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Profile: Carl Jung’s Theory of Psychological Types

Jung’s Theory of Psychological Types

Berens (1999) describes Jung’s theory of Psychological Types as a departure from the works of Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler as Freud’s focus on his patients “seemed to be on the external world of adjustment to the outside world,” while Adler’s practice “seemed to be more focused on the primacy of the patients’ inner world in determining their behaviors.” Jung then conceptualized two fundamental concepts known as extraverted and introverted attitudes. He believed that orientation of individuals could either gravitate towards “the world outside your world (extroversion) or the world inside your world (introversion)” (Gerke, 2006).

Mental or Cognitive Processes (Functions)

After a period of study, Jung came to the conclusion that the differences in people weren’t limited to “just the inner world or outer world” but also took into consideration the content of the “mental activities which they were engaged in when they were in these worlds” (Berens, 1999). Gerke (2006) adds that Jung referred to these mental activities or cognitive/mental processes, as functions, which is derived from the performed function. Berens and Nardi (2004) described the two cognitive processes of Jung as perception and judgment wherein each cognitive process is divided into two categories with Sensation and Intuition falling under perception while Thinking and Feeling highlight judgment. The authors add that Jung’s theory focused on the idea that “every mental act consists of using at least one of these four cognitive processes in either an extraverted or introverted way,” thereby producing eight processes.

Perception and Judgment

Berens (1999) defined Jung’s perception, as a stimulus wherein an individual “becomes aware of something” and in the process is able to “gather or access information.” Jung considered this to be an “irrational process” as the recognition of the stimulus was brought about by external factors. Briggs-Myers et al., (2003) define Jung’s two kinds of perception as Sensation and Intuition. Sensing is defined as information which is assimilated through the senses (tangible information) while Intuiting focuses on a person’s ability in using “possibilities, meanings and relationships in gaining insight” (conceptual information) (Briggs-Myers et al., 2003).

The other core psychological process is Judgment or the ability “organize information and drawing conclusions from it.” Briggs-Myers et al., (2003) define Jung’s two kinds of judgment as Thinking and Feeling with Thinking defined as the “function that comes to a decision by linking ideas together through logical connections” whereas Feeling is the function wherein decisions are reached “by weighing relative values and merits of the issues.” Lastly, Berens (1999) adds these four functions: Sensation, Intuition, Thinking, and Feeling can be function on either the “extraverted world or introverted world.”

Dichotomous Opposites

Carl Jung considers functions to be dichotomous opposites in nature. Dichotomous opposites are similar to water and fire wherein the utilization of one is in direct opposite to the other but does not depreciate their value and importance. Berens (1999) considers Sensing and iNtuiting to also be opposite in nature but despite this an individual has the ability to “shift their attention from one kind of information to another” on a number of occasions. A good example would be assimilating sensory information such as a beautiful painting of the ocean and then visualize its representation in the form of intuitive information like the season of summer, clarity, and peace of mind. Similarly, Thinking and Feeling judgments are polar opposites as well. Berens (1999) believes that to be both “value-based and criterion-based” simultaneously is unattainable. But in certain circumstances, both may be used to some extent. One example would be a traveler determining what he or she may need for a particular trip. Through a predetermined criterion, the traveler would be able to assess what is essential for the impending trip.

Briggs-Myers et al., (2003) add that the creation of the Judging-Perceiving dichotomy by Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine Cook Briggs was brought about “to identify the dominant and auxiliary functions for each type” in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Jung believed that it was important to have one function above all others that are “dominant or trusted and developed” in order to facilitate the “characterization of one’s personality” (Berens, 1999).

Berens (1999) found the following:

Jung also indicated that there was more to a personality type than the dominant function. The dominant process gives a person only one mental process to rely on, and if the dominant process is a perceptive process (Sensing or iNtuting), there would be no way to evaluate information, so there must be a preference also for a judging process (Thinking or Feeling), there would be no way to access information. So the personality is also characterized by having another process play an “auxiliary” role that provides support to the dominant. The idea of a dominant and auxiliary is often referred to as the hierarchy of functions.

The auxiliary process provides balance to the dominant process in two ways.

1) The kind of process, perception, or judgment, is different. If the dominant process is a perceiving process, then the auxiliary process is a judging process or vice versa.

2) The attitudes or orientations of the processes are different. If the dominant process is focused on the outer world (extraverted), then the auxiliary process is focused on the inner world (introverted) or vice versa.

Aspects of Personality

Berens, Ernst, & Smith (2004) share that since we are “complex, adaptable beings,” an MBTI personality type is only capable of “predicting way we might prefer to behave in a given situation and not determine them.” Gerke (2006) adds that when viewing personality types, three interrelated areas much be taken into consideration: the contextual self; the developed self; and the core self. The author defines contextual self as a person’s behavior in relation to the given situation; the developed self then occurs once the individual is able to “adapt and grow based on the choices and decisions we have made as well as by interactions and roles;” while the core self is described as an individuals innate tendency to “to behave in certain ways which influences how one adapts, grows, and develops.”

Distinctions between types

Dissemination of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) can be broken down into three types: reported type, the best-fit type, and true type (Briggs-Myers et al., 2003). The reported type refers to the initial personality type extracted from the answers provided in the indicator. This is followed by the best-fit type which is the type pattern selected by those tested from the “themes and preferred processes” of their reported type that suits them best (Berens et al., 2004). Lastly, Berens (1999) describes true type as “the pattern of tendencies inherent in the individual.” The author believes that since “patterns cannot be measured and can only be mapped or described,” true discovery can only come from the individuals personal cognitive resources. Briggs-Myers et al., (2003) add that although an individual’s type “does not change over time,” they may express their preferences “in somewhat different ways at different times and at different ages, and stages of life.”

Berens, L.V., Ernst, L.K., & Smith, M.A. (2004). Quick guide to the 16 personality types and teams: applying team essentials to create effective teams. Canada: Telos Publications.

Berens, L.V., & Nardi, D. (2004). Understanding yourself and others: an introduction to the personality type code. USA: Telos Publications.

Gerke, S.K. (Speaker). (2006). Jung’s theory of extroversion and introversion (Cassette Recording No, 1). Huntington Beach, California: Ramon Eduardo Gustilo Villasor.

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