The purpose of this thread is to gather some ideas and opinions on Personality Type and the practical value of it - or rather what information is NOT AVAILABLE THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO HAVE. In your ideal world, what is it you are most interested in?
I'll explain what I mean in more detail.
There is a lot of published information on personality type, which mostly has come out in the last twenty years. Many of us are here because we find the stuff interesting of course but I tend to think that personality type has to have practical value in order to be relevant. My question is this - "What is it all really good for?" Based on the answer to that question, "What information is missing?" A lot what you see on the web and in books discusses people’s differences, what their “profile” is, how they act when they are “in the grip”, likes/dislikes, etc. Other times, it’s focused on how we can use type for a specific purpose – like becoming a better parent or choosing a career.
The question is, in the face of all of that morass of information which is published and available to us, what information is missing or at least not concisely communicated for people to understand and use? I've come up with a few ideas here but it's just an initial list. What do you think is most important? Any of these? Other things?
1. How can you accurately determine a person’s type? – Whether we are talking about MBTI, Enneagram or some other system, one of the fundamental issues is that it is hard to determine type. Tests often give poor results. Some people go for years unable to figure out their type. How do you figure out someone else’s type so that you can understand them? This is a difficult problem and the value of the system is dependent on how well this can be done. I believe that one of the most important areas then is to be able to accurately diagnose type – yours or the type of others – and that in general, there is a great deal of poor, innaccurate or misleading information out there. I like the Can You Spot It Course, and though it's helped me a lot, I still have a hard time personally applying what I learned there. There are also probably those in the Type community that would endorse a testing instrument based on Facets as being a better or more accepted method of determining type. How does a system of facets and 4 preference polarities jive with a personality type, which is at it's core, originally based on an ordering of cognitive functions? Should we be doing a better job of assessing preferences for those functions instead of facets? think I'd like to be able to tell what someone's type is without having them take a test.
2. How can you use type to improve relationships? – I guess if you can understand a bit more of how someone thinks, it helps you to understand the differences and by virtue of that, type has some value. What’s missing is practical information relating to differences, how those differences manifest themselves and how you can use an understanding of type to improve relationships with others. There is a pathetic scarcity of information relating to this. There are a few books on the market on the topic such as Intimacy and Type. Generally speaking though, there isn’t a lot of information out there. INTJs continue to rub INTPs the wrong way, ENFPs cause INFJs to blow a gasket, etc. - and even if they know something about type, they tend to be blind to how the type differences affect their perceptions of others. I believe there are likely common misunderstandings between particular types and that this information would be useful to have.
3. How can you use type to help guide you on the type of career to go into? – There are web sites and books that speak to how personality type can be used to help you select a career, such as Do What You Are and CareerPlanner.Com. Is that what we should use type for? Is it a good application? I see what’s been published as providing some data points on what types of things tend to result in job satisfaction for a particular type as well as common careers for that type. Is it good? Is it misleading? Is more information needed? When I first started looking for jobs, I remember reading What Color Is Your Parachute. The career I ended up in retrospect is very well suited for an INTJ Enneagram 6. Whether I ended up in it by God’s grace or by dumb luck, I’m not sure. Would knowing my personality type have helped me? It probably could have. Is the information available today specific enough to really help me figure out what I want to do for a career? I don't think so. There is still a gap between understanding the qualities of a particular job or career vs. type, for example.
4. Should we use type to help us figure out what person we should enter into a relationship with? How? – “Of course not!” is the standard refrain. Is that really true? Is it good to choose our opposite? Are we better off with someone we have more cognitive functions or letters in common with? Are idealists made for rationals and guardians for guardians? Should we look for that person that shares the same dominant function but in the opposite direction – introverted feeling to our extraverted feeling for example? Do certain Enneagram types belong together more than others? Do these services such as Match.com really result in better long-term marital satisfaction? I’m pretty curious to know the answers to all of these things. It seems like a natural field of interest or study that could have value (or a determination that it does not or that other factors matter more).
5. How can personality type be used to facilitate or support our growth? – Once we know our type, how can we use it to develop ourselves? After we know we are an ENFP or an Enneagram 7, what can we do with that? Do we attempt to engage in type development consciously? Does that add any value? How can we use our understanding of our Enneagram type to move towards higher levels of health? Again, I think there is a paucity of information on all of these things, save for a few publications in isolated spots, such as Functions of Type. A lot of what I've seen related to Enneagram is hopelessly complicated to understand.
That's what I came up with. Do you think these things are important? Which ones more than others? Are there other things not on this list that are important? Please explain.