What type of personality do you have? While every person is different, there are a number of personality theories which identify the most common personality types. Finding out your personality type can help you understand the areas of yourself you need to work on, as well as how to go about working on them.
Before we dive into the most popular personality models, let’s discuss what a personality model is.
What is a personality type?
Every model of personality types shares a specific approach towards personality: personality is formed from learned coping mechanisms evolved over years of human development.
In other words, there is a limited number of strategies humans use to manage the world around us. Every person relies on one of these strategies in particular. The strategy leads the person to act in certain predictable ways when faced with challenges or threats. This is what we refer to as a personality type.
Different models view humans through different lenses, prioritising particular aspects of human personality development. The 3 most popular personality type models give people tools to further explore their psyches.
The Enneagram model divides people into 9 interconnected personality types. Each of these personality types are mostly identified by the individual’s basic fear and basic desire. These traits lead most people identified by the personality type to act in certain ways – such that it is possible to identify a type based on the person’s actions.
However, the focus of the Enneagram is on the intentions behind the actions. A person who presents as a perfectionist, for example, might not be a type “1” (typically identified as the Perfectionist). Rather, they may be fearful of being seen as worthless, which is the basic fear of the type “3.”
The Enneagram is worth exploring because of how effectively it describes human nature.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a personality model that separates personality types by how people perceive the world. If you’ve seen people on social media identify themselves as an INFJ or ENFP, they have been referring to their results on the MBTI.
The MBTI uses four categories to identify types:
- introvert or extravert
- sensing or intuition
- thinking or feeling
- judging or perceiving
According to the Myers-Briggs model, each of these characteristics are fundamental to personality and speak to how each person experiences the world.
The Big 5 Personality Traits
The OCEAN model identifies 5 major personality traits by which each person can be measured. These traits are:
Openness to experience
Unlike with the MBTI, each of these personality traits exists on a spectrum, and the results you get from a Big 5 test will be more specific and nuanced.
Personality tests using the above 3 models are commonly used by companies interested in assessing potential employees. The models are also implicitly used by many therapists to more easily identify the personality types of new clients, although they won’t necessarily provide their license with a formalised test.
You can learn a lot about your personality from these models. However, it is important to speak to a professional about your findings, as it is easy to get attached to the idea of a personality type. A professional will also help you on your journey towards addressing the challenges you face according to your personality type.