Does Personality Type change over time?

maryamassegaf asked: Is it possible our type change over the time? I have test and read about mbti in many website, and the result is always INTJ right now, but I think my type in childhood was ISTJ (the description is fit better to me in the childhood). When I was teen, there was clashes inside my mind so I began to questioning inside my mind about values, rules, morality and principles in society. So I think those clashes shaped me to use more Ni functions. Btw, I have test my cognitive functions in website, and ther result my Ni, Te, Fi, Ti, and Si function is more deveoped than others (in order with small point difference)

Have you ever met somebody who got in a car accident, ended up with a horrible head injury and was never quite the same person after that? It happened to my dad (literally changed personalities).

How about…have you ever met somebody who underwent traumatising childhood abuse and ended up with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)? Multiple personalities all meshed into one person?

The point I’m trying to make is this. Yes, personality can change drastically as a result of trauma. It happens subconsciously, in a part of our minds that we have little control over. However, I don’t believe it’s possible to consciously change your personality.

1. Don’t trust the test.

Realise that online MBTI test results are usually inaccurate to a large extent, so I wouldn’t advise you to base a fluctuating personality off of any of them (if you must, this one is more accurate than most).

If you need examples of how often the test is accurate, take a look at my family’s results after multiple tests:

Family member Actual type Test results

You’ll notice that my ISTJ sibling and I both get relatively consistent results, while my ESFP and ENFP siblings have startlingly erratic results.

Part of this has to do with the test questions being widely interpretable, but it also has largely to do with how well we actually know ourselves. My ISTJ sibling and I are extremely introspective and way too honest with both ourselves and others, so naturally our results are going to be more likely to be accurate.

See, there’s often a wide chasm between what we think we are and what we actually are. My ESFP sibling is convinced that they’re an ENTJ, so they’ve figured out how to select the test answers that reflect an ENTJ mindset even though they aren’t one. What you have to ask yourself if you’re trusting the test is whether or not you’re doing similar things, and whether or not you actually want to trust the test in the first place.

My ENFP sibling is honest in her answers, but depending on the day and how they feel, they’ll answer differently, so they’ll get a different type. It’s that simple –not that their personality has changed at all, but rather, that their mood has changed. This sibling often locks into their shadow functions and gets INFJ, but they’re not an introvert when looked at in the long-term.

2. Life experience often changes perspective without altering cognitive function.

Oft times, it’s easy for us to confuse having thought the same thought as someone who uses a particular function with actually having that function. In other words, it’s easy to relate circumstance to cognitive function, where no such connection actually exists.

Example #1 Most of my American readers won’t be familiar with this example, but Generation War is the best one I could think of. Wilhelm (ISTJ) and Friedhelm (INTJ) Winter are two brothers stuck in a war. At the start, they clearly resemble their types, but towards the end of the mini-series, you start to see drastic changes in who they are.

Wilhelm: starts out as a rule-following patriot and conformist –> ends up an anti-war army deserter who does not obey orders

Friedhelm: starts out an anti-war rebel who does not obey orders –> ends up a rule following (albiet still unpatriotic) drone

This is the moment where they switch places

They haven’t changed personalities at all. By the end Wilhelm (initially ISTJ) behaves more like an INTJ –he thinks about things that are more natural to INTJs, but his mode of thought still functions like an ISTJ. The opposite is true of Friedhelm. Harsh life experience forces them to develop ways of coping with all the horror around them, and when their natural beliefs aren’t enough, they develop new perspectives to help them cope.

They haven’t changed thought processing styles (personality type); they’ve changed perspectives.

Again, this example deals with extremely traumatising experiences, so it isn’t necessarily applicable to every day life, but examples must use extremes to get the message across. Anyone who has gone through a traumatising experience (or multiple) will be difficult to type simply because, like the Winter brothers, they have been forced to develop parts of themself that didn’t come naturally in their original state.

Example #2: Ender Wiggin is an INTJ who undergoes a number of traumatising experiences, including forced isolation, killing several other children and committing genocide. As a result of this experience, he develops a need for companionship, an obsession with the concept of love and a deep selflessness.

Generally, you don’t see this in a stereotypical INTJ child, but you do see it in INFJ children. Ender clings to his INFJ sister, Valentine, carries out a life of selfless devotion to everyone he comes in contact with and continues to contemplate the concept of love until the day he dies (3000+ years later).

Has Ender become an INFJ? Absolutely not. He may contemplate the same things an INFJ would, but he processes the information using NiTe logic, not NiTi logic. He may reach the same conclusions an INFJ would, but reaches conclusions the way an INTJ would.

Ender is an INTJ with the perspective of an INFJ. He still processes INTJ style.

Either way, by the end of your life (if you’ve lived it right), it should be impossible for anyone who doesn’t know you closely to type you.

3. If you want the philosophical answer…

Despite my being considered by you folk as an expert in MBTI, I personally believe that personality does not define who we are as individuals. From my perspective, it is merely a mode of thinking, part of the base nature of man’s existence.

But if we are not our personalities, who are we? After years of contemplating human nature, I’ve concluded that it’s the moral compass, the part of us that decides what we will do in life, that makes up who we are. If my soul ended up in a different body, I might have a different personality, but ultimately, I would still make the same moral decisions that I do now.

If you need a fictional example of this concept, try Doctor Who. The Doctor, despite constantly changing personalities and bodies, always pursues the same moral course –helping people and fighting evil. He doesn’t suddenly decide he doesn’t want to be good anymore because he’s changed personality, and the Master will never decide to pursue good simply because he’s changed personalities.

If you want an even better fictional example, read Children of the Mind, wherein you get an Ender with three different bodies, all possessed by his soul, all with different personalities, but all pursuing the same moral course.

In the end, I think personality is a mortal cage that we should aspire to transcend. Anyway, that went long. But it was a complicated question.


18 thoughts on “Does Personality Type change over time?

  1. This inspired me to take a bunch of internet MBTI tests. Here are my results: INTJ, INTP, INTP, INTP, INTP, ENTP. Mostly accurate.


  2. I cannot tell who wrote the original editorial. I believe the advice on which test to take and which is the most accurate, “if you must,” is incorrect advice. The 16personalities test is not reliably accurate. It is the very worst one to take. In addition, on their website, they acknowledge that they are not exactly using the Myers-Briggs definitions for everything. Like Socionics, they have somewhat of their own system, that uses the four-letter types, but is not going to line up with the actual MB system. Please do not advise people to use the test on the 16personalities website.


  3. Do tests where they show the result with ratios (E/I=40/39 e.g.).
    I am on average 60-80% on Introversion scale (0% being total Extrovert). And 65-75% “T”
    So I’ve always got “I_T_” – as a result, but my N/S and P/J are around 45-60% on average.
    I say on average, because mood affects us thus also our answers.
    So i put the results to Excel… and compared different tests.
    INTP 60.8%
    ISTP 59.3%
    INTJ 59.3%
    ISTJ 57.8% I am all of those and not just one of those.
    INTJ 60.9% // was my 3rd type in Test1
    ISTJ 60.3% // was my 4th type
    INTP 60.3% // was my 1st type
    ISTP 59.6% // was my 2nd type.
    I could take the average of my tests
    INTP 60.5% // 1st & 3rd place in 2 test
    INTJ 60.1% // 3rd & 1st
    ISTP 59.4% // 2nd & 4th
    ISTJ 59.0% // 4th & 2nd. NB! 1st and 4th type are just 1.5% off in 100% scale.
    but it would show average me, and I am not my average all the time. Depends really on the mood, active stimulus, how much coffee, food, sex, drugs or rocknroll i just had,
    Doing all this in Excel and feeling that i have to reply here about it – would put me to on MBTI type, but going after this and watching my favorite Romantic Drama with friends would shift me to another.

    Some MBTI types were off by 6 positions but not more! On average the types were off by 3.0 positions – so you have to check more types, when trying to describe yourself.
    If your scores are close to 50% – it is basically useless to try MBTI. But the precision of tests was rather surprising… I let 6 of my friends/family to do the tests (they are the most similar people to me who i know) .
    * The closest was as close to me as my 2 test results (also 3.0 positions off.
    * Using complex covariance calculations from 8 tests, me1 vs me2 was on 3rd place
    * But if comparing just the % from my Test1 and Test2, average difference was just 3.0%.
    * * My closest friend had 5.1% difference
    * * My girlfriend and father got 5.3%
    * * Mother and 2nd best friend got 7.7%
    * * My 3rd best friend got 11.1% difference. Same guy had top 3 of 4 top types same as me, and seemed like “the closest match”. but he’s like 90% introvert, which I am not
    So comparing and taking the results as real values of the traits (I/E, N/S, F/T, J/P) is the way to go (not positions like MY TOP TYPE is INTP, nor covariances, just simple %).

    So if your traits are near 50:50 its ok to have different Top1 result, but it rather matches as you showed yourself.
    But if the traits are closer to extreme, and you still get opposing results – I’d consider having bipolarity :)

    // Sorry if it came double, as the website didn’t show me notification about successful posting…


  4. Is hard to explain this situtaion , two years ago i hit my head so hard after that my concerns about my future leave my head ( my
    and my belive in a good leave me too ) and now i have more self-confidence and i understand better the others ( i feel more extroverted) but i more disorderly and i dont have a clear goal in my mind .

    PSDT1: I do the test ten times 7 intj- 3 intp
    PSDT2: I suppose before the hit i am intj because my focus in my goals.
    PSDT3: Sorry for the bad english

    My question here is: What personality type is suppose am i?


  5. Development of Tertiary and inferior as well as well shadow functions in mid-ages cause a change in preferences and attitudes.


  6. Hello. So in the Peer Advocates group I am in at school, the leaders had everyone in the group take the print, actual MBTI test. I received my results and I got ISTJ not the ISFJ I got on online tests. I am thinking about evaluating whether I am an ISTJ or an ISFJ.


      • Thank you. It was very interesting when the members compared the results. The majority were extraverts. The most common results were ENFP and INFP. I was the only one who tested as an ISTJ. The only critique I had was that the functions were just discussed in general (no mention of Si, Se, Ni, Ne, Ti, Te, Fi, and Fe at all). Then again, the leaders were probably trying to make it accessible.


    • This reminds me of when I took the official MBTI test and got INTP, which is a laughable result knowing my true type is INTPs demon type. I strongly suggest getting your type verified by an experienced professional, otherwise you run the risk of trapping yourself inside an uncomfortable box. You dont want to be like me when I thought I was INFP.. at the time I didnt even know about functions because we learned about MBTI from an uneducated dillitante of a teacher who thought he was INTJ and that majority of the IB class was INTJ too (only three of us were NT and only two of them INTJ with the other an INTP). Looking back I cant forgive him for teaching something he knew so little about the fool. If I ever see him again… or even worse when I thought I wss INTP and began making up pointless theories…


      • Thank you for your advice, Anonymous! Throughout the teaching, the vast majority of students were confused and did not understand how it worked. I believe that the leaders did do a good job of generally explaining it, but left out many parts. I would like to discuss with a professional one day.


  7. The chart you made signalizes that people with dominant extravert function more often get false test results. I know you can’t get reliable results on a group of four, but would you perceive it as a partial clue?
    I believe the problem of “possible personality changes” occurs because people tend to identify their MBTI result with everything they define themselfs through. The temptation of having yourself fully described in four letters (or four functions, for those more into the subject) is quite overhelming. Meanwhile it shows merely the thought process, just as simplified as your thoughts can be while crammed into a can of four indicators.


    • I’d have to test that theory with further data, because if you were to include my parents on that chart, you’d see my mom score ESTJ without fail every single time (and my dad scores INTP without fail as well).


  8. This is an excellent post. I would like to add my two cents on the part mentioning life experience. I believe that being alone in a social sense can affect how one uses their functions as well. In my life, there was a period of time when I did not have friends. I was sometimes made fun of by other kids in my younger years because some of my behaviors were not “socially acceptable.” When I got older, I became very lonely and just wanted a true friend. I am happy and lucky to say that a few months ago, I found true, wonderful friends that appreciate my weirdness. Anyway, I will get to MBTI. When I was lonely, my dominant Si would remind me of my past. Mainly, inferior Ne gave me anxiety and insecurity. This experience made me become introspective and developed some INFJ qualities. Forgive the lengthy response and thank you for reading.


    • I know this isn’t what you were trying to say, but I have to clarify it for the sake of other readers on the site.

      Introspectiveness isn’t necessarily an INFJ trait, and is in fact, not even solely and introverted type trait. Introspectiveness tends to fall into line with introverted feeling (Fi), so plenty of extraverts with this function have an incredible capacity to be introspective.

      On the second hand, to what INFJ qualities might you be referring?


      • I apologize for any stereotyping I may have done. This was not my intention at all. I think the trait I may have been identifying with was a deeper awareness of the consequences of actions done by myself and others. I also have the tendency to plan far ahead to years past college (this quality increasing as my life goes on). I did not mean to make a distinction between introvert and extrovert. I had (perhaps inaccurately) thought that INFJs used their Ni to introspect. I value your opinion and hope that I have not offended dominant Ni users.


        • No need to apologise. I just wanted to make sure that readers didn’t get the wrong idea.

          Yes, Ni can be quite introspective, but as the Anonymous just said, not by itself (same goes for Fi).


      • I agree that introspection tends to fall in line with Fi, but we must remember Fi is solely a judging function incapable of introspection on its own. The reason we tend to observe introspection in FP/TJ types is because it works in conjunction with an introverted perception process; Fi deems the ‘individual’ as a valuable subject to understand in it’s own right, and we use Ni/Si allows to explore this subject.

        I understand what led you to say that though; for an INTJ I suspect (strongly) that Ni doesn’t explore itself without a somewhat developed or developing Fi. In my case serious introspection didn’t occur till Ni was struggling to develop.. I spent most of my time before then enjoying myself without much thought as to why (auxiliary Se).

        I posit the degree of introspection (or shall I say ease) we see in a person is a function of the position of their introverted perception process, and indeed this introverted perception process can be influenced by both introverted judging processes. I like to think of INFJ tendency to struggle with Self and its unique desires throughout their lives; Ni negatively influenced by Critical Parent Fi (6th function). This is not a rule, some people with quaternary Si/Ni are introspective but it takes them longer to reach that point; simply, the higher Ni/Si the sooner we may see introspection. And I want to make clear that the quality of said introspection isn’t necessarily a function of Si/Ni position.


        • Don´t INFJs have to be introspective though? I think a mature INFJ would probably be because they realize as they grow that for helping and taking care of others they also have to understand and take care of themselves. I have a very good example :) and I hope with lots of anxiousness your answer haha :)
          I have a friend who had to learn to understand and take care for herself. When she was younger she would have lots of things going on, but didn’t have a clue of how to deal with them or what they were, her only way of being okay was by to writing everything down to take everything out and feel again with peace enough to be there for others and also work on her goals. When she didn´t have the time to write (she was so focused on her goals), the only way of taking everything out and feeling better was by hurting herself somehow.
          However with others she was so excellent at helping them with solving their problems effectively and also feeling better, like if she had a superpower or something even just with a hug.
          After high school she had a long period of time totally alone, like if she disappeared from earth. When I saw her again it was like seeing Gandalf the white instead of Gandalf the grey. She was the same but much mature and seemed to be in peace with herself now.
          She finished what she had to finish but she explained to me that when she was totally alone and locked, she ended up sick. And after she got sick, she realized how important it was to understand, take care and love herself too, not only the world.
          I really wait for your answer! :D
          And by the way, I loved this posted. You are awesome Arvid!
          Blessings, bye :)


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