Mayers And Briggs Test

Myers Briggs® type indicator (MBTI®)

The Myers Briggs® Type Indicator (MBTI®) is a widely used and highly regarded system for understanding and interpreting personality, and derives most of its underpinning theory from Carl Jung's Psychological Types ideas and to a lesser extent the Four Temperaments (or Four Humours).

Myers Briggs® (in fact Isabel Briggs Myers working with her mother Katharine Briggs) essentially developed Carl Jung's theories into a usable methodology and system for understanding and assessing personality (more easily and accessibly than by becoming an expert on Jung and his theories).

The owners of the system, the Myers Briggs® Foundation, explain that the purpose of their MBTI® 'personal inventory' system is to "make the theory of psychological types described by Carl G Jung understandable and useful in people's lives...", and that, "..The essence of the theory is that much seemingly random variation in the behavior is actually quite orderly and consistent, being due to basic difference in the way individual prefer to use their perception and judgment...."

(This last sentence is interesting because it highlights Myers Briggs'® emphasis on and interpretation of their Judging-Perceiving dimension - basically Jung's Rational/Irrational definitions - as a means of clarifying function dominance within each whole MBTI® personality type.)

The MBTI® model and test instrument was developed by Katharine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers in 1942 after their studies particularly of Carl Jung, whose basic concepts relating to this aspect of personality and behaviour are described above.

Myers Briggs'® MBTI® concept is featured in Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers' key book 'MBTI® Manual: A Guide to the Development and Use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®' which was first published in 1962, some years after the tests had been in use. Isabel Briggs Myers later extended and built on these ideas in her 1980 book 'Gifts Differing'.

The Myers Briggs Foundation explains also that "...The theory of psychological type was introduced in the 1920s by Carl G. Jung. The MBTI® tool was developed in the 1940s by Isabel Briggs Myers and the original research was done in the 1940s and 50s. This research is ongoing, providing users with updated and new information about psychological type and its applications..."

According to the Myers Briggs Foundation more than two million people are assessed using the MBTI® personal inventory instrument around the world every year. It's a big business...

The MBTI® model (along with other personality theories and psychometrics models) is particularly useful for:

  • understanding and developing yourself
  • understanding and developing others
  • understanding what motivates others
  • understanding others' strengths and weaknesses
  • working in teams - by ensuring that all relevant necessary capabilities are represented in the team
  • allocating and agreeing tasks and project responsibilities
  • agreeing roles and development with others and for oneself

Myers Briggs® theory and the MBTI® model is a method for understanding personality and preferred modes of behaving. It is not a measurement of intelligence or competence, emotional state or mental stability, 'grown-upness' or maturity, and must be used with great care in assessing aptitude forJOBS or careers: people can do most jobs in a variety of ways, and the MBTI® gives little or no indication of commitment, determination, passion, experience, ambition etc., nor 'falsification of type', all of which can have a far greater influence on personal success than a single personality test.

In most respects psychometrics tests and personality models are aids to personal development and to helping people understand more about themselves. They are not to be used a single basis for recruitment or career decisions.

myers briggs® theory and the MBTI® model

The Myers Briggs® MBTI® system uses a four-scale structure for identifying and categorising an individual's behavioural preferences, based almost entirely on Carl Jung's theories and his (translated) descriptive words.

Each of the four MBTI® scales represents two opposing 'preferences' (in other words, preferred styles or capabilities). All abbreviations are obvious first letters, other than N for Intuition, which causes the word to be shown sometimes as iNtuition - just in case you were wondering. The Myers Briggs® Judging-Perceiving dimension basically equates to Jung's Rational/Irrational categories of the two pairs of Jungian Functional types. The colour coding is consistent with the colours used in the Jung section - it was not part of Jung's or Myers Briggs'® theory, but hopefully the colours help explain the pattern and connections.

(E)   Extraversion  or Introversion (I) the focus or direction or orientation of our behaviour - outward or inward 'Attitude' or orientation
(S)   Sensing or iNtuition (N) how we gather information Function(Jungian 'Irrational' or MB 'Perceiving')
(T)  Thinking or Feeling (F) how we decide Function(Jungian 'Rational' or MB 'Judging')
(J) Judging  or Perceiving (P) how we react to the world - do prefer to make decisions or keep open to options (and also which middle 'Functions' do we favour) Myers Briggs'® added dimension equating to Jung's 'Irrational' and 'Rational'


Myers Briggs® (Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine Briggs) added a fourth dimension to the three Jung dimensions (Introvert-Extravert, Thinking-Feeling, Sensation-Intuition), namely Judging-Perceiving, which is related to a personality's approach to decision-making, and particularly how the personality deals with the outer world (Extraverted) as distinct from the inner world (Introverted). The Myers Briggs® Judging-Perceivingdimension can also be used to determine functional dominance among the two preferred functional types (aside from Introvert-Extravert, which are not functions but 'Attitudes', or orientations). This can be a tricky little aspect of the Myers Briggs® theory and is explained at the end of this Myers Briggs® section. Happily it's not crucial to deriving value and benefit from Myers Briggs'® ideas, so don't agonise over it if you don't understand it straight away.

Aside from determining functional dominance, irrespective of the way decisions are made (by Thinking or Feeling) the Judging type makes decisions sooner than the Perceiving type. As such the Myers Briggs'® Judging-Perceiving dimension is not found (as a functional dimension) in the Jung model, although Judging and Perceiving most certainly relate to the Jungian descriptions respectively of Rational and Irrational, which Jung uses to categorise the two pairs of Functional Types (the Rational 'judging' Thinking and Feeling, and the Irrational 'perceiving' Sensing and Intuition - refer to the Jung explanation).

Moving on, David Keirsey, in his book Please Understand Me II, provides some additional helpful explanation of how Isabel Myers attached her own meanings to these Jungian words, he said, "putting her own spin on them". Keirsey interestingly also points out that Myers differed markedly from Jung's use of the words Sensation and Perception, which Jung considered held the same meaning, but to which you can see here and elsewhere that the Myers Briggs® system attached different meanings. For this reason if you want to avoid doubt and any confusion in the minds of Jungian purists then it's safest to use the words 'Rational' and 'Irrational' when correlating these Jung terms to the Myers Briggs'® 'Judging' and 'Perceiving'. The right-side column is simply a translation, using more recognisable modern words, for showing the four MBTI® dimensions.

MBTI® type names, based on Jung's language alternative Myers Briggs® meaning or 'spin'
(E) Extraversion or Introversion (I) (E) Expressive or Reserved (I)
(S) Sensing or Intuitive (N) (S) Observant or Introspective (N)
(T) Thinking or Feeling (F) (T) Tough-minded or Friendly (F)
(J) Judging or Perceiving (P) (S) Scheduling or Probing (P)

It is interesting to note that many of these words above appear commonly in different personality testing systems, for example DISC systems, which again demonstrates the closely connected nature of many psychometrics models and products.

Most people, to varying degrees at different times depending on circumstances, use both preferences within each of the four scales, but each of us tends to have (and therefore will indicate via testing) a certain preference for one style or another in each of the four scales.

There are no 'right' or 'wrong' or 'good' or 'bad' preferences, and there are no good or bad or right or wrong 'types' although obviously certain 'preference' behaviours and personality 'types' can be more or less appropriate or effective in given situations. Within personal limits, adaptability, as ever, is a valuable attribute. Self-awareness enables adaptability. If you seek confirmation of the value of adaptability look at the Cybernetics page (later best, not right now).

Here are descriptions of each of the MBTI® preferences in slightly more detail.

preference for the outer world and one's own action and effect on it (E) Extraversion or Introversion (I) preference for inner self and ideas to understand and protect or nurture it
gathers information by: focusing on facts within information (S) Sensing or iNtuition (N) gathers information by: interpreting patterns, possibilities and meaning from information received
decides by using logic, consistency, objective analysis, process-driven conclusions (T) Thinking or Feeling (F) decides according to what matters to self and others, and personal values
in dealing with the world organises, plans, controls, and decides clear firm actions and responses - relatively quick to decide (J) Judging or Perceiving (P) in dealing with the world responds and acts with flexibility, spontaneity, adaptability and understanding - relatively slow to decide


According to the Myers Briggs® (MBTI®) system each of us is represented by four preferences, one from each of the four scales. Can you begin to identify yourself, and others around you?


(E)  Extraversion or Introversion (I) do we focus on outside world (E) or inner self(I) - do we find people energising (E) or somewhat draining (I)?
(S)  Sensing or iNtuition (N) the way we inform ourselves - how we prefer to form a view and receive information - observed facts and specifics (S) or what we imagine things can mean (N)?
(T) Thinking or Feeling (F) our way of deciding - how we prefer to make decisions - objective and tough-minded (T) or friendly and sensitive to others and ourselves(F)?
(J) Judging or Perceiving (P) our method for handling the outside world and particularly for making decisions - do quite soon evaluate and decide (J) or continue gathering data and keep options open (P)?


By measuring or categorising a person's overall personality or behavioural style according to four preferences - one from each of the four scales (E-I, S-N, T-F, J-P), the MBTI® system logically contains sixteen main 'types', each represented by four-letter code, for example: ESFJ or INFP or ESTJ, etc.

The sequence of the four-letter preferences within the Myers Briggs® code, whatever the combination, does not change:

The 1st letter denotes the Jungian 'Attitude' or orientation; the direction or focus of the personality - Introvert or Extravert

The middle two letters denote the Jungian 'Functional Type' preferences, namely:

The 2nd letter is the preferred Jungian 'Irrational' function (Myers Briggs® 'perceiving') - Sensing or Intuition

The 3rd letter is the preferred Jungian 'Rational' function (Myers Briggs® 'judging') - Thinking or Feeling

The 4th letter is Myers Briggs'® added dimension to indicate the preferred way of dealing with the outer world; to evaluate and decide or to continue gathering information - Judging or Perceiving - equating to Jung's 'Irrational' and 'Rational' functional type categories, and thereby enabling functional dominance to be determined.


All sixteen different Myers Briggs® MBTI® personality type combinations, each being a four-letter code, are commonly presented in an MBTI® 'Type Table'.

In the 'Type Table' example below the groupings correlate (according particularly to Keirsey) to the Four Temperaments, which for interest is reflected by the colour coding in the table below to to aid comparisons when you look again at the Four Temperaments types. However this is merely an interesting point of note, and is not significant in the workings of the Myers Briggs® theory or its application. The Four Temperaments correlations are more significant in the Keirsey model.

The MBTI® 'Type Table' is typically shown elsewhere in other resources without these headings, and can be shown using other groupings, depending on the views of the theorist or interpreter.


the MBTI® 'type table' related to Four Temperaments Keirsey groupings

 SP - sensing perceiving SJ - sensing judging NF - intuitive feeling NT - intuitive thinking
sanguine or artisan melancholic or guardian choleric or idealist phlegmatic or rationalist


I repeat that you will see these MBTI® types shown in different groupings than the Keirsey/Four Temperaments structure shown above. This is by no means the definitive arrangement of the MBTI® personality types. There are others. I place no particular significance on the structure of these groupings and perhaps neither should you since many great minds disagree about it.

For example Myers Briggs® themselves prefer to show the types in no particular stated grouping, but which are actually grouped in four columns ST, SF, NF and NT, which are the four logical groupings when combining pairs of Jung's four functional types. This is close to Keirsey's presentation of them, but not the same.

And highly the regarded MBTI® Jungian neurologist, psychiatrist, psychopharmacologist, and psychotherapist Robert I. Winer, M.D., prefers the following four-way grouping on the basis that he considers these types to be the four most distinguishable through observation of people's behaviour: TJ, ('Thinker-Judgers') FJ ('Feeler-Judgers'), SP ('Sensor-Perceiver') and NP ('Intuitive-Perceiver'). You pays yer MONEY and takes yer choice as they say. Incidentally Winer's 'Winer Foundation' website ( is one of the most impressive and wonderous on the web dedicated to MBTI®/Jungian theory, full of useful profiles and guidance for self-awareness and development. He seems a lovely fellow.

Other interesting groupings of the sixteen MBTI® types are shown in matrix presentations in each of the Benziger and DISC sections. These different groupings attempt to correlate the personality types (and traits implied) between the different systems and as such can be very helpful in trying to understand it all.

The Myers Briggs® organisation is at pains to point out, rightly, that all (MBTI®) types are equal. As with the individual 'preferences', there are no 'right' or 'wrong' or 'good' or 'bad' types, although again obviously, certain 'type' behaviours can be more or less appropriate in different given situations.

Indeed most people will display type-behaviours resembling many of the sixteen types in any one day, depending on the circumstances. It is however the case that most of us will have a certain preferred type with which we are most comfortable, and which is held to be, according to the MBTI® model, our 'personality'.

In terms of understanding what personality characteristics each of these sixteen various 'MBTI®' types represent, at a very basic level you can simply combine the type descriptions, for example:

An ISTJ is someone who is on balance focused inwardly (Introvert - I) who tends to or prefers to gather information by concentrating on facts (Sensing - S), makes decisions by logic and process (Thinking - T), and whose approach and response to the world is based on order, control, and firm decisions (Judging - J).

And for a contrasting example, an ENFP is someone who is on balance focused on external things and people (Extravert - E) who tends to or prefers to gather information by interpreting patterns, possibilities and meaning (Intuitive - N), makes decisions according to personal values and what matters to self or others (Feeling - F), and whose approach and response to the world is flexible, adaptable and understanding (Perceiving - P).

At a more detailed level it's useful to consider 'functional dominance', specifically relating to the original four Jungian functions (the middle two letters of the four-letter Myers Briggs® MBTI® code). The methodology for identifying dominant and auxiliary functions, and thereafter 3rd and 4th functions (which do not appear in each four-letter type code), is explained below in the MBTI® function dominance sub-section. While a little tricky for some people to grasp quickly, anyone can understand this if they put their mind to it, and it's well worth the effort because identifying functional dominance does provide an excellent and rapid way to define each and any of the sixteen main personality types from their four-letter codes without the need for reams of supporting notes.

At a more complex and fully detailed level there are various resources which give detailed descriptions of the MBTI® personality types, including, and in my opinion far more fully and clearly at the excellent The Jungian psychologist Michael Daniels' website at is also an excellent resource for learning about Myers Briggs® types and Jungian theory.


MBTI® function dominance

Acknowledgments to Simon Pusey for the in MBTI® Function Dominance diagram (Powerpoint slide) and a PDF diagram; also to Andrew Roughton for the alternative explanation of MBTI® dominance; to Ian Mitchell for correcting an error in the the ISTJ example below (previously wrongly shown as ISTJ), and to José María Ribal for correcting an error in two paragraphs which wrongly referred to the 2nd letter being 'Thinking or Feeling' instead of 'Sensing or iNtuition'.

For a quick explanation see the in MBTI® Function Dominance diagram in Powerpoint slide format or as a PDF. For a more detailed explanation of function dominance read on.

It's not vital to understand function dominance in order to benefit from the Myers Briggs® theory, but it does help explain how to identify thedominant function (of the middle two letters - the Jungian Functional Types) within any MBTI® four-letter type code, and logically from this theauxiliary function (and then also the 3rd and 4th functions). The methodology therefore enables rapid description and understanding of any four-letter MBTI® type code without supporting notes. It's a neat technique. An additional alternative explanation of MBTI® dominance using different examples and perspective follows this one. Feel free to skip ahead to it if the first explanation is not to your liking. In any event having two different perspectives of a complex theory is often helpful towards gaining best possible understanding.

Remember that the first letter is the Introvert-Extravert 'Attitude' or orientation - it's not a 'function', and the fourth letter is the Myers Briggs® additional Judging-Perceiving dimension, it's not a Jungian 'Function', and was largely introduced by Myers Briggs® in order to determine dominance between the preferred Jungian Functions (second and third letters).

Understanding Myers Briggs'® functional dominance methodology also helps explain how the Myers Briggs'® four-dimension model (four letters) relates to Jung's three-dimension model (main Jungian 'Psychological Type' plus auxiliary function - three letters), at least in the way that the Myers Briggs® interpretation implies and considers it to do so. (Just to repeat once more, Jung didn't use the Judging-Perceiving dimension as such, he stuck with three dimensions: Introvert-Extravert; Sensing-Intuition, and Thinking-Feeling.)

This explanation necessarily repeats the essential structure already explained in order to stand alone as a useful item in its own right.

Here goes. Hold on to your hats.

The Myers Briggs® MBTI® personality type is always presented as a four-letter code, in which the letters take the same positions in the code regardless of dominance. This is to say: function dominance is not indicated by the sequence of the letters.

Again, here is the sequence of the MBTI® letters and descriptions of what they denote. View this table as columns, not rows:

1st letter 2nd letter 3rd letter 4th letter
Extravert or Introvert Sensing or Intuition Thinking or Feeling Judging or Perceiving
E or I S or N T or F J or P
inwardly or outwardly focused/oriented how we get information how we decide how do we handle the outside world? - how soon do we decide? - do we judge or continue to perceive?
Jungian 'Attitude' or orientation Jungian 'Irrational' or Myers Briggs® 'Perceiving' Function Jungian 'Rational' or Myers Briggs® 'Judging' Function dimension added by Myers Briggs® - also identifies which Function is used in dealing with the outer world


These four preferences produce a four-letter code, for example ENFP or ISTJ.

It is very useful if we can determine within the personality which is the dominant Function of the essential Jungian 'Four Functional Types'. In other words is it the 2nd or 3rd letter that is most dominant within the whole type?

If we know the dominant superior function then obviously we can determine the auxiliary, because it will be the other middle letter in the code. (Incidentally when we've sorted out the superior and auxiliary functions, we can also then determine the 3rd and 4th functions, which is explained after we sort out the superior and auxiliary).

So, for the examples above:

Within the ENFP personality type is Intuition (N) or Feeling (F) dominant?

And within the ISTJ personality type is Sensing (S) or Thinking (T) dominant?

In fact the dominant function within the ENFP personality type is N (Intuition), which for the sake of this exercise we will show as ENFP. This means that F (Feeling) is the auxiliary function.

And the dominant function within the ISTJ personality type is S (Sensing), which for the sake of this exercise we show as ISTJ. This means that T (Thinking) is the auxiliary function.

But why?

Here's my best explanation of the Myers Briggs® methodology for determining dominant function, which they based on their interpretation of Jung's theory, and it is quite logical when you think about it. The methodology operates by using different points of reference - it's like a formula or a process:


  • Extraverts direct their dominant function outwardly, towards the outer world, and their auxiliary function inwardly.
  • Introverts direct their dominant function inwardly, towards their inner world, and their auxiliary function outwardly.
  • So whether the personality is Extravert or Introvert (1st letter E or I) is a factor in determining functional dominance (between the 2nd and 3rd letters).


Remember Jung categorised the two pairs of opposite functions as Irrational and Rational, which correlate to Myers Briggs® Judging and Perceiving:

  • Myers Briggs® 'Perceiving' refers to Jung's 'Irrational' functions (2nd letter) - Sensing or Intuition.
  • Myers Briggs® 'Judging' refers to Jung's 'Rational' functions (3rd letter) - Thinking or Feeling.


  • Judging preference (4th letter J) indicates that the personality prefers to use the Judging function (3rd letter Thinking or Feeling) to deal with the outer world.
  • Perceiving preference (4th letter P) indicates that the personality prefers to use the Perceiving function (2nd letter Sensing or Intuition) to deal with the outer world.

Fourth, therefore,

If the personality is Extravert (1st letter E) and is also Judging (4th letter J) then the Judging Function (3rd letter Thinking or Feeling) will be the dominant function (since this is the function used chiefly to deal with the outside world, and Extroverts use their dominant function chiefly to deal with the outside world). For example in the ENFJ type, Feeling is the dominant function, which is mainly directed outwardly. The auxiliaryfunction Intuition which tends to be directed inwardly.

If the personality is Extravert (1st letter E) and is also Perceiving (4th letter P) then the Perceiving Function (2nd letter Sensing or iNtuition) will be the dominant function (again this is the function used to deal with the outside world, and Extroverts use their dominant function to deal with the outside world). For example in the ESTP type, Sensing is the dominant function, which is mainly directed outwardly. The auxiliary function isThinking, which is mainly directed inwardly.

Fifth, (on the other hand),

Remember that an Introvert's dominant function is mainly directed inwardly, towards their inner world, therefore an Introvert's Judging-Perceiving preference (4th letter or P) which represents how they approach the outer world will indicate their less dominant function, which means that for Introvert types, the letter other than the one indicated by the 4th letter J or P will be their dominant function.

So it follows, if the personality is Introvert (1st letter I) and is also Judging (4th letter J) then the Judging Function (3rd letter Thinking or Feeling) will be the auxiliary function, since this is the function used to deal with the outside world. Remember, Introverts use their dominantfunction chiefly to deal with their inner world, not the outside world. An Introvert uses their auxiliary function chiefly to deal with the outsideworld. For example, in the INTP type, Intuition is used mainly to deal with the outside world, but since the priority focus of the Introvert is their inner world, so Thinking is their dominant function.

Similarly if the personality is Introvert (1st letter I) and is also Perceiving (4th letter P) then the Perceiving Function (2nd letter Sensing or iNtuition) will be the auxiliary function since this is the function used to deal with the outside world. The dominant function will be the other function, which the Introvert focuses on their inner world. For example, in the ISFJ type, the outside world approach indicated by the Judgingpreference (4th letter J) is Feeling, which because it is focused on the outside world in an Introvert is the auxiliary function. Therefore the other function, Sensing, is the dominant one focused on the Introvert's priority inner world.

There. That's the difficult bit. You may now take a break.

Here is additional explanation of MBTI® dominant functions. Having a second perspective can assist overall appreciation of any complex matter.


additional explanation of MBTI® function dominance

This additional explanation is kindly provided by Andrew Roughton, which is gratefully acknowledged. (I'm also grateful to Ian Mitchell for correcting an error in the ISTJ example above which was wrongly shown as ISTJ, and to Pierre Lemasson for correcting an error in 3b below - probably my typo, not Andrew's - which stated that the the remaining letter will be your auxiliary instead of dominant function.)


1) Your dominant function is found in either the 2nd or 3rd letter in your code. You also have an auxiliary (second) function.

a) If the 2nd letter is your dominant function then the 3rd is your auxiliary function and vice versa.

b) If the 3rd letter is your dominant function then the 2nd is your auxiliary function.

Remember the 2nd letter in your code relates to your Perceiving function. Do you perceive information through your senses (S) or through intuition (N)?

The 3rd letter in your code relates to your Judging function. Do you make judgements (decisions) through Thinking (T) or through Feeling (F)?

2) The 4th letter describes how you relate to the outside world. Do you prefer to deal with the world through your Judging function or through your Perceiving function?

a) If your 4th letter is J then we first look to the Judging functions - Thinking or Feeling.

i) If your code is ISFJ then we first look to the judging functions.

b) If your 4th letter is P then we first look to the Perceiving functions - Sensing or Intuition.

i) If your code is ENFP then we first look to the Perceiving functions.

3) The 1st letter in your code (E or I) tells you whether you will first find your dominant or your auxiliary function.

a) If your 1st letter is E (Extravert) then you will first identify your dominant function letter and the remaining letter will be your auxiliary function.

i) If your code is ENFP then you will find your dominant function. Because the 4th letter is P we look to the perceiving function letter in your code which in this case is N for Intuition. So your dominant function is Intuition. Your auxiliary function is represented by the remaining letter F for Feeling.

b) If your 1st letter is I (Introvert) then you will first identify your auxiliary code and the remaining letter will be your dominant function.

i) If your code is ISFJ you will first identify your auxiliary function. Because the 4th letter is J we look to the judging function letter in your code which in this case is F for Feeling. So your auxiliary function is Feeling. Your dominant function is represented by the remaining letter S for Sensing.

4) The reason for the different treatment for Extravert and Introvert is to do with the preference for the outer (E) or inner (I) world, and the 4th letter only identifies how they relate to the outer world. For the Introvert this will always be their auxiliary function because their dominant function must relate to their inner world.

a) Logically if the introvert relates to their outer world through, for example, their judging functions (thinking or feeling) then their remaining letter tells you which function they use in their inner world. This, for them, is their dominant function.

i) The ISFJ relates to the outer world through their Judging function (represented by the J) which in this case is Feeling (represented by the F). By elimination they must relate to their inner world through the Sensing function (represented by the S). Thus Sensing is the ISFJ's dominant function and Feeling is their auxiliary function.

b) Extraverts on the other hand use their dominant function to relate to the outer world and so the 4th letter identifies how you relate to the outer world.

i) The ENFP relates to the outer world through their Perceiving function (represented by the P) which is Intuition (represented by the N). Thus Intuition is the ENFP's dominant function and Feeling is their auxiliary function.


Andrew Roughton, July 2006.
National Principal
Vision College New Zealand



identifying 3rd and 4th function dominance

Logically according to Jung's theory, and Myers Briggs® interpretation, functional dominance can be extended beyond the superior (dominant) and auxiliary (secondary) functions to potential tertiary (3rd) and quarternary (4th) functions. This enables the identification of the order (relative strength or preference) of all four functions - Thinking, Feeling, Sensing and Intuition - within any given type. The process for doing this is simple, once you crack the dominant and auxiliary methodology. Here's how to determine 3rd and 4th functional dominance:

Remember Jung's principle of opposites and the four compass points. The most dominant or 'superior' function is balanced by its opposite in the unconscious, and will be correspondingly the least dominant just as the superior function is the most dominant, to whatever extent.

The 4th function therefore, available consciously in whatever degree, is always the opposite of the superior. For example, where a personality's superior or most dominant function is Thinking, logically its quaternary (or 4th or weakest function) function will be Feeling. Where a personality's superior function is Feeling, its 4th function will be Thinking. Where Intuition is dominant, so Sensing will be least strong. Where Sensing is the superior function, so Intuition will be the weakest. And that's the full set.

Applying the same 'balancing opposites' principle, logically, the 3rd function is the opposite of the 2nd or auxiliary. Same pattern as for the 1st-4th correlations. Easy.

The extent to which any personality is able to make use of supporting functions depends on other factors. Some people are able to draw on the 3rd and 4th functions more ably than others (dominant and auxiliary as well for that matter).

From the perspective of understanding and describing each of the sixteen MBTI® personality types simply from their four-letter codes, identifying functional dominance - from superior or dominant, to auxiliary, to 3rd and to 4th functions - is a very useful technique. When you understand the methodology you can say a great deal about any personality type just by looking at its MBTI® four-letter code - because you can determine the preference (which implies prevalence and priority) of each of the four functions, two of which will not even be represented in the MBTI® four-letter code!

Below is the complete set of functional dominance mixtures, showing 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th preferred functions according to MBTI® type. By using this methodology we can also very usefully group the Myers Briggs® types according to their Jungian four dominant functions, which is a super matrix for understanding these theories, and for applying the thinking to team-building and JOB roles within teams, etc.

MBTI® types and functional dominance

The left column shows the MBTI® sixteen types, colour-coded as to Extravert or Introvert. These MBTI® types are grouped in four sets according to '1st functional dominance' ('superior' function) which are colour-coded in the middle and right columns accordingly. For each MBTI® type, the middle and right columns show the dominant (superior) function, followed by the 2nd (auxiliary) function, and then the 3rd and 4th functions, which are largely unconscious and can be accessed when required depending on the person. Note that each of the four main functional dominance groupings (Thinking, Feeling, Sensing, Intuition, represented by the four colours) contains only two different sequential 'dominance sets', and that each of these can be formed by both an Extraverted and an Introverted type.

MBTI® type functional dominance - 1st to 4th
ESTJ TSNF ThinkingSensing, Intuition, Feeling
ISTP TSNF ThinkingSensing, Intuition, Feeling
ENTJ TNSF ThinkingIntuition, Sensing, Feeling
INTP TNSF ThinkingIntuition, Sensing, Feeling
ESTP STFN SensingThinking, Feeling, Intuition
ISTJ STFN SensingThinking, Feeling, Intuition
ESFP SFTN SensingFeeling, Thinking, Intuition
ISFJ SFTN SensingFeeling, Thinking, Intuition
ESFJ FSNT FeelingSensing, Intuition, Thinking
ISFP FSNT FeelingSensing, Intuition, Thinking
ENFJ FNST FeelingIntuition, Sensing, Thinking
INFP FNST FeelingIntuition, Sensing, Thinking
ENTP NTFS IntuitionThinking, Feeling, Sensing
INTJ NTFS IntuitionThinking, Feeling, Sensing
ENFP NFTS IntuitionFeeling, Thinking, Sensing
INFJ NFTS IntuitionFeeling, Thinking, Sensing

The extent to which people are able to call upon and make use of their auxiliary, and particularly 3rd and 4th functions depends on the individual person, and is also the subject of continuing debate and ongoing research by psychologists. Most people are capable of developing their less strong functions to some degree or other. Knowing what they are and that they exist in us is the starting point.

Similarly everyone is capable of understanding their own functional dominance and how this style might be perceived by others. Using this matrix you might be able to have a good guess as to your own Myers Briggs® MBTI® type and your functional dominance. Look at the right column: ask yourself - and maybe also ask someone who knows you well - what order of preferences best represents your own personality? Having decided this, are you mainly extraverted or introverted? You might now have a reasonable idea of your own MBTI® personality type.

If anyone can suggest more clearly how to present all this I am very much open to suggestions. Please let me know any daft typos or errors in this. It's not an easy thing to explain.

Aside from using Myers Briggs® MBTI® model to understand one's own or other other people's personality types, the most important opportunity is that everyone can and should use systems such these to endeavour to access and develop their weaker functions.

This was central to Jung's motivation, and this opportunity and encouragement echoes through Myers Briggs'® ideas too. Awareness of the fact that we all possess these unconscious under-developed functions is the first step towards realising that they can be developed and used, alongside our natural preferences, brought into play consciously, where we see the need and possibility to do so.


The Myers Briggs® MBTI® system typically involves the use of MBTI® testing instruments to determine people's own types or 'profiles', the process and analysis of which is best administered by a suitably qualified person to give proper explanation and feedback to people being 'tested'.

There are significant commonalities between the Myers Briggs® personality model and that of David Keirsey. Both systems draw strongly on the work of Carl Jung and (Keirsey's more than Myers Briggs®) also to the Four Temperaments. Further comparisons are indicated in the Four Temperamentsand Keirsey sections on this page, and these cross-references between models (notably Benziger) help with the understanding of each model independently, and also help to build up a variety of perspectives of oneself, and human personality and behaviour.

There are some differences between Myers Briggs® and Keirsey's interpretations. Not least, as Keirsey points out, Myers Briggs® is effectively an interpretation and extension of Jung's model - both of which focus on the minds and thinking types of people, whereas Keirsey's system, building on Myers Briggs®, Jung, and others, seeks to identify and point to what the different personality types can do well in different circumstances. In addition there are some detailed differences between certain type descriptions of Myers Briggs® and Keirsey, which concern complex interpretations that seem to me to be a matter of personal opinion, based on the experiences of the theorists themselves and not matters that can be proven one way or another. As we've already seen, this is not a perfect science, and when we drill down deeper than broad definitions the detail is open to different interpretation, which I encourage you to do yourself. Despite the best efforts of some of the providers in the psychometrics industry to convince us that all this is highly complex and impenetrable, you can hopefully see that much of the thinking is extremely accessible and within the grasp of ordinary folk.

As you learn about these concepts, see each model (Myers Briggs®, Jung, Keirsey, Four Temperaments, Eysenck, Benziger, etc) as self-sufficient and stand-alone. Note the common aspects between the models by all means because there are many: seeing the common aspects will greatly improve your overall understanding of the subject and of people; but do not try to overlay and match definitions and descriptions from model to model if the fit is not obvious and clear. Respect each model in isolation for what it is - a different perspective of the same highly complicated thing - the human mind.

More information about the Myers Briggs® organisation and MBTI® system and types descriptions is at

Note that Myers Briggs®, MBTI® and other terminology is likely to be protected trademarked intellectual property for use in direct training and testing applications, so beware of using any of these terms for commercial purposes without a licence, or at least checking whether a licence is required or not.



david keirsey's personality model and the 'keirsey temperament sorter'

As mentioned above, David Keirsey's work refers significantly to the age-old 'Four Temperaments' model, and to the work of Carl Jung, and Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, who also drew strongly on Jung's work. Keirsey's key book (with Bates) was 'Please Understand Me', first published in 1978 and since revised and re-issued several times, more recently as 'Please Understand Me II', which is a wonderful book and includes a self-test to discover your detailed temperament type (of the sixteen types).

David Keirsey's ideas extend and develop the Four Temperaments and the ideas of Carl Jung, and also relate very directly to the Myers Briggs® MBTI® system.

In fact according to Keirsey the two systems - Keirsey and MBTI® - are quite similar. (Here's a good explanation of the similarities and differences between the Keirsey and Myers Briggs® systems.)

Keirsey's model has for many years underpinned a highly regarded personality assessment methodology, which Keirsey claims to be the most widely used in the world. Keirsey's model has also enabled the development of a considerable supporting business corporation, which markets his testing instruments and their associated training and accreditation.

Like Myers Briggs®, Keirsey's personality model analyses human personality according to sixteen types, which are compared below to the Myers Briggs® MBTI® equivalents. There are fundamental similarities between the Keirsey types and the Myers Briggs® types, but there are also some significant differences, so do not see the two systems as being the same thing.


keirsey/MBTI® types correlations

Keirsey's personality model is particularly helpful because of the meaningful personality 'type' descriptions, especially when used alongside Myers Briggs® abbreviated letter codes. The colour-coded groupings reflect Keirsey's view that certain categories of MBTI® or Keirsey types equate strongly to the Four Temperaments. Keirsey is a fan of the Four Temperaments. Not everyone is, particularly when it comes to categorising MBTI® types. This layout is shown because Keirsey favours it. The use of colours are purely to aid comparison with the Four Temperament