Personality Types : Testing and Theory

Personality Types

Understanding personality types can help you to focus on your own motivation as well as that of others. When you understand what motivates someone, it is easier to inspire them to become productive and efficient.

Becoming aware of personality types can help you to unlock the human potential in people by placing them in key positions. This is how an organiser or leader of a group can make the best use of the talents available. The qualities essential to success in business and personal development need to be encouraged to get the best out of people.

By understanding the ways that we assess personality types, you can push people to succeed in their natural skills. This can motivate people to follow their natural path to personal development. This can unlock the potential for someone to excel in leadership, empathy or motivational qualities.

Below are some of the most commonly used theories for assessing personality types. Personality type theories can be used as a tool for finding the right people for the right job. In some cases it can be beneficial to group dynamics to create a purposeful personality mix.

Personality theories and personality test are used throughout management, recruitment, teaching, training and selection. It is important to gain a real understanding of personality assessment before using it to make assessments about your self or others. Once you have made a study of a personality theory, it can be used to assess strengths and weaknesses in your own personality as well as in others.


The Four Temperaments/Four Humours

The four temperaments is a way of categorising personality types which dates back to the Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilisations. It was developed by the ancient greeks into a theory of understanding the treatment of illness, behaviour, personality and illness.

The theory describes imbalance in the four humours. These are related to fluids within the body which relate to the four seasons. The theory of the humours was used in medical treatments up until the 1800s.

Hippocrates c.370BC described the four personality types as:

  • Cheerful
  • Somber
  • Enthusiastic
  • Calm

These four temperaments have been developed over centuries. Interpretations have been adopted by Galen and Carl Jung. A modern perspective of the four temperaments in relation to personality types is that developed by David Keirsey :

  • Artisan : says what is, does what works
  • Rationalist : says what’s possible, does what works
  • Guardian : says what is, does what’s right
  • Idealist : says what’s possible, does what’s right

These four temperaments do not exclusively relate to a person. It is more a guide to their dominant personality traits. It offers a way to predict how they will react to a situation.

Read more about The Four Temperaments.

The Four Temperaments online test.


Carl Jung’s Psychological Types

Carl Gustav Jung worked alongside Freud to help develop and popularise the field of psychoanalysis, psychology and human behaviour. He developed a theory of ‘psychological types’ to help improve the understanding of the way people think.

Jung established a concept of the conscious and the unconscious which acts within all of us. The conscious and the unconscious parts of our mind are constantly striving for a balance. When one or the other becomes dominant, there is usually a psychic manifestation which will occur to rectify the imbalance.

Introverted and Extraverted personality types

Carl Jung also developed the ideas of the Introverted and Extraverted personality types. There are major differences between how an introvert and an extrovert will understand the same problem.

  • Introverted personality: Will concentrate their psychic energy inward and explore ways to understand the self and their own experience.
  • Extroverted personality: Will focus their psychic energy on the world around them and seek to use their behaviour to influence external events and objects.

In general, most people have a balance of introverted and extroverted behaviour. But there is usually a stronger influence in each person of one or the other personality types.

Carl Jung’s four functional types

Alongside the concept of introverted and extroverted personality types, Jung also describes four psychological types. These are a development on the four humours concept.

  • Thinking : this is the analytic process of examining what something is and finding a meaning and understanding toward it.
  • Feeling : this is the subjective process of adding a value to something. Using personal experience to define its worth.
  • Sensation : this is the practical interpretation of what is experienced by the senses. This is the method of establishing that something exists through perception of the physical world.
  • Intuition : this is the speculative interpretation od what something may or may not be doing. This offers possibilities of where something could have come from or where it may go.

According to Jung, thinking and feeling are rational personality traits while intuition and sensation are irrational functions.

  • Rational: Thinking and feeling are used to evaluate a person’s direct experience offering reason, judgement and decision.
  • Irrational: Sensation and intuition are methods of gathering information without judgement or decision.

Each person will naturally find themselves orient towards one of these four personality types. These represent the dominant personality traits used within the conscience. While the other personality types remain within the subconscious.

When Jung functioning types are combined with Introverted or Extraverted personality types you get eight types of psychological person.

  • Extraverted Thinking
  • Introverted Thinking
  • Extraverted Feeling
  • Introverted Feeling
  • Extraverted Sensation
  • Introverted Sensation
  • Extraverted Intuition
  • Introverted Intuition

Jung’s theories predict that people will have a preference towards one of these personality types. By repressing their natural personality type, it is predicted that the subconscious will create a problem to surface.

Therefore it is important for people not to repress their natural personality either by themselves or by others. This can lead to psychological problems sooner or later.

Read more about Carl Jung’s Psychological Types:

Follow this link to Psychological Types by C. G. Jung (1921)


Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

Isabel Briggs Myers alongside her her mother Katharine Briggs helped develop Jung’s theories of personality types to create a system that can assess personality.

The MBTI ‘personal inventory’ system is commonly used in workplaces to assess people and manage them better. The system is used to gain a better understanding of the self and others.

It can provide information about how a person can develop and what motivates them. It also offers an insight into the strengths and weaknesses of an individual.

When creating a team, the MBTI system can help management put a combination of all the necessary personality types together. It also helps with assigning people to tasks and projects which they will be responsible for.

The Myers-Briggs system uses many of the same definitions used by Jung. Their system incorporates a Judging-Perceiving element which relates to the decision-making process.

The terms of the Myers-Briggs system are used to predict the following types of personality:

  • (E)Extraversion or Introversion(I)
  • (S)Sensing or iNtuitive(N)
  • (T)Thinking or Feeling(F)
  • (J)Judging or Perceiving(P)

Each personality test measures a person according to these four scales. (E to I, S to N, T to F and J to P).

From this assessment, each person who takes the test will receive a 4 letter score indicating their personality preferences. EG. INTJ or ENFP or ESFP. This produces a total of 16 personality types which can be presented in an MBTI Type Table.

Read more about Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

Types Indicator MBTI

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator online test.


Keirsey’s personality types

David Keirsey produced a model to help discover temperament types. His method is closely related to the Myers-Briggs MBTI system using the 16 personality types. The Keirsey system also incorporates the Four Temperaments and the work of Carl Jung.

You can conduct a self-assessment using Keirsey Temperament Sorter personality test by reading his book ‘Please Understand Me II’.

Keirsey’s system is used widely by businesses and managers throughout the world to help assess personality types.

Keirsey’s personality types are as follows:

Artisan (SP sensing-perceiving)

  • Promoter (ESTP)
  • Crafter (ISTP)
  • Performer (ESFP)
  • Composer (ISFP)

Guardian (SJ sensing-judging)

  • Supervisor (ESTJ)
  • Inspector (ISTJ )
  • Provider (ESFJ )
  • Protector (ISFJ )

Rational (NT intuitive-thinking)

  • Fieldmarshall ( ENTJ)
  • Mastermind (INTJ)
  • Inventor (ENTP)
  • Architect (INTP)

Idealist (NF intuitive-feeling)

  • Teacher (ENFJ)
  • Counsellor (INFJ)
  • Champion (ENFP)
  • Healer (INFP)

Rad more about Keirsey’s personality types.

Keirsey’s personality types online test.


Eysenck’s personality inventory

Psychologist Hans Jurgen Eysenck believed that genetics determined the psychological differences between individuals. His theories offer an additional feature to those of Four Temperaments, Jung, Myers BriggsÆ, and Keirsey. This extra consideration is that of emotional stability.

Eysenck’s theory uses two scales to measure personality which makes it a scalable mathematical methodology. The two scales that Eysenck developed were:

  • Introversion – Extraversion
  • Stability – Instability

The terms stability and instability referred to the emotional – unemotional character of the person.

The four main character types identified by Eysenck are as follows. These also relate to the 4 temperaments of Galen:

  • Melancholic: unstable-introverted
    Characteristics: unsociable, moody, reserved, sober, rigid anxious

  • Choleric: unstable-extraverted
    Characteristics: optimistic, impulsive, aggressive, excitable, restless, touchy

  • Phlegmatic: stable-introverted
    Characteristics: reliable, thoughtful, peaceful, even-tempered, calm

  • Sanguine: stable-extraverted
    Characteristics: responsive, easy going leadership, sociable, talkative, outgoing, lively

Read more about Eysenck’s personality inventory


Katherine Benziger’s personality and brain-type theory

Katherine Benziger uses modern X-Ray technology to safely scan a person’s brain to understand the ways in which their brain approaches a situation. This gives an impression of what the brain is physically doing and which areas of the brain are active.

Benziger’s work has produced a theory which divides personality into four types based on four quadrants of the brain:

  • Basal Left : process and routine
    Characteristics:practical, sensible, realistic, looks to the past

  • Basal Right : intuition and empathy
    Characteristics: humane, intimate, personal, subjective

  • Front Left : logic and results
    Characteristics: objective, analytical, critical, principled

  • Front Right : vision and creativity
    Characteristics: imaginative, speculative, looks to the future

Benziger suggests that many people create a false personality type for themselves so that they can fit roles and careers which are not optimally suited for them.

This process of ‘falsifying’ their true type can produce a negative impact on their wellbeing, productivity and personal happiness.

Read more about Katherine Benziger’s personality and brain-type theory.


DISC personality types model

The DISC personality types model is owned by the US Inscape Publishing company and was developed by Dr William Moulton Marston along with researchers at the University of Minnesota.

The DISC system used the following four personality characteristics to define an individual.

  • Dominance
    Characteristics: self-assured, dominant, forceful, decisive, task oriented

  • Influence
    Characteristics: good communication, motivational, persuasive, friendly , intuitive

  • Steadiness
    Characteristics: trustworthy, reliable, ethical, methodical, friendly, solid

  • Compliance
    Characteristics: uses facts and figures for decision making, investigative, detail checker, curious

The DISC model uses these four types to create a personality description. Each person will favour one of the four main types, and have a mix of the other 3 types in lesser preferences.

Further reading about DISC types.


Belbin Team Roles

Belbin team roles model is currently used by more than 40% of the top ranking 100 companies worldwide. The theory suggests that teams with a well balanced selection of personality types will perform better than teams which contain similar abilities.

The model identifies nine key roles which need to be included in a well-balanced team in order for it to succeed.

  • Coordinator (CO)
    Characteristics: Offers a shared aim for the team to work towards. Is confident and mature.

  • Shaper (SH)
    Characteristics: A competitive personality who is driven by achievement. They are energised and motivated.

  • Plant (PL)
    Characteristics: Offers innovation and creative solutions to problems.

  • Monitor-Evaluator (ME)
    Characteristics: An analytical thinker who is serious and prudent.

  • Implementer (IMP)
    Characteristics: A reliable and dependable worker. This person is systematic and structured.

  • Resource Investigator (RI)
    Characteristics: A natural communicator and networker. This person can negotiate and seek various opinions.

  • Team Worker (TW)
    Characteristics: This person offers a calming influence and can act as a mediator. They are adaptable, flexible, supportive and sociable.

  • Completer-Finisher (CF)
    Characteristics: This person is able to deliver to specification and to schedule. They have high standards and attention to detail.

  • Specialist (SP)
    Characteristics: This person is highly focused, is driven by professional standards and is committed to the particular subject. Technically expert and highly focused.

Follow this link for further reading on Belbin team roles.


OCEAN – the ‘Big Five’ factors

The first ‘Big Five’ personality profiler was launched in 1990 by Paul Sinclair who has many years experience in performance development and psychological profiling.

The ‘big five’ are the five fundamental factors which are used to describe common personality traits. The five ‘super traits’ tested for in the OCEAN personality questionaire are as follows:

  • Openness to experience
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extraversion/Introversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism

Trait theory describes the fact that a person’s personality usually becomes stabilised during the person’s early 20s. From this point a person can be measured reliably as their major characteristics are no longer likely to change.

Using the ‘big five’ assessment in the workplace offers a guide to managing individual people in the most efficient way.

Big Five online test

Read more about OCEAN – the ‘big five’ personality assessment


FIRO-B (Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation-Behaviour)

FIRO-B is a personality assessment developed by William Schutz in 1958. It was first used for understanding the personality differences of teams within the US Navy.

The test is designed to measure the individual preferences for the following basic needs:

  • Inclusion
    This measures how someone considers themselves as part of a particular community, group or team.

  • Control
    This assesses how much importance an individual places on having influence, structure and hierarchy within their group.

  • Affection
    This evaluates an individual’s preference to intimacy, disclosure and warmth.

The FIRO-B model is designed to offer guidance to understanding team dynamics. By completing the test, you can discover insight into self-awareness, management and understanding of team dynamics.

Follow this link for further reading about FIRO-B.


The Birkman Method

The Birkman Method is used to assess personality types to develop a guide to the personal and interpersonal qualities of an individual. It uses analysis of persons perceptions and mis perceptions to produce its results. It allows management to identify and resolve problems within teams to improve effectiveness.

The Birkman Method is useful since it can identify behaviours which are not appropriate and offers ways that they can be improved.

It can provide ways to solve problems which can be used within a range of situations. The method uses sets of scales to build a profile within the following areas:

  • Motivations
    These describe the areas where a person expresses an interest towards. A person scores higher in the areas which interest them the most and lower in activities where they do not wish to participate.

  • Effective Behaviours
    This describes the areas where a person is effective in their behaviours. It rates the positive behaviours which are observed in tasks and relationships.

  • Expectations
    A person will perform better when the environment meets their expectations. When situations or relationships do not meet their expectations, they may develop less-than-effective behaviour.

  • Stress Behaviours
    Stress behaviour is the way in which people react under stress or when frustrated. Short term gains may be noted during stressful times, but these may have had a longer reaching negative impact on those around.

  • Career Choices
    Another feature of the Birkman Method is that it can match a personality up to a career choice which will be most compatible with their preferences.

Follow this link for further reading about the Birkman Method.


Lumina Spark

Lumina Spark uses the big five model (OCEAN) and expands it to measure a personality trait from both ends of the scale. This means that a person needs to choose A or B, but can have an individual score of A alongside a score of B.

The Lumina method also provides these results for each personality tested. This offers an insight into how a person may act differently in different situations.

  • Underlying Persona : This is how an individual acts when in private. This is a person’s natural personality while they are most relaxed and natural.
  • Everyday Persona : This is the way an individual portrays themselves in public. This represents how someone wishes others to perceive them.
  • Overextended Persona : This is how a person reacts to stressful situations. This demonstrates how someone will react to unexpected or difficult situations.

The Lumina Spark method offers a visual representation of a personality profile. This makes it east to compare personality profiles so that a team can be created of the best mix of people.

Follow this link for further reading about the Lumina Spark Method.


Further reading for Personality Types Testing and Theory

  • Katherine Benziger, The Art of Using your Whole Brain (1995)
  • Katherine Benziger, Thriving in Mind (2000)
  • Frieda Fordham, An Introduction to Jung’s Psychology (1953/59/66)
  • Maggie Hyde, Introduction to Jung (1992)
  • Carl Jung, Psychological Types (1921)
  • David Keirsey, Please Understand Me II (1998)
  • Stephen Montgomery, People Patterns – A Modern Guide to the Four Temperaments (2002)
  • Isabel Briggs Myers & Kathryn Briggs, MBTI Manual: A Guide to the Development and Use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (1962)
  • Isabel Briggs Myers, Gifts Differing (1980)
  • William Moulton Marston, Emotions of Normal People (1928)
  • R Meredith Belbin, Management Teams, Why they Succeed or Fail (1981)

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