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  1. #1
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Default MBTI and children

    How much do we change between childhood and adulthood?

    I first took the MBTI (I believe it was the Real Thing) in the 9th grade. The result was INFP. Then I took Kiersey's test in Please Understand Me II about three years ago and the result was ISFJ. I've taken so many online tests and such since then, and gotten so many different results (INFP, INFJ, ISFJ, ISFP, and even INTP once) that I think I'm ruined for finding out my "real" type. I can tell what the questions are answering so I'm sure I steer the test somewhat.

    Recently I've been trying to think back to myself as a child, and see what I can remember about my temperament then, hoping it'll provide a clue to what my temperament might actually be. I was a bright kid with a fairly active imagination that I frequently got lost in. I played a lot of "office" and "house," and pretended my apple juice was brandy (my parents were teetotallers, not sure where I got that idea). I messed around in the creek and dug in the backyard watching ants and bugs, wondering what life was like for them. Magnolia trees were teepees for domestic play. Evidently I brought home a lot of injured animals, and my parents couldn't stand not to help me tend to them either until they could be set free, or until they died.

    In middle school and high school, I became a bit of a social activist, probably inspired by the Quaker school I went to at the time. We made meals for the homeless shelter, and I always hoped that the people who ate them would feel a little less shitty because there were people who cared for them without ever even meeting them.

    My mother swears that I was just like my daughter, who I think is probably an NF of some variety-- but she's more clearly an NF than I was. Most of her play revolves around being a fairy, witch, or some other mythical creature. She's hyper-aware of people's feelings and intentions, as I was, but much moreso. She has always been more cerebral and less kinetic than other children. She could be reasoned with as a toddler, at least most of the time.

    How much do you think we change? Is a child who shows NF qualities likely to grow up and be an adult NF? I tend to think that people are who they are, and habits and activities can change, but the underlying temperament does not. I'd love to hear other thoughts on this.

  2. #2
    shoshaku jushaku rivercrow's Avatar
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    Default MMTIC

    Excellent question.

    (I'm breaking this into parts.)

    You might be interested to know the MMTIC (Murphy-Meisgeier Type Indicator for Children) has just been revised. This is a MBTI-based tool that is geared for folks with lower reading levels. (I *think* MBTI is directed towards a reading level of Grade 8-10, but I might be wrong.) The questions are also age-appropriate. (As with any MBTI translation, there are multiple layers required to translate.)

    For example, questions on the MMTIC would say things like: When you come home from school, you would rather A) go play, then do your homework or B) Do your homework, then go play.

    MMTIC is used in counseling situations.
    Who rises in the morning, looks in the mirror and says, "I think I will do something stupid today?" -- James Hollis
    If people never did silly things nothing intelligent would ever get done. -- Ludwig Wittgenstein
    Whaling is illegal in Oklahoma.

  3. #3
    Senior Member meshou's Avatar
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    I tested as INTJ at 10 (I had a college reading level), and again at 14. Strong T, strong J.

    19, INFP, very strong P, mild F. Now, I test slightly T, still fairly strong P.
    Let's do this thing.

  4. #4
    shoshaku jushaku rivercrow's Avatar
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    Default Traditional Type Development theory

    According to traditional Type theory, during infancy you would have no preferred functions. Your dominant preferred function would develop around the toddler age. Your secondary function would develop around 10-ish. Your tertiary would develop in your 20s-30s, and your inferior would begin to develop later (40+, if ever).

    When I say "develop," I mean "having some conscious control over." When a function is undeveloped, it is still there, but subconscious and uncontrollable. As each function emerges, you will continue to develop control over the "older" functions--but the later arrivals will remain in a less-developed state.

    This is one of the reasons why it's important to understand where someone is in their life when working with type verification. For example, if you are in your teens, you would not be as facile with your tertiary function as you would with your secondary. If you are in your 40's-50's, you may be exploring your inferior process.

    (There's more to this, but I will stop here. You get the idea.)

    My suspicion, based on what I know of type development, is that between the ages of 10 and 17 you *should* be able to identify both a primary and a secondary process, which is sufficient to form a type hypothesis. if you can't reliably identify a secondary process, then you can still work off Jung's original personality theory (where he discusses a secondary process but does not suggest how to identify it).
    Who rises in the morning, looks in the mirror and says, "I think I will do something stupid today?" -- James Hollis
    If people never did silly things nothing intelligent would ever get done. -- Ludwig Wittgenstein
    Whaling is illegal in Oklahoma.

  5. #5
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Default

    Every time I've taken the cognitive processes test (which I imagine I'm less "spoiled" on since I don't have a good grasp on them like I do on the four dichotomies) I get FiNe as my dominant and secondary. Wish I could remember the tertiary.

    I would say my daughter's a big-time NeFi. It's hard to tell which is dominant, though-- I say NeFi because I am about 75% sure she's an extravert.

    My son's a toddler. I had not bothered to really think about him in type terms yet since most toddlers are probably Se-oriented to some degree (with a few notable exceptions, like my daughter, who was always more interested in ideas than the world around her).

  6. #6
    shoshaku jushaku rivercrow's Avatar
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    Default Type: both innate and environmental

    A good question to add is: Where does type come from?

    Jung theorized that type was innate. It's something you're born with, like handedness. This seems to be supported by research that type is somewhat hereditary and that there are physiologic associations. (For example, iris structures, brain processing, etc.)

    Jung also suggested that normal type development can be either supported or stunted. For example, before the 1970s, many schools forced students to write with their right hands. (My sister, a leftie, recalls having her hand smacked for writing with her preferred hand; I've read similar stories from other people as well.)

    If you are supported in your natural type development, well and good.

    But perhaps you are naturally INFP and you're raised in the States. The US is recognized as having a strong social bias toward ESTJ. (If anyone wondered why ESTJ is on the left side of a MBTI results form, this is why.) You're going to feel pressure to behave in the "socially-accepted" manners--to *exhibit* ESTJ behaviors. These behaviors will feel as natural to you as writing with your non-preferred hand.

    If you are not supported in developing your preferred functions, they will atrophy while you focus on developing your non-preferred functions. The end result will be that you will not have a differentiated function that you can use with confidence. This is why traditional type theorists will say that stunted type development is psychologically violent.

    Non-differentiated functions are not good things, especially when you have no control over them. Imagine never knowing if you should rely on your values for decision or if you should rely on principles. You could flip-flop endlessly and make bad decisions--if you ever made a decision. Or perhaps you can't control whether you are focusing on the task immediately at hand or speculating on what you're planning to do tomorrow. You need all functions, but you also need control to use them appropriately.
    Who rises in the morning, looks in the mirror and says, "I think I will do something stupid today?" -- James Hollis
    If people never did silly things nothing intelligent would ever get done. -- Ludwig Wittgenstein
    Whaling is illegal in Oklahoma.

  7. #7
    shoshaku jushaku rivercrow's Avatar
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    Default Does Type Change?

    Again, according to traditional type theory, your type does not change over time. Nor can you consciously develop less-preferred (3rd/4rd) functions by will alone.

    You can learn behaviors associated with your less-preferred functions. By practicing these behaviors, you can develop aspects of the less-preferred functions.

    For example, an INFJ whose inferior (4th) function is Extraverted Sensing could exercise the 3rd and 4th functions by knitting or doing other handicrafts, which require attending to detail and being in the moment. Does that mean the type is changing? Would that INFJ be happy as an LPN, which requires constant attending to detail and staying focused on the moment? No. But the INFJ adds to the toolbox new ways of working with the world, and that is valuable indeed.

    This is an important distinction, btw, especially when considering a career change.
    Who rises in the morning, looks in the mirror and says, "I think I will do something stupid today?" -- James Hollis
    If people never did silly things nothing intelligent would ever get done. -- Ludwig Wittgenstein
    Whaling is illegal in Oklahoma.

  8. #8
    shoshaku jushaku rivercrow's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Every time I've taken the cognitive processes test (which I imagine I'm less "spoiled" on since I don't have a good grasp on them like I do on the four dichotomies) I get FiNe as my dominant and secondary. Wish I could remember the tertiary.

    I would say my daughter's a big-time NeFi. It's hard to tell which is dominant, though-- I say NeFi because I am about 75% sure she's an extravert.

    My son's a toddler. I had not bothered to really think about him in type terms yet since most toddlers are probably Se-oriented to some degree (with a few notable exceptions, like my daughter, who was always more interested in ideas than the world around her).
    FiNeSxTe

    The tertiary is "traditionally" opposite in direction (attitude) and function from the secondary. BUT newer research suggests that it may not follow that neat algebra so reliably, so we leave off the attitude.

    The inferior is ALWAYS opposite in attitude and function from the dominant.

    My guess is that your toddler is too young to type--he's probably not differentiated. Wait a few years. You may be on the mark with your daughter. I don't recall the age of your daughter--I'll leave all that in your hands.
    Last edited by rivercrow; 05-12-2007 at 04:50 PM. Reason: Needed more
    Who rises in the morning, looks in the mirror and says, "I think I will do something stupid today?" -- James Hollis
    If people never did silly things nothing intelligent would ever get done. -- Ludwig Wittgenstein
    Whaling is illegal in Oklahoma.

  9. #9
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by rivercrow View Post
    According to traditional Type theory, during infancy you would have no preferred functions. Your dominant preferred function would develop around the toddler age. Your secondary function would develop around 10-ish. Your tertiary would develop in your 20s-30s, and your inferior would begin to develop later (40+, if ever).
    That's the Conventional Wisdom, but I think it's extremely varied, dependent not only upon the person but the environment they are raised in.

    For me, I never tried to interfere with my childrens' personality development, yet I had a very good idea of their type (in my head) early on and it was only confirmed as they aged.

    ESFP: He spent his first few months of life in the PICU, and even THEN, the nurses would all spend time with HIM on their breaks. He simply was a very engaging, very happy, very enthusiastic baby, and it only got "worse." His Se was thus fully engaged early on; his Fi has been developing in mature direction since he was 9 or so, but he still has a lot of work left to go.

    INFJ: We adopted her when she was four. This was my guess based on the first week with her and just how she interacted with me, but I just kept watching her over time and she's got a very "regal" bearing to her. She connects with people deeply and knows how to engage them in a one-on-one basis. You could just tell there was a whole world inside of her. Her Fe instincts kicked in very very noticeably by the time she was seven. The way she radiates kindness and sticks up for the underdog is just incredible; she is also constantly leaving gracious notes for people (something neither I nor my wife do, this behavior is all her own).

    INTP: The hardest to figure out. I was very sure he was INxP when he was only a few years old, but wasn't sure about the T/F thing until he got older, maybe around 4-5. This was confirmed when he went to school and interacted with different people and I could see what things he was instinctively critical of. (Stupidity, namely. Everything was judged in regards to whether it was smart or dumb.) What was neat with him was that I saw the Ti-style thought at that age, but he felt very uncreative and really did not stretch himself until maybe he was 11. And suddenly he began to get lots of ideas, and discuss things openly, and the Ne sort of "cut loose." His sense of humor and ability to make a quick retort jumped up too, as part of the Ne thing -- and he is constantly catching me off-guard and making me laugh. As far as following the expected path, he seems the most conforming.

    Anyway, this is partly a tangent, but just examples of how I'm not sure how "good" the conventional wisdom is on this. In the last few weeks, I've seen at least one or two other MBTI writers comment on how the functions seem to kick in earlier than expected.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  10. #10
    Senior Member meshou's Avatar
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    I think strong challenges or traumatic experience can have a fairly profound effect on type, though. If life forces you to quick develop new skills, your type may change a little.

    I think that the Big Five characteristics are far more innate than MBTI. I can't say any of those have changed in me, but my MBTI type, I think, probably has.
    Let's do this thing.

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