Can a personality test improve your productivity? MBTI can!

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What is MBTI?

The Myres Briggs Type Indicator, better known by its acronym MBTI, is, by definition, an introspective self-report questionnaire indicating differing psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. The test uses 4 categories, with 2 options each, to assign one of 16 personality types. The 4 categories are: I (introverted) or E (extroverted), N (intuition) or S (Sensing), F (feeling) or T (thinking), and P (prospecting) or J (judging). When all 4 are combined the result can be something like ISFJ or ENTP. Knowing your personality type can help you become more productive and use your personal strengths in a better way.

Those 16 personalities are also split into 4 domains, or better said, categories: Analysts (Types with both the N and T functions), Diplomats (Types with the N and F functions), Sentinels (Types with the S and J functions), and Explorers (Types with both the S and P functions). The typing process can be performed either by an online test, which is available on the website 16personalities (, or by self-evaluation.

The letters explained

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Going into the actual letters now, E and I are the easiest to grasp. They both are attitudes. Extroverts tend to get their energy from being around people, while the same activity drains introverts. It is recommended that extroverts, while working, surround themselves with people. That doesn’t necessarily imply a group project. It can just be sitting with a few friends or co-workers in silence. Introverts tend to perform better while in their own space, free of social distractions.

N and S get a bit more interesting since both are functions. Those who sense (S) tend to prefer having actual physical evidence for their work. There is a greater focus on the here and the now. They could be labeled as realists. People with an S in their MBTI type are generally more productive. Intuitive (N) people prefer to rely on their instincts and hunches. They often get hung up on possibilities and what-ifs so that their original goal can fall behind. N types shouldn’t surpass their imagination, though. They can use it to visualize and connect unique concepts. Breaks can often help them with getting back on track.

The functions T and F or Thinking and Feeling generally signify how a person makes decisions. Feelings go with their gut, while thinkers opt for rational thinking first. Although, when it comes to scheduling T types have an advantage because they are more likely to base their day rationally instead of on emotional whims.

Lastly, J and P – Judging and Perception aren’t adjectives or functions. They depend on what they are paired with. J types are more decisive and focused, while P types follow their curiosity, don’t stay on a given track, and like to explore. 

It’s one thing knowing what each letter in a type represents, and quite another what it truly means. A thing to note is that while I do use the term “functions”, I am just referring to the 8 that make up a basic type, not the later added further expanded functions as they are quite complicated and don’t provide much insight into an average person.

MBTI from a scientific point of view

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MBTI isn’t meant to be used as a strict system and rule, rather it’s a general description of someone’s strengths and shortcomings. It’s a helping tool. As one grows as a person, or simply as life circumstances change so do our behaviors as an attempt to adapt. The test shouldn’t be used as an actual professional psychological evaluation for diagnosing someone. These days it tends to be a general tool for self-study and self-improvement, and used with that purpose it can prove useful.

While MBTI can be a useful tool, it falls just a few sandwiches short of a picnic. Some of its more prominent flaws are poor validity, poor reliability, measuring categories that aren’t independent, and not being comprehensive. But while many argue that the test isn’t reliable since it’s mostly based on self-evaluation and actively criticize it because it’s common for someone’s type to change, even drastically, others point out that that is exactly its purpose: to help people get useful insights into their own personality and changes that might happen as they mature or work on themselves.

The critique that MBTI resembles pseudoscience such as the zodiac signs, is simply false. While it does group people into what are essentially 16 boxes, it acknowledges that many aren’t on any sides extreme and can fall between multiple types. In addition, it is based on actual psychology. It’s not a good evaluator of major life subjects and questions, but it rather functions as a simple guide to self-improvement.

The history of MBTI

The original MBTI was constructed by two American women, Katherine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myres. Katherine Cook Briggs started researching personalities in 1917. She observed her family members and read biographies to develop a typing system. It originally consisted of 4 temperaments: meditative, spontaneous, social and executive. After Carl Jung’s book, Psychological types was published in English in 1923, Briggs recognized the similarity between her theory and his. She published 2 articles about it by 1928. Later, her daughter joined her and took over the project entirely. Both of them had an extensive interest in human behavior and wanted to put their psychological types to practical use.

They began developing the current indicator during World War 2 to help women identify the most fitting war-time job for them. In 1944 they published the Briggs Myres Type Indicator Handbook. The name and details of the typing principles would go on to be changed by a variety of psychologists but remained close to the original at its root.


Putting everything together, MBTI test should give a general outline of someone’s personality and enable people to find out what type of job suits them best. ISTJs are, by default, more focused and classically productive type. That doesn’t mean that an ENFP will never do the same amount of work as an ISTJ. An ENFP will need a different style of work and will often work in a different field. 

At the end of the day, we all sometimes struggle with getting work done. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and procrastinate, just as it is to overwork oneself. The key is balance and a simple 10-minute test can help us see our shortcomings more clearly. It’s easy to find lots of information on each type and nobody is left out. So why don’t you try it out?

Written by Eleonora Kramer

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