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Clearing Up The J/P Myth

"?"

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After all this time in attempting to relocate this article, I found it! I know I shared it with the INTPC Group, but could never locate where I pasted it. The article is from Vicky Jo (owner of the INFJ.COM site) and her husband who runs the INTJ.COM site. This may give a little heads up on the continued J/P myth:

J/P Differences

There are a bunch of inaccurate stereotypes floating around about J/P, and they're just plain wrong. I don't know where they came from, I don't know why they persist, but they're false, inaccurate, and unreliable. (Have I stated that strongly enough?!) People forget about all the other letters, they forget about the theory, they forget it's about a personality pattern not about traits -- and they hone in on two letters: J & P, as if the mysteries of the world can be solved with just these two letters. Argh!

The first stereotype is the notion that J's are always on time, and P's are always late. IT'S NOT TRUE!

Two J's live together in my household, and we're often late for appointments. In fact, the standing joke around here is that "J" stands for "Just One More Thing!" -- meaning we invariably try to accomplish one additional thing before we charge out the door. We do not have a reputation for reliably being on time (ask my sister!).

In contrast, I've met P's who arrive at the airport several hours ahead of their flights, and arrive well in advance of any meetings. (Interestingly, one P admitted to me that he arrived early as a way of compensation for an acknowledged tendency to be late. Viva le compensation!)

The point is, if you're using a stopwatch to distinguish P and J, you are wasting your time.

Another myth is about Js being tidy and Ps being messy. Whoa again!

The messiest house I've ever seen in my life belonged to an ESFJ. It looked like a garage sale gone mad -- with a layer of dust everywhere to boot! The "J" house I live in with my husband looks like a tornado went through it last week.

Do you know who's probably the tidiest person I know? My ISTP dad, of course. (Notice the last letter, willya?) I also spent 8 years living with an ENFP -- and he would win the neatness award long before I would even be eligible. So saying J's are tidy and P's are messy is FALSE!

Then there's the added problem of people who try to figure out whether they are J or P based on these same criteria! Well, as the Mafiosos say, "fuhgettabouttit!"

Linda Berens has said that NJ often looks like P. And boy is that ever true in my NJ household. What's interesting is that my husband and I score equally on any questions of early-starting and pressure-prompted -- because we do both! Since the two of us possess the Chart-the-Course interaction style, we tend to put just enough energy into an event early on in the process to figure out what must be done to arrive at the goal point. But then we forget about the whole matter until we're "pressure-prompted" to actually set the wheels in motion for the event. Invariably, we cut the margin too finely, and quality of life can be rather questionable until the event has ended.

One of the big mistakes people make with J/P is by confusing it with directing and informing communication styles. This type difference is very powerful, but it does NOT map to J/P, despite many assumptions that it does. (It's worth your while to educate yourself about this dimension in order to take advantage of its powerful revelations.)

There are other stereotypes around J/P -- you probably know what they are. I've heard that "Js are determined and energetic while Ps are unmotivated wimps." Whuh?! Where is that written, I wonder? Does that describe a healthy attribute of Type, as Isabel Myers intended? I don't THINK so!! And it's about as accurate as pretending men are from Mars and women are from Venus.

Dr. Berens says that if we spend too much time talking about J, before long we're really talking about SJ (extreme SJ!)... and if we spend too much time talking about P, we're really talking about NP (extreme NP!). So it's not good to single out and focus on J/P alone for drawing lots of Type conclusions.
The only generalization I'm comfortable with about J/P differences is that J's like to approach the world in the style of an orderly marching band -- with structure; they feel better following a plan; they like closure and want things completed. P's like to approach the world in the style of a jazz band -- spontaneous, flexible, preferring to keep their options open. And that's as specific about J/P as I'm willing to get!

Whenever I see conversation deteriorate to the point where J and P are the only letters I'm hearing, then I know the conversation isn't about type theory anymore -- it's about bias and stereotype, or it's being conflated with functions -- and that means there's not enough knowledge about type theory overall to keep the conversation going properly. I personally don't have patience for that, and I believe it's ignorant and inappropriate.

The bottom line is that you can't point at that last letter and make a boatload of assumptions about it -- because whatever you assume will likely prove untrue for some portion of Earth's population. So don't do it.
 

Totenkindly

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There are other stereotypes around J/P -- you probably know what they are.... And it's about as accurate as pretending men are from Mars and women are from Venus.

What...????! you... you mean that John Gray might have .... been... wrong???! (gasp) :eek:

Anyway, good points here.

I've heard the "clean desk / cluttered desk" thing brought up so often... but it doesn't really mean much at all.

My ISFJ mom refuses to throw away anything, and you can't keep something uncluttered if you've got too much stuff shoved into a small area. My INTJ boss has one of the most cluttered desks I've seen (worse than mine)... because he simply has so much data coming at him, he has to leave stuff out in order to help him to recall what he needs to do and have things accessible at all times. And, really, I'd rather have a clean desk if I could, simply because if the clutter grows too much, I can't find things when I need them and/or my physical space feels confining and cramped.

There are just too many varied reasons why a desk might be cluttered or clean, regardless of type.

The only generalization I'm comfortable with about J/P differences is that J's like to approach the world in the style of an orderly marching band -- with structure; they feel better following a plan; they like closure and want things completed. P's like to approach the world in the style of a jazz band -- spontaneous, flexible, preferring to keep their options open.

Without thinking more about it at the moment, those are pretty good summations of the positions. My INTJ boss has been pestering me and my coworkers all day about status for our concluding project, although he's asked numerous times already and knows that we are working as hard as possible; meanwhile, me and the ISFP are just like, "Relax, we can only go as fast as we can, and while we could give you a deadline, we can't commit to it being solid because something might change again."

[Meanwhile, the ENTP is running back and forth complaining and swearing at the top of his lungs every time something inconvenient happens or the build doesn't run exactly right; the xSTP in the next cube keeps taunting him just to get a rise; the ISTJ, a dapper dresser, prefers to hide in his cubicle and keep his desk clean and manage the database; and the INFP next door works fitfully through her document, pausing at typical intervals throughout the day to chat with people who visit her cube or on the phone. it's a real MBTI menagerie. ]
 

Dark Razor

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Interesting post "?" (you have the kewlest username evar) I too am confused when people discuss single letters of the MBTI types, if one says " oh well, I'm right in the middle of the J/P divide, so im probably J at work and P at home" Uh no you aren't, because (I'm in favor of replacing because with becoz) that would mean a whole different set of functions, the difference is not in J vs P, but in NiTe or TeNi vs TiNe or NeTi (for example), so if you were P instead of J your whole worldview would change, not only how organized you are or how punctual you are.
 

Il Morto Qui Parla

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riiiight...as far as I can tell, the author clarified absolutely nothing.

P's are sometimes punctual and J's are sometimes late...gee thanks for that.

Either she believes MBTI has value or not. If it does, and J/P means something, how about she tells us what it DOES mean.

Or perhaps she just can't type people.
 

ptgatsby

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riiiight...as far as I can tell, the author clarified absolutely nothing.

I didn't really want to say it... because the value lies in people assuming too much with type... but yah, it was a large rant for "Not all Js are the same".

Once again, for the record, the key traits within MBTI for...

Judging
Systematic
Planful
Early Starting
Scheduled
Methodical

Perceiving
Casual
Open-ended
Prompted
Spontaneous
Emergent

In general, people will have 3/5 as solidly on one side, one in the middle, and one to the opposite.

End behaviour is not an absolute from type, this should be a given. There is tendency for Js to be methodical (including their schedules, which has it's own term, their desks or their tasks). If the behviour doesn't reach that far, don't be surprised.

My desk is a mess, but I absolutely cannot stand having files, etc disorganised. My computer is a model for information systems, I love dealing with document management systems. The scope of type is limited to your brain; the traits that you act out differ on the individual (very) subjective view of the world.

And another story from my personal life - my INTJ GF (the J is strongly expressed) leaves piles of clothes absolutely everywhere. I lost the use of the couch for over a week because of it, and it was only when the dining room table became unusable that I complained... But I swear that if the dog treats, her shoes, the dishes, the fridge or her bills aren't organised, the world will end. Subjective importance.
 

Il Morto Qui Parla

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thanks ptgatsby, that post was more informative than the article. By those criteria, I know I'm P. By her criteria, well, her description was so vague and subjective I could easily tell myself I was a J if I wanted to.

in reality the author of that article just kicked the shit out of a giant strawman
 

"?"

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If it does, and J/P means something, how about she tells us what it DOES mean.
She did:
The only generalization I'm comfortable with about J/P differences is that J's like to approach the world with structure; they feel better following a plan; they like closure and want things completed. P's like to approach the world preferring to keep their options open. And that's as specific about J/P as I'm willing to get!
 

"?"

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End behaviour is not an absolute from type, this should be a given. There is tendency for Js to be methodical (including their schedules, which has it's own term, their desks or their tasks). If the behviour doesn't reach that far, don't be surprised.
What are you saying differently than her point? The only tell-tale difference is that J's like structure and P's like open end. However, I would not even go that far because ISTPs in general like working in structured environments and needing order. They just want to have room to maneuver within the structure. As for your list, I resonate with all your J descripton, except being all that methodical. In fact, anyone who prefers Chart the Course or In Charge interaction styles would resonate with your list for Js, including both STP types.
 

ptgatsby

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Totally untrue, because I do all of these, even being methodical. Not as well as an ISTJ, but equal to an INTJ. In fact, these could be traits of anyone who has a "Chart the Course" interaction style.

Those are taken from the Step II factor analysis. Those are the measured traits.
 

"?"

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Interesting post "?" (you have the kewlest username evar) I too am confused when people discuss single letters of the MBTI types, if one says " oh well, I'm right in the middle of the J/P divide, so im probably J at work and P at home" Uh no you aren't, because (I'm in favor of replacing because with becoz) that would mean a whole different set of functions, the difference is not in J vs P, but in NiTe or TeNi vs TiNe or NeTi (for example), so if you were P instead of J your whole worldview would change, not only how organized you are or how punctual you are.
Thanks Dark Razor. There is a story behind the username. However short version, after realizing that the MBTI Step II was off, I realized that I was not INTP, thus dumped INTrPosr.

There was an article that I put on the INTP Central forum, months or maybe years ago, regarding the fact that many people fail to follow instructions of determining type, by answering questions as to the way they are at work. As a whole we all can appear SJ-ish since the temperament is more oriented toward traditional institutions. You always respond to answers, as you are when home and alone.
 

Il Morto Qui Parla

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She did:
The only generalization I'm comfortable with about J/P differences is that J's like to approach the world with structure; they feel better following a plan; they like closure and want things completed. P's like to approach the world preferring to keep their options open. And that's as specific about J/P as I'm willing to get!

So what does that mean, bearing in mind that you then went on to question even this vague description?

MBTI tests ask about behaviour. Most literature on the J/P axis, just like literature on the E/I and T/F axes, describes behaviour as well as motivations. So I don't know why the author of this article thinks she is qualified to re-write type theory and present it as unquestionable fact, especially when her descriptions are so vague as to be of little or no help.
 

"?"

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Those are taken from the Step II factor analysis. Those are the measured traits.
Unfortunately when I took the Step II, it resulted in INTP. After asking questions on it, I was amazed that the assessement can be over a 25% inaccuarate. For that reason, they have developed a new assessment. It still seems to be a work in progress.
 

"?"

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So what does that mean, bearing in mind that you then went on to question even this vague description?
It means what it says. Are you attempting to read more into it? She simply dismisses all of the stereotyping that seems to be prevalent on forums. Actually I did not see the article initially at her site, instead at her husbands. As for ISTPs liking to work within a structure yet have freedom to move around seemed quite clear also.
MBTI tests ask about behaviour. Most literature on the J/P axis, just like literature on the E/I and T/F axes, describes behaviour as well as motivations.
And as a result, people are constantly getting their dichotomies confused. I know quite a few who claim to be ENTJ, who constantly respond erroneously to a need to be around people, an enjoyment of taking long solitary walks, getting caught up in soap operas, etc.
So I don't know why the author of this article thinks she is qualified to re-write type theory and present it as unquestionable fact, especially when her descriptions are so vague as to be of little or no help.
I would suggest asking her. She has a question and answer at INFJ.COM and I put her worksite in the initial thread.

Even some in this thread has answered to the fact that there are SFJs who are messy, and perceiving types that like orderliness. I prefer to be on time for meetings, although I know that could never work from a clock.
 

ptgatsby

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Unfortunately when I took the Step II, it resulted in INTP. After asking questions on it, I was amazed that the assessement can be over a 25% inaccuarate. For that reason, they have developed a new assessment. It still seems to be a work in progress.

No one knows if the assessment is accurate - type is based on faith in the underlying functional theories. Step III is a look at J/P in an attempt to deal with the problems between J/P, yes... how well, I don't know.

Regardless of how you feel about type, or your type, MBTI is the theory and those are the traits that correlate to the J and the functional attitude. One doesn't get to redefine the theory to suite their own preference.

If you took the Step II and picked all J traits, the tester would mark you as a J. Even in reviewing your results, they would be hard pressed to let you pick P openly. They would view it as projection (though they would let you pick it for yourself in the end).

Also note that those traits are polar opposites from each other (you test one or the other, not both, hence the distribution complaints within MBTI.)

-

For your edit;

What I am saying is that the end result of action depends on your type, but the type itself does not manifest itself across a full range of behaviours.

Her point was no point, except that generalised trait theories don't match up with common generalised behaviours. Which is generally false; evidence shows that specific types do have generalised behaviours... hence the strawman. It replaces what is known with a false argument.

She's not wrong, exactly... I don't see the value in what she said. The generalised behaviour is based upon your expierences, with a bias towards your type. Type, of all "trait" theories, is the last one that should be generalised to behaviour... which is about all I agree with her article.
 

Il Morto Qui Parla

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the thing is "?", if you reject generalisations, then you reject MBTI. I can accept contradictions within MBTI and use basic common sense, ie not every J will be 100% J at everything they do, T's have feelings, F's can think, I's can have friends etc. - but once you dispute the general framework, you discredit the concept of MBTI. I mean, you call yourself ISTP, but if you reject the conventional descriptions of the functions, then to what extent are you an ISTP? Wouldn't you be better off not typing yourself if you want to reject generalisations?
 

"?"

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Pgatsby and Il Morto Qui Parla, we're getting way off topic here. Pgatsby you seem to be arguing the exact point that the statement originally posted makes, that you cannot determine J/P by anything except that Js like structure and closure, and that Ps are comfortable with less structure and keeping their options open. Other than that, cleanliness and being on time has no bearing on the J/P dichotomy.

You are right that I am suspect of generalizations and sterotypes that can mislead and circumvent anyone from determining their best fit type. Myers-Briggs only provides a slight disclaimer, in her book "Gifts Differing" that alludes to there being non mechanical ISTPs. I think that there may be quite a few INJs who who conflict between the inner and outer worlds which result in their not being as organized as other Judging types, resulting in consistently messy desks.
 

ptgatsby

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Pgatsby and Il Morto Qui Parla, we're getting way off topic here. Pgatsby you seem to be arguing the exact point that the statement originally posted makes, that you cannot determine J/P by anything except that Js like structure and closure, and that Ps are comfortable with less structure and keeping their options open. Other than that, cleanliness and being on time has no bearing on the J/P dichotomy.

I have an issue with the way the article sets up a false argument, then debunks it with personal experiences. That's not very helpful. It was just a forum post and there is nothing wrong with that - it doesn't need to be a carefully structured essay on the nature of J/Ps. However, I do take exception to the argument presented;


The first stereotype is the notion that J's are always on time, and P's are always late. IT'S NOT TRUE!


The problem I have is that the false part is "always". This is important to talk about when dealing with MBTI. Js operate according to schedules, to order... they tend, just like that J/P trait is a preference, to be on time. Same with order, physical or not. Always creates a false argument to disprove something that (at least historically - I'm not sure how Step II dealt with punctual as a descriptor, though it seems to exist in some way).

Central to this is that there are sub-traits under the J/P divide, and these preferences will influence how each J views the world. On top of that, despite the tendency to do things in a structured and orderly way, there are huge development issues involved... even though the underlying nature will express itself, other pressures can mitigate or exaggerate certain traits.

Some MBTI tests actually ask if one is punctual or leisurely directly. (PDF Warning)... Advice is commonly given in terms of structured time here. Even attempts to match FFM and MBTI use punctual as a benchmark (PDF Warning) (on the table, Item P97)
 
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