Have you ever wondered why certain people behave the way they do? If you were to think about the interactions you’ve had with friends, colleagues or family members recently, you might have experienced some of them being more reserved, while others more expressive. Perhaps you might have also noticed that some focused on the specific details, while others were more vague. I have always found it interesting how diverse and unique people are. So, what could account for these differences?
Here at Personality Matters LLP, we believe that, well… personality matters!
Our innate human personality is one of the factors that accounts for why we think and act in characteristically distinctive ways. In this post, you will be introduced to the main concepts of Carl Jung’s theory of personality.
Carl Jung’s Psychological Type Theory
- Extraversion (E) – Introversion (I)
- Sensing (S) – Intuition (N)
- Thinking (T) – Feeling (F)
- Judging (J) – Perceiving (P)
As postulated by Carl Jung’s psychological type theory, which was first published in 1921, the human personality is innate since birth. While our personality might appear to change according to different situations and contexts we are in, we all have a natural personality preference, also know as our psychological type preferences. This intrinsic personality is what Carl Jung’s research was about. According to Jung, our personality type is a combination of preferences along these four dichotomies:
These are called “dichotomies” because you either belong to one side or the other – there is no sitting on the fence. While you may exhibit both characteristics of a particular dichotomy, you would intrinsically prefer one over the other. So, as you read on and do a self-assessment, think about this natural inclination instead of what the external environment expects of you.
Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I)?
This dichotomy is concerned with how people prefer to focus their attention and get their energy. People who prefer Extraversion (E)…
- Direct their energy and attention externally.
- Focus on the outer world of people and activities.
- Are energised by interacting with others.
- May appear to be sociable and expressive.
By contrast, people who prefer Introversion (I)…
- Channel their energy and attention inwards.
- Focus on the inner world of thoughts and ideas.
- Are energised by the opportunity to reflect.
- May appear to be private and contained.
Sensing (S) or Intuition (N)?
S and N are mental processes dealing with how people prefer to acquire information and the kind of information which they like and trust. People with a Sensing (S) preference…
- Rely on present realities and verifiable facts.
- Prefer information that is concrete and sequential.
- Focus on on specific details rather than the overall picture.
- May appear to be down-to-earth and matter-of-fact.
By contrast, people with an Intuition (N) preference…
- Focus on future possibilities, ideas and insights.
- Prefer information that is theoretical and conceptual.
- Look out for the overall big picture rather than specific data.
- May appear to be imaginative and abstract.
Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)?
T and F are mental processes concerned with how people make decisions. Those who prefer Thinking (T)…
- Make their decisions based on impersonal, objective logic.
- Take a step back to analyse the situation before coming up with a practical solution.
- Are known for their firmness and truthfulness.
- May appear to be reasonable and tough-minded.
By contrast, those who prefer Feeling (F)…
- Make their decisions based on personal values and relationships.
- Step into the situation to identify with people involved and consider how they may be affected.
- Are known to promote harmony and positive interactions.
- May appear to be compassionate and tender-hearted.
Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)?
This dichotomy is concern with people’s attitudes towards the external world and how they approach day-to-day life. People with a Judging (J) preference…
- Are organised and planful.
- Like to have things decided.
- Try to avoid last minute stresses.
- May appear to be methodical and systematic.
By contrast, those with a Perceiving (P) preference…
- Are flexible and adaptable.
- Like to explore options.
- Feel energised by last minute pressures.
- May appear to be spontaneous and casual.
(Jung 1971, Myers 1998).
Your Unique Personality Type
When combined together, your preferences on each of the above four dichotomies give rise to one of sixteen 4-letter personality types, e.g. INTJ, ISFJ, ESFP, ENTJ, etc. Each of the 16 types has its own sets of strengths, limitations and areas for growth. Having an understanding of your type will shed light into why you think and act the way you do – be it your everyday functioning or how you react under stress.
Carl Jung’s theory has been more visible in recent decades, spawning numerous studies and applications in various contexts around the world. It has been operationalised in several notable personality assessment tools, including the internationally renowned Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the Keirsey Temperament Sorter and the Francis Psychological Type Scales.
Through the official MBTI Step 2 assessment that we administer in Personality Matters, your particular type can be further broken down into more subtle facets which showcase your unique personality – you are uniquely you! Gaining this form of self-awareness will contribute towards self-acceptance, self-development, as well as relationship and career development.
Dr. J. Peter is a researcher and specialist in psychological type and cognitive-behavioural sciences. He helps clients build better emotional, psychosocial and relational well-being.
Jung, Carl G. 1971. Psychological Types: The Collected Works, Volume 6. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Myers, Isabel B. 1998. Introduction to Type (6th ed.). Palo Alto, CA: CPP Inc.
Photo Credits: All images on this post are from Unsplash.