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The Principles of Personality Type: Why We Do the Things We DoPeople come in all shapes and sizes, and, certainly, every person is unique. But you'll probably agree that some people are much more alike than others. And behavior that may seem random is, in fact, quite understandable and often even predictable, once you understand that person's inborn, natural personality, or genetic blueprint, if you will, which describes basic psychological characteristics. And one's personality is by far the best and most reliable predictor of behavior.
There are a whole host of factors that influence behavior: genes, upbringing, innate talents and abilities, cultural background, time period, and location, as well as the specifics of a particular situation. Human beings have a huge repertoire of behaviors. We all act differently during a job interview than we do at a rock concert. We behave differently when socializing with our families than we do with our closest friends. That's because the situation calls for different behavior. But that doesn't mean our personality changes with each new situation we encounter. To the contrary, as human beings we approach most situations with a set of automatic responses, acting in ways in which we are most comfortable. Evidence of this abounds and is easily seen when we consider that most people's personalities are quite consistent. For example, let's say you have a friend, Ed, whom everyone describes as responsible and hardworking and whose demeanor is almost always pretty serious. He may occasionally lighten up and deviate from that style for example, at his brother's wedding reception, when he was dancing in a conga line.
But for the most part, he acts true to his conservative character because that's who he is. In fact, if he were serious and careful one day, and the next he was turning back flips in the office, you'd probably have good reason to worry something might be wrong with him! Perhaps you have another friend, relative, or coworker who is very different from the fellow just described. She is, instead, perpetually lighthearted, loves to laugh and enjoy herself, and almost seems immune to the everyday pressures and worries that plague most of us. It is unlikely that she is merely acting that way. She probably is more naturally carefree and easygoing than serious, steady Ed. And while, undoubtedly, some of every person's behavior is learnedfrom parents, siblings, and teachersa greater portion of it is the natural manifestation of his or her inborn personality.
While there are many different models of behaviora fancy phrase for saying ways of understanding peoplewe have found Personality Type to be the most insightful and useful. One reason is that it so accurately identifies key characteristics of personality that are present in all people. Personality Type is also useful because it describes behavior in positive, nonjudgmental terms. This is not an approach that says it is better to be one way or another, nor that it is better to be one type than another. But it helps us to recognize, and very clearly identify, our natural strengths and potential weaknesses. And by allowing us to understand the ways we are alike and different, it helps us not only to value our differences, but to celebrate them as well.
Before you begin an introduction to Personality Type, it might be helpful for you to know a bit about its history. The basic ideas behind Type are not new. In fact, they were first written about by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung more than seventy years ago. But it was two American women, Katharine Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Myers, who were really responsible for building on, including developing the fourth type dimension, and making these ideas useful in practical ways to so many people. One of Isabel's major contributions to our understanding of human behavior was the development of a psychological instrument that reliably identifies sixteen distinctly different types. She named this the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)®, and over the past several years, millions of people around the world have been introduced to the benefits of knowing about Personality Type through the MBTI®, It is routinely used in business to help managers motivate employees, develop more-productive work teams, and enhance communication. It is also heavily used by counselors and therapists to help individuals, couples, and families understand and communicate better with each other. Hundreds of thousands of people have found Personality Type invaluable in helping them make satisfying career choices. And these are only some of its many applications!
THE BIG PICTURE: AN OVERVIEW OF PERSONALITY TYPE There are four components, or "dimensions," that make up a personality type. They are: how people are energized, what kind of information they naturally notice and remember, how they make decisions, and how they like to organize the world around them. As you can see, each of these dimensions deals with an important aspect of life, which is why Type provides such accurate insights into our own, and others', behavior. It helps to picture each of these four dimensions as a scalea continuum between two opposite extremeslike this:
You will notice there is a midpoint in the center of each scale. This is important because everyone has an inborn, natural preference for one side or the other on each of these dimensions.
Some people resist the notion that they have to fall on one side or the other, insisting that they are able to use either side, depending on the situation. And while it is true that all of us use both sides of each dimension hundreds of times a day, we do not use them with equal frequency, energy, or success. A simple exercise will help you understand this concept. First, find a pen or pencil and a piece of paperany scrap will doyou can even use the margin of this book. Now simply write your signature. How did that feel? . Pretty easy, we would guess. Okay, now write your signature again, only this time with your pen or pencil in your opposite hand! How did that feel? If you're like most people, you would use words like "awkward," "difficult," "uncomfortable," and "unnatural" to describe the second experience. Also, it probably took more time and energy, and the product wasn't nearly as good.
When you are using your preferred side on any of the four type dimensionslike using your preferred handyou are doing what comes naturally. And when you are required to use the opposite side, it takes a lot of extra work and you're not as good at it; hence, the experience is usually not as satisfying.
You might ask: "Isn't it possible to be both, say, an Introvert and an Extravert?" The answer is no. But just as we can and do use our less preferred hand, we also use our other side on each type dimension, at times. Another way to think of it is that everyone is primarily one way or the other, but not exclusively that way. Those of us who have been studying and using Type for dozens of years have little doubt that every person really does have a natural, inborn preference for one side over the other, although in some people it is quite strong and apparent, while in others it is less strong and may be harder to identify.
Because there are four type dimensions, and each person has one preference per dimension, there are sixteen different possible type combinations. A personality type is really a four-letter code that reflects a person's preferences on each of the four dimensions. For example, a person can be an ISTP (Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving) type, or an ENFJ (Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging) type, or one of fourteen other type combinations.
It is helpful to spend a few moments talking about some of the language used to describe Type. For example, when we refer to a preference, we're not talking about a conscious choice, but rather an inborn tendency. We can't choose to be an Extravert, for example, any more than we can choose to be born right-handed or have blue eyes. Nor can we change any of our type preferences. We are born with a type and we remain that type our whole lives. While some people don't particularly like this idea, it is not bad news. For as we said before, it is not better or worse to have one preference over another. Nor is any one type better or worse, smarter or duller than another. Rather, each type has natural strengths and potential weaknesses, due to its tendencies and inclinations. And although every individual is unique, because they have their own genes, parents, and life experiences, people of the same type share a remarkable amount in common.
Over the years, it has been pointed out that the language used to describe type preferences can sometimes create an unwanted distraction, because most of us have heard words like "Extravert" and "Introvert" and associate them with a meaning that is not the same when they are used to refer to Personality Type. For example, many people think of Introverts as being shy and withdrawn, and Extraverts as gregarious and talkative. This description is neither adequate, since there is so much more to this dimension than just the amount of social interaction people desire, nor accurate, since there are some very shy Extraverts and some very outgoing Introverts. These distinctions will be clarified when we discuss each type preference in depth, in the following section. But for the time being, try to let go, as best you can, of any preconceived notions you may have as to the meanings of these words.
FIGURING OUT YOUR TYPE PREFERENCES "To know others, you must first know yourself." This old expression is particularly true with regard to learning about Type. Therefore, your first objective is to understand the Type concepts well enough to be able to accurately identify your own type. Look at reading this book as a series of learning adventures. And while it is important for you To get the fundamentals down, like millions of others you'll find reading, thinking about, and discussing Type with others to be interesting and fun.
In a moment you will begin to read about the four type dimensions, in an effort to determine which preferences fit you best. To help you decide, we've posed several questions that reflect the differences between opposite sides. Most of what you read about your preference will ring true for you, but in order to clearly make the distinctions, the preferences are presented as generalities, which really represent extremes. Try not to focus on any one specific example of each preference, but rather on a pattern of behavior that is more consistently like you than its opposite. Even if one example sounds just like you, see how all the others fit before making up your mind.
THE FOUR TYPE DIMENSIONS Extravert or Introvert: The "Inner World" or the "Outer World"?
The first type dimension is concerned with the two different ways people orient themselves to life, either as Extraverts or Introverts. Contrary to what most people may think when they hear the words "Extravert" and "Introvert," this first type dimension is really most concerned about people's energywhere they get it and where they direct it.
Many behaviors are influenced by a person's preference for one or the other; two of the most helpful questions to determine whether you are an Introvert or an Extravert are:
What energizes me mostInteracting with other people or being by myself? Where do I like to focus my energyin the outer world of people and things or in the inner world of ideas and thoughts?
Extraverts are "other centered." By this we mean they both get energy from and focus their energy toward people and things outside of themselves. Think of Extraverts as possessing a sort of radar that they turn outward to constantly scan their environment. The more blips on the screen (the more interactions), the more energized they become. But Introverts are really more "self centered." This does not mean they are selfish; rather they are more self-contained and self-reliant. Introverts tune their radar to an internal frequency because they are more interested in applying their own perceptions and experience to a situation rather than looking outside themselves for the answer. Extraverts naturally (and unconsciously) ask themselves: "How do I relate to other people and things?" While Introverts (again, unconsciously) ask themselves: "How do people or things relate to me?"
Because Extraverts are energized by being around people, they naturally seek out others more often than Introverts do, which accounts for why Extraverts typically have huge collections of friends and associates.
Two very clear Extraverts, Chas and Elaine, offer a good example of
this phenomenon. Friends who often socialize together, Chas and
Elaine have a running competition: who knows more people? Whenever
they're out together, the game kicks into high gear when one of them
recognizes someone that the other doesn't know. Instantly, the other
starts scanning until he or she "gets one, 'that is, locates someone
not known to the other. While they obviously enjoy this game, their
friends are constantly amazed at just how many people, individually
and collectively, these two actually do know.
While Extraverts like to focus their attention on what is happening in the world around them, most Introverts prefer to immerse themselves totally in a project that interests them. Naturally independent, they find the solitude of working alone and thinking things through carefully both stimulating and refreshing. This concentrated single-mindedness can even make them oblivious to what is happening around them.
Shawn is a case in point. A very clear Introvert, Shawn loves
nothing better than fooling around with computers. As he often does,
one night he sat down to his computer to figure out a particular
program. The next time he got out of his chair, he was surprised to
learn it was 7:00 A.M. He had been so engrossed in his work that he
had been sitting at the computer for eight hours straight.
By contrast, Extraverts are notorious for finding excuses not to focus on one thing because they are much more interested in and energized by a variety of external stimulation.
Throughout college, Tammy preferred to study at the library. While
initially impressed to learn their daughter was spending so much time
there, her parents were not really surprised when she revealed her
true motivation. Sure, she got her work done, but she chose the
library so she would be around other people and not have to work
alone In the library, she often ran into lots of her friends, and she
took frequent bathroom and social coffee breaks. Like most
Extraverts, especially younger ones, Tammy found just being in the
same room with other people was more comfortable than being by
Another example of the different needs Extraverts and Introverts have for interaction and concentration can often be seen in their work styles. For example, Extraverts are much more likely to keep their office door open so they can see what's going on and not miss any of the action. And most Extraverts embrace the concept of managing by walking around. On the other hand, Introverts are more likely to keep their door closed so they won't be distracted or encourage unwanted interruptions. They prefer fewer, more substantive interactions. And their management style, like everything else about them, is more thoughtful, contemplative, and deliberate.
BWhich do I prefer moreto be around others or to spend time by myself?
A popular advertising campaign encouraged telephone customers to "reach out and touch someone." While Extraverts don't really need prodding, a common complaint among Extraverts is that their Introverted friends seldom initiate contact.
Anna and Susan have been close friends for over twenty-five
yearssince they met at college. But nine times out of ten, it will
be Extraverted Anna who calls Introverted Susan to catch up on news,
or to try and get together. lt. has taken Anna many years to finally
understand that Susan's lack of initiating contact doesn't mean she
doesn't care about her friend. In fact, when the two women are
together, Susan is a very attentive and concerned friend. But since
her own life is so self-contained, it seldom occurs to her to seek
the company of others, even those she cares deeply about.
A car battery serves as a good metaphor when describing the different amount of interaction preferred by Extraverts and Introverts. With Extraverts, it's as if their batteries get charged up by being around people, while with Introverts, their batteries are often drained by too much or sustained interaction, and they need time alone to recharge. The fact is, an activity that will energize an Extravert will probably have just the opposite effect on an Introvert. A very common scenario: a couple, one Introvert and one Extravert, are invited to a party. Quite "naturally," the Extravert is eager to attend, anticipating all the people he will be interacting with. The Introvert, on the other hand, would prefer to stay at home, or spend the evening together or perhaps with just with a few close friends.
And lest you think this is gender basedyou know, a male/female thingthere is no difference in the percentages of men and women who are either Extraverts or Introverts. In other words, it is the preference for one or the other that influences behavior, rather than the gender of the individual.
As with all of the type preferences, people with one preference often find it hard to understand and appreciate people of another. Most Extraverts have such a strong need to be around others, they have a hard time believing Introverts really do like spending that much time alone. Consequently, Extraverts are notorious for trying to get their Introverted friends, coworkers, spouses, or children involved in activities they would rather avoid. Which makes us think Introverts must often feel like the old woman whom the well-intentioned Boy Scout kept trying to help across the street. The only problem was, she just didn't want to go!
It's not always possible to look to your work to determine your type, because many people's work is not well suited to their preferences. Frequently, Extraverts end up doing jobs better suited to Introverts and vice versa. If you are an Introvert, imagine what it would feel like to work as a tour guide or receptionist, where all day, each day, your job required you to meet and greet dozens of strangers, engage them in small talk, and make them feel comfortable. Now for you Extraverts, imagine a job as a researcher, working on one project for weeks at a time, completely alone, without the infusion of energy you get from interacting with other people, or talking about different projects. Neither is a bad job, but both are potential prescriptions for frustration and burnout if held by people not naturally suited to them.
Looking back at your childhood can sometimes help you determine your true type preference. Even as very young children, one's preference for either Extraversion or Introversion is often quite obvious. Typically, Extraverted children jump into new social situations with wild abandon, while Introverted children tend to study the activity from the sidelines before (and if) they decide to get involved. Predictably, Extraverts surround themselves with lots of friends, join many activities and clubs, and enjoy being at the center of the action. Introverts tend to have one or two best friends whom they keep for a long time, and are happiest working behind the scenes, rather than in the spotlight.
"Never talk to strangers" is an admonition Introverted children are much more likely to follow than Extraverted ones. And more than one Introverted child has been embarrassed by an Extraverted parent who is quick to strike up a conversation with anyone, anytime, and under almost any circumstances. Although men usually get a bad rap for being too sure of themselves to stop and ask for directions when they are lost, it is an Extravert/lntrovert issue more than it is a male/ female one. In other words, Extraverts are more likely to stop and ask a stranger for directions than are Introverts, regardless of their gender.
Would I rather work on several projects at the same time or focus my attention on one task at a time?
We are often reminded of the many contributions that are made to the world by people of different type preferences. The gift of Extraversion is breadth, for by their nature Extraverts prefer to know a little about a lot of things. This makes them well equipped to fill the role of life's generalists. For clearly, we need people who are so tuned into what is happening around them that they can see things coming, and respond quickly to them. In contrast, the gift of Introversion is depth, for by their nature Introverts are interested in fewer subjects, but study them in much greater depth. They are life's specialists. And likewise, we need people who are willing and able to consider issues thoroughly, deferring action until it is appropriate. But this difference in outlook and emphasis is profound, and would be quite obvious were you to eavesdrop on the conversations of two Extraverts talking to each other and two Introverts doing the same. The Extraverts are likely to hit on several topics, bouncing from issue to issue, like the steel ball in a pinball machine. Each person freely offers many observations but doesn't explore any one issue in great depth. Two Introverts talking are more likely to spend time discussing fewer issues but considering the other's points thoughtfully and in much greater depth. (And depending on whether you are an Extravert or an Introvert, you would find one conversation infinitely more interesting than the other.)
Am I more comfortable acting first, then thinking about it or thinking things through before I act on them?
Extraverts and Introverts often have very differ ent work styles. Typically Extraverts prefer to work at a rapid pace, moving quickly from one task to another. They are driven by action. Given their druthers, Introverts would rather work at a slower, steadier pace, carefully thinking through how they will do the job before they begin, and then taking time to assess their progress as the project unfolds. The popular expression "Measure twice, cut once" might well be the Introverted carpenter's mantra.
Many years ago, our friend Mary McCaulley explained a classic distinction between Extraverts and Introverts. She said: "If you don't know what an Extravert is thinking, you haven't been listen' ing, because he'll tell you. On the other hand, if you don't know what an Introvert is thinking, you haven't asked." And we would add: ". . . or waited long enough for the answer." If someone were so inclined, he could actually measure the difference in the number of words spoken by Extraverts and Introverts. And the reason for the great disparity is simple. Extraverts think out loud; in fact, Extraverts often need to talk in order to think. Introverts, on the other hand, think inside their heads. Much like a cake that is baked, then presented to the world after it is finished, Introverts "bake" their ideas inside their heads. Then, when they are well thought out and ready, they share them with others. In contrast, Extraverts only partially "bake" their ideas inside, preferring to finish them out in the world. (This, of course, occasionally results in the presentation of some pretty half-baked ideas!)
Although Introverts don't usually speak nearly as much as their Extraverted counterparts, what they may lack in quantity is more than made up in quality. Perhaps you've been to meetings where a few people (normally the very Extraverted ones) dominate the conversation. Then someone will ask for the opinion of someone who's said very little up until then. Often, the reaction is like the old television commercial in which a room buzzing with conversation suddenly becomes stone quiet as people crane their necks to hear the wise stockhro' ker's recommendation. This demonstrates quite well the fact that because Introverts do their editing inside their heads, what emerges is often a very good finished product. With Extraverts, you actually witness and hear the editing process as it occurs.
Am I more of a "public person" or more of a "private person"?
If you haven't yet determined whether you are an Extravert or an Introvert, this last question may help you decide. While history is full of Introverts who have played very public rolesincluding many world leadersExtraverts are normally much more comfortable occupying the spotlight and sharing their lives with the public. This is certainly not to imply that all Extraverts enjoy public speaking. The real question is how comfortable are you with letting people really get to know you? A common complaint among Extraverts of Introverts is that they are secretive, withholding, and difficult to get to know. In fact, Introverts value their privacy so much that they usually only allow those closest to them to really get to know them. While this may be hard for Extraverts to understand, it is because Introverts are naturally more selective than Extraverts. By this we mean that Extraverts welcome all kinds of external stimulation and often feel the more the better. What doesn't interest them, they simply disregard. But because Introverts are so much more selective, they tend to be comfortable allowing only a certain amount of external stimulation in. They simply screen out the information or stimulation that doesn't apply to something that interests them. Whereas Extraverts tend to share more of themselves with the outside world, Introverts keep more to themselves. Introverts therefore have a lower tolerance for the invasion of external stimulationwhether it's from information, sensations, or people.
Although there is some controversy as to how many Extraverts and Introverts there are in the world, the latest research suggests that the American population is about equally divided between Extraverts and Introverts. However, because Extraverts tend to talk more and louder than Introverts, there seems to be a strong bias toward Extraverts in our culture.
At this point you should have a fairly good idea of whether you are an Extravert or an Introvert. You may be very confident about it, or you may still have some doubts. This is perfectly normal. And if you aren't yet able to determine your preference on this dimension with certainty, you will have many other opportunities later in the book.
Below you will find a scale showing the Extravert/Introvert continuum. Please place a check mark at the point that most accurately reflects where you fall. The closer your mark is to the center of the continuum, the less clear your preference; the farther away from the center, the stronger you think it is. Even if you're not sure which side you belong on, try to indicate which side you probably fall on, even if it is just over the line. This requires an honest evaluation, for you are trying to determine which is the way you are, not the way you might want to be or think you should be. And remember, what is most helpful in determining your type is which side of each scale you prefer, not the strength of your preference.
One down, and three to go! Next we'll explore the second type dimension: Sensing and Intuition.
Sensor or Intuitive: The Forest or the Trees?
The second type dimension describes the two different ways people perceive, or take in, information. The words we use to describe people who have these two opposite preferences are Sensors and Intuitives. Each of us continuously takes in millions (perhaps billions) of pieces of information every day, the great majority of which are processed unconsciously. Some people take in this information primarily through their five senseswhat they see, hear, touch, taste, or smellhence the name Sensors. Others take in information through their sixth sense, focusing not on what is, but rather on what could be. We use the word Intuitives to describe these people. Remember that no one is a pure Sensor or Intuitive any more than a person is a pure Extravert or Introvert. Each of us has the ability to use both Sensing and Intuition, and all of us do use both every day. But we have a natural, inborn preference for one over the other.
Below are several questions to ask yourself to determine whether you are a Sensor or an Intuitive.
Do I usually pay more attention to the facts and details or do I try to understand the connections, underlying meaning, and implications?
Sensors see the trees, while Intuitives see the forest. By this we mean that Sensors naturally pay attention to what they are experiencing at the moment. Handed a flower and asked to tell you about it, the Sensor will note how vivid the colors are, the smooth texture of the leaves, the delicate fragrance, and how light and fragile it isin other words, what her three senses tell her about the flower. Hand the same flower to an Intuitive and ask her to tell you about it, and you are likely to hear something more like: "This reminds me of my grandmother. She used to have these growing in her yard, and when we'd visit each summer, we'd pick them to put on the table for family meals." You'll notice that the Intuitive perceived the flower in a very different way than the Sensor. Instead on focusing on what is, she immediately focused on her connection to the flower, and her associations with it.
Here's another metaphor that can help demonstrate how different the focus is for Sensors and Intuitives. Imagine a photographer taking a picture with a single-lens reflex camera (the kind of camera that you focus by turning the ring on the lens). The photographer is shooting a person who is standing in front of a huge panoramic view of a mountain range. With Sensors, it's as if they turn the lens until the person in the foreground (the detail) is in sharp focus, while the view behind (the big picture) is blurry. With Intuitives, it's just the opposite: they turn the lens so that the view (the big picture) behind the person is in focus, but the person in the foreground (the detail) is blurry and out of focus. Arnie, a very clear Intuitive, learned just how attentive to details Sensors are when his apartment got robbed. Fortunately, he was away at the time and discovered the intrusion upon returning home. When the police arrived, they gave a cursory look around the kitchen first and asked him: "Was that drawer open when you left the house?" So inattentive to details was Arnie that he was embarrassed to admit he had never even noticed there was a drawer where the offcer was pointing!
While Sensors tend to think in a linear fashion, one thought following the next, Intuitives frequently engage in intuitive leaps in thinking. Jessica and lan were driving in their car one afternoon' when she happened to notice and point out an exceptionally beautiful tree they were passing. After only a few seconds of looking at the tree, lan turned to Jessica and said: "You know, I'm really ticked off at Jimmy." Now Jessica and lan had been together long enough for her to understand the way his mind worked, and to often be able to track the origin of his many intuitive connections. But she was at a total loss this time. "Okay, explain how you got from seeing that tree to being mad at Jimmy [one of lan's oldest childhood friends]." lan explained: "When we were growing up, Jimmy had a tree house in a tree that looked a lot like that one. As soon as I saw it, it reminded me of him and the fact that he hasn't called me in two months. So that's why I'm mad at Jimmy."
These fundamental differences also may be seen early on in children. While one child has memorized every one of his favorite baseball player's stats, and can reel them off with impressive accuracy, his brother can't remember where he left his sneakers five minutes after he took them off.
Am I a more down-to-earth and sensible person or an imaginative and creative one?
It bears repeating that it is not better to have one preference over another. However, there are definitely gifts that are unique to each. Intuitives are often (but not always) creative; able to see possibilities and alternatives that aren't immediately apparent. Typically, they have rich imaginations, which they use to engage in fantasies of all kinds.
By this, we do not mean to imply that only Intuitives possess creativity, for this is certainly not the case. Creativity, like intelligence, takes many forms. But the ways that Intuitives express their creativity seem to be in seeing or doing things differently from the way they've been seen or done before. Sensors more often demonstrate their creativity by finding a new application for something that has already been invented or established. This tendency stems from their natural inclination to trust what they know from experience, their own or others'. One of the reasons Sensors like data so much is that data are just facts that have been collected in a purposeful way. Intuitives are generally satisfied with less empirical proof in order to believe something is possible, or doable, since they have greater faith that although an answer may not be apparent, it just means it hasn't been found . . . yet!
Which do I trust more: my direct experience or my gut instinct? Am I more tuned in to the here-and-now or do I often imagine how things will affect future events?
Many Type experts believe that of the four type dimensions, the Sensing and Intuition scale represents the greatest differences between people, since it really influences one's worldview. A research project we conducted demonstrated this vividly. People were presented the facts of a murder case that involved a young woman accused of stabbing her live-in boyfriend. The boyfriend had abused the defendant in the past while intoxicated. Her attorney argued that she suffered from "battered woman syndrome." And so, at the time of the incident, she had reason to believe that her life was in jeopardy, and acted in self-defense. On the other side, the prosecution claimed she offered no proof that she had reason to fear for her life, could have left the scene, and therefore had no justification for killing her boyfriend.
While the majority (75%) of both Sensors and Intuitives voted "not guilty," Sensors were more than twice as likely to vote for murder as were Intuitives. These results were consistent both with Personality Type theory and with our experience as trial consultants. "Battered woman syndrome" is a theory; an idea, a concept that requires jurors to imagine how an abusive relationship can cause a particular psychological response. It is not a condition that can be documented or verified scientifically. Since Intuitives are naturally interested in the psychological workings of human relationships, they are much more likely to accept this theory as valid than their Sensing counterparts.
Sensors, on the other hand, prefer clear, tangible proof, and are naturally drawn to practical, rather than theoretical, explanations. In this case, the Sensors focused on the murder itself, and the fact that the defendant was physically able to leave her boyfriend that evening, while the Intuitives focused on the defendant's motivations and psychological justification for her behavior.
Sensors and Intuitives tend to have different attitudes about important issues such as crime and punishment, as their answers to this question demonstrate
To fight crime, tax dollars would be better spent on ( 1 ) more police, tougher sentencing, and more prisons or (2) more social programs for disadvantaged youth.
Twice as many Intuitives as Sensors answered "social programs," and Sensors were more than three times as likely to answer "more police and prisons" as Intuitives. Predictably, Sensors favored established actions designed to have an immediate effect (such as adding more police or building additional prisons), and whose effect could be somehow measured. Intuitives sought solutions that took into account the underlying causes of societal problems (such as how the lack of social programs is related to increased crime), and were more eager to seek new, untried, and innovative solutions. And their focus was on how actions taken today would affect future generations. The results reinforced the belief that, politically, Sensors tend to be more conservative and Intuitives more liberal.
Do I like new ideas just for their own sake or only if they have practical utility?
Many Sensors are most comfortable with what is familiar, while Intuitives are usually drawn to what is new and different. Theories, concepts, and hypotheses appeal to most Intuitives because they represent possibilities. The fact that something is untried and unproven is not a turnoff to Intuitives. Rather, it is the potential offered by the new idea or situation that excites them the most. Sensors, of course, are also interested in new ideas, but only once they are convinced that something real and useful will come of them.
Sal was always inventing something. If it wasn't a brand-new idea, he could find ways of improving just about anything. His latest idea was a new kind of bracket to hang pictures on the wall that would keep them straighteliminating the need for constant straightening. As he had with countless other ideas, Sal discussed this with his brother-in-law, Jack, with hopes of persuading him to invest the necessary seed money to make a prototype. Jack, a clear Sensor, had his doubts. First, he questioned whether the world really needed a better way of hanging pictures. After all, the old way must be good enough, since it had been around forever. He was skeptical that this new mechanism would really work as Sal promised, and, even if it did, wondered whether Sal had the patience and single-mindedness required to make his idea a reality. Fortunately, Sal met another amateur inventor, who had a contact at a fastener company. Sal met with a representative there, who expressed genuine interest in his project. When Sal reported this to his brother-in-law, Jack's attitude changed completely. Having received validation from a credible source that Sal's gizmo might really be marketable, Jack became more enthusiastic and eventually provided Sal's seed money.
If Intuitives are the "thinker-uppers"people who love to invent the better mousetrapthen, certainly, Sensors are the "getter-doners"the people who actually make the idea work. As we've said before, people of both preferences have different gifts, and it is easy to see the important role each plays in so many areas of life. Take business, for example. Each year, thousands of new businesses are started up in this country. Many are franchise operations, which duplicate already successfully tested ideas. But others are truly entrepreneurial, the result of someone's vision (or intuition) about a product or service which doesn't yet exist, but that the entrepreneur believes people will want.
Would I rather use an established skill or do I become bored easily after I've mastered it?
For many Intuitives, it is the creative part of the process that is most energizing. Once their inspiration has been given life, and the bugs have been worked out, they would rather go on to something else, leaving the details to others. Fortunately, those people are usually Sensors, who often enjoy and excel at setting up systems and following procedures so that things run smoothly. This is called being effficient. While the exact statistics of all the many hundreds of new businesses started each year are often disputed, it is common knowledge that a high percentage of them fail. Although many reasons are cited for this, including undercapitalization, lack of experience, and unanticipated market forces, there is another possible explanation that has a lot to do with Type preferences. Quite simply, the people who are talented at thinking things up are seldom as talented at making them work. This rests primarily on the fact that they dislike, and therefore avoid, any routine or repetitive activity for any period of time. Their interest tends to wane as soon as the creative challenges have been met.
Conversely, Sensors enjoy learning a skill, then using it repeatedly in an effective way. Whether as a surgeon performing an operation, an artist painting a portrait, a bookkeeper tallying figures, or a plumber installing a toilet, Sensors' combination of being very aware of their bodies and living totally in the present moment enables them to derive pleasure from performing the act itself. Intuitives often have a very different experience. For them, what the act means or represents is often more important than the act itself. And coupled with their future time orientation, they are often less than fully engaged in whatever task they are performing at the time. Therefore they don't usually experience the same pleasure Sensors take in repeating a task or using the same skill once they've mastered it.
From the time he was a young boy, Thomas, an Intuitive, thought he wanted to be a dentist. Of course the fact that both his father and grandfather were dentists may have influenced his decision a little bit. By his second semester of dental school, Thomas realized he had made a big mistake. For while the other students enjoyed learning standard tooth repair techniques, such as filling a cavity, Thomas thought he would go crazy if he had to do the procedure the same (excruciatingly boring) way, even one more time. When he found himself fantasizing about all the other ways a tooth could be filled, even outrageous ones like going in through the ear, or removing the top ofthe head, he realized he would never be happy as a dentist and fortunately (for him, and future patients!) changed professions.
That Sensors and Intuitives are often drawn to different subjects in school should come as no surprise. Intuitives are often more interested in theoretical studies like philosophy, psychology, sociology, and literature, while Sensors are often interested in more tangible subjects with practical applications, such as engineering, science, and business. This is not meant to imply that there are no Intuitive engineers, or that Sensors can't be successful psychologists, only that they don't tend to gravitate to these types of occupations in nearly the same percentages.
Sensors represent about 65 percent and Intuitives about 35 percent of the American population, giving Sensors somewhat of a numerical advantage. By now you should have a fairly good idea of whether your preference is for Sensing or Intuition. Again, if you are unsure, don't worry about ityou will have several other opportunities to clarify which one it is. As you did with Extraversion and Introversion, please place a mark on the continuum below to indicate where you think you fit. And again, even if you're not 100 percent certain which side you belong on, try to indicate which side you probably fall on, even if it's just slightly over the center line.
You're doing great! Now we'll move on and describe the third type dimension: Thinking and Feeling.
Thinker or Feeler: A Matter of Principles or Values
While Sensing and Intuition describe the different ways people take in information, Thinking and Feeling describe the very different ways people make decisions, or come to conclusions. Clearly, each of us has the ability to make a decision based on logic or on our personal feelings and values. And, while no one is a pure Thinker or Feeler, each of us has a natural inborn preference for one side over the other. Here again, the everyday usage of these words may initially give you an inaccurate impression of their true meaning. It's important to understand that Thinking and Feeling both describe rational decision-making processes. It's not that Thinkers have no feelings, or that Feelers are incapable of logic. But Thinkers and Feelers use very different criteria to make their decisions.
The questions below should help you figure out which decision-making process is your natural preference.
Do I make decisions more objectively, weighing the pros and cons, or based on how I feel about the issue, and how I and others will be affected by it?
For Thinkers, logic rules. When making a decision, it's as if they take a step back and analyze the issue logically and impersonally, asking themselves: "Does this make sense? What are the pros and cons? What are the ramifications of the decision?" In other words, they objectify the decision. For Feelers, the process is just the opposite. They take a step forward, injecting themselves into the equation, and ask: "How do I feel about this? How will it affect me and others? Is this the right thing to do? What are my personal values telling me to do?" In other words, they persoralize the situation.
Jean faced the kind of dilemma not uncommon for Feeling types. She needed to travel from Boston to New York for a conference, and a colleague invited her to ride with him in his car. Under normal circumstances, this would have been an ideal arrangement, but there was a hitch: Jean didn't respect her col league, and, more important, she didn't like him.
The only other feasible option was to take the train, which would be a major inconvenience. Not only would it cost a lot more, but it would take almost twice as long, since she would have to take taxis to and from the stations. Her Thinking friend Sandra's reaction was typical: "Are you nuts? You're going towaste two days and who knows how much money just because you don't like this guy? Nobody's asking you to marry himjust to spend four hours in thecar with him!" Still, Jean decided to take the train. Although she agreed with her Thinking friend that it might not be the smart thing to do, she believed it was the right thing to do. For not only would she feel like a hypocrite taking the ride with a person she clearly disliked, but she would have to pretend she liked him for several hours, and that felt phony and went too much against her values.
Might another Feeling type have handled the situation differently? Of course. But this demonstrates how important personal feelings and values are to Feeling types, and the length to which many will go to remain true to their beliefs. Laura and Ted both sat through the same conflict-riddled staff meeting, in which they found themselves on opposite sides of a heated debate about whether to go ahead with a public relations campaign that Ted found offensive. After the meeting adjoumed, Laura, a Thinker, calmly suggested she and Ted have lunch together. For Ted, a Feeler, the idea was crazy. How could Laura be so calm and unaffected after that painful and contentious meeting? And how could she be so unaware of how rattled Ted still felt? He certainly didn't feel like spending any time with her now. And, in fact, he was still too upset to even think about eating. Ted remained focused on the disharmony, and felt a personal reaction to it, whereas Laura had never taken the argument or campaign to heart, and remained objective and detached.
Which words describe me better: logical and analytical, or sensitive and empathetic?
Naturally, Thinkers tend to be better at some things than Feelers, and Feelers better at some things than Thinkers. Since people enjoy using their natural strengths, it comes as no surprise that preferences for Thinking or Feeling will often influence career choices. The helping professions, for example, attract larger numbers of Feelers, because these jobs give them the opportunity to satisfy one of their greatest needs, to help people. This is certainly not meant to imply that Thinkers, by definition, are insensitive and self-centered. But Feelers tend to have an innate drive to understand others, and derive great satisfaction from helping them in whatever ways they can. For this reason, medicine (nursing, in particular), teaching, counseling, and sales are just a few of the areas that attract large numbers of Feelers.
Thinkers also derive their greatest satisfaction from using their natural gifts, one of which is the ability to analyze situations logically and objectively. Business, and especially management, for example, attracts a lot of Thinkers, in part because when it comes to making the hard decisiondecisions frequently based primarily on the bottom line, and what's best for the company (even when that may have negative effects on its employees), it's Thinkers who are more easily able to do this with clarity and conviction.
The discussion was getting pretty heated between Jason and Richard. The decision to relocate the clothing manufacturing company they both worked for to Mexico had already been made. At issue was how far the company should go to salvage the jobs of the seven hundred workersmany of whose parents and grandparents had worked for the company. In a last-ditch effort to save their jobs, and their town, the employees proposed they buy the facility and operate the plant themselves. That model had been successful in similar situations, but they needed the company to finance the buyout.
Jason, the vice president for finance, argued against the deal. "First, let me say, I am very sympathetic to the plight of the workers. I've known several of them for years and, on a personal level, feel terrible about what they are going through. But my first concern has to be the economic well-being of the company. And, frankly, what they are proposing is a highly speculative venture. If we weren't able to make enough of a profit for it to make sense to stay here, how can people without professional management expertise be expected to? Besides, the rate of return we will receive on our investment if they should happen to succeed is simply not as high as we can get from a dozen other proven investment vehicles. Regardless of how unpleasant the situation, our primary obligation is to our stockholders, and I just can't, in good conscience, recommend a deal about which I have such serious reservations."
Richard, vice president for human resources, was turning redder by the minute. "First of all, I don't agree that investing in the employees is any riskier than any other venture we might get involved in for one big reason: they are highly motivated to make it work. For Pete's sake, their livesthe life oftheir towndepends on their succeeding! How can you have any doubts they will work their hearts out to make it work? Second, yes, we are in business to make moneyand we make lots of it. But we owe something to the people who have helped us make all that money for close to a hundred years. We're not talking about a few jobs here. We're talking about closing down the biggest employer in the county and moving away to Mexico, not because we're going out of business, not even because we weren't making a profit, but because we want to make more of a profit. All I'm saying is many things go into the bottom line, and profitability is surely a big one. But in order to be a responsible corporate citizen, you have to take into account how this decision will affect real peopleand not just our stockholdersfor years and years to come, and don't do just what is financially conservative, but do what is right!"
While one decision-making process is not better than the other, Jason the Thinker and Richard the Feeler offer a good example of how different types use different criteria to make decisions. It's not that Jason is heartless, but like a classic Thinker, he simply stepped back from the decision, analyzed it logically, and came to his conclusion, based on what he believed was best for the company. Richard, like a classic Feeler, stepped forward and put him self in the employees' shoes. Strongly influenced by his personal beliefs and values, he fought for what he felt would be best for the employees.
Thinkers are often attracted to careers that deal primarily with goods, rather than services: for example, manufacturing, engineering, and research and development. It's not that Thinkers don't like to or can't work with people, but jobs that require them to constantly pay attention to, anticipate, and respond to people's feelings are just so much less clear cut than dealing with products, or commodities, that are constant and predictable. Many Thinkers are most satisfied in jobs where there is a minimum of employee hand-holding or caretaking. They like working with other people just as competent as they are.
Is it more important to be truthful, even if it hurts someone's feelings or to be tactful, even if it means telling a little white lie?
Feelers are naturally more attentive and concerned with other people because they have such a strong need to be liked. Consequently, they will often go to great lengths to please others. This can take such simple forms as just being helpful and friendly, which most Feelers genuinely are, to the sometimes unhealthy but common tendency to take on other people's problems and burdens as their own. In practically every organization across the country, you can find the nurturer, the person to whom coworkers go for emotional support and comfort. And while not a formal job title, it might just as well be, for it is what he or she does really welllisten to people's problems and sometimes give them good advice. Whether appreciated by the company or not, these people provide a valuable service. However, in their desire to help and please others, some Feelers are also notorious white liars. Anxious not to deliberately cause someone discomfort, embarrassment, or hurt feelings, they will often engage in half truths, or avoid unpleasant subjects altogether, if they can get away with it.
One morning, after being away for a week on vacation, Tim walked into the offce with a new look. Possessed by who knows what, he had shorn just about all of his normally long, yet stylish, hair. In its place was what could best be described as the kind of ubiquitous crew cut ten-year-old boys were commonly given by their mothers in their kitchens in the 1 950s. Jill, his colleague, and a strong Feeler, was the first person he encountered.
"So, what do you think?" asked Tim excitedly. Jill was taken aback What she honestly thought was that this former hunk looked like a refugee from a third-world country. But she wouldn't actually admit that in a million years. What she managed to say was, "Well, that certainly is a look! You know, that cut really accentuates your eyes," and she fled down the hall to avoid offending him or further embarrassing herself.
True to their style, Tim's Thinking colleagues were more honest, and more blunt. Alex's response pretty much summed it all up: "Two questions: one, what did you do to your head?, and two, what could you possibly have been thinking at the time?"
Thinkers don't mean to be cruel, any more than Feelers mean to be dishonest. It's just that, above all else, Thinkers value truth and honesty, and if that occasionally hurts someone's feelings, so be it. Feelers highly value tact and diplomacy, and believe it should be used whenever possible to avoid causing anyone unnecessary pain or discomfort.
While Feelers are often criticized for being too soft and emotional, and Thinkers are often criticized as being cold and insensitive, neither of these is an accurate characterization. But to each other, they often do appear this way.
Which usually persuades me more? A good logical argument, or a strong emotional appeal?
Just as Thinkers and Feelers make decisions based upon different criteria, so, too, are they persuaded by different arguments. Feelers are naturally empathetic and value the feelings of others, even if they do not make sense or are not logical. Thinkers, on the other hand, are usually not convinced of anything unless it is logical. Feelings are valid, if they are a logical reaction to the circumstances. Because of this difference, it's not surprising that Thinkers and Feelers misunderstand each other so often. Feelers tend to be hurt more easily and more frequently, and Thinkers are often surprised and confused to learn they were responsible for making it happen.
Thinkers also pride themselves on their ability to rule fairly in disputes. They are keen on the principle of one standard or rule, applied fairly and justly to everyone. Even if they do not personally like the consequence of the ruling, they respect the idea of fairness above all. Feelers are much more concerned with mercy and harmony than they are with justice. So they look for and usually find the extenuating circumstances that necessitate the exception to the rule.
Which is the greater compliment: to be tough or to be tender?
While all of us need to be tough sometimes and tender at others, it is typically the Thinkers who pride themselves on their ability to remain dispassionate and firm in their actions. But it's important to make the distinction that if the issue is a personal one, or the people involved are loved ones, Thinkers will often claim they are just as tenderhearted as the next person. And Feelers, usually quick to claim tenderhearted as the more apt description, can be surprisingly tough and unyielding when it comes to their personal convictions.
Rachel and Suzanne, two Feelers, held opposite views on the controversial issue of abortion. On the morning of an anticipated court ruling, both stood out in front of the courthouse with signs and voices raised. They were equally passionate, equally unwilling to compromise their beliefs. A fnend commented that no one would ever believe it, but the two women had been best friends in college. But the abortion debate had caused a rending of their friendship that would probably never be mended.
Had the two women been Thinkers, they might have been able to put the issue aside and maintain their friendship in spite of their differences. As Feelers, it was impossible for either of them to separate their values from the rest of their lives.
Thinking and Feeling is the only dimension of Personality Type in which there appears to be a gender difference. That is, in the American population, roughly 50 percent are Thinkers and 50 per' cent are Feelers, but of the Thinkers, about 65 percent are men, and of the Feelers, 65 percent are women. In addition to these biological influences on Type, the American culture overtly and subtly encourages males to act more Thinking and fe' males to act more Feeling, which often imposes an unfair and unwelcome burden on Thinking women and Feeling men.
Okay, you know the drill. Try to figure out which you area Thinker or a Feeler. Then we will move on to describe the fourth and final type dimension.
Judger or Perceiver: Planning It or Winging It?
The final type dimension describes the very different ways people like to organize their world, and how they like to live their lives. And, once again, we need to clarify the terms. Being a Judger doesn't mean a person is necessarily judgmental, any more than being a Perceiver means a person is particu larly perceptive. Perceiving refers to one's innate drive to keep things open, to keep taking in information, to keep perceiving. Judging refers to an opposite innate drive, to close things down, make a decision, or to judge.
Do I tend to make most decisions quickly and easily or does making decisions often make me anxious and unsure? Would I rather have things settled and decided or be able to leave my options open, just in case something unexpected comes up?
The reason Judgers like to decide and Perceivers like to keep things open has to do with tension. This tension is often experienced on an unconscious level, without the person even being aware of it. Since experiencing tension is uncomfortable, human beings naturally try to reduce their discomfort. Judgers feel tension until an issue is decided, so they move to closure as soon as possible. This can take many forms, but usually involves making a judgment or decision about something. And usually the more important the decision, the stronger the need to resolve the issue quickly. For example, when a Judger is invited to a concert, he experiences an urge to decide. Whether or not he wants to go, he feels a need to make a decision. And un' less he has a lot of ambivalence about accepting, he usually feels relieved once things are settled. But Perceivers experience an opposite tension, for it is being forced to decide that causes them pressure and discomfort. Therefore, they alleviate the tension by not deciding, by keeping their options open as long as possible. If a Perceiver were invited to the concert, unless she really wanted to go, she would likely feel uncomfortable deciding or making a commitment too far in advance. After all, she would reason, something better might come along!
These are such opposite styles that Judgers and Perceivers often miscommunicate. Because Judgers are more definitive about everything, they tend to speak with authority. During a discussion, a Judger tends to hear decisions being made, even if they have not been. Conversely, since Perceivers are more equivocal about everything, they may even hear firm plans as undecided, as if they were only options being considered.
Since their desire is for closure, Judgers generally require less information to make decisions than do Perceivers. A scene pla yed out every day at lunch counters across the country illustrates this point.
It's lunch time and Robert and Alex are deciding what to order Robert, a Judger, looks over the menu quickly, decides on a tuna salad on wheat toast with iced teathe same lunch he has on most trips to this diner After several minutes, the waiter appears to take their order, but Alex is still looking. He asks the waiter a series of questions regarding how lean the roast beef is today, whether the soup has a chicken or beef stock base, and if the chicken salad is made with white meat or dark. Still not sure, he asks for a few more minutes while Robert scowls and his stomach growls. Even after Alex finally chooses the turkey club, and the waiter walks away, he looks wistfully at the menu again, and says, "Maybe I should have ordered a burger."
Because Judgers like things decided, they are most comfortable when they can make a plan and stick to it. Conversely, they can find it disconcerting when plans are changed unexpectedly. Planning a vacation together became a torturous exercise for new friends, Lucy and Jean. Since Lucy had won a trip for two to the Caribbean, the destination was never at issue. But Lucy's clear preference forJudging and Jean's equally clear preference for Perceiving became obvious early on when Lucy surprised Jean with a detailed itinerary for the entire week. Not only was there a plan for each ofthe seven days, but she had even included times when they would eat, swim, and shop.
Jean was shocked. Although Lucy didn't present her plan as a take-it-or-leave-it proposition, Jean had imagined a very different scenario. Since she would be visiting a place she'd never been, she was eager to explore. She had pictured herself wandering the winding streets leisurely, shopping and sightseeing, and just letting herself be swept along by the natural rhythm of the island. She craved the freedom to respond spontaneously to whatever new adventure she might encounter. The more she thought about having her time so planned out and controlled, the more uncomfortable she got.
Happily, Lucy and Jean were able to discuss their personality differences and very different expectations and arrive at some creative compromises, involving more independence for each. I his arrangement allowed each to have the kind of experience they desired.
Lucy and Jean's story also illustrates how different Judgers and Perceivers are with regard to order and structure. Judgers are usually more comfortable with the notion of rules and place high importance on following them, while Perceivers view rules as unwanted restrictions on their freedom and their ability to be spontaneous. Likewise, Judgers are generally more comfortable with authority and have a natural respect for hierarchy. Perceivers are more naturally inclined to rebel against, or at least question, authority and often feel it's better to ask someone to pardon their behaviorafter the factthan to risk asking for, and being denied, permission beforehand.
Is it very important for me to be in control of most situations or am I often comfortable letting others call the shots?
Everyone likes to be in charge of himself or herself. But the strength of the need for control over others and situations is often significantly different for Judgers and Perceivers. Because they like things settled, Judgers are less patient waiting for things to happen by themselves, and more apt to step in and take charge. Whether in small things, such as rearranging the chairs in a room to make a meeting more functional, or in large things, such as encouraging a friend to accept or reject a certain job offer, Judgers often have strong opinions and are generally not shy about sharing them.
While Perceivers can also have strong opinions, they are more likely to see things in shades of gray rather than as black and white. It is important to reiterate that neither style is better than the other. Rather, each has strengths the other doesn't, and often envies. For example, many Judgers admire Perceivers' ability to stay open, see both sides of an issue, be spontaneous, shift gears quickly, and not take themselves too seriously. Many Perceivers admire Judgers' ability to make quick decisions, be organized and productive, fulfill their responsibilities, and set and reach their goals. But no matter which is our natural preference, the great majority of us have good access to our other side. This helps us become competent individuals. But occasionally, we encounter people who do not have this balance. If they are Judgers, they may be rigid, inflexible, and incapable of compromise. And Perceivers without the balancing attributes of Judging may be so indecisive that they procrastinate their lives away and never accomplish anything meaningful.
Am I very conscious of time, and almost always punctual or do I frequently run late and find time has somehow slipped away?
It is widely assumed that President Bill Clinton is a Perceiver. In fact, he has such a reputation among the Washington press corps for being late, he inspired a new expression: "Clinton Standard Time"which means "about an hour after he was supposed to be somewhere."
It's not that Perceivers have to be late, but they view the concept of time differently than Judgers. Judgers often plan their lives in fifteen-, thirty-, and sixty-minute increments. Since they have such a strong inclination toward productivity, they view time as an essential tool to accomplish their goals: time is a precious, finite commodity that should be used thoughtfully and respectfully. And above all, they don't waste time!
Perceivers view time as somewhat of a renewable resource, something of which there is almost always more. In fact, they are fond of saying: "Oh, I'll make time for that."
A friend reported that in the army, he encountered two types of time: "general time and private time. The difference, he explained, is this: "Eight o'clock private time is eight o'clock on the nose, because when ordered to be there, that's when a private has to show up But eight o'clock general time could be eight o'clock, nine o'clock, or basically whenever the general feels like showing up!"
While Judgers are more likely to be punctual than Perceivers, this is not because Perceivers are any less conscientious about their obligations. It's simply that they lose track of time so easily because they are busy experiencing and perceiving the moment as part of a process. This is in contrast to Judgers, who are more focused on the product and often view the time it takes to do something almost as a necessary evilan obstacle to getting to the rewards of finishing a task. In fact, many Judgers feel an infusion of energy when they finish a task, while Perceivers feel that energy boost when starting a new project.
Clearly, courses offered to help people manage their time better were designed for Perceivers by Judgers. And although many Perceivers sign up for such sessions with the best intentions, they often find the methods and techniques are too uncomfortable, limiting, and boring to create a permanent change in their behavior. For Judgers, deadlines are for the most part, helpful, honored, and strictly observed. But for Perceivers, deadlines are sort of like an alarm clock going off, a signal that now it's time to get started.
Which is more true of me: I'm generally very organized or I often have trouble finding things and keeping organized?
Most Judgers are usually well organized, especially compared to Perceivers. "A place for everything and everything in its place" might be the motto for Judgers, while Perceivers are more likely to be overheard saying: "I don't understand, it was here a minute ago!" (When considering your answer to this question, remember that we all have to be organized to a certain extent or we could not function in the world. And no one is accusing you of being a bad person if you admit to having trouble being organized! ) But it is an important difference between Judgers and Perceivers, and therefore helpful to explore.
The reason Judgers and Perceivers differ in these ways is connected to the central issues of closure and decision making, as demonstrated by the experience of Doreen and Ruth.
Although job sharing worked out well financially, and fit their schedules well, there was one constant strain in their relationship: "the desk problem." Working the same job but at different hours meant Doreen and Ruth shared a desk. Ruth, a Judger, kept the desk in a predictably neat and orderly way. She liked to work on one project at a time until it was completed, and at the end of her shift, she typically tidied up, and made sure to file all necessary papers in their proper places. She would then place her "to do" listall items duly checked off upon their completionin her designated drawer. And she didn't seem to have a problem storing all her files in the filing cabinet assigned to her. At the end of her shift, she left the top of the desk clean and bare for Doreen.
Doreen's style was quite different, for she preferred to work on many projects almost simultaneously, and never seemed to have enough room to store her files. In fact, she had long ago outgrown her one filing cabinet, and her files had spilled over onto the small credenza and even the guest chair in the office. While Ruth resented this intrusion on her space, it was the desk problem that irked her the most. For not only had Doreen appropriated the only two other pieces of furniture in their office for her additional filing space, but she would also often leave piles of file folders on the desk at the end of her shift. So annoying had this practice become that Ruth threatened to end the job-sharing arrangement.
In considering this dilemma, it would be reasonable to ask the question: "How can two people with the identical job generate such different amounts of paperwork?" The answer lies in their different type preferences. Ruth, the Judger, makes more and quicker decisions. When a memo announcing a professional conference three months hence arrives on her desk, her normal response is to look it over and decide a course of action. If she wants to attend, she will send it to her boss with a request for funding. If she doesn't want to, but thinks it might benefit a coworker, she will pass it along. And if she considers it worthless, she'll simply discard it. In any event, like most Judgers, she has made a decision, and the paper is gone! Doreen, being the strong Perceiver she is, handles the same situation very differently. Her reasoning goes something like this: "This looks great, but this conference isn't for three months. Who knows what I'll be doing then, whether I'll want to go, be able to make the time, or have the budget for it. Now, if I put this away in some file, I'm sure I'll forget it. So . . . until I can make a decision about it, I'll put it over here, in my to do file . . . just for now.
It must be clear that in her drive to keep her options open, Doreen simply has not made a decision, hence the need to hold on to yet another piece of paper. But, in reality, many of the files that have overtaken their office are full of paperwork which falls into this category. An interesting addendum: Perceivers often make decisions by defaultthat is, after a deadline has come and gone. At that point, they are often (but not always!) willing to discard the offending paperwork.
A compounding reason that Perceivers often have more paper than Judgers is that Perceivers like to collect as much information as possible, figuring: "Maybe I don't need this right now, but I might sometime in the future." This is true whether it is paper, old clothes, books, household gadgets, or just about any other object. Perceivers tend to be pack rats. Conversely, Judgers often take the position: "If in doubt, throw it out!" They reason that if they own something but haven't used it for a long time, they probably won't need it anytime soon.
Which is truer for me: I prefer to get my work or chores done before I relax or I can often find compelling reasons to put a task off until a later time?
Sometimes we describe Judgers as having more of a work ethic and Perceivers as having more of a play ethic. By this we mean that Judgers often feel compelled to finish their work before they play or relax, while Perceivers are often comfortable deferring work until after they enjoy some compelling experience. Whereas Judgers often derive their greatest satisfaction from completing a task, for Perceivers, enjoying what they are doing is often equally important.
This is not meant to suggest that Judgers are conscientious and Perceivers are lazy. It is Perceivers' attitude about time, coupled with being more interested in and energized by the process, and placing a higher value on having fun, which contributes to their feeling that "there will always be time later on" to finish the job.
The difference between Judgers' work ethic and Perceivers' play ethic is often reflected in their attitudes about taking time off from work, and how they spend the time when they do. Taking a "mental health day" is definitely a Perceiver concept, sort of the grown-up version of playing hooky. In general, Judgers are loath to take time off from work to begin with, frequently accumulating more vacation time than they will actually use. And on those rare occasions when Judgers do take a day off (not a scheduled vacation or a bona fide sick day), you'll seldom find them Lying on the couch watching television. More likely, they will use the time to do all those chores they've been meaning to, like cleaning out the attic, washing the windows, or painting the porch. The idea of just hanging around makes them uncomfortable because they aren't being productive. Perceivers, on the other hand, are more naturally inclined to follow the admonition of the character played by Robin Williams in the movie Dead Poet's Society and "seize the day!"
The latest studies indicate that Judging types represent about 60 percent and Perceiving types about 40 percent of the American population. You now have a good idea of whether you are a Judger or a Perceiver. And once again, we ask you indicate your preference on the scale below.
Great! At this point, we'd like you to go back and review your guess for each of the four preferences, and record them in the spaces below. And don't worry if you are still unsure about any of them. In fact, we encourage you to think of all your choices only as "best-guess estimates." In the next chapter, we will lead you through the "verification process," the system for accurately identifying your one true type.
ALPHABET SOUP: USING LETTERS TO DESCRIBE TYPES Because it is extremely cumbersome to constantly refer to a type by the full name of each preference, we use letters as shorthand. Thus, rather than say, "Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging type," we say, "ISTJ." As you become more familiar with the letters, you will find using them becomes second nature. Please note that all the preferences are abbreviated by their first letter (E for Extravert, S for Sensor, etc.) except Intuitive, which is abbreviated by the letter N. This is because the letter I is used to abbreviate Introvert, and it would be too confusing to have two preferences abbreviated by the same letter.
SYNERGY: WHAT MAKES TYPE SO POWERFUL One last point before moving on to Chapter 2. The word synergy is roughly defined to mean that the total of something is greater than just the sum of its parts. And this is certainly true of Type. From our experience, it is virtually impossible to understand Type without first learning about the individual components, or preferences, that make up a type. But keep in mind that as important as the individual preferences are, it is the whole type, the particular combination of preferences, and the way they interact with each other that enables Type to provide such incredibly useful insights about people.
For example, there are eight Extraverted types. But since no one is just an Extravert, each person's other three preferences play a huge role in influencing his or her behavior. In other words, people who are ISTJs and people who are INFPs are both Introverts, but since their other three letters are opposite, they are very different types of people. Even one letter, say, the difference between an ENFP and an ESFP, can be profound. While this may not seem terribly significant at this moment, it will soon become apparent how important it is in understanding the obvious and subtle differences between the sixteen types. And this understanding is essential if you are to learn how to Speed Read people accurately.
So, on to Chapter 2 to determine your one and only personality type!
© 1998 by Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger"