Understanding Others

Part of what draws me to literature is the  characters we meet– I love people, even if they’re fictional. I love understanding people and their points of view, mannerisms, dreams etc. Psychology is a new interest of mine, things like the basics of: kinesics, handwriting analysis, and personality types. It’s fascinating! I love seeing people develop and am constantly trying to as well.

Isabel Myers and her mother Katharine Briggs expanded on some of Carl Jung’s ideas (which I need to read) creating what’s known as the Myers-Briggs theory, described in the book Gifts Differing. It’s uncannily accurate– in about as accurate as you can be when dealing with the boundless diversity of people! It focuses on our natural preferences in understanding the world around us; the way we see or perceive things and make decisions or judgements. Here are the basics:

Our Energy, E or I

Extroverts (E) pull their energy from the outside in, through their experiences of the world. They’re expressive; process things by talking them through. They enjoy action and often have a breadth of interests and activities. 

Introverts (I) have an internal energy that slowly drains as they interact with the world. Their energy emerges from reflections in their inner world of ideas, insights, and memories.  They want to understand things deeply and are both subtle and intense.


Perceiving Preference, S or N

There are two ways of perceiving: sensing (S) and intuition (N).

Someone with a sensing preference focuses their attention on what’s being said: the facts. They trust their own observations and experiences; The realities. They are usually careful, conventional, and sometimes more critical.

“Matters inferred are not as reliable as matters explicitly stated… Prefer to learn by familiarization.”

In contrast, someone with an intuitive preference reads between the lines and makes connections with other concepts. Their focus is on vision; possibilities. They’re inventive, quick, imaginative, original, and generally more appreciative.

Judging Preference, T or F

Thinking (T) or feeling (F) tips our judgements to focus either more on truth or values.

The term ‘thinking’ doesn’t refer to the intellectual process but more on making decisions based on the “truth independent of the… wishes of the thinker or anyone else.” They are more rigid, things are black and white. Logical and more likely to notice inconsistencies.

Feelers are most conscious if ideas are pleasing or displeasing. They wonder how their decisions will affect others and their personal values influence how they make decisions. They are flexible towards situations; Compassionate, empathetic, and idealistic.

Dealing with the World, J or P

A well developed person has a balance of both but it’s which you instictivley react to situations with:

Judging (J)

  • Orderliness
  • Decide in advance what they intend to accomplish
  • Strong willpower and follow-through
  • Focus is on the goal

“Judging types with insufficient perception have no give or cooperation in them. If they lack an adequately developed perceptive process, they will be narrow, rigid, and incapable of seeing any point of view except their own.”

Perceptive (P)

  • Tolerant, a live and let live attitude
  • Leave things open to respond and adapt to change
  • Finds something of interest in almost any situation
  • Focus is on getting information

“Perception should be supported by an adequately developed judging process… to give continuity of purpose and supply a standard by which to criticize and govern one’s own actions”

These create a total of sixteen different personality ‘types’. For example I’m an INFP INFJ. You can read more about each at Type Logic, Truity, or Prelude Character



9 thoughts on “Understanding Others

  1. My sister, a psychologist, was a bit angry seeing me overwhelmed with Myers-Briggs since, in her words, I should knew better (I studied alongside her, but since I was not an official student of psychology I don’t have a diploma). I had to justify myself and explain that, no matter my enthusiasm, I take it cum grano salis, critically, seeing it as an indicator that it is.. I guess I was that enthusiastic because it was around that time I found out there’s a word that sums up my basic persona – an introvert! I’m INTP. :)

    1. I’m often curious as to why it seems to be so dismissed in the world of psychology. Of course there will always be more nuances to people than any ‘type’ can pin down but it seems to give a pretty good foundation point. :)

      1. Because it’s based on a theory and not on an actual research and because its validity and relevance are not proven. You can find more detailed criticism on the internet.. All that said, I agree with you – if one approaches the test honestly, it will give a good outline.

  2. Hi Katherine, I just found your blog through A Great Book Study blog (formerly An Experiment With The Well-Educated Mind). I just love it. So many wonderful, pertinent posts that get your readers really thinking. I can’t wait to read more!

  3. my 1st comment to this site

    -the webmaster is so gracious to those who post, one is addressed with so much respect, which says lots about feeling safe among those who we may not know that well.

    -am thankful to know of you’re collective caring presence, as what may draw to those who would be found

    no matter what turns them
    they have been given North,
    their direction we think is unknown
    as their beauty courses their wings,
    sun feels my wings with
    trails from orchids,
    have i been made known of your beauty?

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