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Personality Type Explorer

The Personality Type Explorer is a 36-item interactive questionnaire that is meant to suggest the combination of personality types an individual holds. Although it is not a definitive assessment of personality types, the Personality Type Explorer provides a starting point for students to think about their own personalities and how that affects their learning and thinking styles. The Explorer will be useful as a way of helping students understand their own strengths and preferences. It will help instructors explain the different personality types and how they affect students' performance and behavior in college and ultimately in the workplace.


The idea of personality types originated in ancient times; its modern reappearance can be traced to the work of a Swiss doctor named Carl Jung in the early twentieth century. Jung’s personality types (which he called "archetypes") were re-examined and expanded in the middle of the twentieth century by Isabel Myers. With her mother, Kathryn Briggs, Myers developed a questionnaire for determining personality types, called "The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator." This popular instrument, typically referred to simply as the MBTI, has been used in many applied settings since the 1950s, and especially since its publication by Myers in 1962 in book form as The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Since that time, a number of similar questionnaires have been developed and published, some of them available on the Web.

The Personality Type Explorer is based on many of the ideas originally proposed by Jung and developed by Myers and others. Taking the Personality Type Explorer may give you a sense of what such instruments are like and may help you explore some of your personality traits. The Personality Type Explorer is not intended to produce a definitive, rigorous description of your personality; it is intended merely to be suggestive of ideas and personality traits that you might wish to explore further.

Those who wish to delve further into this area of psychology are encouraged to refer to the works of Isabel Myers, such as the recently reprinted Gifts Differing. Another researcher in this area, with a related but slightly different treatment of personality typing, is David Keirsey, one of whose recent books is Please Understand Me II.

On the Web, Keirsey has made available at an online version of the Keirsey Character Sorter and the Keirsey Temperament Sorter. The MBTI is not available on the Web, although numerous questionnaires based on Jung’s work are available.

Those who wish to try the actual MBTI should check with their college counseling or psychology departments, which may have access to the full version of the instrument.

The Four Type Dichotomies

The four type dichotomies are based on the work of Carl Jung, as explicated and expanded by Isabel Myers and Kathryn Briggs.

The Flash 6 Player is required to use the Personality Type Explorer. You can download it from Macromedia.

Extravert-Introvert (E--I). In general, this dichotomy refers to the individual’s social attitude and tendency to express or not express thoughts, actions, and decisions. "Extraverted" people tend to be social, outgoing, and expressive, while "introverted" people tend to be reserved, internal, and contemplative. Extroverted people are not to be considered unaware or insensitive, nor are introverted people to be considered retiring or disabled in any way; both are capable of action and thought, and both have interior and exterior lives.

Sensing--Intuition (S--N). This dichotomy refers to the sources of individuals’ thoughts and actions and the ways they consider evidence and information. "Sensing" people tend to rely on objects and actions in the external environment and surface traits and behaviors; they are basically "what you see is what you get" types. "Intuitive" people tend to interpret actions and sensory impressions in terms of their own thoughts and understandings. They are basically imaginative and inclined to see subtlety in events and actions.

Thinking--Feeling (T--F). This dichotomy refers to the ways in which people make decisions and draw conclusions. "Thinking" people tend to rely on logic, objective fact, and hard evidence, while "feeling" people rely more on impressions, value judgments, and sentiments. Thinking people generally lean toward things and facts, while feeling people prefer people and impressions.

Judging--Perceiving (J--P). This dichotomy involves the products or results of individuals’ thinking/feeling about what has been sensed/intuited. For "judging" people, the focus is on tangible, final products and firm decisions, while for "perceiving" people, the focus is on ongoing processes of exploration and tentative hypotheses. Judging people are decisive and efficient in rendering verdicts; perceiving people are more inclined to deliberating, exploring, and probing.

These four type dichotomies are combined to produce sixteen personality types, comprising one member of each pair of the dichotomy. Traditionally, an individual’s personality type is expressed as a combination of four letters in the order given above. For example, a person may be described as an ESFP or an INTJ, never as an SPFE or an NJTI.

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1 Myers, I. B. (1962). The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.
2 Myers, I. B. (1995). Gifts differing: Understanding personality type. Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black Publishing.
3 Keirsey, D. (1998). Please understand me II. Del Mar, CA: Prometheus Nemesis Book Company.