The 8 Preferences

The 8 preferences are divided into 4 pairs of opposites, which make up the building blocks of type.  As you read the pairs of opposites, think about which preference feels the most natural and comfortable to you.  Performing tasks associated with your preferred preferences will feel easier, while performing tasks related to non-preferred preferences will largely take more effort, feel less natural, and take more energy and time to accomplish.  That being said, everyone performs tasks in life using both preferences and non-preferences.  In going through the information below, think of which preference out of the pair sounds most like you, selecting one letter from each pair until you have one of the 16 possible, 4-letter types.


Extraversion & Introversion

The Energy Preferences

Extraversion (E) and Introversion (I) are words that are often heard in society, and there are many stereotypes associated with them.  People often think Extraversion describes someone who is intrusive, talks all of the time, or is loud.  They may see Introversion as a way of describing people who are hermits, don’t like people, or never talk.  In the case of the MBTI, these stereotypes do not apply!   These preferences have to do with how we gain and spend energy, and as you read the following descriptions, it is a good idea to think of which actions and situations make you feel tired and which make you feel energized.  How do you recharge your batteries?

People who prefer Extraversion…People who prefer Introversion…
• Gain energy by spending time with and interacting with others and the outside world.• Gain energy by spending time reflecting on their own ideas and having alone time.
• Tend to be action oriented and will often do first and reflect after the task is completed.• Tend to reflect before doing and often refrain from action if reflection deems it inappropriate.
• Are often fairly open and easy get to know, compared to those who prefer Introversion. • May take a while to get to know, compared to those who prefer Extraversion.
• May be described as never meeting a stranger.• Feel most comfortable with people they already know.
• Often like to know a little bit about a wide variety of different topics.• Often like to know as much as possible about a few, select topics.
• Tend to have a wide circle of friends.• Tend to have a few close friends.
• May enjoy “working the room” by having small conversations with many different people at parties.• May prefer to have an in depth conversation with a familiar person or small group at parties.


Sensing & Intuition

The Perceiving Preferences

Sensing (S) and Intuition (N) are arguably the most important set of preferences in the education arena because they describe how we take in information, the essence of learning.  This set of preferences is also unique in that it is the only set that is not close to a 50/50 split in the population.  In the US, about 67% of the population prefers Sensing and only 33% prefers Intuition.  What kinds of information do you prefer and tend to trust?

People who prefer Sensing…People who prefer Intuition…
• Gain information through the 5 senses and past experiences.• Gain information through their guts and what "feels" right, as well as by looking for patterns and connections.
• Tend to prefer information that is concrete in nature and deals with the here and now.• Tend to prefer information that is abstract and deals with possibilities for the future
• Like details and use them to understand matters in a way that is thorough and practical.• Like to look at the big picture use it to understand the gist and the underlying concepts of matters.
• Like to do things in the prescribed and structured manner and believe that "if it ain't broken, don't fix it."• Like to do things in their own, often less structured, way and believe that "just because it ain't broken, doesn't mean I can't make it better."
• Often describe events carefully and in chronological order.• Often bounce around when describing events, by beginning with what stands out or is important and following intuitive connections.
• Are typically drawn to ways of doing things which are pragmatic and based in reality.• Are typically drawn to ways of doing things that are creative, abstract, and imaginative in nature
• Want to know information that is useful in day to day life, and are often more interested in practice than theory.• Want to know information that is inspired and/or inspiring, and are often more interested in theory than practice.


Thinking & Feeling

The Judging Preferences

Thinking (T) and Feeling (F) describe the process we use to make decisions and what information we prioritize in the decision making process.  Discussion of this set of preferences often brings up gender stereotypes, and it is the only set of preferences where gender plays a role in the distribution of types in the general population.  Approximately 60% of men report a preference for Thinking and 60% of women report a preference for Feeling!  To protect against stereotyping, it is important to point out that Thinking types can feel, and Feeling types can think.  What does your decision making process look like?

People who prefer Thinking…People who prefer Feeling…
• Make decisions using logic, facts, and data.• Make decisions using their own personal set of values and by looking at how decisions will impact relationships.
• Tend to take a step back from situations and look at them objectively.• Tend to step in to situations and look at them personally and subjectively.
• Are usually ok with delivering difficult or critical new, like firing someone. This is not to say that they enjoy causing people pain, but they can separate themselves from the situation to do what needs to be done.• Are usually bothered by delivering difficult or critical news, like firing or reprimanding someone. This is not to say that they are incapable, but they tend to feel the impact it may have on the other person enough to prefer not to do it if possible.
• Want to work with and learn from people who are competent and knowledgeable, above working with someone who is likeable.• Want to work with and learn from people who are likeable and kind, and this is often more important than the person having the highest possible level of knowledge.
• Generally place emphasis on making sure that situations are fair and impartial. They believe that the rules are the rules, and they should be followed.• Generally place emphasis on mercy in situations. They believe that each case should be looked at individually, and rules may need to be bent where extenuating circumstances are a factor.
• Appreciate direct, truthfulness in communication, and often dislike fluff and "beating around the bush."• Appreciate tact and caring in communication, and can be put off by communications and critiques that are cold or seen as harsh.
• Are completely capable of experiencing the whole range of human feelings and having close relationships, despite stereotypes to the contrary.• Are completely capable of thinking and looking at situations in a logical fashion, though they are sometimes stereotyped as being irrational and overly emotional.


Judging & Perceiving

The Organization Preferences

Judging (J) and Perceiving (P) are important in college because they describe the way we organize our outer world and tackle tasks.  Because of this, they play a huge role in time management.  As you read the following descriptions, it is important to keep in mind that both types can and do procrastinate, especially when faced with accomplishing non-enjoyable tasks.  It is also important to note that preferring Judging is not related to being judgmental.  How do you organize your outer world?

People who prefer Judging…People who prefer Perceiving…
• Love the feeling of having tasks accomplished, over, done with, and checked off of their literal or figurative lists.• Love keeping options open, going with the flow, and taking what comes to them in life.
• Enjoy planning life ahead of time and usually start projects with the end in mind.• Enjoy being in the process and usually prefer to allow projects to evolve in their own way.
• May feel stress when their plans are changed or disrupted.• May feel stress when forced to make decisions before they have gained enough information.
• Often enjoy working but will tend to make sure work is completed before playing.• Often prefer to mix work with play when possible and can enjoy play before work is done.
• Will often be seen by others as organized and structured.• Will often be seen by others as laid back and casual but can still be organized.
• Usually work steadily through tasks, sometimes by breaking them into pieces, and finish them with plenty of time to spare. This aims to prevent the anxiety of the last minute rush.• Usually get a burst of creative energy shortly before a project is due and can accomplish large amounts of work in a short period of time. The are often said to be at their best when working under pressure.
• Sometimes fall into the trap of making decisions too quickly, without taking the time to gain all of the appropriate information.• Sometimes fall into the trap of not making decisions in a timely fashion, with a desire to continue taking in new information as long as possible.

Once you have decided on a best fit type, you can read your type description. If you are still not sure which type fits you best, sometimes looking at pairs of preferences can help clarify.  You can also feel free to ask a question in the comments section below.



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  3. Shawn Carlson

    I cannot place where I put my first assessment. But I did write down something I needed to research. But I have hit a brick wall. ANY HELP on the following would be great.
    According to Myers-Briggs, I am a Conceptualizer (iNtuitive Thinkers). The Rational is another name used as well, which includes four personality types: the ENTJ, ENTP, INTJ, and INTP.


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