New Civilization News: Living your Type    
 Living your Type22 comments
picture 6 Sep 2004 @ 23:59, by Flemming Funch

I kind of like taking personality tests. Probably because I'm searching for a more clear and simple idea of who and what I am. Most of them probably helped a bit and came up with something I could agree with. Didn't make much pervasive difference though. They're mostly too simple, or telling me things I already know. Dividing all of humanity up into 4 or 8 or 16 types might have use, and might help us notice our differences, and be able to communicate better once we're aware of them. But they don't really tell us who we are.

And most of the well-known tests are somebody's copyrighted, heavily guarded intellectual property and business. I.e. some psychologist invented it, put his name on it, and charges 100 bucks for letting you answer a bunch of multiple choice questions and getting the canned answer. That should raise a bunch of red flags right there. Trying to own a personality assessment, and trying to stop other people from using it, is kind of a strange thing. Even if they're good. Here's an article describing different tests. Hey, maybe I should make my own test. The Funch Holographic Mind Spectrum Instrument. $500. And if you don't pay, you just don't have a type, hahah.

I think I prefer more open, but complex and difficult systems. A good astrologer can talk to me for hours about myself, revealing lots of insights I wouldn't think anybody could know. Or there are systems that simply outline many different kinds of programs people might be running, and ways of dealing with them. Like, NLP has Meta Programs. For example, one might have a preference for moving towards desirable things or for moving away from undesirable things. Or one might be internally focused versus externally focused. One might insist on making one's own decisions or one might require the guidance of others. One might have a preference for looking for options and possibilities versus looking for what must be done and what the procedure is. One might sort the world by differences versus sorting it by similarities. One might be active or passive. Etc. And one might use different of these programs in different situations, or one might use them in a certain sequence. For example, I have to work through different possibilities before I can arrive at what needs to be done. I want input from others, but I ultimately want to make my own decision. Other people do it in the opposite order. Anyway, those are more tools than they're personality types, even if some people might keep a certain constellation of them through their life.

Anyway, what I wanted to mention was the idea of Jung's that one gets to be in trouble if one isn't living according to one's type. I.e. if one tries to be somebody else than one really is, and thereby one "falsifies" one's personality type, by presenting a different one than what really comes natural. It is implied that we'd have one personality type which would be stable and unchangable through our life, and that our life would be most happy and smooth if we stay true to it. And if we try to live another type, our life will be stressful and ineffecient.

Now, again, I'm not sure I believe we really ARE one of 16 or so types. But there's something to the idea of staying true to who we really are. We might experience being in the flow if we're in harmony with our own nature, and we might experience hardship and stress if we don't.

Here's a brief overview history of Jung's personality types and the idea of falsifying type.

A number of well-known tests are based on Jung's categories, but leave out any assessment on whether one is just pretending to be that or not. The Myers-Briggs test, or rather the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, which is more comprehensive, helps people find out whether they're predominantly an (I)ntrovert or an (E)xtravert, whether one is (S)ensing or i(N)tuiting, (T)hinking or (F)eeling, (J)udging or (P)erceiving. One ends up with a four-letter type, one of 16 different constellations. When I take it, I'm usually split on Introvert and Extravert, or it might go either way depending on what mood I'm in. But let's say I'm ENTP. That is the Inventor type. Those are non-conformists who are probing for new possibilities, and who pragmatically work on implementing new solutions. Now, looking over the types, there isn't any other one that would suit me better. So I might not have fooled myself in terms of my answers. I'd know nothing better than sitting around exploring interesting possibilities and inventing new things all day. And I guess I do that part of the time, and that's great. But the more stressful parts of my life might be when I do everything else. Which I might not have to if I had been really successful in what I'm good at. I.e. if I actually had invented something and gotten it out to the world, I'd probably be deriving an income from it, and I could get quite some milage out of it. So, instead, I've spent a significant portion of my life trying to do work for other people, conforming to their needs, and sort of muddled through, trying to keep up with paying rent and taxes and things like that.

The point is not necessarily the typing system. But what if I somehow, by any means, learn enough about myself and how I work. And I actually respect it and live my life accordingly. If I'm good at starting things, but not at continuing them, well, then I should be starting things, and get other people to continue them. If I thrive on exploring different subjects and talking about it, then I should arrange my life so I do that. Doesn't matter what exactly our modus operendi is. What matters is that we do what works for us. Seems so obvious, but we so easily miss it.

The trouble is of course that we usually need some of that which we aren't good at. For example, most of us need to either structure that which we're good at as a viable business, or we need a job that allows us to do it. And if the business-making part is not one of those things that realy flows for you, you'll need somebody else to help you with that. Or you might be really frustrated if you try to force yourself to do those things that are needed, even though it isn't you.

In an ideal world we'd all be doing exactly that which we're excited about and really good at. That which really flows for us. And we'd be free to do mainly that. And we'd discover to our delight that those things we're good at dovetail really nicely with what some other people are really good at, so we can complement each other, and form teams.

Maybe it already is an ideal world, and we just haven't noticed. So we go around trying to pretend to be something we aren't, trying to do things we'll never be good at, when we really ought to let somebody else do those things. And when other people really could use that I started doing my particular part a little more directly, rather than futzing around.

I'm looking for the magical button. Something that makes me and others just snap into their true self, acting accordingly. A test or divination or process might give hope that it will make it happen easily. I suddenly have an epiphany and realize what I'm really like, so clearly that I start living my life that way. And everything then is flow and synchronicity and I effortlessly make great things happen, now that I realized what it was I was supposed to be doing. I wish it were that easy. No test or workshop has done that for me so far. It might take real work. Probably on an ongoing basis. But one never knows. Life might surprisingly turn out to be easy, if one just runs into the missing piece. And the missing piece might be you.


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22 comments

7 Sep 2004 @ 14:09 by The League of INFP @216.12.202.68 : [untitled]
[trackback]: Ming the Mechanic has an interesting post on personality typing....  


9 Sep 2004 @ 00:56 by Seb @156.34.20.127 : Cognitive symmetry
Here's something I read recently and that I was reminded of while reading this: [link]  


9 Sep 2004 @ 10:57 by ming : Cognitive Symmetry-Breaking
Ah, fine article. Indeed, the danger of any kind of categorization is that we limit the universe into an over-simplified abstraction. And then we go around finding validation for it, and it only cements it further.

In my own work as a counselor I've noticed two distinct ways it might work. "It" being the labeling of some behavior as being in a certain category. One being harmful, the other being quite useful. If the counselor simply brings in a preconceived idea that he imposes on the client, or he just judges the client's situation from his own biases, that's generally not useful. Like in the example from that article of a psychoanalysist who "knows" in advance what is supposed to be wrong with the patient, and the patient is only allowed the choises of either having the "insight" of accepting it, or showing "resistance" when they don't.

The other, more useful way it can work is when the counselor offers his experienced perceptions and trained intuition to the client in a non-judgemental way. Maybe by gently guiding the client to look at something that produces an "aha" effect for the client. Maybe by helping the client put words to what is already there. "Ah, now I understand. I've been doing this: ...." There's a way of doing it that involves being on the lookout for those things that ring a bell and light up the person. As opposed to simply convincing them that the therapist is smarter than them.

But, as NLP openly points out, any kind of work with another person involves influencing them. It is unavoidable that one focuses on some things to the exclusion of others. But one might strive to do it in an integruous and useful way, so that the other person actually ends up with something that works better for them. And most people have much more need for being helped out of their limiting beliefs than for having new ones installed.

Enlightenment is often presented as Cognitive Symmetry like described in that article. I.e. letting go of all mental divisions and abstractions and simply being and dealing with what is. An infinity of possibility, because one doesn't get onself attached to any particular sub-set. An absence of the obsession to define ourselves into an identity of categories and preferences and likes and dislikes.  



13 Sep 2004 @ 09:11 by jazzolog : Against Types
The Boston Globe yesterday carried a long story about personality tests. Here is the section on the Myers-Briggs which is the one featured in the application process and at our Profiles at NCN~~~

"While the MMPI is more widely given, and the Rorschach better known, perhaps the most beloved personality test is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Based on Jungian psychoanalytic theory, it was developed in the 1940s and `50s by a bored, bright Philadelphia housewife named Isabel Myers, with some input from her mother, Katharine Briggs. Unlike the Rorschach and the MMPI, it was expressly designed not to diagnose psychopathology but to describe normal personalities. Today, the four Myers-Briggs axes -- Extraversion-Introversion, Sensing-Intuition, Thinking-Feeling, and Judgment-Perception -- are a reflexive lingo to a whole generation of corporate managers, consultants, and headhunters.

"The test's popularity stems from the basic belief that 'personality influences how you interact with other people, so having a detailed understanding of personality allows you to adjust for individual differences,' says David Thomas, a Harvard Business School professor who has studied its use in corporate America. The questions the test asks are straightforward: 'Do you usually: A) share your feelings freely, or B) keep your feelings to yourself?' or 'Do you: A) rather prefer to do things at the last minute, or B) find that hard on the nerves?' None of its 16 personality types are considered more healthy or normal than the others. Because it's free of the language of mental illness, the Myers-Briggs manages to classify without stigmatizing.

"But for all its ubiquity in the boardroom and as an online quiz, the test is generally ignored or ridiculed by psychologists. Robert Hogan, a former psychology professor at the University of Tulsa who now runs his own testing company, Hogan Assessments, says, 'I used to use [Myers-Briggs] as an icebreaker. People like taking it, and when you get the results back you feel good. But it has the intellectual content of a fortune cookie.'

"'There's no evidence,' Hogan concludes, 'that it predicts job performance or any meaningful non-test outcomes."'

"Defenders of the Myers-Briggs say these criticisms are unfair. Steven Reiss, a professor of psychiatry and psychology at Ohio State University (and inventor of a similar test, the Reiss Profile) admits that the test is marred by scoring problems and outdated theoretical baggage. But, he says, it's still much more accurate than the more respectable MMPI. 'Academic people have not looked at it because it's based on Jung,' he says. 'So it's based on bad science, but it actually works.'

"Ultimately, the biggest value -- and danger -- of the Myers-Briggs may be the way it lubricates social interactions. Harvard's David Thomas concedes that in its current corporate usage, the value of the test can stem as much from getting everyone in a room 'speaking a common language' as from any real insights about personality. In other words, it's an exercise in conflict resolution and group therapy, a way to get substantive disputes to dissolve in a warm bath of psychologically tinged language about different types, perspectives, and styles.

"For Annie Murphy Paul, this isn't necessarily a good thing. In an interview, she pointed out that Myers-Briggs is distinctive in that it's not only driven by institutional needs, but sought out by individuals. 'People really, really like it -- they latch on to the results,' she says. For her, the problem with the test, and with all personality tests, is that it 'limits and stereotypes the ways institutions think about individuals and the way individuals think about themselves.' Personality types, she says, are 'one-dimensional labels.'

"But the tests -- and the controversy over them -- aren't likely to go away anytime soon. For most of us, there is something tantalizing about the prospect of easily digestible self-knowledge -- just as there's something galling about a test that claims to tell us exactly who we are."

Drake Bennett is the staff writer for Ideas.
[link] (This article may get archived quickly.)

One of the questions I have had for some time is why most new members state in their Profiles such huge expectations for community at this site, when in fact there really is no administrative support for such activities---except bare-bones tech. I wonder if, when people take a personality test to join, they are led to expect avenues of interaction other than a list of people they can contact on their own.  



13 Sep 2004 @ 10:32 by ming : Personality Test
I don't know how big a factor that is. But, yes, that might give the impression that one will somehow be scientifically slotted into the right activity or project. Which then doesn't happen. Oh, one can go and find other people with the same or different types, which might be interesting, but it doesn't really lead to action.

And that is what I agree is one of the problems with tests like that. It is interesting, and probably make's one feel good. And maybe it provides some knowledge that might make it easier to understand others. But it doesn't easily lead to action. If I already have a project running, it might allow the members to understand each other better. But it doesn't really help anybody get started with anything.  



14 Sep 2004 @ 14:56 by EdKnight @68.160.123.106 : My Favorite Test
I think tests today are what astrology (both Chinese & Western Zodiac) were some years back; both insight and fluff to be collected. Anyways, enclosed is how to find the IPIP NEO-PI ~ www.personal.psu.edu/faculty/j/5/j5j/IPIP/ . The full version is lengthy as are the results. Anybody think that tests reveal more how the taker wishes he or she is than actually is?  


14 Sep 2004 @ 14:57 by EdKnight @68.160.123.106 : & another thing
There are two types of people. Those who think there are two kinds of people and those who don't.  


15 Sep 2004 @ 01:02 by ming : IPIP NEO-PI
I didn't know that test. Hm, pretty interesting. But, yeah, with most of these tests the question is whether it shows what we'd like to believe, or how it really "is"? Which was part of the point with the false type above. This test doesn't seem to do anything to look through that. Here, for example, what I scored most high in was "Openness to Experience". Like 99. That I'm openminded and very adventurous. Now, there's something to that, but maybe I'm more intellectually adventurous than I'm really doing much about it in practice. My daily habits are really very conservative, and to some degree it is just that I imagine myself as somebody who'll jump into anything new and different and experiential. Truthfully I largely avoid having any experiences.

One way of maybe revealing more than what people easily can guess is when one compares the various kinds of answers with each other. I might not so easily cheat myself when it comes to relations between different aspects, because I can't easily spot them myself. And some of those might possibly reveal incongruencies, where the picture I present doesn't quite fit together. Which is where it starts to get interesting, and something might actually be revealed to me.  



22 Sep 2004 @ 12:31 by qmal : Living type
I am with you Ming on the idea that a typing/ categorization system is limited in many ways by the simplification and finite grouping....and leads to the preconception and reactive distortion of the folks participating in such. It was one reason that I did not fare so well in learning psychology basics. The whole field of psychology is well …a bit distorted in some areas. I have been steaming over this one now for a bit and have wanted to reply, but it hit me a bit hard. Jung was so intense, I relate more to the collective consciousness stuff than the typing stuff....both great works and well, connected, he was much more than that.... Actually just your title was deep for me...am I living my type...do want to take the tests?. When I studied such systems,(Jung and some others), I carefully examined this in relation to myself and came to similar conclusions. . At the time I thought gee, you know were' 12 billion neurons, 16 groups 'I thought' more like it should be 6,000 (based on about 200,000 neurons to conduct each thought). but its deeper than that I think the brain has an even more dynamic system than that to record time and event so , types at all no. Experience is such a factor. Coupled with memory dynamics and thought conduction, well, that puts it off the grid. Through in telepathic relationships as well and the whole mess is so inter dynamic that, groups really could not possibly get it. Hmm yeah "tell you things you already know.".. Yeah so I figured I am a little of all these categories... "The Funch Holographic Mind Spectrum Instrument" this sounds a lot more reasonable by name, sounds more logical from the get go. Ha, ha… brilliance. Sounds like it would be accurate. :) Astrology, well I have to leave that alone... this 3000+ year old stuff is real interesting. Strange but true and not scientifically understandable, to me. I suppose a master astrologist could define the problems and so forth, after years of practice in that form of brainware. Reactionary, atonal and positional psychology has qualms as well as it based on moves, movement. The position and perception of all. You do a lot of calculating, for a miniscule return of result. I think your right with the type stuff and not living your type , once you find your type, to be your type, to find out its not your type. .you get lost in it in a hurry. The next part in your log of this is the intense stuff for me...., you know starting with 'the point is not the typing system'. You wake things in me Ming, it is most amazing... I suppose its easier to look back at things from where I am now and see the similar things in my life that you speak of here,,, I indeed muddle through much life as you say and the organization , placement and order of things was inexorably misconstrued. Yes, do what does work when we do identify such then do the direction you have choose, if the interference ratios are not restrictive, binding or unmanageable...... I think the visible interference and invisible interference's are hard to measure even perceive. Then integrate with basic program for future and how to navigate though it. Write the future with an quantity of flexible scenarios that may or may not be used. This ultimately turns into circular brain beating at some point and also there is no verification of direction, position, or distance.
In younger days I had intended to study psychology, then parapsychology and attempt to introduce an element of, conscious telepathic exchange in psychoanalytic process. I had already experienced telepathy a number of times, developed several loosely knit theories with others as to its function and how to introduce, explain, and operate such an experience. I believe that the type of telepathic process that I study and practice is entirely reproducible and teachable. Many or all people know it already and do it daily...they don't just perceive it so much, do to constricted sensory threshold. So I set off on that path. Unfortunately trying to go into a field of science with an extensive preconception of ideas is not that smart. School was quite a disaster of from the perspective that I did not learn well the content as it was presented, because I was to pre absorbed in my own ideas. In addition to working full-time and the other things in life that created interference levels that were too high to stay with the program. Well perhaps the program was the interference. However in three years, I did manage to read many books published relating to parapsychology and many abstracts as well. I believed a more effective method of psychoanalysis could be developed when coupled with conscious telepathic experience. Of course I don't know if telepathy and psychoanalysis would indeed work together, because I don't know psychoanalysis. Even still I seem to fall into the role of counselor on occasion, rather numerous times over the years, I suppose in we all do. Sometimes found myself using telepathy under the surface of communication in that role. It just seems to happen, and it comes in strange ways. So I'm not without some possible relative experience and perhaps some methodological formulation on the matter. . Well I quit school and pursued a trade that I had already started to pay the bills and such. So when you wrote about ' Living your type' it brought up many memories relating to my experiences as a teenager and then later with college curriculum, common survival and other life situations, patterns of egress and regress in my life. Constantly struggling with the desire to use my found knowledge and my hearts set desire of direction and combine that with the knowledge contained in the field of psychology of against the normal everyday needs and program. As you said Ming, I indeed kind of bumbled through it never really excelling at the other things I did. So for the last year these things have been deep on my mind. And now I indeed feel as if I am back on my path of deepest interests. There's definitely a lot to learn around here.  



22 Sep 2004 @ 14:32 by ming : Fractal Types
The hope of typing might be that our make-up isn't just billions of unrelated thoughts, but that what we do and think and feel is generated by the interactions between some much simpler elements. You know, how a fairly short math formula can generate amazingly detailed fractal landscapes, that you even can zoom in on, to any level of detail. So, there's the distinction between the simple and finite formula, and the billions of pixels we might illustrate it with. It is simple to go in one direction, but if one starts at the other end, it is all very confusing.

Anyway, I'm not so sure we're math formulas. But it seems we can with some advantage reduce our activities to some symbolic fractal expressions, which might make sense out of why we do what we do. And some of those work better than others.

If I wanted to be able to represent a black-and-white tile floor symbolically, then some little black and white square pieces would do the job well. And it would be more difficult with a pile of purple and green string, or with grey sand. And with a cup of ants, it would be rather hopeless. The proper pieces for the job helps.  



6 Jun 2006 @ 21:18 by Dragon @69.6.162.160 : False dichotomy in the MBTI and others
A person can be both an S and an N at the same time. There is the assumption that a person has to be one or the other.

I came accross a site where a guy had posted his master's thesis on the MBTI. I wrote him a note asking him his opinion, after giving him my thoughts on the subject. I had expected him to disagree, but he did not. He said he would be looking for people who fit that category so a test would sort that out. This means there will be more than 16 personality types...  



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