One of the best-known and most widely used personality inventories that can also be used to describe learning styles is the Myers−Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).4 While the VARK Inventory measures your preferences for using your senses to learn, the MBTI examines basic personality characteristics and how those relate to human interaction and learning. The MBTI was created by Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katharine Cook Briggs. The inventory identifies and measures psychological types and is given to several million people around the world each year. Employers often give this inventory to employees to get a better understanding of how they perceive the world, make decisions, and get along with other people. You might have taken the MBTI in school or in the workplace, but if not, your college career center can give you more information about taking the inventory and determining your own Myers−Briggs type. You can also visit myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/take-the-mbti-instrument/.

All the psychological types described by the MBTI are normal and healthy. There is no good or bad or right or wrong; people are simply different. When you complete the MBTI, your score represents your “psychological type” or the combination of your preferences on four different scales. These scales measure how you take in information and how you then make decisions or come to conclusions about that information. Based on these scales, you can be one of the types shown in Table 4.2.

Extravert OR Introvert
directing your energy and attention toward the outer world of people, events, and things directing your energy and attention toward the inner world of thoughts, feelings, and reflections
Sensing Type OR Intuitive Type
perceiving the world and taking in information directly, through your five senses perceiving the world and taking in information indirectly, by using your intuition
Thinking Type OR Feeling Type
making your decisions through logical, rational analysis making your decisions through your personal values, likes, and dislikes
Judging Type OR Perceiving Type
approaching the outside world by making decisions and judgments approaching the outside world by observing and perceiving
Table 4.6: Table 4.2 > MBTI Types


Because each of the four different preferences has two possible choices, sixteen psychological types are possible. No matter what your Myers−Briggs type is, all components of personality have value in the learning process. The key to success, therefore, is to use all the attitudes and functions in their most positive sense.

As you go about your studies, use Table 4.3 for recommended strategies that can be helpful to you based on your characteristics and strengths.5 To be successful, take full advantage of the strategies that match your characteristics, but remember that you should also learn to use some study strategies that may not come to you naturally because doing so will lead to more success in college, career, and life in general.

Characteristics Actions Study Strategies
  • Act on your plan.

  • Do whatever it takes.

  • Create note cards and outlines.

  • Form or join study groups.

  • If you are working on a paper, start writing now.

  • Think it through.

  • Before you take any action, carefully review everything.

  • Create mind maps.

  • Study independently.

  • Find a quiet study space.

  • Get the facts.

  • Use sensing to find and learn the facts.

  • Look for the evidence for what is being said.

  • Use diagrams and outlines.

  • Take notes and create flash cards.

  • Get the ideas.

  • Identify the reasons for facts being presented.

  • Use intuition to consider what those facts mean.

  • Determine what concepts and ideas are being supported by those facts.

  • Think about the implications.

  • Study in blocks of time.

  • Use your creativity.

  • Consider the big picture.

  • Critically analyze.

  • Use thinking to analyze the pros and cons of what is being presented.

  • Identify the gaps in the evidence.

  • Focus on the logic of the presented information.

  • Determine if the facts really support the conclusions.

  • Think of alternative explanations.

  • Make informed value judgments.

  • Determine the importance of the material.

  • Form your personal opinion.

  • Find connections in the material.

  • Study with strong and motivated students.

  • Organize and plan.

  • Don’t just plan in your head, either; write your plan down, in detail.

  • Study in an organized environment.

  • Try different study strategies.

  • Keep your notes organized.

  • Change your plan as needed.

  • Be flexible.

  • Expect the unexpected.

  • Figure out what’s wrong, then come up with another plan and start following that.

  • Keep a calendar and mark it with deadlines.

  • Complete tasks.

  • Don’t give up easily.

  • Don’t procrastinate.

Table 4.7: Table 4.3 > MBTI Types and Study Strategies

What you can learn about yourself from taking the MBTI has the power to improve your learning and how you relate to others. Consider Tricia, who is a returning student at her college. Tricia has two small children and describes herself as a person who likes to “get right to the point.” Recently in her psychology class, Tricia’s instructor assigned her to a group that is supposed to do a group project on important psychologists. Tricia has been very frustrated by the experience of working with other students. She is doing more than her fair share of the work, and even worse, others in the group come up with “stupid” ideas. Tricia is losing patience, and she’s quite blunt when she speaks during group meetingsshe’s much more interested in saying exactly what she thinks than in worrying about how her comments might make others feel. Other group members told her that she’s “mean” and “insensitive,” but Tricia wasn’t buying it. Only after taking the Myers−Briggs Type Inventory did Tricia discover that she’s a high “T” (a thinking type) and a low “P” (a perceiving type). That means she tends to be very logical and rational but lacks sensitivity to the feelings of others. What she learned about herself explained a great deal about her relationships not only with her classmates but also with others in her immediate family. In the end, she decided that even when she feels impatient, she needs to find a way to get her point across without hurting others’ feelings.



Take a Time-out Do you find that you need some occasional time by yourself? Although introverts are more likely to enjoy time alone, even extraverts can benefit from private time to relax or escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
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