Tuesday, February 10, 2009


1. Discovering My Personality Type.

According to: David Kiersey and Marilyn Bates, Please understand me: character & temperament types; 5th edition. Gnosology Books, Ltd.; distributed by Prometheus Nemesis Book Company, c1984. 210p.

Kiersey and Bates base their book on the Myers-Briggs typology of 16 personality types that originated in the thinking of Carl Gustav Jung. Here, the instrument for identifying type, “The Kiersey Temperament Sorter,” has 70 questions that each ask for choices between two alternatives. Answers when tabulated from an inventory sheet translate to personality preferences.

They describe and compare each of the preferences that go into making up personality. These are preferences between:

Extraversion (E) and Introversion (I);
Intuition (N) and Sensation (S);
Thinking (T) and Feeling (F);
Judging (J) and Perceiving (P).

Choices between pairs of preferences may vary markedly or split evenly so that Kiersey and Bates allow for 16 additional types to the Myers-Briggs 16, so called X types. Not all students of personality agree on these X split types.

Kiersey and Bates describe four possible temperaments resulting from the combination of preferences. Temperaments, though not understood here as “functional” as Jung did, carry his descriptions and become operational or predictive as to how types deal with different issues and forces. They name these temperaments as:

the Dionysian (SPs) who must be free;
the Epimethan (SJs) who long for duty;
the Promethean (NTs) who must understand and control nature, not people;
the Apollonian (NF) who seek to become themselves.

Two chapters follow that discuss how differing types play out among partners and within the family where there may also be children. These are interesting and helpful in understanding and working with relationships especially when the relationship established itself without the benefit of prior knowledge in typologies and in what manner partners would find themselves. Equally illuminating is a chapter on the behavior and relationships of each personality type in work situations.

An appendix, pages 167-207, provides summary descriptions of the 16 profiles, apt and illuminating even after all the preliminary profiling and information. Previously, Kiersey and Bates attached each of the types with an occupational character, given below. Each of the types constitutes an approximate percentage of the U.S. population. Apparently, breakdowns vary among other nations and cultures.

ENFJs (Pedagogue; 5%) place people as the highest importance and priority;
INFJs (Author; 1%) are complex and reserved, yet empathic of and concerned for others;
ENFPs (Journalist; 5%) strive for the authentic and intense emotional experiences;
INFPs (Questor; 1%) have strong internal values and care deeply, but selectively;
ENTJs (Fieldmarshal; 5%) are driven to lead and provide structure for tasks;
INTJs (Scientist; 1%) live in an introspective reality, focusing on possibilities;
ENTPs (Inventor; 5%) want to exercise their ingenuity in the world;
INTPs (Architect; 1%) seek precision in thought and language and work through contradictions;
ESTJs (Administrator; 13%) are responsible, orderly and fond of following procedures;
ISTJs (Trustee; 6%) are dependable, as good as their word, and thorough;
ESFJs (Seller; 13%) seek sociability and promote harmony;
ISFJs (Conservator; 6%) want to be of service and minister to individual needs;
ESTPs (Promoter; 13%) are action-oriented;
ESFPs (Entertainer; 13%) are generous and fun to be with because they want to be with others;
ISTPs (Artisan; 7%) are impulsive and enjoy action in itself;
ISFP (Artist; 5%) express themselves through action in finished form (art);

As for me, I am an INTJ with a score almost as 100% on the INTJ inventories as you can get. I am absolutely as happy as can be with being INTJ because it not only coincides with my own level of self-awareness, but also helps explain why the rest of the world is not like me and never has been throughout my lifetime. It is a great relief, having regarded myself as markedly different through most of my childhood and life besides also treated as different by others, finally to find a pleasing and well-worked out explanation as to why this difference exists.

Where Kiersey-Bates and I coincide is in how I see myself:

The world of thought, developed through examination and logic, is more real and certainly preferable to the outside world.

Formal logic is useful, but secondary to intuitional coherence.

The long run is of far more importance than the immediate.

My proper work is theory, and theory is the studied precursor to action. However desirable it is for the ideal to become real, this desired realization of the ideal, given history, does not readily happen and may not happen.

Unfortunately, I cannot see learning as accumulative either individually or collectively. Rather the ignorance of individuals and societies is pervasive, recurrent and often regressive.
Many problems take a long time to think through. How preferable it would be to think about them in single-minded mode, but that is often not possible, since multiple problems confront us simultaneously.

I can live with a lot of uncertainty and imprecision thanks to tentative confidence in some basic principles undergoing development. Given enough time for investigation, analysis and thought I, or some others, will arrive at an eventual and positive resolution, even though that may be temporary.

Changing ideas means changing reality. Even when I see the need to change my thinking it is hard to do and often requires mulling time.

Authority is meaningless apart from an idea that is convincing.

Correlatively, most decisions about ordinary things have marginal significance and are easily made. Social conventions are easy to follow since they are arbitrary and matter little one way or another unless they get in the way of more important things.

I like people in general and have no skepticism of individuals until shown otherwise. I have always had only a very few close friends since the depth of relationship that is wanted requires sharing of values, ideas, and aims in a fuller dialogue than can be achieved from most acquaintances.

I am most fortunate to be in love with my best friend to whom I am married and to have wonderful children and grandchildren. I believe in the mutual nurturing of family members and am pleased to be surrounded by independent and responsible people.

As an INTJ, I may have in the past verged on the following but am glad I am not:

an ENTJ, because I have no desire to lead except in functional or intellectual capacities;

an ISTJ, because though I can handle data and detail, I want to chose it and not become mired in it;

an INFJ, because ideas are more comfortable to me than people (I could have become a theologian, but not a very good pastor);

an INTP (to which I see myself closest), because I focus on coherence not contradiction and want closure - even though I recognize its tentative nature - rather than seeking more data.

My typology weaknesses are:
I am no good at conversations that are phatic, composed of small talk or exchanges of everyday events, just to be friendly and establish relationships. If we’re going to talk lets talk about tasks, issues, and ideas.

I do not like games and am no good at them either as participant or spectator because they seem distractions from the important matters of life, and they require so much time and sometimes money to get good at them, resources better spent on more significant concerns. To me games are basically boring and ultimately wasteful.

I have a tendency to judge too quickly when I think other viewpoints or data are out of bounds or won’t make any difference. I see this as my worst fault.

I regret that I cannot narrow my interests or focus sufficiently to pursue one thing to the end. I try to discipline myself to complete work on a schedule, but I fail.

Usually, I have to think about important and new matters for some time before I can act, and that causes a time crunch down the line.

I’m engaged in nearly constant revision because the expression is not ever as full, clear, elegant and convincing as it could be.

I tend to spend time on the matter uppermost in my mind or current priority to the neglect of other things until they become a priority. This leads to last minute work, which I do not like, but has the benefit of having been in my mind for a while unless I forget it.

I tend to forget things.

My INTJ is part 1 of a 5-part look at my personality based on various approaches. See also My LifeKey (2), My Learning (3), My Thinking (4), My Solo (5).

© 2009 by Roger Sween

I welcome substantive comment on the contents of this blog. Personal comments may be made to my email address, given above.