You’ve probably heard of the Myers-Briggs personality test, and you’ve probably been given some sequence of four nonsense letters (like INFJ, ENTP, and so on) and a little description that doesn’t really tell you anything about yourself. These letters are a code, and the sequence denotes different cognitive functions. There are sixteen combinations of letters, meaning–according to Myers and Briggs–that there are 16 personality types
The breakdown for the first letter is I (introverted) or E (extroverted); the second, N (intuitive) or S (sensing), shapes how we absorb information; the third, T (thinking) or F (feeling) shapes our decision-making process; and the fourth, P (perceiving) and J (judging), decides what we prefer to be true in the outer world. With these definitions alone, you can learn only a little about yourself; and Wikipedia can only tell you a little bit more. The science of the Myers-Briggs test is based on more than surface-level stuff — it gets into the nitty-gritty details of cognitive functions, which are based in (you guessed it) actual psychology — and it can be difficult to understand them without guidance.
Enter personality profilers Joel Mark Witt and Antonia Dodge. These two presenters have created a framework for understanding cognitive functions in the hopes of making Myers-Briggs psychology comprehensible for laypeople like you and me. In their podcast, Personality Hacker, they offer insights into each of the sixteen personality types using that framework, which they call the Car Model. Dodge described it on their website: “Let’s pretend your mind is a four passenger vehicle. (These four ‘passengers’ represent four distinct mental processes which influence you the most.) In the front seat you have a Driver. Next to the Driver you have a navigator, or a Co-Pilot. Directly behind the Co-Pilot sits a 10 year old, and directly behind the Driver is a 3 year old.” The Driver is “the part of your personality that you identify with the most,” or the executive function that drives you; the Co-Pilot is another identifying part of you, but with less power; the 10 year old and the 3 year old are both less-developed aspects of the personality, which can be developed in healthy ways.
After identifying your personality type, you can identify each of these cognitive processes — which include your strengths, your weaknesses, and growth areas. By defining our weakest functions, we can address them; and we can take our strengths in stride. Dodge wrote, “Each type is different, and building intimacy with all of your parts may be one of the most satisfying things you can do.”
If you haven’t yet done so, take the personality assessment at Personality Hacker’s website, and listen to their podcast to understand yourself and others better.
Rebecca Ryder is a senior studying English and creative writing. She can usually be found with a pen or paintbrush in her hand, dabbling in painting, calligraphy, and photographing her sisters for the blog they dream of running together. Follow her on Instagram at @rebwriter.