How Many Personality Types Are There?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Apr 2, 2020 7:15:58 AM ET

Based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, or MBTI, there are 16 varieties of personality types. This classification system is constructed from the four principal psychological functions by which Carl Jung theorized that individuals experience the world around them: thinking, feeling, intuition and sensation. The final 16 classifications, devised by the mother-and-daughter team of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers, arranges the combinations of Jung's four principal functions into four-way combinations of an individual's natural preferences for the manner in which learning, conclusion-development and decision-making are accomplished.

The 16 personality types outlined by Myers and Briggs are based on four dichotomies and the natural preference for one over the other. The four dichotomies are: extroversion versus introversion, sensing versus intuition, thinking versus feeling and judging versus perception. The individual's preference is then indicated by the first letter of the preference with the exception of "N" representing "intuition" to distinguish it from the "I" used for "introversion." For example, an individual whose personality is categorized as ISFJ has a natural preference for introversion, sensing, feeling and judging when learning or making decisions. An individual whose personality is ENFP would demonstrate a preference for extroversion, intuition, feeling and perception.

The personality types categorized under the MBTI system are all considered healthy and normal. They demonstrate learning-style and experience-processing preferences, none of which are considered either deficient or pathological. The Myers-Briggs indicators are often used in the areas of career counseling, group dynamics, leadership training and personal development.