yesterday my housemate and i looked into myers briggs types. the day before he had shown me a tedx talk by Jan Kise (1) about learning styles, derived from comparing brain scans and behaviours of people of different myers-briggs types. it had a few interesting points to send me fishing for more. she only discussed the first two letters in that talk, but things seemed to make some sense. while some brains light up all over when they’re used. mine buzzes at an even, low level; ready to jump either way. that seems to make sense of how i work, and how i hit big roadblocks whenever i need to do things that can’t be spontaneously generated.
yesterday we found an expanded text of that talk (2). it got muddy when exploring the last two letters, but i liked the way it explained extraversion and intraversion, and behaviours that equate to kinaesthetic learning, which has always been explained to me as ‘learning by movement’ or ‘needing to move in order to learn’, which doesn’t really make sense unless you’re learning something like dance. here, they are all described as ways you gain energy, not things you like, need or do. i’ve always been categorised as introverted, even when people i work with don’t believe it. i delight in being around people when i find them interesting and something good is going on and i know how to play my role and things are going well. i spend a lot of time doing it, and i generally get lonely if i don’t see enough people, though i existed quite serenely much of last year in my isolation. ultimately interaction puts a strain on me and if i keep doing it and don’t get downtime, i start buzzing and can’t function well. situations where i don’t know where i stand are torture, which is partly why i enjoy keeping myself in little communities rather than the mainstream world. and i often have a deep craving for complete silence, it’s painful to be in noise and light and movement when i’m tired or conflicted or stressed, though the impulse to sleep leaves me and i can stay on the computer in the soft, quiet dark for hours after i started snapping at people and swaying and had to leave a social situation. the impatience and lack of attention and frustration some people seem to get trying to do maths in a classroom with no external stimulation, i’m more likely to get with overstimulation.
we continued to google and came across a short myers-briggs test (3). tom did it first, and when he came up with my type, though he had identified with the lit up brain in the video, i did it again and came up with the same. last year i did the test once and got a different type, but that may have been influenced by the specifics of the time. so, a house of two intjs, which only make up 1.5% of the population according to that site (i think – can’t find it again). we’re called masterminds. huh. one of the rational temperaments. pragmatic, impressed by ideas rather than conventions or authority. good but reluctant leaders, who only step up when others prove themselves incompetent. stimulated by problem solving, reluctant to make negative comments, definite and self-confident. hm. i was a little surprised to be told i should make decisions easily, but further in that’s qualified with needing to know all the data and be confident the decision is being made on very good research, and not being able to stop until it’s settled. suddenly it’s back to being close to home. (4)
today’s analysis (5) had a few different points. this site categorises the type as ‘systems builders’ and says we are very aware of what we don’t know, and our perfectionism is only saved by our ruthless pragmatism in asking ‘does it work’. it all sounds very very flattering to me, though it may not to others, until it decides that we’re a bit useless at personal relationships. oh dear. caring and effort are not enough, who knew? we would benefit from understanding and enjoying social rituals like small talk and flirting. yet apparently if we can get past that, systematic effort to understand the people close to us by synthesising data from verbal and nonverbal communication can substitute for the ’empathy’ that others apparently do naturally, and will create robust, stable relationships with good communication. because we want people to ‘make sense’ to us. you mean others don’t??
feeling that i’m condemned to search for needles in haystacks for all my friends, family and partners, i clicked a few more links and ended up looking at the breakup of the rest of the world, and how my type relates. my next find (6) breaks down each type by gender and percentage of the population, and lists intj women as the smallest of all categories, with only 0.8% of the population (with intj representing 2.1% of the total population). about half the population (no notes on who or where is included) is introverted, though a bit less for women, only a quarter is intuitive, again more men, over half of men are thinking but less than a quarter of women, and just over half are judging, this time a few points more women than men. for a queer woman who spends plenty of time in largely female environments, the odds of finding people like me are getting more and more dismal the more i read.
luckily, finding a clone of myself isn’t the goal of my life; i want to find people who understand me, and true to form, who i understand. one of the analyses (5) allocates appropriate types of relationships for me to share with people of each other type. luckily there’s also a brief explanation of what these categories mean (7).
this is where it starts looking even more uncomfortably like astrology, as it neatly allocates sixteen types to sixteen types with sixteen categories with never a drop spilt. but as i’ve studied the tests at the basis of this jumble and have a reasonable confidence in their methods and their grounding in reality, i pressed on, adding acknowledgement of the limitations of the instrument which, while lacking in some of these websites, is present in more academic work i remember reading.
synthesising the category matchups, descriptions and percentages (5, 7, 6) i find that my best bet for a companion, with similar modes of expression and bearing eachother’s company well, is the 1.46% of the population (1.6% of women) who are infjs, the smallest group overall. the 1.8% who are entjs (0.9% female, 2.7% male) will make me a good ‘pal’ who will work and play well with me, with minimal conflict. slightly more encouragingly, good suitemates with whom i could comfortably share an office as we will prefer similar environments while having little in common regarding goals and worldview, are istps at 5.4%, though only 2.4% of women, and cohorts, who are to mutually be drawn into experiential escapades with me, are estps who make up 4.3% (3% women). enfjs at 2.5%, 3.3% women for once, are apparently tribesman, with whom i share a sense of culture, whatever that means, though not interests or abilities.
though i don’t stand by this breakdown, these are the six categories which immediately seem particularly harmonious in different ways; 17.56% of the population, 12% of women. at present i don’t have the patience to compare the 39.04% of the population and 31.7% of women who should fall into the six apparently midrange categories who appear to be complementary to my type in various ways. however the most common types, which collectively involve 56.3% of women and 30% of men, making 43.4% of the population, are the four sf types, who will be enigmas, novelties, supplements and animas to me. i aborted my exploration of what an anima is when it immediately went a step more jungian than i’m prepared to tolerate, but i think it’s safe to say at least three of these are all the people that i will understand least, and who will presumably also not understand me.
are these patterns created more by biology or environment? how much can they change as we learn to adapt to the world? what’s with the jungian analysis i read last year that predicts certain changes happening at two fairly specific ages, the first of which is around my age now? how does all this work with diverse and fluid genders? how big is the sample size for the percentages? how was it found? where are the participants from? are these types and proportions meant to be global and culture-free? why does the pattern of totals not behave regularly in relation to the male and female numbers they’re supposed to encompass? how well do the brain scans really match up? what else do they show? there are many holes, some of which could be pursued and some of which may be irreconcilable, but there’s also much food for thought.
wow, 1521 words in one go, referenced and all.