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  1. #1
    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    ILI Ni

    Lightbulb Interview With Dario Nardi!

    Introducing the first of a series of expert interviews on the forum. Dario Nardi has kindly offered to participate in this interview and interact with our forum members. Introducing Dario and some fascinating perspectives below!!!!

    1. Dario, what's your educational background and how did you initially get interested in personality type?

    My background is aerospace and later systems engineering, with extra courses in creative writing and Japanese. I only ever took one computing course, but coding is a big part of my background.

    In college, friends introduced me to Type thought David Keirsey’s “Please Understand Me”. They were talking type codes, and I wondered what the codes meant. I took the book home for Christmas and showed my mom. She woke up the next morning saying she had a dream that I needed to get qualified in Type. I qualified under Dr. Linda Berens, and the rest is history.

    2. What is your 4 letter type and your Enneagram Type? What did you do to determine it? How difficult was it to determine your type and how long did it take you to determine it?

    My Myers-Briggs preferences are INTJ. I scored that on the MBTI and the Keirsey sorters. Family, friends, and I were all certain right away. Perhaps my mental framework about people was already well-aligned to this model? I got into it very easily.

    My place in the Enneagram was harder to figure. I took an assessment in college and scored “1” as highest, which concerned me. A “1” has legs into 4 and 7, and I a saw the 4 space as both my creative side and unpleasant emotionally. So I endeavored to be a “7”, which has served me well as a teacher and generally in life. Now years later, after workshops and such, I say “5 wing 4”, with a dose of 7. I’m taking steps to develop 8 and 9 more. For that, Andrea Isaacs has a great workshop and methodology. I’m squarely in the camp that says the Enneagram’s best use is as a compass to identify and escape one’s ego fixations and to flex to the various points. I’d also say that Enneagram conferences are less cerebral and less corporate than their Myers-Briggs counterparts.

    3. Can you talk to us about Matrix Insights and what you are working on there?

    Mostly, Matrix Insights (Matrix Insights - Develop Agile Leaders. Build Effective Teams.) is an online Type training resource. It offers modules: the 4-letter code, 4 temperaments, 4 interaction styles, and so forth… also, other modules like EQ. It uses video and is interactive. It strives to uphold the principles Linda Berens designed into it such as “whole type” descriptions, avoiding “test and tell”, and so forth. It doesn’t replace a trainer or consultant. Rather, it’s for self-discovery, self-leadership, and team management.

    I’ve licensed a lot of material to Matrix Insights and was involved in the initial design. I also offer some webinars through them, with four coming up in 2018.

    My mainstay is Radiance House. Radiance House offers Type books, workbooks, laminated cards, foldouts—lots of training materials designed by a dozen authors who together have decades of experience using Type professionally. There’s also the “Personality Types” app for iPhone (which was recently upgraded). The store also offers Neuroscience of Personality stuff.

    4. Are you still teaching? What courses have you taught over the years and which ones are your favorites and why?

    I teach at UCLA occasionally, about once a year in Computing. I love teaching. I also hold a Senior Lecturer position in Anthropology at UCLA, but for funding reasons don’t teach there now. That discipline is also loads of fun. I taught full-time from 1998 until 2011, when I won UCLA’s Teacher of the Year award. From there, ironically, a lack of funding and the demands of Radiance House pushed me away from UCLA into my own business. Also, I take on interns from UCLA. They get course credit and such.

    I’ve taught Intro to Computing using C++, Internet Programming, Intro to Java, Big Data / Data Analysis, and Artificial Intelligence.

    Through Anthropology, I taught Modeling and Simulation in the Social Sciences, several computing for social science workshop courses, Group Dynamics, and a few seminar courses on the Jungian functions, brain imaging, game design, and even (once) Neuro-Linguistic Programming.

    I love all these courses. I feel so lucky to teach to very bright, motivated students on topics that I consider important. I also teach in a somewhat subversive way. People tend to best recall what they learn for themselves experientially. So in social science in particular, I use outdoor live group simulations and such to reveal social science principles rather than taking a purely lecture or values-based approach. I’ve had a few cool colleagues. Alas, the pay even at UCLA is mediocre, and the administration—with a couple exceptions—is truly a cesspool of misconduct and incompetence.

    5. Where do you spend most of your time these days? Any upcoming projects?

    I mostly run Radiance House. A typical work day may include answering emails, planning travel and workshops, getting out books (mostly to corporate clients), shepherding projects, analyzing brain data, conducting brain imaging sessions, coding software, conversing with colleagues, implementing feedback on project content, and hopefully working on something creative. Occasionally, I do TV spots for fun.

    Outside work, I practice yoga and run. I like Amazon Prime, Netflix, and science fiction in general. Also, as an RPG game publisher, I need to play-test materials! So game time is a must. I travel a bit internationally, mainly to Australia and the UK. With Japan, those are my favorite countries. Those trips can be several weeks long and the before/after is intense. But I make time to sightsee and vacation. In October, I did a half-dozen workshops in Sydney and then went to Vanuatu in the South Pacific for a week. I love the beach, snorkeling and scuba and river rafting and such, and travelling to new places in general, particularly for the history and culture.

    My recently finished projects are smaller books. “Our Brains in Color” is a short, colorful update to “Neuroscience of Personality”. You can find it here: Our Brains in Color: Dario Nardi: 9780988523586: Books . Also, there’s “Jung on Yoga: Insights and Activities for Awakening with the Chakras”, which grew out of Jung’s 1932 talks on kundalini yoga. It’s here: Jung on Yoga: Insights and Activities to Awaken with the Chakras: Dario Nardi: 9780988523524: Books. I also got out three new game books this past year. The biggest, for Pathfinder RPG, was a Kickstarter with co-author Alex Augunas, while books two and three were for Radiance RPG and a fiction anthology. Those are mostly here: - Radiance House - The Largest RPG Download Store! .

    The next book project will have at least one or more co-authors, shamans who will hopefully take a lead role. It will be a “quick guide” on key experiences people report over the course of years when working with ayahuasca, an Amazonian plant medicine.

    One the brain and type side, I just revised the assessment and reportage at and will soon upgrade the visual look and some of the report at

    I’m just starting to help a PhD student with her project on DNA analysis and Type. Ask me about that in a few years.

    I’m super excited about work with a company called WTRI in San Diego. ( We’re using brain imaging to understand and improve the use of Virtual Reality training scenarios.

    Finally, I continue to collect brain imaging data for the purpose of writing Neuroscience of Personality 2.0. There are over 300 people in the database of all ages, etc. But there are biases like too many iNutiting women in their 50s with a Human Resource background. I really need ESTJs and ESTPs, preferably males in the Los Angeles, San Diego, and Atlanta areas who are NOT in HR. If this is you, or you have a willing friend or such, let’s talk!

    6. Given your background in technology, systems thinking and artificial intelligence, have you spent time investigating alternative methods for determining personality type though methods like natural language processing and text data mining? We have a test on the site here: Social Media Personality Test - Main that was an experimental attempt at this. How much promise do you think these things have?

    Each modality can offer an additional data point, another leg of the psychological elephant (spider?) Language is one modality. Physiology is another. Unless you believe the measurement IS the model (the map is the territory, so to speak), then each modality by itself offers a limited view, even when an assessment is well designed.

    When developing Socialbot (, I drew upon knowledge of type and favored language. I considered both favorite words and certain usage structures inspired by NLP’s list of “meta-violations”. For example, it seems TP types are prone to “missing referential index” while FJ types are prone to “casual violations”. These are correlations, things to watch for, not strong indicators of Type. Similarly, in my “Personality Types” app, I suggest “Keywords to Influence” for each Type. I believe these work well, not to sort people, but to use as a practical tool to influence. So if I say to an ESTP words like “confidence”, “winning”, and “figure out”, those words will likely resonate more with him or her than INFP terms like “daydream”, “harmony”, and “quest”.

    While I appreciate folks working on new ways to analyze and label people, the value is in the applications, in coordinate between persons. If more effort was put into understanding how to coordinate, I think Type would gain some prestige and type enthusiasts would also be stretched to really learn to use Type.

    From a brain viewpoint, each modality is necessarily limited. Only a few regions of the neocortex are meaningfully involved in language use (or whatever). In contrast, a person’s psychological type is a holistic quality.

    BTW, within academic psychology, the Big Five is criticized for equating language use with personality as well the sketchy hope that people are sufficiently self-reflective to accurately report their own language use. Yet a lot has gone into the Big Five, which is a trait model. Determining type—which is a preference or systems model—using language will likely be even harder.

    7. Have you had mentors in your life? What are one or two that stood out and why do you think they had an influence on you?

    Yes. My main suggestion to youngsters is “get a mentor!” There are ways, such as attending small, tightly focused conferences. Anyway, Linda Berens (INTP) has been a huge mentor, surely the most important. My dissertation advisor Howard Pattee (INTJ) also had a big impact. Both hold to a “living systems” perspective. There have been other mentors in a narrow sense, such as for managing group dynamics. Mostly, I’ve gotten a bit of help over the years from ENxx types who saw my potential and gave me a hand or from INxx types who thought in a particular well really well. All this said, as of midlife, my “mentors” have been mostly Sensing folks, though they may not necessarily see themselves that way.

    8. In 8 Keys to Self Leadership, you gave great explanations of each of the 8 cognitive functions. How would you compare MBTI to Cognitive Jungian Function Type? Are they one and the same - in that cognitive functions provide the underlying processes that go on beneath the dichotomies or would you explain it a different way? If they are different, how would you explain the difference?

    Thank you! The books was definitely inspired!

    The MBTI instrument isn’t designed to assess the 8 function-attitudes (aka cognitive processes). More broadly, it’s a preference model, not a systems model. So fundamentally, it differs.

    I would not use terms like “underlying”, though I can see why people do.

    I tend to say this: We are whole persons. We can use Type as a lens, language, and lever to understand and work with (coordinate with) each other. The Type framework actually offers several different, interlocking facets or tools. We can use the preferences lens. We can use the Temperaments lens or Interaction Styles lens. We can use the 8 Cognitive Processes lens. And so forth. Ideally, all of these are defined such that they align with each other, so we can get the most of them and use them together well. For example, if we take time to distinguish the 8 Cognitive Processes from the 4 Temperaments, to be clear on what’s what, then we can use those two lenses more effectively, each providing its data points.

    From a math perspective, I say a person is a dynamic living system (like a bird, tree, etc.) and of course we each are part of a larger ecology, where our Type presents an “attractor” (or rather, a “strange attractor”). Critics of Type often say the whole idea of “types” is a fiction, but that’s false. All systems have attractors. We see it in their behavior and the math. Moreover, perhaps counter-intuitively, highly complex systems tend to have a small set of attractors and are not just arbitrary statistical distributions or collections of traits.

    What’s an “attractor”? Hmm. Google likely can’t help. Briefly, when a system has a lot of variables, many of those variables constrain each other. The constraints lead to a limited number of workable outcomes. (This is called “parallel constraint satisfaction”.) As a visual metaphor, imagine a whirlpool or planetary gravity well. Regardless of where you start, if you are near the whirlpool or gravity well, you end up drawn to it – attracted to it—and you go there. In biology, we see this all the time. Animals don’t have limbs in arbitrary spots. The limbs are constrained by the animal’s environment and needs, and thus the limbs end up evolving in certain best-fit configurations. In most systems, there are a limited number of functional, sustainable arrangements.

    It may be that the Types, or the “function stack” patterns, represent highly functional arrangements, but needn’t be prescriptive. Other arrangements or stacks may be sub-optimal or actually be amazing but don’t work well within our (current) society.

    Statistics is the wrong tool to use to understand a person’s psychology. I want to smack most academic psychologists for their deep-seated ignorance. Unfortunately, within these three levels of reasoning, even many well-versed folks remain stuck at level two.
    Level 1 = rule-based thinking, Level 2 = statistical thinking, Level 3 = Systems thinking
    An acquaintance recently reminded me there is a Level 0.

    The way I’m talking may sound overly abstract, perhaps semantic or philosophical. But if a core principle is wrong than everything that derives from it is also wrong (except by chance).

    9. Your groundbreaking book on Neuroscience of Personality taught us that each of the eight Jungian processes can be defined as a pattern of holistic neurological tendencies and that the processes relate to how the neocortex works as a whole. Are you continuing to do research in this area? What are the most important insights in this area that you can share with us and how do these insights help us from a practical perspective?

    Thank you for your phrasing here. This is precisely what I intended.

    Yes, I continue to gather data, use different EEG machines, reach different demographics and explore different analytical tools. This is a drawn-out process. “Neuroscience of Personality” reported on a pilot study with university students.

    For the past six years, I’ve been following a specific 1-hour protocol more closely, getting people of all ages and types, though they are still largely WEIRD. (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic). Using different EEG machines highlights what kind of calibration process needs to happen, since each EEG model has its own firmware and filters. Fortunately, predominant alpha waves with eyes closed is a consistent reference point. I’ve paid more attention to brain activity during specific categories of tasks, vis a vis Type, though I still need to dig into that data. For example, is a Thinking preference likely when a person gets highly engaged with math, stats, and visual-spatial tasks? (Yes, I think so.) I can now talk about 5 more regions (sensors Fz, FC5, FC6, Cz, and Pz).

    One of the biggest advances: focusing more on brain wiring. “Neurons that fire together are wired together”. That process comes from years of habits. We can count how often various regions move up and down in synch, as a sign of coordination. This doesn’t mean they’re literally linked. Likely the thalamus is orchestrating stuff to work together all over. Amount and kind of brain activity within each region is still relevant, but it’s also more contextual. Now I get a longer-term picture.

    Yet another analysis method is to assess the “fracticality” of brain activity during particular tasks. The emerging research (from others) suggests that the higher the fractal number of the brain activity, the more likely something intelligent is going on. A preliminary observation is that Sensing folks have a higher fractal number in sensory regions than their Intuiting counterparts.

    I’ve also gotten into “Executive Styles”, “Emotional Dynamics”, Priming the use of the functions, coaching and counseling tips based on observing the brain activity during therapy sessions (with therapists and their clients, I just observe).

    10. Do you have another book planned any time soon? When can we expect it if there is something in the works?

    The next book is not a Type book. It’s a joint-project, something like “Facets of the Ayahuasca Journey”. I’ll likely just be shepherding this as an editor. My shaman friend said I’m great at getting things done. I suppose so!

    Related to Type, I really want to do more work with Linda Berens on Growth Styles (aka the Quadra in Socionics). What does it look like when you are seriously getting in touch with and expressing aspects of your opposite type? So there’s an element of Dr. John Beebe’s work there too, what he calls the “spine of the personality”, or as Linda says, “tandem dynamics”. There are ways to incorporate one’s opposite into one’s daily life. And really serious self-work eventually manifests as a shift in conscious focus to act out the opposite type, though still serving the needs of the dominant function. For example, as an INTJ, to willingly feel vulnerable, hold gratitude, get lost in the moment, etc. These are not “normal” things for an INTJ to experience (willingly). Ultimately, I think the millions of folks who love Type can benefit by going one level deeper. We can bring in the Jungian wisdom of the anima/animus in the practical Type terms folks already know. A challenge is that Western culture, for better and worse, it focused in Vishudda (the realm of language-based reason), such that the impact here may remain small for some time. This is why I’ve been bringing in brain imaging of meditators, etc.

    Ultimately, I’ll write Neuroscience of Personality 2.0. The first edition reported on a pilot study. Truly. I can’t emphasize that enough. I “proved” nothing. I gave some evidence and ideas for how to go about doing research. The second edition needs to much more solid if it’s going to have lasting value. And it’s important I really understand what works, and what’s poor methodology, so that in the decades ahead as other people try to do this kind of work, they will have a better chance of avoiding pitfalls and dead-ends. Apropos, a recent study published in Journal of Psychological Type compared MBTI results with 12 minutes of EEG brainwave activity as a person just sat with eyes open and eyes closed. Ugh. Tragic. On the face of it, there’s nothing wrong. It’s a safe, traditional study. But at a deep level, it’s a huge fail in my opinion. There’s little wonder, with their brief protocol, primitive analysis, etc., that nothing interesting came out of it. There was statistical significance, but in the ironic way that nothing interesting actually comes up! So I have my job cut out for me at multiple levels. Let’s give it until 2019, which might mean 2020.

    Please provide feedback on my Nohari and Johari Window by clicking here: Nohari/Johari

    Tri-type 639

  2. #2
    Kawaii Red Memories's Avatar
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    Thanks for putting this together Highlander, and interested in his insights.
    Wanna comment on me? My windows:

    Fearsome hearts, I wouldn't lie
    I got memories that travels my mind
    Fear not, fear not when you go
    I got pieces of your hate in my soul
    Look at me now
    I'm falling apart in daylight
    All the pieces that I've lost, I have loved
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Peter Deadpan's Avatar
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    My bed beckons, but I'll be back to read this in full. Pret-tay cool, Highlander.

  4. #4
    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    Dario, I have a few questions which I suppose aren't very related to each other.

    1. Why do you think it is that the academic community doesn't more strongly recognize MBTI or cognitive functions and instead focus on Big 5. There is a lot more information on MBTI and cognitive functions which makes it more practical to use in everyday life.

    2. As we can't really expect others to take and publish their tests and some of the value of type is to understand others better who think differently than we do, it is naturally beneficial to attempt to guess other people's type. Do you do this? What do you think the best methods are? Language? Do you put any stock on visual typing? Do you use temperament or dichotomies?

    3. It seems that in cognitive function tests, some extraverted vs. introverted types are very different - Te vs Ti or Fe vs Fi and that people clearly prefer one over the other and the way these things manifest has a clear differentiation. Most people who score high on Ni though seem to score high on Ne and visa versa. Why do you think that is?

    4. How do you think Helen Fisher's type theory fits with MBTI, cognitive functions, temperament theory, etc. Do you see a correlation between these things? What do you think about connecting type to body hormones?

    5. Along the lines of correlation, a couple of years ago I was very curious about how Enneagram was related to four letter type. So I ran some data and came up with this Enneagram and MBTI Correlation - Typology Wiki. It's hard to find a lot of research about personality type in general. You're involved in some very interesting things. Do you publish the results of your research and if so where? Where else do you see interesting and useful research going on?

    Please provide feedback on my Nohari and Johari Window by clicking here: Nohari/Johari

    Tri-type 639
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  5. #5


    I have a question for Dario. I understand Dario had participated in a video chat with Victor Gulenko at one point.

    I was wondering how Dario feels about Socionics--Does he view it as a valid typing system, and does he see any noticeable flaws or strengths in comparison to MBTI? Does he feel MBTI and Socionics are compatible and reconcilable, or does he feel they are mutually exclusive and cannot be correlated?
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  6. #6
    breaking out of my cocoon SearchingforPeace's Avatar
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    Thanks Highlander for putting this together.

    Thanks Dario for this and all your work. I really appreciate your efforts in typology and have found great insight in your words.

    Two questions:

    1. What are your thoughts on Quenk and typing by looking at the inferior?

    2. For personal growth, is shadow work better than focusing on the inferior?
    “Orthodoxy means not thinking--not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”
    ― George Orwell, 1984

    “It is clear that thought is not free if the profession of certain opinions makes it impossible to earn a living. It is clear also that thought is not free if all the arguments on one side of a controversy are perpetually presented as attractively as possible, while the arguments on the other side can only be discovered by diligent search.”

    ― Bertrand Russell, Sceptical Essays
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  7. #7
    Temporal Mechanic. Lexicon's Avatar
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    3 questions for Dario:

    1.) favorite ice cream flavor?
    2.) allergic to cats?
    3.) single? Asking for a friend.

    (Don’t actually bother the poor guy with these, I just felt like trolling the thread with the inevitable, stereotypically off-topic AMA questions for some terrible reason.
    Bad moderator! BAD!)
    03/23 06:06:58 EcK: lex
    03/23 06:06:59 EcK: lex
    03/23 06:21:34 Nancynobullets: LEXXX *sacrifices a first born*
    03/23 06:21:53 Nancynobullets: We summon yooouuu
    03/23 06:29:07 Lexicon: I was sleeping!

    04/25 04:20:35 Patches: Don't listen to lex. She wants to birth a litter of kittens. She doesnt get to decide whats creepy

    02/16 23:49:38 ygolo: Lex is afk
    02/16 23:49:45 Cimarron: she's doing drugs with Jack

    03/05 19:27:41 Time: You can't make chat morbid. Lex does it naturally.
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  8. #8
    self murderer Norrsken's Avatar
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    This is so awesome, @highlander, thanks a million! Dario is so very much so INTJ based on all the answers, I could tell he and my dad would be the very best of friends and be dorks together.
    Each time you fall in love
    It's clearly not enough

  9. #9
    Senior Member Eternal Harmony's Avatar
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    Thank you so much @highlander for tagging me to follow this thread. The interview and concerning questions are interesting. Dario's insights are a good read/presentation of the cognitive functions
    Enneagram:2w1 5w4 8w7 so/sx/sp
    Socionic:EII, Fi
    Astrology:Capricorn Sun - Taurus Moon - Aquarius Rising
    Aura Colors: Primary Color Indigo, Secondary Color Blue

    more to see and to find out...


    On great white gentle wings
    Your soul rise towards Heaven,
    Hover to the stars.


    Living sparks:
    Ancient, eternal, sublime -
    Love, light, justice, truth:

    (Poetry by me)

  10. #10
    Talk to me. Merced's Avatar
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    I also have questions!

    1. I am a high school senior who is currently writing a book about personality theory and will be using this publication to increase my chances of getting into my dream school, University of Southern California. Could you give some comments on the process of getting published? Were there any hurdles you faced? What advice would you give to anyone seeking to contribute to the community?

    2. That being said, could you also share about your time at USC? The good, the bad, the ugly?

    3. I and many others argue that the biggest flaw with MBTI specifically is that there is no unified or official definition of functions. Do you agree with this criticism? Do you think, as MBTI and other personality systems gain recognition beyond Buzzfeed quizzes, that it'll generate a stronger and more contemporary foundation academically?

    4. Do you think there is a viable use for MBTI in politics?

    5. Further, do you believe there is a correlation between MBTI and sexuality?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lexicon View Post
    3 questions for Dario:

    1.) favorite ice cream flavor?
    2.) allergic to cats?
    3.) single? Asking for a friend.

    (Don’t actually bother the poor guy with these, I just felt like trolling the thread with the inevitable, stereotypically off-topic AMA questions for some terrible reason.
    Bad moderator! BAD!)
    I vote to bother Dario with these and raise a few more off topic questions.

    6. Do you think cereal is a soup or a salad?

    7. How flexible are you?

    8. Last song you listened to?

    9. Is there a meal that represents your childhood?

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