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16 vs 32 Personality Types

Written by Zuno Arashi Read

Greetings, fellow personality enthusiast!

By now, you’ve probably noticed how different NXT is compared to other personality systems. And if you’ve taken our test before, you may have found yourself scratching your head when you saw your results. Let’s be honest, our personality type code can seem downright alien for those encountering it for the first time. Take the following code for example [STVB | X-RAID | A-OO]. Yes, it does look quite strange; and no, it’s not a nuclear launch code (although that would be really cool).

32 vs 16 Types

Nonetheless, our type code is not the only thing that makes NXT so different from other typology systems. If you were to count the total number of personality types available on our website, everything adds up to a whopping 32 unique archetypes. Quite the surprise if you are accustomed to the standard 16 types.

Here’s where good ol’ MBTI comes into the picture. It’s been around for ages, and nearly everyone can recognize its 16 iconic codes in an instant (INFP or ESTJ, anyone?). A quick Google search also reveals that around 2 million people take the MBTI annually, making it a staple tool among corporations, organizations, and individuals worldwide. It’s so widely recognized, in fact, that one might even say that MBTI is the McDonald’s of typology.

Given its widespread adoption, it comes as no surprise that the impact of MBTI is felt almost everywhere. It has firmly established itself in pop culture, finding its way into viral memes and sparking lively discussions across social media platforms. Its cultural presence is so extensive that it is essentially ingrained in our everyday language. Simply identify as an ENFP and most people will instantly grasp what you mean.

But here’s the thing: as MBTI continues to gain traction around the world, the belief that only 16 personality types exist will be further cemented, inadvertently hampering the introduction of newer types. As a result, everybody is trapped within the confines of those 16 boxes, unable to explore a whole other spectrum of personality.

Now, for those well-versed in MBTI, you may be wondering, ”How is 32 types even possible?” Or, if you are a die-hard supporter of MBTI, the mere idea of expanding beyond 16 types might sound like outright blasphemy. Trust us, we get it. You see, we used to be firm believers of MBTI ourselves. We thought it held all the answers, making it our go-to personality system for the longest of time. Meaning to say, the 16 types were an undeniable fact to us back then.

So why did we change our minds? Why did we embrace the idea of 32 types? Well, perhaps like many of us, you struggled to identify with any one of the 16 types. You may have read through them and thought, ”None of these really capture who I am.” However, with only 16 types to choose from, you had no choice but to fit yourself into one of them. And thus, like countless others, you settled for the closest match even though its descriptions did not truly fit you.

Consider yourself an outlier in MBTI. The truth is, outliers often relate with certain aspects of a type while feeling disconnected from others. To illustrate this, let’s use our imaginary friend, Akira, as an example. Akira is an outlier who feels drawn to an ISFP’s sense of individuality, but feels out of place with their constant pursuit of new experiences. On the other hand, Akira resonates with an ISFJ’s desire for stability, yet does not share their need to serve others all the time.

What Akira does not realize, however, is that if he was not bound by the limitations of MBTI or any other 16 personalities model, he would actually be categorized as FiSi (or SFVB in NXT).

32 vs 16 Types

Sadly, Akira’s experience is hardly unique. He is but one among thousands, or even millions, of individuals who don’t fit squarely into MBTI, and not for lack of trying. Outliers like Akira normally spend a considerable amount of time taking an assortment of tests and quizzes, desperately seeking to identify their personality type. Yet, despite their best efforts, they always struggle to nail down a MBTI type that reflects who they are—because it was never even there to begin with.

Such discrepancies often leave outliers feeling like there’s something wrong with them, rather than in the system itself. This issue is further complicated by theories that have emerged over the years to explain away the existence of outliers. One such theory is known as “looping”, which suggests that individuals who utilize introverted or extraverted functions in tandem (such as TiNi or FeSe) are supposedly trapped in an unhealthy state of mind.

The concept of looping is rooted in Grant’s Function Stack, which states that functions must be arranged in an EIEI or IEIE order. Thus, any usage of functions that deviates from this sequence is considered an anomaly. However, Grant’s Function Stack fails to account for the overwhelming number of people who naturally exhibit “impossible” function pairings (such as EEII and IIEE) in a healthy manner.

To label these function pairings as unhealthy does not do justice to the incredible talents and abilities that outliers naturally possess. As such, it is disheartening to see articles advising individuals to break out of “looping” without realizing that it is, in fact, the natural state for many. This situation bears an uncanny resemblance to the past, where lefties were forced to use their right hand because left-handedness was wrongfully associated with the devil.

So how did everything go wrong?

Well, let’s journey back to the Roaring Twenties, an era marked by radical social, cultural, and economic transformations. The air pulsed with the rhythm of jazz and stock markets were soaring to an all time high. But amidst this electrifying atmosphere, an obscure book titled “Psychological Types” quietly made its debut in German. Although it garnered little attention at the time, this unassuming book held within its pages some of Jung's most profound insights and realizations.

In time, a curious woman named Katharine Briggs stumbled upon the English translation of “Psychological Types”, and later introduced it to her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers. Together, they delved deep into the book, and found immense potential in its theories. Deeply inspired by Jung’s work, the mother-daughter duo decided to harness his ideas to develop a practical tool for understanding personality, leading to the creation of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

This was where the misconceptions began. As Myers and Briggs grappled with Jung’s ideas, they faced the challenge of interpreting his descriptions, which weren’t always straightforward. Certain concepts, like function stacking, weren’t clear enough as Jung never explained it explicitly in his book. Therefore, Myers and Briggs had to figure it out based on what little information they could gather from Jung’s writings.

One of it being this particular quote found in the English translation of Psychological Types:

“For all the types appearing in practice, the principle holds good that besides the conscious main function there is also a relatively unconscious, auxiliary function which is in every respect different from the nature of the main function.”

This quote, with emphasis on “in every respect different”, led them to believe that Jung intended the dominant function and auxiliary function to contrast each other, even in terms of attitude. So, if the dominant function happened to be an extraverted judging function, Myers and Briggs concluded that the auxiliary function should be an introverted perceiving function and vice versa. Drawing from this understanding, they put forth two function stacks: EIII or IEEE.

If you are wondering why you have never seen these function stacks before, well that’s because they have been largely replaced by Grant’s function stack which was introduced much later. Grant’s function stack is the one that most people are familiar with today, and it’s the one that most people have come to associate with MBTI.

Anyway, there are a few problems with using the quote above as the basis for 16 types. First of all, the underlined word “unconscious” is actually mistranslated. This is the original text in German:

“Für alle praktisch vorkommenden Typen nun gilt der Grundsatz, daß sie neben der bewußten Hauptfunktion noch eine relativ bewußte, auxiliäre Funktion besitzen, welche in jeder Hinsicht vom Wesen der Hauptfunktion verschieden ist.”

The correct translation for the underlined German word “bewußte” is actually “conscious”, not “unconscious”. With that said, here is the accurate English translation of the quote:

“For all the types appearing in practice, the principle holds good that besides the conscious main function there is also a relatively conscious, auxiliary function which is in every respect different from the nature of the main function.”

Upon reading this, you can see why it is hard to conclude that Jung intended the dominant and auxiliary functions to be exact opposites. After all, a conscious dominant function is meant to be paired with a relatively conscious auxiliary function, not an unconscious one. Another quote from the same section supports this interpretation:

“Experience shows that the secondary function is always one whose nature is different from, though not antagonistic to, the primary function.”

Taking these two quotes into account, it is more likely that Jung intended “in every respect different” to signify a difference, rather than an opposition. Therefore, the idea that the dominant function must be paired with an auxiliary function of opposing attitude is not necessarily supported by Jung’s writings.

On top of that, Jung did not actually make any mentions about attitudes in the section in which the quote was taken from, not even once. Thus, it is inaccurate, or even misguided, to conclude that the statement “in every respect different” means that the dominant and auxiliary functions also had to have opposing attitudes.

That begs the question: what did Jung actually mean when he wrote “in every respect different”? To understand his intended meaning, we should examine the passage that follows after the quote.

“...is in every respect different from the nature of the main function. From these combinations well-known pictures arise, the practical intellect for instance paired with sensation, the speculative intellect breaking through with intuition, the artistic intuition which selects and presents its images by means of feeling judgment, the philosophical intuition which, in league with a vigorous intellect, translates its vision into the sphere of comprehensible thought, and so forth.”

As you can see, Jung’s explanation of an auxiliary function that is “in every respect different” from the dominant function does not involve any mention of introversion and extraversion. The only distinction he makes is in the judging and perceiving axis. That is to say, Myers and Briggs made a mistake in their interpretation of Jung’s quote, thereby making MBTI’s theory of the 16 types fundamentally flawed.

Don’t get us wrong; we recognize that MBTI has played a significant role in popularizing personality typology. However, to call a spade a spade, the inaccuracies in interpretation and the prevalence of outliers raises doubts about the accuracy of the 16 types. This made us realize that the 16 types isn’t a theory that is set in stone, and that alternative approaches are not only feasible but necessary for a more holistic understanding of personality.

Considering what Jung wrote originally and the context in which his ideas were presented, it becomes evident that function stacks like EEII and IIEE are possible within his framework. In fact, when we dove into Jung’s works and interviews, it came to our attention that he personally identified as Ti-N, without specifying his preferred type of intuition. This further proves that Jung never ruled out the possibility of auxiliary and dominant functions sharing the same attitude.

Interestingly enough, there are even speculations online that suggest Jung saw himself as TiNi, along with numerous discussions on various personality forums where individuals have independently typed Jung as TiNi. These observations align with our own understanding of Jung (we also typed him as TiNi, or NTVB in NXT), and had it not been for the misguided legacy surrounding function stacks, this perspective would have gained wider acceptance within the typology community.

Our goal is to reverse this misconception. By acknowledging the possibility of EEII and IIEE function stacks, we open the door to 32 distinct types, revealing a whole new spectrum of personality that has rarely been explored. Furthermore, delving into the intricacies of NXT reveals not only 64, 128, or even 256 types, but 512 unique types—a number that not only dwarfs the original 16 types, but also the 32 types that we have discovered.

This may come as a revelation to many, but it really isn’t that shocking when you truly consider the sheer complexity of human nature. In truth, even with 512 types, it remains a challenge for us to fully capture the vast spectrum of behaviors that are expressed by humanity. After all, each and every person is unique, born with their own distinct combination of traits that can never be exactly replicated.

As our article comes to a close, we want to take the opportunity to express our appreciation for the value that MBTI has brought to our lives as a tool for self-understanding. It has served as a gateway into the world of personality typology for many, including ourselves.

Truly, if not for MBTI (as well as Socionics, Keirsey, and many other personality systems out there ツ), we might have never ventured into the field of typology in the first place. Suffice to say, we are standing on the shoulders of giants. Nonetheless, as our understanding of personality deepens with time, we cannot help but recognize the limitations of these systems.

Therefore, through NXT, we hope to promote a far more nuanced understanding of personality by capturing the meaningful differences that set each of us apart. By introducing a much more comprehensive framework that encompasses 32 archetypes (or 512 types to be exact), we seek to unlock new dimensions of self-awareness and even more effective modes for personal growth.

Above all, our collective diversity deserves to be celebrated. As such, we hope that the NXT framework not only illuminates the beauty of our multifarious societies, but also serves as a powerful platform that builds upon the vibrant mosaic we call humanity.

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