Can Your Personality Type Change Across Time?

I tried out a new personality test website the other day called 16 personalities. I came up as an Advocate, or an INFJ-A. This is a Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI) type personality test for those who aren’t familiar with the letters:

  • The I means I am an introvert (63%) more than an extrovert (37%), and can “get exhausted by social interactions”. It also means that I recharge my energy through solitary activities.
  • The N means I am intuitive (58%) rather than sensing or observant (42%), and that I am “very imaginative, open-minded and curious”. intuitive individuals “prefer novelty over stability and focus on hidden meanings and future possibilities”.
  • The F means that I am feeling (72%) rather than thinking (28%), and am “sensitive and emotionally expressive”. Feeling individuals are “more empathic and less competitive than thinking types, and focus on social harmony and co-operation”.
  • The J means that I am judging (60%) rather than perceiving or prospecting (40%). This means that I “approach work, planning and decision making” in a “decisive, thorough, and highly organised” way. Judging individuals “value clarity, predictability and closure, preferring structure and planning to spontaneity”.
  • The A means that I am assertive (65%) rather than turbulent (35%). Assertive individuals are “self-assured, even-tempered and resistant to stress. They refuse to worry too much and do not push themselves too hard when it comes to achieving goals”.

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HOW HAS MY PERSONALITY CHANGED OVER THE YEARS?

What’s interesting is that I have taken the MBTI on several occasions and have achieved very different results. Way back before I sought any personal therapy, about 10 years ago, I was an ENTJ, which is a Commander. This does not seem to fit me at all any more, but did back then, when I was much more competitive and egotistical. I was young, and thought I had it all figured out. My father called me “un-coach-able”, and he was my basketball coach for at least 2 seasons, which isn’t great news. It might explain why I have one of the ugliest jump shots going around, and no range from outside the key.

I then became an ENFJ when I took the test about 5 years ago, which is sometimes referred to as a Protagonist. It meant that I was still an extrovert, but I had switched from a thinking to a feeling subtype. Interestingly, this doesn’t seem to fit me too much either anymore, as I really don’t try to lead others. I instead try to help them to understand themselves and become the person they want to be, not who I think they should be.

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IS IT WORTH COMPLETING A PERSONALITY TEST?

Normally, I’ve been fairly dismissive of the MBTI, as it doesn’t have a lot of scientific evidence supporting it. However, the description of the Advocate personality type on the 16personalities website was creepily spot on in some regards for me, including:

“INFJs are not idle dreamers, but people capable of taking concrete steps to realize their goals and make a lasting positive impact.”

“INFJs tend to see helping others as their purpose in life, but while people with this personality type can be found engaging rescue efforts and doing charity work, their real passion is to get to the heart of the issue so that people need not be rescued at all.”

“It makes sense that their friends and colleagues will come to think of them as quiet Extraverted types, but they would all do well to remember that INFJs need time alone to decompress and recharge, and to not become too alarmed when they suddenly withdraw.”

“The passion of their convictions is perfectly capable of carrying them past their breaking point and if their zeal gets out of hand, they can find themselves exhausted, unhealthy and stressed.”

“One of the things INFJs find most important is establishing genuine, deep connections with the people they care about.”

“There is a running theme with INFJs, and that is a yearning for authenticity and sincerity – in their activities, their romantic relationships, and their friendships.”

“INFJs seek out people who share their passions, interests and ideologies, people with whom they can explore philosophies and subjects that they believe are truly meaningful.”

“people with the INFJ personality type make loyal and supportive companions, encouraging growth and life-enriching experiences with warmth, excitement and care.”

“INFJs don’t require a great deal of day-to-day attention – for them, quality trumps quantity every time.”

“First and foremost, INFJs need to find meaning in their work, to know that they are helping and connecting with people. This desire to help and connect makes careers in healthcare, especially the more holistic varieties, very rewarding for INFJs – roles as counselors, psychologists, doctors, life coaches and spiritual guides are all attractive options.”

“INFJs crave creativity too, the ability to use their insight to connect events and situations, effecting real change in others’ lives personally.”

“INFJs often pursue expressive careers such as writing, elegant communicators that they are, and author many popular blogs, stories and screenplays. Music, photography, design and art are viable options too, and they all can focus on deeper themes of personal growth, morality and spirituality.”

Other people may disagree with me, but these quotes were consistent with how I’d like to see myself, and the things that I truly value in life.

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RECOMMENDATION

If you’ve never taken an MBTI personality test before, check it out at 16personalities.com and let me know if it was as accurate for you as it was for me. If you’ve already taken it, I’d love to hear about if it has changed over time, and if your description now feels more accurate than what you were defined as in the past?

 

Dr Damon Ashworth

Clinical Psychologist

9 thoughts on “Can Your Personality Type Change Across Time?

  1. I’m going to play devil’s advocate for a moment: “…these quotes were consistent with how I’d like to see myself…” This is actually one of the biggest pitfalls of the MBTI. When you answered, did you answer based on your day-to-day as you live it or as how you wish it were?

    In my 20’s, I typed as an INFJ. At the time, I felt as if the description fit me pretty accurately.Over the last 5-6 years, I’ve consistently typed as an ENFP with variations in my (N) and (F) percentages depending on what was going on in my life. I feel as ENFP truly fits me. I don’t forsee it changing again unless I go through a major life change or major trauma.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just went with my immediate instinct for each answer and didn’t try to overthink it too much. It’s how I generally answer all subjective quizzes. I agree that it’s not super scientific, but still found it interesting how personality can change over time, which you’ve found too. Maybe it stays more consistent once we get to a certain age. I look forward to seeing how mine continues to evolve over time!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I have taken this test every two years, and each time I have ended up with ISFJ-A “The Defender”. I would say for me, it is very accurate. In regards to personalities changing – Absolutely. As we go through life we evolve and our perceptions can change, this is what makes us human and interesting (In my opinion). 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I do a Myers-Briggs style test every year or two and the results are fairly consistent. I have noticed, though, the descriptions of the personality types vary in quality, from test to test. Personality profile descriptions in some tests were a bit wishy-washy, like a horoscope.

    Years ago, as an experiment I read someone’s else horoscope for a month. The horoscopes began to read like they were for me. Perhaps we warm to the subject (ourselves) so much we read over the inaccuracies.

    I tried this type of experiment on Myers-Briggs too. I read a friend’s personality profile and tried to see myself in it. While the result wasn’t quite as striking as the horoscope experiment, I could see a lot of my personality in my friend’s profile, despite us being almost opposite personality types.

    This is not to say personality tests are not useful or are terribly inaccurate. I just make the point that we are probably biased in how accurate we assess them to be.

    Liked by 1 person

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