8 Common Typing Mistakes

(1): Expecting every scientist to be NT:

“I have always found that people of mediocre knowledge of the world expected the most from systematic [typologies]. Men who know the world are the best [typologists] and expect the least from general rules.” – Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742 – 1799), quoted in Paul J. Stern: C.G. Jung – The Haunted Prophet, 1976

“Scientific thought, based on the cooperation of experiment and theory, is a combination of thinking and sensation.” – Wolfgang Pauli: Writings on Physics and Philosophy, 1994

“Many scientists are probably sensates; they tend to be fascinated with facts and with discovering and observing how things work.” – Mary Ann Mattoon: Jungian Psychology in Perspective, 1985

(2): Expecting every thoughtful person to be an N type:

“[I try to discover the creative geniuses amongst the sensation types] because in general intelligent people hold that creative imagination, whether in art, literature, mathematics, music or science, is more apt to be found in people who perceive the world by intuition than in people who perceive the world by sensation. I think studies of the immortals [i.e. the great geniuses] may not bear out that general belief. I submit that the superior function is sensation, not intuition, in Michelangelo in art, particularly in his Moses which so fascinated Freud; Bach in music, and Freud in the mechanics of the human mind.” – Horace Gray: Freud and Jung; Their Contrasting Psychological Types, 1949

“Like stupidity … [intelligence] is not a function, but a modality; the word tells us no more than how a function is working, not what is functioning.” – Jung: Psychological Types §949

“[Some people have an] underlying assumption … that S and N is not a true dichotomy in its own right, but that N types are really S types with an extra layer. This assumption is clearly incorrect, in so far as the Intuitive dominant types tend to have definite problems mastering their Sensation.” – Ric Velasquez, How to Fail at Typing Musicians, 2013

(3): Expecting every creative artist to be an N type:

“Jung attaches great importance to the creative activity of fantasy, which he even puts in a category of its own, because in his opinion it cannot be subordinated to any of the four basic functions, but partakes of them all. He rejects the usual notion that artistic inspiration is limited to the intuitive type. … Fantasy is indeed the source of all creative inspiration, but it is a gift that can come to any of the four types.” – Jolande Jacobi: The Psychology of C.G. Jung, 1942

“[If there exists] an aptitude for expression in any way proportional to the intensity of [the Si types’] sensations, the irrationality of this type would be extraordinarily striking. This is the case, for instance, when an individual [of the Si type] is a creative artist.” – C.G. Jung: Psychological Types, 1921

(4): Thinking that physical characteristics are relevant to Jungian typology:

“Unlike Freud who [had] the assumption of the sovereignty of the physical constitution, trying to turn everything back in theory into instinctual processes conditioned by the body, I start with the assumption of the sovereignty of the psyche.” – C.G. Jung: Psychological Types, 1921

“Jung’s typology omits any reference to bodily characteristics and is confined to the classification of normal psychic data. This should be noted.” – E.A. Bennet: What Jung Really Said, 1967

“[Jung’s] contribution was a purely psychological classification into the now familiar categories.” – Joan Evans, Taste and Temperament, 1939

(5): Confusing introspection (N) with introversion (I), or believing than introverts are more introspective than extroverts:

“[Within Jung’s typology] introversion is often confused with introspection.” – E.A. Bennet: What Jung Really Said, 1967

“An extravert’s [introspection] is especially genuine and and especially pure and deep. Extraverts are often so proud of this that they boast loudly about what great introverts they are. They try to make it a feather in their cap – which is [again] quite extraverted.” – Marie-Louise von Franz: Lectures on Jung’s Typology, 1971

“[In typology, there is an] error of confusing extraversion (E) with observation (S) and introversion (I) with introspection (N).” – David Keirsey, Please Understand Me II, 1998

(6): Confusing preference with ability:

“… in [Freud’s] mental make-up sensation was a far more active element than intuition. This statement is of course perfectly compatible with the thesis that intuition, though the less active of the two functions in him and though deprecated by him, may have been of a quality superior to most men. But it cannot be repeated too often that the types … aim to discriminate between people, not in merit, but broadly in their usual ways of mental operations..” – Horace Gray: Freud and Jung; Their Contrasting Psychological Types, 1949

“Steve Jobs’ Ni may be tertiary, but it’s better than yours.” – CelebrityTypes Admin Team, 2013

(7): Thinking that specific behavior determines type:

“[Behaviorism is an] unsound philosophical prejudice.” – C.G. Jung, Personal letter to Henry A. Murray, 1948

“The specific value of Jung’s [type] concepts is that they do not operate on the surface. … When, for example, Jung describes a man as an extraverted feeling type … he is describing the nature of the libido movement in the individual and the psychological function to which this movement is attached.” – Ira Progroff, Jung’s Psychology and Its Social Meaning, 1953

“One might consider an individual to be an extravert, because he displays in reactions and superficial character those qualities and tendencies which we associate with the extravert type. … [But sometimes] careful observation … will reveal … an unconsciously constructed disguise.” – Beatrice Hinkle, The Re-Creating of the Individual, 1923

“Since I am not a behaviourist, I take leave to suppose that you are still very far from the real man when you observe only his behaviour. I regard behaviour as a mere husk that conceals the living substance within.” – C.G. Jung: Civilization in Transition §967

“… while Se types will on average have a greater affinity for extreme sports, one cannot say that because a given person has an affinity for extreme sports, that then makes him an Se type. An affinity for extreme sports is a piece of mental contents. The process that led the person to take an interest in extreme sports is a mental process. When we set out to determine someone’s psychological type, we are trying to determine their mental processes [functions]. If we were simply relying on a static checklist of mental contents, then we would be employing a behavioristic approach. And Jungian typology is not behaviorism.” – CelebrityTypes Admin Team, Typings in King: ‘Jung’s Four and Some Philosphers,’ 2013

(7.1) Thinking that Traits Determine Type:

“Jung proposed one of the first models of adult personality development … Instead of traits, he described various functions or structures in the psyche that governed the flow of behavior and experience.” – Costa & McCrae, Personality in Adulthood, 2003

(8): Believing oneself an expert on typology after two weeks of study:

“Temperament … is a very difficult subject which most psychologists are glad to leave alone.” – William MacDougal, Introduction to Social Psychology, 1921

“[Typing someone] requires a fine diagnostic sense.” – Beatrice Hinkle, The Re-Creating of the Individual, 1923

“[There are some who] desire to possess profound knowledge without profound effort in thinking.” – Cosma Shalizi, Review of Paul Krugman’s ‘Pop Internationalism,’ 1998

“[Typing someone] is interesting but difficult.” – C.G. Jung, quoted in Bair: Jung: A Biography (Little & Brown 2004) p. 207

Bonus point: (9): Believing that great military commanders are usually N dominant:

“There are men who, by their … make-up, create for themselves a complete picture built upon a single detail. Whatever … other good qualities they may have, nature has not marked them for the command of armies.” – Napoleon Bonaparte, The Military Maxims, 1827

“One outstanding member of the [ISJ] type is a two-star general. His well-balanced [Si] gives him … the shock-absorbing mental robustness, which is the first requirement for a general … the painstaking attention to administration and supply, … and the strict realism of sensing.” – Isabel Myers, Gifts Differing,  1980

Advanced Lesson: (10): Not Factoring in Personality Disorders

“[Jungian typology] is but one segment of our new [psychological] knowledge, it is but one section of science in general; and this new … body of knowledge must … receive some sort of integration before the function of each particular branch is disclosed.” – James Oppenheim, American Types, 1930

“We try to be careful to use the system as it was intended: It says something about the arrangement of the four functions and their orientations. All sorts of other factors that pertain to the personality are, in effect, irrelevant to the system. For example, whenever people see a Hollywood star with narcissistic traits, they immediately think that person is some type with Fi because “narcissists are frequently at odds with social norms and so are Fi users.” So in reality, most people have a sort of psychological myopia where they want to fit everything into typology because they are not acquainted with anything but typology.” – CelebrityTypes Admin Team, 2013

22 Comments

  1. coleman says:

    I agree in order to correctly type someone you definitely have to be free of any cognitive bias. It is infinitely more useful to learn about the entire process of each of the 16 personality types to really get at the essence of how they come to their unique judgments and perspectives. The MBTI dichotomies won’t get you very far. It also helps if you know people of each type in real life for a basis to go by. Knowing the social interaction styles of each type also helps too because they are much easier to spot then the type itself.

  2. Kyle Mann says:

    Hi. I see no way in contacting you so this is the way I will contact you. I believe you are incorrect in some for your types. For INTP – Vin Diesel is an INTP, not an ENFJ. He plays World of Warcraft, WoW is a game only played by INTP and INFP, google a bit. Adam Young, whom you label an extravert, is absolutely an introvert. Watch some videos, he says it himself. Selena Gomez also is an introvert, you need to do some research.

  3. Dx Req says:

    I disagree with you, Kyle Mann.

    Sure Adam Young and Selena Gomez can be considered introverts from a behavioural perspective, but from a functional perspective they both are Fe dominant.

    And you stereotyping D&D fans as INFPs and INTPs is glaringly obvious example of failing at typing others. Out of the eight criteria above, you have just embodied number 7 in the list of Common Typing Mistakes.

    P.S. There seems to have been a problem with the coding I used for italics, so if the admin team would kindly delete my previous post?

  4. Dx Req says:

    I also meant to say WoW, not D&D. But that doesn’t change the fact that playing a game is just behaviourism. ;)

  5. pelicularities says:

    Re #6 confusing preference with ability: is it conceivable that for environmental reasons, someone develops high ability in a cognitive function not within his functional stack? That is, when called upon to use it, he can deploy that function to great effect, but it isn’t in fact one of his top three/four functions. I know you favour a simple model with four rather than eight functions (as do I), and I’m not familiar enough with the literature to know whether I’m completely off-track here. But couldn’t someone with a certain education or training be very good at deploying, say, Te or Ti, without it being habitual – say an ENTP who, due to extenuating circumstances, has to step into a Te role early on in life?

  6. admin says:

    Well yes, but that is not exactly the right question to ask. Jungian functions are, as Costa and McCrae have written, structures that govern the organization and flow of consciousness. Because these functions are relatively powerful, we can then colloquially speak of “Si activities, Ni activities, Te activities,” and the like. But at the end of the day, what we refer to as, say, “Te activities” do not have to be solved by the Te function. So in the comparatively rare case where you have an ENTP who is good at organizational management and the like we would – strictly speaking – be observing an ENTP who has learned to deploy his Ne, Ti and Fe in ways that gets the Te job done. Sort of like when you use a lighter to open a beer cap or when you use a pair of tweezers to drive a nail into a wooden board.

    You mention early in life – there is no agreement as to when a person’s type becomes fixed, or even if it remains fixed throughout life. Our own view is that type becomes fixed somewhere after the age of 12 and that it is almost impossible for it to change once it has settled. We are not ruling out that it is possible; we have just never seen it ourselves. In *every* professed case of type-change we have come across, a shifting interplay of the functions, being still in the same absolute positions, but their relative strengths waxing and waning, was a better model for what happened than the person having changed his type. People often exaggerate such fluctuations, in part because they experience their own shifts in mental state far more strongly than they experience the shifts and developments of others. So getting back to your question on environmental factors, we certainly believe that those play a part. How big a part, nobody knows, but judging from other studies of personality systems, the hereditary factor is 40-50%.

  7. Huber says:

    I wonder Which type is Helen Hunt’s.. I think she is very good at choosing the film(scenario) what is touching..
    i’d like you not to mind my ugly English,, in korea..
    by the fan of CelibrityTypes.com ..h

  8. Lisa says:

    If #7 is correct, then how do we know these famous people’s types?

  9. admin says:

    There are basically two schools of thought in psychology: Psycho-dynamic (or psycho-analytical) and behaviorism. If you are psycho-dynamic (as Jung was), you look at behavior, but behavior is not the determinant in itself (as it is in the behaviorist mode of thinking). So you must interpret or infer what that behavior means according to deductive ideas. This makes the psycho-dynamic perspective more interesting or “deep” but also less empirical or scientific.

  10. musicismyinspiration says:

    I’m really interested what type Avril Lavigne is or Alanis Morissette, Kristen Bell or Lana Del Rey..

  11. leonltsao says:

    This is a wonderful post. I like how it addresses the bias against sensing, and it was enlightening to know that many STs are scientists, and that brought to mind two ISTJs I knew who were working in physics.

    Indeed, beauty, wisdom, and creativity transcend type.

  12. admin says:

    Thanks!

  13. Se says:

    Pertaining to the above discussion of an ENTP triangulating to Te:

    Perhaps I misunderstand Se, but I can’t grasp a 4-function model that leaves half the types without a sensory window into the current moment – they’d walk into walls, surely?

  14. Scratch says:

    Se isnt your senses, people with Ne have just as much sensory information going into their brains as people with Se. The difference is how the brain prioritizes, focuses and makes associations and meanings out of the information.

  15. Luke says:

    I am an INTP and I have never played World of Warcraft. I’ve known quite a few non-INTP/INFPS who do, though.

  16. 0ripers0 says:

    The first quote of the 9th point may be inaccurate. You seem to imply that introverted intuition, with its limited access to multifarious sensational stimuli simultaneously, results in sometimes skewed visions of the particular situation. However, introverted intuition do not tune on a single detail in order to form a complete picture; it uses the single detail as a jump-start and referent for more pressing and signifying mental constructs and intuitions. Though the single detail evokes an impressionistic construct in mind, it doesn’t mean that the latter won’t push the libido back into other concrete details in order to explore and validate itself. In most cases, the construct serves as a conduit for the search for related details accumulated by past sensations. Thus, I don’t think the quote do full justice to the problem addressed in number 9. However, I would say that the conscious distance between introverted intuition and its extroverted sensing counterpart can impede the libido’s efficacy at gathering details.

  17. Leviosa says:

    I would like to know the Type of Shah Rukh Khan he is an Indian actor.. i guess he is an INFJ or INFP.. secondly i want to know why do you think J K Rowling is an INFP when she herself identifies an an INFJ.. And are you sure Anne Frank is an ENFP not INFP.. She seemed awefully similar to me.. i am an INFP myself.. is there a chance she might be an extrovert and not an introvert?

  18. Anita says:

    @Lisa- we don’t, the personality of the celebrities is extremely difficult to identify, because we don’t really know them,just their facade.However, we can guess,assume. Psychologysts, shrinks and other proffessionals are better at it.
    @musicismyinspiration- Kristen Bell-maybe ENFJ

  19. hannah_s says:

    Anita,

    I wouldn’t say that deciding on a celebrity’s type is “extremely” difficult. It can be tricky sometimes, but it’s hardly quantum mechanics! :)

  20. hannah_s says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with the first six points.

    I think points 7 and 7.1 are great in theory, but impossible to uphold in practice. Their has to be a certain amount of behaviour observation in any typing — there’s simply no other way, that I can think of. But we’re trying to analyse the observed behaviours/comments/traits etc and figure out what they mean relating to the person’s type.

    Points 8 and 9 seem quite obvious to me.

    Point 10 is, again, great in theory, but many people (like myself) are simply too lazy to become experts on personality styles when all they want to do is learn how to type people well. Also, I’d say that styles affecting typings is such a rare thing, that it likely isn’t worth the time to rule out every single style that could affect the type for every person you type.

  21. alittleflower says:

    I have been reading about Myers-Briggs for a little over a year, and even taken the official test, and I still feel I don’t know much. I have a sense that my results from the test were off somehow (INFJ), as when I read more about that type, it doesn’t seem to describe me that well. INFP or ISFP seems more likely, as I think I am an Fi user, and Te is definitely a blind spot for me. The N/S split seems really hard to pinpoint in me. Even when I ask people in my family, they can’t decide if I lean S or N. I wonder if I tested as an N more likely because of the introvert/creativity thing. I could definitely see that tripping people up–because being quiet and creative can make someone seem like an intuitive type.

  22. Dave says:

    I enjoyed this article and I like the site. Typology is an intriguing topic, but if we can’t identify type through behavior, traits, and ability, how does someone accurately type themselves? Thanks and again, enjoyable article.

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