In “Discovering your Personality Type” we examined why people might want to know about their particular personality type with a promise to delve into some of the methods people use to help define or enhance their understanding of who they are and how they relate to the world and people around them.
The first and most commonly used personality testing criteria is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).
The MBTI is based on Carl Jung’s philosophy that each person’s individual personality works in a hierarchical intellectual fashion. The most important aspect of a person’s personality is the “dominant” function, with “auxiliary”, “tertiary”, and “inferior” functions following in order of importance in a person’s life.
Carl Jung was the first to identify four cognitive functions, and these are the basis for the MBTI.
In the 1940s, Isabel Briggs Myers devised the MBTI as a way of applying Carl Jung’s theories to the ordinary person’s life. Myers believed that “[w]hatever the circumstances of your life, the understanding of type can make your perceptions clearer, your judgments sounder, and your life closer to your heart’s desire” (www.myersbriggs.org). The basic theory is that our random behaviors are really not so random. They are based on an individual’s perception and judgment. “Perception involves all the ways of becoming aware of things, people, happenings, or ideas. Judgment involves all the ways of coming to conclusions about what has been perceived. If people differ systematically in what they perceive and in how they reach conclusions, then it is only reasonable for them to differ correspondingly in their interests, reactions, values, motivations, and skills.”
Mental Processes versus Mental Orientations
The MBTI sets out to determine which of two kinds of mental processes through which a person naturally engages their world, and which of two kinds of mental orientations.
Mental processes are those ways in which a person “perceives” or takes in information, and makes “judgments” or decisions.