Analyzing Personality Data
People who appreciate personality diversity understand the value of personality profiling models. Like language, these tools both limit and liberate our understanding (re: Foucault’s ‘episteme’). Here is some analysis I did some time ago using test data from my extended family to identify personality trends down family lines.
McRae/Goldie Personality Profiles
Personality Profiles (People Who Did the Test)
First off, here are the profiles of everyone who actually got back to me. I guessed some others—but since I guessed Shonagh and Emily totally wrong, I didn’t include any of my guesses.
I have applied some Excel data analysis to form charts of each couple (mostly couples actually) and where each spouse falls on each domain continuum.
Tendency to Extroversion (Generally)
Extroversion refers to dealing with things outside of yourself rather than inside your mind, etc. So, it includes things like cooking, talking, fixing things, and playing sports to a degree.[i] Alan was the most extroverted, and Shonagh and I were the most introverted. But out of everyone, there were more extroverts generally (8 out of 11). That was not typical of the 22,000 respondents who did the BSM Consulting test online.[ii]
I suppose it’s true—we may not be the most extroverted family; but we are not really that “bookish” as a family either when you think of the broad spectrum of types of people in society.
Ben and Lara are really massively spread on the Thinking/Feeling dimension.[iii] Apparently Scott and Victoria and Sean and Emily are all pretty similar—except Sean and Emily are higher on the extroverted side (and Sean is more intuitive than the rest of them). Me and Mhairi are very close on every dimension except the intuition/sensing one where there is a huge difference—Mhairi is more fact-orientated in the way she takes things in whereas I am more theoretical/abstract.
Just another note on types and relationships—the BSM group (i.e. who publish the web content) say their studies reveal a tendency for relationships to usually function best on a complementary level—that is, to some degree, E’s and I’s work better… or J’s and P’s, etc (as oppose to matching types). However, for some types (i.e. ENFJ’s—Helen’s type) they will prefer similar types to their own as friends (unlike their complementary relationship preferences). They say this inclination towards opposites in dimension creates difficulties but also greater fulfillment and personal growth.
Family Tendencies (“J” and “P”)
The J-P dimension is between organized focused structure (J) and open-scheduled go-with-the-flow attitudes.[iv] There seems to be a strong “J” pull in the Goldies—probably comes more from dad (and ultimately GG) since mum is probably a “P”. And the “P” is more prevalent in the McRaes.
On that note, here is some of the demographic info from BSM’s online test results—there seems to be a correlation between high income people and the “J” tendency, right? There is also a less pronounced tendency between “J” and highest education level (i.e. high school—PhD, etc.)
BSM Consulting online Jung Myers-Briggs Test Results—Highest Average Annual Income
Diversity of Personality in the McRaes/Goldies
Here is another way of looking at the scores (see Figure 3). I used an Excel pivot table to group the four domains in a hierarchy. As shown, I tested very slightly expressed thinking (on the thinking/feeling scale)—so I could practically be an “F” (in fact the time I took the test before, I came out as an “F”). Likewise with Sean, Mark, and Victoria: they are close to “F”; so we might say we are some kind of ambivalent mix between “F” and “T”. The same scenario occurs with Lara on the “E” (she could be borderline “I”).
However, any score over 20 really puts you firmly in that preference end of the dimension—for example, Lara is definitely an “F” and an “S”; and Ben is definitely a “TJ”. I am definitely an “IN”; and Alan is definitely an “EF”. These results give insights into our diverse inner tendencies about on what we base our decisions, what intuitively matters to us, and how we react to advice, or make and pursue goals, etc. Figure 4 (below) gives a brief summary of each type. I’m guessing the descriptions in Figure 4 would refer to someone who is about at least a 20 on every dimension preference (e.g. ESFJ, where E=20, S=30, F=40, J=25) so they can’t be easily applied—but they give the general idea.
Figure 4: Brief Summaries of Personality Dimension Letters (source)
I am interested in reading more about the thinking and empirical studies that have used this theory for analyzing personality—but it seems to me that it must be based on the premise that we tend to do things habitually; i.e. that we choose to apply certain thinking pattern techniques to situations because they have worked previously and so we become more adept at using certain techniques, and these personal habits form a lot of our personality. So, if this is true then the activities we engage in will—to an extent—shape how we think about things. I wouldn’t say that I was not intuitively minded before university, but studying literature and philosophy definitely made me more apt to use abstract reasoning to deal with everything (not just with literary texts)—and so it contributed to my strong “N” tendency. On the same vein, something that is pretty foreign to me is finding a strong sense of solace and escapism in being around and occupying my time with other people or activities. People who have done this will tend to rely on it and thus become more “E” orientated.[v]
With this in mind, it is possible that dimensions of personality can develop and change over time. I don’t think that changing renders us less able to use techniques more apt to previously held dimension preferences[vi], but it does mean we are able to craft and develop our personality abilities over time, in life.
[i] Extroversion and Introversion: When we talk about “extroversion” and “introversion”, we are distinguishing between the two worlds in which all of us live. There is a world inside ourselves, and a world outside ourselves. When we are dealing with the world outside of ourself, we are “extroverting”. When we are inside our own minds, we are “introverting”. (taken straight from http://www.personalitypage.com/html/four-prefs.html)
[ii] Mind you, the kinds of people who find and do online tests are probably more introverted anyway I’d think.
[iii] Thinking and Feeling: When Jung studied human behavior, he noticed that people have the capability to make decisions based on two very different sets of criteria: Thinking and Feeling. When someone makes a decision that is based on logic and reason, they are operating in Thinking mode. When someone makes a decision that is based on their value system, or what they believe to be right, they are operating in Feeling mode. We all use both modes for making decisions, but we put more trust into one mode or the other. A “Thinker” makes decisions in a rational, logical, impartial manner, based on what they believe to be fair and correct by pre-defined rules of behavior. A “Feeler” makes decisions on the individual case, in a subjective manner based on what they believe to be right within their own value systems. (taken straight from http://www.personalitypage.com/html/four-prefs.html)
[iv] Judging and Perceiving: Judging and Perceiving preferences, within the context of personality types, refers to our attitude towards the external world, and how we live our lives on a day-to-day basis. People with the Judging preference want things to be neat, orderly and established. The Perceiving preference wants things to be flexible and spontaneous. Judgers want things settled, Perceivers want thing open-ended. (taken straight from http://www.personalitypage.com/html/four-prefs.html)
[vi] For example if we’re good at “E” and then become a university professor who spends 90% of their time studying complex information—and thus become more inclined to “I”; this doesn’t mean we become useless at relating to people (like a lot of less rounded professors are).