Skip to content

Keirsey’s last two books: Brains and Careers and Personology. Review of his final type model

April 14, 2017

Here I put together a review of both of these final books from David Keirsey. He had obviously decided to completely revamp his theory, and in the process, move further away from mainstream MBTI-based typology concepts.

Brains and Careers was released in 2008, and on the website, it was mentioned that there were now four “roles of interaction”: “Initiator”, “Contender” “Coworker”, “Responder”, which made some of us excited, as these corresponded to Berens’ Interaction styles (she herself seemed interested when I first reported this on a Keirsey temperament list). It was about $20 (and eventually went up to $30), and with money problems, seemed too much to try to buy then.
Nobody else we knew seemed to have gotten it.

Two years later (2010), he released another book called Personology. The term was actually coined in the first book, as a section on “the Nine Personologists” (Hippocrates, Plato, Aristotle, Paraclesus, Adickes, Spränger, Kretschmer, Fromm and Myers) and so now became the title of the followup book.
I got this one right away (and it was cheaper), and seeing how different the concepts were (even some of the new concepts, like two of the roles of interaction, were already changed), had to wonder how different it was from B&C. We began hearing it was just a “rewrite”, which I now see is somewhat true.

I was slow in buying books, and probably not too long before B&C came out had just gotten Berens’ books and wouldn’t get his older books until around this time, two years later. It was actually this new book that raised my interest in Portraits of Temperament, to see if he had actually introduced the interaction roles there, but that book is only where he introduced the factor that would divide the temperaments into eight groups, and then be picked up by Berens first, to create the four new groups, and now in these two books finally picked up by Keirsey, but with a bit of a twist, as we shall explore.

So the basic concepts were set in place in the first book, but now just modified a bit. Still, having not seen the book, and thinking he changed too much in this one, this raised interest in the previous book. I didn’t want to spend so much on it, and it took a while before I could catch one under $10 on Amazon (and even then, on the first several tries, something would always go wrong with the order or shipment and it would be cancelled, or I get the wrong book)

These would be his final books, as three years later (July 30, 2013) he passed away.

The radical changes from before

It seems he has completely dropped all type codes now. He briefly mentions the letters/functions in his description of Myers’ theory as part of the “history of temperament” in the appendix of the first book and the opening chapter of the second. But for the rest of the books, he goes purely by names. And at that, many of them have changed since previous books!

There is a heavy focus on what were known as “skills sets” (Diplomatic, Logistical, Strategic, Tactical), used more than the official temperament names.
Also, an alternative set of descriptive names used with these: Enablers, Safekeepers, Builders, Manipulators.

Keirsey also uses the four card suits to represent the temperaments:
♦ diamonds: Artisans
♥ hearts: Idealists
♠ spades: Guardians
♣ clubs: Rationals

There’s also a temperament/role matrix for each type, with the roles as the horizontal rows and the temperaments as the vertical columns. The type being profiled is in upper right position and is more likely to play the role of the type in the row or column in descending order. INTP “Accomodating Strategist” [again, names are used, not the type code] will more easily play the role of fellow Rational ENTP than the lower down Rationals the NTJ’s. It will be the same for fellow “Accomodators” ISFP, followed by INFP and ISFJ. The type in the far lower right corner will be the ESTJ, the Initiating Logistician.

He also renames several of the key factors.
Cooperative becomes “Compliant” and Pragmatic becomes “Adaptive“. (These are the “keys“)
The handy “role-informative/role-directive” factor introduced in Portraits of Temperament(and formed the basis of Berens’ Interaction Styles, which were the most helpful in my correlation of type with classic temperament) are now renamed “Enterprising” and “Inquiry” (“Role playing”), and again in the second book, “Reactive” and “Proactive“.

This results in four “Frames“, which are 2×2 matrices of:
Methods” Compliant/Adaptive + Immediate/Remote, yielding the four “Character” skills sets names
“Roles” Enterprise/Inquiry + Interlink/Intersect, yielding the four interaction roles
“Word Use”: Definitive/Normative, + the old “Concrete/Abstract” forming “Pictorial, Factorial, Orthodox and Metaphoric”
“Tool Use” Facility/Mechanism + Simple/Complex; yielding “Storing, Steering, Nurturing and Levering”.
(These last two sets are also alternate terms for the temperament groups; Guardian=”Orthodox” and “Storing”; Rational=”Factorial” and “Levering”, Artisan=”Pictorial” and “Steering”, and Idealist=”Metaphoric” and “Nurturing”).

He even crosses Proactive/Reactive, with Compliant/Adaptive (that is, an “interaction” factor with a temperament factor!) creating four groups comprising of (not using the letters, of course) STJ/NFJ, NTJ/STP, NFP/SFJ, and NTP/SFP.

With all these new names and combinations all over the place, it takes time to remember what’s what.

He for all purposes has completely dropped the four dichotomies of the type code (expressive/reserved; concrete/abstract, toughminded/friendly, and scheduling/probing).. “Concrete/Astract” seem to be mentioned only as part of the alternate “Word Use” frame. E/I is referred to once in each book (p.357 and 321, respectively), as “expressive” vs “attentive”, as part of the “Word usage synonyms of three dimensions of human interaction”.
Replacing it in the interaction role matrix is what corresponds to the “Process/Outcome” cross-factor Berens had introduced for the Interaction Styles, called “Interlinking vs Intersecting“, which ties together I/E—D/Inf “opposites”.

Interlinking: the role of one person is related to the role of another such as to be linked or fit together. Such as when one person directs, and the other does as directed.

Intersecting: When we line up opposite of opponents, and besides proponents, the roles intersect; each person intent upon their own agenda. Such as in any competition where we side with our team mates, and oppose the opposite team.

I find these to be accurate. The first would represent the way the Choleric (expressive/directive; “Initiator”) likes to lead, and the Supine (reserved/informative; “Responder” or “Accomodator”) likes to follow. (In APS, it’s further revealed that the negative side of this is that the Choleric comes to despise those he leads, while the Supine feels unacknowledged and used).

With the second, both sides are doing the same thing (as opposed to one leading and the other following) yet having different (opposing) agendas.
The expressive and responsive (“Coworker” or “Collaborator”) Sanguine will be very social, while the reserved and resistant Melancholy (“Contender”) will tend to want to be left alone. Both are basically “doing their own thing”, rather than following or leading.
They may clash, if the expressive (Sanguine) approaches the reserved (Melancholy), and the latter resists.

(So the three dimensions appear together in this one table of lists, but the rest of the time, only Interlinking/Intersecting and Enterprise/Inquire or Proactive/Reactive are used.
Also, while these are being used for the “affective” groups or “Inclusion area” only; I believe the dynamics also work for the conative temperaments or “Control area” so that the SP and SJ will “intersect” and the NT and NF will “interlink”. Strategy and Diplomacy will interlink as the strategist takes the lead in action, and the Diplomat likes to move others to action, and likewise Tactics and Logistics will intersect. These would simply map onto S-intersect/N-interlink. In Schutz’s original FIRO-B theory, this “interlinking” dynamic is called “Reciprocal compatibility”).

Here I compare the names of type factors and groups that have changed from before, and between the two books.

“Roles of Interaction” and factors:

Previous Brains and Careers Personology
N/A (EST/ENJ) Initiator
N/A (IST/INJ) Contender
N/A (ESF/ENP) Coworker Collaborator*
N/A (ISF/INP) Responder Accomodator*
Cooperative Compliant (with norms)
Pragmatic Adaptive (to Circumstances)
Role Directive Enterpriser (Assert) Proactive (Tell)
Role Informative Inquire(r) Reactive (Ask)
N/A (Berens “Outcome) Interlinking
N/A (Berens “Process” Intersecting
N/A (Berens “Structure”) “annoying”
NA (Berens “Motive”) “contagious”
Expressive/reserved (E/I) Expressive/attentive (deprecated)

*(These now match the corresponding Thomas-Kilmann [TKI] Conflict Modes)

“Intelligence Variants” (now called “Careers“)

Previous Brains and Careers Personology
Conservator (SFJ) Provider
Administrator (STJ) Monitor
Entertainer (SFP) Improvisor
Operator (STP) Expeditor
Advocate (NFP) Interceder Mediator
Mentor (NFJ)
Engineer (NTP) Structurer Constructor
Coordinator (NTJ) Stratifier Coordinator

Types (“career niches“):

Previous Brains and Careers Personology
Provider (ESFJ) Supplier
Protector (ISFJ)
Supervisor (ESTJ)
Inspector (ISTJ)
Performer (ESFP)
Composer (ISFP)
Promoter (ESTP)
Crafter (ISTP)
Champion (ENFP) Advocator Advocate*
Healer (INFP) Conciliator Reconciler
Teacher (ENFJ) Educator
Counselor (INFJ)
Inventor (ENTP) Engineer Modeler
Architect (INTP) Designer*
Fieldmarshal (ENTJ) Mobilizer*
Mastermind (INTJ) Planner Arranger

*(Similar to Berens)

Further comparison of two books:

The books are outlined a bit differently, with the first one having standard chapters on the basic concepts covering the first 90 pages
Then, “Temperament Revisited”, chronicling his earlier three books on the subject, and the evolution of the temperament names. Following this, are the four “books”, containing the lengthy profiles of each of the the temperaments. Then, the Appendix, containing the end note, bibliography, etc. The second book is still similar, but drops the “books” format, but nevertheless begins on “Personology” (the theorists through history, then goes into sections breaking down type into “complying”, “adapting”, “proactive” and “inquiry”.

Tables I see in the first book that were not in the second are “Framing and Keying” (“Overview”, p.10-14), framed around “Compliance” and “adaptation” division of the temperaments (the Plato-based old names are actually “Characters”, drawing from Kretschmer, while “Temperament” in the second row is represented by the descriptions “Enthusiastic, Serious, Tranquil and Excited”), and “Roles—Methods—Careers—Niches” on p.26, which consist of four tetramerous circles; “roles” are the four “interaction” groups; “Methods” are the four “skills sets” representing the temperaments; “Careers” is “Builders, “Enablers” “Savers” and “Handlers”, and “Niches” is “Laboratory”, “Institution”, “storehouse” and “Court”.
Tables and graphs similar in both books show which temperaments, roles, the eight “brain types” are suited to careers or niches.

The colorful “Playing Roles” table on p60 of the first book, showing the eight groups introduced in Portraits of Temperament as “Intelligence Variants” (Now known as the “careers”; corresponding to the last eight letters of type), divided into the two types making up each, and divided by lines representing “Compliant/adaptive” and “enterprise/inquiry”. This leads into the profiles of each type based on a “tree” of “Role Playing” that breaks down into “Enterprise” vs “Inquiry”, which themselves break down into the four roles: “Preemptive” (Initiator), “Competitive” (Contender), “Cooperative” (Coworker) and “Accomodative” (Responder), which then divide between “Compliant” and “Adaptive”, which the divide into the 16 types.
In Personology, the tree is “Role Enactment”, which breaks down into Compliant and adaptive first, then the four temperament skills sets, then the eight “Variants” or “Careers”, and then the 16 types. (This reminds me of the “rings” his son had produced on one of the online sites and was picked up by Wikipedia).

Conclusion:

As others have also felt, it seems to me like he is just rehashing the theories. (and then trying to further refine them, which is introverted Thinking —though he doesn’t believe in functions; and yet, as I myself have seen, can be carried too far and lose readers). Again, all the new names did make it a bit confusing, because I had to remember what type they are referring to (especially since he doesn’t use the code anymore).
His theory would have hit its peak (in my view) if he had just adopted the Interaction Style groups (“roles of interaction”), and including the new Interlinking/Intersecting. That was the improvement over the PUM’s, and the completion of the ideas he introduced in Portraits of Temperament (which is where he introduced the 8 intelligence variants, based on directive/informative). Instead, he seems to have pushed things too far with all the renaming and reconfiguring.

Someone wondered what will come of these last works; like if this will be forgotten, and it seems like it already has, as it was not even known about by most people to begin with. His basic four temperaments are pretty much established in online type discussions (Even though he rejected the functions, and on the other side, MBTI class jokingly warned us not to talk about temperaments, which are not accepted in official MBTI usage). So even though I had created the review threads on a few boards (that ultimately became this post), there still wasn’t a lot of interest from the getgo, and so the type community has already moved on like it never existed, and holding to the old concepts only.

What I have always said, is that since he really wanted his theory to be separate from MBTI (I originally thought it was all the same thing, since they used the same type codes), then perhaps this is what he should have come up with originally, from his first Please Understand Me book. (And then it would be a matter of us drawing the correlations to MBTI type). He has truly moved further away from the popular typology.

(Originally posted as two separate comments here https://erictb.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/various-typological-and-life-experience-thoughts/#comment-4107 where I had gotten Personology when it came out, but not the earlier Brains and Careers until just recently, and so compared them).

Advertisements
Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: