"If you have fallen into the habit of saying things like, "I'm an N," and "She's an S," or "I'm an F" and "He's a T," -- I beg you to stop. This sort of talk is terribly damaging. It implies we are one-sided, and completely misses the boat about the richness of type. No wonder people are afraid type may be used to "pigeonhole" them -- language like this perpetrates limitation, not freedom.
Equally as bad are those who claim, "I have no S," or a sweeping lack of some other function. While the type codes mention only two function letters, the other two letters are implicit in that code, and all 8 functions are ultimately available. As stated previously, we all possess and utilize all 8 functions. We are all rich, multi-dimensional individuals. Feelers think and Thinkers feel. iNtuitives sense and Sensates intuit -- so the bottom line here is THERE IS NO SUCH THING as "a feeler," "a thinker," "a sensor/sensate," or an "intuitive." To say otherwise can only be INSULTING, and implies one is capable of nothing else. If you proudly consider yourself an "iNtuitive," or as someone possessing "no S," I'm left wondering how you can read this paragraph, since you apparently can't see. I wonder how you arrived at this site since apparently you can't feel the keys on your keyboard. I wonder how you eat since you can't taste, or how you recognize fire since you can't smell. Do you not see how impossible it is that anyone alive can "have no S"??
Many members of the type community have developed a "snobbery" around their type code, which violates the very purpose Isabel Myers had for creating the MBTI® in the first place. It's no accident she titled her book "Gifts Differing." I cannot stress vigorously enough that ALL TYPES ARE EQUALLY VALUABLE, and NO FUNCTION IS SUPERIOR TO ANY OTHER.
Often, people investigating an "S" in their type code are reluctant to claim it as their best-fit because, well, people aren't stupid -- they "sense" the snobbery many people in the type community exhibit. There is a tendency to ascribe "N" to every notable person, be they a media star, political leader, or hero. Do you know how damaging that is...? Especially to someone who is trying to figure out their best-fit? Bias is destructive. Would anyone in their right mind choose to be an inferior or unpopular type, no matter how well it suited them? And yet these are the stakes we create when we use injurious vocabulary about Ss and Ns and Ts and Fs. Even worse are E/I and J/P, which are not actually functions in themselves, but merely attitudes intended to describe which functions are "innies" and "outies." We may display "I" more often than "E" because it reflects our dominant, but I bet you've been downright chatty at least once in your life about some topic you favor. (Did you figure out which function got chatty?) And we can't be Js or Ps, because we ALL possess Judging and Perceiving in our type code. To say we ARE one or the other is just plain stupid.
Another peeve of mine: I know personally several ESFPs who have scored off the scale with "N" on their MBTI®. And yet their Temperament is clearly not Catalyst. I know so-called INTJs who manifest classic behaviors of the Stabilizer temperament even while they're members of Mensa and off-the-scale brilliant. And I dare not ask them to reconsider their preferences for fear of offending them. Why do you suppose that is? I confess I have limited patience with anyone who boasts about their high scores as if that represents proof of their type. A congruent intersection of two models -- MBTI® results and Temperament theory -- are vital for me to believe someone's type preferences have validity.
"NF" is not just a secret code for "nice person." It invokes a whole host of behaviors, talents, and intelligences. Nor does idealism the Idealist make. If someone's behaviors don't approximate the Idealist range of Temperament attributes, including in particular the desire to have empathic connections, I have little faith in their "NF" score.
For similar reasons, I put little trust in most type statistics. Delighting that "INFJs and INFPs comprise merely 1% of the population" is only more evidence of type snobbery -- as if being rare makes us more "special." After witnessing for myself how often mis-typing occurs, I put small faith in statistics or scores, and I think Isabel would remonstrate loudly if she knew how often her instrument was used to justify type superiority.
Moreover, scores often overlook the influence of type dynamics, which Jung called "individuation." I know an ENFJ who scored ESFJ on a recent MBTI®, and it puzzled her. She was willing to accept that her preferences might be for ESFJ, but she wasn't prepared to assume it was "best-fit" without more investigation. As we discussed the matter, she came to realize she is currently developing her Tertiary function (extraverted Sensing), and it was influencing her interaction with the instrument. She was out-scoring "S" over "N," because those were the kind of experiences she was actively engaging at this time of her life.
In a similar vein, I know an ISFP who scored as an ENTJ, and an INFP who scored as an ENFJ. I know INFJs who habitually score as INTJs. Personality indicators alone are nothing more than GIGO -- Garbage In, Garbage Out. However you answer the questions on a personality "test," that determines the answers that get spit back out at you. It's not a blood test! The tests aren't magic, and they can't read your mind. According to Isabel herself, the MBTI® was designed to capture "straws in the wind" -- nothing more. To endow it with greater authority than it deserves is an abuse of power and a waste of time.
It's the THEORY I believe in, not the instruments used to help discover best-fit type.
Which is NOT to say I agree with the so-called INFJ List's website, which claims,
"Generally speaking, if you know in your heart that you are INFJ and you've accepted this, then it's fairly safe to say that you really are INFJ."
This method of choosing your best-fit type is just as dangerous as giving a personality test the power to decide who you are. It basically claims that type is a values decision, and you can choose to be whatever type you want, whether or not it matches the theory. No wonder many INFPs mis-type themselves! Remarks like this encourage popularity contests -- meaning use of Feeling (instead of logical Thinking) -- to choose one's best-fit type. (I don't know who authored it, but do you suppose that statement was written by an INFP? I do! It's practically an Fi mission statement, since that's the function which cares most about what's "in your heart.")
While many INFPs might be attracted to or think they prefer a particular type code, it's important that their behavior actually match the theory in reality. Type does not describe what you should be or want to be -- it describes the way you are. I know a supposed INFJ who one day lost interest in his advanced college program. He cut class and procrastinated for months by chatting on email lists until the obvious consequence ensued: he was threatened with being thrown out of school. Confronted with an imminent deadline, he went to his favorite email list in a panic and begged everyone there for advice about what he should do. And yet he insists his preferences are for DomNi and AuxFe. But the behavior he exhibited under stress looked more like Ne and Fi. I'd say his automatic behaviors should match the theory better before I'm convinced his best-fit actually fits.
Choosing your preferences should not be reduced to a popularity contest. That's why I recommend hiliting Linda Berens' Type Descriptions (as assigned previously), and asking people who know you but whom you are uncomfortable "bossing around" for feedback on how they perceive you in order to arrive at your best-fit type. (It goes without saying that you should try to choose people you know in person, and who you know will be honest with you. Even then, the truth is that their own biases will color their perception of you.)
But, however you go about it, please refrain from "parts talk." I'm not an "N" and you're not an "F," and we are more than a "part," or even the sum of our "parts." We are whole, living systems, not alphabet soup."