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Sixteen Types at a Glance for Young People

By Elizabeth Murphy, Ed.D.

Some Strengths and Some Challenges


These are the quiet anchors that feel responsible. They seek mastery, are present-focused, and very observant. They must experience the event to understand it. If the task does not seem reasonable there is no reason to do it. They have a wealth of information stored in their head to use when needed but may struggle with creating hypotheses for the unknown. Questions as "What do you think might happen if...." are annoying. They can be humorous and playful with words more than with practical jokes but only when they are not working.


This is a gentle type who shows care and concern for others. They focus on the needs of others before their own. People see their caring but not their depth of knowledge. They are sensitive to the present moment and what others need at that time. They are quietly responsible and respond very well to a predictable and stable schedule or routine. Frequent changes can become upsetting. They may struggle with asking for help when needed. Their fund of information is usually larger than many will notice. This wealth of information grows with each new experience. The more familiar they are with a topic the better they are able to perform with mastery.


These are innovative idea-driven children who can become committed to a cause, an idea, or a plan. They want things done efficiently but are able to adjust to changes that fit within the schedule. They will take charge to get things done correctly but do not necessarily want to be the one in front of the group or the one managing the group. They have a pleasant nature with strangers but may be more emotional with those close to them.


We see the action side of this child. They are doers who get the job done. They like directing their energies and ideas better than directing other people. Others may not appreciate that these children consider multiple options before selecting the one they share with others. They like a schedule and they like a predictable world. There is a playful, silly side that emerges when work is not involved. They need fairness and competency from adults. Many times, they see themselves equal to adults.


These children are the serious thinkers. Solving problems that exist in the present is a natural focus. When a problem begins, they have many questions and probe for needed information to solve the problem. They may observe and integrate many pieces of data. They will internalize to reach a decision. These children may seem quiet and cooperative but can be stubbornly rebellious when commands conflict with what they think is the right thing to do. There is a fun-loving side that those close to the ISTP get to experience.


These are the great actors who follow a script. New challenges can be upsetting. They like the ebb and flow of relationships to be steady, but life activities can be flexible. They need specific directions with tasks to be successful. With that specificity, they are willing to work hard to do the job for those who care about them. This child can be a playful and loving child with people they know well. Others may see them as quieter, especially if they are not sure of the content or the correct answer. The ISFP can have a quiet brilliance that shines once you ask them for their thoughts.


These are caring, quiet children who can get lost because they do not advocate for their needs but do advocate for the needs of others. They can feel the pain of others intensely. They enjoy the fantasy world and creating things in a slightly unique way. They want to look at things in an original way and may miss the main point in the process. This type enjoys creating surprises to please others and work hard to meet the expectation of others, especially if there is a personal bond. The INFP may find it hard to forgive others who hurt them. They may choose to ignore them instead.


These are the quiet analyzers who have an intense and rich inner life filled with new thoughts and new images. They are eager to start the design phase but may stay there too long. They will need more support and guidance implementing their ideas than designing them. They think of impossible possibilities and wonder why humankind does not have the necessary tools to make their ideas real. Their ideas can be so advanced that others may struggle with following their line of thought. When that happens, the INTP can joyfully skip to a new line of thought that takes them back to their favorite place: designing possibilities.


These children are the action-packed doers in the world. They must be actively involved. Sitting around waiting is tedious for this type and they may create an activity rather than sit and wait. They must explore. They must experience. This type sees life as challenges to be mastered. Failure only creates new challenges. They like activity blended with fun and want to learn but want to have fun while learning. The activity can be worthwhile without needing a meaning or learning attached. The activity is what is worthwhile. Running can be fun just because it is running not because it is exercise and good for the body. This type is quick to action in emergencies and sees the need for immediate action tempered with knowledge and good choices. They can be gentle with others but will not sacrifice their competency if others cannot keep up with their level of performance. Others generally enjoy their spontaneous nature unless it conflicts with the other person's plan.


These are the spirited, fun-loving children who can experience a wide range of emotions from moment to moment. They are very caring but must feel loved to be able to function. They are aware of much information and tell many details when sharing a story. Rather than a few details they tend to share everything they know in a sequential fashion. They are not "showing off" by telling so much but believe the impact of the conclusion can only be enjoyed if you know all the steps that lead to that conclusion. These children may misplace things and lose track of time. Many are activated to begin work at the last moment but may underestimate how long a task will take. They are usually fun to be with and people enjoy their playful nature when no task closure is pending and there is no time pressure.


These children are warm and caring and filled with new possibilities. They have many ideas and may struggle with strategies to narrow these into a workable format. They can be enthusiastic about the potential of the idea and may promise more than they can deliver because their vision is so complicated. They love the excitement of working with others on a new challenge. Doing the same predictable task repeatedly is boring and their mind wanders. They may need team support to get closure to the task. These are sociable children who need the company and playful time with peers. The combination of their sociability and their innovativeness make them a great team member during the design phase of a task.


These children design the project and want to lead the group and seem to thrive when they can push ideas to new limits. They struggle more with completing tasks. They want to be cooperative but become frustrated to have to constantly re-explain their vision. Excitement for them is being challenged to think in new and unique patterns. They are eager for others to take their idea and implement it. Completing all the nuts and bolts of a task is boring. They lose momentum and try to escape by moving on to a new idea/project. Their desire to be recognized for their competency keeps them on task.


Getting the job done drives these children. If they get an assignment they want it done as quickly as possible so they can focus on play. Too many things due at the same time can be very stressful. Working on multiple projects at the same time can become confusing. They want information and they want that information to be correct. Hypothetical word plays seem unimportant. The world should operate by a set of predictable rules. Frequent unplanned changes can create stress. They are known for their willingness to take charge and direct others who are unwilling to initiate action. This type can be a leader for those who are willing to follow their direction.


These children want to do what is expected. They want what is expected to be consistent from one time to the next. Caring for others and caring to maintain routines helps keep the world in place. They can be literal so they will do exactly what they believe is expected. They may struggle with generalizations or responding to new problems. These children like knowing a procedure to follow if something goes wrong. Role-playing "what they might do if..." is a good strategy to help them prepare for the unknown. This is a loving child. People generally enjoy being with them because of their sensitive yet social nature.


These children show care and compassion for others but want to work with the best. They have ideas but are more eager to get the ball rolling than stay in the discussion phase. They enjoy directing a group for tasks more than doing the work independently. If they notice someone with a need they are quick to take action to help. They may be so eager to help that they solve the problem for others rather than let the person solve it his way. These children cooperate with others and follow the lead of others so long as the plan is effective and innovative. They struggle following the lead of someone they feel is doing the job ineffectively or inefficiently.


These children get an idea, play with it for a bit but are eager to get the task to completion. They will do all the labor needed to complete the project and prefer doing it independently, so the results meet the high standards they personally set. With teams they can take charge and be direct with others rather than solicitous of the input of others. They believe they already conceived the best plan so why keep discussing other ideas. Although they often take a leadership role some students may feel left out or not validated as part of the process. These students implement new ideas and new ways when they have the support of others. They want to be respected for their ideas and their originality.