MB and XYZ…

I find personality tests and differences fascinating.

I’ve heard people say that it puts people into boxes and then people feel compelled to behave a certain way or excuse or promote behaviors based on it. Well, I disagree with the first, but can see the second happening.

I think we all know that these tests aren’t complete sciences. Every individual is unique, their upbringing plays factors, etc.

But these kinds of tests, particularly the MBTI, are a really great source of information that can promote better communication and understanding among groups.

For example, I am an ISTJ (introverted, sensing, thinking, judging), or nicknamed “The Inspector”. I tend to see things in a very orderly, logical, many different hats may be necessary, long-term goal kinda way. And, some of its descriptions don’t fit me exactly. But you’ll get my gist with ISTJ.

So, when I come into contact with, say, an ESFP– and you’ll notice not many of the letters are shared– I have to think twice sometimes! My husband just happens to be an ESFP.

I like to describe our oppositeness as two sets of knuckles. They can either fit each other nicely when put together… or not! And MBTI is a great tool for me to understand him, his stresses, and how to best communicate.

However, living in another country, culture and language, I didn’t really think about MB that much. I was too busy with language acquisition, adapting myself and learning to read the air. MB was more of a study inside my home as compared to something I considered outside my front door.

After a while though, I began to wonder if MBTI is a global thing or if it works only in America. Do the expressions look the same or differently? And how does it work in a culture so completely different from my own?

Apparently, this is a test that people identify with across the world. Their results seemed to describe the individuals and these results were comparable to the results in other countries. After examining their research, these psychological types seem to be universal, but not necessarily expressed the same way across different cultures, nor are the cultural personality preferences similar. Quoting MBTI: “Each culture defines appropriate acceptable ways for people to express themselves, including ways to express their type preferences. Cultural norms and expectations guide the expression of type.”


Still, it’s not a big thing here in Japan. I wondered about that as well.

One big consideration is the difference between group mentalities and individual mentalities.

Japan is group-oriented. Group harmony and unity ranks higher in importance than the individual differences or desires. Early life education here has a high focus on learning to work together an cooperate as a group. Therefore, focusing on the individual can upset the group harmony.

Hence, the test hasn’t been as popular here as it is in other countries…

I appreciate and value in the group culture– I value the unity that it can extend, and the comrade-ness.

But I also still value my individual perspective and wouldn’t want to lose myself to that.

This all makes for good food-for-thought when interacting here and considering what expectations people face in what groups and how that plays a role in their expressions and decisions.

When it comes to Christianity, though it is a personal encounter and decision to follow Christ, you can see how having a strong group to fellowship with would be vital. And how being a part of a strong group of believers can more easily lead to a sincere faith decision.

That’s another one of the reasons we do what we do with The Gospel Through a Click. It glorifies God with powerful testimonies among people of a shared contest, while also helping to promote Christian community– as believers, we are all part of the family of God. And we’re not isolated or alone, though it may feel that way sometimes for believers here, who represent the 0.3%.

Anyway, those are some of my thoughts on this subject that really interests me and how it applies in the “world” I now live. (By the way, my kids describe Japan as the world we live in, and America as the world the grandparents live in… they are different “worlds”! I don’t think they’re wrong!)


One thought on “MB and XYZ…

  1. I’ve only just gotten a chance to catch up on this (fun fact, “gotten” is not a word in Britain, I learned). Very interesting to think about different cultures and personality tests. I’m wondering if there are other assessments/personality typing systems that you have also looked at and whether they are more or less helpful for understanding different cultures. Sounds like a BIG subject!


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