- Jul 6, 2013
- MBTI Type
Hm. Well as someone who was a dichotomy based thinker for a very long time (because I didn't know about cognitive functions), I have come to believe that a functions based approach provides a much richer understanding of personality.
As to the the "lip service" by the "official MBTI folks", I think there is truth to that. I think the official MBTI folks are wrong though. That's my point.
Gifts Differing is a very good book in my opinion. The third or fourth time I read it, I began to see the depth of understanding of the system that the authors had. I believe they wrote it the way they did because they wanted something that could be understood by the masses. They were simplifying a complex thing. The first couple of times I read it, I missed the functions part entirely but it is very much there at the heart of the system.
My guess is that the main reason you've come to think of a "functions based approach" as providing a "much richer understanding of personality" is that what you think of as a "dichotomy based" approach is a straw-man version of the dichotomy-centric MBTI perspective that Myers (really) subscribed to. As Reynierse (rightly) points out in the article I've previously linked to, it's actually the dichotomy-centric framework that's richer and more flexible.
The properly-framed, dichotomy-centric MBTI (what I call the Real MBTI Model) â€” which is the one that has "validity" (as they say in the psychometric biz) â€” says this:
INFP = I + N + F + P + IN + IF + IP + NF + NP + FP + INF + INP + NFP + INFP.
Myers really understood (because it's what her years of data-collection told her) that there was nothing fundamental or special about the combinations that purportedly correspond to the "cognitive functions" â€” and in fact, as previously noted (and as further discussed in this post), Myers thought NF/NT/SF/ST were the most significant dichotomy combinations (and she may have been right).
By contrast, a typical "functions based approach" treats a very limited subset of the preference combinations â€” e.g., NJ (Ni) and TJ (Ti) for an INTJ â€” as if they were the fundamental building blocks of personality, while tending to ignore or shortchange the others.
What's more, a function aficionado will tell you that, comparing an INTJ and an INTP, the INTJs' N will generally play a greater role in their personality than their T and the INTPs' T will generally play a greater role than their N â€” because dom/aux! â€” and that's yet another function-based expectation with virtually no respectable data support behind it (and some significant data that contradicts it). By contrast, the Real MBTI Model says that INTJs and INTPs both have N and T preferences, with all that those entail, and whether the N or the T plays a greater role in any NT's personality will basically depend on whether one of those two preferences is substantially stronger than the other â€” and the data suggests that the N preference is no more likely to be the stronger one for an INTJ than for an INTP. So there's another aspect of the system where it's the Real MBTI Model that allows for more flexibility and richness.
In any case, though, any deep, true thing that can be said about a (supposed) Ti-dom, for example, can just as well be said about an I_TP. So the Real MBTI Model doesn't really have "missing slots" for characteristics that you might otherwise associate with the eight "functions"; it just frames them differently.
If you're looking for a limiting framework, just give a listen to any of the large number of forumites whose posts indicate that the MBTI "letters" really don't say much about anyone, and that INTJs and INTPs (for example) have almost nothing in common â€” because I and N and T (and the IN and NT and IT combinations) don't correspond to any significant aspects of personality. There's the limiting and impoverished perspective if you ask me. And it certainly isn't a Jungian perspective. Jung spent more of Psychological Types talking about the things he thought extraverts had in common and introverts had in common than he spent talking about all eight of the functions put together.