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Personality Types

This page discusses various issues relating to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), and the various tests which can be used by a person to determine their personality type. These tests include the Keirsey-Bates Temperament Sorter, and the Duniho&Duniho Life-Pattern Indicator (DDLI). These tests are all different ways of saying something about your MBTI type.

It is important to bear in mind that the MBTI does not define how you behave - it is a description tool. It gives us a vocabulary with which to talk about personality. It does not impose anything.

It also does not necessarily describe how we actually behave in the real world. It's more a question of describing our attitude to our own behaviour - whether we feel comfortable doing something or not as opposed to whether we actually do it at all.

An analogy;

* Imagine a wide field. The field contains grass. Some areas of the field have thickly growing grass, with many various varieties, while other areas are more sparsely populated. This field represents the complete range of human personality. Notice how no two blades of grass are exactly the same.
* What the MBTI does in my view, is go into this field and stick a few posts in the ground to mark the field out to a certain degree.
* What the tests do is to determine where your blade of grass lies in respect to the posts. It tells you which post you are nearest to (Or that you are midway between two posts, or whatever).
* People do not behave the same in all circumstances. Depending on who they are with, mood, other physical parameters, the behaviour may change noticeably. In the field, consider this as a strong breeze blowing. Blades of grass may move under this external influence, and appear to be nearer to a particular post than they would be without this influence. Notice that some blades appear to be either stiffer or more flexible than others, and are affected to differing degrees by this breeze.
* Although rooted in a particular point, each blade of grass can gave it's tip in a range of positions. Different blades may have different lengths and be able to comfortably assume a wider range of positions in respect to the posts than others. If pulled to the limit of their range and released, they spring back to something closer to their root position.
* Over time, as the blade grows, the tip may end up some distance from the root.

Unfortunately, this analogy is somewhat flawed in that the MBTI tests include four degrees of freedom, so the idea of a two dimensional field doesn't quite fit. Some sort of four dimensional space would be required to represent the MBTI fully.

If it isn't completely obvious by now, my own personality type is INTP. This means that I am an Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Perceiver. (The opposite of this would be an Extraverted Sensing Feeling Judger). Typical characteristics of an INTP (taken from various sources, mostly not my own words) are;

* INTPs are pensive, analytical folks. They may venture so deeply into thought as to seem detached, and often actually are oblivious to the world around them
* They are the "absent-minded professors", who highly value intelligence and the ability to apply logic to theories to find solutions. They typically are so strongly driven to turn problems into logical explanations, that they live much of their lives within their own heads, and may not place as much importance or value on the external world.
* The INTP is likely to be very shy when it comes to meeting new people. On the other hand, the INTP is very self-confident and gregarious around people they know well, or when discussing theories which they fully understand.
* Precise about their descriptions, INTPs will often correct others (or be sorely tempted to) if the shade of meaning is a bit off.
* Most INTPs love a good pun or double-entendre and are uniquely sensitive to the possibilities of such humor.
* Thinking is an INTP's forte, and INTPs are always thinking. The raw material for these ceaseless thought processes comes from the intuitive insights that the INTP's perception supplies. INTPs build mental models of reality based on their intuitive perceptions.

One of the things that really impressed me on taking one of these tests (DDLI as it happens), was that the test seemed to be doing a lot more than simply turning my answers back at me. The literal humour thing is definitely a highly accurate description of me, and none of the questions had related to this.

Going back to the analogy I think my good impression is partly because I am a fairly extreme INTP, and seem to be pretty close to one of the posts in the field. If you are further away from the markers, you may be less impressed by the results. I still think it is something very worthwhile doing though - it may very well tell you something about yourself that you had not fully realised before, or that you had thought was common to everyone, or was unique to you. It's all good fun . . .

Some possibly useful resources;

* INTP.org
* Keirsey.com
* Typelogic
* Personality Type Descriptions
* Ptypes

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Last Modified: 12.7.2006