# Thread: MBTI certainty, functions and probability

1. ## MBTI certainty, functions and probability

Is your MBT really as concrete as most people seem to think? I don't think that there's any point in specifying your type when the theory itself is so imprecise. Even jung himself wasn't certain about any of it, and there's never been any solid evidence. You could label yourself as an INTP, but really, you could easily convince yourself that you're something similar. You don't have a specific type, you have something hazily close to that type.

I was told today in physics, that when an electron is diffracted, you can't watch the electron every step of the way. It is fired at the diffraction grating, then 'something' happens, and it ends up on a photographic plate. Even Einstein couldn't comprehend what happens throughout the voyage. The same kind of voyage happens in our minds, we simply can't tell what happens, and it creates uncertainty, like a magical lucky dip. MBT applies to the mind and cognitive behaviour, so it has to be uncertain. We can look at it from a distance and give a probability of a certain behaviour.

... Our thoughts are relate to quantum mechanics? I'm gonna have to think that one over...

Is there anyone here that believes that types are set in stone? We are told that MBTs are based on preferences, and you'd think that a preference could change over time? As we grow, our minds adapt to the outside world, we conciously make decisions based on external events, and the sucess of those decisions might cause us to change the way we make those decisions, effectively changing what we think is our type. It might not be easy to change, but I wouldn't doubt that it can happen.

So, event ---> thinking, deciding (presumably unmeasurable) ---> behaviour.
Now, if we look at just one behaviour, for example, Te, it doesn't have any meaning, it just so happened that in this case, the resulting behaviour was Te. You must look at the probability, or think about which function is used more often to get an idea of what's going on. But, even then, we can use our will (whether conciously or not) to change our behaviours. So I could choose to be an ESFJ if I wished it, and that would be the truth, at least considering the time that I behaved like an ESFJ.

Another possibility is that we have set functions and that the rest are just imitated, or behaviours that you don't use. I'm not so sure that that agrees with reality though... you're not likely to ever see a 'pure' type, someone who has only ever behaved as an INTP should. Then again, life has never been perfect, it's all just an untested hypothesis.

Just thinking thoughts, sharing them in the hope to gain/learn your perspective, or mold my own. I'm not even sure of what I'm on about here, sorry about the electron/physics talk, it just helps me to form my own thoughts by means of analogy. Most brilliant discoveries probably happen using simple analogies, so it's good practice

• Jungian type isn't supposed to be about behavior at all--that's trait theory, which is what the US is immersed in culturally. Type theory says we have preferences. Mature people change their behavior to get the best results in given circumstances. That doesn't mean they change preferences.
• On the other hand, Jung's last words on his own type that he left us are ambiguous. Definitely started life as Ti, wondered if Ni described him best at the end. Maybe this was just the immature way (as in early in life) an INTP had of coping with the very,very T Swiss culture.
• Don't confuse reliability/validity of the MBTI itself or any other type instrument with the validity of the theory. They're all self-reporting instruments and that means our own perceptions can change how we report. If they were diagnostic, like the MMPI which diagnoses mental disorders, you'd need degrees in psychology/psychiatry etc to adminster them.
• There is actually a lot of proof that the theory describes reality. Go to CAPT: Training, Books, Research for MBTI, Archetypes, Leadership, Psychological Type. and search the bibliography for studies from all over the world that show that the theory does indeed allow for predictions that play out in real life
• For example, change how engineering degree programs are structured to include more applied courses at the beginning rather than just theoretical and more students who prefer S stick to the program. All of the career studies show that people really do select careers that the theory would predict match their preferences. People on teams and in leadership take in information and make decisions in ways that the theory predicts.
• In other words, when people are trained in applying the theory well, those they work with are able to improve leadership skills, marriages, parenting, teaching, study skills, career counseling, health care interactions, conflict resolution, etc.
• The main disconnect that you'll find in journal articles criticizing type theory is that they....well, there's two. They assume the instruments are measuring traits, which they don't. And they assume they're diagnostic, and they aren't.

Great practitioners don't need any instrument as they can help people, through EXPERIENCES, see the normal differences that occur in people. Then they help others make constructive use of those differences. They really don't "type" others and they know that type isn't destiny. All of us can learn to work out of our preferences. The deal is, it takes more work.

One of Jung's big principles was individuation...that point in life where the ego realizes it really doesn't handle anything all that well--the dominant in itself is a lousy way to orient life. People who have had life experiences that cause them to reflect deeply in the process Jung was describing really may appear to change types. Understanding one does not have all the answers really does change our outlook...

2. I've heard that individuation was really the goal in Jung's theory, and that it got corrupted into what we call "developing all the functions" (or as many as we can) in our popular usage of the theory.
Lenore Thomson explained it to me, as that Jung saw function preference as a "wound on the psyche" (that is not really even natural); and it kind of reminds me of something my father used to always say, particularly in religious debates: the only "perfection" is nothing. The minute you have one thing differentiated, or "preferred", then the balance is upset.

3. Originally Posted by Eric B
...The minute you have one thing differentiated, or "preferred", then the balance is upset.
Yup.

4. ^^ very interesting posts

I don't have anything deep to share, except that so far in my life the MBTI has been applicable to real situations. It has helped me understand and deal with people around me, smooth out and avoid conflicts and misunderstandings. However, I don't think you are your type or that your type is all you are. You are a person, and every person is different and 'complicated'. While I believe the MBTI has some truth in it, it's not an absolute truth -- a lot more play a part in shaping who you are, including your past, your early memories, your experiences, your upbringing and cultural associations that go on unconsciously in your mind.

Sorry, I guess that didn't really answer your question

5. You're on the right track.

I recently learned that there is a distinction between valuing a function and using a function.

For me at least, it helpful to think of it this way:

The Fi of an INFP (Fi-1) in the dominant position is actually a different Fi from the Fi (Fi-3) of an INTJ in the tertiary position.

For the INFP, Fi-1 is an all-encompassing complete world view that causes them to determine what things they value in terms of ethics, morality, and whether it is in-line with their personally-defined principles.

For the INTJ, Fi-3 is an entity that can pop up in specific contexts such as when writing poetry. Just because he used Fi in that instance, doesn't make him an INFP.

I think that by focusing solely on the dominant functions, we can definitely see some similar enough world-views to make useful distinctions.

So group Fi-doms, Ti-doms, Ne-doms etc.

As you go deeper and deeper down the function line, the "arm-waving" aspect of the theory becomes greater and greater. At a certain point down the function line, anyone can come up with a pet theory and all will be equally useless...err valid.

6. it's but a language system. it helps us understand something difficult and complex very well, but it occasionally produces errors or glitches that are perhaps as epidemiological as anything. not to mention the way different types imagine and relate to the function descriptions and the stereotypes of other types.

7. Originally Posted by edcoaching
• Jungian type isn't supposed to be about behavior at all--that's trait theory, which is what the US is immersed in culturally. Type theory says we have preferences. Mature people change their behavior to get the best results in given circumstances. That doesn't mean they change preferences.
• On the other hand, Jung's last words on his own type that he left us are ambiguous. Definitely started life as Ti, wondered if Ni described him best at the end. Maybe this was just the immature way (as in early in life) an INTP had of coping with the very,very T Swiss culture.
• Don't confuse reliability/validity of the MBTI itself or any other type instrument with the validity of the theory. They're all self-reporting instruments and that means our own perceptions can change how we report. If they were diagnostic, like the MMPI which diagnoses mental disorders, you'd need degrees in psychology/psychiatry etc to adminster them.
• There is actually a lot of proof that the theory describes reality. Go to CAPT: Training, Books, Research for MBTI, Archetypes, Leadership, Psychological Type. and search the bibliography for studies from all over the world that show that the theory does indeed allow for predictions that play out in real life
• For example, change how engineering degree programs are structured to include more applied courses at the beginning rather than just theoretical and more students who prefer S stick to the program. All of the career studies show that people really do select careers that the theory would predict match their preferences. People on teams and in leadership take in information and make decisions in ways that the theory predicts.
• In other words, when people are trained in applying the theory well, those they work with are able to improve leadership skills, marriages, parenting, teaching, study skills, career counseling, health care interactions, conflict resolution, etc.
• The main disconnect that you'll find in journal articles criticizing type theory is that they....well, there's two. They assume the instruments are measuring traits, which they don't. And they assume they're diagnostic, and they aren't.

Great practitioners don't need any instrument as they can help people, through EXPERIENCES, see the normal differences that occur in people. Then they help others make constructive use of those differences. They really don't "type" others and they know that type isn't destiny. All of us can learn to work out of our preferences. The deal is, it takes more work.

One of Jung's big principles was individuation...that point in life where the ego realizes it really doesn't handle anything all that well--the dominant in itself is a lousy way to orient life. People who have had life experiences that cause them to reflect deeply in the process Jung was describing really may appear to change types. Understanding one does not have all the answers really does change our outlook...
I had a feeling I was making some assumptions... I should look for something written by Jung.

#### Posting Permissions

• You may not post new threads
• You may not post replies
• You may not post attachments
• You may not edit your posts
•