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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey, guys -- for those of you that helped me out with my issue on this forum before (thanks again!), you probably already know that I've an ISTJ mother. For those of you that don't... well, there you go.

So, the thing is, my mom and my ESFP sister fight a lot. They can't understand each other at all and no matter how I try to explain it to them, they keep insisting the other one is simply out of their mind rather than accepting that they've different views on things and try to compromise. (Also, they don't really listen to me because, quote unquote, "I'm only 17 years old, what would I know?") I tried to convince them to do some research on MBTI since it helped me to understand them better, so maybe it'd work for them as well, but my ESFP sister just adds it onto her infinite list of things to do, and my ISTJ mom...

Well, she doesn't believe in MBTI.

I was told this is pretty common among ISTJs, but I've no idea how to prove to her that it's actually a system at least worth taking a look at. I've tried to link some pages in Chinese (her English is average but she wouldn't bother with reading personality psychology theories in English after work) to her, but she just snorts at me and claims that all the descriptions are much too general and that psychology is BS anyway.

(And trust me, trying to debate with her doesn't lead anywhere. She cuts me off mid-sentence before I can prove my point, and even if I try the super-calm-let's-not-get-frustrated approach - "mom, LISTEN TO ME before you argue against me, please?" - she never lets me finish.)

But I still think this would help a lot with her understanding my sis and vice versa. Do you guys think I should just give up, or is there any way convincing her that this might actually help?
 
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I sent my dad a link to a description of an ISTJ via email with some explanation of the MBTI and he response, yes that sounds like me. He believes it exists after he listened to me ramble about it, he believes he's an ISTJ and I'm an ENFP....but he doesn't really care. He just neve really saw how it would be useful in his life. Maybe if you can give a real life example of how it has alread benefited someone, some sort of facts to back it up?
 

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It sounds like the only thin you can really do is try to explain to your mother how your sister might be feeling about something from an ESFP point of view, based on what you know about her and the ESFP profiles and so forth. And you try to explain things to your sister from your Mom's point of view. By point of view, I mean articulate why the other person might be feeling the things that they are feeling and thinking the things that they are thinking and doing the things that they are doing.

If they don't believe in MBTI, you probably aren't going to make them have any belief in the system. I swear one of my friends laughed at me for even talking about MBTI to him and said he thought Myer and Biggs are laughing in their graves at those of us who believe in the theory. He'll never learn.
 

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Your problem is not that she doesn't accept MBTI or Cognitive Function Theory--she doesn't believe in psychology. This means that she has never established relevance of the abstract ideas presented in psychology. Probably the only way she would change is for some major event to occur in her life that would cause her to stop and re-think life.

She is willfully ignorant. She uses psychology every day but refuses to acknowledge it's existence. Don't hold your breath.
 
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If they don't believe it's valid, then you should probably give up. If solid evidence is what they're looking for, you're not going to find it, because MBTI is a theory with no scientific claims.
Agreed.

Maybe just try to explain to her that you aren't trying to put her personality into a perfect box with a nice little bow on top. Just be honest with her and tell her that it's just a nice tool to help learn about yourself and a good starting point for self-evaluation.
 

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You must..
A. Dumb down your terms to a "normal" language level. You'll have to do some MB to real life translations, which will immensely benefit you as well as her because you've learned how to apply the theory.
B. Find someone she respects or seeks the approval of. Typically these types of people don't take those they don't respect too seriously. Someone else has to show it to her, or perhaps her job or something has to go through with it.
 

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B. Find someone she respects or seeks the approval of. Typically these types of people don't take those they don't respect too seriously. Someone else has to show it to her, or perhaps her job or something has to go through with it.
helpful perhaps, but to someone who doesn't care about the MBTI much to learn about the letters is just a pain in their view, I wouldn't bother.

She is willfully ignorant. She uses psychology every day but refuses to acknowledge it's existence. Don't hold your breath.
The reason people get into this stuff is because they're curious to understand others, and she lacks the will that you and I have for the subject.

An ISTJ who doesn't care to learn others, but instead jump into condemnation is not one anyone wants to be around.
 

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You could try telling her that a lot of corporate employers use the MBTI test in their hiring process/ employee workshops, and universities offer it in their student counseling programs. :wink:
 
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helpful perhaps, but to someone who doesn't care about the MBTI much to learn about the letters is just a pain in their view, I wouldn't bother.
Not if it's someone they want to pay attention to them or they're eager to accept what that person says. ISTJs aren't really big on approval, like the extroverted TJs are...but anyone will go for that. If they're THAT stubborn.. well, they're doomed to repeat mistakes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The reason why my mother refuses to believe in psychology is because she has some bad experience with it in the past. My cousin has had several failed therapies and my mother read some lousy books about child psychology before my sister was born, just to find out that, quoting her, "psychology generalizes everybody and puts us all in a box, giving us guidelines and principles that can impossibly apply to everyone in said box".

Every time I try to argue against that thesis, I never get further than, "But, mom, it's really more compl--" before she cuts me off xD;

Real life translations sound great, but in that case I need several different severe cases where MBTI really helped people to understand themselves or others, families in particular. Anybody know any?

I've already tried Rhee's suggestion, but all she had to say to that was, "Well, people use IQ tests in hiring processes too, haven't they, and didn't they turn out to not be too reliable as IQ mainly determines your systematical thinking/intelligence rather than your entire intelligence?"

And lol, I've tried the explaining-from-an-ESFP's-point-of-view and vice versa, too. My sister is a bit more open to accepting it, but my mother only claims that I've no solid basis for my theories and that I should stop trying to find excuses for my sister's "bad behavior" - hence when I want to introduce MBTI to her so that she can see that it's not only the musings of a 17-year-old xD;

I should just give up on doing this, eh? >.>;
 
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I should just give up on doing this, eh? >.>;
Whoever it was that suggested finding a person she respects to introduce this to her is correct. That would be a method that would work. You are her child and she still sees you as a child. It'll be different after about five years after you move out.
 

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Alternatively, focus on your sister. To try and bring her around, take her aside when you know she's not busy, and encourage her to take the test or read the ESFP profile then and there. Show her the ISTJ profile and explain why there's tension between her and your mother. While your sister lives at home, the onus is on her to conform to your mother's rules and expectations - just keeping the peace until she can leave the nest.

EDIT: Having re-read your first post, it occurs to me that this could be a cultural issue instead of/in addition to a personality issue. If your mother was raised with Chinese culture, and your sister was raised with a different culture, than they probably have different perceptions of what the mother/daughter relationship should be like. Geert Hofstede's measures of culture state that China has a higher power distance and higher collectivism than many Western cultures. In other words, your mother expects more respect and more familial duty than somebody raised in an individualistic, low power distance culture would naturally give. As an ISTJ, this expectation would probably be enhanced because of the tendency to adhere to social norms and uphold cultural values.
 
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