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  1. #1
    Vaguely Precise Seymour's Avatar
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    Default Reynierse's revised type theory

    James Reynierse has published (or co-published) a whole series of articles which attack MBTI type dynamics. These articles, published in the Journal of Psychological Type, available from CAPT behind a pay wall, include:

    • Oct 2008Preference Multidimensionality and the Fallacy of Type Dynamics: Part 1 (Studies 1–3). James H. Reynierse and John B. Harker
    • Nov 2008 Preference Multidimensionality and the Fallacy of Type Dynamics: Part 2 (Studies 4–6) James H. Reynierse, John B. Harker
    • Jan 2009 The Case Against Type Dynamics, James H. Reynierse
    • Mar 2012 Toward an Empirically Sound and Radically Revised Type Theory, James H. Reynierse


    Since he's primarily attacking things from a empirical/statistical perspective, this may prove unconvincing to some (for example, see INTP's reaction to a mention of Reynierse in this thread).

    Still, I think Reynierse's approach to be interesting and not unconvincing,in its way. However, I think it effectively adds more value to a Big Five (aka Five Factory Model or FFM) approach. With his latest "Toward an Empirically Sound and Radically Revised Type Theory" article, Reyneirse finally revealed what I thought his previous articles had been working for: his own view of what a sound MBTI-like type theory would be.

    He lists the following five principles for his theory (not all of them are central to understanding his approach):

    • Principle 1: All individual human beings differ with their own personal
      identity and individuality formed by their own unique genetic, ontogenetic,
      epigenetic, and experiential background.
    • Principle 2: The individual MBTI preferences are the fundamental unit
      of analysis for type theory.
    • Principle 3: The individual preferences are arranged as sets of
      complementary opposites.
    • Principle 4: The individual preferences are free to combine with each other and in any order.
    • Principle 5: The combination of individual preferences is additive
      rather than interactive.
    • Principle 6: The expression of psychological type is fundamentally
      contextual and situational.
    • Principle 7: MBTI preference scores matter and indicate strength of
      preference.
    • Principle 8: Type dominance is a function of strength of preference and the dominant preference is simply the independently high-value preference.



    Independent preference scales

    So, his fundamental argument is that each MBTI "dichotomy" is not a dichotomy and stands on its own. Reynierse argues that each of the four letter pairs of the MBTI represents a continuous, non-dichotomous spectrum of preference. That is, one isn't either "I" or "E" exclusively, but one's preference falls somewhere on the E/I scale (this is very similar to Big Five trait theory).

    He also argues that each preference stands on its own equally. Therefore J/P is not a "pointer" to the orientation of functions, but instead is a stand-alone dimension that functions as independently as its peers do. In no sense is J/P "special" as a preference or scale (nor are the other scales uniquely affected by it).

    So, when using the MBTI (the instrument, not the theory) he would argue that the numeric scores are significant as a rough approximate of strength of preference, and the strength of preference is important.

    In Reynierse's view, every person does not have a "dominant function", but instead has a "dominant preference" (or preferences, if the two strongest preferences are roughly equal). The dominant preference is just to the strongest preference on any of the four preference scales. So one's strongest preference might even be "J" or "I".

    Effects of preferences

    Reynierse also argues that not only does each preference have an effect, but the combination of two or three preferences together can act additively. However, in his analysis he found that three preferences together only sometimes had an effect, and the addition of a fourth preference seemed to be generally statistically insignificant.

    In addition, the effect of any single preference, preference dyad, or triad was often situational; ascribing the effect of a dyad or triad to a "whole type" just muddies the waters.

    Reynierse gives examples of lexical descriptions and their correlations with ordered preferences—so order is important here, and association may be strongest with the additive qualities of two or three preferences. So, for example, EFP is associated with "fun loving" (compare with PE's association with "impulsive"), SJ with "conservative" (compare with JS's "organized") and JT with "thorough" (compare with TJ's "decisive").


    Type codes

    Reynierse suggests a type code of preferences ordered strongest to weakest. He expands this into an eight-letter code (with the second half reversing the order and letter of the first so that one can tell at a glance where a preference falls). Under his type code, I would most likely be an "NPIFtejs", since my intuition and perceiving preferences are the most extreme ("INFP" becomes "NPIF" when arranged by strength of preference, and "tejs" being reversed and opposed form of "NPIF"... just "estj" rearranged to mirror).

    This form of type code makes it easy to see which preferences have less influence (the ones in the middle), and which ones are more extreme (ones at the ends).

    What's lost and what's gained

    There are interesting pros and cons to Reynierse's approach (ignoring questions of absolute truth/truthiness). By making preference strength central, he effectively creates more sub-types of the 16 standard types. It also makes room for people who have an "X" in their code (even in the J/P slot) or who otherwise don't seem to follow type dynamics in practice.

    One can even salvage some of the nature of the 8 functions by merely associating them with preference pairs. So, for example, Te just becomes the result of the additive qualities of T and J. Si becomes the additive qualifies of S and J. Ne of N + P, etc. However, such an approach would not seem to naturally yield Fe/Ti and Te/Fi pairings.

    This also suggests it should be possible to write equally insightful descriptions of other preference pairs (and triads). And some of those would be more descriptive of an individual than the traditional eight functions (which ought to work best for peoples whose strongest two preferences are J/P and one of S/N/F/T).

    However, in this model type dynamics goes by the wayside. No longer would there be Fe-doms and Ni-doms and the like. No longer would the there be any expected model of type development (at least not in any particular order for any given type).

    As an extension of Big Five/FFM

    In a way, Reynierse's model works better as an extension of the Five Factor Model/Big Five rather than as a reworking of MBTI itself. First of all, Reynierse tweaks the preference definitions to better match those of the Big Five, so that Feeling/Thinking becomes more like the Big Five's "Agreeable". So clearly Reyneirse is trying to shift things towards the Big Five definitionally.

    Secondly, this model does add an element I think the Big Five traditionally lacks: a sense of the combinatorial influence of traits. Most Big Five based "type" descriptions just provide a bucket of description of individual traits, without providing any sense of how they interact. Reyneirse's model addresses that (at least for dyads and triads). It also makes sense that particular preferences, when strong, have bearings on particular situations. This is something that the MBTI does not capture particularly well (except when it defines individual preferences, the 8 functions, or the temperaments).

    At any rate, it is kind of fun as a more statistically rigorous model that also provides a way think about preference strength as making a real difference (sort of like the light-hearted "The 24 Types of INTP" thread on intp central).

    tl;dr summation

    For the tl;dr crowd: an empiricist thinks MBTI type dynamics are bunk, that pairs and triplets of preference are where it's at, and proposes a less bunk-filled approach involving type codes ordered by strength of preference.

    So, what are your ordered preferences?
    Likes highlander, *avariel* liked this post

  2. #2
    Honor Thy Inferior Such Irony's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seymour View Post

    So, what are your ordered preferences?
    I > N > P > T

    The last two might be switched. Both are fairly weak.
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  3. #3
    garbage
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    Thanks for the find, man.

    You see lots of people with x's and lowercase letters in their type field, which signifies that they lend some value to the notion of strengths of 'dichotomy preferences,' too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seymour View Post
    So, his fundamental argument is that each MBTI "dichotomy" is not a dichotomy and stands on its own. Reynierse argues that each of the four letter pairs of the MBTI represents a continuous, non-dichotomous spectrum of preference. That is, one isn't either "I" or "E" exclusively, but one's preference falls somewhere on the E/I scale (this is very similar to Big Five trait theory).

    He also argues that each preference stands on its own equally. Therefore J/P is not a "pointer" to the orientation of functions, but instead is a stand-alone dimension that functions as independently as its peers do. In no sense is J/P "special" as a preference or scale (nor are the other scales uniquely affected by it).

    So, when using the MBTI (the instrument, not the theory) he would argue that the numeric scores are significant as a rough approximate of strength of preference, and the strength of preference is important.

    In Reynierse's view, every person does not have a "dominant function", but instead has a "dominant preference" (or preferences, if the two strongest preferences are roughly equal). The dominant preference is just to the strongest preference on any of the four preference scales. So one's strongest preference might even be "J" or "I".
    I'm surprised that there aren't more pitchforks and torches raised at the idea. The tests--which are among the only evidence we have--are very imperfect measures of combinations of functions that may or may not exist in combinations laid out in a theory that may or may not be true. Those tests don't show bimodal distributions for dichotomies.

    By the time you describe MBTI dichotomies as a trait-based system, you have reinvented the wheel, so to speak, since most tests of its illk are trait-based.

    Personally, I think the MBTI is more useful as a standalone test and as a self-discovery tool if it severs its roots in Jung's works and embraces the fact that it classifies people on four sliding scales. Instead of insisting that the tests measure 'clarity of preferences,' why not stop beating around the bush and call the measurements 'strengths of preferences'? For most intents of typology, this is accurate enough.

    That's not to say that Jung's works aren't useful--but Jung and MBTI are way too conflated and confused with one another; the waters are so muddied. That is, we ought to approach 'theory-based' and 'evidence-based' from different angles and hope that they feed into each other or converge someday.

    So, what are your ordered preferences?
    N > P >> E >> F/T.. which would 'correlate' pretty well to a dominant function of Ne.


    Also, from the abstract of the first article,
    The author asserts that type dynamics is a conceptually tangled construct with little empirical support, is the source of many problems, and should be discarded.

  4. #4
    Vaguely Precise Seymour's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bologna View Post
    I'm surprised that there aren't more pitchforks and torches raised at the idea.
    No doubt villagers have already been dispatched. "Stay where you are... hurt is on the way!"

    Quote Originally Posted by bologna View Post
    The tests--which are among the only evidence we have--are very imperfect measures of combinations of functions that may or may not exist in combinations laid out in a theory that may or may not be true. Those tests don't show bimodal distributions for dichotomies.

    By the time you describe MBTI dichotomies as a trait-based system, you have reinvented the wheel, so to speak, since most tests of its illk are trait-based.

    Personally, I think the MBTI is more useful as a test and as a self-discovery tool if it severs its roots in Jung's works and embraces the fact that it classifies people on four sliding scales. That's not to say that Jung's works aren't useful--but Jung and MBTI are way too conflated and confused with one another; the waters are so muddied.

    That is, we ought to approach 'theory-based' and 'evidence-based' from different angles and hope that they feed into each other or converge someday.
    I'm not sure I buy Reynierse's revision completely, but I think it's interesting and kind of pleasantly mind-bendery. I'm still mulling it over. As I said above, it seems more like a way to add something that's missing from the Big Five: much idea of interaction between traits.

    Still, empirically there's been very little evidence that the MBTI dichotomies are dichotomous or that type dynamics exists (as Reynierse covered in his previous articles). I certainly give JPT (which is published by APT) props for showing open-mindedness by publishing Reynierse's series of articles attacking type dynamics and suggesting an alternative model.

  5. #5
    Habitual Fi LineStepper JocktheMotie's Avatar
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    Having a little trouble with the terminology without being able to see the studies but in general I like it. Lately I've been having difficulty reconciling that fuzzy line where cognitive thinking preferences are transformed into verifiable emergent behavior that can be tracked, catalogued, studied. The dirty little secret that when testing you don't get bimodal distributions along the preferences as @bologna said but you just get the bells. Now, I'm all for saying that the tests are terrible and half the time people don't have any idea what they're saying yes to, but type is ever going to be a useful tool beyond personal analysis it needs to be a properly quantifiable system and this architecture seems to be a way to do it.

    Also, I have no idea what he means by preferences being additive but not interactive. Again, this is all from a quick glance and I just may be interpreting incorrectly.

    My personal type under this system would be something like TNIp. Whenever I take dichotomy tests my P/J are always basically right on the 50% border.



  6. #6
    Vaguely Precise Seymour's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JocktheMotie View Post
    Having a little trouble with the terminology without being able to see the studies but in general I like it.
    I'm sure my summary being clearer would help, too.

    Quote Originally Posted by JocktheMotie View Post
    Also, I have no idea what he means by preferences being additive but not interactive. Again, this is all from a quick glance and I just may be interpreting incorrectly.
    I think he's mostly arguing against "types are more than the sum of their parts" (especially in any particular context). Instead, for a given context or effect, individual preferences (up to three in practice) may combine additively to push one toward one direction or another.

    For example—and I'm making this example out of whole cloth—let's say that an "E" preference pushes one to seek out novel input, and so do "N" and "P" preferences. In a situation where an ENP is deciding whether or not to pursue an opportunity to experience something new, all three may play a role... the total effect that could be a fairly strong all together. However, that total effect is just the individual effects added up (E + N + P) rather than more than that (like E x N x P, or any other formulation that results in more than the sum of the parts).

    At least that's how I interpret what he says.

  7. #7
    Junior Member Hemd's Avatar
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    Thank you Seymour for the conclusion of Reynierse's article. I think you did a good job explaining it.
    I read Reynierse previous papers and are absolutely with him. No offense meant, but the whole function system is a bunch of crap and shouldn't be used any more. The functions have nothing in common with real personality and are only slightly better than astrology: they only work if you believe in the system and how it works.
    Reynierse showed exactly that: when people don't know about the function system, and therefore don't behave or evaluate themselves correspondingly the way they "should be" according to the system, the functions don't predict or describe real behavior at al. They are a theory that works only in our heads.
    Thats also the reasons why Socionics and MBTI can find no common ground regarding function theory: no one can prove the other wrong or themselves right, because these theories don't exist in reality. I honestly don't understan dwhy so many people believe in the rigid rules of function theory. They are simply an idea, a theory Jung came up nearly 100 years ago. There is and will never be any prove for them, they are just a product of Jungs imagination. Of Course Jung was right about many things and well ahead of his time with his definition of Introversion/Extraversion and other things. But he also believed in much bullshit, like supernatural experiences and he regularily held seances to talk to dead people. Not for fun, but because he really believed in this things. So why should we believe in a rgid set of rules he made up, just for the reason that it was Jung who made it?
    Enough rant.

    A scale-based, continuos approach, with preference score equaling preference strenght would be much better. Because it considers individual differences in personality, instead of pressing people in a rigid system that doesn't work for many.
    Thats the way the Big Five does and MBTI should do it also. Many type enthusiasts miss the point, that the whole Jungian typology/MBTI thing exists only inside a bubble of its followers. Professional scientists and psychologists (i don't mean coaches, career counselers and the like, they are no professional psychologists) ignore the MBTI/Jung completely. For them its not much more than astrology, popcorn for the masses. Nearly all scientists in the last two decades used the Big Five for research. The few MBTI research comes all from CAPT and MBTI associates, nearly none from independent scientists, and all of it is only published in type related Magazines, not in independent scientific magazines.

    @ Jockthe Motie
    "Also, I have no idea what he means by preferences being additive but not interactive. Again, this is all from a quick glance and I just may be interpreting incorrectly. "

    It means 1+1 = 2 and not 1+1 = 3. He says if two preferences are combined, their attributes simply add up. Type theory claims that when two or more preferences are combined, something magically happens, and type is more than simply the attributes of preferences combined.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    I have no issue with anything per se found within Reynierse's theory. But he's missed the boat by not pointing to the logical flaw in what he calls MBTI type dynamics. That flaw is the assumption that the J or P result derives from function order. I realize he addressed the J/P question, but not in this manner, he only takes a commonplace empirical approach to the question. There is nothing particularly revolutionary about the resulting theory. If he had stated that the MBTI as it stands today is rationalistic to its core, I would have been more impressed with his theory. The enneagram is even more rationalistic, especially Riso's interpretation which seeks to reduce every personality and personality theory to itself, just as the Fourth Way from which the enneagram was derived seeks to reduce the entire universe to its laws of 3 and 7. "Gurdjieff focused on two main cosmic laws, the Law of Three and the Law of Seven" - Wiki.

    Reynierse has not proved empirically that anything is "bunk." He is simply tossing out some ideas systematically and letting the individual personality tests themselves provide the "proof." However, that is precisely the same erroneous assumption made by "MBTI type dynamics." It's not exactly what one could properly call an empirical study. And forcing his approach to hold hands with the Big 5 does not help his logic work better. That's like placing religion next to science and then claiming that religion is scientific. And it may tend to make the Big 5 look worse as a result.

    On the other hand, finding out which preference is strongest might inadvertently reveal personality weakness. For example, if Introversion is strongest in me, then that indicates a social issue, or an issue with reality at large viz. living inside my head too much, depending on how much it outweighs Extraversion. Or if my Judging far outweighs Perceiving, maybe I should learn to relax a little.
    "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
    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hemd View Post
    It means 1+1 = 2 and not 1+1 = 3. He says if two preferences are combined, their attributes simply add up. Type theory claims that when two or more preferences are combined, something magically happens, and type is more than simply the attributes of preferences combined.
    I can't give up the 1+1=3 approach. That's not my issue with MBTI type dynamics anyway. And there is some precedent in reality, for example, combining hydrogen and oxygen to create water. Of course I realize that it requires more than just mixing them. But that pretty much characterizes Reynierse's theory. And the "dominant preference" (as if to say "there is more oxygen than hydrogen in your mixture") approach doesn't do much for me unless he can explain why its truth should be important to me.
    "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.”

  10. #10
    Senior Member INTP's Avatar
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    Principle 1: All individual human beings differ with their own personal
    identity and individuality formed by their own unique genetic, ontogenetic,
    epigenetic, and experiential background.
    yes. what does this have to do with anything?

    Principle 2: The individual MBTI preferences are the fundamental unit
    of analysis for type theory.
    no. extraversion/introversion of functions and function positions are the fundamental unit of analysis in type overall. when it comes to individual level, you need to take differentiation of functions into account also.

    Principle 3: The individual preferences are arranged as sets of
    complementary opposites.
    kinda. ISTJ and ENFP has the same functions, but in different order. for ISTJ Ne and Fi are the complementary opposites for Si and Te, for ENFP this is the opposite.

    Principle 4: The individual preferences are free to combine with each other and in any order.
    yes if you look at E-I, S-N etc dichotomies, but when it comes to functions this sort of approach doesent work, thus this is irrelevant to anything than newbies trying to figure out their possible type.

    Principle 5: The combination of individual preferences is additive
    rather than interactive.
    not true for the most parts, but kinda true in some aspects(but not how he meant it). if we take Si and Ne as an example, Ne being perception via unconscious; something is perceived in external world(consciously or unconsciously) and the perception triggers process of unconscious comparison between the external perception and what already has been stored in brains, to cause what dario nardi called trans-contextual thinking. Si on the other hand is subjective perception, perceiving according to what already has been stored in the brains. it is pretty clear that there is an interaction between these two functions, but if it were this simple and there only being one comparison, it couldnt be called interactive, but additive. however when there is neural activity in your brains(like this NeSi thing), brains are constantly being modified, Ne modifies Si and Si modifies Ne, therefore it is flawed to call this additive. not to mention that this seemingly random activity of Ne is using other brain areas, but doing so unconsciously, so its interacting with other functions than just Si(personally i think nardis view on Si is bit flawed, but thats not all that relevant).

    now this isnt the only reason why that statement is flawed, there is another major thing that people often dismiss or dont understand about typology(havent seen this talked on MBTI at all), it is true that we all possess the brain regions which are involved with both orientations of all functions, however this isnt the definition of using that function. whether you use Ti or Te is about whether that brain area is developed(differentiated) enough to be consciously directed(this is why jung said that undeveloped functions are neither extraverted or introverted, since they are neither directed by the subjective or objective factor, they are there just to interact automatically with other contents of your psyche). now we need to go look at this thing that consciously directs those brain areas(or combination of areas) which we call functions. this naturally is the ego and is located in deeper parts of the brains. in order for action potential(energy that is either carried further in brains or suppressed by neurons) to get to these deeper parts of the brains and not just modify neural connections locally(and depriving the information that has been processed from coming to consciousness), you either need strong impulse(continuous stream of action potentials, neurons have thresholds which store action potentials for a short periods of time) or very well developed neural connections in that part of the brain(this is what jung called differentiation), which physically is less neurons trying to stop the impulse, since this sort of stimuli has happened multiple times, which has caused the neural connections to specialize for this sort of info. and now to the point . these mid brain structures that create consciousness and work as the ego try to eliminate unnecessary information from overloading consciousness, combining relevant aspects from all impulses that are compatible with each others, this way they are additive, but its also interactive, because there is interaction between some brain areas before they are added together(or suppressed) by ego. for example with INTP and getting embarrassed, this embarrassment comes from same region as where Fe is, but with undifferentiated Fe, this information doesent go directly to consciousness, but leaks on the neighboring areas, having an interaction with Si and the product of this interaction goes to deeper parts of the brains without suppression(if you consciously do get embarrassed) and might interact by suppressing thinking for example, due to the strong impulse coming from FeSi embarrassment combo.

    Principle 6: The expression of psychological type is fundamentally
    contextual and situational.
    true, but INTPs psyche expresses(reacts with) thinking more often than ESFJ for example. so while it is situational, there are still preferences.

    Principle 7: MBTI preference scores matter and indicate strength of
    preference.
    MBTI scores indicate clarity of preference(due to the structure of the assessment), its not a score of strength or amount of preference. hello MBTI 101!

    Principle 8: Type dominance is a function of strength of preference and the dominant preference is simply the independently high-value preference.
    stupid mistake in thinking due to not understanding the fundamentals of the test or theory behind it.
    "Where wisdom reigns, there is no conflict between thinking and feeling."
    — C.G. Jung

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