The Personality Type Portraits
The Personality Type Portraits
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:
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:
Within each of these categories, we “prefer” to be either:
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.
The theory of Personality Types, as it stand today, contends that:
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.
There are sixteen distinct personality types in the currently most widely-accepted Personality Type model. Each type has its own characteristics which can be identified in individual personalities. We have created a profile of each personality type, which provides a guideline for understanding the similarities and differences amongst the types.
To read the profile for a particular personality type, click on the name of the type you're interested in learning about.
Research has shown that many of the different Personality Types tend to have distinct preferences in their choice of careers. We have incorporated observations of each type's character traits which affect career choice along with some suggestions for possible directions. We have also included lists of actual careers which the various types have chosen in their lives.
This material is provided for your reference, and is intended to be an informational guide. It does not comprise a complete analysis of ideal careers for individuals, and does not guarantee success or failure at any occupation. As we know, individuals vary greatly. However, we certainly encourage personal self-knowledge and research in your quest to live up to your fullest, and for this reason we provide you with this information. For a complete and personal evaluation of career possibilities, you should speak with a career guidance counsellor.
Most of us are allured by the attractive notion that effortless relationships exist. Whether it be happily-ever-after marriages, or friendships that last forever, or parent/child bonds which supercede the need to understand each other, we'd all like to believe that our most intimate relationships are unconditional, and strong enough to withstand whatever may come. However, at some point in our lives most of us need to face the fact that relationships require effort to keep them strong and positive, and that even wonderful, strong relationships can be destroyed by neglect.
Whether you're looking to improve a love relationship, familial relationships, friendships, or employer/employee relationships, understanding your own personality type and the personality type of the other person involved in the relationship will bring a new dynamic to the situation, which will allow better understanding and communication. Although the different types of relationships have very different characteristics and specific needs, there are two basic areas which seem to be critical in all relationships: Expectations and Communication. What do we expect from ourselves and the other person involved in the relationship? How do we communicate these expectations, and our feelings and opinions to the person in the relationship? How does our personality type affect our expectations and methods of communication? Does our personality type affect who we are romantically attracted to? How does it affect who our friends are, and who we work with best? These are the questions which we address in this section of The Personality Page.
Disclaimer Please note that we are not prescribing an absolute solution to your relationship problems, nor are we stating that there's any guarantee of improved odds with particular type pairings. Statistics show that individuals who are most happy within their marriages are those who have the highest levels of inner peace and those who have the most optimistic outlook on life in general. We do not address people's emotional standing here when discussing relationship issues, which is another important aspect of relationship dynamics.
That old concept and expression “opposites attract” has been batted around for centuries. And in fact, it's very true when it comes to love relationships. Through our research, we have noted that people are usually attracted to their opposite on the Extraversion/Introversion and Judging/Perceiving scales. We are naturally attracted to individuals who are different from ourselves - and therefore somewhat exciting. But it's not just the exciting differences which attract us to our opposites, it is also a natural quest for completion. We naturally are drawn towards individuals who have strengths which we are missing. When two opposites function as a couple, they become a more well-rounded, functioning unit. There is also the theory that our natural attraction to our opposites is a subconscious way of forcing us to deal with the weaker aspects of our own nature. While we are highly attracted to our opposites, two opposites involved in an intimate relationship have significant issues and communication barriers to overcome. So in a sense, our attraction to the opposite personality can be seen as our subconscious minds driving us towards becoming a more complete individual, by causing us to face the areas in life which are most difficult to us.
The same cannot be said for other kinds of relationships. When it comes to work colleagues, or friends, we are not especially interested in dealing with people who are very unlike ourselves. We are most comfortable with those who have similar interests and perspectives, and we do not show a lot of motivation or patience for dealing with our opposites.
Although we are attracted to people who are very different from us in the way we deal with the world, we are most attracted to others who have a similar focus in their lives. Couples who have the same dominant function in their personalities seems to have the longest and happiest relationships. So, for example, an individual whose dominant function is Introverted Sensing (ISTJ or ISFJ) seems to be naturally drawn towards partners with a dominant function of Extraverted Sensing (ESTP or ESFP).
We have also noticed that Sensors seem to communicate best with other Sensors, and that Intuitives seem to communicate best with other Intuitives. There seems to be a more equal partnership formed with people who communicate on the same level, although there are many successful relationships between Sensors and Intuitives. Two individuals of any type who are well-developed and balanced can communicate effectively and make a relationship work, but many people will communicate best with people who share their same information gathering preference.
With that in mind, it shouldn't come as any surprise to learn that research regarding Personality Type and Relationships shows a definite pattern which indicates that successful mates often share the same dominant function, and the same letter preference (“S” or “N”) for their information gathering function. Of course, that does not mean that people with different preferences cannot have a happy, successful marriage, it simply indicates that people frequently settle down with individuals who are on their same “wave-length”.
To learn more about Personality and Relationships with regards to a specific personality type, click on the name of the type you'd like to read about.
Perhaps the most important realization that an individual can make in their quest for personal growth is that there is no single formula that defines the path to personal success. We all have different goals and priorities, which means that different activities and attitudes will make us feel good about ourselves. We also have different natural strengths and weaknesses that are a part of our inherent personality type. How then, as individuals, can we feel successful in our lives?
Each personality type has a different idea of what it means to be successful. Self-knowledge is one common goal that will help everyone achieve personal success. So many people are hung up on somebody else's idea of what it means to be successful, and they are unaware of what is truly important to them. This is completely normal. We all have important role-models and influencers in our lives who may have basic values that are quite different from our own. If this is the case, it's important to recognize that the discrepancy between what we have been taught is truly important and what we personally believe to be truly important is due to a difference in perspective. If we spend our time and effort trying to meet somebody else's idea of success, and ignore or belittle any conflicting messages from our own psyche, then we will find ourselves exhausted and unhappy. Realizing what is truly important to us is a major step towards achieving personal success.
While improving our self-knowledge and realizing our true goals can be very liberating, we should not discard the rules of the society in which we live. We must recognize that other people's value systems are no less important than our own. And we must recognize and accept that we live in a society in which certain personality types and behaviors are more suited towards particular tasks. This is the second key that will open the door towards personal growth.
For example, there are situations in which it is more appropriate and effective to show compassion and caring (Feeling), rather than impersonal logic (Thinking). Likewise, there are situations that call for using impersonal logic to make a decision, in which the more subjective viewpoint of the Feeling function is inappropriate and ineffective. Persons with a preference for Feeling will have a natural advantage over Thinkers in situations that require compassion and awareness of other's emotions. Conversely, persons with a preference for Thinking will have a natural advantage over Feelers in situations that require the ability to make a decision based on impersonal data.
As we learn about our personality type and the types of others, we are empowered with an understanding of why people react differently in different situations. When put into the context of Psychological Type, we can better accept and understand people's behaviors that are different from ours. These insights are extremely useful and powerful to us as individuals. However, if we are concerned with growing as individuals, we must take care not to use personality type as an excuse for our inappropriate behavior. While it's powerful and useful to notice that another person's inappropriate behavior may be due to their personality type, we cannot use the same reasoning on ourselves. We should recognize that our personality type has weaknesses, but we must use that knowledge to conquer those weaknesses rather than to excuse poor behavior. We cannot be responsible for other people's behavior, but we can control our own.
Accordingly, if we notice that someone seems to be unable to make an impersonal decision that is isolated from human perspective, we should say to ourselves, “Ah ha, here is a Feeler. This person does not use Thinking well, and that is why they're behaving this way.” Yet when we as Feelers are presented with a situation that requires an impersonal approach, we should NOT say to ourselves “I am a Feeler, and can't be expected to make decisions based purely on impersonal facts and logic.” This kind of rationalization for behavior is certainly an easy way out of a situation, but it enforces the weakness, making it weaker and weaker still.
Most of the weaknesses associated with any given personality type are a result of that type's dominant function overtaking the personality to the extent that the other functions become slaves to the dominant function. Although it is natural for every personality to be ruled by its dominant function, it becomes a problem when the supporting functions are not allowed to develop fully on their own because they are too busy “serving the master”. In such cases, a personality can become quite imbalanced.
A situation in which the dominant function of a personality completely overshadows the other personality functions is analogous to a kingdom that is ruled by an overbearing king who requires absolute servitude. Imagine such a king sitting down to dinner in his castle. He keeps all of his servants running about to bring him dinner, and requires that they serve him fully (disregarding their own needs) until he is completed sated. His Foreign Minister, who is expected at an important affair at a neighboring kingdom, finds himself pouring ale. His Minister of Domestic Affairs, rather than addressing the issue of a failing economy, slices roast turkey. His staff grabs food for themselves here and there, but never get what they really need or want, and are consequently unsatisfied, malnourished, and underdeveloped. The issues that the staff should be taking care of are left undone, because they never finish their primary task of serving the king. The king's immediate needs are being met, and so he is tolerably happy, but he is an ineffective king. As far as he knows, everything and everybody exists simply to serve him. He has no concept of Success beyond his daily needs. Since he cannot see beyond his own needs, the entire kingdom suffers.
Likewise, a personality that has developed with a goal of serving the dominant function above all other considerations often results in a person who is imbalanced. In severe cases, the weaknesses associated with the given type are often quite apparent to others, and overshadow the individual's natural strengths. Such a drastic imbalance is not common, and may be the result of continuous and extreme stress. Most people will experience times in their lives during which they are stressed to the point of serious imbalance. People who experience this constantly have issues that need to be dealt with, and should seek help.
Much more commonly, we see individuals who exhibit both the strengths and weaknesses of their type. It is natural and healthy that each personality type is ruled by a dominant function, and that the other functions support the ruling function. We don't seek to change anyone's natural self, or to achieve a perfect balance amongst a personality's functions. By definition, a kingdom needs a king in order to exist, and a personality needs a dominant function. However, a kingdom with a well-developed and effective king (the dominant function), who has well-trained and educated advisors (the supporting functions), will thrive more than the kingdom ruled by a neglectful king who is supported by inexperienced advisors.
As we can see, Balance and Success are relative terms. They have different meaning for each of the sixteen personality types. One statement using these terms is true for all types: Balance is the key to Success.
So how do we go about realizing what's truly important to us? How do we recognize our weaknesses, and learn not to hide behind them? How do we become balanced? How do we open that magical door that will show us the way to personal growth and success?
There is no quickie scheme that will make you a successful person. Psychological Type is a powerful aid in our quest for excellence, but it is not the actual solution. It is a model that will help you to expand your understanding of human nature. An improved understanding of yourself and others will help you to find, follow or expand your path. An awareness and acceptance of the fact that one personality function may be more effective than another function in a given situation will help you to understand the relevance of personal growth to your life.
Carl Jung identified a process of personal growth that he called individuation, which is essentially the conscious realization of your true self, beyond the Ego that is presented by your conscious self. Our efforts to help people develop themselves is essentially the effort to help them to realize that their personal perspectives and conscious ideas are only a small part of who they are, and that the more they try to develop and defend this superficial “self”, the further they get away from their true Self. This realization helps a psyche in many concrete ways, and is also a positive step towards promoting a psyche that is open to the process of individuation. For the purposes of making this realization accessible to the general public, our writings are mostly void of complex theoretical discussion.
To learn more about personal growth for your specific personality type, click on the appropriate link below.