How do you receive, perceive and process information?
If you're following along, I'm working on a series of posts where I explore commonalities and themes in the various personality and strengths tests I've taken over the years. In this installment, I return to the MBTI. Eventually, I'll connect all the dots in a summary, wholistic post.
Earlier this semester I scheduled a campus career services center session for students in a freshman-level course I'm teaching. The office offers free Myers-Briggs assessment for students so I had them complete the test to provide some foundational self-knowledge for college and also to give them some fodder for an autobiographical essay that had to write. Out of curiosity, I re-took the MBTI along with the students
On this occasion (September 2014), I scored as an INTP in the MBTI. Specifically,
I: 53% introverted
N: 60% intuitive
T: 53% Thinker
P: 93% Perceiver
In November 1996, I scored as an INFP on the MBTI. The scale used in that report was presented differently, as a slider without numerical specifics. That report showed me slightly on the introvert side of the slider and slightly on the Feeling category vs. Thinking side of the scale.
Intuition or Sensing?
According to The Myers & Briggs Foundation, most people use both sensing and intuition to receive and process information.
As my MBTI results show, I'm slightly on the N side of the spectrum, although not by much. It's easy to see how I could fall within both types, while maintaining a slight preference for Intuition. I've never scored in the S territory on the MBTI.
Curious to learn more about the distinctions between N and S, I went searching for information.
Based on some of the preference statements found on the M&B Foundation page:
I share these preferences in common with the Sensing type:
- I tend to remember events very vividly, as if I were looking at a photo or watching a moving.
- I am highly factual and use facts to help me understanding problems and develop alternatives.
- I have a streak of pragmatism, that sometimes works to my detriment.
On the other hand, I have a lot in common with Intuition:
- Although I remember events quite visually, I'm interpretive and discerning in ascribing meaning.
- I do not solve problems linearly. Although I use facts as a framework, I'm much more of a non-linear information processor.
- I'm definitely focused on the big picture. I always need to understand the big picture before diving into the facts.
- I have an innate need to do things new and different.
- I value metaphors and impressions and find great value in these when interpreting information.
- One of my flaws is the tendency to keep coming up with great ideas, rather than stopping to execute and complete projects before moving on.
The MyPath Personality Test Report that came with the MBTI I took back in September with my students used these phrases to describe the Intuitive: Inventive, creative, imaginative, insightful and perceptive.
An Intuitive is someone who “prefers the big picture” (MyPath Report).
“The sensor sometimes has difficulty seeing the forest for the trees, but the intuitive is adept at seeing the situation as a whole.”
MyPath Personality Test Result
I’ve often described myself as someone who connects ideas.
The MyPath report describes the intuitive in a similar way:
“Intuitives have a keen ability to formulate relationships amongst disparate ideas. They can visualize patterns and conceptualize theories and possibilities.”
I took the MBTI previously, in 1996, and the report from that assessment can be summarized thusly:
I like to “do things with an innovative bent”
I like “solving new, complex problems”
I often “prefer change, sometimes radical, to continuation of what is”
I tend to “proceed in bursts of energy”
I “enjoy learning a new skill” and probably enjoying “learning…more than using it”
“Intuitives are at their best when they are in the position to use their imagination and creativity.”
More Characteristics of the Intuitive
According to U-Journey online career planning service website (the webpage said the service was closing in June 2014, but the site is still online), characteristics of the Intuitive include (links are to blog posts I've written about this in relation to my own life):
- The ability to see the possibility in situations
- A better ability to plan for the future
- The ability to self-direct in learning situations
- Strong problem-solving skills
- The ability to spot trends before they emerge
- Unwillingness to “settle”
- Comfortable with ambiguity
These are characteristics that keep cropping up in my own self-reflection and in the results of my Strengths Finder tests.
The Intuitive is about seeing relationships and connecting-the-dots.
First, I Sense
When it comes time to make a decision, resolve a problem, or come up with a new idea or solution, my process starts by assessing what I know and what I need to know. Sometimes, I'll make a list. Sometimes, I'll just think about it. If it's a major issue or decision, I'll usually begin to journal about it.
At some point, I'll start to research and gather information, as necessary. I tend to research big issues a lot. That seems to be fairly aligned with sensing.
But the actual analysis and information processing stage I switch to the Intuition framework.
Then, I Intuit
Before I make a decision, I like to fill my mind with the facts and then go to sleep, go for a walk or run, or do something entirely unrelated (like cooking or gardening) and literally tell my brain to process the information and give me an answer.
Things I Don't Do When Making Decisions
I hate making lists of pros and cons or following some decision-making schematic that dictates an outcome based on probabilities or weighted variables. That approach may be fine for investment banking, where you need to take away the emotional aspects of decision-making. But it has not worked well for me when making choices about whether to take job a or job b.
I especially dislike basing a decision on past performance or quantitative data derived from a formula or model based on the past. I don't ignore historical information, but I have an optimistic and visionary belief system that influences my choices. And, for lack of a better way to say it right now, black swans exist and so do outcomes that we can't predict.
Has My System Worked?
Overall, I'd say I've been pleased with most of my decisions. Not all. We all choose wrongly sometime, or at least make choices that aren't in our best interests.
The only times I've had any passing regrets over choices have been when I really made choices where I affirmatively and knowingly ignored a gut-feeling or instinct and took action based on a more quantitative analysis relying on facts as presented to me, rather than my wholistic interpretation of the situation.
I found this explanatory video on YouTube. In the second half of the short video, the speaker offers a simple visual exercise to help you identify whether you're an S or N.
After doing this exercise, it was quite clear that I'm an Intuitive. And the more detailed explanation in the second video confirms it.