Personality Type Myth-Busting: Are All Introverts Quiet?

I think most people would tell you that one of the defining traits of introverts is that they are quiet. It’s even the name of one of the most popular introvert books — Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. This also happens to be the book that first got me started on studying and embracing introversion, and it’s still one of my favorite books.

But in the midst of this “quiet revolution” that’s pushing for greater acceptance of introversion, we might get the idea that all introverts are characterized by being soft-spoken people who rarely talk. However, that’s not entirely accurate and that’s not what really what Susan Cain meant when she named her book Quiet.

Confusing Introversion and Shyness

One of the most common mistakes regarding introversion is to assume it’s the same thing as shyness. But introversion is simply a description of how about 50% of the population’s brains are “hardwired.” It’s a preference for the inner world and a need to recharge in solitude. Shyness, on the other hand, is related to social anxiety. Read more

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7 Fictional Characters That You’ll Relate To If You’re An INFP

What fictional characters do you relate to as an INFP?

Just as we can describe real people using the Myers-Briggs® typology system, we can also use the system to type well-written fictional characters. Some of fiction’s most iconic and intriguing characters are INFPs, and today we’re going to talk about seven of them that I think real-life INFPs will find relatable.

One great thing about looking at character personality types is that it helps us to better understand people who have different types than we do. Fictional INFPs can serve as examples for what real-life INFPs might be like, and also show how much variation can exist between individuals with the same type.

Alphonse Elric

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood was the first Anime series I watched and it’s now one of my favorite TV series of all time. One of the highlights of this series (as well as the Fullmetal Alchemist series) is the character Alphonse Elric, who I’m pretty sure is either an INFP or an ISFP. Al is a sensitive, sweet young man with great strength of character. He believes deeply in doing what’s right and has a strong bond with the people he cares about, as do many real-life IFPs.

As someone who leads with Introverted Feeling (aka “Authenticity”) Al’s preferred mental process is one that’s concerned with inner harmony. As such, he makes decisions based on what feels right to him. As I’m sure many INFPs can attest, this isn’t an easy or straightforward way of figuring things out. It involves a life-long process of checking in with oneself, figuring out who you are, and finding the right way to navigate an often confusing world. Though he’s trapped in a giant suit of armor, Al is quite a young character and though the course of his story we get to see him working through a complicated process of discovering himself that I think many INFPs can relate to from their own growing-up years. Read more

How To Spot An INFJ

Adept at chameleon-like camouflage and the rarest of any type, spotting an INFJ out in the wild isn’t an easy thing to do. In fact, most people walk past INFJs without ever noticing them.

It’s kinda like in Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, where most people who look at the unicorn just see a sad looking white horse instead of her true, magical nature. Except for the fact that no matter how odd/ethereal they might seem from overenthusiastic type descriptions online, INFJs are not in fact magical.

This post isn’t going to deep-dive into function stacks or walk you through how to identify someone’s Myers-Briggs type. You can click here to read a good article on that. Instead, we’ll be talking about characteristics that are often associated with INFJs and which you could spot in fairly casual interactions. Not every INFJ will have these traits, but if you spot several then there’s a good chance you might be talking with an INFJ or one of the similar types.

In Conversations …

If you’re in a conversation with someone you think might be INFJ, look for the following signs:

  • They listen intently, offering non-verbal and sometimes verbal feedback that lets you know they understand and are relating to you.
  • They respond in ways that let you continue directing the conversation where you want it to go.
  • Touching on a favorite topic makes their eyes light up and they get so excited to talk about it that they may even interrupt you.
  • They ask you questions and you feel like you’re really connecting, but you realize later they told you very little about themselves.
  • Argumentative conversations and debates make them visibly uncomfortable.
  • They may get flustered and have trouble organizing their thoughts if you ask them a question they don’t have a ready answer for.
  • Deep questions excite them, but they often need to think before responding.
  • Their conversations often include abstract and symbolic terms, and references that don’t quite make sense to most others around them.

Read more

7 Fictional Characters That You’ll Relate To If You’re An INTP

What fictional characters do you relate to as an INTP?

Just as we can describe real people using the Myers-Briggs® typology system, we can also use the system to type well-written fictional characters. Some of fiction’s most iconic and intriguing characters are INTPs, and today we’re going to talk about seven of them that I think real-life INTPs will find relatable.

One great thing about looking at character personality types is that it helps us to better understand people who have different types than we do. Fictional INTPs can serve as examples for what real-life INTPs might be like, and also show how much variation can exist between individuals with the same type.

Alice

I actually typed Alice as an ENTP on my Disney Princess MBTI chart, but many people type her as an INTP. I’m fairly certain she uses Introverted Thinking and Extroverted Intuition as her two favorite functions, so both ENTPs and INTPs will probably find her a relatable character.

Extroverted Intuition is the most visible aspect of her personality. “If I had a world of my own everything would be nonsense,” seems the sort of thing a bored, curious intuitive would say as they try to explore every possibility no matter now far-fetched. As Alice goes through Wonderland, she’s constantly testing the different aspects of the world and asking questions. Read more

What If We Stopped Trying To Impress People?

I like to keep the people around me happy. I want harmony in all my relationships, and I hate conflict. Take all those (along with a few other personality traits and some insecurities) together, and you end up with someone who’s been a “people pleaser” for most of her life.

It’s normal for FJ personality types to act based on what will meet everyone’s needs and work to maintain harmonious relationships. That’s because they use Extroverted Feeling, or “Harmony,” as their decision-making process. But at some point in their personal growth journey, FJs need to realize that 1) you’re part of the “everyone” whose needs should be met, and 2) it’s impossible to please everyone.

Since writing my post “Are You Ready To Find Your Weirdness?” I’ve been thinking about what effect embracing authenticity will have on interpersonal relationships. One of the things I’ve realized is that instead of trying to adjust my presentation of myself to impress specific people, I need to focus more on bringing my best self to every conversation and interaction. If they’re impressed by that, cool, but if not it’s okay. Failing to please everyone isn’t really failure at all. It’s just something that happens.

We Can’t Please Everyone

It’s impossible to connect with everyone unless you’re adjusting yourself to please them. There’s far too much variety in human beings’ beliefs and preferences for your authentic self to resonate equally well with every person. In fact, if we’re being honest, I’m sure there are some types of people you don’t really want to resonate with. For example, you’d probably worry about yourself if a Klu Klux Klan member felt that you understood and agreed with them 100%. Read more

Here’s Why I Don’t Like The Way David Keirsey Talked About Personality Types

One of the most influential names in personality theories surrounding Myers-Briggs® types is David Keirsey. His book Please Understand Me II was one of the first I read when I decided to study personality theory because it was so widely recommended.

The more I studied Myers-Briggs types, though, the less comfortable I felt with Keirsey’s version and the more questions I had. Was his insistence on grouping the 16 types into 4 categories really all that useful? Is the practice of giving each type nicknames doing more harm than good? Why did he seem to ignore Jungian psychological functions? I started to think maybe he’s not the best resource for studying Myers-Briggs, though he does offer an interesting perspective on how the 16 types might relate to historic 4 type systems.

I’ve debated quite a bit whether or not to actually write this post. But I’ve been reading Personality Type: An Owner’s Manual by Lenore Thomson, who is a former managing editor of the Junginan journal Quadrant and who has taught courses on psychological types at the C.G. Jung Foundation in New York City. In her discussion of the ITP and IFP types, she voiced some of the same frustrations with Keirsey that I’ve felt, particularly in regard to how he talks about the SP types.

  • If you’d like to get a copy of Thomson’s book, click here. Please note that this is an affiliate link, which means that, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click on the link and make a purchase.

Keirsey’s Focus on SP Types

I do want to start out by saying that I know Keirsey’s intentions were good in how he described SP types. He saw himself as “championing” the SPs (who he called “Artisans”) more than any other type because his parents, brothers, and many of his friends were Artisans. In addition, much of his work for 30 years as a family therapist was spent working with Artisan children who gave their parents and schools a hard time when they were noisy and restless or didn’t finish assignments.

My long association with and understanding of Artisans of all ages has enabled me to be more useful to them than to others of different temperament. I think Artisans ought to be enjoyed for what they are instead of condemned for what they are not, something that can also be said of the other three temperaments. (Keirsey, Please Understand Me II, p. 33)

While I agree with the sentiment, I think that some of Kersey’s theories did a disservice to SP types by constraining them into an art-making, hedonistic stereotype. There’s so much more to them than that, and I think by simply focusing on their shared SP traits we lose a lot of the nuances of each of these four type. I doubt this was his intention, but that’s how people seem to have used/misapplied his theories. Read more