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.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
Evolution vs. Revolution
Shoshana Friedman I call it the “what happened to my magazine?” response
Up, Up, and Away
Rabbi Moshe Grylak What a fraught subject Eretz Yisrael is, to this day
Where Do You Come From?
Yonoson Rosenblum Could they be IDF officers with no Jewish knowledge?
Heaven Help Us
Eytan Kobre Writing about anti-Semitism should rouse, not soothe
Work/Life Solutions with Chedva Kleinhandler
Moe Mernick “Failures are our compass to success”
An Un-Scientific Survey
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Are Jerusalemites unfriendly? Not necessarily
Out of Anger
Jacob L. Freedman How Angry Lawyer was finally able to calm down
5 Things You Didn’t Know about…Yitzy Bald
Riki Goldstein He composed his first melody at eight years old
When the Floodgates of Song Open, You’re Never Too Old
Riki Goldstein Chazzan Pinchas Wolf was unknown until three years ago
Who Helped Advance These Popular Entertainers?
Riki Goldstein Unsung deeds that boosted performers into the limelight
Your Task? Ask
Faigy Peritzman A tangible legacy I want to pass on to my children
Are You There?
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Emotional withdrawal makes others feel lonely, abandoned
A Peace of a Whole
Rebbetzin Debbie Greenblatt Love shalom more than you love being right
Seminary Applications
Rabbi Zecharya Greenwald, as told to Ariella Schiller It’s just as hard for seminaries to reject you