How To Recognize Each Myers-Briggs Personality Type In Real Life

When attempting to assess the Myers-Briggs personality types of other people, the only accurate way to do so it to identify which cognitive functions they use across a variety of different situations. Accurately assessing the types of other people takes patience, insight and a thorough knowledge of the inventory. However, learning to do so can be an infinitely valuable tool that helps you to understand and connect with those around you.

Arturo Donate
Arturo Donate

Because cognitive functions are the truest determinants of type, this article will explore typing through the lens of individual functions. The best way to determine type is to identify which of the four perceiving functions (Either Se, Si, Ne or Ni) and which of the four decision making functions (Either Te, Ti, Fe or Fi) an individual uses most often and which order they use them in. Keep in mind that of those two dominant functions, one must be introverted and one must be extroverted. From that point, their tertiary and inferior functions follow logically – see the chart below to learn which four-letter types are associated with which functions.

If you have no idea what cognitive functions are all about, click here. Otherwise, read on to learn about how to recognize each function in real life.

Extroverted Intuition (Ne):

Ne Dominant Types: ENFP/ENTP
Secondary Ne Users: INTP/INFP

How to spot them:

  • Ne dominant types experience bursts of high energy, followed by periods of reclusion.
  • They are quick-witted and gain energy through debating ideas.
  • They enjoy discussing possibilities above all else.
  • They want to explore every side of a given situation and may be more prone to playing ‘devil’s advocate’ than other types.
  • They tend to jump from topic to topic with ease and enthusiasm.
  • They may directly contradict themselves multiple times while speaking.
  • They enjoy using metaphors to explain things – their metaphors are prone to gaining complexity as they speak, which excites the Ne user.
  • Ne dominant types bore quickly and almost always have a new project on the go.
  • These types usually advocate for keeping your options open, exploring all possibilities and taking an unconventional approach to solving problems.

Introverted Intuition (Ni):

Ni Dominant Types: INTJ, INFJ
Secondary Ni Users: ENTJ, ENFJ

How to spot them:

  • Everything an Ni dominant type does is deliberate. You will likely get the sense that they have carefully (but covertly) planned out their actions and words.
  • They may ask many questions in conversation, but questions tend to be open-ended. I.e. “Can you tell me more about that,” As opposed to, “When did that happen?”
  • They prefer sticking to one topic of conversation but may feel the need to ‘explain around’ the topic if they are unable to convey the essence of it concisely.
  • Ni dominant types usually pause to fully take in and consider what you have said in conversation before replying.
  • They may also return to a topic of conversation weeks after you’ve had it, having processed and analyzed what you’ve said more fully.
  • They enjoy talking about future possibilities in a linear fashion.
  • These types have a lot of ‘epiphanies’ or ‘realizations.’
  • Ni dominant types often give off a stoic or “Zen” vibe.
  • These types usually advocate for thinking through your options carefully, optimizing your experiences and keeping your long-term objectives in mind at all times.

Extroverted Sensing (Se):

Se Dominant Types: ESFP, ESTP
Secondary Se Users: ISFP, ISTP

How to spot them:

  • Se dominant types are highly in tune with their environments and are constantly scanning their surroundings.
  • They may be more physically ‘wired’ than other types and have trouble sitting still.
  • Se users tend to be ‘up for anything’ and don’t mind changing or hopping on board with plans at the last minute.
  • They tend to make very direct observations about people and situations – they don’t beat around the bush and are the masters of saying what everyone else was secretly thinking.
  • They enjoy slapstick or ‘obvious’ humour.
  • They enjoy the ‘finer things in life’ and may be particularly attracted to expensive gadgets or high fashion.
  • Dominant Se users are almost always present and engaged in conversation, unless something in the immediate environment is distracting them.
  • These types usually advocate for ‘Just going for it’ – that is, following your gut instinct and approaching what you want directly.

Introverted Sensing (Si):

Si Dominant Types: ISTJ, ISFJ
Secondary Si Users: ESTJ, ESFJ

How to spot them:

  • Si users have excellent memories when it comes to specific facts and occurrences and will usually remember things you’ve mentioned only in passing.
  • They are incredibly detail-oriented and usually ask for specific clarifications in conversation (I.e. “Where did you meet up? What day?”)
  • They are uncomfortable with the ambiguous and in conversation, they prefer relaying relevant facts to speculating. I.e. when discussing possibilities for the future, they will point out what has happened in a similar situation in the past.
  • They enjoy having things planned out in a predictable fashion.
  • Si users tend to place a higher value on tradition, social conventions and status than other types.
  • These types usually advocate for using the tried and true method, referencing the facts that already exist on the matter and assuming that the future will resemble the past.

Introverted Thinking (Ti):

Ti Dominant Types: ISTP, INTP
Secondary Ti Users: ESTP, ENTP

How to spot them:

  • Introverted thinkers like talking about facts or theories and information – when conversation turns to people or events, you can almost see their eyes glazing over.
  • Dominant introverted thinkers require a great deal of alone time. They aren’t shy about overtly ignoring others if they infringe on this.
  • Dominant Ti users often have a grumpy or aloof demeanour but a good sense of humour beneath it.
  • In conversation, they may ask slightly different versions of the same question multiple times, as they try to figure out precisely how it fits in with what they already know.
  • They may zone out of conversations as they relate what you’re saying to their current understanding of the topic – and then zone back in to ask clarifiers.
  • Dominant introverted thinkers may have trouble explaining something in a direct way – they tend to branch off and get lost explaining different components of how a given system works.
  • Ti dominants are indifferent to most small-scale decisions and will avoid making them whenever possible.
  • These types usually advocate for looking at things objectively, questioning everything and ensuring you understand a given situation fully before making a decision about it.

Extroverted Thinking (Te):

Te Dominant Types: ENTJ, ESTJ
Secondary Te Users: INTJ, ISTJ

How to spot them:

  • Extroverted thinking types are extremely goal oriented. They will usually ask you about your own goals, either subtly or overtly.
  • They enjoy talking about plans they have and the expected outcomes of those plans.
  • If you go to a Te user with a problem, they will immediately jump to solving it as quickly and effectively as possible.
  • Te users are bothered by inefficiency and strongly dislike people being late or veering off topic if there’s work to be done.
  • Dominant Te types may come across as bossy or know-it-all-ish, even when they genuinely mean well.
  • They will always argue from a results-based, purely practical standpoint.
  • These types usually advocate for staying organized, setting goals and making whatever choice will glean the best outcomes.

Introverted Feeling (Fi):

Fi Dominant Types: INFP, ISFP
Secondary Fi Users: ENFP, ESFP

How to spot them:

  • Fi users tend to use emotion-laden vocabulary (I.e. Preferring the phrase, “I feel like…” over “I think that…”).
  • Fi dominant types tend to ‘zone out’ or daydream more than any other type – they may even do this in the middle of a conversation.
  • They are incredibly patient listeners who are happy to let you talk for as long as you need to, without jumping in to offer solutions.
  • These types connect and show empathy by exposing their own experiences and struggles as a means of letting you know you’re not alone.
  • Fi users are the easiest types to offend, particularly if you question an aspect of their identity or betray one of their morals.
  • They will almost always argue from a subjective or emotional standpoint – often using the way they feel as an argument in and of itself.
  • These types make other people feel comfortable by exhibiting an inclusive, non-judgmental attitude toward them.
  • These types usually advocate for staying true to oneself, following your heart and doing what you know to be right.

Extroverted Feeling (Fe):

Fe Dominant Types: ENFJ, ESFJ
Secondary Fe Users: INFJ, ISFJ

How to spot them:

  • Dominant Fe users talk almost exclusively about what other people are doing or thinking.
  • They are proactive in adhering to the needs of others (I.e. Ensuring there is food ready for houseguests before they show up, just in case they are hungry upon arrival).
  • They tend to be warm and welcoming toward new people.
  • They use confirming language when speaking with others, I.e. uttering “Oh no,” Or “Aw,” while someone else is speaking, to show empathy.
  • These types make other people feel comfortable by anticipating their needs and adhering to social niceties.
  • Immature or unhealthy Fe users are the harshest (and most vocal) judges of others.
  • The moods of Fe users are particularly dependent on the moods of those around them – I.e. They will visibly and genuinely cheer up after hearing someone else’s good news.
  • These types advocate for keeping the peace, considering other’s points of view and accommodating loved ones.

Stacking Of Cognitive Functions By Type:

ENFP: Ne – Fi – Te – Si
INFP: Fi – Ne – Si – Te
INFJ: Ni – Fe – Ti – Se
ENFJ: Fe – Ni – Se – Ti
ISTJ: Si – Te – Fi – Ne
ESTJ: Te – Si – Ne – Fi
ISTP: Ti – Se – Ni – Fe
ESTP: Se – Ti – Fe – Ni
INTJ: Ni – Te – Fi – Se
INTP: Ti – Ne – Si – Fe
ENTJ: Te – Ni – Se – Fi
ENTP: Ne – Ti – Fe – Si
ISFJ: Si – Fe – Ti – Ne
ISFP: Fi – Se – Ni – Te
ESFJ: Fe – Si – Ne – Ti
ESFP: Se – Fi – Te – Ni

Things to keep in mind when determining type:

-Everyone uses their extroverted function when interacting with others but if someone is an introvert, their extroverted function is not their dominant function. For example, an INTJ’s dominant function is Ni but they use Te to interact with the outside world – which may cause them to seem like an ENTJ in some social situations.

-To determine if someone is an extrovert or introvert while typing, you can use traditional methods of determining where he or she falls on the dichotomy. I.e. Look at whether they seem more energized or more drained after a few hours of social interaction (indicating extroversion and introversion respectively).

-To determine an introvert’s type, you will need to examine their dominant function as it supports their extroverted function – I.e. If someone’s dominant function is Fe but you suspect they are an introvert, you can determine if they lead with Si or Ni by turning your attention to how they support others – is it through concrete, practical methods (Si), or through gaining a thorough understanding of how the person’s mind operates (Ni)?

-If someone is an extrovert, you can determine their auxiliary function by examining what they use to back up their dominant function – I.e. If they are a dominant extroverted sensor, do they prioritize engaging with interesting new people (Indicating auxiliary Fi) or with exciting new physical challenges (Indicating auxiliary Ti)?

-Once you know someone’s dominant and auxiliary functions, their tertiary and inferior functions necessarily follow.

-In order to type someone accurately, you need to observe which cognitive functions he or she uses most consistently, across a range of different situations. Any type can call on any cognitive function if absolutely necessary – but at the end of the day, type is determined by which functions naturally and consistently provide their user with the most energy.Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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