Presenting Type Dynamically
Jeanne Marlowe, M.A. INFP

An earlier version of this article appeared in the Journal for Psychological Type, Volume 47 (1998), pp. 35-41.

Summary: By making type dynamics visible, a new type chart simplifies the task of the presenter, encourages discussion, and alleviates concerns about stereotyping and determinism. Introductory workshops can incorporate type dynamics in identifying type preferences. A new type chart gives the presenter greater flexibility in pointing out and organizing meaningful patterns revealed spontaneously during discussion and type exercises. Participants see type operating in their daily lives and discover useful applications.

Introductory workshops ranging from 45 minutes to 2 days can present the dynamics of psychological type and make clear that type is a useful hypothesis that needs to be checked against a person's own experience. The following presentation, which can be easily adapted to diverse participants, stimulates interest and a desire to apply type information even when there is insufficient time to administer an instrument. Few visual aids or handouts are required because the participants make most of the points, showing the reality of type instead of the presenter telling. The presenter provides the structure, asks questions to elicit experience, and points out patterns. Rather than being put off by the complexity of type dynamics, all types express appreciation for type's usefulness and see applications in their daily lives.

I have used this approach in many settings: 45-minute open forums, 1-2 hour ongoing group meetings, 2-hour presentations to professional associations, 4-hour workshops for coworkers, 1- and 2-day workshops with diverse participants.

A new type chart
(click here to see chart)

The top row doesn’t need to be moved to the bottom of the chart, but having two versions reinforces Myers'(1980) view that the table can be regarded as a cylinder capable of rolling both horizontally and vertically. With advanced type users, I ask: What is the advantage of this layout?

Before I began using this type chart in 1992, people sometimes objected to stereotyping and spent too much time on the four dichotomies. I was concerned that type would be seen as another form of determinism, attributing to fate what was in our power to manage or casting others into procrustean beds. I devised the type chart as a way to acknowledge ambiguity and limitations. I wanted type to give people more choices and useful hypotheses. l wanted them to use these hypotheses to zero in on the right questions but not to assume they knew the answers. For example, rather than labeling people as introverts and assuming they prefer to learn a task by reading, I wanted participants to see the value of asking in a specific situation whether the person prefers learning the task at hand by reading or talking it through with someone.

The chart suggests there is more to consider than the four dichotomies. Sometimes the dominant is the key, sometimes the J-P dichotomy, and sometimes what is hidden. The chart is essential because it makes dynamics immediately visible and stimulates questions that lead into the manageable units outlined in this article. Depending on the time available, the presenter can choose the parts that best fit participants' interests and questions. Always point out, however, that the occupational titles merely suggest work that may attract each type and are intended as an aid to understanding each type’s approach to life. They should never be used for hiring decisions or career planning and are not intended as a restriction or stereotype. I also acknowledge that most people dislike being labeled.

A new generation of type users

A new generation of type users has grown up with the Internet. The widespread dissemination of culturally diverse literature, films, and blogs has primed them to relate their personal experience and see the value of multiple perspectives. For many clients generating this dialogue is as important as determining best fit type. They are interested in exploring and honoring the complexity of individual experience. We can encourage this dialogue by asking the right questions and presenting relevant research.

For example, with a hospice organization, I formed function pair groups—ST, SF, NF, and NT—and asked them to discuss, “How would you prefer to have bad news broken to you?” Then I gave them typical responses from the research of Judy Allen and Susan Brock (2000). They correctly identified the ST, SF, NF, and NT responses, even when they didn’t agree that they accurately reflected their own experience.

Because many workshop participants have had experience with a type instrument, either online or in a workshop, I try to build upon rather than repeat their experience. Sometimes I use the Cognitive Style Inventory, available free online. Its informality encourages tentative hypotheses, and its accuracy can be explored by the usual division into preference groupings. In my experience, it has proved compatible with the MBTI instrument.

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Jeanne Marlowe, M.A. INFP
Consultant, Writer and Facilitator


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