MBTI® Type and everyday stress

Using Type Dynamics to explore reactions to pressure

Free-to-download resources using the Core Characters™ to illustrate what happens to our personality when stress starts to build

When challenge ceases to be energising and feels like unwanted pressure, we lose the normal balance of our personality Type, and can become a caricature of ourselves. Type exaggeration of this kind is usually unhelpful, and can even make things worse. 


The demands of modern working life, which require us to meet tight deadlines and do more with less, mean that most people and teams are constantly under pressure.

When the going gets tough, we tend to rely on the most comfortable and practised part of our personality; our dominant function (or leading Core Character). It is the part of ourselves we trust the most, and so is an obvious choice to turn to when we feel stressed. 

Not surprisingly, if we over-rely on our leading Core Character, we can allow our strengths to become weaknesses: simultaneously using less of the parts of our personality that usually provide balance. In this exaggerated state, Extraverts become louder and more active and Introverts withdraw to work things out independently. 

This kind of everyday stress is easy to recognise in ourselves and others, and knowing how to return to a more productive balance is vital to improving wellbeing and performance. The series of free-to-download illustrations, explained below, support exploration of what happens to our Core Character in an exaggerated, stressed state, and provide tips on how to return to peak performance. 

ENTP and ENFP Types share the leading Core Character of the Explorer. At their best, Explorers are enthusiastic, optimistic and imaginative. But under everyday stress, over-reliance on their Extraverted iNtuition means that they can become frenetic, generating so many ideas that they can’t choose between options; starting too many things to complete any of them. To regain balance, these Types (ENTP and ENFP) should take some time out to quietly decide on a course of action, using their preferred decision-making mode (Thinking or Feeling).

Explorer Core Character exaggerated

In contrast, INTPs and ISTPs have the Analyst as their leading Core Character. At their best these Types are independent, analytical and detached. But under everyday stress, over-reliance on Introverted Thinking causes them to become withdrawn, focus too much on logic, obsess about inconsistencies and seek perfect solutions. To regain balance these Types (INTP and ISTP) should find a trusted friend or colleague to talk over information and ideas, and so engaging their preferred information-gathering mode (Sensing or iNtuition).

Analyst Core Character exaggeratede

When we are stressed, we lose the balance between Extraversion and Introversion. Additionally, everyday stress causes us to lose our usual balance between taking in information (Perceiving) and making decisions (Judging). Our exaggerated ‘stress behaviour’ has a lot in common with what we were like as children, before we had developed the maturity of balance. Being aware of this change is critical when it comes to restoring balance and to avoid our greatest asset becoming a weakness.