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Discussion Starter #1
So I see people differentiating between enneagrams and MBTI and other such things using different question words. I'm naturally skeptical of any system that promises to tell me "who" I am. I gravitated to MBTI because it offered a "how". Especially since I'm one of those weirdos who can, and has, been professionally tested and typed as wildly differing things. For example, I recently got ENFJ. Which was hilarious because that is the type I thought I should be for my career.

What do people need from me that I don't naturally exhibit, that I feel I need to put myself in a mind to give them? Emotional comprehension; enthusiasm; an immediately visible sense that I understand them. So I tell myself I need to put on a type with lots and lots of Fe. That will improve my performance. Also, I need to be very aware of their cues - posture, tone of voice, demonstrated enthusiasm or lack level, facial expressions - so I'd better power up some Se. Okay. Lots of extroverted feeling plus extroverted sensing, held together with some intuition glue and helped by introverted thinking! Presto - ENFJ.

So I retreated into my head (Ti) to consider various data, like type characteristics and what my job is about. What is my job about? Why do I think people's cues and need for enthusiasm are important for me to do my thing? I can't possibly have statistics on that; people don't say things like "I would appreciate it if you seemed more emotionally intelligent and paid attention to my idiosyncratic fidgeting style." Must be extroverted intuition (Ne). Where did I get the idea that faces, hands, posture, fidgeting, vocal cues, eye contact, etc. can be lined up to provide critical information? It sounds like I have some kind of internal database computing away, using some impact algorithm. How mechanical, right? No... just very Si. And I can respond to that with visible emotion. I have extroverted feeling; my face is like a Muppet's, always revealing my gut reactions, and I actually kind of thrive on sympathetic exchanges, even if I have to contrive an equal level of enthusiasm for a thing I'm not really crazy about. It's a little tiring; I can't do it all day; but I can Fe. And... Ti Ne Si Fe, in that order, aka INTP, just solved the problem of how to respond to my hunches about what I can do to improve my performance at work.

Have I always really been INTP though? Anyone who saw me as a kid would tell you I was in the third standard deviation of INFPness. People who knew me in my activist years (well, they're not over, but I did have a peak season) would probably say I was ESFP as hell. I know I clocked a lot of ISFJ time in my first career. What am I really? ...well. That's the point on which I defer to people who know the system better.

So, people who know. When do young people start showing a type? How do you know? Does it change? Does it matter if the point of the test is to understand "how" for purposes of self-development? How could it not matter to be aware of big changes in yourself and to understand how a theory you respect would process that data? Why is it so easy for so many of us to see parts of ourselves in other types? If it's that easy, how are we actually learning about ourselves by pursuing this?
 
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So, people who know. When do young people start showing a type? How do you know? Does it change? Does it matter if the point of the test is to understand "how" for purposes of self-development? How could it not matter to be aware of big changes in yourself and to understand how a theory you respect would process that data? Why is it so easy for so many of us to see parts of ourselves in other types? If it's that easy, how are we actually learning about ourselves by pursuing this?
You know you could just be a huge freaking chameleon.


Self image tends to stay consistent throughout life, but it seems personality may not be as fixed as we initially believed, given recent discoveries regarding brain plasticity. One such concept being the idea that our brain has different modes to adapt to various life circumstances, which isn't unlike what you describe in your post.

I used to type as INTJ all the time as a kid, typed as INTP invariably throughout my adult life. Others have reported similar changes but there are so many variables that shape personality that you probably couldn't develop a single algorithm for the whole mess, especially since age cutoffs aren't as reliable as we once thought.

As for why it's so easy: Because INTP is a box, not a bodysuit. All types are boxes, people won't sit in the same corners of the box. they may not even sit, but rather stand or lie down. It doesn't help that we are connected to other types via cognitive functions and social preferences.

You learn about yourself by reconciling the data from the model with what you know about yourself, maybe even using other personality theories for a more comprehensive picture. I think the point of the model is to look at inclinations rather than to pinpoint how you will think or react to a particular situation. You learn by looking at your set of inclinations and seeing what else is possible and how your set interacts with other sets. It's not just learning about yourself inwardly, but how you fit in the big picture and how to work with other personalities, which in turn can teach us about ourselves via their own unique perspectives.

It's a large house of mirrors.
Hopefully that made sense.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
You know you could just be a huge freaking chameleon.
Actually that's a raw nerve (not that you've hurt my feelings at all, we're INTPs right). I've been told before how much my body language, voice pitch and speaking style, even accent, apparent range of culinary tastes, sense of humor - all change. Though my register is tenor, my speech coffee-fast, my vocabulary large, my body language gangly, my accent precisely US Public Television, my humor somewhere between wacky and dry, my tastes Midwestern-farm-kid, I have been identified as a soft-spoken, energetic and fast-walking, wry woman from Co. Tyrone with a decent singing voice and a memory for folk verse. Later the same year, after I delivered a public address, people remembered me as a basketball-built, self-effacing, easy-going, bourbon-drinking Southern man who could turn on the stentorian preacher the minute I stepped behind a podium.

So that, perhaps, tells you why this question attracted me.

Self image tends to stay consistent throughout life, but it seems personality may not be as fixed as we initially believed, given recent discoveries regarding brain plasticity. One such concept being the idea that our brain has different modes to adapt to various life circumstances, which isn't unlike what you describe in your post.
This sounds like cognitive psychology, which is totally fine with me. (Behaviors are based on ideas; ideas change quickly or slowly, and behaviors catch up to the change in a healthy person, or may need help catching up in an unhealthy one; ideas are based on beliefs, which change only infrequently. Elasticity is more developed in some people than in others, perhaps because of actual neural plasticity, but elasticity is desirable because it allows adaptation and the setting aside of irrational ideas and behaviors, thus making the person more comfortable with life and more functional in more situations.) I generally think people are and ought to be allowed to be more adaptable than most people believe we should be.

Which in turn has led me to think about crisis as not necessarily always a stimulus for a perceptible behavior and even ideological change, but as a condition under which a person in our Western society is allowed to experiment with and emerge with changed ideas and behaviors. I certainly wasn't as INFP by the time I left high school, but INFP was my role among those people and had been for a decade. So maybe I went a bit overboard being someone else when I moved on to college, and then to work.

I used to type as INTJ all the time as a kid, typed as INTP invariably throughout my adult life. Others have reported similar changes but there are so many variables that shape personality that you probably couldn't develop a single algorithm for the whole mess, especially since age cutoffs aren't as reliable as we once thought.
Thank you, fellow appreciator of the infinite varieties of humanness contained in each of us.

As for why it's so easy: Because INTP is a box, not a bodysuit. All types are boxes, people won't sit in the same corners of the box. they may not even sit, but rather stand or lie down. It doesn't help that we are connected to other types via cognitive functions and social preferences.

You learn about yourself by reconciling the data from the model with what you know about yourself, maybe even using other personality theories for a more comprehensive picture. I think the point of the model is to look at inclinations rather than to pinpoint how you will think or react to a particular situation. You learn by looking at your set of inclinations and seeing what else is possible and how your set interacts with other sets. It's not just learning about yourself inwardly, but how you fit in the big picture and how to work with other personalities, which in turn can teach us about ourselves via their own unique perspectives.

It's a large house of mirrors.
Hopefully that made sense.
Perfectly. And this is how I've approached the MBTI - as a different mirror for self-reflection. Other mirrors I use include reading novels, having very different home and work lives, studying mythology, goofing around with tarot and astrology, overthinking poetry, and adopting, erm, uncommon mentors. Like, when I was 12 and read The Lord of the Rings for the first time, I came out the end feeling very Peregrine. The next year I chanced to read it again and came out wondering why I ever thought I was like Pippin when I so obviously needed to model on Tom Bombadil. Every year until I was perhaps 23? I took a different character from Tolkien, but then I got weirder. James Joyce himself. Dumbledore. Constance de Markiewicz. William Butler Yeats' birds. Athena, then Isis, then trying to make more out of Sif than is recorded. Then I got into red oaks, and that's where I am now: a person who identifies with red oaks, has become resigned to being of Viking and not Q-Gaelic-speaking Celt blood descent, still thinks Constance is cooler than anyone's mom ever, considers James Joyce a bad ex, and wants to be Lothlorien or Fangorn or even Mirkwood more than I wish to hold myself like or like to become as any bipedal mammal character from Lord of the Rings.

Yes, you INTPs make sense to me on a level I've not attained with any other self-selecting group. We necessarily have views and values in common to have obtained the same results on the various versions of the test. Maybe I'd feel that way about the enneagram if I'd gotten into that first, or maybe I'd believe myself a reincarnate, or Magician to the Empress my workplace is and reversed Sun to spouse's Hanged Man, or Earth Horse born in the hour of Wood Rooster. I do think there's more concrete learning to be done in MBTI though, or at least, a community who have constructed a larger body of subjective data that appears relevant to my situation and suggestions that seem useful for relation to other people.

But I'm hardly done here. Nell has posited a curious and useful and quite thoughtful interpretation, and I'm waiting to see what other kinds of responses the rest of you have.

Especially on the still-untouched question of where baby self-images come from. Also, if you're opposed to the cog-psych view, why? What do you find a better model? And if you've changed types, which to which before now?
 

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Personality doesn't change but what is often missed is that environment plays a huge part in how your personality expresses. For example when I went in high school my best friend was ENTP and his personality rubbed on me and I became more sociable and I even joined our schools voleybol team, but it didn't change my personality type, I still needed to spend time alone to feel normal and when we went to different Universities I became more distant from people again.
 

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Of course personality changes. We aren't born as deterministic robots, nor do our lives develop that way. We are born tabula rasa. A developed preference for cognitive style that develops over time for a myriad of reasons that would be nearly impossible to sort out isn't locked in stone. We all possess volition; and that same volition that allows us to use reason allows us to change our personalities literally at will.

For instance, I use to type as an INTJ about 15 years ago, then that developed into the INTP that I am today. As I've fully integrated the knowledge that are feelings are a result of our thoughts that we alone program I've become a bit of an INTP/INFP hybrid more recently using Fi as often as I use Ne. About 90% of the time. There is no dichotomy between reason and emotion in a rational man.

So to answer the question succinctly, no we are not deterministic pre-programmed to behave and think in any certain way. Volition and new knowledge constantly tweaks ones "personality" and it's never static in a person who is constantly integrating new knowledge into their subconscious mind.
 
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We are born tabula rasa.
I don't think so. Mothers and others who have been around babies will tell you that each is born with a different personality--or at least that the differences manifest very early. Some babies are thoughtful, others sociable, some are confident, others fearful, some are independent, exploratory, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Hmm... Part of the reason I acceded to being typed INTP was because while I'm fine *doing* Fe, it's hard. Tiring. Requiring. I do need retreat and think time, and I literally develop anxiety symptoms if I don't have "invert" time. Working really long hours at a really social job made that quite clear to me. So while I "do" ENFJ at work, I need INTP recuperation time. Does that mean I'm fixed INTP?

I do not doubt @islandlight for a moment. Four much-younger siblings and a lot of work with ranges of children convinced me that humans are definitely born with personalities. I'm sure that I was Te as a child (my great-grandfather used to joke that I'd been inoculated with a phonograph needle) and very likely Fi based on what I've been told. When my life circumstances changed (e.g., getting over a serious illness), emotion didn't disappear, it just stopped being top priority. Careful, internal reasoning climbed to the top, bolstered by Ne into which I grew as I became less of a talker and more empathetic. By the time I was in my mid-twenties, the sinusoidal curve from Fi/Te to Ti/Ne slowed, and now I've hit a sort of INTP solstice. Will I change again? I'm entirely expecting it. Lifespan in my family comes in three digits barring accident. I'm just over a third of the way, and I'm practically a newlywed (three years in March).

Then, too, I've watched my siblings and other children alter substantially, and only some for neurological or other health reasons. I say never underestimate the power of the fourth dimension.

Besides, if the point of knowing your type is to give you a framework in which to develop yourself and your communication with others, shouldn't you look at what type you're manifesting right now, or in a problem situation, and work from that toward solutions?


Yeah, I'm opening the "prescriptive vs. descriptive" worm can.
 

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Personality is weird. I have been so interested in it that I am taking a personality class, which is completely useless.

Mathematically, there are possibly thousands of different ways I could respond to certain situations; however, my actions are likely more predictable than the mathematical number of ways I could react. I do tend to like MBTI because, for me, it helped me see myself as normal when my extraverted parents were concerned I had autism. My personality is who I am, and though a test does not define that, it certainly helped me draw connections I had not realized. On that basis, I find it useful (disclaimer: the MBTI should not be seen as an absolute definition of one's self).

 

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Hi sorry, I'm going to throw in my INFP opinion, I hope you don't mind :wink:

My boyfriend is an INTP and it seems that a lot of people on this forum think that INFP and INTP are not a match. But I can't imagine having any other partner. So we don't treat the MBTI in definite terms. I usually get INFP but with the two last features around 50% Personally, I feel like an INFP and I understand the people on the INFP part of the forum pretty good.

But I've also read and heard more than once that all the personality tests are widely criticized by professional psychologists. Especially Enneagram supposedly has no scientific background to it. Anyway, I treat it as one of the tools that can help me understand myself a bit better and get to know people who might be similar but I think humans are way too complex and you can't just categorize humanity in 16 groups and be happy with it. I'm not going to break up with my boyfriend or quit my job just because an online test told me it's not a match.

So to sum up: I think it's fun, but it can get pretty annoying when someone sees the people only according to their MBTI result and presumes that there is no mystery to the person.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Don't mind at all, and ditto basically everything you said, except I'm the INTP in my relationship. I'm married to an INFP who ISFJ's at work. My spouse doesn't get as excited about typing systems as I do, but I love adding to my tool kit of ways to consider people and interactions (including spouse and me).

Also, the more complex the system, the more fun. There are only four Hogwarts houses, but MBTI has 16 plus all the variations in this how-developed-are-your-lower-functions stuff. In a way, that extra range of definitions makes contemplating who seems what and how that affects the way they talk to each other more detailed and thus more fun, and in another way it's less fun because there's less room for imagination.

All that said, an unusually high proportion of people in this INTP forum make sense to me. Which indicates that at least some of the questions on the tests ask things that matter.
 
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[QUOTE='Ratatoskr"] Especially since I'm one of those weirdos who can, and has, been professionally tested and typed as wildly differing things.[/QUOTE]

You mean one of those weirdos who can, and has, been answering differently to the same questions in questionnaire every time he/she repeats it ?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Questions have probably changed between 1997, when I first took it, and 2015, when I last did, but even if they didn't, I did.

But I'm not clear on your tone here. Is this a good thing, a bad thing, a descriptive thing, not a thing?
 

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I don't think so. Mothers and others who have been around babies will tell you that each is born with a different personality--or at least that the differences manifest very early. Some babies are thoughtful, others sociable, some are confident, others fearful, some are independent, exploratory, etc.
My mother said the same thing often, that my sister and I were very different in personality even as babies. She didn't buy the blank slate idea because of her experience with us. We ended up INTP and ESTP.
 
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