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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This thread is NOT intended to be a debate/discussion of Keirsey, so please don't go there.

Many people say that Keirsey is not MBTI, as he rejects the functions in favor of temperaments and intelligent roles, and I am slightly inclined to agree with them. That being said, I was wondering if there are any proponents of Keirsey temperament theory on PC besides myself.
 

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Keirsey was my introduction to it all, so yes I'm definitely into him. But I dont see Keirsey as being at opposition with anything else. I definitely believe in the four temperament groupings, as well as the cognitive functions. I wasnt aware there was any kind of controversy over it. As far as Im concerned they're all different ways to skin a cat
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Keirsey was my introduction to it all, so yes I'm definitely into him. But I dont see Keirsey as being at opposition with anything else. I definitely believe in the four temperament groupings, as well as the cognitive functions. I wasnt aware there was any kind of controversy over it. As far as Im concerned they're all different ways to skin a cat
Keirsey and MBTI part ways in their conceptions of personality, which makes them opposing camps, in my view. Jung and Myers used 19th century elementalism to understand personality, whereas Keirsey used organismic wholism (one of the main reasons that I prefer his theory).

In temperament theory, personality consists of an organismic whole (temperaments and their varying roles)

In MBTI, personality consists of a series of independent elements (functions and preferences).
 

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Keirsey and MBTI part ways in their conceptions of personality, which makes them opposing camps, in my view. Jung and Myers used 19th century elementalism to understand personality, whereas Keirsey used organismic wholism (one of the main reasons that I prefer his theory).

In temperament theory, personality consists of an organismic whole (temperaments and their varying roles)

In MBTI, personality consists of a series of independent elements (functions and preferences).
Assuming you're talking about the David Keirsey of Please Understand Me (1978) and Please Understand Me II (1998) — and that's the Keirsey stuff that's typically discussed on internet forums — I'd say claims that Keirsey's temperaments are essentially a separate system from the MBTI have more to do with market positioning than historical fact.

Please Understand Me was the first book to really popularize the MBTI, and in that book and PUM II, Keirsey was mostly just an MBTI guy who added the idea that NTs, NFs, SJs and SPs are particularly significant subgroups in terms of what they have in common. It's true that, in going from PUM to PUM II, Keirsey sneakily moved the E/I, S/N, T/F and J/P descriptions to the back and, in the front, introduced a new "tool usage" duality — with NFs and SJs as the "cooperative" tool users and NTs and SPs as the "utilitiarian" tool users. But Keirsey's "tool usage" duality has always struck me as the same kind of artificial category set as Berens' interactive styles (which also have their roots in PUM II), and I can't help but cynically wonder if it was largely motivated by market positioning or academic ego or something. In any case, it's certainly worth noting that this supposed entirely new basis (since the original PUM) for his types made almost no significant difference in his type portraits.

Keirsey certainly isn't a believer in the cognitive functions (aka "type dynamics") but, as further explained in this post, Myers wasn't much of a believer in the functions either, and official MBTI sources — not to mention the vast majority of the thousands of MBTI-related studies that have been conducted over the past 50 years — have always been centered around the dichotomies rather than the functions.

Just as Keirsey thought of NT/NF/SJ/SP as the most fundamental way to carve the 16 types into four groups, Myers thought of NT/NF/ST/SF as the most fundamental way to subdivide the 16 types — and Myers' sub-groups are even less function-related than Keirsey's. (And anyone interested in some further discussion of Keirsey's foursome vs. Myers' foursome will find it — along with the maybe-surprising results of a little reckful "study" — in this post.)

In any case, moving back to the origins of Keirsey's temperaments, and as the back cover blurb for Please Understand Me explained:

Keirsey adopted the theory of Psychological Types of Carl Jung and the pioneering (and best selling) method of measuring type of Isabel Myers in 1955 and ever since has adapted his clinical practice to the perspective of Jung-Myers typology. PLEASE UNDERSTAND ME provides a useful vocabulary and phraseology for applying the Jung-Myers concepts of type.
In the first chapter of Please Understand Me II (1998), Keirsey describes "The Debt to Isabel Myers," and here's part of what he says:

Keirsey said:
I must comment about the way the work of Isabel Myers struck me when I first encountered it in 1956. I remember vividly, even after forty or so years, when a visiting psychologist from Educational Testing Service handed me my psychological type portrait upon my completion of the Myers-Briggs questionnaire. ...

Wow! Here I was, only five years out of graduate school, working as a corrective interventionist for schools and trying very hard to figure out how to apply what I had learned about people in making myself useful to school children and their parents and teachers and administrators, these people having all sorts of difficulties getting along with each other. And along comes a little old lady from Princeton, New Jersey, Isabel Myers, to tell me about myself, about who I was and what I was good for. Oh, I already knew some of that stuff about myself, but I didn't know that I was a kind of type of person, and that there had to be others just like me. Indeed, looking back on my graduate studies I realized that my two best friends in the psychology department were just like me, and the one professor I admired was just like me. ...

I also understood for the first time why I felt so different from everybody else. ...

Myers must have accomplished her feat of developing Jung's distinctions into sixteen type portraits by dint of considerable observation of people in action, as well as a great deal of imaginative speculation. Salvaging the useful parts of Jung's cumbersome and self-contradictory theory of psychological types and making it available to scientist and layman alike was quite a feat. So the debt owed Isabel Myers by students of human conduct is truly enormous.

Had she not devised her personality inventory and its accompanying portraits of personality, I for one ... would not have been able to connect her portraits to earlier ones. For I was later to find that the four groups of personality types described by Myers corresponded nicely with the four personality types of several predecessors.
The "Keirsey Temperament Sorter" at the front of PUM II types you based on 70 items. Ten of them are I/E items, and 20 each are S/N, T/F and J/P items, and they're very similar to the items on the official MBTI. The official MBTI S/N items include...

  • Which word appeals to you most — (N) possibilities or (S) certainties?
  • Do you usually get along better with (N) imaginative people or (S) realistic people?
  • In reading for pleasure, do you (N) enjoy odd or original ways of saying things or (S) like writers to say exactly what they mean?
  • Would you rather be considered (S) a practical person or (N) an ingenious person?
... and Keirsey's S/N items include...

  • Are you more interested in (S) what is actual or (N) what is possible?
  • Do you tend to be more (S) factual than speculative or (N) speculative than factual?
  • Do you like writers who (S) say what they mean or (N) use metaphors and symbolism?
  • Do you prize in yourself (S) a strong hold on reality or (N) a vivid imagination?
And both PUM and PUM II include separate portraits of each of the 16 types, in addition to descriptions of the things that (as Keirsey sees it) NTs, NFs, SJs and SPs tend to have in common.

The idea that Keirsey's focus is somehow more behavioral than Myers or other MBTI sources also doesn't have much truth to it. In the introduction to Please Understand Me II, as part of his explanation for why he steers clear of the cognitive functions, Keirsey himself states (more misleadingly than accurately) that his work is somehow more solidly based on observation of what people actually say and do — rather than on "speculation" about "people's mental make-up." But if you actually read Please Understand Me II and compare Keirsey's descriptions with the descriptions in Myers, Thomson or any other popular MBTI source (or Jung, for that matter), you'll find that the mix of internal and external really isn't all that different. Here's a passage from Keirsey's INTJ description, for example:

Keirsey said:
Their point of view is pragmatic, skeptical, relativistic, focused on spatial intersections and intervals of time. They base their self-image on being ingenious, autonomous, and resolute. They would if possible be calm, they trust reason, are hungry for achievement, seek knowledge, prize deference, and aspire to be wizards of science and technology. Intellectually, they are prone to practice strategy far more than diplomacy, tactics and especially logistics.
Their "point of view," their "self-image," their "trust" in reason and "hunger" for achievement, their "aspiration" to be wizards: this is pretty much all about an INTJ's internal values/motivations/etc., no? And this is pulled from his introductory summary. Keirsey goes on to discuss each of those internal aspects in greater detail, and has similar discussions of the "self-image" and "aspirations" and etc. of each of the 16 MBTI types.
 

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My favourite systems are Keirsey and socionics, and the two are different enough to let me treat them as two separate systems, looking at different aspects of personality. For the record I would say there's some correlation between Keirsey and socionics types but they're not directly equivalent. If you throw MBTI in to the mix as well, you start to get more contradictions.

Keirsey's strength is in rejecting the MBTI understanding of functions, which have some problems, and focussing on observed behaviours, based around temperament etc., it takes a person as a whole and describes very well I think how people are different with less speculation on why. Whereas socionics went the other way and took Jung's ideas of functions and developed them in to something that can go deep in to a person and uncover things that aren't necessarily obvious. So I think they both have value. Though I may be the only person who thinks that.

I think Keirsey's temperament sorter in PUM II, as well as the descriptions, are very good and really helped me to become confident in my typing as an INFP, more than online resources ever did. So yes, I like Keirsey.
 

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Keirsey and MBTI part ways in their conceptions of personality, which makes them opposing camps, in my view. Jung and Myers used 19th century elementalism to understand personality, whereas Keirsey used organismic wholism (one of the main reasons that I prefer his theory).

In temperament theory, personality consists of an organismic whole (temperaments and their varying roles)

In MBTI, personality consists of a series of independent elements (functions and preferences).
Wow I don't see how anyone who seriously studies personality could see it as anything besides an unified whole (a web, really). Although I "believe" (is that the right word?) in the MB functions, I don't see it as being a series of independent elements-- maybe you could present it that way, but it doesnt actually work that way.

Well, it doesn't really matter, I'm just splitting hairs here.
 
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