Understanding the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (Part 4/4): The Dichotomy of Lifestyle & What it All Means

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Need a refresher on what we’ve discussed so far with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)? Visit Part 1 (MBTI Basics and the Dichotomy of Energy), Part 2 (The Dichotomy of Learning), and Part 3 (The Dichotomy of Decision Making).

The dichotomy of lifestyle

The final dichotomy of the MBTI, Judging & Perceiving, refers to how we tend to live and structure our lives. Traits of these letters are often very obvious to those we interact with.

J for Judging
The first thing to understand is that “judging” does not mean “judgemental.” As a Judger, you prefer your world to be structured and organized. You want to have things settled and in order, and you’re much more comfortable after a decision has been reached. You love your lists, and if it’s on the list it is going to get done. You are very task-oriented, though sometimes you hyper-focus on one thing and end up missing new information. Thankfully for the rest of the world, deadlines are your forte, and you tend to do your work ahead of time to avoid the last-minute rush.

P for Perceiving
P in this sense could easily stand for “procrastination.” While Judgers make lists and check things off, you’ll make a list, only to never look at it again. You are prone to bursts of energy and spontaneity, and you would much rather understand the world than attempt to organize it. For you, work has to have an element of fun or it will never keep your attention. You adapt very well to change and work well under pressure. And though you may be able to function normally at the last minute, be aware of how you are using other people’s time.

(Please note: being organized or unorganized in the physical world is not necessarily an indicator of the Judging or Perceiving functions, respectively.)

The biggest confusion with the dichotomy of lifestyle is that we often feel like we are “supposed” to be Judgers because traditional school and work environments tend to be geared towards that type. This leads a lot of people to mistype as a Judger when they are actually a Perceiver. While Perceivers may have come to appreciate deadlines and structure, this does not mean they would prefer them in the majority of situations. In the same way, Judgers may recognize the value of spontaneity, but they most likely will not want it that way all the time.

As has been mentioned in the previous articles, no one is ever a “pure type.” You might be a strong Judger, but this does not mean that you have no Perceiving function in you. You simply act on it with much less frequency than someone who scores as a Perceiver.

The bottom line

The absolute most crucial thing to remember about the MBTI is that you are the way you are, and that is why your results came out how they did. Your MBTI type does not define you—you define it.

April Robinson, a certified administrator of the MBTI through the Center for the Application of Psychological Type, says, “The indicator has a lot of useful, practical purposes. It can be very helpful in many situations. But don’t let it define you.”

The MBTI is not a “personality test.” It simply indicates preference— which way you most often fall on four different dichotomies.

“These [the types and letters] are not static definitions but dynamic descriptions,” Robinson says. “It’s just opening another avenue of communication.”

For more information, please visit the Myers-Briggs Foundation. To take an online “MBTI-lite” assessment, you may refer to HumanMetrics or SimilarMinds.

Photo by: Jackie Long