June 6, 2007

The Personality Types

Personality typing is a tool with many uses. It's especially notable for it's helpfulness in the areas of growth and self-development. Learning and applying the theories of personality type can be a powerful and rewarding experience, if it is used as a tool for discovery, rather than as a method for putting people into boxes, or as an excuse for behavior.

The sixteen personality types are based on the well-known research of Carl Jung, Katharine C. Briggs, and Isabel Briggs Myers. Carl Jung first developed the theory that individuals each had a psychological type. He believed that there were two basic kinds of "functions" which humans used in their lives: how we take in information (how we "perceive" things), and how we make decisions. He believed that within these two categories, there were two opposite ways of functioning. We can perceive information via 1) our senses, or 2) our intuition. We can make decisions based on 1) objective logic, or 2) subjective feelings. Jung believed that we all use these four functions in our lives, but that each individual uses the different functions with a varying amount of success and frequency. He believed that we could identify an order of preference for these functions within individuals. The function which someone uses most frequently is their "dominant" function. The dominant function is supported by an auxiliary (2nd) function, tertiary (3rd) function, and inferior (4th) function. He asserted that individuals either "extraverted" or "introverted" their dominant function. He felt that the dominant function was so important, that it overshadowed all of the other functions in terms of defining personality type.

Jung defined eight personality types:
1. Extraverted Sensing (modern types: ESFP, ESTP)
2. Introverted Sensing (modern types: ISTJ, ISFJ)
3. Extraverted Intuition (modern types: ENFP, ENTP)
4. Introverted Intuition (modern types: INFJ, INTJ)
5. Extraverted Thinking (modern types: ESTJ, ENTJ)
6. Introverted Thinking (modern types: ISTP, INTP)
7. Extraverted Feeling (modern types: ESFJ, ENFJ)
8. Introverted Feeling (modern types: INFP, ISFP)

Katharine Briggs expounded upon Jung's work, quietly working in silence and developing his theories further. But it was Katharine's daughter Isabel who was really responsible for making the work on Personality Types visible. Isabel, using her mother's work and Jung's work, asserted the importance of the auxiliary function working with the dominant function in defining Personality Type. While incorporating the auxiliary function into the picture, it became apparent that there was another distinctive preference which hadn't been defined by Jung: Judging and Perceiving.

Personality Types Today
The theory of Personality Types, as it stand today, contends that:
An individual is either primarily Extraverted or Introverted
An individual is either primarily Sensing or iNtuitive
An individual is either primarily Thinking or Feeling
An individual is either primarily Judging or Perceiving
The possible combinations of the basic preferences form 16 different Personality Types. This does not mean that all (or even most) individuals will fall strictly into one category or another. If we learn by applying this tool that we are primarily Extraverted, that does not mean that we don't also perform Introverted activities. We all function in all of these realms on a daily basis. As we grow and learn, most of us develop the ability to function well in realms which are not native to our basic personalities. In the trials and tribulations of life, we develop some areas of ourselves more throughly than other areas. With this in mind, it becomes clear that we cannot box individuals into prescribed formulas for behavior. However, we can identify our natural preferences, and learn about our natural strengths and weaknesses within that context.

The theory of Personality Types contends that each of us has a natural preference which falls into one category or the other in each of these four areas, and that our native Personality Type indicates how we are likely to deal with different situations that life presents, and in which environments we are most comfortable.

The Personality Questionnaire is designed to determine individual preferences, rather than temperaments. There is some temperament knowledge woven into the questions in areas where it's helpful in determining type, but we do not specifically go after temperament.

The Personality Questionnaire has been validated in controlled and uncontrolled environments. Before we began charging for The Personality Questionnaire, we tested it on approximately 100,000 people. Through this testing, we have determined that it indicates your 4-letter personality type with a very good degree of accuracy. For more information about validity and reliability, click here.

Learning about our Personality Type helps us to understand why certain areas in life come easily to us, and others are more of a struggle. Learning about other people's Personality Types help us to understand the most effective way to communicate with them, and how they function best.

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