I took the Myers-Briggs personality test back in college some 20 years ago. In case you’re not familiar, it’s a questionnaire that measures how you see the world and how you make choices. Briefly stated, there are 16 different types based around four different dichotomies: Extrovert (E) v. Introvert (I); Sensing (S) v. Intuition (N); Thinking (T) v. Feeling (F); and Judging (J) v. Perceiving (P). By answering the Myers-Briggs questions, you indicate which side of the dichotomies you prefer which gives you a four letter indictor of what your choices mean, and before you know it you’re in Gryffindor.

Something like that, anyway, because I’ve never been convinced that my being an INTJ or at least knowing that I’m an INTJ counts for much. David Keirsey contends that my type corresponds to a Keirsey Temperament Sorter of “Mastermind” which is an ego boost if I’ve ever heard one. Furthermore, it turns out that only 1-4% of the population has the rare and one must think highly desirable INTJ orientation, making us a smaller minority than gays or lesbians or game show hosts. I, for one, am tired of being oppressed by The Man.

What does it mean to be an INTJ? This stuff tends to come off like reading horoscopes or tarot cards, but with the veneer of academic respectability (and warning “thou shall not practice social science” notwithstanding). Here’s Wikipedia’s take:

  • I – Introversion preferred to extraversion: INTJs tend to be quiet and reserved. They generally prefer interacting with a few close friends rather than a wide circle of acquaintances, and they expend energy in social situations (whereas extraverts gain energy).
  • N – Intuition preferred to sensing: INTJs tend to be more abstract than concrete. They focus their attention on the big picture rather than the details and on future possibilities rather than immediate realities.
  • T – Thinking preferred to feeling: INTJs tend to value objective criteria above personal preference. When making decisions they generally give more weight to logic than to social considerations.
  • J – Judgment preferred to perception: INTJs tend to plan their activities and make decisions early. They derive a sense of control through predictability, which to perceptive types may seem limiting.

I would tell you that by and large the above describes me pretty well. I’m not sure how helpful knowing this is—I’m more than a little afraid of sticking labels on things and diminishing them as a result—but “Know Thyself” isn’t just for dead Greeks, so it can’t be all bad.

Here, try it yourself.