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What type are you?

Pic: Geralt/Pixaby

Who joins Mensa, the high IQ society?  What makes them do it?  And are you the kind of person who is more likely to apply? 

Lots of people think they “know” what very clever people are like. Some say they are clever introverts seeking conversation or social misfits seeking justification for their 'oddness'? 

Others will claim that Mensa members are elitists who just want to wave their IQ certificates around in a show of superiority – while having absolutely no common sense, of course.

In truth, there is no one description to fit Mensa members – there are as many different personalities as there are members.

However, thanks to British Mensa’s innovative partnership with psychological testing company Team Focus, we can now get a data-backed idea of what type of personality is most likely to try to join the society by sitting the Mensa supervised test.

Since 2013, everyone who has booked a supervised IQ test through Mensa has also been offered the chance to complete the Type Dynamics Indicator (TDI® - a British Psychological Society Registered Test).

Thanks to real data from a sample of almost 10,000 people who completed the personality profile, psychologists have built up a picture of the type of person most likely to take the IQ test.

It turns out most test-takers are introverts who are intuitive, organised and seek logical explanations for everything.

The personality profile results were collected completely independently of the Mensa IQ test results, which are confidential between the society and the applicant.

This means the data is for people who choose to take the test, not those with known extreme high IQ – although, as few people choose to put themselves through a test if they are likely to score badly, the assumption is that most test takers will have at least higher than average intelligence.

Roy Childs, managing director of Team Focus, said: “We can’t be sure that this sample is representative of all Mensa applicants or of the people who eventually join. 

“However, the likelihood is that it does reflect both groups to some degree.  If we accept this, the results suggest a clear difference in the type preferences of Mensa applicants versus those of the general population. 

“This information is interesting in itself but may also be useful for those who wish to join Mensa.  Perhaps it is useful to consider knowing more about the type of people with whom they would be communing - 'forewarned is forearmed'? 

“However, there is no reason to suppose that it is only similar types that will enjoy joining Mensa.  It is true that some people enjoy joining groups where the people are similar to themselves but others enjoy joining groups precisely to extend their interactions with people less like themselves - perhaps in the spirit of appreciating difference. 

“A person's type preferences should not be a barrier for applying to join - there are far more important issues for deciding whether to apply to join Mensa or not.”

The personality types used for the TDI are based on Carl Jung’s  classic theory of Psychological Type, which suggested that we all share the same personality traits but to differing degrees. The amount of each type of trait present determines personality.

The types are paired, and each type represented by a letter ; introvert (I) / extrovert (E) ; sensing (S) / iNtuition (N); thinking (T) / feeling (F); and judging (J) / perceiving (P).

The dominant side of each of these pairs of traits are represented by a four-letter code – ie INTP (introversion, intuition, thinking, perceiving).

The Team Focus data shows that a huge 70 per cent of people who take the Mensa supervised test are predominantly introverted, compared to just 43 per cent of the general population.

In fact, more than a third (34.2 per cent) of test takers fell into the personality type ISTJ, even though only 12.6 per cent of the general population falls into this group.

The greatest diversion from the “norm” was seen for the INTJ type – 10.3 per cent of Mensa test-takers fell into this category, compared to just three per cent of the population as a whole.

The option to take the TDI was introduced by Mensa so that those who perceived themselves to have “failed” the IQ test would have a positive and useful assessment of their all-round strengths, instead of a narrow IQ score.

It is, of course, not possible to fail an IQ test as it is simply a measurement of a variety of cognitive abilities and does not give a full picture of someone’s strengths and weaknesses.

Membership of British Mensa is offered to people who score in the top two per cent on any approved, standardised IQ test.

Personality types

An extravert has a primary orientation outwards - they seek essential stimulation from the environment - the outer world of people and things.
An introvert has a primary orientation inwards - they seek essential stimulation from the inner world - their thoughts and reflections.
E or I
The sensing preference takes in information ‘as it is’ - it is more literal and closer to the five senses of sight, sound, touch, taste and smell.  It focuses on the elements and the details rather than the whole.
The iNtuitive preference takes in more holistic information - it sees the relationship between elements and can thus appear like a ‘sixth sense’ or hunch. It focuses on the patterns and possibilities rather than the details.
S or N

The thinking preference seeks objective and logical reasons for decisions.  It becomes comfortable when the rationale for decisions is established.


The feeling preference seeks to match decisions with important personal values.  It is not dependent on a logical rationale to justify it.

T or F

The judging preference is for deciding and closing.  It works to introduce structure by organising, planning and getting results.  

The perceiving preference is for exploring and keeping things open.  It considers more options, seeks or listens to new evidence and enjoys flexibility and spontaneity.
J or P

Personality traits - test takers v general population

Personality types - test takers v general population