Exploring the MBTI and Myers Briggs Personality Types and applications | Personality Pathways

Personality Types: Development & Myers-Briggs MBTI theory

The Faces of Personality Type Development
By Ross Reinhold, INTJ

This article is an introduction to a system for understanding the dynamics of personal growth and personality development, using the language and concepts developed by Carl Jung, Isabel Myers, Katharine Briggs and the personality system that has developed around the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)*.

The Faces model is based on the theory of eight mental functions, developed by John Beebe, Harold Grant and other Jungian theorists. Readers unfamiliar with this theory can obtain an introduction by reading the Ken Green article in the "Best of the Bulletin of Psychological Type" (Volume 1, Chapter 2). The Appendix at the end of this article also will be helpful.

The discovery of this system occurred in bits and pieces of insight from working with clients undergoing career transitions and my increasing understanding of the interplay of opposites that is fundamental to Carl Jung's work.

If you are a relative newbie to Personality Type, here's some recommended readings:

The "Faces" article below was originally written for the "Bulletin of Psychological Type" and an audience quite familiar with Myers-Briggs and Jung Personality Type Theory.


Hey, Let's Go Explore Myers Briggs Personality TypesWhat is My Myers Briggs Personality Type?

Take our online self-scoring "Personality Test" and learn more about Personality Types & the MBTI.

* While commonly referred to as the Briggs Myers personality test, Myers Briggs Test or the MBTI test, the MBTI ® is not a personality test but a personality inventory or instrument in which there are no right or wrong answers.

ENFP MBTI type FacesTwo-Faces
The idea of a duality in character or personality is not new in psychology, literature, nor our everyday relationships with people. I suspect most everyone has at some time "been of two minds" over a situation - caught in a struggle between two contradictory impulses or courses of action, each having strong appeal, yet coming from different sides of our nature. And who has not discovered that many people display a different nature "once you get to know" them? Likewise, the idea is well accepted that many people have a distinctly different public and private persona.

Yet this duality of our nature has been largely overshadowed by real or fictional cases involving abnormal extremes. Robert Louis Stevenson helped nudge this along in the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. The dramatic portrayal by Joanne Woodward of the Three Faces of Eve is another example as is the pejorative declaration that "so and so" is "two-faced."

The penchant of conventional psychology to identify personality traits along a unwell/well scale helped "abnormalize" our dual nature. Having more than one "personality" is considered a disorder: Multiple Personality Disorder. At the sub-clinical level, while not considered serious clinically, showing "two different faces" is not healthy. Being "two-faced" is considered not a good thing to be!

Yet Having Two Faces is Normal
This assertion stems from Carl Jung's discovery that all people have both an extraverted and introverted nature. Yet, again, the influence of trait psychology has clouded this distinction by converting the preferences into a scale, with I at one extreme and E at the other and a midpoint in between. So it has been seductively easy to fall into the trap of classifying people along this scale depending on which side of the midpoint a person fell. Even serious students of psychological type and admirers of Isabel Myers are guilty of talking about Introverts and Extroverts - as if Introverts have no extraverted nature and Extraverts have no introverted nature.

In commenting on this modern day distortion of his mother's work at a conference in the Spring of 2000, Peter Myers was quoted as saying: "There are no extraverts. There are 8 functions." He further explained that his mother was forced to linearize MBTI type preferences in scale form because all the statistics at the time applied to traits.

The eight functions Peter Myers' referenced are: the introverted and extraverted expressions of the four Jungian mental functions of Sensing, Intuition, Thinking, and Feeling. The shorthand designations of these functions use the lower case "e" or "i" to distinguish the two different expressions. Thus Se is extraverted sensing and Si is introverted sensing. These eight functions are described in Chapter 8 of Gifts Differing and were originally drawn by Peter's grandmother - Katherine Briggs - from her reading of Jung's Psychological Types.

The Myers-Briggs Personality Type Letters Are Not Additive
The four MBTI type letters are too often misconstrued as the component parts of a whole as in INTJ = I+N+T+J. Wherein in reality INTJ is the code designation for a distinct pattern of how the 8 functions interact and result in a "whole type." The longhand version of this code would write out the order of the 8 functions from most dominant and conscious to most inferior and unconscious. Thus INTJ refers to the following pattern of mental functions: Ni, Te, Fi, Se, Ne, Ti, Fe, and Si. Expressed in this way, the wholeness of type, in encompassing all the functions and attitudes is more evident.

Later in this article, I'll discuss how this unique pattern of functions relates to personality development and psychological growth.

True personality type is hidden
Because of the influence of "trait" psychology on how we think about personality, it is easy for the type practitioner to lose sight of the fact that Jung's theory of types is not based on observable traits or behavior.

When we talk about Type, we are actually talking about something that is hidden beneath the collection of traits and behaviors we think about when using the term personality. A person's "Type" may be something we can infer from traits and behaviors, yet we cannot directly observe it. If we examine the root of the word personality ("persona") we discover it means "mask." So the origin of the term suggests the early philosopher-psychologists believed the real self was hidden beneath the mask of personality.

When we observe in others consistent patterns of behavior, we are seeing, not type itself, but the influence of what I call the Faces of Type. The Faces are pair patterns of Judging and Perceiving mental functions (ST, SF, NT & NF). There is a unique combination associated with each type. Each of the 16 types has two primary Type Faces (derived from the fact that each of us responds to both E and I energy sources): a more public outer-energized face and a more private inner-energized one.

While these faces hide the true type, they are not masks in the sense of being false because they are a part of the overall Gestalt of type. They are extrapolations of our type. While our Myers-Briggs Type is a lifelong constant, the Type Faces are the building blocks of a maturing and developing personality.

Personality Type Faces and Archetypes
Jungian analyst John Giannini (Compass of the Soul:Archetypical Guides to a Fuller Life, 2004) believes the four primary pairings of judging and perceiving mental functions (ST, SF, NF, and NT) represent the fundamental Jungian archetypes of the Briggs & Myers' model. These 4 basic archetypes can be expanded to 16 by having them be expressed in either the E or I attitude and by which of the two functions in the pair takes the lead (is the principle function). For example, when ST is introverted it plays out somewhat differently than when it is extraverted; likewise when the coupling is reversed in order with Thinking predominant (TS) we get two more variations on the general theme of the pairing of Sensing-Thinking.

While these four primary archetypes are imprinted in the psyche of everyone, the unique patterns of the 16 types will favor expression of these these four primary archetypes in an order characteristic to each type. I chose to call these archetypical expressions "Faces" because I think the average person is more familiar with the notion of people having more than one "face" than they are with the more sophisticated and mystical sounding word "archetype."

How are the particular patterns of Personality Type Faces determined?
Our 2 primary faces are anchored by our two most preferred mental functions, indicated by the middle two type letters. One anchors the extraverted face, the other the introverted face. The remaining two mental functions are aligned in a complimentary and supporting role to more fully define the two primary faces. So each Face has both a judging and a perceiving function.

The diagrams below illustrates this pattern for ENFP.

Myers-Briggs Personality FacesENFP Myers-Briggs Personality Type

This same pattern could be depicted in table. The right column represents the "E" energized face (NeTe); while the left column identifies the "I" energized face (FiSi).*

ENFP Type Faces
Introverted Extraverted

F

N

S

T

ENFP

* The subscripts "i" and "e" appended to the mental function letters signify the "introverted" or "extraverted" expression of the mental function. Thus Fe is extraverted Feeling; Fi is introverted Feeling.

Personality Type Paradoxes - An I/ENFP example
These natural changes and growth in adults account for the apparent paradoxes we sometimes observe in people of all types. Development of the NeTe face of INFPs accounts for the "coolness" and "detachment" we sometimes observe in them. INFP mid-life changes, such as an increasing desire to organize and take charge of one's life or to stop being used as a doormat by others, are consistent with this developing outer NT. Some INFPs have become quite proficient in masking their "true feelings" with their NT face. This same facility in their ENFP cousins has them able to mimic ENTJ stereotypical behavior. They can assume control, take charge of a situation, make the hard decisions, and move on with their job. They can have masterly control over lawyer-speak, slicing careful nuances in meaning and logic. Even though they prefer Feeling over Thinking, they can become and are competent attorneys.The NeTe face on ENFPs and INFPs also explains why these two types are among the top four types having home pages on the Internet (From data on Doug Ingram's Personality Index page. The other two top four types are INTJ and INTP). While NFPs are people-oriented folks, many are drawn to latest technology and technological gadgetry of all sorts - which I ascribe to their extraverted NT face.

Let's look at the other primary I/ENFP face (SF). The SF pattern suggests a persona more consistent with the "traits" frequently ascribed to ENFPs - the warm, fun and people loving side of their personality who can very much live in and enjoy the moment. INFPs more typically keep the SF face hidden, yet it provides the energy for their participation in helping professions, all kinds of nurturing activities, and their interest in performing arts and arts and crafts work in general.

I/ENFP Type Faces
Introverted Extraverted

F

N

S

T

INFP Personality TypeENFP Personality Type

I/ENFPs who have developed both their NT and SF faces can present a capricious image of contradictions. They can engage in logical dialogue at a conceptual level (NT) and then a short time later engage in actions that seem to fly in the face of that discussion (because their SF nature was engaged). Extraverts seem to be particularly adept at turning either of these faces to the outer world - depending on the circumstances. At one moment, being able to talk and make the big picture, tough decisions and at another moment be warm, fuzzy, or empathetic are two sides of the same NFP coin. Yet this can be disquieting - conjuring up the image of false masks implied by the pejorative term "two-faced."

Another example - INTJ Face
While an ENFP has the basic foundation to develop a rational NT face, within each INTJ type is an inner Idealist (NiFi) waiting to be developed. (see the chart below)

INTJ Personality Type Faces
Introverted Extraverted

N

T

F

S

INTJ


For purposes of example, because her public persona illustrates well, let's assume that Hillary Clinton is a real life INTJ. I suspect few will doubt Ms. Clinton's progressive idealism (author of "It Takes a Village" to raise a child). Early in her introduction to the public at large (in President Clinton's first campaign) we saw her on national TV warmly and supportively "stand by her man" during the questioning about Bill's Jennifer Flowers exploits. And we have also seen her other face - tough, pragmatic, competitive, and reality focused. Her detractors will accuse her of trotting out a particular face depending upon her audience and that she is the consummate politician enthusiastically going whichever way is most expedient for her political ambitions. But I see both natures as genuine parts of the whole. It explains her more temperate response to the Iraq quagmire. While her inner idealist nature is as anti-war as some of the Bush administration's most strident critics, her other nature is a practical realist: the mistake was made, we are there now between a rock and a hard place, with no easy way out.There can be tension between these two natures. When they are well accommodated, you get the kind of behavior we usually associate with INTJs. When they aren't you can get vacillation - which earns the pejorative "two faced" label. Another accommodation that can be a bi-product of healthy growth is when one of the two faces dominates: producing someone who acts quite a lot like an NF type or an ST type.

The Mirror Image Faces (or Shadow functions)
By middle or later age, additional psychological growth may have produced new patterns that are the mirror image of the two primary faces. The "I" face has an "E" reflection and the "E" face has an "I" reflection - as illustrated in the INTJ Chart below. [Beebe refers to these four mirror image functions as the "Shadow."] An INTJ is not only developing an inner NiFi, but also an outer NeFe. Thus, she begins to actually talk the walk and walk the talk. The fourth face, though largely hidden from the outer world, has risen to be more within the conscious awareness and thereby affecting more of the INTJs' conscious behavior. As this fourth face (SiTi) garners more influence, the INTJ may crave a higher degree of inner simplicity and rational order; i.e. a simpler, more orderly, less complex life. Perhaps these changes, overlaying additional faces or new archetypes arising, accounts for the mellowness that seems to frequently come with moving into our senior years.

INTJ Primary Personality Type Faces
Introverted Extraverted

N

T

F

S



INTJ Secondary Personality Type Faces
Introverted Extraverted

T

N

S

F

How can I use an understanding of Personality Type Face Patterns?

Be able to resolve apparent Personality Type Paradoxes. As adults move into and through middle age, personality growth frequently occurs. Since the theory of type is that it is constant and lifelong, these personality growth changes are reflected in the Faces. Different patterns come to the forefront and have more influence. This increasing emphasis of formerly more subtle patterns can produce "traits" and "behavior" in people that seem at odds with what the conventional type descriptions suggest. So by learning the unique "patterns" or "faces" associated with each Type, we can better understand or predict the nature of behavior changes that increasing maturity may bring.

Be guided away from Personality Type Stereotyping. Since the Face patterns include all four mental functions (with their 8 expressions), it helps us "see" more of the whole person and avoid the stereotyping we sometimes fall into . . . i.e. talking about Thinking preference people as if they have no developed Feeling side to their personality or implying Sensing preference people lack Intuition by expressing "wonder" when they demonstrate creativity.

Better Understand Mid-life Changes. The maturing Faces can also be the prime-mover behind mid-life stresses and changes people undergo, as in the cases of people driven to explore new careers and life styles. Without judging whether such changes are helpful or not, the dynamics of the Faces model will better trace instances when the roots of these "new" impulses lead back to a person's core type. This context "normalizes" the impulses for change, allowing them to be weighed and contemplated in a more evenhanded manner.

Growing Outside the Box. For some people becoming aware of type is a path towards rediscovery of the core of their self. Life circumstances may have knocked them far off their personal course so the rediscovery and reorienting becomes a personally fulfilling journey. In contrast, there are others who find the idea of being placed in one of the 16 type boxes confining. They like the idea of working outside their box. And there is some evidence to suggest that increasing maturity brings a greater desire to make such changes.The Faces model provides a pattern or road map for such development, illustrating how a person's non-preferred functions can be developed in a holistic manner.

Expand our Communication Bridges with Other Types. The maturing Faces also expand our ability to communicate with people whose type differs significantly from our own. Some people instinctively learn to use these different faces when working with people they recognize as being of an essentially different type. A consummate politician, who can connect with a broad range of people, knows when to put on which face. This is like a multi-lingual person who easily switches languages to match the person with whom he is conversing.

While many of us have the latent talent to "talk" or "listen" a different type language, we have yet to develop it for one reason or another. Using the Faces model helps demonstrate that these latent talents exist, providing both a road map and an incentive to reach across the barriers between people of markedly different types.

Conclusion: A New Gestalt is Needed
In teaching type, it is current practice to break down the Gestalt of personality type into the individual elements of the functions and attitudes and examine their influence independently of one another. For younger people, whose patterns have not evolved, perhaps this has the most value. Yet for maturing adults, we need to give more emphasis to the interactions of the four functions and in particular to the constellations-the patterns of the developing faces- that are an integral, but changing part, of the Gestalt of Psychological Type.

Afterword
The Type Faces model evolved as a means of explaining the observed patterns of behavior in people that seem not directly drawn from the four letters of their type. I coined the term, Type Faces, because I was unable to find an existing model that incorporated the interaction of mental functions in their respective attitudes. Most type literature discuss the functions as individual elements or the interaction of functions without respect to the attitude (E or I). Yet consider that among Jung's most influential contributions to general psychology is the E/I concept and the importance of gestalt. Some Type practitioners, in attempting to communicate with a world trained to trait psychology and to the practice of examining the parts rather than the whole, have slipped further away from Jung and Katherine Briggs who viewed the 16 types as representing 16 different paths to development.

Appendix:Charting the Patterns of Myers-Briggs Personality Type Faces
The following tables may help readers unfamiliar with the hierarchy* of mental functions determine their own Type Face patterns. Lower case "e" refers to an Extraverted Orientation; lower case "i" indicates an Introverted Orientation of the mental function.

Consult the following table to determine the hierarchy of the four functions for a particular type.

Hierarchy or Order of Preference

Myers Briggs type

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

5th

6th

7th

8th

ENFP

Ne

Fi

Te

Si

Ni

Fe

Ti

Se

INFJ

Ni

Fe

Ti

Se

Ne

Fi

Te

Si

ESTP

Se

Ti

Fe

Ni

Si

Te

Fi

Ne

ISTJ

Si

Te

Fi

Ne

Se

Ti

Fe

Ni

ENTJ

Te

Ni

Se

Fi

Ti

Ne

Si

Fe

INTP

Ti

Ne

Si

Fe

Te

Ni

Se

Fi

ESFJ

Fe

Si

Ne

Ti

Fi

Se

Ni

Te

ISFP

Fi

Se

Ni

Te

Fe

Si

Ne

Ti

ENTP

Ne

Ti

Fe

Si

Ni

Te

Fi

Se

INTJ

Ni

Te

Fi

Se

Ne

Ti

Fe

Si

ESFP

Se

Fi

Te

Ni

Si

Fe

Ti

Ne

ISFJ

Si

Fe

Ti

Ne

Se

Fi

Te

Ni

ESTJ

Te

Si

Ne

Fi

Ti

Se

Ni

Fe

ISTP

Ti

Se

Ni

Fe

Te

Si

Ne

Fi

ENFJ

Fe

Ni

Se

Ti

Fi

Ne

Si

Te

INFP

Fi

Ne

Si

Te

Fe

Ni

Se

Ti

tri Click Here to Print out the Hierarchy of Myers Briggs Preferences for your reference.

*Hierarchy Explained

Some educators use the a numbering system and the term "hierarchy" to refer the arrangement of the functions with respect to one another. This sometimes implies a normal developmental sequence or an ordering of mastery of the functions - which is a conclusion that early proponents of the 8 Function model, like Beebe and Grant, would not agree is the case. To avoid this leap of logic, it may be more instructive to visualize the functions in their attitudes arranged in a circle, like a clock or a compass. What is #1 in the "hierarchy" should be placed due North; its opposite, #8 in the hierarchy, should be placed due south. #2 in the hierarchy can be placed at the Northeast point; its opposite, #7 in the hierarchy, would be placed at the Southwest point. #3 could be placed Northeast and its opposite - #6 placed Southwest. #4 and #5 would be placed East and West respectively.

The top half of the compass would represent the more conscious mental functions; the bottom the more unconscious functions. Those on the East-West axis are in the gray area: semi-conscious. Most buried in the unconscious is the mental function lying in the 8th position.

redFor More on Carl Jung's Theory of Psychological Types, See "Lenore Thomson on Personality Type & Carl Jung"

redTYPE FACE DIAGRAMS for all 16 Personality Types
spacerSee our article THE PATTERNS OF PERSONALITY TYPE type faces

arrow About the MBTI - An introduction to the basic model of Personality Type

arrow Go Here to Learn more about The Myers Briggs Test *

® MBTI, Myers-Briggs, Meyers Briggs, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Trust in the United States and other countries (aka meyers briggs or myers briggs).

*While sometimes referred to as the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, the Briggs Myers personality test, Myers Briggs Test or the MBTI test, the MBTI ® is not a personality test but a personality inventory or instrument in which there are no right or wrong answers.

Introduction to Myers-Briggs Personality Type & MBTIPersonality Type Development & Type Dynamics
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© Published by Ross Reinhold & Reinhold Development 1997 - 2014

 




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