Disclaimer: I am not a clinician. This is to serve as a launching point to a fun and interesting discussion topic. In no way, shape, or form is this to be construed as any form of medical or mental health advise, nor am I stating this is a reliable diagnostic tool. If you really want to takes these tests seriously, find a mental health professional so you can go over it in depth.
Additionally, I'll be glossing over some terms, people, and concepts. Use your Google fu to research them in order to come to your own conclusions.
Ever wonder why you react or think the way you do? Sure, that gigantic amount of baggage you carry with you might have a lot to do with it (though I prefer to call it "life experiences" these days).
What if that wasn't all of it?
Why is it that some people are "assholes" in your eyes? Why is it there are some people you will never, ever get along with? Sure, part of it might be conflict of interests and limited resources... but what if there were fundamental, almost insurmountable differences in your personality types or information processing methods that you two are likely never to resolve?
What if your personality type was heavily influenced by your genetics?
Welcome to the world of Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator tests and Socionics tests (with a little bit of Genetics tossed in for fun).
I encourage you Maniacs to read the Wiki entries on those items, and potentially some entries on Carl Jung.
Please note that this is all theory, but seems to have a high correlation to real world personalities, which types end up in a given profession, etc.
Introversion vs. Extraversion
Being an introvert does not mean one is shy, withdrawn, or anti-social (though they may exhibit those behaviors by certain definitions). It does mean that an introverted individual tends to work out things internally or "in their own world" first. It also means they are more likely to need down time away from people to recharge and compose their thoughts. Google introversion vs extroversion.
You can be a confident introvert or a shy extrovert. Unfortunately, many people confuse sociability with where someone falls on the introversion-extraversion scale, e.g., "I used to be an introvert but then I..."
Introverts are alleged to make up 30% of the population. They are often misunderstood due introverts living in a dominantly extraverted culture.
Personally, I am a confident introvert.
MBTI vs Socionics
I've taken tests in both theories and come up with some similar results. Keep in mind the results of a given test operate on a scale -- just because you came up as an INFP or ENTJ or whatever doesn't mean you are explicitly that type. It does mean you DOMINANTLY lean that way. Results can change over time as you get more
life experience baggage, your moods or behaviors change, etc.
I find MBTI is more about me as an individual, and Socionics is more about how I or my personality type interacts with other personality types. Socionics can get a bit out there at times. Some Socionic theories pose that how you look -- bone structure and facial structure -- can be indicators of your personality type. I'm not completely sold on it, but it's food for thought.
A brief summary on some MBTI vs Socionics differences (opens in new window).
A few different studies -- some done with twins -- indicate introversion/extraversion may be heavily influenced by genetics. Theories seem to indicate it has to do with how an individual's brain deals with dopamine amongst other factors.
Epigenetics indicates that gene expression can change over time. You may potentially be the world's most introverted person, but if you are not exposed to the right environment to activate those genes, it won't work out that way.
I've taken assorted MBTI tests a few times over the years and have consistently come up as an INTJ.
Socionics always puts me as an ILI or LII. That one seems to vary a little more by the set of questions.
Have at it, Maniacs!