Even though there are certainly correlations and significant overlaps, Big 5 is not the same as Jungian Personality Types.
Hence treating MBTI and Big 5 as the same is strongly misleading, creating more and more mistypes, misunderstandings, and false stereotypes.
In this article, I juxtapose the differences between the Jungian personality types and the Big 5, which is very loosely based on Jung, but diverges in several key areas.
MBTI’s 4 dichotomies
If you are new to the MBTI, you most likely only know about the 4-letter code and the 4 basic Jungian dichotomies:
For example, ISFJ is Introverted + Sensing + Feeling + Judging in MBTI.
Big 5’s… 5 dichotomies
In contrast, the Big 5 possesses 5 dichotomies, as the name implies.
The fact that the “OCEAN” system is based on 5 dichotomies, opposed to 4, is already a big sign (no pun intended) that Big 5 does not describe the same personality traits.
A popular 16 personality test online attempts to circumvent this glaring issue, by assigning “Turbulent/-T” and “Assertive/-A” for each person, in order to include the neurotic and non-neurotic version of each MBTI type. This might work on the surface, but the true issues run deeper, as they usually do.
- Big 5 is based on 5 dichotomies, Jungian types are based on 4 dichotomies.
- Big 5 lacks distinct personality type categories, whereas MBTI (and Socionics) feature 16 personality types.
- Big 5 traits can change and develop over time, whereas Jungian personality type remains the same.
Nevertheless, many proponents of both the MBTI and Socionics have merged Big 5 with Jungian personality type theory, to the effect that most people (unknowingly) go by Big 5-related stereotypes to (mis)type themselves and others, not knowing or comprehending Jung’s Cognitive Functions. The results: Personality (Stereo)Type Myths.
Let’s go through the 3 most common myths, caused by equating the remaining Big 5 traits with Jungian personality traits.
Myth 1: Sociability equals Extroversion
Most people in the world who know of the term “extrovert” immediately think of sociability, which misleadingly comprises half of the Extraversion traits in Big 5 (Friendliness, Gregariousness, and partly Assertiveness).
Big 5’s Extraversion
In cursive are the traits I deem largely unrelated to Jungian Extroversion.
“Friendly people genuinely like other people and openlyIPIP-NEO Report
demonstrate positive feelings toward others. They make friends quickly and it is easy for them to form close, intimate relationships.”
Demonstrating positive feelings can be related to Extroverted Feeling (Fe) use, however being able to form relationships is also partly related to Introverted Feeling (Fi), and primarily related to being mentally healthy and using the Social and Sexual Instincts.
“Gregarious people find the company of others pleasantly
stimulating and rewarding. They enjoy the excitement of crowds.”
For instance, an unhealthy ExTx type who is Social instinct last would score rather low in both Friendliness and Gregariousness, despite being an Extrovert!
“High scorers Assertiveness like to speak out, take charge, and
direct the activities of others. They tend to be leaders in groups.”
This actually does correspond well to Extroverted Thinking (Te) and to a lesser extent Extroverted Sensing (Se), but that leaves out some ENFx types, making them likely score lower here, despite being Extroverts.
“Active individuals lead fast-paced, busy lives. They move about
quickly, energetically, and vigorously, and they are involved in many activities.”
As a consequence, ENxP can score rather low here, despite being extroverts. And the occasional ISxP with an Se subtype can score higher here, despite being introverted!
“Excitement-Seeking. High scorers on this scale are easily bored without high levels of stimulation. They love bright lights and hustle and bustle. They are likely to take risks and seek thrills.”
Actually, Excitement-Seeking does correspond to Extroverted Sensing (Se) and Extroverted Intuition (Ne). However, this leaves out many ESxJ people, despite being extroverts. And the occasional IxxP can score higher here with an Se or Ne subtype, despite being introverts!
“Cheerfulness. This scale measures positive mood and feelings, not negative emotions (which are a part of the Neuroticism domain). Persons who score high on this scale typically experience a range of positive feelings, including happiness, enthusiasm, optimism, and joy.”
This mostly correlates with another personality system, the Positive types in the Enneagram, which do tend to be Feeling types on average – but those can be either Introverted or Extroverted. Also, once again, mental health can play a significant role here (neurotic people have lower mental health).
As you can see, each of the other Big 5’s “Extraversion” traits refers to different areas of Jungian extroversion. So it is not entirely useless.
However, it also becomes clear how certain Extroverted personality types could score low in these aspects, despite being Extroverts – or even how some Introverts could score surprisingly high!
So how would you know the difference between “associated” Extraversion, comprised of a bunch of different aspects and sociability markers, from Jungian Extroversion?
The true assessment of Extroversion boils down to whether your primary and natural focus is based on internal or external parameters, starting from an internal or external viewpoint.
Those parameters may or may not be related to the social world!
Myth 2: Openness to Experience equals Intuition
Almost everyone who takes a generic Jungian Personality Type test online scores as Intuitive/N. Ever wondered why that is?
It’s mainly because the tests measure open-mindedness.
Naturally, anyone who willingly stumbles upon and takes a personality type test is open-minded! However, being “Open to Experience” can involve non-intuitive areas.
Let’s look at the detailed traits below.
Big 5’s Openness to Experience
In cursive are the traits I deem largely unrelated to Jungian Intuition.
Immediately it becomes clear that half of these traits are (almost) entirely unrelated to Intuition, such as Emotionality, Adventurousness and Liberalism.
Sensing types can be emotional(ly aware) and liberal! And in contrast, certain N types can be the opposite, such as ENTJ.
Unto the other traits:
“To imaginative individuals, the real world is often too plain and
ordinary. High scorers on this scale use fantasy as a way of creating a richer, more interesting world. Low scorers are on this scale are more oriented to facts than fantasy.”
Imagination can correspond well with Intuition, however certain Feeling types, especially Introverted Feeling (Fi), will focus on their ethical ideals and tend to be weaker at practical data (Extroverted Thinking), which may appear to be imaginative, but isn’t truly intuitive, just removed from facts. So, any SF type with “boosted” Feeling and/or higher intelligence can seemingly lean towards being “imaginative”.
For example, that’s how an ISFP with Fi subtype could score higher here despite being an S type (especially when Type 4 in the Enneagram), and an ENTJ with Te subtype would score lower here despite being an N type!
“Artistic Interests. High scorers on this scale love beauty, both in art and in nature. They become easily involved and absorbed in artistic and natural events. They are not necessarily artistically trained nor talented, although many will be. The defining features of this scale are interest in, and appreciation of natural and artificial beauty.”
Most people who score high here, happen to be actually ISFPs, whose Introverted Feeling (Fi) and Extroverted Sensing (Se) combo creates a natural inclination towards beauty and aesthetic feeling on all levels. I call them “The Aesthete” for that reason. Though of course, artistic interest is not a true prerequisite for any specific type, not even ISFP, apart from Type 4 in the Enneagram perhaps.
“Intellect and artistic interests are the two most important, central
aspects of openness to experience. High scorers on Intellect love to play with ideas. They are open-minded to new and unusual ideas, and like to debate intellectual issues. They enjoy riddles, puzzles, and brain teasers. (…) Intellect should not be equated with intelligence. Intellect is an intellectual style, not an intellectual ability, although high scorers on Intellect score slightly higher than low-Intellect individuals on standardized intelligence tests.”
Putting together intellect and artistic interest as the main components of Openness to Experience is a fatal mistake when it comes to equating it with Intuition.
Also, despite their claims, Intellect still appears to be a measure of Intelligence, which can include all Jungian types, both S and N.
Add to that the artistic interest issue, which is often heavily mixed up with S, and the result can be a mess.
Overall, the true assessment of Intuition boils down to the perception of ideas and universal meaning, and a natural weakness within the physical world as a side effect.
Myth 3: Conscientiousness equals Judging
One of the most persistent and mistyping issues to date, is equating Conscientiousness with Judging. It’s common place in most articles and info about both MBTI and Socionics. There can be notable correlations, but ultimately they are not good indicators of typing the Judging functions.
Conscientiousness seems strongly influenced by socialization, conservatism, upbringing, and people tend to become more conscientious as they age.
Big 5’s Conscientiousness
In cursive are the traits I deem largely unrelated to Jungian Judging.
“Self-Efficacy describes confidence in one’s ability to accomplish
things. High scorers believe they have the intelligence (common sense), drive, and self-control necessary for achieving success. Low scorers do not feel effective, and may have a sense that they are not in control of their lives.”
This trait can be correlated to Extroverted Thinking (Te) in terms of having “common sense”, but overall it appears to depend on self-confidence levels. Any type can “feel in control” or “out of control” in their lives.
“Orderliness. Persons with high scores on orderliness are well-organized. They like to live according to routines and schedules. They keep lists and make plans. Low scorers tend to be disorganized and scattered.”
This description downplays the other meaning of the term related to messiness. Studies have shown that Conservatives react more strongly to disgusting sights, such as maggots crawling on a piece of meat. Jungian types can have all kinds of political affiliations, so such conservatism is not necessarily a good indicator of type.
Regardless, such sensitivity to disgust is a correlation to “sensitive” Introverted Sensing (Si) PLUS conservatism/sensitivity to disgust. That means a conservative ISxx, ENxx, or ESxJ type would be more sensitive about cleanliness and likely score higher, despite being a Perceiver.
Routines, schedules, plans can correlate with a range of cognitive functions, mainly Extroverted Thinking (Te), Extroverted Feeling (Fe), Introverted Sensing (Si), and Introverted Intuition (Ni) usage, depending on the focus/task. The desire to do so can come from the cognitive functions themselves (either naturally or as an act of “self-improvement”) or outside pressure, like school/work, hence I don’t find it a good indicator of type.
“Dutifulness. This scale reflects the strength of a person’s sense of duty and obligation. Those who score high on this scale have a strong sense of moral obligation. Low scorers find contracts, rules, and regulations overly confining. They are likely to be seen as unreliable or even irresponsible.”
There is some correlation to valued Extroverted Feeling (Fe) and/or the Social Instinct, but primarily this is another trait typical of Conservatism: “That [Conservative] ethos is defined by characteristics such as traditionalism, religiosity, support for authority and hierarchy, sexual conservatism, and distrust of outsiders.”
Apparently, it’s primarily conservative people who will relate to Dutifulness (regardless of Jungian type) – including especially the “Compliant types” in Enneagram, which are phobic 6, 2, and 1.
Achievement-Striving. Individuals who score high on this scale strive hard to achieve excellence. Their drive to be recognized as successful keeps them on track toward their lofty goals. They often have a strong sense of direction in life, but extremely high scores may be too single-minded and obsessed with their work. Low scorers are content to get by with a minimal amount of work, and might be seen by others as lazy.
There is a strong correlation to Extroverted Thinking (Te) plus some Introverted Intuition (Ni) there, which makes ENTJ one of the types most likely to score high here, followed by ESTJ, ESFP, INTJ, and the occasional ISFP. As you can see, this includes P types.
Also, I have found that both Type 3 and the Social instinct desire to “achieve” in the eyes of society, no matter the Jungian type, so that includes types that don’t value Te nor Ni (aka xNTPs and xSFJs) as well!
Self-discipline-what many people call will-power-refers to the ability to persist at difficult or unpleasant tasks until they are completed. People who possess high self-discipline are able to overcome reluctance to begin tasks and stay on track despite distractions. Those with low self-discipline procrastinate and show poor follow-through, often failing to complete tasks- even tasks they want very much to complete.
Having said that, anyone can increase their self-discipline through self-love, better mental health, and doing tasks they actually enjoy (which depends on their valued/preferred cognitive functions), so once again, not a clear indicator of J.
Cautiousness describes the disposition to think through possibilities before acting. High scorers on the Cautiousness scale take their time when making decisions. Low scorers often say or do first thing that comes to mind without deliberating alternatives and the probable consequences of those alternatives.
There is a connection to weak or ignored Introverted Intuition (Ni) here, so a lack of cautiousness would mostly describe ESxP and ENxP types. So that would fit the J = cautious assumption.
However, ISxP types can be overly cautious when they are full of phobic Type 6-ish anxiety and overthinking everything. When cautiousness is mostly related to anxiety, it is not a good indicator of J.
At the end, Judging is essentially about the “judgment”/categorization of logical data or ethical standards, either from an external perspective (removed from the individual) or internal perspective (“personal”, tied to the subject).
- You can be an asociable Extrovert or sociable Introvert.
- You can be an open-minded S type or a closed-minded N type.
- You can be a P type that is higher in Conscientiousness, or a J type that is lower in Conscientiousness.
Don’t rely on Big 5 Stereotypes (which are mainly correlations and NOT causations), but instead on the Cognitive Functions to get the Jungian personality types right!
I know this is A LOT to take in! I recommend you to keep re-reading certain parts, check out the links, make sure you are familiar with my descriptions of the Cognitive functions etc etc.
If you are still confused about your type, you can book a Get•Typed session with me. 🙂
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