticism that exists.
As always I will leave a link to my video on the topic. I hope you will enjoy.