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Personality is defined as a person’s characteristic patterns of behaving, thinking, and feeling (Wood, Wood, & Boyd, 2014). One of the most important theories of personality comes from a Swiss psychiatrist by the name of Carl Jung. He believed that what seemed like random behavior in people, was actually the differences in how they preferred to use their mental capacity. He proposed that people generally operated with four mental functions: thinking, feeling, sensing, and intuition. Feeling was characterized as a person’s ability to understand objects while thinking was what allows a person to understand objects.
Sensation was said to be when a person knows something exists and intuition was knowing that something exists but not knowing where they learned it. He further proposed that these four functions were carried out with one of two different attitudes. Extraversion, which was the tendency to be oriented to the outer world and base judgements and perceptions on people and objects. The second attitude was introversion which was people being more focused on the inner world and basing perceptions and judgement on concepts and ideas.
When one of two attitudes are paired with one of the four functions, it’s known as a personality type.
In 1921, Jung published Psychological Types which explained his theory, but the concept was very complex and deep making it hard to understand. In an attempt to simplify and make sense of Jung’s ideas, a woman, Isabel Briggs Meyers, and her mother, Katharine Cook Briggs, looked to find a way for people to put Jung’s ideas to practical use and be able to identify their personality type.
The result was an inventory known as the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator. An inventory is a paper-and-pencil test with questions about a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, designed to measure and score different aspects of personality. The test is scored on four separate bipolar dimensions. A person can score anywhere along the continuum of each dimension. The four dimensions are: extraversion (E) – introversion (I), sensing (S) – intuition (N), thinking (T) – feeling (F), and judging (J) – perception (P). According to the theory of psychological types, one pole on each of the four dimensions is preferred over the other. From those four dimensions, sixteen combinations of personality types can be developed. Each personality type combination contains an attitude (E or I), a process of perception (S or N), a process of judgement (T or F), and a style of dealing with the outside world (J or P).
I sat down with my wife to take the MBTI test. The test I took gave me three personality types that were said to fit me best. The first type was ESTJ- The Supervisor, and it was listed as a very good match. ESTJs are described as hardworking traditionalists, eager to take charge in organizing projects and people. Orderly, rule-abiding, and conscientious, ESTJs like to get things done, and tend to go about projects in a systematic, methodical way. My attitude was mixed but with a slight majority of extraversion at 55% indicating that I use both attitudes but get energized from engaging with other people. My dominant process of perception was sensing at 71% suggesting that I process information in a concrete, realistic manner, and focus on observing and recalling facts and details rather than ideas and concepts that can’t be observed. My dominant process of judgement was thinking at 61% which means I’m driven by rational, logical reasoning, and I think of things in a detached unemotional manner. My dominant life management style was judgement at 65% which suggests that I like discipline, structure, and order. I like to plan ahead and avoid distractions.
The second personality type that was listed as a very good match for me was ISTJ- The Inspector. ISTJs are described as responsible organizers, driven to create and enforce order within systems and institutions. They are neat and orderly, inside and out, and tend to have a procedure for everything they do. This personality type was basically the same as “The Supervisor” but differed in my tendency to have an introversion attitude some of the time. The third personality type the test gave me was ESFJ- The Provider. ESFJs are characterized as conscious helpers, sensitive to the needs of others and dedicated to their responsibilities. They like a sense of harmony and cooperation around them and are eager to please and provide.
Having taken the MMPI-2 before, the first difference in the MBTI that stood out was how straight forward the questions were compared with the questions of the MMPI. With the MMPI you could answer the questions honestly, but what the question was really assessing was largely unknown. The MBTI seemed as though the questions could be answered to fit the personality type the test taker wanted to portray. I didn’t know what my personality type was before I took the MBTI, so I really thought about each question thoroughly in order to answer it as honestly as possible. I do believe the results of the test were very accurate regarding ESTJ and ISTJ, which were the two personality types that were listed as very good matches. Certain characteristics of ESFJ were accurate but for the most part I didn’t feel that one best represented my personality as a whole. I asked my wife to view my results to see if she agreed and she said that she was impressed by the test and that the results were right on the money. As far as how I view myself, I agree with the examples of the characteristics that were given with the personality type. For example, being neat and orderly, and liking discipline and order are things that I have always been aware of about myself. Other aspects like introvert vs. extravert are characteristics that I had never thought of but after taking the test I am aware of it and I do agree with the results.
The MBTI seems like it is a very practical use of Jung’s theory of personality. Trying to break down and understand Jung’s theory and all its facets was very complex and confusing and if the average person or interviewer were to try and assess a personality by using Jung’s theory alone, I think it would be quite difficult. The Meyers-Briggs Type indicator simplified and standardized his theory and I think that it is a valuable tool for employers, counselors and everyday people.
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