A while ago I did one of those online Myers-Briggs personality tests (this one, I believe) and my result was ISFJ: Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging. The ISFJ is characterized as introverted, empathetic, hard-working, practical, timid, sensitive, insecure, intolerant, easily embarrassed, prone to jumping to conclusions, fearful of confrontations, and needy.

I was reading and nodding in recognition until I got to the part that said ISFJs are likely to have beautifully furnished homes and are extremely good interior decorators. Ha. Ha ha ha! MY CLUMPS OF ARTISTICALLY-PLACED DOG HAIR, LET ME SHOW YOU THEM.

So I don’t know about that part, but the rest sounded uncomfortably familiar. It was kind of depressing, to be honest—I mean, not like I didn’t have any self-awareness about these things, but seeing it all laid out in a tidy description was sort of . . . well, I don’t know, I suppose it would be nicer to read something chirpy like “You have an unrelenting zest for life! You love people! You would make a fantastic leader! Your thirst for adventure is eclipsed only by your positive outlook and self-confidence!”

Instead, I got: “You’re kind of a whiny, reclusive doormat. Ideal career choices include martyrdom and anonymous internet commenter.”

Have you ever done one of these tests, and if so, did it ring true? And do you think it’s ever possible to change your basic personality type? I don’t mean fundamentally alter who you are as a person, but tweak your settings to dial yourself a bit closer to the sort of personality you tend to admire? Or do you think we are who we are, and any forced behavior is simply a surface change?

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MichelleH
MichelleH
12 years ago

I’ve done this thing and I’m an ENFJ. An idealist. Most of it definitely rings true.

I sincerely hope I can recalibrate. I’d like to think it’s possible. Lately, I really feel like everyone is more laid back than me. I aspire to taking life as it comes and being better at that, and I REALLY hope it is possible to do that. I’d like to think that if a certain trait is something you value than you have it in you to do it.

Just knowing what I do from reading your blog, it is DEFINITELY possible for you. You’ve already done that. You’ve made so many huge changes in your life and your self. You are really capable of anything and you are fortunate enough to have a record of how you have actually already accomplished that. So I think if there is something you are aspiring to, you of all people can do it. I think it is like exercise. In the beginning it is forced behavior but over time, it becomes natural, and you move on to the next step. Hope that makes sense!

Emily
12 years ago

I took one of those tests a few years ago, too – it said I was Extroverted and Kind of A Dick. Which I was. I think I’m a bit less of a dick these days, so take that as you will. From what I’ve noticed, we as people rarely go through huge personality shifts that stick – sooner or later we come back to who we really are; we just learn to sand down the rough edges and develop the parts of ourselves we like the best.

jen
jen
12 years ago

I came out as an ISFJ as well and yes, I was nodding along to nearly every characteristic. I DO think it is possible to change your personality, a little anyway. As my own example, I’ve never been a patient person. Now I am still not exactly patient but I have learned to be patient with my toddler at least. So little steps.

Also?

“Ideal career choices include martyrdom and anonymous internet commenter.”

Best line ever. It made my afternoon.

Kathryn
12 years ago

I’m an ENFP. My counselor (I totally go to therapy!) told me I should find out what my fiance is and see if we match up. She said if we have more than one letter different, we were headed for divorce…. um. We have every letter different.

So you know what I say about those tests? They are fun and I love taking them. They can be insightful in many ways, but not true in EVERY way. There is no way a single test can truly assess the many facets of our personalities. Or the many ways in which people connect with one another. But I still can’t stop myself from taking them…

samantha jo campen
12 years ago

I’m ESFJ. And just after I wrote a post about wanting to think the best of people and not judge, JUDGING is the highest percentage of my personality!

I’ll let you know if that kind of trait can be changed. Sigh.

LauraC
12 years ago

I would highly recommend the book Motherstyles (not enough to buy, but good for library use). It maps your Myers-Briggs personality type to your mothering style. The book reflects things in a positive way, the things you EXCEL at with this personality type. That helped me see my personality type in a whole new way!

I am ISTJ, it pointed out that I am good at:
* highly developed sense of responsibility
* providing kids with order and routine
* industrious, detail-oriented, organized

And it helped me see that I struggle with being too hard on myself and being drained by the chaos of children.

I think we are who we are but I also feel like understanding why I’m like that helps me go outside my bounds. As an Introvert, I have a tough time meeting new people. So I just fake it when I first meet people and if I like them, then I try to get 1:1 time with them.

Completely unrelated to this post to your other posts, I struggled with trying to see my friends while working, my husband traveling for work, and taking care of day care sick kids. I set up a weekly ladies’ night with my closest friends to watch SYTYCD and it’s been going for over a year now. I started it bc two women had husbands out of work so we can’t meet to go out to dinners. It has been amazing this past year to have that one night a week where I see whoever can make it and chat in person.

Jen the Trephinist
12 years ago

I have way too much to say about this, but my personality test DID ring true, and in terms of “fixing” it … I don’t think that’s possible. But I always think of snorkeling in the ocean. You can stand upright and crash about and nearly get knocked over and get salt up your nose, or you can find a way to not be at cross-purposes with it, to let the wave roll through you, and suddenly it’s all peaceful and beautiful and there are adorable turtles, even.

I have not changed a bit, no, but I have stopped fighting myself in so many ways, and the result has been a surprising amount of productivity/satisfaction. I guess I always thought it would amount to surrender and stasis, but the truth is quite the opposite.

Angella
12 years ago

I’m an ESFJ but the E is only 1%, so.

I don’t think you can change completely, but you can make choices that leave you at peace with yourself. I think?

Sharon
12 years ago

ESFJ, but the strengths of my preferences are all 25% or less (with the J being a whopping 1%).

Pete
Pete
12 years ago

IMHO, unless there is a hard driving reason most people after 20 don’t change much, we just polish the surface.

Melissa
12 years ago

I did this test twice while I worked 2 different jobs for the same company. The first time, when I worked on a R&D project I came out as ENTP. I loved this job. It was the best job I’d ever had. Then, I ridiculously accepted a promotion and worked on a different project and after a year of being in that job,which I hated took the same test as a “team building” experience. I came out INTJ. Amazing how your environment can influence your personality.

angie
angie
12 years ago

I’m an ISFJ, too, and I think it’s pretty spot on. Personally, I don’t want to change who I am (I like being a sensitive hermit!), but I do think it’s possible to change aspects of one’s personality. I don’t know, though, if most people are self-aware enough to either see what should be changed and/or have to fortitude to do so.

Ulli
Ulli
12 years ago

I did one once on a staff retreat and found it super surprisingly accurate not just for me, but also some of my interns. There were several staff members who have done these tests before and they all explained that absolutely, you can have a different result overtime. Dude, as a teenager I would have been “stick head in sand” introvert, now I am very much a social butterfly :)

Erin
12 years ago

I’m INFJ so we’re somewhat similar. High five. Just go with it. That’s YOU and reason enough to celebrate.

victoria
victoria
12 years ago

You are an ARTIST for chrissakes. This website & twitter actually ARE art. Van Gogh would probably have the Meyer Briggs profile. As would David Sedaris and Jane Austen.

pickles & dimes
12 years ago

Last I remember, I think I’m an INFJ, which is fine with me. I could definitely excel at being a hermit.

I did make a personality change and overcome my crippling fear of confrontation around the time of my divorce, which was nice. It didn’t feel like I was making a huge change, but it allowed me to feel more in charge of my life (also, it allowed me to finally tell off an old jerkhat of a boss without being reduced to tears).

saly
12 years ago

I am also ISFJ, with sensing being my highest. Because, well, I am a crybaby. My gut reaction to any kind of emotion is to burst in to tears. Oh yeah.

And my house is not impeccably decorated at all. In fact, in May when we (after being in our house for 11 years) built a flower bed and did some landscaping out front, 2 of our neighbors asked if we were putting our house up for sale. Haaaa.

Jas
Jas
12 years ago

I am also an ISFJ, and yeah, I think it’s a pretty good description of me. However, I also know if I’d taken this test in my early 20s I would have gotten a very different result. It is possible to change who you are, either through conscious effort or through circumstance. I used to work in a corporate environment as a trainer; I was always around people and was much more extroverted. Since quitting my job and becoming a homemaker, I have become much more shy and introverted, I think because I am not forced to be around people.

Gertie
12 years ago

I have done these tests, and they are uncomfortably familiar – to say the least – and I’ve recently had an idea about that.

I noticed that when I’m taking these tests, my answers are based on what I know and what I am comfortable with. However, just because I’m more comfortable having all of my office supplies organized does not mean that I actually prefer it that way. It might mean I’ve just trained myself to auto tidy.

When faced with the choices, I go with the known because the unknown gives me a strange feeling in my belly. I am scared of the feeling, scared of the choice that makes me feel that feeling, and therefore I’ve assumed it was wrong for me. But what if, instead, it means that I’m really geared towards being an actress and NOT an office manager?

Also, just because you don’t have the “perfect” house doesn’t mean you don’t want it. You could have it, but if that meant getting rid of what makes it that way I think you’ll agree you’re happy with it the way it is :-D

mamabird
12 years ago

I’ve done these at three other times in my life – first one when I was 15. I’ve been an INFP. I just did the one you linked out of curiosity. It is definitely not as thorough as the ones that counselors, psychologists and other such people have. But the biggest thing I have always learned about these is that while we tend to lean strongly or moderately to one side, we do learn to use the other when it is necessary. We’re adaptable.

alexa
alexa
12 years ago

I just took the test and am the same thing you are. It’s not super flattering, but at least it shows how much we value the safety and well being of those we love. I can live with that. I wish that I weren’t a natural doormat though.

sheilah
12 years ago

I took the test (more than once) and I am either ISTJ or ESTJ which means I am either a reclusive, whiny, judgemental bitch staring at a computer screen or I am a whiny, judgemental bitch who is either staring at her computer screen or is getting into bar fights.

Your call.

Marie Green
12 years ago

Just took the test you linked to… I’m ENFP. Totally fascinating to read the personality descriptions! It’s cracking me up! I’m not sure how much we can change… I’d be willing to entertain the idea that as we mature/age/live longer our letters might shift around a bit…

Eric's Mommy
Eric's Mommy
12 years ago

I am an ISTJ, I think it made sense.

It’s not what I want to be, I don’t want to be an introvert but I am. I believe people can change, I just haven’t yet.

MichelleH
MichelleH
12 years ago

I want to add to my previous comment now that I’ve gone down memory lane and read all the ENFJ profiles again..

One of the things it says about me is that everything I do has to be about the people aspect. It says don’t like cold, unfeeling analysis. This is 150% true. But in my current job some would say that is exactly what my job description is and I think I excel at it. I do always consider the human element in the analysis I do and “How is it *useful*” and blah blah blah and I think it adds something to my skillset as an analyst. I guess I wanted to clarify because I am not saying you can or should lobotomize yourself or something but I do definitely think you can take your “weaknesses” or things you might interpret as weaknesses and re-envision them as strengths.

Anne
12 years ago

We match. I’m ISFJ, too.

I don’t know that I can change my letters, so to speak, but I can work around them to a degree. For example, I will force myself to talk to people at Blogher and not hide in my room, even though I’ll sort of need a few days to recover afterwords because the I in my ISFJ is, shall we say, much stronger than any of my other letters. I’m a hermit by nature, but a hermit who just really, really wants people to like her. Thus – I try to work around it when I can and go to the party/conference/whatever anyway, then go crash in my room later.

Kathy at Wellness Roadtrip

My husband faked his Meyers Briggs at his first job out of college. It was pretty cut throat place and he didn’t want anyone to know he was introverted. All the type-A aggressives were Extroverted so he wanted to fit in. He left that job unhappy in a few years…if you don’t fit you don’t fit.

Amanda
Amanda
12 years ago

It said I am an ENTJ which qualifies me as being in only 2% of the population and calls me a “fieldgeneral” about a a hundred and ten times. Truthfully it’s probably not too far off as it said I tend to be a leader and can easily block out “personal” relationships when needed…. hmmm oh and my examples were Hilary Clinton and then like 50 men, so I’m not exactly sure if I am happy about that. : )

That being said, I think you are who you make yourself to be and that you have everything you need to change your “path”

: )

m @ rambling musings
12 years ago

I took that test in elementary/jr high school and tested as a INTJ and last year took it again as a ISTJ. I like the younger version of me better.

But I will say that comparing the change and my life events, it makes sense that the shift occurred.

If one starts with an assumption that personality comes from the brain, change also makes sense. Over time, the pathways that are the biological manifestation of being an “E” or an “I” are either stimulated or atrophy, in response to one’s environment.

For example, we know that victims of chronic abuse exhibit much more introverted behavior initially, which may shift to extroversion once the victim is removed from the abusive situation.

Mel
Mel
12 years ago

I’m an ENTJ right here. It IS eerily close, that Myers Briggs….

Mary
Mary
12 years ago

Truly, not to be a Debbie Downer, but my training in psychology taught me that most hardcore psychologists/psychometricians say that Myers-Briggs is for entertainment value only. Sure, my MB type sounds a bit like me, but so does my astrological sign description and that doesn’t make me a believer in astrology. Myers-Briggs is hugely popular but really, truly, it’s not good science. Don’t feel locked into your type, we are all so much more than these categories.

Erin
Erin
12 years ago

I’ve taken many of these and there is no fooling. Everyone has pretty much rang true. I think we can always change some aspects of our personality- basically, how we respond to other people and how we feel about ourselves, but I think it’s nearly impossible to change the core.

Cara
12 years ago

I think you’re born with personality traits, but any trait can be either positive or negative depending on how you choose to go with it. I definitely believe my mother positively influenced how my traits would develop, and that I’ve continued to make changes as an adult. I took this test in college and was a slight I, today I am apparently a slight E. This probably has everything to do with my conscious effort to become more comfortable in social situations and my marriage to a man who is a complete E and helps me have the courage to step out.

Jessi
12 years ago

I totally believe that you can tweak your personality! When you learn something about yourself that isn’t what you expected, you either accept it or try to change it. People change all the time.

Christy
Christy
12 years ago

They made us to these all the time in high school to see what career choice would be good for us and if we were actually interested in any of them.

I remember when I was growing up that I was ridiculously shy. I saw the people who were outgoing and had friends and I wanted to be like them. So being the analytical sort I just did what they did.

I definitely fake the funk, but it really hasn’t led me astray. So at home I’m me. Meeting new people I turn into someone slightly different- a little more social and outgoing.

Jen_Ann_W
12 years ago

I’m an INFJ, an “Idealist Counselor.” The description definitely hit the nail on the head – I prefer solitude, and close-knit non-superficial relationships. I’m hard to get to know, but blessed with a vivid imagination.

We had a similar discussion over at lucymarch.com the other day, about flaws vs quirks. You might enjoy reading what the commenters had to say there, it was really fascinating.

oregoncoastgirl
oregoncoastgirl
12 years ago

I don’t think any personality trait is hard and fast throughout life, if the person really wants to change. By honing certain traits and distancing from others, our perceptions and reactions CAN change. Look at yourself, and what you’ve done with your personal goal-setting and… well, shit, the ACHIEVEMENTS you’ve racked up over the last year. Do you really think the 10 year younger version of you was the same, personality wise?

Keli
Keli
12 years ago

I did one of these in a supervisor training course.

Basically, what I got back was that I’m Rain Man/Robot. They said I would be a good supervisor because I didn’t let personal problems get in the way. But that people find me “cold” or “unapproachable.”

I promptly began reading up on how to “appear” that I wasn’t a robot. I feel like you can change behavior. But, not necessarily your basic personality traits.

Magpie
Magpie
12 years ago

INFJ (aka “oversensitive speshul snoflaek”) here.

It’s definitely possible to develop other sides to your personality, though your type will always be where you’re most comfortable. I used to have ZERO tolerance for ambiguity but I’ve gotten much better at dealing with and even embracing situations where I don’t know where things are going. Everything nailed down and lined up in neat little rows will always be my happy place, though.

C
C
12 years ago

I am the most INFP person who ever INFPed. It depresses me to think that a stupid test could pin me so accurately, like a butterfly on a board, but true’s true. I try to bring it up early in the dating game so my beaux can read it and know my inner soul but none of them ever take the bait. It’s almost like they’re interested in something besides my soul, but what could it be?

Kathryn (katiemagics)
12 years ago

INFP. It was dead on. I struggle a bunch with the introvert part. I have been trying, for my kid’s sake to stretch myself in that area and really get to know other families with kids. But it’s always extremely uncomfortable for me and I invariably walk away kicking myself for being such a spaz.

I really identified with your post about blog-her. It’s hard to make time for the few friends I do have even though I stay home with the kids. I honestly can’t imagine how you do it all. I think if I was working my head would explode. I have such admiration for people who can do it.

Chelsea
Chelsea
12 years ago

I am the same as you and reading the description was challenging. I’m even judging what my personality type is!

Thursday
12 years ago

I just did the test and I’m the same as you. Um, hello.

Judy
Judy
12 years ago

Well, crud. I thought I was a lively, talkative, laid-back fun-type person and I ran and took the test and I am also an ISFJ, and I think the J bothers me more than anything because I really do not want to be a judgmental person.

On the other hand, I find you, Linda, to be a lively, talkative, laid-back fun-type person, so either it’s a birds of a feather thing, or the test is not scientifically precise. I vote for both the former and the latter.

Liz
Liz
12 years ago

From what i read on that site, INFJs sounded warm and caring. Just saying.

I always come out INTJ/P (about 50% each on J/P) although not that strongly for anything except the “I”. I work in an environment where INTJs are substantially overrepresented compared with the general population, which can be…interesting. Yeah, those tests are sort of useful in telling you about ingrained habits and preferences, but they certainly don’t capture all the nuances. For example, I’m DEFINITELY an introvert by preference but I make an effort to do social chitchat with my colleagues and be friendly to my patients.

On the other hand, I know myself well enough to know that I would be the worst salesperson in the world, because I would hate it and hate all my clients and never make a sale. I’m also not that great at nurturing–I tend to be like a guy, all “How can we SOLVE this problem without talking about our feeeellings?”. But I’m actually not bad at motivational talks with my patients, mostly because I’m willing to listen to them. Go figure.

So really, it’s about knowing yourself and your flaws and good points, and trying to change your style or stretch out of your comfort zone a little when you have an aspect of your personality that you’re not that happy with, or where you see a need to change, without feeling like you need a complete personality transplant.

Ris
Ris
12 years ago

I’m ENTJ. Judgy, judgy, judgy. Sigh.

Sarah
Sarah
12 years ago

I have not read the rest of the comments so I do not know if someone has already said this BUT Give Yourself a Kick in the ASS for even thinking this.

You have taken yourself from where you felt you were not a fit person who did not challenge themselves (bad a school etc) To someone who ENJOYS taking on impossible sounding challenges. Someone who gets A in diffcult college courses without being able to study at liesure (I cannot spell). Someone who pushes themselves to be a better parent all the time instead of just coasting by. Someone who looks at what is going on in their lives that they do not like and changing it for the better.

You have already tweaked your personality a TON.

willikat
12 years ago

I’m ESFP. It fits, for the most part.

I just wanted to say for the record that Introverted doesn’t automatically put you in the “anonymous internet commenter” category (but that made me laugh). The difference between extroversion and introversion isn’t necessarily friendly vs. shy. It’s where we get our energy. I’m an extrovert…I get energy and new ideas when I brainstorm with someone else. An introvert typically comes up with these things on their own, of their own thoughts. Oftentimes I don’t even realize I HAVE a thought until I say it out loud.
And I”m an extrovert but not nearly so adventurous as you. So there you go.

jonniker
12 years ago

INFJ. Counselor. Idealist. Mad introvert. Yeah, it fits. It was a little sad, but I comforted myself with the notion that INFJs are the most unusual combination, so I am a unique, special, little misanthropic flower.

KKF
KKF
12 years ago

GAWD I’ve wrestled with this a ton. I was a weird kid: I did that rorshach test really early – inkblots and all – and figured out that I was *pause for drama* a weird kid. Then there were more tests: “Oh she’s sensitive” “oh she’s smart but she’s not applying herself” and then the dreaded “she might have add but she can’t pay attention long enough for us to be sure” followed by my favorite “it may not be in this child’s interest to pursue any degree of higher education. she appears to be much better suited for mechanical and manual labor.”
GAH.
My grandmother’s head exploded on that one. (she was a dedicated victorian to the core)

Now? Well yeah, I like working with my hands. My best performance – academia-wise – was when I went to college. I love logic and language and I suck at math. Like ubersuck. I am a black-belt at social awkwardness.

A person’s personality and capacity for integration will fluctuate wildly over the course of her life. I’m finally at a place in my own little life where I’m okay with that but for the last 30ish years (the first 4 don’t count) I’ve been struggling to try to be someone that I’m not, and be something different from what other people thought I was supposed to be… all this time I’ve been desperate to just find that happy balance between what I CAN be and what other people think I SHOULD be.

And yes. I’m still a weird kid.
I finally love that about myself. FINALLY.

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