How to decide your MBTI Type if uncertain | INFJ Forum

How to decide your MBTI Type if uncertain


Variable Hybrid
Feb 12, 2009
I've seen more than a few threads posted where people want help overcoming their MBTI Type confusion. Here are a few tips that might help.

How do people get ambiguous results on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator?

The MBTI is a self assessment test designed to indicate a type. The answers are only as good as you put into it, and it is only an indicator, not a proof. It may indicate that you are a type that you are not. The MBTI tends to only mistype people who have results that are 'balanced', or who have given answers that do not truly represent themselves. However, it is for the most part reliable.
Even if you do understand the questions, it is possible that the questions lean more toward the preferences of one or more of your lesser functions. There are only a limited number of questions asked, and therefore the test cannot be perfectly geared toward everyone. This is a result of personal bias, and is something that cannot be avoided for everyone, unfortunately. For the most part, the questions are diverse enough to avoid a large degree of bias. Therefore, the most common reason for confusion is simply well developed cognitive functions.

Where does the MBTI come from?

The MBTI is based on the work of Karl Jung, who theorized that there are 4 cognitive function pairs for how people perceive, and 4 cognitive function pairs for how people judge. There are introverted and extraverted versions of Sensing and iNtuitive, as well as Thinking and Feeling.

This creates the following possibilities.

Perceiving Pairs

Extraverted Sensation
Extraverted Intuition
Introverted Sensation
Introverted Intuition

Judging Pairs

Extraverted Thinking
Extraverted Feeling
Introverted Thinking
Introverted Feeling

Everyone has all of these functions, but two of these functions are the most dominant in an individual. One Sensing and one Judging are the first function people use before moving on to others. Also, one of these two functions is introverted, and the other is extraverted. For example, someone could have Extraverted Feeling (abbreviated as Fe — Feeling extraverted) and Introverted Intuition (abbreviated Ni — iNtuitive introversion) as their two most favored cognitive function pairs.
From there, one of these two functions is more dominant than the other. If the most dominant function is Introverted Intuition, then the secondary function is Extraverted Feeling. This is abbreviated as Ni, Fe. Once this is determined, it sets the order for the remaining pairs following a pattern where the opposite functions are added in. Ni, Fe becomes Ni, Fe, Ti, Se, followed by Ne, Fi, Te, and Si. This means that the person starts their thinking process with their introverted intuition, then moves to extraverted feeling, then introverted thinking, then extraverted sensing before moving on to the rest.

Why is this important for the MBTI?

The MBTI is designed to indicate the order of these function pairs for an individual. Although the MBTI code doesn’t look like the function pair code, it actually is. The middle two letters in the MBTI (for example in ‘INFJ’ the NF) are considered the core. This individual is more iNtuitive than Sensing, and more Feeling than Thinking. From there, the first letter states whether the individual’s dominant function is introverted or extraverted (for example in ‘INFJ’ the individual’s dominant function is introverted, also meaning the secondary function is extraverted). Finally, the last letter indicates which of the individual’s functions is the extraverted function (for example in ‘INFJ’ the individual’s Judging function, which is Feeling, is the extraverted function). From here we can deduce that the F is e, and that the N is i, and that the Ni is dominant, making the individual an Ni, Fe. If an individual was ENFJ, then F would also be e, N would also be i, but the Fe would be dominant, making the individual an Fe, Ni. If an individual was INFP, then F would be i, N would be e, but the Fi would be dominant, making the individual an Fi, Ne.

How does this relate to me getting 'slight' results?

As you can see, each Myers Briggs type has a different dominant pair. The MBTI is designed to actually indicate these cognitive function pairs. The types are just shorthand for these pairs, not the other way around. If you are an INFJ, you are actually an Ni, Fe, Ti, Se, Ne, Fi, Te, Si. The Myers Briggs Type Indicator comes to these deductions by measuring each of the four letters with questions designed to determine them. However, they may not always indicate the correct pairs because the test makes a very important assumption. It assumes that each person’s functions are clearly dominant over the next. For an INFJ, it assumes that Ni is clearly dominant over Fe which is clearly dominant over Ti, etc. When a person has well developed functions, it is difficult for the MBTI to differentiate them. This is what causes ‘slight’ results.

What do I do if I have ‘slight’ results, and can’t decide my MBTI type?

If this is the case, then the MBTI has pointed you in the right direction, and it is up to you to decide which cognitive function pairs are your dominant pairs. You can read about them here.
Once you have determined which are your dominant Perceiving and your dominant Judging function pairs, the next step is to determine which is the most dominant by deciding which of those you start your thinking processes with. Once you do that, you have your MBTI type.
For example, if you determine from the descriptions that your dominant function pairs are Fe and Ni, then you are either Fe, Ni (ENFJ) or Ni, Fe (INFJ). Do you start thinking with your Fe then move to Ni, or do you start with Ni and then move to Fe? If you are still confused, simply read the descriptions of those types, and your answer should be rather clear.

How do I decide between J and P?

Most often, people know whether they are introverts or extraverts. The most common confusion comes from deciding between J and P functions. This is actually the easiest to overcome. When a person has two MBTI types they may be with opposing P and J results, simply compare the descriptions of the cognitive pairs for them. These pairs will be radically different. For example: INFJ is Ni, Fe. INFP is Fi, Ne. Not only are these two completely different pairs, they’re also in a different order.

How do I decide between E and I?

If you’re having confusion here, the answer is more difficult. Both of your options will have the same cognitive function pairs. You will have to decide which one you lead with. Base this decision on the core function, not the overall pair function. For example, if you’re trying to decide between Fe and Ni, decide if you Feel first and Intuit second, or if you Intuit first and Feel second. If your dominant is your extraverted pair, you’re an E. If it is your introverted pair, you’re an I.

How do I decide between N and S?

The answer to this is simple. If you know you are intuitive, then you are an N. If you are not sure, you’re an S. Otherwise read the descriptions of the Perceiving pairs for the types you might be, and decide for yourself. For example, you can’t decide if you’re an INFJ or an ISFJ. Read the descriptions for Ni and Si. The one most like you is the one you are.

How do I decide between F and T?

This one can be tricky, but the solution is simple. If you believe something, but are shown proof that it is not true, can you change your mind easily? If so, you are more likely a T. If you have trouble accepting the new information, you’re likely an F. Otherwise read the descriptions of the Judging pairs for the types you might be, and decide for yourself. For example, you can’t decide if you’re an INFJ or an INTJ. Read the descriptions for Fe and Te. The one most like you is the one you are.
I hope this helps anyone who is having trouble deciding their MBTI type. I wish there was an easier way to explain it, but this is as short as I could make it. Good luck!
there is an easier way, it involves examples. now granted, these are generalizations, but it fits quite often.

i vs. e = ask someone to describe what their favorite part of a party is. an 'i' will mention small talk, leaving, feeling awkward, people watching, not being there, the food, etc. an 'e' will mention socializing, staying a long time, gossip, being there in positive terms generally, etc. etc. etc.

n vs. s = ask someone to describe a coke can. an 'n' will describe it as being full of caffeine, sugar, calories, able to be recycled, stackable, etc. an 's' will describe it as... a just red can.

f vs. t = ask someone to describe love. an 'f' is going to use every word in the book to describe it, including metaphors and language heavy on feeling. a 't' is going to struggle for terms, and may even define it as simply a feeling that people get sometimes.

j vs. p = ask someone how they get ready to go on vacation. a 'j' is going to start out by making a list, making reservations, packing and prepacking, checking and rechecking confirmations, lining up babysitters, medications, cash, traveller's checks, etc. a 'p' is going to be much more vague, no lists, less emphasis on preparation. less planned action on the trip. last minute throwing together of things.

these examples are what we did in my HR class at work for the mbti. it was shockingly accurate how much you could glean from just asking people 4 simple questions.
Did you come up with all that Von Hase? Very good advice.

In Wonderment, those examples are too situational! Us SPs in particular a likely to say "it depends" we will find any number of situations where we would act according to N (or F, T, P, J, E, I ) examples and any number where we act like the S (or F, T, P, J, E, I ) examples. We're sneaky like that.
there is an easier way, it involves examples. now granted, these are generalizations, but it fits quite often.

Agreed. The method you described is extremely accurate in most cases. Most people have clear distinctions. This method is also how you can determine someone's MBTI by asking yourself these questions about them.

However, those cases are people who are not undecided after taking the MBTI. The methods I described above are to help people decide their type when those questions could go either way in any of those instances.

Take me for example. I'm quite Ambiverted. I don't have a whole lot of preference toward i or e. Those questions wouldn't help clear up my type because to be honest there is a lot of both in my preferences. From there, I had to figure out which of the cognitive functions is my dominant to determine my type. My Fe function is my most effective function. However, my processes start with Ni, then go to Fe. This means my Ni is my dominant function, and I am an INFJ.

Remember, MBTI is an indication of how you think, not how well you think.
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very good distinction von. i understand your original post much better now... and i think in that aspect, it's more useful than the example questions i gave.

it's such a sliding scale, i think there are many people sort of stuck in the middle.

plus, i often wonder if conditioning pushes you out of what would be your norm. for example, let's say you had a very critical mother, it may push you to be a J, rather than a P, because in your environment those tendencies are supported.
plus, i often wonder if conditioning pushes you out of what would be your norm. for example, let's say you had a very critical mother, it may push you to be a J, rather than a P, because in your environment those tendencies are supported.

I think things in your environment can definitely have an effect, I think a critical mother could lead you to behave more like a J but you will always be a P at heart and you'll never feel "yourself" when acting in a J way. This I think is all too common, really sad actually.