Analysing Personality Types

While Marston’s work undoubtedly retains influence Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) is the big names in personality theory over the last hundred years. Indeed, a Time magazine cover story in 2001 featured pictures of Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud, identifying the two as “The Century’s greatest minds”. When Freud started “analyzing people” his contemporaries were still engaged in measuring the size and shape of the brain so even the subjectivity of inkblots and the interpretation of dreams seemed like a more scientific approach to understanding difference between people.

What do you see in the inkblot? What could be interpreted from differences between your responses and those of others?

Profiling Types

It was Carl Jung (1890-1950) a close colleague of Freud who identified the idea of recurring themes in the classification of individual differences and proposed the utility of such frameworks for developing the self awareness for “normal people”. He suggested that people could be classified into different psychological types. The theory of type suggests people have different natural inclination for certain mental processes. It is this preferred use of mental processes that gives rise to what we encounter as differences in how people typically feel, think and act in their daily lives.   Jung and later Myers & Briggs defined personality type in terms of four dimensions. The interaction of these four dimensions giving sixteen types. The four dimensions are:

E/I (Extraversion / Introversion)

This dimension involves where you prefer to direct your energy. If you prefer to direct your energy to deal with people, things, situations, or “the outer world”, then your preference is for extraversion (E). If you prefer to direct your energy to deal with ideas, information, explanations or beliefs, or “the inner world”, then your preference is for introversion (I). Introversion in this model does not therefore equate with the concepts “shy” or “reclusive”.

S/N (Sensing / Intuition)

This dimension involves your preference for processing information. If you prefer to deal with facts, what you know, to have clarity, or to describe what you see, then your preference is for sensing (S). If you prefer to deal with ideas, look into the unknown, to generate new possibilities or to anticipate what isn’t obvious, then your preference is for intuition (N – “I” has already been used for Introversion). Do you pay more attention to information that comes in through your five senses (Sensing), or do you pay more attention to the patterns and possibilities that you see in the information you receive (Intuition)?

T/F (Thinking / Feeling)

This dimension of personality reflects the mental processes you typically use to make decisions. If you prefer to decide on the basis of objective logic, using an analytic and detached approach, then your preference is for thinking (T). If you prefer to decide using values and/or personal beliefs, on the basis of what you believe is important or what you or others care about, then your preference is for feeling (F).

J/P (Judging / Perception)

This dimension describes how you prefer to organise your life. If you prefer your life to be planned, stable and organised then your preference is for judging (J). As such “judging” bears no relation to the personality characteristic “judgmental”, which is not utilised in this model.If you prefer to go with the flow, to maintain flexibility and respond to things as they arise, then your preference is for perception (P). Do you prefer a more structured and decided lifestyle (Judging) or a more flexible and adaptable lifestyle (Perceiving)? This preference may also be thought of as your orientation to the outer world.

Jung’s model is the most popular tool for team development in the UK and Ireland. While Marston’s model delivers only four types Jung’s framework delivers 16 personality types. That said it still lacks complexity for many purposes. In a pharmaceutical plant where I worked recently nearly seventy percent of professional managers had the same type (Extraverted, Intuiting, Thinking and Judging). Jung’s model is free of pejorative judgements of people but has nothing to say about differences in individual abilities or anxiety levels. The tool is an incomplete model of individual differences but remains a safe tool for raising a team’s or an individual’s awareness and generating an acceptance of the principal of differences.

The work of Carl Jung has influenced many modern assessments of interests. The popular Holland framework can be related to Jung’s description of types. Careers commonly associated with categories in the Holland framework are outlined below:

Jung Type Holland’s Career Framework
  • S Sensing
  • Realistic

e.g. Farmer, firefighter, plasterer, quantity surveyor, geologist

 

  • J Judging

 

  • Conventional & Investigative

e.g. administrator, systems analyst, solicitor, engineer, pharmacist

  • N Intuition
  • E Extraversion

 

  • Enterprising

e.g. buyer, merchandiser, sales executive, trading, event organiser

  • N Intuition
  • P Perceiving

 

  • Artistic

e.g. Art, design ,PR, Actor, journalist, advertising,

  • E Extraversion
  • Social

e.g. Teacher, hospitality, HR, counsellor, therapist,

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.