Originally penned/published: July 3, 2011
So as part of my search to find a fulfilling career I began learning more about personality types in graduate school. I have previously taken the Myers Briggs Personality type quizzes before, however I was always skeptical because I wanted to further understand how on earth they were taking my answers to questions and then fitting me into a typology. It’s just because I want to know everything, which can probably be both dangerous and incredibly successful.
Anyway, so the gist of it all is that there’s 16 different personality types that everyone MORE OR LESS fits into. I like this typology because yes, it works in that it helps us easily and quickly observe and acknowledge differences in ourselves and others, BUT it doesn’t require strict adherence. In fact it clearly states that no one is exactly 1 type and only 1 type.
Furthermore what I love about this typology is that the theory of it states that as we grow we develop certain traits that we weren’t “naturally” strong in or good at. (if you’re curious as to why I put naturally in quotes, see the *** note below. If not, carry on :)
So, back to the theory.
It states that as children we have certain strengths: we’re really good judgers, or sensors, or intuitives, etc. Then as we become teens and young adults we become sort of masters of these strengths we originally held. But when we move beyond age 25 we start to develop more of our “secondary” strengths and those opposites of our personality. For example, I am an INFJ. The theory goes that at 25 I was probably great in all of my INFJ-ness. But now that I’m 28 and as I grow older I will start to develop the opposite characters which would be: E, S, T, and P.
So in the end, what I love about this theory is its ability to use categories to describe generalities in groups of people while at the same time leaving breathing room for REAL diversity in individuals and an acknowledgment that essentially, the theory could become defunct when one hits age 75. Okay, so I’m totally kidding about the ‘defunct’ part. But It’s a theory of change just as much as it is a theory of being. I think that’s beautiful and damned honest! Now THAT’S progress!!
***(I put “naturally” in quotes because I believe it’s at least 50/50 nature AND nurture. Clearly genes play a role in one’s biology and science has shown us how our biology can dictate our personality in some ways: emotional disorders like depression or bipolar disorder. However, science has also shown us that our behaviors can change our brains. Studies like Maguire et. Al (2000) have shown that the more we do certain behaviors, the areas of our brain dedicated to those behaviors grow to accommodate, such as London taxi drivers having larger areas of their hippocampi dedicated to the ability to find shortcuts between familiar routes. The hippocampus is an area of the brain responsible for a lot of things, this just being one. It was also shown that taxi drivers who had been on the job longer had even larger areas than those who were newer to the job. However, unlike biceps, the total volume of the hippocampus remained the same in taxi drivers compared to the control group, the difference was that the anterior portion became larger at the expense of the anterior portion. It is remained to be seen if there are any negative affects of this. Just like working out our biceps, the more we work them out the bigger they become; So it is that the more we learn to play piano the bigger the areas of our brain will become that are dedicated to creativity and music. That was a long digression. Sorry, I’m long winded)
Maguire, EA; Gadian DG, Johnsrude IS, Good CD, Ashburner J, Frackowiak RS, Frith CD (2000). “Navigation-related structural change in the hippocampi of taxi drivers”. PNAS 97 (8): 4398–403.