myers-briggs in the garden

I’m not a psychologist, but I have used the Myers-Briggs test in a work setting and found it interesting and useful. It is actually quite complicated and I don’t pretend to understand the fine details.

This is how Wikipedia explains it: The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment is a psychometric questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions.

One of the reasons I like Myers-Briggs is that it values difference. According to this model there are 16 personality types. In a team it is good to have lots of different types because they complement each other. None are better than others, just different ways of viewing and acting in the world.

I’m wondering how this applies to gardeners and garden bloggers. How does my personality type influence the type of gardener I am? And does this explain why out of all the many and varied garden blogs I visit, some, though wonderful and popular, just don’t ‘do’ it for me compared with others?

One personality type is ESTJ – standing for extrovert, sensing, thinking, judging.

The dominant tendency of ESTJs is to order their environment, to set clear boundaries, to clarify roles and timetables, and to direct the activities around them. This is supported by their facility for using past experience in an ordered and systematic way to help organize themselves and others.

Another personality type is INFP – standing for introvert, intuitive, feeling, perceiving.

The dominant tendency of the INFP is toward building a rich internal framework of values and toward championing human rights. They often devote themselves behind the scenes to causes such as civil rights or saving the environment.

I imagine that the ESTJ type would be very interested in the scientific names of plants and would have a fairly formal, or at least well organized, garden. Whereas the INFP would be thinking about the garden within the broader environment, and place emphasis on seeing the garden as a haven for wildlife.

My personality type is INTJ, which combines elements of both of these types. INTJ personality types have long range vision and quickly find meaningful patterns in external events. In fields that appeal to them, they have a fine power to organize a job and carry it through.

This makes sense to me, in relation to seeing my garden making as an extremely long range project. I tend to focus on the broad picture rather than details. I realize that I care more about the total design of the garden than the intrinsic value of the individual component plants that make up the whole picture. And I obsessively look for garden meanings everywhere – in philosophy, history, literature, politics, spirituality, love, life and death.


  1. I had to use this too but disagreed fundamentally with the principles of team building it implied. But then I was never much of a natural team player.

  2. I am not too sure about how differences in bloggers lead to a better level of blogging world... but we do know as far as plants are concerned, they really do need each other .... and the whole big food chain is just a proof how each supports and needs another ... cheers! ~ bangchik

  3. Interesting post, Catmint~~ I see a little of myself in each of these categories. The details matter as much as the overall in terms of garden design. Maybe I'm weird. I'm attracted to bloggers that have similar interests but I'm also interested in bloggers who live in various places. Australia and the Pacific Northwest USA for example. I enjoy psychological tests like the one you write about but I have never been able to fit myself into any one category.

  4. My husband and I took this when we got married. Out scores were different but we were identical types. It's worked out well for the last 20 years but now I want to go find those letters that applied to us and think about it related to the garden. Thanks for the idea!

  5. Hi Catmint:-) How interesting to ponder this question! I have administered various psychological tests over my years as a mental health counselor...and have taken the Myers Briggs a couple of husband and I are complete opposites! I'm an INFP and he's an ESTJ!! Somehow we have managed 31 yrs of marriage!! As far as gardening goes...I have NO idea, because I like everything. I like variety, and similarity, at different times! I like to visit bloggers who have similar interests as me, but also totally different climates, etc!! Sometimes I think the Myers Briggs doesn't really 'explain' people as Jungians claim it does...we all have So Many Parts of Each Quality within us;-) I love the idea though! You could do a study, form your hypothesis, and come up with something legitimate!! Anyway, happy Easter and hope you are well, dear catmint! (I know you have another name but catmint will do;-))

  6. I appreciate the interesting range of comments here.

    Hermes, you are a rugged individualist (lol), and clearly refuse to be placed in a category of any kind.

    Bangchik, yes, we all need each other, plants, bloggers and everything else!

    Grace, you must be a rugged individualist like Hermes! But seriously, I'm so pleased you found the post interesting. I think it's good to be a bit weird, otherwise we'd all be boring and predicable.

    Ms Wis, I would love to hear about whether, or how, you find M-B relates to the garden.

    Jan, you and Ms Wis both have long and successful marriages, but one has identical scores and the other opposite scores, so go figure! It would make an interesting study - are you interested? I would if I was looking for a thesis topic, but at the moment I am enjoying touching on a wide variety of garden topics without much depth. And yes, I do have another name but I prefer catmint because my parents gave me the other name and this one I chose for myself.
    Cheers, catmint.

  7. Interesting thoughts Catmint! Diversity means strength, as Myers-Briggs can be used to illustrate, so I would say that the variety in bloggers makes us all stronger collectively.
    Nature helps mix things up unexpectedly in our gardens, so you may see the gardener's Myers-Briggs-ness tempered or changed by nature's vision, in practice :)
    Plant Lady


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