Our different personalities

I hung out with some newly found friends a couple of weeks ago, one of them talked about the Myers-Briggs psychology, which I hadn’t heard of before. As it intrigued me I took a test defining my four functions, I’m apparently an INTJ which is short for: Introverted, iNtuitive, Thinking and Judging. To my astonishment this personality profile explained my drives, preferences and even my personal and social quirks. (If you take the test, don’t read about your supposed personality type on that page, google another more thorough article.)

I believe that people can be whoever they want to be, that our only limitations are fear and not believing in our selves. And I still believe this… The Myers-Briggs personality type doesn’t really tell you who you are, it speculates on some of your basic drives and behaviors, it suggests what you prefer in life. INTJs are supposedly “system builders”, they see the world as a bunch of systems with room for improvement, they love structure and order and get frustrated with people who does too much smalltalk or shows an inability to discuss issues in a structured way, they might be viewed as cold and distant. This description fits me very well, but it doesn’t at all state who I am, which is important to realize regardless if you think this is interesting or plain bullshit.

I always aspire to be more than I am, which I hope most people do. I want to inspire people by pointing out good traits and my views about their potential as well as areas with room for improvement within them, to do this I do a lot of analyzing which can be interpreted as me being critical. I can be brutally honest as I don’t really bother my self with white lies, I just don’t see the point in them most of the time. To me, pointing out areas where there is room for improvement is the highest form of appreciation. It might not always feel good if someone is critical towards you, but it’s valuable information if you aspire to grow and conquer your weaknesses as well as enhancing your strengths.

I also have the need to understand everything, I want whatever someone tells me to make sense. Sometimes I don’t really understand their reasoning in which case I will tear apart their argument into bits and pieces trying to grasp their thoughts. I might get over analytical reading to much into specific words or phrases which I don’t get. If I do this it just means that I respect the person in question, I wouldn’t use mental energy on someone I didn’t feel was worth it.

My point with all this is that I’m analytical, critical and very honest in my ways regardless of what I do. I’ve learned that people which are highly emotional doesn’t always appreciate this, it might in fact make them furious. Which is of course very confusing for me as I do it our of respect and love. This is one of the strong differences between different types of personalities, this battle between the rational mind and the emotional mind has been ongoing all my life. Sometimes I ask my self why I even bother as I might get anger and spite from just being my self, why all this anger?

Well… I understand their point I guess, I understand the principle of it anyway, even if I don’t share their view. We all know that we’re all different individuals, but it might not always be so easy to see it, our brains are wired in a specific (however abstract..) way and it can be hard for us to realize that another brain is in fact wired very differently. I might for example get frustrated when someone isn’t seeing the obvious rational explanation for something while the same person gets frustrated with me because I can’t see the emotional aspect of it. This kind of thing happens all the time, regardless of our enlightened we might feel about peoples differences.

The Myers-Briggs personality types strengthens our perception of peoples differences, the rational and the emotional minds need to find ways complement each other, because there’s so much room for self improvement there and I guess that’s why I enjoy talking to over-emotional people even though they drive me nuts sometimes. I guess they enjoy talking to me even though I drive them nuts sometimes for the same reason.

Nobody, person or test can really tell you who you are or who you want to be. Only you know that… But looking at the Myers-Briggs psychology with an open mind can help you achieve whatever you want to achieve, if you feel like the description of your personality type fits you then it’s probably in line with who you want to be. So it wouldn’t be a limitation in any way unless you make it a limitation. I prefer to view it as some sort of closure with that I’m doing and as some very much appreciated critique about how I might interact with more emotional people, It always helps when you get reminded by external sources, even if it’s just about confirming your own thoughts.

One thing to keep in mind between this very concrete battle of rationals and emotionals is that there is no right and wrong, only subjective opinions.

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6 Comments

  1. Leo Ryberg
    Jul 13, 2010

    I agree with everything up to the last point.

    There is no right or wrong way to view things – there are just more or less useful ways – Usefulness being dictated by measurable impact in the real world. It’s just a matter of defining what you wish to achieve, and to see if your methods are adequate for these purposes. If not, other methods are needed.

    This is not simply a matter of opinion, but of measurable results and comparative studies.

    … Oh snap. I just did it again. That’s some rational bias for you. :P

    But really, I think it’s two completely different perspectives. A feeler, for example, is not that interested in a concept and it’s properties, but is instead very skilled in the art of analyzing or manipulating the emotional impact the concept in question has on people.

    Feeling functions are subject focused while thinking functions are object focused.

    It’s a different perspective altogether.

    By the way, we need to hang out again, soon.

  2. Tobias Wallin (Mentation Away)
    Jul 14, 2010

    Ah, but usefulness is defined in your subjective view, thus there is no objective usefulness. You could only argue that the objective usefulness is based on a majority vote.

    While it is true that feelers tend to be more interested in analyzing the emotional impact of things it’s important to realize that it’s not black ‘n white, it’s always a scale between the thinking and the feeling side of that function. Thus feelers could very well be interested in a concept and it’s properties in the same way as a thinker could be interesting in it’s emotional properties.

    Yes we do indeed need to hang out soon, we’re supposed to have a nice day exploring nature soon!

  3. Leo Ryberg
    Jul 14, 2010

    I disagree with your statement about objective usefulness being subject to majority vote.

    It is possible to objectively measure a phenomena. Compare a measurement to a pragmatic goal, and you have objective usefulness.

    For example. The purpose of a digging machine is to dig. I want a digging machine for my digging project.

    Every digging machine has only two different functions. The first one is to consume fuel, and the second one is to dig holes.

    Fuel costs money, and your digging project is on a strict budget.

    There is one digging machine which has low fuel consumption and high digging output, and there is another one, that has high fuel consumption and low digging output.

    Pick one.

    The best choice is in this case not a matter of opinion. The circumstances and objectives dictate the best option. One of these digging machines is simply more useful for this specific purpose than the other one. Regardless of opinion.

    Public vote would not be able to change this. An item might be useful for a specific purpose, not only useful for specific people. I sincerely think that usefulness and quality both are objective properties that exist in an object as a result of circumstance and purpose.

    Now, of course one might argue that “purpose” is set by humans, and therefore subjective. I percieve this viewpoint as false. Purposes are in many cases objectively existant (at least in the case of pragmatic purpose) since it is possible to measure progress towards this goal or purpose in a non subjective way.

    For example: The goal for a contestant in a sprinting competition is to run 200 meters as fast as possible. The contestants all reach goal at different times. It is possible to objectively decide who is the winner, by seeing who completes the lapse in the smallest amount of time.

    This is objective judgment. It does not meddle in emotions or subjective viewpoints. It compares data with criteria, and thus reaches a conclusion.

    (From a myers-briggs perspective, this type of judgment is textbook extraverted thinking, by the way.)

    Also, of course it is not black or white, but one has a preferred method of handling the world. Most people are at least a little bit interested in both perspectives. Only severely unbalanced people would have a world view that’s purely rational or emotional.

  4. Tobias Wallin (Mentation Away)
    Jul 15, 2010

    Ok sure I see your point, it is possible to define an objective usefulness within defined systems. Obviously one would choose the energy efficient digging as the purpose is to dig as much as possible, and it’s easy to decide a winner in a sprinting competition because there are defined rules.

    You could go all the way down to mathematics, Hofstadter talks about this in his book GEB, he has a pretty good example called the pq-system:

    p stands for plus
    q stands for equals

    - – - p – - q – - – - – is therefor objectively valid.
    - – p – - q – - – - – is not objectively invalid.

    My point is that there’s only an objective usefulness within a defined system, and since we don’t fully understand the mind then we can’t define an objective usefulness of emotional views and rational views.

    Let me widen the case of the digging machine, the digging machine which consumes more fuel for less digging has been used for many years. The employees on that digging site are rather sentimental people, they don’t like their job or work very much but they’ve formed a special bond with that digging machine. That digging machine just feels right, it makes that special sound and feels just like they’re used to. That digging machine is however sad it may sound the thing that keeps this sad group together and makes them work well regardless of their depressions.

    I’ve redefined the system and the choice between digging machine is now not only about the machines performance but of the whole teams performance. It now becomes a question about what’s more important, employee moral or machine performance?

    It’s very easy to define objectivity within defined formal systems or formal hypothetical cases. But life is seldom that simple…

  5. Leo Ryberg
    Jul 15, 2010

    In your expanded digging machine scenario, this becomes a dilemma on two completely different spectra.

    As one expands a problem so that the complexity approaches that of a real life scenario, there will always be more variables to take into account. Sooner or later, there will be too many to evaluate, and the only way to handle this amount of complexity is (for me, at least) to simply make a (to some amount) rationally informed decision on the basis of my gut feeling.

    This does not change my point, though. The decision is still existant within the boundaries of a closed system, since a goal is established, and there is in theory still a best decision. The only problem is that it is humanly impossible to take every variable into account.

    What this kind of situation can do, though, except for raising the amount of variables, is to give you a valid reason to give your goal another critical examination, to see if it is really defined in the most constructive way possible. Is the most important goal of the project to finish as soon as possible, and spend as little money as possible? If not, one has to reconsider.

    Depending on the situation, there might be more important aspects than getting the work done as quickly as possible. If you have a team that has bonded in a very good way, this might be useful later on.

    In this specific scenario, I would probably somehow involve this team in the activity of buying a new machine. I have learned that people in general are more willing to agree to change if they are involved in the process and have a say in the decision making process.

  6. Tobias Wallin (Mentation Away)
    Jul 16, 2010

    Any real life situation is of course based on a closed system as there are a number of important variables to take into account. Like you I rationalize the situation trying to imagine as many scenarios as I can, but I use my gut feeling to make the final decision.

    I get your point I guess and I agree with it, but it doesn’t really play into my initial thoughts about there being no right or wrong, or even one objective way to look at the usefulness of something.

    For the sake of arguments, let’s assume that there’s two different kinds of people in this world. The rational and the emotional, (this idea is of course preposterous in reality). These people would have very different views on the world.

    If the case as in your digging example did have two scenarios, one would be the most useful way and the other would be the less useful way. If we assume both of these persons to be intelligent people then they would always choose the objectively most useful way of course. If there is an objective truth then it would per definition mean that both parties would agree on it, if they had different opinions then I’m sure there would be good reasons for both views and hence there wouldn’t be an objective truth.

    I get that you want to make a point that something can indeed objectively be measured by it’s usefulness in relation to the system which that “something” interacts with. I absolutely agree with you there.

    But, the main point I wanted to communicate was that the world, or the mind for that matter will never be a closed system which we can fully understand because we live within it. We need to look at a system from the outside if we hope to objectively judge something within the the system.

    You wrote that any real life situations has more variables than anyone can comprehend, so we can’t possibly hope to objectively rationalize something when we can’t be sure we’ve accounted for all the variables of the situations. I would argue that it would be impossible to account for every possible variable relating to any given situation as the situation in it self is part of the system we exist within, thus we can never fully understand it.

    Luckily us human beings have lot’s of functions and algorithms in the mind for handling our lives, the rational thinking is one of them. The instinct or gut feeling we two can refer to is another one which I personally like to explain as the subconscious. People with a more emotional way of thinking might have other algorithms for handling thought and sensory input that we’re not aware of, it sure seems like that would be the case, even their instinct seems to work differently.

    This might not exactly be an argument against your views, rather an elaboration on what I meant with my last quote. Still, you argue that there is an objective usefulness by suggesting a hypothetical scenario with a predetermined number of variables. I would objectively (:P) argue that life could never include such a scenario, it could only include a case where we _think_ we’ve accounted for every possible variable.

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