Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Decoding Your Nature

Tzivi Zuckerman

Why do people act the way they do? What makes a person unique? Personality-type systems can help you delve into these questions — and teach you a lot about everyone in your life, including yourself.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

“I’m an ESFP. What are you?”

“Oh, I’m an INTJ. I’m also a 4.”

To the uninitiated, this type of dialogue can seem like some sort of confusing code language. But for people who are familiar with personality type systems, these letter combinations and numbers are the key to gaining a clearer and deeper understanding of yourself and others.


Identifying Character Traits

You may have never heard of personality type systems, which methodically divide people into separate categories based on individual temperament. But, in fact, these systems are quite popular. And for good reason — it’s hard to resist the idea of a cheat sheet that can help you better understand your nature, from what motivates you to what makes you act in a particular manner.

The idea that there are distinct, innate differences in temperament actually dates back to ancient times. The Greek philosopher Plato was prominent among those who proposed four categories of people, each of who contribute to society in a unique way.

In more recent times, you might say that Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung is the father of personality type systems. In the 1920s, he suggested that people perceive and react to situations differently because they’re compelled by distinct, inborn personality traits.

The Myers-Briggs personality type system, created by the mother-daughter team of Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, is an interpretation of Jung’s work. There are four pairs of opposing personality traits, for a total of eight traits, each of which is designated by a particular letter (see sidebar, “Which Type Are You?”).

Since then, numerous other personality systems have been developed. Psychologist David Keirsey created a variation of Myers-Briggs, called KTS-II, which focuses on four central temperaments. Another personality model, titled the “Big 5,” is arranged along similar lines, but includes an additional component to measure for emotional stability. The Enneagram, which supposedly stems from ancient origin, is a popular number-based model that includes nine basic personality types.



To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

What’s in a Name?
Shoshana Friedman “What does Writer X have to say this week?”
Atonement — Fake and Real
Yonoson Rosenblum White confessionals and faux rituals
Four Walls Coming Full Circle
Eytan Kobre All the while, there’s been a relationship in the offing...
And Yet We Smile
Yisroel Besser We are the nation that toils to be happy at all costs
Out of This World
Rabbi Henoch Plotnick Dirshu Hashem b’himatzo — we are in Hashem’s company now...
Steven and Jonathan Litton
Rachel Bachrach The co-owners of Litton Sukkah, based in Lawrence, NY
Tali Messing
Moe Mernick Tali Messing, engineering manager at Facebook Tel Aviv
Sick Note
Jacob L. Freedman “Of course, Dr. Freedman. Machul, machul, machul”
Avoiding Health Columns Can Be Good for You
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Only one reliable guide for good health: our Torah
Endnote: Side Notes
Riki Goldstein Most Jewish music industry entertainers have side profes...
Me, Myself, and Why
Faigy Peritzman Where there’s no heart and no love, there’s no point
Can’t Do It Without You
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When you step up to the plate, you build your home team
Eternal Joy
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz The joy of Succos is the fruit of spiritual victory
The Appraiser: Part III
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer Make sure your child knows his strengths
Hidden Special Needs
Rena Shechter You won’t see his special needs, but don’t deny them
Dear Wealthy Friend
Anonymous There’s no need for guilt. I am truly happy for you