Learn how your personality, your school, and your religion play a key factor in the Myers-Briggs test.
Let’s be real here. Regent students are pretty obsessed with the Myers-Briggs personality test. However, I would say this isn’t without good reason. The assessments are by no means perfect, but they give a fascinating insight into how personality functions. This then helps people understand both their neighbors and themselves better. However, as you’ve surfed through Facebook feeds and, on occasion, actually talked to your peers, you’ve probably noticed some types seem way more common than others. At least, I did. And being the person I am, I had to go super over-the-top and figure out what types are the most common and why.
(Note: The following research is based on Keirsey’s version of the MBTI. Check it out here if ya want!)
I may or may not have channeled this obsession into compiling a database of over 300 students’ personality types. At first, I was just writing down people’s MBTI types just to help me remember them. I did this for about two years, compiling 91 entries. This was enough to satisfy my curiosity for a while. Then I took the Theories of Personality (PSYC 301) class and decided to write a paper on it. I quickly gathered another 66 entries by talking to people and getting my professor to hand out surveys. But, this wasn’t enough data for what I wanted to do. And so, I used the Friend Group Group. Because the Friend Group Group is the Friend Group Group, this poll blew up, and I got 155 more usable entries. The downside (or a hilarious upside) to this method was I had to explain why “HARAMBE” showed up as a data entry in my PSYC 303 final paper. This is probably why real psychologists generally don’t gather their data via Facebook polls.
According to the MBTI’s data, the general population’s types break down as follows:
Yes, I know this adds up to 100.3 percent. I think this is because the MBTI rounded up to the nearest tenth on each of the figures. Either that or everything we know about math and the laws of the universe is wrong. I’ve heard it both ways.
Anyway, this is what Regent’s personality types break down into:
Yep. Turns out, we’re really different from the societal norms. Our most common category was clearly the Idealists, followed by the Rationals, the Guardians, and, finally, the Artisans. The most common subtype was the INFJ consisting of 16.45 percent of the sample. Also among the most common types were the ENFP, the INTJ, and the ENFJ, all comprising of over 10 percent of the population. In contrast, the least common subtypes were the ESTP and the ISTP, both comprising only 0.65 percent of the sample. In two years of searching, I literally only found 2 ESTPs and 2 ISTPs. Also among the rarest types were the ISFP and the ENTP, both comprising less than 3 percent of the population each.
We have triple as many Idealists (NFs), over double as many Rationals (NTs), less than half as many Guardians (SJs), and less than a third as many Artisans (SPs). With this, almost every personality type’s percent changes drastically. The INFJs increase over tenfold, rocketing from the rarest type at 1.5 percent to the most common type at 16.45 percent. Similarly, many of the other of MBTI’s rarest types also reverse, with the INTJ and the ENFJ also increasing by large amounts to soar to two of the most common types. The only two types that don’t change much are the ENTP and the INTP. Every other type, we have either way more or way less of.
The question is now why is Regent like this, and, after sitting down at Starbucks and frantically trying to get my research paper done in time, I think I figured out why.
Idea #1: It’s because of Higher Education
As I sipped my peppermint mocha and grumbled at my stupid computer for spending over an hour updating when I had a paper due at midnight, I came to my first, surprisingly simple explanation: Regent’s personality types differ than the societal norms because we are a university. And because academic papers need scholarly sources and all that jazz, I went and checked this against Kiersey’s writing. Sure enough, Keirsey’s writings supported my hypothesis; both the NF and NT personality types are drawn to formal education due to their interests in humanities and sciences, respectively.[i] With this, NFs find themselves drawn to universities due to their focus on their future developments and NTs find themselves drawn due to their drive for accomplishment.[ii] In contrast, the SJ and SP personality types have practical and live-in-the-moment mentalities, respectively, meaning they are generally less drawn to higher education.[iii] The SJs often dislike the theoretical work, generally only attending school if it’s a prerequisite for the field they want to enter and graduating as quickly as possible, while SPs prefer more direct, hands-on work, only attending if the experience immediately helps them reach their goals.[iv] By the time I finished figuring this out, my computer was FINALLY done updating (see: ), and I decided to test my theory by googling other colleges’ Myers-Briggs surveys.
Turns out, there really are not too many formal studies on Myers-Briggs type distributions at University, but I did find this guy who collected data in a similar way to me at a bunch of Ivy League type universities. In case you don’t feel like clicking on that link and reading his whole study too, his findings basically looked like this:
UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO (sample: 79)
Dominant types: INTJ (29%), INTP (13%), ENFJ (12%), ENFP (12%), INFJ (10%)
UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA (sample: 134)
Dominant types: ENTJ (14%), INTJ (14%), ENFJ (12%), INFJ (10%), ENTP (8%)
GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY (sample: 83)
Dominant types: INTJ (21%), ENTJ (19%), INFP (10%), ENFJ (8%), INTP/INFJ/ENFP (7%)
BROWN UNIVERSITY (sample: 97)
Dominant types: INTJ (16%), ENFJ (15%), ENFP (15%), INFJ (11%), INTP (10%)
HARVARD UNIVERSITY (sample size: 125)
Dominant Types: ENTJ (16%), INTJ (15%), ENFP (9%), ENTP (9%), ENFJ (9%)
Both the NFs and NTs dominate this dude’s dataset as well, but there’s a rather interesting difference between these schools and Regent; in four out of the five cases, the NTs significantly outnumber the NFs instead of vice-versa. With this, these schools are seemed to have fewer SJs than Regent did (though it’s unclear exactly HOW big of a difference due to the way the guy reported his data). What was clear is that Regent definitely has something else skewing our type distribution other than the fact we’re a university. And so, I did some more reading.
Idea #2: It’s because of Religion
After studying Keirsey’s work further, I came to the explanation that Regent’s types differed from other university’s types because Regent is a Christian University. Generally speaking, the NF and SJ personality types are more drawn to religious organizations due to how they value empathy and morality, respectively. With this, SJs tend to love the traditional values and NFs tend to love the spiritual focus of places like Regent.[v] Overall, Keirsey calls both the NFs and SJs “Guardians of the Good,” a label that fits rather well with Regent’s vision of Christian leadership.[vi] In contrast, the NT and SP personality types do not have the same draw to religious organizations because of their naturalistic and present-focused natures, respectively. With this, NTs do not have much value for the absolutist traditions of religion while the SPs prefer to seek what brings them the most immediate joy rather than strictly adhere to a religious code.[vii] This does not mean that NTs and SPs are inherently heathens (I’m an NT myself and I love Jesus and stuff), but it does mean that there are generally fewer of us within the church (and, therefore, church focused organizations like Regent). Often times, the NTs and the SPs in the church just see things from a different angle, with the NTs valuing Christianity as the continuation of true philosophical discovery while the SPs find their immediate joy through their relationship with Christ. Anyway, back on topic. By combining my two ideas, I came to my formal-ish hypothesis that was, at the very least, good enough to earn me an A on my paper.
My Formal-ish Hypothesis
I believe that Regent’s personality type distribution comes from the fact we’re both an institution of higher education and of religion. This explains why the types even out as they do. First, Regent has lower appeal to the SP personality types because they are less naturally drawn to either higher education or religion. Second, Regent has massive appeal to the NF personality types because they are naturally drawn to both higher education and religion. Finally, Regent has neutral appeal to both the SJ personality types and the NT personality types because each type is drawn to one facet, but not the other.
In a graph (I like graphs), this relationship would look like this:
One last thing: keep in mind that Myers-Briggs is a soft science and speaks mostly in generalities. People can still totally love going to Regent for both it’s academic and religious environment even if my chart claims that they’re “disinclined” it. I believe that most Regent students enjoy both Regent’s academic and religious environments (at least to a certain extent) or they probably wouldn’t still be here. People falling under certain personality types often find value in areas found outside of their type’s typical range; for example, I’m an ENTJ who finds it more interesting studying art and literature rather than math and sciences. Overall, my hypothesis only seeks to explain why certain types appear more than others, and, all things considered, I believe it presents a pretty solid explanation of Regent’s type distribution.
Charlie Jones is a contributor to the Daily Runner.