MBTI® Step II: The 40 Facets of the 16 Types

Diamond FacetsWhen reading your MBTI® type description, have you ever felt like most things fit you, but a few were way off the mark? Well, some of that certainly comes from the fact that humans are individuals who have unique experiences and backgrounds… We are more than our type, but part of those differences may still fall within the realm Myers-Briggs® can explain.  That’s where Step II comes into play.

Step II is one of the three steps of the MBTI®, and it provides individuals not only with a 4-letter type code, which indicates the individual’s inborn type that stays with the person throughout life, but also with a description of where that individual falls on a continuum of 20 pairs of facets, 5 pairs per set of preferences, contained within type. For example, you may have a preference for Introversion, and there are five facets that are parts of the Introverted preference, which Introverts commonly display and identify with.  With Step II, it is possible to have facets that are outside of your preference, meaning that an Introvert could have 4 facets that fall under Introversion and one that is usually preferred by Extraverts.

What does this look like in real life? As an example, I am an Introvert.  I enjoy being around other people, but I find myself very drained after interacting with large groups and/or people I do not know very well.  I love reflection and long hours of deep thinking, and I wouldn’t be a bit sad if I got snowed into the house with my husband and the dogs for a week.  That being said, I am one of the most talkative Introverts I know, and most people would describe me as extremely easy to get to know.  Does that mean the Introversion police should take my membership card away?? (I hope not… I just got it laminated.)  No. What it means is that I am an Expressive Introvert.  I have 4 facets that fit my Introversion, and I have one facet that would normally fit an Extravert, and that is completely okay!

You might wonder how this happens.  Well, it may be that an individual is born as a slightly different version of his or her type, or it may be, in the case of facets, that the individual has learned life skills that involve developing parts of non-preferences.  Of course, that means it is possible for facets to change over the course of your life, unlike your 4-letter type code which stays the same. You may also wonder if it is possible for a person to truly be a Sensing type, but have all 5 facets fall on the Intuitive side.  While that is unlikely, the facets do not make up the entirety of the preference, so it is possible.

Another cool thing about facets is that they finally allow a place in MBTI® for a person to say that how he or she act depends on the situation! (Can I get a “Hallelujah!”?)  With facets, it is possible to fall in a mid-zone, which indicates that either facet may be used, depending on the situation.

The charts below list all of the possible facets, along with descriptions of each.  Of course, it would be wonderful if every person in the world could take the Step II assessment, but if you do not have that luxury, you will likely still gain benefit from reading through the facet descriptions to see which ones sound most like you.

Extraversion and Introversion

Extraverted FacetsIntroverted Facets
Initiating: The core facet of Extraversion, Initiating shows up in individuals as an ability to easily network, never meet a stranger, and carry on conversations with most other people with ease and at length. Receiving: The core facet of Introversion, Receiving shows up in individuals as preferring to let conversations and other people come to them to engage in large groups, as well as preferring to be introduced in lieu of making introductions.
Expressive: Appears as someone who is easy to get to know and open to sharing feelings, thoughts, and interests freely.Contained: Appears as someone who only shares thoughts, feelings and interests with those they trust and know well, and may be difficult to get to know.
Gregarious: Describes someone who loves to have a wide circle of friends and acquaintances who have diversity in interests, communication styles, etc.Intimate: Describes someone who loves to have a small circle of close friends that he or she knows well and can talk in depth with one on one.
Active: Fits individuals who like to take active part in activities by being hands on, asking questions, and otherwise being directly involved.Reflective: Fits Individuals who love to take part by seeing, thinking, and pondering matters in a quiet setting, conducive to personal reflection.
Enthusiastic: Tends to enjoy being the center of attention, while being highly conversational in group settings, full of life, and a lover of great stories.Quiet: Tends to lack interest in being the center of attention, while loving their difficult to describe, rich, inner world of thoughts and ideas about the surrounding world.

Sensing and Intuition

Sensing FacetsIntuitive Facets
Concrete: The core facet of Sensing, and people with this facet prefer to live in the world of the 5 senses and its perceptions in all, or most, aspects of life, from learning to communicating, They love that which can be verified and touched, and they will often be skeptical of moving beyond this realm to the more abstract. Abstract: The core facet of Intuition, and people with this facet love to focus on what ideas mean and how they connect with other things and ideas. They love to focus on the gist and the basic concepts of a matter, and they are perfectly comfortable interpretations of information that are not necessarily literal
Realistic: Appears as someone who places high value on good old common sense and objects and other things that have a practical use in the here and now. They want to keep themselves and their families secure (financially, physically, etc.) and as comfortable as possible in practical ways.Imaginative: Appears as someone who is resourceful in finding original and creative solutions to new problems, while being much more concerned with, interested in, and place more value on what could be in the future than what is in the here and now that can be seen or touched.
Practical: Describes someone who enjoys performing tasks in the prescribed and familiar way with the "right" and familiar tools. They would rather build slowly and steadily, in ways that risk little, than attempt great change for possible great return, which may blow up in their faces. They also place emphasis on personal comforts of life.Conceptual: Describes someone who has little interest in what is tangible or practically known, preferring to read underlying meaning and understand joyful complexity. These individuals often perform well on tests, and they tend to be willing to take greater risks in anticipation of greater gain.
Experiential: Fits individuals who work from past experience and live by the mantra, "if it ain't broken, don't fix it". If they must complete an unfamiliar task, they will begin with what valued sources claim works best, and they will then use trial and error until they find the best method of completing the task.Theoretical: Fits individuals who are often described as insightful and good at finding ways to approach new tasks that work. They prefer to seek and do what has not yet been done, finding it uninteresting to repeat tasks in the ways prescribed by others. They believe that 1 + 1 very often equals far more than the obvious 2, when you look deeper into the complexities and connections behind it.
Traditional: Tends to find a sense of security and validation in the social traditions of society, and are often uncomfortable with trends and fads that have not passed societal tests and norms. There is comfort in aspects of society that are tried and true.Original: Tends to lean towards uniqueness and variety in an effort to express his or her own uniqueness of self. This may be a way to express an adventurous streak or display different and original ideas, but it certainly is seen as a way to infuse more meaning into a mundane day.

Thinking and Feeling

Thinking FacetsFeeling Facets
Logical: The core facet of Thinking, people with the Logical facet tend to believe that the best way to make sense of the world and its residents is through reason and logic. They often find that feelings are less reliable in relationships than exhibiting fairness, reason, and respecting rights on both sides of the relationship. Empathetic: The core facet of Feeling, people with the Empathetic facet tend to place relationships above all other things in their hierarchy of importance, to the point of feeling that they are the basis of life's meaning. These individuals believe universal and personal truth are both attached to people and relationships.
Reasonable: Appears as someone who uses logic and a solid process of reasoning to confidently make decisions on a daily basis.Compassionate: Appears as someone who prefers to show mercy, even to the detriment of objective fairness, and they love to see people for the individuals they are.
Questioning: Describes someone who believes that situations turn out better when problems are solved through debating and challenging ideas, which not only helps individuals find areas of agreement, but can help reduce flaws in solutions.Accommodating: Describes someone who prizes harmony above whatever good may come from confrontation and critique, and they aim to please as many people as possible.
Critical: Fits individuals who believe that impersonal criticism is necessary to get to the bottom line of situations, remove flaws from plans and decisions, and get the desired outcomes from a situation.Accepting: Fits Individuals who like to find solutions that are as likely as possible to be a win for all involved by tolerating the viewpoints of others and expecting the same in return.
Tough: Tends to appraise a situation, then take a strong stand on their decisions, which they see as the best way to show support for all of the logic and data that went into making the decision.Tender: Tends to show tenderness and caring in achieving their goals because they understand that different people have different viewpoints, that are often in opposition, and that must be respected, especially when making a purely rational decision is not possible.

Judging and Perceiving

Judging FacetsPerceiving Facets
Systematic: The core facet of Judging, people with the Systematic facet like to have order in their home, work, and sometimes leisure life, by planning, organizing and performing tasks in a systematic fashion. Casual: The core facet of Perceiving, a person with the Casual facet is usually good at going with the flow of life. They deal well with surprises, and they may be described as laid back, with a preference for keeping options open, in lieu of deciding early.
Planful: Appears as someone who likes to plan well in advance to make sure they do mot miss out on things that are important to them. This can include holidays with family, vacations, concerts, etc.Open-Ended: Appears as someone who loves freedom and making decisions on the fly, rather than being tied down to plans that are far in the future. They love flexibility and a lack of feeling constricted.
Early Starting: Describes someone who becomes quite stressed when working right up to a deadline, so the person tends to start early, complete tasks one at a time, and finish with enough time to leave room for things to go wrong (internet or printer down) without causing a missed deadline.Pressure-Prompted: Describes someone who may come up with ideas for projects in advance, but does his/her best work during the energetic and creative burst that comes right before a deadline. They almost feed off of the stress of a project being due, and they may squeak it in just in the nick of time. This is not to be confused with procrastination, which all types do.
Scheduled: Fits individuals who find comfort and security in completing their tried and true routines each day. They know these routines are reliable and reduce chaos.Spontaneous: Fits Individuals who love variety in their lives and having a work environment where they have some say over what they can do at any given time, rather than being restricted to monotony.
Methodical: Tends to organize everything needed to complete a project, from materials to people, and create a sequence for the completion of tasks that lead to project completion in a planned and strategic fashion.Emergent: Tends to enjoy problem solving on the fly through improvisation and a lack of planning... They may believe that the instructions that come with a furniture kit are a waste of paper because they'd rather jump in and figure it out along the way.

Finally, you may wonder how to identify yourself if you have preferences outside of your type, which not everyone has.  Well, technically any facets where you are out of preference (Judging facet on a person who prefers Perceiving) would be added to your type.  For instance, I am technically a, Expressive, Questioning INFJ because I have a facet out of preference on E/I and another out of preference on T/F.  That being said, I have two other facets that are in the mid-zone, and those titles are not added to my type “title”. All of that being fine and dandy, many type enthusiasts are not familiar with Step II, and the facets can make for a lengthy self-description, so I typically leave them out of type discussions not revolving around Step II.

I hope this article has helped you gain some new insight into your type, and I would love to hear about those insights in the comments, if you have them.  As always, I am also happy to answer questions.  Thanks for reading.



  1. Vicki

    I took the MBTI Step II for the first time in Feb 2014, in preparation for the MBTI certification class. I loved it! I especially loved learning more about other people’s Step II results when we shared those in some of the exercises we did in the class.

    If I had just taken the Step II on my own, I wouldn’t have learned as much. (I’m in-preference for all facets but one, which was mid-zone). Also, the “mid range” descriptions for each facet are, apparently, not published anywhere! So, you get more information if you can actually interact with other people in the Step II debrief.

    1. Vicki

      Also, the Step II results helped a lot for people who were still uncertain of their type. When they could see that “Oh, I’m out of preference on this facet”, they were more able to come to a decision on Best Fit Type.

      1. Sadie (Post author)

        I agree on all counts! Who was your instructor for the Certification course?

        1. Vicki

          I had Linda Kirby.

          1. Sadie (Post author)

            That’s great, Vicki! Her partner, Nancy Barger, was my trainer, and she is now my mentor. They make a great MBTI team! 🙂

          2. Vicki

            Does Nancy use anecdotes about Linda? (Linda’s anecdotes involve Nancy.)

          3. Sadie (Post author)

            Yep! I have never met Linda before, but I feel like I have from those anecdotes. 🙂

  2. Simon

    This was very well-written and helpful. Thank you. Facets actually shed a lot of additional light on type preferences. I was familiar with main differences in dichotomies (Step I) and aware from communication with people there are sort of facets (different manifestations of behaviours for the same type), but I used to figure them out on my own through functions. I.e. apply some speculative reasoning, not sure how it still relates to MBTI if at all. Step II makes things much clearer in that respect; describing most common traits for each preference.

    Anyway, I’m just a hobbyist who fell in love with MBTI so much. Reading through the facets, I have quite a few out-of-preference ones apparently. About 6 if I count it right. Good thing to know these can change, too (not that I want to do it in myself). Anyway, a great resource. Thank you again.

    1. Sadie (Post author)

      Thank you, Simon! I am so glad you found the article helpful! Step II really shed a lot of light on the nuances of type for me as well. Since writing the article, I have been interested in hearing how many out of preference facets individuals believe they have, and I have been surprised at some of the high numbers! I first learned of the Step II instrument by taking it, and at the time I had 2 out of preference facets and one midzone. The second time I took it, I had the same out of preference facets with two midzones. While there are a few people I have seen with 4 or 5 out of preference facets, I have found it much more common it have one or two, and some people have none. If you ever take the assessment, I’d love to hear the results! Thanks again for reading! 🙂

      1. Simon

        I’ll make sure to let you know if it happens 🙂

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  4. Maritsa

    A lot of what you write is just not the case for certain types

    1. Sadie (Post author)

      Thanks for the comment Maritsa! Is it some of the information about the 40 facets that you don’t agree with, or is it more in certain type descriptions? It’s normal to agree with 80% to 95% of your own type description… Less than that and another type may be a better fit, and the part you don’t agree with may be explained by having out of preference facets or aspects of your personal history. If there are specific things that you find not to be the case, I would love to hear them! 🙂

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