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.
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.
I think you can see what the issues are with giving too much credence to things like IQ and Multiple Intelligence.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
How do you avoid pessimism during the process of self-discovery?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.
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?
- If the psychological theories explain negative things about your life, how do you deal with these explanations?
- 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?