Previous: Home
Next: MBTI: 4 Dichotomies

Psychological Patterns

Every person is unique, just like a fingerprint. Yet, also like fingerprints, personalities can be categorized.

Have you noticed that some people you meet feel familiar right away. They think and behave very much like you. Other people are different, sometimes surprisingly different. Even people in your own family can be vastly different.

Psychological patterns make up your personality. Simply put, a Personality is the typical pattern of thinking, feeling, and behaviors that make a Person unique."

Humans are wired to look for patterns, to classify and categorize and name. Classification provides a controlled vocabulary. Controlled vocabularies provide a way to organize knowledge for subsequent retrieval. They are used in subject indexing schemes, subject headings, thesauri, taxonomies and other forms of knowledge organization systems.

Psychological Type


Carl Jung

Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers

One way of classifying psychological patterns is through the lens of "Psychological Type", a theory developed by Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung and published in 1921. Shortly after Jung's work was translated into English, it came to the attention of Katharine Briggs, an American who was researching differences in personality. Twenty years later, Katherine's daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers, began working on an indicator based on Jung's theories. Isabel hoped that personality type could help people who were looking for meaningful work after WW II.

With her father's help (and contacts), Isabel apprenticed herself to a family friend, the manager of a large bank. She learned about test construction, scoring, validation, and statistical methods. Other contacts helped her gain access to large pools of people to whom she could administer her indicator. As she collected data, Isabel re-worked the questions, determining which were most effective at sorting people into personality types. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) describes 16 Psychological Types. Each type is considered to be equally normal and valuable.

Psychological Temperament

Isabel also created full descriptive profiles for each of the 16 Types; each profile describes a well-adjusted, well developed personality. A few years later, David Keirsey, a school psychologist, read some of the profiles and realized that they accurately described many of the students he worked with. Keirsey developed his own theory, organizing the 16 types into four temperaments. Each of Keirsey's temperaments maps to a slice of the 16 Types with no overlap.

Many people find temperament easier to understand and appreciate than Type. The differences between the temperament groups can be sharper. Temperament groups may also be easier to remember, if only because they use words instead of letter codes. Temperaments can be a quick and easy way of describing and understanding preferred ways of thinking and acting.

Use and Further Research

Today, nearly 100 years after Jung published his Work, Psychological Type and Temperament are still popular. Millions of people have taken the MBTI or the Keirsey Temperament Sorter. Other researchers have built upon the work of Jung, Myers, and Keirsey. Don Lowry developed the "True Colors" temperament model. Linda Berens developed an Interaction Styles model, looking at the 16 Types from yet another angle.

The 4-letter MBTI Type code or one-word Temperament name are each only a shorthand for the wealth of information contained in the profiles and the variations in our personalities.Some temperament models also use colors or animals. Whatever shorthand you use, Type and Temperament can help you to better understand yourself as well as the people you interact with daily.

One of the things I really appreciate about Type is the depth. As people start looking deeper, they develop new lenses for describing similarities and differences between people.

Previous: Home
Next: MBTI: 4 Dichotomies

-- Main.VickiBrown - 02 Aug 2016
Topic revision: r2 - 02 Aug 2016, VickiBrown
Copyright © by the contributing authors. All material on this site is the property of the contributing authors. Please follow referenced links.
Myers-Briggs®, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® and MBTI® are trademarks or registered trademarks of MBTI® Trust, Inc., in the United States and other countries.
This site is built using Foswiki. -- Send feedback to webmaster.