Personality Type Myth-Busting: Does Personality Type Change Over Time?

Whether or not your personality type can change is quite a point of debate in the Myers-Briggs® community. Officially, Myers-Briggs® theory holds that your personality type is inborn and does not change. In other words, you cannot start out as an ISFP and then transform into an ESFJ (or any other types) over the course of your life.

Practically, though, we know that people take personality tests all the time and get different results. It’s one of the big arguments leveled against Myers-Briggs® theory — that the tests don’t deliver consistent results and are therefore not valid, repeatable, or scientific. On top of all that, you might have seen articles about new research over the last few years that indicates your personality can change over your lifetime. How do we make sense of all that in relation to type theory?

Personality Traits vs. Personality Type

On the surface, it seems that Myers-Briggs® disagrees with psychology studies that say personality can and does change. But when you take a closer look, you’ll see there’s not really a disconnect. There’s a big difference between personality traits and personality type. The personality model that most psychologists favor today is called Big Five. It includes five key traits — extroversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, contentiousness, and openness.

Where you fall on these traits can change, though they’re considered relatively stable. When change happens it tends to do so gradually over many years (change is more likely and more rapid when something significantly life-changing occurs, such as  a traumatic experience) . We also tend to be more stable in some traits and less stable in others. You can read more about this in the following articles: Read more

Personality Type Myth-Busting: Are Judging Types More Judgmental?

Thinking that the Judging/Perceiving preference has to do with how judgmental or perceptive an individual is is a common misconception, especially when people are first learning about Myers-Briggs® types. It’s easy to see where this idea comes from. Judging and Perceiving are right there in the names, after all.

In reality, the Judging-Perceiving distinction is more about describing how we make decisions and learn new information, as well as which side of our personality we prefer to use in the outer world. Before we can answer the question of, “Are Judging types more judgmental?” or a related question such as, “Are Perceiving types more perceptive?” we need to take a closer look at exactly what these terms mean in Myers-Briggs® theory.

Judging and Perceiving Traits

Sensing and Intuition are both Perceiving functions.  You can click here to read an article that provides an overview of the whole concept of functions in Myers-Briggs®. For more on the traits of Judging and Perceiving types, you can see Personality Hacker by Joel Mark Witt and Antonia Dodge and Personality Types by Lenore Thomas. I referenced both books when writing this post.

If you’re a Perceiving-type, then you use either Sensing or Intuition as your preferred way of learning (i.e. perceiving) new information. The P in your type tells us that for you, this function is outer-world oriented (Extroverted Sensing or Extroverted Intuition). Perceiving traits include flexibility, information seeking and gathering, resistance to structure, improvisation skills, impulsiveness, and a present-moment focus (Personality Hacker, p. 29; Personality Types, p. 48-49).

Feeling and Thinking are both Judging functions. If your’e a Judging-type, then you use either Feeling or Thinking as your preferred way of making decisions (i.e. judging). Having a J in your type tells us that for you, this function is outer-world oriented (Extroverted Feeling or Extroverted Thinking). Judging traits include understanding and valuing structure, a tendency to make and follow plans, long-term focus, organizational skills, comfort with familiar environments, and responsibleness. Read more

Personality Type Myth-Busting: Is It True That Only Intuitive Can See The Big Picture?

One of the ways that we often talk about the difference between Sensing and Intuitive types in the Myers-Briggs®system is by saying that Intuitives are big-picture thinkers who recognize patterns and think abstractly, while Sensors are detail-oriented thinkers who rely on sensory information and think concretely. Those descriptions are, broadly speaking, true. But it’s also important to note that this does not mean Intuitives always ignore details or that Sensors are incapable of seeing the big picture.

Your Myers-Briggs® personality type describes your preferred mental processes. If you’re an Intuitive type, that means you prefer to take in new information and perceive the world using an Intuitive mental function. Sensing types prefer to use a Sensing function when they’re learning and conceptualizing the world. Intuitives also have access to Sensing and Sensors can also use Intuition, just not as comfortably. (If you’re not familiar with Myers-Briggs® functions or want a quick refresher, click here.)

As with most of my myth-busting posts, this article is basically about not judging people based on stereotypes. Preferring a certain function doesn’t mean you use it exclusively. Having skills in one area doesn’t make you incompetent in others. Personality types describe how our minds work — they don’t limit what we’re capable of. Read more

Personality Type Myth-Busting: Are ESFP, ISFP, ESTP, and ISTP Types Live-In-The-Moment People Who Can’t Commit?

Most of us tend to oversimplify Myers-Briggs® personality types. Even the types we think of as more complicated and which some writers treat as almost otherworldly (like the INFJ) gets reduced to stereotypes. Some types are painted in broad strokes as boring traditionalist, others as logical geniuses, and still others as innovative daydreamers.

And then there are the SP types. They’re the live-in-the-moment adrenaline junkies and hedonists, who love to make art and party and never commit to anything. But is that really a fair stereotype? Or is it just as overly simplistic and unfair to these four personality types as are the myths surrounding other Myers-Briggs® types?

Roots of the Stereotype

When David Keirsey published his own personal take on the Myers-Briggs® personality types, he paid particular attention to the SP types. He’s the one who decided to categorize them together and labeled them the “Artisans.” He also called them the “hedonist” types and said they are looking for a “playmate” in relationships. Though he didn’t really use function theory to describe type, he mainly focused on the Extroverted Sensing side of their personalities to the exclusion of other factors.

This oversimplification of the SP types is one of the main reasons why I don’t like the way David Keirsey talked about personality types. He skips over their inner motivations (a problem that Lenore Thomson talks about in her book Personality Type: An Owner’s Manual) and leaves us with the hedonistic stereotype that has come to be so much a part of the definitions we use for ESFP, ISFP, ESTP, and ISTP types (especially the extroverts). Read more

Personality Type Myth-Busting: What’s The Rarest Personality Type?

As an INFJ, I often see people talking about how it’s the rarest personality type. According to every type distribution I’ve seen this statement is true. However, I’ve also seen quite a few INFJs treat this rarity as if there’s a huge gap between how rare we are compared to the other personality types. Some also treat this rarity as meaning that we INFJs are so rare no one else can relate to us and/or that it makes us extra special.

While INFJs are the rarest type overall, there are other types that are almost as rare. And when we break type distributions down by gender, INFJ is not the rarest type among women (though it is among men). You can see the Estimated Frequencies of the Types in the United States Population in this chart:

Personality Type Myth-Busting: What's The Rarest Personality Type? | LikeAnAnchor.com

Relative Rarity For Each Type

As you can see from the type distribution chart at the start of this post, most of the Intuitive types each make up less than 5% of the population. The estimates from Center of Application for Psychological Type cover a pretty broad range, though. The Myers-Briggs® Foundation offers more specific estimates in addition to the ranges. These percentages pin-point INFJ at 1.5%, ENTJ 1.8%, INTJ at 2.1%, and ENFJ at 2.5%. They’re all pretty rare. Read more

Classics Club Update (1/2)

Almost five years ago, I committed to reading 50 classic works of literature in 5 years. I’m starting to worry I won’t actually finish my Classics Club list by the August 18 deadline, despite the fact that I’ve already read more than 50 books this year alone. They just haven’t been the right books for the list (even with swapping out some of the titles for ones I’m more interested in now).

I’m not out of time yet, though, so I’m going to keep trying. Part of the agreement includes blogging about each title, but since this isn’t really a book blog I’m not going to write a whole post about each book I’ve read. Instead, here are a collection of my thoughts on six of the twelve books that were still on my list.

Frankenstein

Classics Club Update (1/2) | LikeAnAnchor.comMary Shelley’s Frankenstein has been on my list since the beginning. I’d read some of her mother’s work and had seen an on-stage version of Frankenstein as well as a modernized YouTube series, but this was my first time reading the original novel. It wasn’t entirely what I’d expected, though the format is familiar from reading other books from this time period. The story is told as if Victor Frankenstein is sharing his research (along with a cautionary tale) to the explorer who found him pursuing his created creature toward the North Pole.

Probably the thing that fascinated me most was the role Frankinstein’s psychology played in the story. Published in 1818 — 38 years before Sigmund Freud was even born — Mary Shelley explores the idea that Frankinstein’s path was shaped by his environment and his childhood as much as by the conscious choices he made. Did he make himself into the monster that created this creature? Or did was he a tragic product of his past? The story seems unsure and leaves us to answer that question for ourselves. Read more