Self Mastery 101: What Personality Type Are You?

Ever heard of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality exam? You've probably taken it in high school, college, or maybe even at your workplace.

What does it have to do with personal finance and investing? In truth, it matters only tangentially. But personal finance and investing is as much about mindset and discipline as it is about math, technical terms and complex concepts. So it's handy to know yourself as much as possible.

If you know what type of personality you have, its easier to adjust for your biases. What do I mean?

I, for example, am an ISTJ. the fact that I'm (I)ntroverted isn't a surprise nor a big deal, but knowing that I prefer (J)udging over (P)erceiving means I like plans, stick to them and like to have well-thought out options - and that I'm averse to ever-changing things and last-minute surprises.

It's seems good for my personal finances, but guess what's ever-changing and full of last-minute surprises? The stock market, which happens to be my favorite investment vehicle.

That means, for me to succeed as a stock investor I'd have to rely on fundamental analysis (buy and hold, value investing, cost averaging, etc.), or a form of technical analysis that will give me some breathing room (position trading).

By knowing myself a little better, I can pursue a more suitable strategy (or maybe better "corrective" behavior).

It's all about preferences though, and being an ENFP (my polar opposite) wouldn't necessarily make me a better investor (or person, for that matter). The main use is to know your type and adjust for potential blind sides.

If you haven't taken such a test yet or can't remember the results, here are two free questionnaires you can take. You should be able to finish both in 10-15 minutes max:

They've got fewer questions than the real test, but the result should be near enough. And in case you get different results, that just means you're near the middle of the spectrum for that attribute.

It could also help you understand other people better. For example, someone who puts things off at the last minute isn't necessarily lazy or unmotivated. It's possible they really like the last-minute pressure.

For information purposes, I'm including a description of each attribute below. But it's better to take the test before reading them if you don't already know the results. The mental model you have of yourself might influence your answers otherwise.

Introvert vs Extrovert - Or where you focus your attention and get your energy

(I)ntroverts aren't necessarily shy or quiet speakers. But their thought process is sort of aimed inwards. They like to reflect, and focus in depth on their own interests. You know you're an introvert if you mostly want some alone time to be able to "recharge."

With (E)xtroverts, on the other hand, the focus is outwards - talking and interacting with people. Sociable and expressive, they prefer to work out ideas by talking them through. You know you're an extrovert if your idea of rest involves talking and socializing with someone or even a group of people.

By now this probably reads like a horoscope; a hodgepodge of descriptions that fit you either way. That's because they're extremes in a spectrum. People are complex, and have certain attributes or characteristics that are more pronounced, but not to the point of excluding others. So it's going to always be a mix. 

Sensing vs Intuition - Or how you prefer to take in information

Those who prefer (S)ensing like to take in information that is real and tangible - what is actually happening. They observe and remember specifics. They also like to build carefully and thoroughly to conclusions.

People who prefer I(N)tuition on the other hand prefer to take in information by seeing the big picture, focusing on the relationships and connections between facts. They focus on patterns and meanings in data and remember specifics when they relate to a pattern. They tend to move quickly to conclusions and follow hunches.

Thinking vs Feeling - Or how you make decisions

Those who prefer (T)hinking tend to be analytical and objective. They can be "tough-minded" - their idea of fairness is that everyone is treated equally.

People who prefer (F)eeling, on the other hand, are more empathic and compassionate. They can be more "tender-hearted" - their idea of fairness is that everyone is treated as an individual.

Judging vs Perceiving - Or how you deal with the outer world

Those who prefer (J)udging tend to be structured and organized. They want to make decisions, come to closure, and move on. They are energized by getting things done.

People who prefer (P)erceiving feel confined by plans and schedules. They like things loose and open to change. They're usually spontaneous, flexible, and seek to experience and understand life rather than control it. They may even feel energized by last-minute pressure.

It's important to be able to use both "extremes"

Each extreme has it's weak points. So if you have strong tendencies (as I do with introversion and judging, for example), it's going to be very useful to moderate that or find a workable solution.

The good news is that these types aren't fixed at all. Although it's been said that people never change, their personality attributes at least adapt.

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This is part of the Self Mastery 101 series:

photo credit: Crystl via photopin cc

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