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Personality Preferences

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) uses eight unique dimensions to characterize 16 unique personality types. These dimensions are based on a concept developed by Carl G. Jung and are called Preferences. MBTI Preferences help to classify a person’s natural tendencies in different areas such as energy direction, decision-making, working methods, etc. There are four pairs of opposing Preferences (for example, Extroversion vs. Introversion), making a total of eight. While every person uses all eight MBTI preferences to different degrees, a person will lean more toward one than the other.

Each personality Preference is noted by a single letter (such as E for Extroversion), and different combinations of these Preference letters make up a person’s Personality Type and Temperament. For example, if a person’s Preferences are Extroversion (E), Sensing (S), Feeling (F) and Perceiving (P), then their personality type is ESFP. Similarly, that would classify the person as having the SP temperament. Preferences, along with Cognitive Functions, are at the core of understanding the 16 personality types.

You can read about the Preference pairs below to determine for yourself what you lean towards. Or, you can take our free Personality Test to help determine your Preferences and to see charts showing to what degree you prefer one over its opposite.

Extroversion vs. Introversion

Extroversion (E) and Introversion (I) describe how a person directs their energy: either outwardly, toward people and activities, or inwardly, toward thoughts and ideas. Extroversion and Introversion are opposite Preferences, and a person’s natural tendency toward one will be stronger than the other. It’s important to note that these Preferences affect more than social interaction. They also influence how a person reacts to their environment.

Data shows that there are by far more extroverts (about two-thirds) than introverts (just over one-third) in the population. Males, on average, are slightly more introverted than females.

Extroversion (E)

Extroversion is characterized by a Preference to focus on the world outside the self. Extroverts are energized by social gatherings, parties, and group activities, as well as the responses of people around them. People with this Preference are usually very enthusiastic; they like pushing their limits and squeezing the most out of the world around them. Most of the time, Extroverted personality types will take the initiative in a social situation and are most likely to rely heavily on other people for validation. They enjoy being the center of attention and tend to actively seek this attention everywhere they go. This can be a bit problematic for them, as sometimes they might lose themselves and become unable to stay alone for long. Naturally, this means that they get bored easily, which can lead them to seeking novel experiences simply for the thrill of it all, rather than for a greater good. Extroverts prefer verbal and assertive communication styles and are very inclusive of others. It’s a difficult task to get an Extrovert to be silent for a prolonged amount of time, as talking helps them think.

Extrovert Characteristics

  • Gregarious
  • Assertive
  • Talkative
  • Social/outgoing
  • Energized by interaction
  • Expressive and enthusiastic
  • Volunteers personal information
  • Distractible
  • Has many friends
  • Enjoys groups, parties, etc.
  • Easy to approach

Extroverted Personality Types

  • ESTJ – The Administrator
  • ESTP – The Daredevil
  • ESFJ – The Caregiver
  • ESFP – The Entertainer
  • ENTJ – The General
  • ENTP – The Debater
  • ENFJ – The Guide
  • ENFP – The Optimist

Introversion (I)

Introversion is characterized by a Preference to focus on the inside world. Introverts get energized by spending time alone or with a small group. Even if it doesn’t seem so at first glance, Introverts are well-suited for a variety of situations, since their reserved nature gives them the ability to pace themselves. They are able to listen carefully to what others say to them and interpret the deeper meaning beneath the words. This is one reason they find large group gatherings draining – Introverts seek depth in relationships, rather than breadth. People with this Preference are very introspective and enjoy “alone time”, as it gives them the opportunity to get to know themselves a bit better. Others might perceive them as too sensitive at times, but this sensitivity has its perks – it allows the Introvert to be more alert to the situation and makes them stellar at picking up cues. Since they are so receptive to changes in their environment, it makes sense that Introverts like to control their own spaces as much as possible. They are often compelled to flee from anything that irritates them (especially social interaction), which can prove difficult or impossible at times. When faced with a predicament they cannot escape, Introverts need some alone time afterward to recharge their batteries and restore their calm facade.

Introvert Characteristics

  • Energized by time alone
  • Private
  • Keeps to self
  • Quiet
  • Deliberate
  • Internally aware
  • Fewer friends
  • Prefers smaller groups
  • Independent
  • Not socially inclined
  • Good listener

Introverted Personality Types

  • ISTJ – The Archivist
  • ISTP – The Tinkerer
  • ISFJ – The Defender
  • ISFP – The Adventurer
  • INTJ – The Mastermind
  • INTP – The Logician
  • INFJ – The Sage
  • INFP – The Mediator

Sensing vs. Intuition


Sensing (S) and Intuition (N) describe how a person receives and processes new information – either through their five senses or in a more abstract way. Sensing and Intuition are opposite Preferences. A person’s natural tendency toward one will be stronger than the other. It’s worthy to note that these Preferences are not referring to how one processes information. They are also important when it comes to how a person reacts to their environment, whether there are other people involved or not. It is important to note that if one person is classified as an Intuitive, this doesn’t mean that they can’t be practical; likewise, being a Sensor doesn’t mean a person is lacking in imagination. People with both of these Preferences use their minds and five senses well, but the difference is in the way they instinctively perceive their environment. Think of it as what comes to mind first when they encounter a new situation.

There are by far more Sensing people in the population than Intuitives. Sensors make up almost 64% of all people, while Intuitives measure at just over 26%. Females are, on average, slightly more likely to possess the Sensing preference than males.

Sensing (S)

Sensors are focused on the present and have a here-and-now mentality. This doesn’t make them out of tune with the past and future; rather, perspective from both past and future influences their present decisions. Because of this mindset, they are typically very practical and focused people who are oriented toward actionable and useful thoughts. However, keep in mind that when necessary, these people can still practice creativity within their decision-making process. They are simply more inclined to choose ideas with practical applications. One of the bigger challenges that Sensors often face is that they are prone to a narrowed-down perspective. Sometimes it’s difficult for them to see the bigger picture, and they instead choose a seemingly practical solution that might not be the best fit in the long run. Even so, Sensors are usually the people who “get things done” because of their hands-on attitude and action-oriented mindset.

Sensing Characteristics

  • Concrete
  • Realistic
  • Lives in the present
  • Aware of surroundings
  • Notices details
  • Practical
  • Goes by senses
  • Factual

Sensing Personality Types

  • ESTJ – The Administrator
  • ESTP – The Daredevil
  • ESFJ – The Caregiver
  • ESFP – The Entertainer
  • ISTJ – The Archivist
  • ISTP – The Tinkerer
  • ISFJ – The Defender
  • ISFP – The Adventurer

Intuition (N)

People with the Intuitive Preference live in the future and are immersed in the world of possibilities. Their minds are wonderfully whimsical places, where everything is possible. Intuitive people don’t shy away from questioning, wondering, or trying to grasp the “bigger picture”. They are theoretically-oriented and one of their favourite questions is “What if?” Even though people with Intuitive inclinations like to process information through patterns and impressions, they aren’t the most practical problem-solvers. Instead of coming up with solutions, they prefer to let their imagination run free, giving everything a deeper meaning than there probably is. This is why they are the best people to turn to when there is a need for innovation or a fresh perspective. It’s easy for Intuitive people to come up with a radically different angle and they certainly don’t shy away from coloring outside the lines. They are people who gather knowledge by reading between the lines and their abstract nature makes them inclined toward deep ideas and concepts. A world without Intuitives would be a much duller and uninspired place.

Intuitive Characteristics

  • Future-focused
  • Sees possibilities
  • Inventive
  • Imaginative
  • Deep
  • Abstract
  • Idealistic
  • Theoretical

Intuitive Personality Types

  • ENTJ – The General
  • ENTP – The Debater
  • ENFJ – The Guide
  • ENFP – The Optimist
  • INTJ – The Mastermind
  • INTP – The Logician
  • INFJ – The Sage
  • INFP – The Mediator

Thinking vs. Feeling

The Thinking (T) and Feeling (F) Preference pair refers to how people make decisions, either by objective logic or subjective feeling. Thinking and Feeling are opposite Preferences. A person’s natural tendency toward one will be stronger than the other. This isn’t to say, however, that Thinkers don’t feel emotions or that Feelers can’t use their heads. Here, this concept is a matter of instinct. If faced with a situation, Feelers would be more inclined to react emotionally or empathize with the feelings of others, contrary to Thinkers, who would take a more pragmatic and logic-driven course of action. If the situation calls for it, Feelers can push their nature aside; however, this wouldn’t be an easy thing to do. The same applies to Thinkers; they can consider emotions and examine how their actions influence others, but it can take a bit more effort.

The general population is divided evenly between Thinkers and Feelers. The majority of females are Feelers while the majority of males are Thinkers. Again, this is not to say that females can’t be Thinkers or that males can’t be Feelers – it’s just that each has their own significant representation within these Preferences.

Thinking (T)

Thinking people are objective. When they have to make a decision, they focus on facts and concrete information. They are people who are ruled by their head instead of their heart. In many cases, Thinkers value truth over tact and can easily identify flaws. They are critical thinkers and oriented toward problem solving. To them, knowledge is the only tool for coming up with the best course of action. When they interact with others, they are driven by effectiveness and fairness. This can make them seem distant to those around them, but don’t be fooled – Thinkers aren’t emotionless. They simply aren’t that comfortable with emotions, which are out of line with their usual rational path. They are able to feel deeply – just not when a decision needs to be made. Thinkers have the ability to put their feelings at bay and handle any situation with objectivity and logic.

Thinking Characteristics

  • Logical
  • Objective
  • Decides with head
  • Wants truth
  • Rational
  • Impersonal
  • Critical thinkers
  • Thick-skinned
  • Firm with people

Thinking Personality Types

  • ESTJ – The Administrator
  • ESTP – The Daredevil
  • ENTJ – The General
  • ENTP – The Debater
  • ISTJ – The Archivist
  • ISTP – The Tinkerer
  • INTJ – The Mastermind
  • INTP – The Logician

Feeling (F)

People with the Feeling Preference are subjective. They follow their hearts more than their heads – sometimes even without realizing it. Although the visibility of this Preference may show up in different degrees from person to person, Feelers often are caring, warm and empathetic. They are very concerned with the wellbeing of their loved ones and will likely go out of their way to help them, should the need occur. This might be an admirable quality but it’s easy for Feelers to neglect taking care of themselves, which can lead to burnout. Additionally, Feeling people are driven by their strict principles and values, which can cause them to be too self critical and hard on themselves if they don’t live up to their own expectations.

As much as these people are invested in keeping the balance and harmony in every aspect of their lives, this doesn’t mean there is no logic in their actions. To them, emotions can’t simply be disregarded and instead should be embraced.

Feeling Characteristics

  • Decides with heart
  • Dislikes conflict
  • Passionate
  • Driven by emotion
  • Gentle
  • Easily hurt
  • Empathetic
  • Caring of others
  • Warm

Feeling Personality Types

  • ESFJ – The Caregiver
  • ESFP – The Entertainer
  • ENFJ – The Guide
  • ENFP – The Optimist
  • ISFJ – The Defender
  • ISFP – The Adventurer
  • INFJ – The Sage
  • INFP – The Mediator

Judging (J) vs Perceiving (P)

The Judging (J) and Perceiving (P) Preference pair refers to how a person interacts with the world outside themselves, either in a structured or in a flexible manner. Judging and Perceiving are opposite Preferences. A person’s natural tendency toward one will be stronger than the other. These Preferences aren’t only concerned with day-to-day tasks or work related activities. They can also reflect how people deal with the various options in front of them. Judging and Perceiving preferences give answers to questions such as: “Do I feel comfortable making my bed in the morning or should I keep it messy?”, “Do I need more choices or fewer?”, or “Does chaos motivate me, or do I thrive in structure and order?”

Judgers and Perceivers each make up roughly half of the population, with there being slightly fewer Perceivers. Males, on average, are somewhat more likely than females to identify as Perceiving.

Judging (J)

Judging people think sequentially. They value order and organization, and thus feel best when they have a clear course of action ahead. Nothing is more important to them than following a schedule and establishing a structure in their lives. They would prefer to come up with as many backup plans as possible to avoid facing uncertainty in any shape or form. Judging people see no point in going with the flow and instead seek closure and enjoyment in completing tasks. To these people, deadlines are not to be taken lightly. If they are not careful, however, they may appear too rigid in the eyes of others. Yet, Judging people can adapt to their environment when they need to. If they encounter a high demand for flexibility and uncertainty, though, they will likely be left stressed and frustrated. Keep in mind that the Judging Preference does not mean judgmental. Rather, Judging refers to how a person deals with day-to-day activities.

Judging Characteristics

  • Decisive
  • Controlled
  • Good at finishing
  • Organized
  • Structured
  • Scheduled
  • Quick at tasks
  • Responsible
  • Likes closure
  • Makes plans

Judging Personality Types

  • ESTJ – The Administrator
  • ESFJ – The Caregiver
  • ENTJ – The General
  • ENFJ – The Guide
  • ISTJ – The Archivist
  • ISFJ – The Defender
  • INTJ – The Mastermind
  • INFJ – The Sage

Perceiving (P)

Perceivers are adaptable and flexible. They are people who thrive when the unexpected strikes, and they are adept at spotting unexpected opportunities as well. They are random thinkers who prefer to keep their options open. Instead of trying to control their environment, they react to it accordingly, which helps them manage whatever may come their way. Perceivers believe the world is full of possibilities, though this way of thinking does have its faults. People with this Preference can easily be overwhelmed by the many options they see out in the world and can be prone to impulsive-decision making. Their “gray” mentality prevents them from thinking in black-and-white extremes but also makes it difficult for them to commit to anything. This avoidance of commitment shows in their work as well, as they are very good at starting projects but not so good at finishing them. To Perceivers, deadlines are often merely suggestions.

Perceiving Characteristics

  • Adaptable
  • Relaxed
  • Disorganized
  • Care-free
  • Spontaneous
  • Changes tracks midway
  • Keeps options open
  • Procrastinates
  • Dislikes routine
  • Flexible

Perceiving Personality Types

  • ESTP – The Daredevil
  • ESFP – The Entertainer
  • ENTP – The Debater
  • ENFP – The Optimist
  • ISTP – The Tinkerer
  • ISFP – The Adventurer
  • INTP – The Logician
  • INFP – The Mediator