Home » Into the trainers mind » HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE ON PERSONALITY TYPOLOGIES

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE ON PERSONALITY TYPOLOGIES

Understanding how others function is a first step in working with them. Organizations consist of people who differ from one another on almost every dimension possible. Diversity certainly is a challenge that is here to stay.

We always can count on Jung, Myers and Briggs, and Keirsey and Bates. But still we need to keep in mind that we are all changing and all that test gives us a frame. People behavior and nature is like unritten book. Jung’s work formed the basis of the later work of Myers and Briggs; the work of Myers and Briggs, in turn, formed the basis of Keirsey and Bates’ work. The four dimensions of personality that provide the structure for these three theories. These dimensions are extraverts/introverts, sensors/intuitors, thinkers/feelers, and judgers/perceivers. 

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Jung’s Theory of Type

Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist whose theory of psychological types  helps people to recognize and to understand basic personality differences. In essence, this theory describes people’s ranges of orientations to perceiving (sensing versus intuitive), interpreting (thinking versus feeling), and responding (extraversion versus introversion). By becoming aware of these basic differences, people can better understand others’ motivations and behaviors and can expand tolerance and respect for those whose styles are different.

Jung recognized that people make clear choices from infancy on as to how they use their minds. Although each person has some of each kind of orientation, he or she generally favors one type over the other. Furthermore, types seem to be distributed randomly with regard to sex, class, level of education, and so on.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

In the early 1940s, Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katherine Briggs, began to explore ways to use Jung’s theories to explain personality differences. With World War II as a backdrop for their work, the women saw peace in the world as the ultimate goal of understanding personality types. Their paper-and-pencil instrument for determining personality type became known as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The MBTI is based on a psychometric questionnaire whose results seem to determine accurately a person’s viewpoint and style of behavior in all aspects of work and personal interaction. Use of the MBTI is extremely widespread; to date, several million Americans have taken it. The instrument also has been translated into Japanese, Spanish, and French, helping many people around the world to understand and accept themselves and others.

Using Jung’s theories as a starting point, Myers and Briggs designated three sets of letter pairs: E/I (extraversion/introversion), S/N (sensing/intuitive), and T/F (thinking/feeling). To these they added a fourth letter-pair set, J/P (judging/perceiving). The MBTI classifies each person in one of sixteen personality types, based on that person’s preferences for one aspect from each of the four sets of letter pairs.

The Keirsey and Bates Sorter

David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates (1984), in their book Please Understand Me, use the same four dimensions that are found in the MBTI to outline four “temperaments.” They define temperament to be “that which places a signature or thumb print on each of one’s actions, making it recognizably one’s own”. Temperament is based first on the S/N dimension; differences on this dimension are “the source of the most miscommunication, misunderstanding, vilification, defamation, and denigration” . People with an S (sensing) preference gather information in concrete ways, based on facts in the here-and-now; temperament theory then subdivides them based on how they act on this information
(judging or perceiving). People with an N (intuitive) preference gather information in abstract ways, based on intuition and possibilities; the temperament sorter then subdivides them based on how they make decisions about this information (thinking or feeling). Thus, according to the Keirsey and Bates Sorter, a person is characterized as SJ, SP, NT, or NF.

THE LETTER PAIRS

The dimensions used by Jung, by Myers and Briggs, and by Keirsey and Bates represent tendencies rather than absolute choices. In most situations, a person prefers one approach over another. A person who understands his or her own approach then can use this information to improve communication with others.

Extraverts and Introverts (E and I)

Jung identified two basic “attitude types,” which describe the direction of a person’s interest: extravert and introvert. In the context of personality typology, an extravert is a person whose energy source is the external world of people and things, whereas an introvert is a person whose energy source is the internal world of ideas.

An extravert generally appears friendly and easy to know; he or she tends to think aloud and to express emotions openly. An extravert often acts first and reflects later. In contrast, an introvert is most productive in private and tends to reflect first and act later. An introvert generally internalizes emotions and appears to be less self-revealing and to need a great deal of privacy. Contrary to popular notions, however, a healthy
extravert may need time alone and a healthy introvert may have highly developed communication skills.

Sensors and Intuitors (S and N)

The S/N preference concerns the mental function of how a person takes in data from
the outside world. The letter “S” is used for sensing, and the letter “N” is used to represent intuition.

A person is a sensor if he or she takes in information in parts, noticing fine details by means of the five senses. A sensor is a very practical individual who wants, trusts, and remembers facts. He or she is highly attuned to details and is usually very orderly and organized. For this person, learning is a linear process in which data are collected sequentially and facts are believed only when experience bears them out. A sensor values order and truth; often he or she is a hard worker who values perspiration more than inspiration. A sensor enjoys the present moment, takes directions easily, and may be most comfortable with tasks that are highly detailed and require repetition.

In contrast, a person is an intuitor if he or she perceives a situation in its entirety rather than piecemeal. An intuitor has a global perspective and is often described as living by a sixth sense. He or she is imaginative and is always anticipating future events. An intuitor looks primarily for relationships and patterns in the information taken in. He or she is an innovator who believes in and excels in hunches, visions, and dreams. An intuitor is adept at long-range planning and can recognize all of the complexities in a given situation.

Taken to the extreme, the sensing function causes a person to miss the forest for the trees, and the intuitive function causes a person to miss the trees for the forest.

Thinkers and Feelers (T and F)

Once data have been collected, decisions often must be made, a process that is determined by one’s T/F preference. The letter “T” represents thinking, and the letter “F” represents feeling. Although this preference is based on how logic is used, thinking should not be equated with intelligence or intellectualism, nor should feelings be equated with emotion.

A thinker processes data in a formalized, linear fashion and can be described as logical. He or she uses an impersonal basis to make decisions in an exacting, structured, analytical manner. The thinker’s actions are apt to be deliberate and based on cause and effect. A thinker is ruled by the intellect and will fight for principles; such a person is drawn to jobs that do not depend heavily on interpersonal dynamics.

In contrast, a feeler makes decisions based on a process that more closely reflects personal values or concerns for others. He or she looks at extenuating circumstances rather than rigid laws. A feeler often is artistic and sensitive to the opinions and values of others; consequently, he or she is best suited to a job that requires strong communication and interpersonal skills.

Judgers and Perceivers (J and P)

Jung’s discussion of temperament actually dealt only with the S/N, T/F, and E/I preferences, emphasizing that each person has preferred styles of perceiving and judging that are best done in either the outer or inner world. Myers and Briggs built from Jung’s theory and created a fourth pair of opposites for the MBTI, concerning the style in which a person lives life (J/P). The J/P preference represents the weight that each of the mental functions (S/N and T/F) is given. In general terms, this preference refers to lifestyle.

A judger prefers situations that are orderly and well planned; and the judging function is dominant in the decision-making dimension, regardless of whether the person is a thinker or a feeler. Such a person prefers a decided, settled path and tends to be neat and orderly. A judger must know priorities and works best when his or her attention is dedicated to one assignment. He or she likes to be prepared for any situation, runs life by making and adhering to lists, thrives on deadlines, and always sees a task through to the end. However, because of a strong desire for stability, a judger may find change troubling.

A perceiver, on the other hand, lives life in an open, fluid, and spontaneous fashion. The perceiving function is dominant in his or her actions, regardless of whether the person is a sensor or an intuitor. A perceiver sees life’s possibilities and is always ready for the unexpected. He or she remains open to sudden changes and is comfortable with letting things happen by chance; this person adapts well to changing environments and usually enjoys being given a variety of tasks.

COMBINING ATTITUDE AND FUNCTION

Jungian Functional Types

Jung categorized people according to the psychological functions of thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition; each of these functions then could be found in either extraverted or introverted individuals. In this way, Jung recognized eight functional types: extraverted sensing, extraverted intuitive, extraverted thinking, extraverted feeling, introverted sensing, introverted intuitive, introverted thinking, and introverted feeling.

The Myers-Briggs Types

The sixteen four-letter type indicators that classify types in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) consist of one letter representing a trait from each pair. Thus, the possible sixteen combinations are ISTJ, ESTJ, INTJ, ENTJ, ISTP, ESTP, INTP, ENTP, ISFJ, ESFJ, INFJ, ENFJ, ISFP, ESFP, INFP, and ENFP. Each of these types has certain characteristics and preferences that distinguish it from other types.

ISTJ (Introverted-Sensing-Thinking-Judging). The ISTJ type is dependable and decisive. Attention to detail, combined with dependability, draws a person of this type to careers in which he or she can work alone and can focus on results, objective thinking, and procedures.

ESTJ (Extraverted-Sensing-Thinking-Judging). People of this type perceive through their senses rather than through their intuition and can be described as practical and oriented toward facts. Because of their focus on visible, measurable results, this type is ideally suited to organizing and directing the production of products.

INTJ (Introverted-Intuitive-Thinking-Judging). The INTJ type is naturally good at brainstorming and excels at turning theory into practice. People of this type often choose careers that allow them to create and apply technology, and they often rise rapidly in an organization because of their abilities to focus on both the overall picture and the details of a situation.

ENTJ (Extraverted-Intuitive-Thinking-Judging). The ENTJ type uses intuition rather than sensing to explore possibilities and relationships between and among things. People of this type have a strong desire to lead and tend to rise quickly to upper-management levels.

ISTP (Introverted-Sensing-Thinking-Perceiving). An ISTP type excels in technical and scientific fields because he or she uses sensing and thinking to analyze and organize data. Not wasting time is a key value for a person of this type, who tends to become bored by tasks that are too routine or too open ended.

ESTP (Extraverted-Sensing-Thinking-Perceiving). The ESTP type makes decisions based on logic more than on feelings. Such a person prefers to learn as he or she goes along, as opposed to becoming familiar with an entire process in advance. An
ESTP type has excellent entrepreneurial abilities but quickly tires of routine administrative details.

INTP (Introverted-Intuitive-Thinking-Perceiving). The INTP person uses
intuition to explore possibilities, preferring new ideas and theories to facts. This person’s love of problem solving means that he or she is well suited to research and other scholarly endeavors.

ENTP (Extraverted-Intuitive-Thinking-Perceiving). The ENTP type is attracted to work that allows the exercise of ingenuity. Such a person learns best by discussing and challenging and has little tolerance for tedious details.

ISFJ (Introverted-Sensing-Feeling-Judging). An ISFJ type combines an ability to use facts and data with sensitivity to others. Although uncomfortable in ambiguous situations, a person of this type is a hard worker and prefers work in which he or she can be of service to others, both within the organization and outside it.

ESFJ (Extraverted-Sensing-Feeling-Judging). The ESFJ type is probably the most sociable of all types and thus is highly effective in dealing with others. He or she often leans toward a career that serves others, such as teaching or the ministry.

INFJ (Introverted-Intuitive-Feeling-Judging). The INFJ type has a natural gift for facilitating groups. Although interpersonal interactions are important to a person of this type, he or she can be comfortable with any work that allows opportunities to grow and to learn.

ENFJ (Extraverted-Intuitive-Feeling-Judging). An ENFJ person is a born leader who places highest priority on people. This preference, combined with his or her strong verbal-communication skills, makes the ENFJ type ideally suited for motivating others.

ISFP (Introverted-Sensing-Feeling-Perceiving). People whose type is ISFP excel at tasks that require long periods of concentration and have senses that are keenly tuned. They prefer to express themselves in concrete, nonverbal ways and are especially inclined toward the fine arts.

ESFP (Extraverted-Sensing-Feeling-Perceiving). An ESFP type uses sensing and feeling to live in the here-and-now and is most challenged by activities that are new and require some special effort. He or she prefers work that provides instant gratification, an opportunity to work with others, and avenues for learning and growing.

INFP (Introverted-Intuitive-Feeling-Perceiving). People of this type are best described as idealists; they value integrity, hard work, and concern for others. Although they are adaptable to most work situations, they are best suited for careers that involve service to others.

ENFP (Extraverted-Intuitive-Feeling-Perceiving). The ENFP type is most interested in finding new solutions to problems and is attracted to work that involves people. Such a person tends to be impatient with rules and procedures and serves better as a mentor for employees than as a boss.

Keirsey and Bates Temperaments

The Keirsey and Bates Sorter classifies people by temperament rather than by type. Based on Jungian definitions, the sorter lists the four temperaments as sensing perceiver (SP), sensing judger (SJ), intuitive thinker (NT), or intuitive feeler (NF). Sensing perceivers and sensing judgers each make up between 35 and 40 percent of the population, while intuitive thinkers and intuitive feelers each constitute between 10 and 15 percent.

Sensing Perceiver (SP). An SP, or sensing perceiver, constantly seeks adventure and freedom and is open to whatever is new and changing. This person lives for the moment and makes an excellent negotiator. In a work setting, he or she may deal well with vendors and may be useful in keeping the staff abreast of new products and new releases. Such a person often is known as a troubleshooter who likes to resolve crises and to rally the support of others in solving a problem. Hot-line programs are often well served by people with SP temperaments.

Sensing Judger (SJ). A sensing judger (SJ) believes in rules, regulations, and rituals. He or she works best in a formalized, structured situation and often is well qualified to institute the structure that is needed in the workplace. A sensing judger would make a good librarian, inventory controller, scheduler, or administrator. He or she thrives on setting standards, whether in reference to resource selection or the day-to-day operating procedures of a department.

Intuitive Thinker (NT). A person who wants to understand, control, explain, and predict events is an intuitive thinker (NT). He or she is an intellectual purist and a self-motivated learner. An intuitive thinker can best serve an organization as a visionary and planner. He or she is a determined learner and will pursue something until it is mastered. An intuitive thinker makes an excellent system designer because of his or her
conceptual ability and may be well suited to customer support because of a need to strive for resolution. Newsletter production may also be a good outlet for an intuitive thinker’s skills.

Intuitive Feeler (NF). An intuitive feeler (NF) is enthusiastic and often has strong communication and interaction skills. Such a person often excels at public relations and can be effective as a liaison to other companies or departments. An intuitive feeler also often makes a good teacher, especially on the elementary level, because of his or her patience and understanding. Such a person is excellent at setting the atmosphere necessary for quality learning and training.

Being typed, therefore, should not limit people but rather uncover their possibilities. Living or working with a person of the opposite type can generate friction, but understanding may help opposites to accept and to take advantage of each other’s differences.

And keep in mind : It’s easy to judge. It’s more difficult to understand. Through judging, we separate. Throught understanding we grow.

Have a great day,

Kirilka

 

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