How to Accurately Determine Your Personality Type
Personality tests are fun, and we often take them just to figure out a little more about ourselves. I take the stance that while they are fun to take, they aren't necessarily well-backed by science and are to be taken with a grain of salt. But then again a lot of things regarding the science of personality are hard to quantify and categorize.
The most popular personality test around is probably the 16Personalities test, and while it is the most popular, I wouldn't say it is the most accurate. The test is based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). It is basically a method to categorize your personality type using a four letter combination, arranging them in this order:
1. E (Extroverted) or I (Introverted)
2. S (Sensing) or N (Intuition)
3. T (Thinking) or F (Feeling)
4. J (Judging) or P (Perceiving)
Some examples of personality types would be ESTJ, ENTP, ISFJ, INFP, and so on and so forth.
The problem with MBTI is that it often categorizes a person's traits and over-exaggerates them, which doesn't explain who they are as a person under normal situations. For example, a "Feeling" person might presume that they are not rational due to them not having the "Thinking" trait, which is definitely not true.
If you are familiar with the 16Personalities test and found that a lot of the personality types' descriptions seem to apply to you, don't worry. This tends to happen a lot with personality testing due to the Barnum Effect, and MBTI is no exception. The majority of the descriptions in 16Personalities are derived from David Keirsey's Temperaments, which I don't personally buy. Also, the test includes these weird modifiers: assertive and turbulent, referenced with a -T or -A at the end of one's personality type, which I find to be entirely useless.
The confusion that can ensue as a result from these descriptors tend to be pretty wacky. People seemingly fit between multiple personalities, resulting in them identifying as two or more types. This can even lead to people thinking that they have schizophrenia (which is actually not multiple personality disorder.) I know that feeling as I too had to deal with the dilemma whether I was an INFP, INTJ, or INFJ before I figured out that I was really an INFJ. So with this tutorial I plan to alleviate this feeling, or at least detail how I managed to solve this conundrum.
1. Triangulate your traits with different personality tests.
First plan of action: just take a bunch of personality tests and record what results you get. It is possible that you get certain traits over and over again in most tests, allowing you to eliminate ambiguity. For example, if you keep getting Introverted as a trait, then it might be safe to say that you are a real introvert.
Also, do note that the questions can get pretty repetitive, and test results will be worse if you figure out which questions correspond to which trait, inevitably leading to bias. This is mainly to get started and not to be the nail on the coffin on your personality type. Confirmation and details will come later.
Here are some personality tests other than 16Personalities that you can try out:
Erik Thor's Flow Type Test - Based more on situational behaviour rather than self-determined traits, which is pretty good. The traits which correspond to each question is pretty hard to determine, which reduces cherry picking by a significant amount.
John's Personality Test - Simple and straightforward - 25 questions.
Cognitive Functions Test - I will touch on cognitive functions later, but this test also gives your MBTI type.
Keys2Cognition - Pretty good test for determining cognitive functions and MBTI type.
personalitymax - the most detailed one, but you can turn off the various options so you can just determine MBTI type.
2. Read up on Cognitive Functions
MBTI was actually based on Carl Jung's theory on cognitive functions, which details about the behaviour which a particular trait combination will tend to move towards. It also uses a string of four elements, but instead of general traits like "Thinking", "Feeling", etc., you'll get more specific traits. These include introverted/extroverted versions of the Thinking, Feeling, Intuition and Sensing traits, each with their own quirks when combined together. Also, the string is actually in order of preference, so the left-most trait is the most preferred/dominant, while the right-most trait is the least-preferred/inferior.
Cognitive functions are way too complex to fully cover in this tutorial, but the point is this: search up the MBTI type that you triangulated from the previous step and add "cognitive functions" to your search. If you are still stuck between multiple personality types, search up all of their cognitive functions stacks and read up on them.
I found a description of my cognitive function stack through TypeInMind. The website goes into more detail about how each function works, and how the combination of the functions influences one's behaviour. This may clear up the confusion between seemingly "similar" types like INFP, INFJ, and INTJ, when in fact those types are vastly different!
For example, INFP seems to only have a one letter difference with INFJ (that is, the P and the J.) It is normal to assume that one simply is more "neat" while another is more "messy" (in MBTI terms), but both types are vastly different. In terms of cognitive functions, INFP shares no functions with INFJ. INFP's function stack is Fi-Ne-Si-Te, while INFJ's is Ni-Fe-Ti-Se. They literally have no coinciding functions, and as a result their behaviour is very different, despite MBTI categorizing them as nearly the same. This helped me differentiate between seemingly "similar" types, and allowed me to find out my true personality type.
If I had to pick which action really helped me find my real personality type, it would be looking at the cognitive functions. The 16Personalities test may boast about being "so accurate it's scary", but this even more so.
3. Serious Amount of Self-Reflection
Now, this is the part that most people skip, since it is a very long process, but it is as simple as this: reflect. I don't think that we should merely accept our personality type for what it is, but rather reflect on scenarios where certain functions influenced particular motives or actions.
There is not much for me to say here since the process is entirely up to you. I had two years worth of journal entries before I did extensive research in personality typing, so that helped a little bit. It was mostly me reflecting on past relationships, seeing how my behaviour shifted as those relationships ended up crumbling and falling apart. It is especially helpful to see how you behave as a result of stress, as that may further help you find your type by researching how the inferior functions work.
In the end of all of this, we must understand that this is merely a test, and like with all self-conducted tests there will be biases. Because it is so hard to describe the human mind accurately, personality tests end up being lumped with astrology and zodiac signs. While I believe that personality tests somewhat have a better grasp of determining the behaviour of the human mind (especially the Big 5 Personality Test), it is still next to impossible to accurately categorize a human's personality and slap a label on it. The many intricacies of the human mind are still well beyond our reach.
Personality tests are all in good fun, but we must remember that the amount of significance that it holds may not be as much as we may think.