Type and Testing

March 11, 2015

Could I possibly be an ISTJ?

Over the decades of my life, I have come to regard myself as having a certain personality profile. How I arrived at this particular configuration could be due to a variety of influences. Mostly, even as a child, I felt myself different from others, and it was not until my middle years that I had an inkling why. Through a presentation at a Minnesota Library Association convention, I learned that individuals exhibit a variety of psychological types and assessments of recognized characteristics point to these types. I felt I was stumbling towards some better understanding of others and myself. However, it was not until July 1991 that I obtained the relevant book and found a method of ascertaining who I really am. This approach is the Jungian set of personality types amplified by the research of Katheryn Briggs and Isabel Myers (mother and daughter) and presented by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates in Please Understand Me. See more of my exploration of types in the posts under MY TYPE.

I discovered myself to be an INTJ whose primary characteristics are Introversion, iNtuition, Thinking, and Judging. I recognize and applaud the value of society, but I am fully myself and charged when alone (I). I see myself as primarily intellectual, but one who is constantly in pursuit of ideational answers to comprehending the issues of life (N). For me, the mind and its cognitive faculties, especially reason’s use of evidence, lead us on to actionable knowledge, truth, and conduct of life (T). While I readily accept that our knowledge is finite and incomplete and though I can live with a great deal of ambiguity, I readily come to decisions of a procedural nature although recognizing that the conclusions are subject to revision thanks to information – the difference that makes a difference – (J). I am so happy knowing I am INTJ that I feel confirmed when at the 100% level, as INTJ as it is possible to be.

Accordingly, I enjoy trying out new assessment scales when I find them, as I can always learn something either confirming, disconfirming, or challenging. As I was poking about recently, I found reference to HumanMetrics and its battery of personality “tests.” One of these, the Jung Typology TestTM, a free online tool, serves as an introduction to other services and further assessments. Out of curiosity, I took the 72-point free questionnaire, which then automatically generates a typology profile.

Much to my surprise, I emerged this time as an ISTJ: Introversion over Extroversion 89% (strong); Sensation over iNtuition 1% (marginal); Thinking over Feeling (38%) (moderate); Judging over Perceiving 89% (strong). Why did I get these scores, especially the low scores in Thinking and the marginal status of iNtuition? To see myself as even marginally an S bothers me since this distinction makes a major difference of the categories in type. Further, I remember a colleague of mine who administered the Myers-Briggs InstrumentTM, maintained no one was in the middle unless they answered incorrectly.

Consequently, I reviewed my answers. Where the Kiersey Temperament Sorter uses 70 questions that ask for preferences, attitudes or actions between two alternative choices, HumanMetrics asks for yes or no responses to statements. In my list of those questions following, I have paraphrased the statements to make them more direct while expressing the same point. In addition, I have indicated why I answered YES or NO as I believe or habitually act.

In the Typology Test: Responses and Why.

  1. Almost never late for appointments? YES: I dread being late and am usually early.
  2. Like to be active in a fast–paced job? NO: I am active, but methodically deliberate.
  3. Enjoy a wide circle of acquaintances? NO: I desire a few deep friendships.
  4. Involved watching soaps? NO: Never: I am mostly involved in mysteries and classics.
  5. React first to a sudden event? NO: Someone else goes first while I mull things over.
  6. Interest in general idea more than details? YES: Concepts are primary with me.
  7. Unbiased regardless of relations? YES: Is this not the right thing to do?
  8. Established rules prevent good outcome? NO: May established rules prevail.
  9. Difficult to get excited? YES: I strive for the even keel.
  10. Nature to assume responsibility? YES: Absolutely.
  11. Often think about humanity and destiny? YES: My primary concern.
  12. Best decision easily changed? NO: Best decisions ipso facto are not easily changed.
  13. Objective criticism is always useful? YES: Why not?
  14. Act immediately without speculating? NO: I consider options before acting.
  15. Trust reason rather than feelings? YES: That’s my pattern.
  16. Rely on improvisation more than planning? NO: Planning is the way and can be sufficient in itself without ever acting.
  17. Spend leisure socializing? NO: My interests are chiefly solitary and serious.
  18. Plan actions in advance? YES: Nearly always. As in 16.
  19. Actions influenced by emotions? NO: I consciously control my emotions.
  20. Somewhat reserved and distant in communication? YES: Usually.

21. Put time to good purpose? YES: Time is in finite supply: I worry often that I am not putting time to best use.

  1. Readily help people without return? YES: I try since we share this planet.
  2. Often contemplate life’s complexity? YES: Frequently.
  3. After socializing, feel the need to be alone? YES: Socializing wears; solitude restores.
  4. Often do jobs in a hurry? NO: I work deliberately to be thorough. As in 2.
  5. Easily see the principle behind specifics. YES: In most cases.
  6. Frequently easily express feelings? NO: Seldom; I ponder them.
  7. Find speaking loudly difficult? NO: Soft-spoken generally but speak loudly where necessary.
  8. Bored reading theoretical books? NO: How so? Theory is my life. Besides, how can one be bored if there is a problem needing solution?
  9. Tend to sympathize? YES: Actually, I’m empathetic.
  10. Value justice higher than mercy? YES. Justice encompasses mercy.
  11. Rapidly involved in social life of workplace? NO: Not employed and never got rapidly involved, especially in social life.
  12. Speaking with many people, you feel better? NO: Does not connect for me.
  13. Rely on experience rather than theory? NO: In effect, I rely on theory, properly understood.[1] As in 29.
  14. Keep check on how things are going? YES: I track and monitor what engages me.
  15. Empathize with other’s concerns? YES: See 30.
  16. Prefer a good book to a party? YES: My whole life; it doesn’t even have to be a very good book.
  17. Enjoy being at the center of events? NO: The center does not apply to me; I’m an observer and critic.
  18. More inclined to experiment than follow past approaches? NO: I have more confidence in past approaches that worked than uncertain experiments. Thought experiments are okay.
  19. Avoid obligations? NO: I embrace obligations.
  20. Touched by stories of people’s troubles. YES: Such is the nature of classic lit.
  21. Deadlines are relative NO: Deadlines demand.
  22. Isolate from noise? YES: I flee from noise, of which the levels seem to increase.
  23. Try things with own hands? NO: Trying things myself seems inefficient.
  24. Almost everything can be analyzed? YES: Certainly, however not always completely or suffiently.
  25. Failure to complete on time is uncomfortable? YES: Such failure is agony.
  26. Pleasure in putting things in order? YES: Order is one of the supreme pleasures.
  27. At ease in a crowd? NO: Anonymity is fine and crowds can rouse curiosity, but may also be loud and oppressive.
  28. Good control over desires and temptations? YES: My desires are long-term, requiring conscious attention. Rather, unproductive habits need better control.
  29. Easily understand new theoretical principles? YES: Usually.
  30. Search for solution more important than solution itself? YES: That’s where the challenge and enjoyment are.
  31. Place yourself to the side than in center? YES: The perspective is better. As in 38.
  32. With problem follow a familiar approach than new one? YES: See 39.
  33. Stand firmly by your principles? YES: At least until I learn otherwise.
  34. Thirst for adventure close to your heart? NO: I live to minimize risk, unless it is the adventure of ideas.
  35. Prefer small groups? YES: Six-eight people, tops. Compare 48.
  36. Attend to current situation than possible sequence? NO: The current is likely transitory: rather, seek the foundation of the present anomaly.
  37. The rational approach best? YES: May reason prevail is my fondest wish.
  38. Difficult to talk about your feelings: YES: See 15, 27.
  39. Often think of how things could improve? YES: What are we here for?
  40. Decisions based on feelings rather than planning? NO: See 16, 18.
  41. Spend leisure alone or in tranquility? YES: See 17, 24, 32.
  42. Comfortable sticking to convential? YES: As far as social conventions go. Yet, I remain unconventional in my thinking, interests, and pursuits.
  43. Easily affected by strong emotions? NO: See 15, 19, 27, 33, 59, 61.
  44. Looking for opportunities? NO: I know the opportunities, and doubt I will ever get to them all.
  45. Desk usually neat? NO: Unfortunately, numerous interests, involvements, and projects overcome my struggle to maintain good and efficient order on my desk top. Piling instead of filing is a major challenge for me.
  46. Current preoccupations worry more than future? YES: Current concerns obsess me, though I do not necessarily worry about them unless they seem irreconcilable.
  47. Pleasure from solitary walks? YES: From solitary anything!
  48. Easy to communicate in social situations? NO: I am not social.
  49. Consistent in habits? YES: Boringly consistent.
  50. Involve in matters that engage sympathies? YES: If I think I can help.
  51. Easily perceive ways in which events could develop? NO: The unknown is never easy, if possible.

Of course, there is no right and wrong about the questions when it comes to type. People differ and that is reality. However, the typology task is assessing where a choice is pertinent to me.  Instructions for this list state

When responding to the statements, of the two responses please choose the one you agree with most. If you are not sure how to answer, make your choice based on your most typical response or feeling in the given situation.

This is excellent advice and appropriate to the task. The challenge comes, as with any preferential poll or survey, in writing questions that are patently clear, single-pointed and unarguable, that is – devoid of interpretation. I am a fussy responder to such questions since in many cases I do not see the questions as either or. Also, questions often carry assumptions about the responder. For example, #4 assumes everyone watches soaps, at least sometime. Therefore, I can error as in understanding the intent behind the instrument’s questions. Some of the questions that I found especially imprecise follow.

  1. You believe the best decision is one that can be easily changed. What does “best decision” mean? If a decision truly is the best one, why would anyone want to change it? Therefore, this question can only be answered NO. Those who answer yes must think that best means best at the time and therefore is transitory in its bestness.
  2. Objective criticism is always useful in any activity. What does “useful” mean? Certainly, criticism is useful to some extent, especially if it is objective. Therefore, the question demands a YES. Those who answer otherwise must think that some activity will never benefit from criticism.
  3. You prefer to act immediately rather than speculate about various options. What does “speculate” mean? Of course, some actions are necessarily immediate; running from fire or flood for example. But where consideration of alternatives is possible, doesn’t a mental search for the better action require a YES? Do those who say no regard that thinking things over has no value. Likely it depends on the situation.

What does HumanMetrics have to say about ISTJ and INTJ?

ISTJs are most at home with “just the facts, Ma’am.” They seem to perform at highest efficiency when employing a step-by-step approach. Once a new procedure has proven itself (i.e., has been shown “to work,”) the ISTJ can be depended upon to carry it through, even at the expense of their own health. – Joe Butt, “Introverted Sensing Thinking Judging,” typelogic.com/istj.html.

INTJs are perfectionists, with a seemingly endless capacity for improving upon anything that takes their interest. What prevents them from becoming chronically bogged down in this pursuit of perfection is the pragmatism so characteristic of the type. INTJs apply (often ruthlessly) the criterion “Does it work?” to everything from their own research efforts to the prevailing social norms. This in turn produces an unusual independence of mind, freeing the INTJ from the constraints of authority, convention, or sentiment for its own sake. – Marina Margaret Heiss, “Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging,” typelogic.com/intj.html.

I align closer with the INTJ description than the ISTJ. However, it is the S/N distinction that is really telling. The sensation-preferring person wants and trusts facts, believes in and knows through experience, and grounds in physicality. Contrarily an intuition oriented person looks to the future, hypothesizes about situations, considers possibilities. Imagination and speculation become the N’s dwelling place. For me facts become data when they fit, confirming or disconfirming our theoretical expectations. Facts as evidence are a basis of what is true and actionable but are manipulated by concepts that build on their existence. When facts are found to be faulty, which has been the history of human knowledge, our concepts must necessarily change. Much of our mental work goes into establishing the validity of what are taken to be facts. I am always seeking a fuller, more comprehensive and usefully accurate understanding: I am an INTJ.

Perhaps, I have misinterpreted the HumanMetrics test. I have my doubts, but it is possible. One factor may also intervene. HumanMetrics as well as its competitor, CCP, Inc cater more to employment and business interests than they do to self-awareness and understanding. Many of the questions are project, team, corporate or employment oriented. I have been part of many teams, but remain fundamentally an independent person and desperate to develop as my individual, unique self. Thus, I do not coincide with the business model approach.

Even as a forthright individual, I am willing to contribute to the greater good. Predominantly, I want to learn, think, write, create and understand. And the foremost of these is understand.

[1] I answered mistakenly in the test. No is the right response for me.

[I found this draft, updated 1 January 2014, but not posted. I gave it a second update before this post.]

© Copyright 2015 by Roger Sween.

I welcome comments. Address personal comments to me at my email address.


My Fulfillment

October 9, 2012

On the Authentic Road

According to Susan Krauss Whitbourne, The Search for Fulfillment: revolutionary new research that reveals the secret to long-term happiness (2010).

I bought this book to give away in a fund-raiser but stopped to examine it before it was out of my hands. When a young academic in psychology, Whitbourne adopted a bit of guidance for herself: Live live when young as if looking back on it when you’re old. Influenced by the work of Erik Erikson who focused on adult development through the lifespan, she began to test his theories by also studying people over time, mapping their changes, and discovering the effects of early decisions.

Can people find fulfillment at any age? After forty years of following 182 subjects, she gives her answer, albeit influenced by Erikson’s recognition of the forces of development and change in human lives. Because of human variation, people tend to follow one of five life paths into which Whitbourne grouped her subjects. Yes/no answers to a set of Eriksonian questions provide the bases for these groupings. Honest answers will fit all five points of one particular path The five pathways are Meandering Way, Straight and Narrow Way, Downward Slope, Triumphant Trail, Authentic Road.

I am of the latter. The Authentic Road is the path of those who continuously examine their life’s direction and force themselves to take a bold and honest look a whether it is truly satisfying (p.56). It’s a process of identity achievement by willing examination of alternatives without rigidity or fear of change. The result is enhanced feelings of inner authenticity that turn into generativity and ego integrity in the middle years and into later life.

In other words, as I have gotten older I think that I have become more like my true self. I focus on what has worked out well for me. And I continue considering options in my life in order to continue becoming more fulfilled. This year, I have spent major portions of time on the cause of defeating the marriage amendment in Minnesota, largely within my congregation and through the Minnesota division of the American Association of University Women. This I have done because equality, concern for the neighbor, and civil conversation are all values I prize. Nevertheless, I vow that this is my last major contribution of a civic nature. From now on I vow to intentionally focus on my reading and writing.

Being an INTJ has meant being an introspective, self-examining, rational pursuer of beneficial change.  (See My INTJ.) I did not know of these pathways, though I have read Erikson in the past. I am glad to find one more confirmation of my type that bolsters my sense of reaching out and of desire for holism.

I am not saying that at this point I am completely and finally fulfilled. But I have a very clear idea of what I want to achieve and a new reservoir of confidence to obtain at least some of it.

Copyright  2012 by Roger Sween.

I welcome all public comments to blog articles. For personal comments from those who know me, send to my email.


Rog the Builder

November 15, 2010

Interpersonal Relationships More than Mating

According to: Helen Fisher, Why him? Why her?: finding real love by understanding your personality type. Henry Holt and Company, c2009.  289p.

According to book jacket blurbismo, Helen Fisher, Ph.D., is one of the world’s leading experts in the nature of romantic love and attachment.  She is the scientific adviser to the online dating service, Chemistry.com, for whom she did much of the work that undergirds this book.  Otherwise, she is a research professor of anthropology at Rutgers University.

Fisher’s inventory, “My Personality Type Study,” analyzed the responses of 39,913 members of Chemistry.com by four scales in its questionnaire.  Each scale has fourteen statements; respondents answer each statement as to level of agreement – strongly disagree, disagree, agree or strongly agree.  Subsequent scoring indicates a personality profile, a combination of the two highest-ranking types – Explorer, Builder, Director, and Negotiator.

Fisher briefly equates her four types with the preferences in their Myers-Briggs equivalents.

Fisher Percent MBTI
Explorer 26.0 Perceiving
Builder 28.6 Sensing, Judging
Director 16.3 Thinking
Negotiator 29.1 iNtuition, Feeling

For whatever reason, Introversion and Extroversion do not appear in these comparisons.  However, just as there are 16 types in Myers-Briggs, Fisher has sixteen types resulting from any two highest score combinations.  However, she hardly discusses any of these sixteen as though such variations do not account for differing personalities and mating matches.

As is my case with many kinds of questionnaires, I find some of the questions impossible to answer.  Either they are vague, bend to different interpretations, or remain incomprehensible as to what is meant.  Scale I asks questions 5, 6, 13 about being more optimistic, creative, energetic than most people.  How do I know this beyond mere impression?  Scale III asks if I am “tough minded?”  What does this tough-minded mean?

When I counted the scores, which unanswerable questions affect, they ranked Builder – 51, Director – 38, Negotiator – 23, Explorer – 3.  In other words, I wind up tagged as a Builder/Director.  What is the sense of this combination?

The BUILDER/Director has a streak of the independent, innovative thinker, comprising an unusual balance between conventionality and originality.  Like Directors, BUILDER/Directors want a partner with whom they can have deep and focused conversations.  Yet they are literal and emotionally contained.  So these conversations must be concrete, factual and informed.  BUILDER/Directors are probably the most ambitious and hardest working of the Builders even on a date. – page 132

Fisher talks repeatedly about variation in psychological type, but never in a determinative way, more as a caution and awareness of those personality characteristics that are out of type for a person of the type.  Builders equate with loyalty, an emphasis on order, tradition, being conscientious, doing what they ought.  George Washington is an archetype for the Builder.  Religiosity is a Builder characteristic (p.78-79), but some Builders will be atheists.  Fisher sees religion as equivalent to “self-transcendence” and the experience of the mystical.  I see myself as religious when I acknowledge the transcendence of God in relation to my own soulfulness, but base my acknowledgement of the otherwise unknown on ancient testimony and go on my from there by what teaching rationally follows.  In Word Type Study, the words “moral, morals, values” attract Builders as they do me.

As Builders identify with loyalty, so Directors with resourcefulness.  Albert Einstein (1879-1955) is the Director prototype; he was one of my chief heroes when I was a teenager.  Directors are supposed to be attracted to machines because of how machines work as a system.  I am not mechanical but attracted to human systems, primarily social systems and systems of thought – concept-formation, intellectual history, theory, philosophy, theology.  I do not have the spatial skills associated with Directors or musical or athletic ability, but I am analytical, logical and direct.  I have the autonomous personality of a Director, but am far from competitive as one.  Collaboration is my métier; neither do I want control over anyone except myself.

Though I did not score high on the Negotiator, termed “the philosopher king,” of which Charles Darwin is the example, I favor being philosophical with some Negotiator characteristics, chiefly mental flexibility, deep personal connections (though few), and introspection.  I am not convivial, social, or routinely aware of my surroundings unless deliberate in focusing my attention about me.

Certainly, I am far from the Explorer, an adventurer.  I remain adventurous only about ideas; otherwise, I am cautious, but not fearful.  Risk does not excite me; I strive to minimize risk.

Incidentally, being a Builder/Director with Negotiator in third ranking corresponds to me being an NTJ out of my Myers-Briggs profile: INTJ.

I am not sure what to make of Fisher’s claims.  I regard her scales as faulty and her lack of the full run of 16 types as insufficiently explained and misleading.  Mostly I question her arguments based on “what we are dealt,” which in her case means the chemicals that run the brain.  Explorers are dopamine-rich; Builders high on serotonin; Directors blessed with testosterone and consequently 2.3 men to women; Negotiators washed over with estrogen, 1.5 women to men.  Fisher mentions that her next survey will take blood samples to measure hormone levels in her various types.

Fisher maintains that Directors tend to have a longer ring finger than a pointer or index finger, due to a surge of testosterone in the womb.  I have it, and so does everyone in my family including a son-in-law.  (The Internet is full of references to studies by Alison Bailey and Peter Hurd that correlate finger-length indexes with aggression and other characteristics.)   Fisher seems to be the main source of the personality affinity claim.  I remain dubious.

See the other typology approaches listed on the My Type page.

Copyright © by Roger Sween 2010.

I welcome comments on this post.  Send personal comments to me at rogdesk@charter.net.