MBTI vs Big 5: Myths and Stereotypes

The newest and most known content and tests about the MBTI personality types, based on Jung’s work, unfortunately have begun to devolve into a concealed imitation of the Big 5 personality traits.

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.

For the sake of getting the most out of this article, I advise you to study the 8 Jungian Cognitive Functions, Enneagram Types, and Instincts first, then come back.

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.

Fundamental Discrepancies

  • 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.

Jump to the conclusion here.


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 openly
demonstrate positive feelings toward others. They make friends quickly and it is easy for them to form close, intimate relationships.”

IPIP-NEO Report

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.”

Partly related to Extroverted Feeling (Fe) / being an ExFx type, but once again primarily related to the Social instinct (and probably low social anxiety). Similar as to the above.

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.

Also, there is some connection to the Social instinct there. Social last Extroverts won’t be as interested in leading groups. In contrast, some Social first Introverts can enjoy doing so!

Active individuals lead fast-paced, busy lives. They move about
quickly, energetically, and vigorously, and they are involved in many activities.”

This mostly corresponds with ESxx and ExxJ types, being either high in Extroverted Sensing (Se) and/or External Judgment.

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 averagebut 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 your primary and natural focus being based on external parameters, starting from an external “objective“ viewpoint (unrelated to you as an individual). Also, Extroversion is related to higher (mental or physical) energy.

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.

The description of Intellect does fit the concept of Extroverted Intuition (Ne) the best, however that could exclude some INxJ types who disfavor the use of that function.

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.

Stereotypically, types who are weak at Extroverted Thinking (Te) and likely to be (average to unhealthy) Enneagram Type 9, aka IxFx, would score lowest here. So that includes both Ps and Js again.

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).


Conclusion

  1. You can be an asociable Extrovert or sociable Introvert.
  2. You can be an open-minded S type or a closed-minded N type.
  3. 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. 🙂


4 comments

  1. I agree, I hate that 16 types test that pretends to be mbti when it’s not. The openness score with intuitiveness is so dumb especially when so many of them I know are super close minded, but I also dislike the facet in big 5 because it seems like a random hodpodge of stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, the way they are clustering together certain traits makes it obvious that they let machines do that ^-^’
      Having said that, I don’t hate the Big 5, it can bring some nuance and raise interesting discussions, for instance how the levels of neuroticism and conscientiousness might be somewhat inborn, but they can still be improved. However, obviously I see issues with merging Big 5 and MBTI, because they are not the same.

      Like

  2. Awesome, I’m glad to see someone publishing the same sorts of things I’ve been thinking and rarely saying for years (social-last). You’ve also given me some ideas I hadn’t thought about (in addition to very specifically delving into each of the Big 5 facets vis-a-vis the enneagram, MBTI, Jung, *and* the instincts, which is more than I had bothered to do).

    I do think that Jung’s original typology seemed to be based in clustered prototyping, and that these prototypes (the 8 core types of Jung’s typology) are functionally the same as 8 of the 9 enneagram types (though this idea is definitely influenced by Riso/Hudson’s correlations between the enneagram and Jungian types in one of their books). However generating factors from these types as the MBTI did may very well be creating something new that doesn’t necessarily correspond to the enneagram types.

    On a side note, back in the day I saw what seems a correspondence between the instinctual stackings and intellectual types of J.P. Guilford’s structure of intellect model (specifically the 6 “products” of the structure of intellect). Since I know by prior behavior that I basically won’t publish anything about this idea for public consumption, I’m leaving it here in case you see truth in it.

    Guilford’s products are:
    1) Units – specific, well defined pieces of knowledge about a thing. Basically defining an entity based upon its broad similarities and differences to other entities. Instinctually a focus on the “self” defined within a “social” context (sp/so, sexual last). Pictorally Guilford showed a perfect circle.

    2) Classes – Groupings of things into kinds. Basically defining collections of entities based upon the shared similarities and differences of each other versus other entities which aren’t part of the class. Instinctually a focus on the “social” defined by many “selves” (so/sp, sexual last). Pictorally Guilford showed a grouping of empty polygons. They are all similar in that they are empty, enclosed shapes defined with straight lines terminating in angles.

    3) Relations – Connections between things. Basically a focus on how entities relate with each other. This is not a focus on grouping entities in categories, but on individual affinities. Instinctuall a focus on the “sexual” between “selves” (sx/sp, social last). Pictorally Guilford showed two large circles, one empty one half-filled, and two small circles, one empty one half-flled. They are all circles, two related by being large, two related by being small, two related by being half-filled, two related by being empty.

    4) Systems – Groups of interconnected relationships. Basically defining a collection of entities bound by interrelationships between them. Instinctually a focus on the “social” defined by “sexual” connections (so/sx, sp-last). Pictorally Guilford showed two alternating series of empty and fully filled circles of increasing diameter stacked on each other, ultimately connecting together on a large empty circle. Each additional circle grows larger and switches from filled to empty.

    5) Transformations – Modifications of entities to fit with new entities. Basically altering entities in some ways to see how they fit with new entities. Instinctually a focus on presenting particular aspects/relations of a thing “sexual” to better relate it with things of another milieu “social” (sx/so, sp-last). This definition of mine isn’t the best. In a person I believe to be sx/so I’ve seen this as an intellectual focus on pathways and analogs. Pictorally Guilford showed a parallelogram with an “x” in the upper right corner above a rectangle with an “x” in the upper left corner. The paralleogram transforms into a rectangle and flips around.

    6) Implications – A particularity about an entity or situation indicating a likelihood of another thing about that entity or situation. Basically a focus on what a trait of an entity implies about a relation to other traits or entities (this is a very bad description). Instinctually a focus on a “self” and what the “sexual” connections that self has indicates about it (sp/sx, social-last). Pictorally Guilford showed half a square “|_” followed by a full square. Part of a square implies the full square (forming connections between the ends to make a thing).

    Sp/sx is my stacking, an example of this is when I first read about the products of Guilford’s structure of intellect I immediately saw a relation in the number of products compared to the number of stackings (both 6), as well as the unitary self (self-preservational) nature of seeing things as “units”, the collective (social) of seeing things as “classes”, and the interpersonal (sexual) of seeing “relations”. After seeing what appeared to be four instances of direct correlation here I just needed to read more about the other products to fill in the blanks and verify this concordance. Correspondance between independently generated ideas can sometimes help us to determine what is true (when lacking empirical data).

    The instincts, being what we care about, aren’t just about behaviour, but about how we think and feel too.

    Liked by 1 person

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