A New View on Personality Types

Understanding personality is a common academic pursuit. Therefore, researchers from various disciplines are frequently studying people and developing classification systems. This could be considered a form of taxonomy.  According to Merriam-Webster, taxonomy is “the study of the general principles of scientific classification.” I once recall a philosopher on science comment that all science is taxonomy.
We all tend to classify things, including other people. Stereotypes are a type of classification system. Though they are not necessarily a very good one. Since we are given to making classifications, it would be beneficial if we thought about how we classify people. We need to ask ourselves whether our system is a good one. A faulty system can lead to misunderstanding and conflict.

Recent Study Identifies Four Personality Types

Science Daily recently published an article about a new way to classifying personalities. A study conducted at a university in Madrid identified four personality types that make up 90 percent of the population. These four types were determined by a computer algorithm. The four types are Optimistic (20%), Pessimistic (20%), Trusting (20%), and Envious (30%). The numbers in parentheses are the percentage of the population having each type.  The list below gives short descriptions of each type from the article.

  • Optimistic–those who believe that they and their partner will make the best choice for both of them
  • Pessimistic—those who select something because they see it as the lesser of two evils
  • Trusting—those who are born collaborators who will always cooperate and do not mind if they win or lose
  • Envious—those who do not mind what they achieve, as long as they are better than everyone else

The study was designed to examine how different people might make decisions. It was based on an initial experiment in Barcelona. This experiment was looking into ways to encourage citizens to participate in public activities. The researchers in this latest study believe the results of the study “shed light in relation to what moves the collective or individual interest in the processes of negotiation, and as such, it is useful in for the management of businesses, organizations, or for political reformulation.”

Comparisons to Other Personality Type Systems

Keirsey’s Four Temperaments

I find it interesting that the computer algorithm came up with a classification system with four types. Four category personality type systems are common. The four temperaments approach is  one of the most popular of these systems. David Keirsey’s version of the four temperaments categorizes people into one of four temperament groups: Guardians, Idealists, Artisans, and Rationals. These four temperaments have some correspondence with Jung’s typology.  We frequently use Jung’s typology in Intelligent Communication. See the list below.

  • Guardians tend to have preferences for Jung’s Sensing and Judging (SJ).
  • Idealists tend to have preferences for Jung’s Intuition and Feeling (NF).
  • Artisans tend to have preferences for Jung’s Sensing and Perceiving (SP).
  • Rationals tend to have preferences for Jung’s Intuition and Thinking (NT).

I think there might be some correspondence between these new categories and the four temperaments.  It is interesting that the most common temperament is the Guardian temperament.  Corresponding to this, the most common among these new types is Envious.

  • The Optimistic type may have some correspondence with the Artisan temperament (SP).
  • The Pessimistic type may have some correspondence with the Rational temperament (NT).
  • The Trusting type may have some correspondence with the Idealist temperament (NF).
  • The Envious type may have some correspondence with the Guardian temperament (SJ).

Using Type and Temperament in Communication

I seek these correspondences, so that I may try out these new categories in the Smart Talk model.  Here is an example of how I might use this information.  I am talking with someone I believe to be an ENTP (Jung category).  This means he is a Rational temperament.  Therefore, I will assume that he is a pessimistic type.  If I am trying to influence him, I will adapt to this type.  Since he might be selecting between the lessor of two evils, I may want to stress the bad aspects of one choice.  This may lead him to choose the other.  Of course, this other choice will be the one I want him to make.

Impact on Communication

Good communication attempts to truly understand others. Knowing a little about personality can help us achieve this.  Also, knowing what moves others to certain behaviors can help us select the right communication tactics.  We can better encourage others to move in the direction we would like them to go. This can be particularly helpful when we are trying to influence or persuade others.
If you would like to know more about how we use personality in communication, drop us a question or comment by email or on our Home Page.
Until next time, be swift to hear and slow to speak.
Photo by hang_in_there

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