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So… what got ME interested in personality types?

September 27, 2012

From a question someone posted on one of the boards.

One day almost eight years ago, my wife hands me this questionnaire, as part of this Christian psychological service she was getting a license in. I remember her rushing me through it, telling me to put down the first thing that comes to mind (choices 1-6, from lowest to highest in identifying with the trait the question is asking you about) and not think about it too much. (I still have the questionnaire, The Arno Profile System Response Form; really a specially designated FIRO-B instrument, and it was dated 10-28-04).

So then the results came back, and I had just gotten home from work, and was eating some chicken cutlets she just sauteed, and she explained to me temperament, and this new temperament, called Supine that I fell into. (I had never even heard the word before; it meant “lying on the back with the hands outstretched”, and I had run across the words “sanguine” and “melancholy” occasionally, but didn’t know what they meant. “Sanguine” reminded me of sangria —and they are directly related; and “melancholy” I could tell was an adjective for an emotional state, but I thought it meant happy, because it rhymed with “jolly”, the way I heard it pronounced!)
I was also this other temperament, Choleric (also never heard of), which explained my stubbornness, and not becoming too much of a passive doormat in life.

Our best friend was Melancholy (mostly Compulsive), and this explained why she was so quiet and not usually wanting to be bothered with people. My wife thought for sure I was Melancholy, because I look like it on the surface. But that’s how the new temperament is, and perhaps why it went unrecognized for so long.

OK, whatever.
It was when she began testing my family (also Melancholy), and other close friends that it began explaining the dynamics of my relationships.
I also began seeing the symmetrical matrix patterns (introversion vs extroversion, and people vs task focus), that got me really hooked into it.

I had remembered my father explaining introversion and extroversion once, in my teens or so. (Stuff like this was found nowhere near the schools I went to, including college). Among the extroverts, I also noticed some were more “serious”, and some more “light and airy”.

So this temperament system explained all of this. It also divided temperament into the three areas, social (Inclusion), leadership (Control) and deep personal relationships (Affection), in which personality was divided.

So over the next couple of years I got really active into it, contributing information to the Wikipedia article on temperament, trying to get my wife to test other friends, or at least trying to figure out what everyone was.

In ’06, a friend approaches us with the Keirsey Sorter II online, and we take it, both getting NF at first, and then when paying, got the full code, ENFJ. It sounded a bit more like her, but not me at all. Though J/P was divided 50/50 for me.

I had read of MBTI and the four dichotomies before (likely before I even got into temperament to begin with), but with four dimensions, it was so complicated, and I just passed it by and kept going. But now, I really wanted to know how it fit with the system I was into. (I didn’t realize Keirsey and MBTI were two different things at that point).

The 16 types did look like some sort of temperament combos, with E/I as pretty much the same “social” dimension as it was in APS temperament. T/F (Thinking/Feeling) and J/P (Judging/Perceiving) looked like the other dimension, of “responsiveness” (people/task), but I could not for the life of me figure how it fit.
All I could figure, was that ExFP looked Sanguine (ESFJ also), ExTJ was Choleric, ExTP’s both looked like mixtures of both Sanguine and Choleric, IxTJ was Melancholy and IxFx looked Supine. I couldn’t figure out what exactly the IxTP’s were. (Perhaps some sort of Phlegmatic and/or Melancholy).

S/N (Sensing/iNtuition) was totally foreign to me. (In APS, a “sensory” focus is mentioned for the Sanguine, and if you look long enough, you’ll find the Choleric in Control described as “intuitive”, but S/N is not presented as a temperament factor. So I wondered how it corresponded, and what the differences between those types differing only in that dimension were). Also foreign was Keirsey’s Cooperative/Pragmatic.
Also, Keirsey said the “Artisan” was the Sanguine (in APS, “artistry” is associated with the Melancholy, but I didn’t realize “artisan” had a somewhat different meaning), and that the Idealist was Choleric. (Idealist seemed almost the opposite).

Looking for information on the 16 type system, I ended up on a Yahoo list on Keirsey temperament. I hadn’t even identified a type for myself yet. (Though I knew some form of NP was most likely), but I did learn more about the temperaments (including Keirsey’s justification for making NF Choleric and NT Phlegmatic), as well as the Interaction Styles™ (and other parts of Linda Berens’ “Multiple Models™” theory, such as the structure/motive cross-factor for the Keirsey groups), which were the main key for my correlation. I was also greatly aided by this site: http://www.rogerbissell.com/achillestendencies (and he was also a member of that list).

2-11-07, my correlation was complete; Keirsey temperaments were APS’ “Control” (with NF as Supine or Phlegmatic, and NT as the true Choleric; Cooperative/Pragmatic was basically the analogue of I/E for that area, while S/N  ended up tying together opposite temperaments), and Interaction Styles were “Inclusion”; and it suggested INTP for me. When I began reading its profiles in this light (especially Paul James and Joe Butt), I now recognized its tendencies as fitting me.

The list also included discussion of the John Beebe archetype model, which made use of all eight function-attitudes and not just dominant to inferior, and was very intriguing. Especially when it was used in a way to suggest ENFP for me (another type I had seen some possible identification with, but it was too “Sanguine”), I then set out to learn that system.

I had by that point learned how the dominant and auxiliary shape the “blended temperament” behavior I had identified in the types, and I was just beginning to eye how the tertiary affects it. (Like if “TJ is the most directive and FP is the most friendly” as the achilles site says, then what does it mean for the EFP’s to have this “directive” Te (extraverted Thinking) in third place right after their aux. Fi? This I would figure out much later).

So I developed my understanding of that as I went on, and here I am today!

(Just amazing at how I am so into this now, but only a few years ago, it started as just another questionnaire, like many I had seen before, and that I was probably a bit irritable for having to interrupt my routine to stop and fill out).

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