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  1. #1
    Senior Member Studmuffin23's Avatar
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    Default Keirsey's MBTI philosophy: pure stereotype?

    Though Keirsey shows moments of profound insight in his book "Please Understand Me", I find myself strongly disagreeing with his main ideas.

    His "intelligent roles", for example, are particularly over-generalized. It's really inaccurate to claim that certain types can ONLY perform certain roles, and nothing else (with the exception of SPs, who apparently can perform everyone else's role even better).

    Keirsey's descriptions of the 16 types are occasionally insightful, but all in all, they are so rigidly black-and-white in their behaviorism that there is no room left for variation among individuals: an aspect of personality that any temperament theory must account for. Given this, I am forced to conclude that the temperaments are nothing more than unrealistic abstractions; stereotypes, if you want to put it bluntly.

    Another problem I have with Keirsey, though this one is more subjective, is that he speaks as if unhealthy behavior in the types is perfectly normal. According to him, it's only natural for SPs to engage in self-destructive behavior, such as sex/drug/alcohol addiction and poor academic performance. According to him, it's only natural for NFs to have no stability in their lives, going through multiple marriages and changing ideologies by the week.

    Overall, there's just a lot of inaccurate stereotypes and misleading ideas that come from Keirsey's approach. I think this subject is important, and ought to be examined here at typology central.

    You guys can take the discussion from here.
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  2. #2
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    As I've stated before, the main issue I take with Keirsey is that it splits the Sensors by one dichotomy (J vs. P) and iNtuitives by another (S vs. N), then compares all four resulting categories (SP/SJ/NF/NT) as if they're all on the same level and parallel to each other. I don't even know how to phrase it but it just doesn't make logical sense.

    Put simply, it's Gerrymandering.



    To me, Quadra is a much more intriguing system. Look into it.
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  3. #3
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    from Please Understand Me II, page 30:

    I must say I have never found a use for this scheme of psychological functions, and this is because function typology sets out to define different people's mental make-up--what's in their heads--something which is not observable, and which is thus unavoidably subjective, a matter of speculation, and occasionally of projection. A good example of the difficulties such guesswork can introduce is the way in which Jung and Myers confound introversion with intuition, saying that the introverted types are the ones "interested in ideas and concepts," while the extraverted types are "interested in people and things." In my view, which is based on close observation of people's use of words, the intuitives are the ones primarily interested in in ideas and concepts, while the sensing types are those primarily concerned with concrete things. Indeed, after forty years or so of typewatching, I have not found any SPs or SJs who were more inclined to discuss conceptual matters (abstractions), than to discuss factual matters (concretions). The sensing types are more perceptual than conceptual, while the intuitive types, NFs and NTs, are more conceptual than perceptual.
    I can understand why he rejects the functions, but the problem is his system relies too heavily only on observable behavior, as alluded to by OP.

    So let's use Typology Central's member base as a jumping off point to highlight the flaws in Keirsey's theory. Assuming most people here are typed correctly (I know, not likely, but bear with me), how would Keirsey react to an ESTJ, say @EJCC, who shows a remarkable level of introspection and intuition to the point that she's been deemed qualified enough to be granted moderator status at a forum dedicated to the study and discussion of conceptual systems? Oh, well, if we go by Keirsey, she must be an ENxJ or some other intuitive type. What about all the other sensors here seeking self understanding and knowledge of theories abstract and psychological functions which are arguably intangible? Does this automatically mean they cannot be sensors if we are to believe his approach is correct?

    It's too limiting and it pigeonholes people. What would Keirsey think of, say, an INFJ body builder or martial artist who spent their free time engaged in physical, world-based recreation/sports? Nope, must be an SP or SJ if we're going to use his approach.

    Side note: while typing this out, it occurred to me that, despite all of the Keirsey bashing that goes on at this forum, there are a great many members who seem to do the very thing he is criticized for doing--I'm talking about the abundance of type assumptions which are made based largely on observed behavior and little more. "Your writing style seems very [insert type]," or "based on your avatar/photos/signature, I'd guess you're a [insert type]," or "the way you do [insert random behavior] strongly suggests [insert random function]," just to paraphrase a few examples.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member reckful's Avatar
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    Type is about tendencies and probabilities. It virtually never makes sense to say that X type will always do this or Y type will never do that.

    Jung understood that (although his rhetorical style makes many of his sentences sound otherwise), and so did Myers, and — wait for it — so did Keirsey.

    The OP says, "It's really inaccurate to claim that certain types can ONLY perform certain roles, and nothing else." But actually, what's really inaccurate is to claim that Keirsey claims "that certain types can ONLY perform certain roles, and nothing else." And as for the OP's claim that Keirsey said "it's only natural for NFs to have no stability in their lives," I guess he must be working with some special edition of Please Understand Me or Please Understand Me II, because that's not in my copies.

    The idea that Keirsey is more behaviorally-oriented than Jung or Myers is pretty much horseshit, too. In the introduction to Please Understand Me II, as part of his explanation for why he steers clear of the cognitive functions, Keirsey himself states (more misleadingly than accurately) that his work is somehow more solidly based on observation of what people actually say and do — rather than on "speculation" about "people's mental make-up." But if you actually read Please Understand Me II and compare Keirsey's descriptions with the descriptions in Myers, Thomson or any other popular MBTI source (or Jung, for that matter), you'll find that the mix of internal and external really isn't all that different.

    For more on all this, including some pithy quotes from Keirsey, see this post.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Studmuffin23's Avatar
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    Senior Member nemo's Avatar
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    The other thing to remember about Keirsey is that he is pretty distant from MBTI. At one point he even thought about dropping the E/I, N/S, T/F, J/P stuff.
    You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. - Jack London
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by nemo View Post
    The other thing to remember about Keirsey is that he is pretty distant from MBTI. At one point he even thought about dropping the E/I, N/S, T/F, J/P stuff.
    IIRC he didn't use the MBTI codes in Please Understand Me I. This system was adopted in Please Understand Me II.
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  8. #8
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    The thing we need to remember is that all of the 16-type systems give grossly limited and oversimplified interpretations of human psychology and personality.

    It's easy to target Keirsey because his theory just happens to be the most obvious example, but the other systems do it just as much. I realize I seemed to be ganging up on Keirsey earlier, and I didn't want to exclude the others.

  9. #9
    Senior Member INTP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nihilogen View Post
    As I've stated before, the main issue I take with Keirsey is that it splits the Sensors by one dichotomy (J vs. P) and iNtuitives by another (S vs. N), then compares all four resulting categories (SP/SJ/NF/NT) as if they're all on the same level and parallel to each other. I don't even know how to phrase it but it just doesn't make logical sense.

    Put simply, it's Gerrymandering.



    To me, Quadra is a much more intriguing system. Look into it.
    That distinction is because most of the times NT vs NF is bigger difference than ST vs SF, while NF vs NT and SJ vs SP is of similar differences. While im not a big fan of keirsey in general, this distinction makes sense and has its value in understanding type.

    If i understood this quadra thing right, its Ti/Fe + Ne/Si vs Ti/Fe + Se/Ni vs Te/Fi + Ne/Si vs Te/Fi + Ni/Se regardless of function position. Right? Well that sort of distinction is valuable as well, but it gives different sort of distinction from keirseys, which means that they focus on different things in type, meaning that to get a full understanding of type, its good to learn both quadra and keirseys imo.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by INTP View Post
    That distinction is because most of the times NT vs NF is bigger difference than ST vs SF, while NF vs NT and SJ vs SP is of similar differences. While im not a big fan of keirsey in general, this distinction makes sense and has its value in understanding type.
    I see people say stuff like this to justify Keirsey's temperaments, is there any actual reason to believe it?

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