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  1. #1
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    Default Keirsey: Fairy Tale for the Masses

    I posted this on another type web site, but I think this might generate more conversation here since the site is so much busier.

    I am oft known to complain about Keirsey because I find a lot of his descriptions too binding and stereotyped (like did anyone notice how he describes ISTJs as wearing "homespun" clothes???!! Gimme a break!!)

    But I decided to emphasize today what I like about Keirsey or what I got from his book at all, and that principally applied to the temperaments: NF/SP/NT/SJ.

    I found that I actually related to more SP traits than NF, which caused me to question Se vs. Ne, along with other things over the course of a couple of months.

    I like best the matrices he places in each section: for example, Artisan syntax is "Descriptive" (yes! that's me!) and they find Self-Esteem in being Artistic, Self-Respect in being Audacious (this really resonated with me, again), and Self-Confidence in being Adaptable. I think my Vocation is more applicable to "Equipment" (whether that be cooking tools or using a computer for writing) rather than Personnel, which is the NF Vocation. While some of the NF traits may apply, I found that the SP Temperament characteristics made more sense.

    I also thought that some of the SJ traits really did seem like SJs I know - Seeking Security, Yearning for Belonging, Aspiring to be Executives, and often having a Pessimistic attitude in the Present, while garnering Self-Esteem in being Dependable.

    I found these descriptions less offensive and less overly specific.

    Does anyone else appreciate this aspect of Keirsey, but not others?

    Feel free to discuss any and all of Keirsey (what you like, what you don't) in this thread.

    I got really excited when I was reading it, but I think that's because of the way it's a story...and I like folk tales and archetypal stuff, I was really into astrology as a teenager, blah blah blah.

    But stepping back and looking at it as a source of objective information for personality type? NO WAY. He says things like SJ women see sex as a duty and with some of his quotes makes SPs sound like smart-alecky or "tough guy" characters from mid-20th century movies. All NFs are apparently fragile, non-confrontational social workers (I definitely did not see myself in that) and apparently he claims he fell in love with the first NF girl he ever met as an NT? It's all a bit over the top if you look at it in terms of actually seriously typing people.

    It's entertaining, it's fun, yes there's some useful information in the framework of it (like I do think he does loosely correlate some SJ behaviors to Si, and some SP behaviors to Se, etc.) ...and I find the temperaments much more useful than the individual type descriptions, though I can't really say I'm a fan once he gets into things like sexual attitudes (seems really, really stereotyped beyond belief) even while I think his Parenting styles for the temperaments are kind of spot on.

    Keirsey is a big fairy tale of hit and miss. It's got grains of truth to it, just like a fictional story. Because essentially that's what it is.

    And that's the only way I can appreciate it, is by seeing the usefulness of the grains of truth in the archetypal fairy tale. But when people take it so seriously, I find it offensive. Because it over-simplifies type theory and reduces human beings down to lame stereotypes which may have nothing to do with their actual cognitive functions.

    I've seen some SRS Keirsey fanatics say the dumbest things about people...and a couple of these guys are INTx...you'd think they'd be more intellectually discriminating than that...but I guess not.

    I can totally see where I would have gotten carried away with Keirsey if I had read it when I was like seventeen. Totally. I would have taken it as seriously as astrology, I would have gotten caught up in the artistry and mythology of it.

    It's only because as an adult with life experience that it horrifies me how much it reduces human beings to ridiculous stereotypes. It doesn't seem like any educated adult should take it quite that seriously.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marmie Dearest View Post
    I've seen some SRS Keirsey fanatics say the dumbest things about people...and a couple of these guys are INTx...
    Oh, you're just being that way again.
    "Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson
    “Culture?” says Paul McCartney. “This isn't culture. It's just a good laugh.”

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by mal12345 View Post
    Oh, you're just being that way again.
    That was an intelligent reponse to the many words and sentences there.

    Are you sure you're not a Feeler, bro? WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?

  4. #4
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    Gah, Keirsey is like TypeLogic. Neither of which I like too much. Both explain a little bit of what may come out of the types, but they throw in way too many stereotypes for my liking.

  5. #5
    Tier 1 Member LunaLuminosity's Avatar
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    It's like one of those fairytales that is heavily based on true events, but then throws a bunch of threads of nonsense into the weave to make things more dramatic and interesting. There's some excellent insights in the general structure but as always some of the specifics derived from something that is so abstract may be wrong in reality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LunaLuminosity View Post
    It's like one of those fairytales that is heavily based on true events, but then throws a bunch of threads of nonsense into the weave to make things more dramatic and interesting. There's some excellent insights in the general structure but as always some of the specifics derived from something that is so abstract may be wrong in reality.
    I think the whole problem lies in people thinking, either due to lack of life experience or lack of experience with people or lack of social skills, that the fictional details are real and true.

    Would someone who rejects Se be more likely to do this? To ignore blatant reality in the name of a theory? Or would an INTx actually be more likely to do this because of their strong preference for abstract theory, that it doesn't even occur to them to weigh it carefully against real life?

    Then again, there are many sensors who don't weigh much of religious texts against real life, so I guess type has nothing to do with it.

    There has to be some reason why an adult would buy that strongly into stereotypes about other human beings, without joking about it, or believing in the underlying theories without taking the stereotypes so seriously.

    Then again, what the hell is wrong with David Keirsey that he saw people in such a stereotyped way to begin with? Was he trying hard to make personality theory available to the masses? Was he really not that intent on forming stereotypes, but thought he had to make it more appealing and interesting, less dry and theoretical?

    Maybe that's what it is. Maybe he was trying his best to make his book interesting and accessible to all people and not like boring or over their heads. I'll admit it was really hard for me to get through Jung, and it took me YEARS of having discussions with people to grasp the functions, and I really wanted to do it.

  7. #7
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    I view the 16 types as, well, caricatures in a way. They are packaged neatly and provide a good array of the 'types' of people you might encounter in day to day life. I think the types, and extremes (descriptions-and-test-question-wise) they represent, are realistic in that you could find individuals out there who very well will fit the description to a T. They are not realistic in that there is obviously a lot of variation within type; hence type isn't the end-all-be-all. I think many people are a little less distinct, deviate from a description or type in one way or another, so that they're not quite as extreme as the caricature.

    So personally I think the 16 types can be reflective of real-life categories or patterns of personality people can fall into, but in the end it's kind of like a template; I sure hope it was never meant to be used to describe every single aspect of an individuals' behavior & cognition and every aspect of their personality. And, in the end, people came up with these various categories/dichotomies - just as they've been doing for thousands of years (just different systems) - it's not like we have a particular gene for 'N' and another for 'S', or one for 'T' and one for 'F' - at least, it's no more realistic to think that than thinking we have a gene for 'yellow bile' and another for 'black bile' and all of the humours that were used in the middle ages for this sort of thing. Or, a 'sanguine' gene and not a 'phlegmatic' gene. All of these typing systems describe observable categories of people, and the categories/cognitive functions are names for underlying concepts/processes, the concepts of which might not be the concepts that we 'should' be targeting in the first place, we might not be incorporating pieces to the concepts that we should be, or might be incorporating things that we should not be. lol.

    I do think the concepts themselves though are very helpful in discerning and understanding differences between people, and in trying to describe and provide structure (i.e. our concepts of Ni/Ne/Te and so on) to something as complicated as personality... hence why I'm interested in it, I suppose.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marmie Dearest View Post
    That was an intelligent reponse to the many words and sentences there.

    Are you sure you're not a Feeler, bro? WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?
    YEEEEESHH. I even put a smiley face on my post and guess what? Like I said, you're just being that way.
    "Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson
    “Culture?” says Paul McCartney. “This isn't culture. It's just a good laugh.”

  9. #9
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    I'm a bit of an outlier here in that I don't see any actual validity in "cognitive function" theory -- I actually consider Keirsey more useful, but it's certainly not because it's at all scientific (it's not). It's *because* it doesn't try to link a conceptualization of personality type to some sort of fuzzy set of predictive or causative factors. At its base, to me it's always been about "some people prefer some ways of thinking/being/living, and others prefer different ones". It's simply a framework for displaying differences between people, a simplistic tool for stepping out of one's own preferences and seeing the world in someone else's view. Any time someone tries to say something like "you're an XXXX, so you must like YYYY" -- the bounds of usefulness of the model has been exceeded, imho. But that's not what it's for, and what it does do has use.

    Obviously it's full of stereotypes. It wouldn't be far off the mark to say that it's nothing *but* stereotypes -- but that's okay as long as you don't try to shoehorn actual people into hard-and-fast classifications and think that means something. The human mind is a fantastically complex and variant thing. No simple model is going to be consistently predictive (and wouldn't that be boring?). But as a way to compare and contrast yourself with others, at a very basic level, sure, it's useful.

    But it is what it is, and isn't what it isn't. Most people don't fall 100% into a single "type". Most people will say "this type fits me best" -- some people won't find a good fit with any type, but will see bits and pieces of themselves in several. Some others don't identify with any. It is good at giving people somewhere to start when discussing differences between the ways they think and what's important to them, though. That's a good thing, I think.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mal12345 View Post
    YEEEEESHH. I even put a smiley face on my post and guess what? Like I said, you're just being that way.
    I'm not just being any way. I'm expressing my real opinion of Keirsey and giving a valid criticism of why I think so.

    I merely expressed surprise that INTx would embrace something like this since they think of themselves (in Keirsey terms) of being oh so intellectually discerning. It seems to me like a person who truly valued objectivity and high-brow theory would view Keirsey as a nice starting point for people who have a hard time with Jungian theory, but eschew it in favor of Jung or Beebe or someone, anyone, who isn't so heavily reliant on simplistic archetypes. This is why some Sensors reject personality theory outright...they're offended when they read ISFJ, for example, and are just like "what the fuck? are you crazy?" and go on with their day, because they automatically pick up on the fiction in it.

    This proves that INTx don't even live up to their own Keirsey stereotype of having such an excellent bullshit detector and a penchant for theory that is stairways and stairways above the rest of us plebes.

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