48 Schools, 16 Personalities: What’s Your School’s MBTI?
By Eden Gibson and Daniel Kim. Graphics by Kelsey Wang.
Whether we’ll admit it to ourselves or not, personality tests can be a great way to kill 10 minutes. They aid us on our endless journeys of self-discovery, and if anything, they make prime conversation fodder for a first date.
The last time we explored personality, we took a look at the Dark Triad inventory to see which academic majors lent themselves the most to narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. You can read that story here. This week, we’re revisiting the topic with a more familiar test (that many of us know all too well): the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).
The MBTI — known more colloquially as the “16 Personalities” test — sorts people into 16 unique personality types based on four dimensions: where you focus your attention (Extraversion or Introversion), how you gather information (Sensing or INtuition), the way you make decisions (Thinking or Feeling), and the way you deal with the outside world (Judging or Perceiving). Each combination of letters bears a unique name that describes its personality type: INTJ is “The Architect”, for example, while ESFP is “The Entertainer.”
And let’s get this straight: The Marriage Pact survey is not a personality test, nor does it rely on MTBI in any way. Our questions lean on an aggregation of the latest research in psychology and sociology to touch more generally on decision-making, core values, and interactions with others.
Purely for fun, we thought we’d explore the Myers-Briggs test on a school-wide scale. Our question is simple: If colleges could take the MBTI, which personality type would they get?
To start, we broke things down into each of the four categories on the MBTI. To determine whether a school was I (introverted) or E (extroverted), we focused primarily on one question from the Marriage Pact survey: “I would consider my friends quiet.” For each school that’s taken the Marriage Pact, we looked at their average response on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 being the highest level of agreement.
While colleges across the board consider their friends to be fairly outgoing, some schools were still more reserved than others. Based on our data, Tulane, Washington & Lee, Miami, and Georgetown were among the most extroverted schools, while the introverts included Mount Holyoke, Princeton, NYU, and Amherst.
Dividing schools into S (sensing) and N (intuition) was a bit more tricky. According to the makers of the MBTI, S personalities are more pragmatic, driven by their senses, and interested in observable facts — while N personalities tend to be imaginative, big-picture thinkers who use their intuition to make sense of the world. We focused on one question from the Marriage Pact survey: “I’d rather surround myself with people who are [simple or complex].” Since N personalities tend to be abstract thinkers themselves, it’s safe to assume that they would seek out complexity in others.
However, since this question wasn’t a perfect indicator, we also looked at academic majors to check the validity of our results. Those with an S personality are typically more likely to be interested in fields that prioritize inductive reasoning — like computer science, engineering, or biology — while N personalities may gravitate toward the social sciences or humanities. While this isn’t always the case on the individual level, we made the generalization for the sake of categorizing schools. Among the most “intuitive” schools were Tulane, Columbia, Tufts, and Stanford, while the “sensing” schools included UC Berkeley, UNL, Villanova, and Notre Dame.
Next, we were tasked with separating schools into the “thinkers” (T) and “feelers” (F). This time, we looked at the average of two questions for each school: “There is no such thing as unconditional love,” and “criticism motivates me.” Logically, those driven by their feelings rather than their minds are more likely to be hopeless romantics but less likely to respond well to criticism. The “feeling” schools included Elon, Mount Holyoke, UVM, and William & Mary, while NYU, Yale, Princeton, and Berkeley leaned towards the “thinking” side of the spectrum.
Last but not least, we sorted schools into “judging” (J) or “perceiving” (P). J personalities are more “type A”: organized, task-oriented, and avid fans of planning ahead. P personalities, on the other hand, are far more spontaneous and flexible when it comes to scheduling. Our question of choice on this one is pretty self-explanatory: “I like to be thought of as spontaneous.” Fittingly, topping the spontaneous “P” side were Miami, UCSB, Tulane, and UCLA, while the “J” schools were led by Amherst, Northwestern, Princeton, and Rochester.
Now it’s time to piece it all together. Below are MBTI profiles for five schools whose deviations from the cutoff between E and I, N and S, F and T, and P and J were all statistically significant — in other words, the schools that aligned the strongest with one of the 16 personality types. Think we got yours right?
NYU: ISTP (The Virtuoso)
NYU was among the most introverted and “thinking” schools, and also leaned towards the sensing and perceiving sides of the spectrum. NYU students are also an eclectic bunch — where else would both Computer Science and Drama top the charts for the most popular majors? It’s no wonder they come out as virtuosos: individualistic, natural creators who “engage in life with inquisitiveness and personal skill.”
Tulane: ENFP (The Campaigner)
Tulane students are not only extroverted off-the-charts (no surprises there), but highly intuitive, spontaneous, and open-hearted. Some of their top majors include finance, political science, psychology, and public health — all human-oriented pursuits that require a great deal of curiosity and thought. At their core, Tulane students tend to be vibrant, imaginative, and easygoing — all hallmarks of the Campaigner personality type.
Stanford: INTP (The Logician)
What else would we expect from a school whose top major is overwhelmingly computer science? Stanford was one of our most intuitive and thinking-oriented schools — partially because they say they’re motivated by criticism more than anyone else. Stanford students, like other Logicians, offer “unique perspectives and vigorous intellect.” In sum, they tend to be analytical, deep thinkers with a knack for creative problem solving.
UVA: ISFJ (The Defender)
UVA students — like Defenders — are practical, decicated, and reliable. Their top majors include computer science, commerce, and biology — all analytical pursuits that require rational, inductive reasoning. Although the J in their personality type means UVA students lean more “type “A than “type B,” their “feeling” side means they’re not only diligent workers, but warm and altruistic souls as well.
UNL: ESFP (The Entertainer)
Ebullient and adventurous, UNL students are some of the most extroverted and spontaneous of the bunch. They also came out with the highest “sensing” score of all 44 schools we looked at, which makes sense given their wide range of practical majors and abundance of pre-health students. Besides being observant pragmatists, Entertainers are bold, enthusiastic, and vibrant; in other words, pull up to UNL for a good time.
Have another personality-related topic you’d like us to explore? DM us on Instagram or Twitter, @marriagepact.
Eden is a writer for the Marriage Pact. She can be reached at eden ‘at’ marriagepact.com.
Daniel Kim is a data analyst for the Marriage Pact. He can be reached at daniel ‘at’ marriagepact.com.