16 personalities represented by 16 faces of different colours

16 personalities and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

Key takeaways

  • 16 personalities is a personality framework that provides insight into how a person makes decisions, interacts with other people, and processes information
  • There are four general groups of personalities – analysts, diplomats, sentinels, and explorers; each personality falls into one of these four groups
  • Managers and individuals alike should err on the side of caution when using 16 personalities and MBTI for hiring and promotion decisions since they have low predictive abilities in employee performance

Take our Free DISC personality assessment here.

Like zodiac signs or love languages, the 16 personalities framework is the business world’s version of horoscope. Many companies use it or the Myers-Briggs to better understand their employees. Those who who take the test often experience a bliss of self-discovery. Yet, many psychologists have questioned the validity and reliability of the test. As a result, managers should err on the side of caution when using these tests in making hiring and promotion decisions for employees.

What is 16 personalities and the MBTI?

16 personalities is a framework that evolved from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). To understand 16 personalities, we must first understand MBTI.

MBTI is the earlier and popularized framework for understanding personality. It gives insight on how people make decisions, process information, and interactive with others.

First, individuals take a test that evaluates four dimensions of personality. Next, they are given the results of the test in the form of a four-letter identifier. This identifier tells you how you spend your energy, how you receive information, how you make decisions, and how you view the world. These dimensions can be framed as follows:

  1. Introversion vs. Extraversion
  2. Sensing vs. Intuition
  3. Thinking vs. Feeling
  4. Judging vs. Perceiving

In contrast, 16 personalities has an additional dimension for identity. This dimension assesses if someone is assertive or turbulent.

The MBTI was developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katharine Cook Briggs. The MBTI Foundation has a series of paid-for services such as certification and consulting services. The test is administered by those who have completed the MBTI Certification program. Also, people can take the on the MBTIonline.com website for a fee.

16 personalities is different in that the test is free for anyone through the 16 personalities website. Also, unlike the MBTI, there is no certification or consulting provided. Most resources are free and available through the website. Additional resources, such as guidebooks and learning modules, are available for a fee.

What is the 16 personalities test commonly used for?

The 16 personalities and MBTI are commonly used for recruiting. Hiring managers use the test evaluate whether a candidate would be a good fit for the role. Companies also use the test to understand how to manage employees or create higher performing teams. Take our FREE preview of our “How to Hire ‘A’ Players” course here.

Many people also take the test for personal development reasons. The framework gives people new ways of understanding themselves. Therefore, people use their 16 personalities identifier as a guide as to what areas they an improve. To better understand what your personality means take our FREE course “Personality Testing Using DISC”. 

The 16 personalities

There are 4 general groups that the 16 personalities can be divided into: analysts, diplomats, sentinels, and explorers. Below are the general groups and the personalities that correspond with the group.

Analysts

Indicator Name Description
INTJ-A / INTJ-T Architect Imaginative and strategic thinkers, with a plan for everything
INTP-A / INTP-T Logician Innovative inventor; insatiable thirst for knowledge
ENTJ-A / ENTJ-T Commander Imaginative, strong willed, and always able to find a way
ENTP-A / ENTP-T Debater Smart and curious who cannot resist an intellectual challenge

 

Diplomats

Indicator Name Description
INFJ-A / INFJ-T Advocate Quiet, inspiring, tireless idealist
INFP-A / INFP-T Mediator Poetic, kind and altruistic, eager to help a good cause
ENFJ-A / ENFJ-T Protagonist Charismatic and inspiring, able to mesmerize listeners
ENFP-A / ENFP-T Campaigner Enthusiastic, creative and free spirited; always finds a reason to smile

 

Sentinels

Indicator Name Description
ISTJ-A / ISTJ-T Logistician Practical and fact-minded; reliable
ISFJ-A / ISFJ-T Defender Dedicated and warm protector; ready to defend their loved ones
ESTJ-A / ESTJ-T Executive Great at managing things or people, excellent administrators
ESFJ-A / ESFJ-T Consul Caring, social, popular with people; always eager to help

 

Explorers

Indicator Name Description
ISTP-A / ISTP-T Virtuoso Bold and practical experimenters
ISFP-A / ISFP-T Adventurer Flexible and charming artist; always looking for new experiences
ESTP-A / ESTP-T Entrepreneur Smart, energetic, and very perceptive; loves living on the edge
ESFP-A / ESFP-T Entertainer Spontaneous and enthusiastic; life of the party

 

Reliability and Validity

People have debated the reliability and validity of the MBTI and 16 personalities tests for many reasons. Some call it pseudo-science because it offers no predictive ability on how people will actually perform in situations. Others say the test is unreliable because it produces inconsistent results. Take the test one day and you may be an INFP-T. Take it in the next week all of a sudden you’re an ENTJ-T.

Additionally, the framework is based on psychology theories that rely on observations and not science. The framework heavily relies on the early works of Carl Jung. His work came in a time when empirical science was yet to be introduced to psychology. As a result, much of the psychology field has rejected MBTI and other works based on Jung’s theories.

Furthermore, Isabel Briggs and Katharine Myers have no formal background or training as psychologists. Given the availability of empirical science to the field of psychology, the research and science behind these tests should have improved. However, the foundations of the framework are still based on Jung’s anecdotal observations. As a result, the validity of the test is as good as horoscopes.

Is There a More Reliable Test than 16 Personalities?

There is a more reliable personality test which stems from the four quadrants of personality. This idea first came from Empedocles in the 5th century BC. Then, Hippocrates in the 4th century BC stated that the four personality characteristics came from four fluids within our bodies.  After that, a famous philosopher named Galen (2nd century AD) came up with the terms choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic and sanguine to describe the four dimensions of human personality.

Industrial psychologist, Walter Clark, developed this four personality characteristics idea into the first DISC profile in 1956. The assessment was intended to be used by employers trying to find qualified employees.

The DISC test is a self-administered, self-scoring personality assessment of how a person responds in predictable ways to time, tasks, and other situations at home and at work.

While the DISC test provides insight into a person’s interaction with their environment, there are things that it does not measure.  Some of these include a person’s:

  • Intelligence
  • Morality/character
  • Levels of ambition or motivation
  • Self-esteem or lack of it

For a summary of this take our FREE DISC course here. 

 What does DISC stand for?

In 1928, William Marston would label the four personality types:

  • D: Dominant
  • I: Influential
  • S: Steady
  • C: Compliant

Based on administering personality assessments to approximately 10,000 people over a 25-year span, www.professionalleadershipinstitute.com updated these four categories to:

  • D: Dominant
  • I: Inspiring
  • S: Supportive
  • C: Conscientious

These categories are updated to better reflect Marston’s original theory, and are more in step with modern culture.  Few people today wish to self-identify as ‘compliant’ for instance.  Nor is the ‘S’ personality type necessarily steady in all circumstances.

A simple description of each of the four DISC personality types

Dominant:

The dominant person is direct, forceful, strong-willed and proactive. 

Dominant people like to do tasks quickly, and are always interested in taking action, especially when the action is bold and decisive.  They like to be in charge and as a result are poor subordinate workers. Dominant people enjoy working towards and achieving goals. Moreover, they are focused primarily on the future.  They are naturally task-oriented and tend to think only later about how the people involved might be affected.

Their weaknesses include being insensitive, being too pushy or forceful, and being too blunt for the comfort of other personality types.  They may also think they’re often (or always) right, and it’s hard to convince them to change once their minds are made up.

Inspiring:

Inspiring:  The inspiring person is enthusiastic, outgoing, ideas-oriented, and fun.

The inspiring person is talkative and likes expressing themselves and persuading others.  Inspiring people are natural-born salespeople.  Moreover, they like to perform and are drawn to the spotlight. Brainstorming and collaborating with other enthusiastic people who share the same vision is what gets them going.

Their weaknesses include talking too much, and struggling to compete projects once their initial enthusiasm has worn off. They find it difficult to maintain focus on one idea for a long time, and find details challenging. Moreover, they know that details are important, and struggle to get them exactly right.

Supportive:

Supportive:  The supportive person is patient, diplomatic, flexible, and empathetic.

The supportive person is energized by feeling that they’re helping someone. Moreover, they love to contribute behind the scenes, away from the spotlight.  Supportive people need to know that they’re more than just a number, and so they thrive in collaborative environments.  These people are energized by doing practical jobs that they feel confident in completing.  To a supportive person, trust is everything, and when they feel trusted and appreciated, they perform at peak levels.

Their weaknesses include avoiding conflict, and not speaking their minds (especially about controversial topics.  Since they don’t enjoy engaging in conflict, they may struggle with feelings of bitterness, or hold grudges over real or perceived sleights.  When they feel badly treated, they may become stubborn and display a ‘quiet will of iron.’

Conscientious:

Conscientious: The conscientious person is detailed, accurate, thorough, and precise

The conscientious person is energized by doing a task thoroughly and well. They desire the time and quiet necessary to focus on doing a perfect job.  Detail and data appeals to them, because data is predictable and consistent; people are not!  Conscientious people naturally create structure, order and process, and are very interested in building a detailed plan that will produce quality results.

Their weaknesses include being too picky.  They spot what’s wrong before they see what’s right in most situations.  Moreover, they may try to exert inappropriate control over others, especially when they’re under stress. Since they strive for quality results, they may become bogged down in detail.  Striving for perfection in every aspect of a task matters a lot to them, whether the task matters or not.

Get your DISC personality by taking our FREE DISC personality assessment.

How is the DISC personality test used vs. 16 Personalities?

The DISC personality test and 16 personalities are both used when hiring employees. However, the DISC test focuses on:

  • Learning how to communicate better with others
  • Understanding the motivations of others
  • Hiring the right person for the right job
  • Coaching people to recognize their natural areas of strength and weakness
  • Self-reflection and personal growth
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