Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)® and the Big Five are two popular personality assessment tools that can help you better understand what it means to be an introvert. While both can offer insight, there are some key differences between the two, particularly when it comes to personal development.
The Big Five—also known as the Five-Factor or OCEAN model—measures extraversion on a sliding scale, along with four other personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and neuroticism.
The Big Five assesses your level of extraversion from low to high, with a low score meaning you’re high in introversion and vice versa. The biggest pro of this model is its scientific origin and high accuracy. The major con is that, once you’ve got your results, there really isn’t much you can do with them.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is the most popular personality assessment tool in the world. Instead of a sliding scale, it’s based on four preference pairs: introversion or extroversion, intuition or sensing, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving. In the case of introversion vs. extroversion, MBTI assesses whether you have a preference for one or the other in terms of how you direct and receive energy.
MBTI’s largest drawback is that it’s often looked down upon in the scientific community, as are—fairly or not—many of the theories of psychologist Carl Jung, upon which MBTI is based. The heart of the critique is that MBTI isn’t as reliable as the Big Five (individuals can get different results from taking the assessment more than once) and some of the preference pairs are abstract and difficult to measure.
The main positive, however, is that MBTI is far more useful when it comes to actually doing something about your innate strengths and weaknesses. Instead of simply pointing out your preference for introversion or extroversion the way the Big Five does, MBTI offers insight into how to overcome some of your personal obstacles.
One unfair criticism of MBTI is that it puts you “in a box.” As in, if you have a preference for introversion, the only way you can be social and outgoing is by faking it. This is a misunderstanding. Instead of labeling you as an “introvert” or “extrovert,” MBTI simply helps uncover your go-to way of interacting with the world. A parallel would be whether you consider yourself to be a dog person or a cat person: Just because you prefer dogs, doesn’t mean you hate cats.
As a Certified Practitioner of Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, I’ve found the assessment to be invaluable not only when coaching others, but for working on myself. For instance, by uncovering what’s known as my “inferior function”—Extraverted Sensing, as I’m an INTJ—I have realized how important it is for me to pay more attention to direct sensory input instead of always conceptualizing everything I see or hear. Through mindfulness meditation and bringing myself back to the present moment time and time again during my day, I have become more efficient and effective at my work, while improving my ability to connect with others.
If you’re interested in learning more about yourself, I’d recommend taking either or both the Big Five and Myers-Briggs assessments online, though beware of knock offs (if it’s free, it’s not the real MBTI)!
If you’re interested in how you can use your MBTI results to leverage your social strengths and shore up your weaknesses to transform your interpersonal relationships and communication skills, Introvert Unbound offers two options for online coaching, Introvert Blueprint and Introvert Deep Dive.
Wes Colton was skeptical about Myers-Briggs Type Indicator until he took it himself. Since then, he has been trained as an MBTI Certified Practitioner and gone on to transform the social, dating, and professional lives of his clients. Ask him about how MBTI can benefit you at firstname.lastname@example.org