Like the spices found in a cook’s pantry, personality type can be compared to different kinds of food. Each brings a distinct flavor and essence to each individual, making them all unique. Studying personality types doesn’t mean putting people in boxes. It means understanding the different ways that individuals interact with each other and the world.

 

In essence, personality typing is the process of identifying people according to their emotional, interpersonal and experiential patterns. These patterns can be understood through a variety of models and theories. One of the most widely used is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which divides personalities into 16 types based upon four dichotomies. These are: extraversion vs. introversion, intuition vs. sensing, thinking vs. feelings, and judging vs. perception.

Each letter in the Myers-Briggs system plays an important role in determining how people perceive challenges and relate to others. Someone who identifies themselves as an INTJ will often be seen as a planner and strategist, always eager to tackle new and complicated problems.

A compelling framework to consider is the Big Five Personality Traits Model. This model evaluates individuals based on their five broad dimensions of openness to experience (sometimes referred to as OCEAN): conscientiousness; extraversion; agreeableness; and neuroticism. This model has a high level of adaptability to cultures other than the United States and is able to predict a variety of life outcomes, such as job performance or interpersonal relationships.

Sometimes, discussing personality types can make you feel as if you are reading an horoscope. The results may be vaguely accurate but still intriguing. But unlike horoscopes these personality assessments are supported by scientific research. They can help us understand the differences between people who are outgoing and those who prefer to be alone.

Take extraversion as an example. It is not only about being outgoing and shy. It is about where people draw their energy, from others or alone.

It gets even more interesting: no two extraverts or introverts are the same! Extraversion is a spectrum, with many shades from bright yellows for outgoingness up to softer warm hues.

The nuances of each personality are fascinating. Take the difference between ‘perceiving and judging.’ The people who tend to lean toward perceiving may not be indecisive, but they might enjoy spontaneity. They keep their schedules open for the sake of freedom. On the flip side, those with a tendency towards judging could find enjoyment in structure – they’re often the ones that have lists within lists!

Conflicts? Interpersonal dynamics can be dramatically altered by knowing whether someone tends to think more or feel more. Thinkers will often use logic to resolve conflicts, while feelers are more likely to focus on the emotional impact of their decisions.

To use idioms, let’s say that navigating the personality types isn’t “a walk in the park.” At times, it’s more like “herding kittens” — complex but rewarding!

Take this example: Two friends planned an event with me once. One of them was an ESTJ, (Extraverted Sensing Feeling Judging), and the other one was an INFP. They clashed, that’s an understatement. While one person viewed rigid schedules as a hindrance to creativity, another saw the creative possibilities that were missed when not allowing things to flow. Understanding their differences helped them maximize their strengths resulting in a beautifully balanced event!

The next time someone’s reactions or preferences puzzle you, consider that it’s probably a personality theory at work. Understanding personality types not only helps us to tolerate differences but it also allows us to celebrate them, turning our everyday interactions into colorful tapestries of human experience.

Every person has a universe inside them, shaped by a complex blend of genetic factors and cultural historical influences. This makes studying personalities an endlessly fascinating journey to discover empathy connection.