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    Default The harmful side of psychological theories, including personality theories and IQ

    I realize that this is a long post and some people somehow find this sort of thing offensive. But I have broken this post up into sections, so hopefully the tl;dr crowd can follow.

    Summary
    I believe that using psychological theories to attain knowledge of oneself can lead to becoming entity theorists, and utilizing permanent, pervasive, and personal explanations for negative life events--leading to pessimism and the negative effects that come along with it.

    So, how do you avoid pessimism during the process of self-discovery?
    (I've posted some related questions at the end, as well)

    Typology and Intelligence Theories Lead to Permanent, Pervasive, Personal Explanations
    I know this is a typology forum, and that many of the members are here because we are interested in understanding people in a fundamental way.

    However, there is a dark side to an attempt at understanding these things...and that is the formation of an entity view of self.

    The first place I came across the notion of an entity view of self, vs. an incremental view of self was in Carol Dweck's research on mind set. Although her research has more to do with views of intelligence, I believe it can apply equally well to other things.
    http://www.learning-theories.com/sel...ies-dweck.html
    1. Entity View – This view (those who are called “Entity theorists”) treats intelligence as fixed and stable. These students have a high desire to prove themselves to others; to be seen as smart and avoid looking unintelligent.
    2. Incremental View – This view treats intelligence as malleable, fluid, and changeable. These students see satisfaction coming from the process of learning and often see opportunities to get better. They do not focus on what the outcome will say about them, but what they can attain from taking part in the venture.
    I think you can see what the issues are with giving too much credence to things like IQ and Multiple Intelligence.

    But replace the word "intelligence" above with "personality", and wont the same issues come up? Does this not mean that things like MBTI and the Big 5 can lead to people forming entity views of themselves, with the same desire to "prove themselves" or to give up?

    So what is wrong with having an entity view of things? I suppose, if it is accurate, then nothing. But we are a long ways away from determining exactly how someone will behave based on who they are and what situation they are put in.

    Notice also, that if you take an entity view of personality, you believe it to be a permanent and prevalent part of people (including yourself). If you believe personality has any explanatory power, you will use it to explain things. Notice that this then means you are creating permanent, pervasive, and personal explanations for things.

    Permanent, Pervasive, and Personal Explanations of Negative Life Events Lead to Pessimism
    I am referring to the research of Martin Seligman, and other positive psychologists. Here is someone quoting Seligman:
    http://www.brainpickings.org/index.p...rtin-seligman/
    The optimists and the pessimists: I have been studying them for the past twenty-five years. The defining characteristic of pessimists is that they tend to believe bad events will last a long time, will undermine everything they do, and are their own fault. The optimists, who are confronted with the same hard knocks of this world, think about misfortune in the opposite way. They tend to believe defeat is just a temporary setback, that its causes are confined to this one case. The optimists believe defeat is not their fault: Circumstances, bad luck, or other people brought it about. Such people are unfazed by defeat. Confronted by a bad situation, they perceive it as a challenge and try harder.
    How do you avoid pessimism during the process of self-discovery?
    With that background set, I'd like to discuss the how to avoid pessimism as we learn about Big 5, Myers-Briggs, Jugian functions, multiple intelligences, IQ, Holland types, enneagram, ...

    1. What explanatory power do you give these psychological theories?
    2. If the psychological theories explain negative things about your life, how do you deal with these explanations?
    3. If the psychological theories explain positive things about your life, how do you deal with these explanations?
    4. Do you deal with both positive and negative explanations in the same say?

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  2. #2
    4x9 cascadeco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    How do you avoid pessimism during the process of self-discovery?
    With that background set, I'd like to discuss the how to avoid pessimism as we learn about Big 5, Myers-Briggs, Jugian functions, multiple intelligences, IQ, Holland types, enneagram, ...


    What explanatory power do you give these psychological theories?
    I treat them very loosely, as from being on this forum for amost 5 years (which is.... kind of... scary), I have observed all of the idiosyncracies with how the various theories are applied, and all of the stereotypes. Also, disagreement amongst those of the same type, disagreement about what exactly certain cognitive functions do or are, no metric as to how one can definitively determine type, and so on. Although there are certainly trends amongst people of a certain 'type', there's also a wide variety to behavior and reactions/decisions made amongst same type.

    So I think they can explain things - concepts - on a general level, on a trend level, but I think you can quickly run into snags when trying to apply a trend-concept to a single individual.

    If the psychological theories explain negative things about your life, how do you deal with these explanations?
    I just accept that there are certain aspects of myself that can cause me issues and unhealthy thought patterns. However, I also don't try to tie all of the negative things about my life into mbti or cog. functions, because frankly I think a number of things are rather non-cognitive Human/psychological things that transcend cog. functions.

    If the psychological theories explain positive things about your life, how do you deal with these explanations?

    Do you deal with both positive and negative explanations in the same say?
    I think I deal with all of it in the same way at this point.

    I mean, I can certainly use cog. functions/mbti to point at certain aspects of my life, but I believe relying solely on those explanations can be severely limiting and can impose limitations/ a potential articial construct. After all, the cog functions themselves may not be 'real' in any meaningful sense. While I do think they are good for talking about abstract processes that are probably real in some sense or another, I also think they are artificial in a sense, because there could be a another set of concepts/functions we should be paying equal attention to, or as defined Fe/Fi may not truly encompass reality, etc. I just think there are a lot of other components to psychology and sticking just to mbti/cog functions can create tunnel vision.
    Last edited by Patches; 08-31-2012 at 08:30 PM.
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    Senior Member UniqueMixture's Avatar
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    It is also advised when learning something new to view it as a skill that can be developed over time rather than as an inherent competency or lack thereof. Also, this reminds me of how exposing people to deterministic statements tends to lead to more anti-social behavior. It may just be me, but it seems that much of science, art, and culture in general has been moving progressively over time toward more abstract, diffracted, non-dichotonous, variable, etc language over time to describe phenomena. It seems this more accurately reflects the true nature of reality, namely that everything can be seen as having multiple causes and that lines of causation cannot always be delineated, but rather often express self organizing or emergent behavior. This kind of world allows for a lot of variation in interpretation of events.
    For all that we have done, as a civilization, as individuals, the universe is not stable, and nor is any single thing within it. Stars consume themselves, the universe itself rushes apart, and we ourselves are composed of matter in constant flux. Colonies of cells in temporary alliance, replicating and decaying and housed within, an incandescent cloud of electrical impulses. This is reality, this is self knowledge, and the perception of it will, of course, make you dizzy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by UniqueMixture View Post
    It is also advised when learning something new to view it as a skill that can be developed over time rather than as an inherent competency or lack thereof. Also, this reminds me of how exposing people to deterministic statements tends to lead to more anti-social behavior. It may just be me, but it seems that much of science, art, and culture in general has been moving progressively over time toward more abstract, diffracted, non-dichotonous, variable, etc language over time to describe phenomena. It seems this more accurately reflects the true nature of reality, namely that everything can be seen as having multiple causes and that lines of causation cannot always be delineated, but rather often express self organizing or emergent behavior. This kind of world allows for a lot of variation in interpretation of events.
    Or in other words, we're kind of playing Sburb in a sense.

    http://mspaintadventures.wikia.com/wiki/Sburb



    note: I'm being entirely serious with this.

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    I can totally see this danger.

    That's exactly why there's backlash. As someone who develops models of human behavior/cognition, I often get told that I can't do what I'm doing.. as if, over my career, I haven't thought of the fact that human behavior models have limitations in their explanatory power and domain of use..

    "YOU CAN'T PREDICT PEOPLE!! THEY'RE COMPLEX!! *THROWS A CHAIR*"

    There are multiple perspectives from which one can look at and use personality theories/models. I choose mostly to use them for personal development, to get a "starting point" for myself and to gather an ontology/vocabulary that roughly puts personality traits or states of minds into words.

    Some models are better or more useful than others, and for different purposes. A model being "true" or "valid" in a scientific sense is just one way for a model to be useful.

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    ⒺⓉⒷ Eric B's Avatar
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    Type theories are not meant to yield those “entity views” (e. g. “this is who I am; I can't help it”). The whole purpose, at least in Jungian-based type theory, is to see your cognitive-based preference tendencies, and realize there are other perspectives that are as a result being ignored, and try to integrate them into awareness more. This would be apart of “growth”.

    That would fit the incremental view more.
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    FRACTALICIOUS phobik's Avatar
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    The tools merely provide an opportunity for insight; whether that is used for growth or not is ultimately the person's choice. It's oftentimes much easier to use them as cannon fodder to feed existing dependencies in a feel-good seeking mindset, rather than risk jumping into the void by letting go of the associated mind-made sense of identity.
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    Senior Member Little_Sticks's Avatar
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    Great Thread. I believe this is really something everyone should ask themselves, even if it means not being able to answer for awhile.

    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    What explanatory power do you give these psychological theories?
    What is the nature of truth? If the truth exists absolutely and objectively, but we have only subjective means from which to determine it, how can we be sure about what we know? So we could make a case for objective truth through whatever means we may have, we believe that case to be objective truth until shown otherwise, but then the idea of truth itself becomes an imperative. And this dynamic of seeing imperative truth has to be entertained as objective truth for it to be taken seriously, even though we may have reasonable doubt that it isn't true. And objective truth, then perhaps can not be reasoned or explained or lineated or outlined because to do so is to impose an imperative on truth, a subjective factor.

    Using the subjective to explain the objective is probably absurd, but to use the subjective to understand the objective, possibly not.

    That said, to answer your question, I give the theory as much explanatory power as it seems capable of explaining, in a fragmented and probably illogical sense. Thus, I fear that explaining more precisely will give the wrong impression of what I mean.

    If the psychological theories explain negative things about your life, how do you deal with these explanations?
    I only really accept negative qualities if I see reason to avoid them or strengthen them into positive qualities. Otherwise, it's hard to say whether I even have them, if someone or something says I do. Because...why should I believe them, if I didn't believe it to begin with? Of course if enough people say someone has X quality, eventually that person might actually start to believe it. And then, there is a question of whether or not that quality exists in the minds of the people around that someone or if that someone actually has such a supposed quality. I find people that aren't able to distinguish the difference to be highly untrustworthy, scary even because of their own social ignorance. I have to act out personas tailored to them so that they get what they want out of me and I don't have to have my more honest self vulnerable to them. It used to make me a little crazy because I can't really be myself, but now I'm used to it. It's this one trait that makes me wonder sometimes if autistic people really are an evolutionary step ... because ... they would be much less likely to harm one another over social ignorance.

    If the psychological theories explain positive things about your life, how do you deal with these explanations?
    Have fun with them. They are positive after-all. If they turn out not to be true after awhile, I aim to be aware of the changes.

    Do you deal with both positive and negative explanations in the same say?
    It's less biased if both accompany each other, but ultimately, the existence of their being a polarity is an abstraction of one mathematical dimension of meaning. Whether that abstract dimension fits reality accurately, depends on the individual, and how it is reasoned to be accurate; and they should be aware that the abstract doesn't have to correlate one-to-one with reality. Someone can have negative traits without ever having positive traits and someone can have positive traits without ever having negative ones. It's a good idea to determine what is most truthful to oneself, probably, in this light.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric B View Post
    Type theories are not meant to yield those “entity views” (e. g. “this is who I am; I can't help it”). The whole purpose, at least in Jungian-based type theory, is to see your cognitive-based preference tendencies, and realize there are other perspectives that are as a result being ignored, and try to integrate them into awareness more. This would be apart of “growth”.

    That would fit the incremental view more.
    Aka Individuation.

    Pessimists will interpret data in pessimistic ways. Theories are benign.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Gosh, the world looks so small from up here on my high horse of menstruation.

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    Sorry for the delayed response. I wanted to see what more people had to say about this first, and then got busy with school stuff. But I think we have enough fodder for a good discussion.

    Quote Originally Posted by cascadeco View Post
    I mean, I can certainly use cog. functions/mbti to point at certain aspects of my life, but I believe relying solely on those explanations can be severely limiting and can impose limitations/ a potential articial construct. After all, the cog functions themselves may not be 'real' in any meaningful sense. While I do think they are good for talking about abstract processes that are probably real in some sense or another, I also think they are artificial in a sense, because there could be a another set of concepts/functions we should be paying equal attention to, or as defined Fe/Fi may not truly encompass reality, etc. I just think there are a lot of other components to psychology and sticking just to mbti/cog functions can create tunnel vision.
    I've been thinking about this, but to me it seems like almost all the psychological theories of personality have an entity theorist feel to it. Maybe I just have a strange interpretation, but it is difficult to look at something like the Conscientiousness factor in the Big Five, and to not either feel like one needs to either change and be more Conscientious or to accept that one is not.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric B View Post
    Type theories are not meant to yield those “entity views” (e. g. “this is who I am; I can't help it”). The whole purpose, at least in Jungian-based type theory, is to see your cognitive-based preference tendencies, and realize there are other perspectives that are as a result being ignored, and try to integrate them into awareness more. This would be apart of “growth”.

    That would fit the incremental view more.
    This is interesting. So would you say then the way to utilize type theory is to then become less like one's type?

    Quote Originally Posted by phobik View Post
    The tools merely provide an opportunity for insight; whether that is used for growth or not is ultimately the person's choice. It's oftentimes much easier to use them as cannon fodder to feed existing dependencies in a feel-good seeking mindset, rather than risk jumping into the void by letting go of the associated mind-made sense of identity.
    So for us less enlightened, what steps are needed to use these theories for genuine insight and growth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Salomé View Post
    Aka Individuation.

    Pessimists will interpret data in pessimistic ways. Theories are benign.
    Can you elaborate on this? It seems to me that the only way to be an entity theorist and be optimistic about it is if the "entity" I identify with is seen in a favorable light.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
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    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

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