I Before E, Unless You Mean Me.


Gina over at Endearingly Wacko reminded me of the Myers-Briggs personality test which I’ve taken three or four times. Everyone I’ve ever talked to has said no matter how many times they take it their results are always the same. Because I can’t do anything right I’ve ended up with slightly different results each time.

The first time I was an INFP. That’s an Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiver. You can check the Myers-Briggs list of personality types to see what that says about me.

Another time I took a version of the test with an even number of questions and came out as an INXP. That is I was precariously balanced between being a Feeler and a Thinker, both analytical and emotional.

In that same test I was just one question shy of being an XNXP since I was, according to the results, an introverted extrovert. Or an extroverted introvert. And I’m so ludicrously ambivalent about most things I think I’m just a few questions shy of being an Australian beer.

Australians only drink Foster’s when this stuff gets caught in their work computer’s filter.

When I took the test at work I came out an ENTP. Maybe that explains the variations in my results since that type is described as “Bored by routine, will seldom do the same thing the same way”.

Again, though, it was a very small number of questions that made the difference between me being an E and an I, and I didn’t think all the questions were exactly fair. One stood out: “Do you prefer to (a) see a movie in a theater or (b) watch a movie at home?”

Anyone who answered (a), I understood, must be an extrovert while anyone who answered (b) must be an introvert.

Is it that simple? I love to see movies in the theater—it’s my preferred way of seeing a movie, and I enjoy going with people I know so we can talk about it afterward, but I don’t want to carry on a conversation while the movie’s going on. And I’m fine with going to see a movie by myself. It lessens the chance that someone will (a) sit directly in front of me, (b) sit directly in front of me and hold up their phone, or (3) talk during the movie.


Sometimes it’s just me and Claude Raines.

Normally people talking during a movie, or even during the previews—hey, sometimes the previews are the best part!—makes me crazy, but I think because I’m an iNtuitive type there are times when it doesn’t bother me. There are even times when I enjoy it. Well, there was that one time. During the first few minutes of Pulp Fiction a woman directly behind me said, “I’ve seen this before. I’ve seen this on the TV.” And then a man next to her chuckled loudly and said, “You’re dumb! This ain’t never been on the TV.” They kept up this discussion a little bit before I finally turned around and gave them an “Okay, the joke’s not funny anymore” look. The guy added a final parting shot of “See what you done?” before shutting up.

Then there was the time I went to see the 2011 film The Thing which was a prequel to the 1982 film The Thing, which sometimes gets described as a remake of the 1951 film The Thing From Another World, but was really a more faithful adaptation of John W. Campbell’s novella “Who Goes There?” first published in 1938.


This simple diagram should make everything clear.

As Ennio Morricone’s haunting theme played over the credits all of us—me and half a dozen others, I think, all strangers—in the theater gathered together and got into an impromptu discussion of how the 2011 film fit with the 1982 film, how both differed from the 1951 film, and what all three films drew from the novella.

The house lights came up, a theater employee came in to sweep up any spilled popcorn, and we separated—reluctantly, or so I imagined. As an extrovert I should have said what I was thinking, which was, “Hey, there’s a burger joint next door. Why don’t we continue this over milkshakes? By the way, I’m Chris, but you can call me Spunky The Wonder Squid.”

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  1. Chuck Baudelaire

    I’ve taken the Meyers-Briggs several times myself, and the most consistent result I get is that five minutes after I learn what type I am, I forget what it was. Pretty sure the first letter is always “I,” though.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Most of the times I’ve taken it it’s been little more than a conversation-starter, but then by nature that doesn’t work with introverts. The first time I took it we were then separated into groups of people with the same type which seemed to me like a disaster. Sooner or later an argument was going to break out among the extroverts while the introverts sat around looking at each other uncomfortably.

  2. PinkNoam

    So I just took the test (or some semblance of it, for free, on the internet obviously)
    They were very definite that I was an introvert to start with, but then I was on the borderline for the other 3 personality dimensions:
    Intuition vs Sensing
    Thinking vs Feeling
    Judging vs Perceiving.

    So in conclusion I could be one of 8 different personality types. Excellent.

    I’m going to assume Ant’s insistence that I’m a bit more Autistic than most males is the reason for this…
    Interesting stuff!

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      And there are only sixteen types, so you’re potentially half the spectrum. Interesting to know that Ant finds you a bit more autistic than other males too. I wonder where you fall on the Autism spectrum, which is an entirely different thing.

  3. Gina W.

    First, thanks for the shout out Christopher! I greatly appreciate it.

    What’s funny about the Meyers-Briggs test is that you can see the personality types of famous people listed on various websites. I’m an INFJ and apparently so was Jesus. Who knew that the test has been around that long? Anyway, one time when I saw I was in the company of Jesus, I was like, “Woo-hoo!”. Then I saw that Hitler was also an INFJ and I was like, “This test is stupid. People can’t be categorized into 16 groups.”

    Seriously, it is an interesting test. It’s funny that you can’t get a set answer for yourself. Obviously you defy definition. Which is a good thing, I think…

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Thanks for giving me the idea. And how do they know the types of historic personages? It’s very easy to take quotes or actions and interpret them, especially out of context, in any number of ways. And I started looking at the list of famous ENTP types and thinking, “Yes! These are my people! I must be one of them!” And then I got the same feeling looking at ENFPs. I could probably look at the famous people in any category and find someone I admire and whom I’d like to be like.

  4. Jay

    Oh god, I so often have to talk clients down from this very test.
    Don’t worry, it’s not the last word on you. 😉

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That is a relief. I often get the feeling of “please tell me I’m not the only one”. I suspect most people even shift around quite a bit, especially with categories as broad as “introvert” and “extrovert”. It all depends on the situation, and how much we’ve had to drink.

  5. Ann Koplow

    I actually like the Myers-Briggs Test and now I like it even more because,without it, there never would have been this post.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I like it too because it can be an interesting way to examine oneself, and I’m glad you enjoyed my use of it as an excuse to write about some incidents that had absolutely nothing to do with the Myers-Briggs Test.

  6. kdcol

    Pretty sure I’ve taken the test before, and probably multiple times, but I have no memory of the results. I recall thinking I may fit better in another category. Maybe that was part of my personality assessment though because I am awfully wishy-washy. Or maybe not.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      The first time I wasn’t happy with my results. The next few times I wasn’t happy with them either. Like you I felt I belonged in another category. I just never could figure out which one fit me.


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