MBTI personality type...?

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iopsi
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MBTI personality type...?

Post by iopsi » Tue Dec 04, 2018 5:32 pm

Hope this is the correct section for this topic.

I noticed that many people in this forum (and Jacob in several blog posts) use the MBTI to give an idea either about their personality or that of others.
I've always been skeptical of it and infact it doesn't seem to have strong scientific support. Yet, surprisingly many people here subscribe to it.

For example the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Five_ ... ity_traits seems to be a better model and the one more accepted in academia.

But regardless of the model, i'm skeptical of all of them to be honest and i don't think that a "type" really exists. What exist are reactions to situations, which are based on many variables. For example there are things that more easily piss me off compared to others, while some of my friends might get pissed by the things that i don't care about. So, who should be classified as more neurotic? It appears to me that neuroticism, like other traits, is situational and depends on what and how it happens (and what piss you off depends on your "personality", defined as the result of genetics + past experiences... doesn't seem a generalizable fixed type!).

If a big part of our personality has been caused by life experiences, it means it is highly modifiable. If it is highly modifiable, it means that our brains are modifiable, which is confirmed by science (neuroplasticity).
If the above is true, i don't see why our brain and therefore personality can't be changed through effort. Like with meditation, gradual exposure to things we "don't like", creation of different habits, trying to be aware of how we react, etc..

Considering all the above, isn't it useless to try to classify people with personality types? I think that categorizing ourselves is limiting and potentially dangerous: it can convinces ourselves that we are "type X" and that the amount of change possible is limited, or undesirable. While we could become much different if we wanted.
It can also give a wrong idea about who we really are (especially online).

What do you think?

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daylen
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Re: MBTI personality type...?

Post by daylen » Tue Dec 04, 2018 6:13 pm

The types do not exist in some sense, but in another sense they are differences that make a difference. The personality dimensions are generally stable across time and context (hence more nature-like). The purpose is not to analyze a single situation, but to analyze a bunch of situations for commonalities. This allows you to get an idea of how you compare with others in a loose way, and this allows for predicting what types of contexts you are likely to thrive in (not to predict how you will act in a particular situation).

People are terrible at intuitive statistics, so your concern is highly typical.

The big 5 is based on factor analysis where a bunch of people answer a bunch of questions about how they typically act, and the dimensions of difference are discovered/constructed using principal component analysis (an unsupervised mathematical technique). The big 5 dimensions closely map onto the 4 MB dimensions, so there is no real mathematical difference between them.

Like all tools/models, the utility is dependent on how you use it. Taking a couple tests and treating the description as a set of rules for how to act is not the best strategy.

Knowledge is for cutting; wisdom is how much cutting (situation dependent). All knowledge is dangerous, but knowledge can help us to transcend our nature. To instigate desired change you must first internalize a model of what it is that you are changing.
Last edited by daylen on Tue Dec 04, 2018 6:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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daylen
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Re: MBTI personality type...?

Post by daylen » Tue Dec 04, 2018 6:28 pm

I should also mention that the scientific validity of personality is on par with IQ, and IQ is the most predictive model in social science (of various measures of life success). Therefore if you are skeptical of personality theory, then you should be at least as skeptical of all claims made by social scientists (this should probably be the case anyway :mrgreen:).

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Re: MBTI personality type...?

Post by daylen » Tue Dec 04, 2018 7:23 pm

Almost forgot.. the MB system emerged from Jung's work in psychoanalysis, so it has a more extensive interpretative framework behind it (type dynamics and the cognitive functions)

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Re: MBTI personality type...?

Post by prognastat » Tue Dec 04, 2018 7:24 pm

I would say the Big 5 is probably has a little more scientific backing than MBTI due to it's origin and the amount of study behind it.

However, both include Introversion/Extroversion as a measurement.

Sensing/Intuiting maps roughly onto openness.
Judging/Perceiving maps roughly onto conscientiousness.

Thinking/Feeling maps somewhat onto agreeableness though this one is more of a stretch in my opinion. Mostly the feeling part of it rather than the thinking aspect.

As such I would say there is a decent amount of overlap between MBTI and the big 5 though given the extra dimension measured by the Big 5 and the amount of academic research behind it the Big 5 is probably a more accurate tool in measuring personality. However the Big 5 is also much less familiar to most people whereas many are familiar with MBTI making it easier to discuss without having to explain a great deal.

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daylen
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Re: MBTI personality type...?

Post by daylen » Tue Dec 04, 2018 7:42 pm

There are trade-offs between them. The big-5 is more focused on traits (personality components), and MBTI is focused more on categories (whole personalities). The big-5 is more quantitative and measurable (dimensions are generated from the tests), and MBTI is more qualitative and descriptive (descriptions generate tests). The big-5 seems to be better for specifying correlations, and MBTI seems better when communicating/theorizing.

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daylen
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Re: MBTI personality type...?

Post by daylen » Tue Dec 04, 2018 7:47 pm

Here is an article on the correlations.. https://jfdeschamps.files.wordpress.com ... 003-6p.pdf

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Re: MBTI personality type...?

Post by prognastat » Tue Dec 04, 2018 8:16 pm

Sweet well now there is some research that confirms what I suspected off the top of my head just based on the overlap in descriptions between the factors both systems use.

Also as Daylen mentioned it's not so much about limiting yourself as it is about understanding yourself. Also I'm sure you can work on improving certain aspects of you. For example despite being an introvert you can get better at interpersonal interactions through practice, but this doesn't change the fact that you'll probably still feel drained from time spent with other people rather than energized like an extrovert would be.

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Re: MBTI personality type...?

Post by Clarice » Tue Dec 04, 2018 9:00 pm

@iopsi:
As an analytical psychology buff, I have to take this one. :) MBTI is just a test. As far as tests go, it has a relatively low validity and reliability. People don't have good insights into themselves, they are not honest, etc. Ironically, it is the most useless in the environment that popularized MBTI - corporate America. However, Jungian psychology is far from useless if you take your time to acquire this knowledge. I wouldn't call it science. I would call it a field of knowledge. Carl Yung proposed that there are 2 cognitive functions, using which people perceive the world - sensory and intuitive and 2 cognitive functions, using which you make decisions, thinking and feeling. Each of this functions can be introverted or extroverted. This makes the grand total of 8 functions. Various combinations make up 16 types. For example (by popular demand :lol: ), let's consider INTJ:

Hero (always on, optimistic) - introverted intuition (what you want)
Parent (responsible, pessimistic, protects the child) - extroverted thinking
Child (lucid, but naive and selfish) - introverted feeling
Inferior (that where the worry lives) - extroverted sensing
Nemesis (your constant background fear) - extraverted intuition
Critic (gets wise with maturity) - introverted thinking
Trickster (you could swear that you are good at it, but you are not) - extraverted feeling
Demon (gets activated when you feel you have nothing to lose) - introverted sensing

An INTJ also has access to his subconscious - ESFP, unconscious - ENTP, and Superego - ISFJ.

All 16 types have distinct patterns. Typing people is a very interesting pursuit and improves your people's skills dramatically. Once you learn it and apply you see patterns in everyone. Scientific or not, it works. It has to do with nature only. Other systems are dealing with nurture, e.g., enneagram. Once you learn cognitive functions and how they behave in various positions you start to see the building blocks of the system. MBTI descriptions read more like a horoscope - not practical. Analytical psychology is very practical. :geek:

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Re: MBTI personality type...?

Post by Clarice » Tue Dec 04, 2018 9:07 pm

iopsi wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 5:32 pm
i'm skeptical of all of them to be honest and i don't think that a "type" really exists.
They were first described by Plato. Once you see the types, you can not unsee them.

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FBeyer
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Re: MBTI personality type...?

Post by FBeyer » Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:04 am

The Not-believing-in-types trope, is misapplied somewhat. Maybe because of a misunderstanding of what statistical science and analyses can really do for us.

No there is no such THING, no such physical provable THING as an ENTJ. But there is a PATTERN of behavior among enough individuals to distinguish their approach to the world as different from other people's.

You can't PROVE extroversion, but we've got a handy label to describe people with that social need.
You can't PROVE Openness to Experience, but we've got a handy label to describe people with that mental need.
You can't PROVE INFP, but we've got a handy label to...
etc

That does not make MBTI, nor The Big Five, astrology (as one member of this forum is wont to do), it makes them collections of labels that describe identifiable clusters of behavior. A label is telling, but not the whole picture. That much should be obvious. Calling someone a nerd characterizes their approach to the world to a rather large extent, given that the nerd label is well applied. But being a nerd doesn't tell the whole picture.

It's called cluster analysis, and I'm still stumped that people think that a label on a cluster of similar behavior should have an actual physical, proven representation in the world; and that it should have 100% accuracy to be useful.

The Big Five was conceived as a factor analysis. In other words: the big five can't prove anything beyond the design of the initial factors that went into the test.

Try to use labels as they are intended, neither as a bludgeons, nor as the Word of Truth.

Carry on.

iopsi
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Re: MBTI personality type...?

Post by iopsi » Fri Dec 07, 2018 5:03 pm

It doesn't need to be 100% accurate, but i still think it's pretty much useless.
The test i would say is flawed and people are not good at judinging themselves. I did it once and for many questions i wasn't even sure what answer to pick.

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Re: MBTI personality type...?

Post by ThisDinosaur » Sat Dec 08, 2018 10:40 am

Clarice wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 9:00 pm
MBTI descriptions read more like a horoscope - not practical. Analytical psychology is very practical. :geek:
How so? Practical for what?
FBeyer wrote:
Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:04 am
The Not-believing-in-types trope, is misapplied somewhat. Maybe because of a misunderstanding of what statistical science and analyses can really do for us.

No there is no such THING, no such physical provable THING as an ENTJ. But there is a PATTERN of behavior among enough individuals to distinguish their approach to the world as different from other people's.
If types were a THING, youd expect bimodal distributions in the population. Instead you see a normal distribution. Which means someone who scores 49th%ile in one dimension will be categorized as fundamentally different from someone who scores 51st%ile. This implies the underlying theory is unsound.

Big5 might essentially test the same thing as MBTI, but the fact that its results are reported as a rank on a scale rather than a bimodal "type" means big5 is demonstrably closer to reality.

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Re: MBTI personality type...?

Post by ThisDinosaur » Sat Dec 08, 2018 11:00 am

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eysenck ... stionnaire
As far as underlying theory is concerned, EPQ strikes me as the most plausible personality test.

Introversion/Extroversion is a matter of optimal cortical arousal. Introverts are chronically over stimulated, and so require peace and quiet to recover. Extroverts are chronically under stimulated and bored, so they require constant interaction and novel experiences, to bring cortical activity Up.

Neuroticism is a result of higher baseline activity in the sympathetic nervous system. Highly Neurotic people have a lower activation threshold for fight-or-flight.

Anecdotally, this seems more accurate to me than the MBTI's underlying theory.

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Re: MBTI personality type...?

Post by jacob » Sat Dec 08, 2018 12:33 pm

Well, it's a tool. Insofar it's a good tool, it's still only as good as its user. FWIW, the official MBTI test requires a license, etc. This might be a profit-grab, but there certainly also something to the observation that individuals with little exposure/understanding of the model tend to test randomly usually according to how they've been trained, i.e. nurture, rather than what their actual preference, i.e. nature is. My favorite example being the introverted salesman who is good with people and therefore believes he's an extravert.

I like the theory because it provides vastly more nuance than the standard model for other humans which is "assume everybody else is like myself and extrapolate accordingly". This standard model is applicable if and only if you're a normal (center of the Bell curve) person and you're dealing with other normal persons.

The biggest divide and room for misunderstanding is along the N/S axis. The population split is something like 30/70. This means that the "assume everybody is similar to myself" works for 0.3*0.3+0.7*0.7=58% of encounters (or 70% given you're an S). Point being, if you're "normal" then personality typing might very well be what water is to a fish. It's a short step to presume that deviations (relatively odd behavior) are mainly explained as personality disorders or problematic ids, egos, or superegos.

Conversely, if you're not normal, then assuming everyone else operates like you will lead to a lot of confusion and misunderstanding. Basically, you'll be stupid with other people (and even with yourself for trying to be normal). That's how I spent the first 20 years of my life.

I've certainly seen people putting the cart before the horse. They test like ABCD, then read the description, and then believe that since they've now been thoroughly typed, they should act according to what the description says. Basically, they're using the model in a prescriptive fashion rather than a descriptive manner.

The MBTI test is really a clustering algorithm as FBeyer described above. Essentially, if individuals exist in a multidimensional space (of test answers or behavior) then it will be found that individuals consistently stay in the same areas of this space. These areas are the types.

Basically, the attitude here is that of the duck test. If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.

Put it another way, typing is a nuanced approach to dealing with other people. I will interact with you based on what kind of animal you are based on your behavior because I think (based on experience) that is a better approach than to assume you're mostly similar to me. I think the former provides a much better understanding/acceptance of other humans as they are... instead of being frustrated that they don't behave like I would in their situation.

Add: The fact that people in the FIRE community overwhelmingly score either INTJ, INTP, or ISTJ indicates that there's something there there. Otherwise, scores would be all over the place (normal distribution). IOW ... I can predict that if someone is into FIRE, then they're probably of the InTX variety... alternatively, if someone scores InTX, I bet they're friendly to the idea of FIRE. That's one example of how typing is pragmatically useful.

TL;DR - If you see typing mainly as a phenomenological approach, you don't have to dismiss it just because you (or the psychology community) haven't been able to explain behavior in terms of genetics or neurotransmitters.

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Re: MBTI personality type...?

Post by FBeyer » Sat Dec 08, 2018 1:03 pm

...Basically, the attitude here is that of the duck test. If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.
This. Thank you for the elaboration.

'Probably' is the operative word here.
The biggest difference between MBTI and BIG5 is that MBTI classifies, BIG5 only summarizes the data. Hence you can blame MBTI for classification errors while you cant do that with BIG5. I find that an unusual point of contention.

MBTI is a way to approximate the behavior of another individual. Howis that not useful? It's like claiming that Gershgorin guesses are astronomy because you don't get the roots right the first time, always.

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Re: MBTI personality type...?

Post by Clarice » Sat Dec 08, 2018 10:51 pm

@ThisDinosaur:
For me personally, MBTI has been a gateway drug to analytical psychology, which gives you a deeper understanding of cognitive functions. Certain cognitive functions fit together like Lego blocks. With experience, you eyeball a person, type the person (there are better ways to type someone than MBTI), and adjust your behavior accordingly. Analytical psychology gives you bricks, with which to build the relationships. These bricks are especially useful if you've had a double whammy of being born as a rare type with no good grasp of other people - extraverted intuition and extraverted feeling are low in your cognitive stack (INTJ comes to mind :lol:).
If you have any interest in the subject type into youtube, "C. S. Joseph". The guy is doing a decent job of popularizing analytical psychology.

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Re: MBTI personality type...?

Post by iopsi » Sun Dec 09, 2018 12:46 pm

jacob wrote:
Sat Dec 08, 2018 12:33 pm
Add: The fact that people in the FIRE community overwhelmingly score either INTJ, INTP, or ISTJ indicates that there's something there there. Otherwise, scores would be all over the place (normal distribution). IOW ... I can predict that if someone is into FIRE, then they're probably of the InTX variety... alternatively, if someone scores InTX, I bet they're friendly to the idea of FIRE. That's one example of how typing is pragmatically useful.
I get what you and @FBeyer are saying, and i can kind of agree (especially if there are strong empirical evidences).

However taking this example above about people in the FIRE community... what if they test one of the InTX varieties because of the influence of the community (be it the members of the ideas themselves)?
More generally, what i mean is: what if the types do not really describe the general attitude of a person, but the result of external (so far) stimuli on her?
I for example don't feel to "belong" to any type in particular.
Clarice wrote:
Sat Dec 08, 2018 10:51 pm
If you have any interest in the subject type into youtube, "C. S. Joseph". The guy is doing a decent job of popularizing analytical psychology.
Well considering how not-well some of my relationships are going lately, i guess it won't hurt to look into this.

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Re: MBTI personality type...?

Post by jacob » Sun Dec 09, 2018 1:05 pm

iopsi wrote:
Sun Dec 09, 2018 12:46 pm
However taking this example above about people in the FIRE community... what if they test one of the InTX varieties because of the influence of the community (be it the members of the ideas themselves)?
This is true. P(InTX | FIRE | online forum ) is very high and much higher than P(InTX). However, what you're asking is whether there's a sample error and P(InTX | FIRE) ~ P(Random | FIRE). In other words, what if the INFPs are only discussing FIRE at yoga festivals and ESFPs ditto at pool parties.

After all, we know that many InTX are not discussing FIRE outside of the online communities. This is a possibility since we do know that P(InTX | online forum) is or was higher than P(InTX) because of the nerd-factor. However, P(any|facebook) is probably converging on P(any) and as far as facebook goes, it's also pretty much an InTX-fest.

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