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Personality Type Systems

The Keirsey Temperament Sorter (a simpler alternative to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) is widely used in business and education today. Corporations and institutions are finding that productivity and learning may benefit if people accept their own working and learning styles, appreciate the styles of others, and capitalize on differences for the sake of creativity and dynamic learning, rather than engaging at cross-purposes.

This Keirsey Sorter assesses personality according to four dimensions: Extroversion/Introversion (E/I), iNtuitive/Sensing (N/S), Thinking/ Feeling (T/F), and Judging/Perceiving (J/P).Extroversion/Introversion (E/I) is a big factor in human relationships. Imagine a couple, in which one member thrives in group interactions, while the other gets completely drained. (Sound familiar?) Each one can easily assume that the other is crazy, just because they like such different social circumstances. In reality, however, they are each unique and OK. Their challenge is to accept one another's style while finding ways to get their individual needs met. Since the culture of the United States is essentially extroverted (75 percent), introverts are challenged in school, in dating, or in the business world, where so much emphasis is placed on self-promotion - that is, getting out there and mixing with lots of people in order to further your success."

The iNtuitive/Sensing (N/S) scale, while somewhat similar to the T/F, deals with the differences between an ideal, theoretical but possibly ingenious appreciation of the task (the N) and a hands-on, immediately practical, "show me" view (the S). These approaches have enormous implications in learning, as they tell us how we best receive information and how we best process it.

The Thinking/Feeling (T/F) dimension tells us whether head or heart tends to rule in an individual. Would you feel comfortable having an intimate conversation about someone's recent loss, or would you strive to keep cool and advise them on the best course of action? Big differences here. The Keirsey scale asks, for example, "Are you more concerned with being nice or being fair?" Differing orientations to this issue would make life difficult in relationships or in some working partnerships.

Where Judging/Perceiving (J/P) is concerned, we are talking about the contrast between the person who wants things under control, manageable, orderly, and settled (the J), and the person who is essentially happy in an open-ended, loosely structured situation (the P). Just imagine how that affects the ability of a J and a P to work together on a project with deadlines. Unless they have a huge tolerance for the other's divergent approaches, there is going to be breakdown as the deadline approaches.

You can learn more about the Keirsey system from Please Understand Me II and can take the test online at (basic type determination is free, $15 for detailed analysis).

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