Information About Personality Types

Learn about The Four Preferences in detail
Learn about Keirsey's Temperaments
Get an Overview of the Sixteen Personality Types
Learn about how we develop our Types as we grow
Check out our demographic data from people who have taken The Personality Questionnaire
Check out Political Affiliation and Type

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 which we use in our assessment 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. Therefore, 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. The developed theory today is that every individual has a primary mode of operation within four categories:

  1. our flow of energy
  2. how we take in information
  3. how we prefer to make decisions
  4. the basic day-to-day lifestyle that we prefer

Within each of these categories, we "prefer" to be either:

  1. Extraverted or Introverted
  2. Sensing or iNtuitive
  3. Thinking or Feeling
  4. Judging or Perceiving

We all naturally use one mode of operation within each category more easily and more frequently than we use the other mode of operation. So, we are said to "prefer" one function over the other. The combination of our four "preferences" defines our personality type. Although everybody functions across the entire spectrum of the preferences, each individual has a natural preference which leans in one direction or the other within the four categories.

Our Flow of Energy defines how we receive the essential part of our stimulation. Do we receive it from within ourselves (Introverted) or from external sources (Extraverted)? Is our dominant function focused externally or internally?

The topic of how we Take in Information deals with our preferred method of taking in and absorbing information. Do we trust our five senses (Sensing) to take in information, or do we rely on our instincts (iNtuitive)?

The third type of preference, how we prefer to Make Decisions, refers to whether we are prone to decide things based on logic and objective consideration (Thinking), or based on our personal, subjective value systems (Feeling).

These first three preferences were the basis of Jung's theory of Personalty Types. Isabel Briggs Myers developed the theory of the fourth preference, which is concerned with how we deal with the external world on a Day-to-day Basis. Are we organized and purposeful, and more comfortable with scheduled, structured environments (Judging), or are we flexible and diverse, and more comfortable with open, casual environments (Perceiving)? From a theoretical perspective, we know that if our highest Extraverted function is a Decision Making function, we prefer Judging. If our highest Extraverted function is an Information Gathering function, we prefer 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 function in each of these realms on a daily basis, but we gravitate towards our primary functions, where our natural strengths lie, and use these primary functions more often than the less-preferred functions. 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.

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.

Practical Application for Personality Types

  • Career Guidance What types of tasks are we most suited to perform? Where are we naturally most happy?

  • Managing Employees How can we best understand an employee's natural capabilities, and where they will find the most satisfaction?

  • Interpersonal Relationships How can we improve our awareness of another individual's Personality Type, and therefore increase our understanding of their reactions to situations, and know how to communicate with them effectively, on a level the they best understand?

  • Education How can we develop different teaching methods to effectively educate different types of people?

  • Counseling How we can help individuals understand themselves better, and become better able to deal with their strengths and weaknesses?

    Learn about The Four Preferences in detail
    Learn about Keirsey's Temperaments
    Get an Overview of the Sixteen Personality Types
    Learn about how we develop our Types as we grow
    Check out our demographic data from people who have taken The Personality Questionnaire

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