Why Might You Want to Learn About This?
Have you noticed that some people you meet feel familiar right away? They
think and behave very much like you. Other people are different, sometimes
surprisingly different. Even people in your own family can be vastly
Every person is unique, of course, just like a fingerprint or a snowflake
However, there are a common patterns that allow us to classify and study
fingerprints. (Or snowflakes!)
Humans are wired to look for patterns, to classify and categorize and name.
Classification provides a controlled vocabulary. Controlled vocabularies
provide a way to organize knowledge for subsequent retrieval. They allow us
to share information, do research, explore, and learn.
Would it surprise you to learn that there are also psychological patterns?
In fact, one definition of Personality is "the typical pattern of thinking,
feeling, and behaviors that make a Person unique."
Understanding the distinctive ways in which different personality patterns
relate to communication is a key ingredient to success at work and in your
personal life. Wouldn't you love to know how to crack the personality code,
to help you understand people's preferences and patterns better and to help
you communicate better?
One way of classifying patterns of personality is athrough the lens of
"Psychological Type", a theory developed by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung
and made popular by Isabel Briggs Myers.
Gordon Lawrence, author of "People Types and Tiger Stripes", wrote: "Jung's
view was that we are more than just bundles of traits; we address life with
different types of mind-sets. We process life experiences with
categorically different mental frameworks. We are not all one type,
differing just by degree of various traits."
Jung defined 8 functions or "psychological preferences" for how we take in
information about the world (perception) and make decisions based on that
information (judgement). All people have access to all 8 of these
functions, but different "Types" use the functions with more (or less)
comfort and ease, preferring one form of perception and judgement over the
Jung believed that these preferences are innate, and unrelated to learned
skills (although they can make some skills easier or more difficult to
master) Consider left- and right-handed people. They have different brain
wiring and different preferences for using their "dominant" hand. That
doesn't mean that a left-handed person can't use their right hand and vice
versa. Similarly, no amount of skill in using the right hand will turn a
left-handed person into a right-handed person.
We can all "flex" into our less preferred functions, but doing so can feel
awkward or draining. An understanding of Psychological Type can thus lead
to an understanding of why certain activities come easily and feel
comfortable, while others are difficult and feel unnatural or just "wrong".
One of the things I really appreciate about Type is the depth. As people
start looking deeper, they develop new lenses for describing similarities
and differences between people. The 4-letter MBTI Type code or one-word
Temperament name are each only a shorthand for the wealth of information
contained in the profiles and the variations in our personalities.
Type and Temperament can help you to better understand yourself as well as
the people you interact with daily. Think of the people you interact with
throughout your day. Do you find some are a pleasure to communicate with,
but others are more difficult? Have you ever felt misunderstood or that
your contributions were not fully appreciated? Would you like to discover
some clues that can help you to understand those people better?
Where did this all come from?
In 1923, shortly after Jung's work was translated into English, it came to
the attention of Katherine Briggs, an American who was doing her own
research on personality. Katharine had noticed that her new son-in-law had
a very different personality from her daughter and the rest of their
Twenty years later, Katharine's daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers, embarked on
her own research. Isabel believed that an understanding of personality type
could help people find more meaningful work after WW II.
To make Jung's theory more accessible, Isabel began developing a Type
indicator in the form of a questionnaire. She learned about test
construction, scoring, validation, and statistical methods. Through her
contacts, she gained access to large pools of people to whom she could
administer her indicator.
The resulting questionnaire uses approximately 100 forced-choice questions
to sort people into one of 16 MBTI Types, each identified by a 4-letter
code. As she collected data, Isabel re-worked the questions, determining
which were most effective at sorting people into types.
Isabel didn't stop with a 4-letter code. She also created full descriptive
profiles for each of the 16 Types described by her indicator. Each profile
describes a well-adjusted, well developed personality.
In 1958, David Keirsey, a school psychologist, read those profiles and
realized that they accurately described many of the students he worked
with. Keirsey then developed his own theory, organizing Myers' 16 types
into four temperaments.
Many people find temperament easier to understand and appreciate than Type.
The differences between the temperament groups can be sharper. Temperament
groups may also be easier to remember, if only because they use words
instead of letter codes. Temperaments can be a quick and easy way of
describing and understanding preferred ways of thinking and acting.
Today, nearly 100 years after Jung published his Work, Psychological Type
and Temperament are still popular. Millions of people have taken the MBTI
or the Keirsey Temperament Sorter. Other researchers have built upon the
work of Jung, Myers, and Keirsey. Don Lowry developed the "True Colors"
temperament model, using four colors instead of English words to describe
Keirsey's temperaments. Linda Berens has developed an Interaction Styles
model, which looks at the 16 Types from yet another angle.
The more I learn about Psychological Type and Temperament, the more I
realize that the subject is so much deeper, so much richer, than I thought.
There's much more to learn.
I'd love to share it with you.