Personality tests

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 15, 2004

In his article about personality tests for this week’s New Yorker (sadly, not online), Malcolm Gladwell offers a less-serious alternative to Myers-Briggs:

Once, for fun, a friend and I devised our own personality test. Like the M.B.T.I., it had four dimensions. The first is Canine/Feline. In romantic relationships, are you the pursuer, who runs happily to the door, tail wagging? Or are you the pursued? The second is More/Different. Is it your intellectual style to gather and master as much information as you can or make imaginative use of a discrete amount of information? The third is Insider/Outsider. Do you get along with your parents or do you define yourself outside your relationship with your mother and father? And finally, there is Nibbler/Gobbler. Do you work steadily, in small increments, or do everything at once, in a big gulp?

I think I’m pretty much a FDIN although I have definite M & G tendencies, along with a little bit of O. How about you? Also, crude poll time. It’s well known that there are really only two personality types: those who know their Myers-Briggs personality type by heart and those that do not. Which are you? (I only know the ‘I’ for sure because that’s a no brainer…dunno the rest.)

Reader comments

BillSep 15, 2004 at 2:02AM

Would this be the place to mention Tom Coates’ wonderful Ninja/Pirate Elf/Dwarf dichotomies?

Structures are fun.

shanecavanaughSep 15, 2004 at 2:13AM

Myers-Briggs test here (to be taken with a grain of salt, of course).

Gabriel MihalacheSep 15, 2004 at 2:49AM

INTJ! Fear my l33t mastermindness!

richSep 15, 2004 at 3:27AM

I’m not sure about the Meyer’s test, but according to the one posted, I’m an FDOG. I approve. *gang sign*

C. MaoxianSep 15, 2004 at 3:38AM

FDON (Gladwell). INFP (Myers-Briggs).

BillSep 15, 2004 at 8:32AM

Sorry, here’s the pirate/ninja elf/dwarf link. That’s the first thing that I thought of when I read Gladwell’s article yesterday.

Also, FMG. I can’t figure out the I/O distinction. I get along with my parents, but I don’t define myself in relationship to them. Borderline?

Sameer VastaSep 15, 2004 at 8:52AM

Definitely ENFP (Myers-Briggs), and almost definitely CDIG (Galdwell). If anyone does find a link to the Galdwell article on the web, let me know, I’d love to link it.

Tom DolanSep 15, 2004 at 9:48AM

CDOG, yo! Eastsider style.

NickSep 15, 2004 at 9:57AM

Definitely INTP—there’s no question. As for the “new” classification, I’m an FMON (with a tendancy towards D and an occasional G moment).

MattSep 15, 2004 at 10:15AM

ISFJ on the MBTI.

JeremiahSep 15, 2004 at 10:29AM

Taken the Myers-Briggs twice, and both times I’ve been an INTJ. Not the most flattering, but it is accurate.

KarenSep 15, 2004 at 10:35AM

INTJ too - you have a very select readership Jason.

jkottkeSep 15, 2004 at 11:00AM

Now that everyone mentions it, I’m probably INTJ as well. I haven’t taken the test for a few years, but that bunch of letters sounds familiar to me.

Jason WallSep 15, 2004 at 11:05AM

CDOG although I strive to be a CDON and I think my Myers-Briggs designation is INFP .

JasonSep 15, 2004 at 11:06AM

I get to be a FDIG, not a great acronym, but better than the INTJ I got from the Jung test. I wouldn’t take it to the bank of course, since the answers to all the questions can pretty much change as the day progresses. Interesting nontheless. I’m still trying to figure out why a LOTR poster shows up in a Google Images search for personality+tests

M. HedlundSep 15, 2004 at 11:22AM

I took the test in 1989 and came out INFP; then took it in 2003 and came out ESTJ. I’ve changed a lot over those years, but come one. After the second test I can’t imagine taking the results seriously.

AndrewSep 15, 2004 at 11:25AM


I took a “business leadership” class in college, and we all knew our M-B tags; while the class was normally a whole bunch of ENTJs, six out of eight class members were I- or ENTPs.

John BSep 15, 2004 at 11:28AM

Wasn’t gonna post until I saw so many of my mastermind brothers and sistahs posting. INTJ REPRESENT! (CDIN on the other, I think, maybe CDIG.)

annetteSep 15, 2004 at 11:47AM

CMIN on Gladwell and INTJ on Myers-Brigg.

Eric BostromSep 15, 2004 at 12:01PM

This is the first I’ve ever done a meyers-briggs and I too garnered an INTJ. Maybe it has less to do with kottke-specific readership and more to do with the personality type that would read a stranger’s diary on the internet.

(the birds go tweet)

liaSep 15, 2004 at 12:04PM

INTP since childhood. Introverts represent!

jkottkeSep 15, 2004 at 12:06PM

I’m still trying to figure out why a LOTR poster shows up in a Google Images search for personality+tests

Hmm…that probably indicates something interesting about the personality of the Web.

I took the test in 1989 and came out INFP; then took it in 2003 and came out ESTJ. I’ve changed a lot over those years, but come one. After the second test I can’t imagine taking the results seriously.

That’s actually what Gladwell’s article is about…just how reliable are these tests anyway. As Jason noted, test results are contextual and dependent on your current mood, thoughts, etc.

julieSep 15, 2004 at 12:46PM

Just like Oprah!

LalitreeSep 15, 2004 at 12:52PM

I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs at least twice because I keep forgetting my type—I still can’t remember (it does start with ‘I’ though, I’m sure). I guess that makes me Kottke type II.

McChrisSep 15, 2004 at 1:15PM

I would definitely say that I’m an FDOG, which may or may not be a good thing for a grad student. When I take Meyers-Briggs tests, I consistently score as a INFP

Scott JohnsonSep 15, 2004 at 1:59PM

I’m FMOG on Gladwell’s test and INTP on the traditional Myers-Briggs.

AmySep 15, 2004 at 2:23PM

i’m an INFP. The thing i remember most about that type is that we are good at starting new projects and NOT good at finishing them. That’s me to a T. Or, i guess, to an F.

JamesSep 15, 2004 at 4:24PM

I went from an INFP to an ENTJ over the course of about 8 years.

kevinSep 15, 2004 at 4:33PM

I can’t recall my type, but I remember it was supposed to match my ideal career choice to being a radio personality. Speaking of which, perhaps I missed the linking, or perhaps your programming schedule puts Talk of the Nation on earlier in the day — but I’d checked your site during lunch and then drove home listening to Talk of the Nation discussing those same Personality Tests.

(Does NPR still have that crazy linking policy?)

Jason WallSep 15, 2004 at 4:43PM

I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs test lots of times (on the web for fun, at work, in class). I score pretty consistently. I’ve found though, that I often have to fight myself to keep from answering how I want to be, instead of how I am. Depending on my mood, and how satisfied I am with my current personality, my results can change on a couple categories where I score very close to even.

Adam Z.Sep 15, 2004 at 5:43PM

INTJ all the way. Your readership appears to have a rare skew.

PatrikSep 15, 2004 at 5:54PM

I’m INFP too. Statisticly however, there seems to be more INFP’s here then there should be. What I’ve read so far about INFP’s is that it’s actually rare and found in only 1% of the population.

Makes you wonder… does that mean that comment on blogs, you are more likely an INFP? Or is it that its mostly only INFP’s that actually participate in silly tests out of their own free will?

ShawnSep 15, 2004 at 5:55PM

That’s a lot of iNTj’s in one place. It’s a little disconcerting. I thought that type was rare? Or maybe I just thought I was rare?

Roderick HowardSep 15, 2004 at 6:14PM

FMIG in Gladwell’s and INJT on the Myers-Briggs

TraciSep 15, 2004 at 9:51PM


SusanSep 15, 2004 at 10:30PM

INTJ every time I’ve taken the M-B test. FMOG on Gladwell’s. In case you’re feeling slightly panicked, here are serenity prayers for all the M-B types.

DeannaSep 15, 2004 at 11:33PM

I’m an ENTP and its a bit ridiculous how perfectly the profile fits me (most of the time.)

Interestingly, the small marketing consultancy I used to work for once had everyone do Myers-Briggs, and all seven project leaders and senior managers were ENTPs, and both of the support staff were matching types as well. Made me wonder if there was an ENTP-bias to the hiring process, or if ENTPs are just attracted to those jobs.

drewSep 15, 2004 at 11:34PM

I’m Aquarius, myself.

But when people ask me my star sign, I say ENFP.


MarneySep 16, 2004 at 2:03AM

Count me in as (another!) INTJ.

I’ve read that Introverts only make up about 25% of people and the same goes for iNtuitives, so someone who is both I and N is supposed to be very unique. The volume of INxx types here is making me think otherwise.

Or maybe introverted intuitive types just love kottke.org.

Matt WilsonSep 16, 2004 at 8:07AM

Heh. Another INFP here too. And CDIG, I believe.

What *is* it with all the IN__s?

ErikSep 16, 2004 at 9:51AM

INTP here. IN__s are on the internet cause:
1) We like interacting over a computer screen rather than face-to-face.
2) Computer savvy people are more likely to be Ns with the whole systems and patterns preference. Ss are going to be off doing something tangible.

Peng RichardsSep 17, 2004 at 12:53AM

I’ve taken the Myers/Briggs a few times, and I’ve always been INTP.

CarlosSep 17, 2004 at 1:28AM

INTP, both online and ‘real’ tests.

LogeSep 17, 2004 at 2:01AM

There’s a personals site called TypeTango (http://www.typetango.com/) that tries to match people using the MBPI. The statistics for that site show a heavy skew towards INFP, INTP, INTJ, INFJ types (http://www.typetango.com/statistics.php). The IN type likes systems, MBPI, whatever. [I’m an INTJ; but, I secretly want to be a friendly, loveable ENFP.]

DarylSep 18, 2004 at 4:08AM

ENFP checking in, which seems to make me an odd one out among bloggers/Net types/kottke visitors (however you define your set). CMOG by the redoubtable Gladwell’s test. Is it that INs are more likely to be on the Net, or that INs are more likely to use comments as a means of communication?

One of the other big personality tests is the Enneagram test, which is complementary to the MBTI, apparently. It speaks more about what your motivations are for acting the way you do, whereas the MBTI talks about how you act.

DarylSep 18, 2004 at 4:43AM

Also, Gladwell in the article notes that personality tests don’t account for the variability of human nature and are not very good at predicting behaviour well, but for once I’m not convinced by a Gladwell piece. The MBTI’s origins as a cod-philosophical adaptation of Jungian thinking are indeed dubious, but besides personal experiences of the tests, Gladwell doesn’t seem to marshal very strong evidence that these tests don’t predict future behaviour well, beyond a reference to Walter Mischel’s critique of personality tests.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.