Thursday, July 23, 2009

Myers Briggs Type Discussion: The Four Attitudes


I was thinking, I never got the chance to talk about the theory that underlies the Myers Briggs typology (which is further based upon Jung’s personality types). So in the next few posts I will talk about what the letters in the Myers Briggs type stand for and how you can discern your type by using the four dichotomies: Introversion vs. Extroversion, Intuiting vs. Sensing, Thinking vs. Feeling and Judging vs. Perceiving.

As most of you probably know, the Myers Briggs type is an acronym that indicates our preference in each dichotomy.

The first and fourth letters indicate your preferred attitudes, while the two letters in the middle indicate your preferred functions.

The Attitudes

There are two kinds of attitudes: the one you have towards the outer world (an introverted attitude or an extroverted attitude), and the one that you have towards making decisions in the outer world (a perceptive attitude or a judging attitude).

The Introverted vs Extroverted Attitude (I/E)

Introverts and Extroverts

Introverts tend to focus much more on their inner worlds. They define themselves through their private thoughts and feelings and can appear disengaged with their environments. They try to adjust outer reality to their own subjective views about it and not vice-versa – this means that to a large extent, they will not associate who they are to what is around them and they will not allow their environment to affect them too much.

Due to this inward focus, Introverts are generally more withdrawn, quiet, less sociable and more original and eccentric in their minds. They have a few friends with which develop more intense and deeper relationships. They can concentrate better and easily ignore distractions when they’re focusing on something but at the same time they might be subjective in their conclusions because they tend to resist outer reality and feel separated from it.

Introverts reflect more before they act and are usually more abstract and insightful than Extroverts. They have less energy to spare and try to conserve it by interacting less: too much stimulation can quickly overwhelm them so they need to withdraw again in order to rest and recover their energy.

Introverts get energized by being alone. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are unsocial people or that they can’t be a wonderful company (especially with close ones), but it does mean that Introverts will need more privacy, silence and time to reflect than Extroverts ever will. They are more reserved because they hold their energy in to preserve it, but this reclusive attitude also sometimes causes them to feel quite self-aware, shy and a bit socially awkward.

Extroverts are very different: they define themselves through their environment and love to interact with it all the time. They get bored when they’re alone for too long because what energizes them is being out there with people and lots of things to do. They have a sensibly higher amount of energy and like to spend it: the more they do, the more alive they feel.

They usually have large groups of friends and acquaintances, even though most of these relationships are rather superficial and based on temporary common interests. They’re also louder, more sociable, friendlier and more assertive than Introverts: they speak their minds and sometimes even speak without thinking first. Extroverts tend to be more expressive and approach people and situations fearlessly.

An interesting thing about them is their tendency to describe themselves through their environment (their friends, their possessions, their favorite color, their political party etc.). They let their environment influence them and while they can be very adaptable, they can also become unaware of their own needs. While Introverts try to adapt their environment to themselves, by choosing from it only what suits their views, the Extroverts do the exact opposite: they adapt themselves to their environment and form their thoughts and feelings based on it. This is what makes them more popular and why Extroverts seem (and really are) more socially tuned and often more objective.

By deciding whether you are an Introvert or an Extrovert, you will obtain the first letter of your type acronym: I or E.

This will also tell you whether your dominant function will be Introverted or Extroverted.


The Judging vs Perceiving Attitude (J/P)

Judgers and Perceivers

These two attitudes indicate the way we tend to handle decisions and which kind of function - a judging or a perceiving one - we will use to deal with the external world (will be Extroverted).

The Judging function will be either a T (Thinking) or F (Feeling) and the Perceiving function will be S (Sensing) or N (Intuiting) – in both cases depending on our specific preference.

Judging types like to make decisions and stick with them: they use an extroverted Judging function (Te or Fe). They generally dislike open-ended, ambiguous situations and so they are punctual, stable, orderly and respect deadlines. They usually finish whatever they start and like to plan their activities in advance, sometimes by using schedules and tables: they like things to be settled.

Judging types usually keep their environments clean and orderly. They keep their commitments, are reliable, organized and steady and generally they are hard-working people with an inclination to assume authority and control other people and situations.

Sometimes, problems may arise with their difficulty to be flexible and accept change as a natural part of life: they tend to be more rigid and unwilling to compromise. Judging types also have trouble with unpredictable situations, feeling unprepared and tending to freeze in front of the unexpected – they often lack in spontaneity and that’s why they push to know everything in advance.

The Perceivers are their opposite: they’re rather spontaneous, carefree and adaptable. They love change and variety and don’t mind uncertain situations as much – they can deal with them easily, by improvising and finding ingenious solutions on the spot.

Perceiving types are flexible, open-ended, curious, unstructured and impetuous – they are using an extroverted Perceiving function (either Ne or Se) . They don’t bother much with rules and deadlines, and they’re the kind of people that postpone engagements until the last possible moment. They work best under a bit of pressure and tend to finish projects past their due time (if at all).

Perceivers like to have tons of information before they make a decision, so this is one reason why they’re never sure of what they should do: what if something better comes up? Therefore they’re slow to make decisions and even when they do, they are bound to change them and forget about their previous commitments.

Their main problems stem from being flighty and undecided, not managing to finish most things they start, being unpredictable and unreliable (which causes problems with people around them) and sometimes acting recklessly and on impulse.

By deciding whether you are a Judger or a Perceiver, you will obtain the fourth (and last) letter of your type acronym: J or P.

This will also tell you whether your extroverted function will be a Judging one (T or F) or a Perceiving one (N or S).

Next, read about Myers Briggs Type Discussion: The Four Functions




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