MBTI Test Results Puzzling?

Dave and “Buddy”

Our type expert, DaveDeVaughn answers the question, “How come I test a couple of different types?



Can you help me on the Temperament sorters? I know without doubt I’m an Introvert. No question there. What I’m struggling with is answering the questions to get the other three temperaments.

I’ve taken the sorter many times from different websites and every single time I get stumped on the questions, not knowing how to definitively answer based on the two answers supplied. With a few questions, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt which one of the answers is true for me — they never change. But the majority of questions cause me a great deal of ambiguity with the answers supplied — I’m one of the answers in some situations, and when I think of other situations, I’m the other answer.

For example, I’m in my head a lot and thinking, but I’m also easily swayed by my feelings, which I hate. I never think it’s a bad thing to be swayed by my thoughts 🙂

Some sorters have allowed me to forego answering some questions and it’s still been possible for the sorter to come up with a temperament blend.

Unfortunately, whether I leave some questions blank or I fill in my best guess, when I read the general descriptions for the temperaments the sorter came up with, I notice I strongly have some of the traits, but defnitely not other traits for the same temperament. It drives me crazy! 🙂

Should I go through each of the Temperaments and notice which traits I feel is true for me and then notice which temperament is heavily weighted???

In my first introduction to Temperament theory back in the mid 1980’s, its was based on the Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholy and Phlegmatic temperaments. My primary temperament is Melancholy with some Choleric.

I would REALLY like to know who I am, to fine tune it now that I can freely acknowledge that I’m an Introvert (I’ve known for a long long time)and that being an Intovert is okay! 🙂 In fact, I think being an introvert
is better than okay — I’d rather be an Introvert than not! LOL 🙂

Any help you can give along these lines would be most appreciated. If you need my astrology info, if that would be helpful in answering, I can easily give you that.

Thanks in advance.
RM Los Angeles, CA

Hi R,

One of the problems with online testing is that there is no one to ask about the questions, which are sometimes confusing. Just by my first impression based on your difficulty with MBTI testing, I would guess that you are ISFJ or ESFJ. ISFJ would roughly be the equivalent of a Melancholy. A Melancholy with a little Choleric would tend to be ESFJ. My guess is based on my experience with ISFJ’s, a group that often tends to over-think everything even though “thinking” is one their weakest functions. I didn’t mean that as an insult, only as a statement of fact – Feelers don’t think (use logical judgment) very well. This is especially true of some Sensing types because they take everything personally and have a hard time objectively answering questions. Intuitive types, while sensitive, take things in from a more global perspective – how it affects others, how it affects the system, how it affects the global nature of things, etc. 

A good friend (Omar) has the same problem as you with these tests, only to a much greater degree. He is a perfect example to use on how the test questions can be misconstrued by your mind set. Although he is a text-book ISFP (Artist), he constantly tests ENTJ (Field Marshal). Here is why.

Omar is a very good musician and an extremely skilled finish carpenter. He entertains people and he has a position of esteem on a construction site because of his skill. He is often in a position to direct others on the job because he needs a certain quality of work from those that preceded him (the framers, drywallers, etc) on the job. He sees this as leadership when it is in fact nothing more than him demanding that everyone else meet his standard of performance. He is not a leader, he is just finicky. 

Omar also thinks he is a J-type because he is neat and organized and answers all those Type questions as would a J-type. In truth, he is always late and rarely organized. His house, his music room and his construction sites are always spotless however. This is because any sort of mess offends his highly developed Sensing function. The fact that he wastes endless time cleaning and organizing does not make him a J-type. I left him on a jobsite once and came back 6 hours later to find that he spent the whole day cleaning the site up, sharpening and adjusting his tools and making a detailed schedule of the work he was going to do tomorrow. Of course he wanted to charge me $50/hour his time and could have cared less about the fact that we were now a day behind schedule. It is the difference between a set designer running a crew (as they try to paint a picture/scene for the audience) versus a CEO running a corporation – not the same motivation.

Omar is also a deep intellectual person and therefore must be a Thinking type, according to him. While he is on the surface fairly deep, he is not an intellectual. He is motivated by his Sensing function first and then his Feeling function. He has a desire to learn and is a voracious reader. He has a tremendous recall of facts and figures. What he lacks is the ability to apply logic and figure out the meaning of what he knows. When he is pushed to actually figure something out, he simply can’t do it correctly because his logic is flawed. His quest for global knowledge is motivated by his need to impress/entertain people (Sanguine) not by the need to resolve the problems of the world. He mistakenly answers all the MBTI questions related to Sensing and Intuition incorrectly because of this. The common mistake here is to confuse “Thinking” with Intelligence. They are not the same thing. In fact, Feelers tend to me a little more intelligent than Thinkers.

Equally confusing to Omar and almost everyone in the world is the Extroverted/Introverted functions. One can be out-going and still be introverted (me, for example). According to most articles that I have read, it all has to do with how you recharge your batteries. In the truest sense of the work done by Isabelle Myers, it is also (if not more) about how you apply your dominant and auxiliary functions to the world around you. An ESFJ would have their dominant function Extroverted Feeling, caring about the world around them (i.e. remembering birthdays). Their auxiliary function would be Introverted Sensing (the deep personal meaning to the information that they take in thru their senses). An ISFJ would be the total opposite. Their dominant function would be Introverted Sensing (awareness of their surrounding) and their auxiliary would be Extroverted Feeling (concern for others). A great source for a deeper explanation of this would be Isabelle Myers Briggs book, “Gifts Differing.” I could probably write another 100 pages on this alone because it is the true meaning of the MBTI is usually neglected by most writers.

This dissertation was not intended as a platform for slandering someone, or to show that one type is better than another. I was simply meant to be a vivid example of how the questions can be manipulated or misunderstood. This is a very common mistake and the reason that most MBTI professionals don’t like online tests.

So, now that we have that cleared up, the next question is how can you take the MBTI accurately? Here are some good guidelines to follow when taking online tests:

Remember that no type is better than any other type. Some types tend to have different skills, different abilities, and different interests than other type but none is really better. I tend to be very critical of S types in my writings because using Omar as an example is a very easy way to explain things. He is also very emotionally screwed up and does things to great extremes which makes for a great example of what not to do. This has nothing to do with his MBTI type. My late stepfather, who was the best man I ever knew and my dearest friend, was ISFJ. 

Because all the different types are DIFFERENT, it is important that we understand our place in the world – how to be productive, how to get along, how to enjoy people, etc.. We can only do this by releasing our fears. Accept that the goal of the test is to find out who you are, not what you want to be, or what you want to appear to the world to be, or what you should be. Step back from YOU and answer the questions objectively. There is not one question on the test where the answer shows a better type of person, only a different type of person. For example, if the question asks whether you are A: always on time, or B: don’t stick closely to schedules, don’t take A as better than B. If you think about it, it really isn’t better. I, personally, am never late and always adhere to schedules. This of course limits my creativity and often my enjoyment of life. I am an avid golfer. I have to play 18 holes in less than 4 hours or I don’t enjoy it. I push everyone else to play fast, often to the point of irritation. Of course, I used to be contractor, so this isn’t all bad. Omar, on the other hand, is perfectly content to just enjoy being out there, no matter how long it takes. Then again, no one wants to play with him because he is sooo slow. See what I mean.

Remember that all people are all the types at some point in their lives, often we are many types during the same day. The goal is to find out what type of person we usually are. Answer the questions as how you usually are and do not use how you are at work as your answer. Use how you are in your free time.

If you are having trouble with the MBTI, try the Enneagram or the DiSC. Try them all anyways. The results should be similar. 

I hope this little lecture helps. Please feel free to contact me anytime to discuss this in greater detail. Good luck on your quest.

David DeVaughn

David DeVaughn is an INFJ that got tired of fighting the corporate world and is now an entrepreneur living in Traverse City, Michigan. 


Hi David,

Thanks for emailing me on this. Your “lecture” was a wonderful tutorial and I very much appreciate your time and effort.

I’m confident I’m an Introvert. I definitely recharge my batteries by going off somewhere to be alone. I don’t get energized by people — I get drained by them, unless it’s in very limited, controlled settings. Even then, I still need a lot of down time. All of the material about Introverted children on Nancy’s site, I wish I had known about when I was much younger. It would have saved me years of grief, tears and energy trying to be what I wasn’t.

I very much appreciated your example of your friend Omar for showing the discrepancies between what we think and what we are. I would just like to know what I am, then I can relax into it and spend more time being myself than fussing because I’m not fitting! LOL 🙂 I fully agree that one type isn’t better than another. I haven’t found Mother Nature plays favorites. She’s just too good about Her design and temperament being a perfect fit for the situation.

From your suggestion, I went on Amazon and bought “Gifts Differing” by Isabelle Myers Briggs. I very much liked your description about the dominant and auxillary functions. I have a several type books at home discussing spiritual practices which I thoroughly enjoyed even through my frustration of being unable to figure out which type I was. As I related to the reviews and the table of contents in the book and sensing its value, I bought it.

I took a little break in writing this email to go internet wandering. I’m back now 🙂 …

Since you had a sense (impression?) of what I might be from what I wrote, I figured I must be out there somewhere 🙂 so I went hunting on the internet to read about temperaments and types in general again in light of your email.

A few sites had their own type tests, others had tests similar to the link on Nancy’s site. Every site that had a test or link, I took it before I did any type reading. Often I ran into my same quandry answering the questions that initially brought me to you. This time I tried leaving those questions blank when I absolutely didn’t know which answer to pick or I “guessed.” Or I answered one way and went back a second time answering the second way. That proved a royal mess 🙂

After the results were tallied and I read the various descriptions tye type the test came up with, I found some parts of the descriptions fit but there were still too many discrepancies. I was no closer to resolving the Thinking/Feeling, Sensing/Intuitive and Judging/Perceiving dilemma. Arrrrrgh! None of the tests, however, came up dominant Extroverted. That wasn’t a real surprise.

I stumbled across one site that I responded differently to from all of the rest — The Personality Page — http://www.personalitypage.com/home.html. These test questions were different from the other sites and I found them much easier to answer. Perhaps because their material is based upon the works of Jung and Isabel Briggs Myers and I related to that better?

After taking this test, surprise, surprise — well maybe not to you 🙂 — I came up ISFJ! didn’t read about ISFJ until AFTER I took the test. And it fit! It felt like I’d come home which I didn’t feel after reading about the other types. I read ESFJ, too, but it felt “too” extroverted — I have some of the characteristics — mostly related to the Sensing, Feeling and Judging — but more of the Introvert than the Extrovert, if that makes any sense. When I looked back at your email and saw you’d suspected I might be ISFJ or ESFJ … well, what can I say?! LOL 🙂

Thanks again for all of your assistance. Again, I really appreciate it. You’ve been a real blessing.

P.S. Thanks Nancy for referring me to David! 🙂


~ by nancyfenn on June 23, 2007.

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