Essential Qualities of the Personality Patterns
by Linda Berens


The 16 Personality Types

(For a complete explanation of the sixteen personality types, see the References for 16 Personality Types: Descriptions for Self-Discovery.)

Sixteen personality patterns have been observed over time from various perspectives and theoretical bases. Each of these patterns has a theme of its own.

We use three lenses to look at the sixteen types--Temperament, Interaction Styles, and Cognitive Dynamics. Each lens provides different information about personality. Sometimes it is useful to explore each lens on its own. Other times two lenses are used together for a more complete picture. The three lenses taken together give the fullest picture and provide the most information.


(For a complete explanation of Temperament Theory, see the References for Understanding Yourself and Others: An Introduction to the 4 Temperaments-4.0.)

Temperament Theory is based in descriptions of behavior that go back over twenty-five centuries. It tells us the "why" of behavior, our motivators, and sources of deep psychological stress. Knowing our temperament patterns tells us our core needs and values as well as the talents we are more likely to be drawn to develop. Temperament gives us four broad themes in a pattern of core psychological needs, core values, talents, and behaviors--all of which are interrelated.



The four temperament patterns also have qualities in common with each other and can be described in those terms as well.

Abstract versus Concrete language--the way we tend to think about things and the way we use words. The Idealist and Rational patterns are characterized by abstract language with a focus on intangibles--concepts, ideas, implications, and meaning. People with these patterns as primary seek to know or explain the meaning of something that is not seen in order to access information that is not obvious. The Guardian and Artisan temperament patterns are characterized by concrete language with a focus on tangibles--experiences and observations. Those with these patterns seek to get or give useful concrete information to plan for the future of take action in the present.

Affiliative versus Pragmatic roles--the way we prefer to interact with others. The Idealist and Guardian patterns are more Affiliative in nature, with a focus on interdependence, human and group effectiveness, inclusion, agreement, and sanction. The Rational and Artisan patterns are more Pragmatic in nature with a focus on independence and operational effectiveness, self-determination, autonomous actions, and expedience.

Another dimension not shown on the matrix is the focus on Structure versus Motive--where we focus our attention when interacting with others. The Rational and Guardian patterns are characterized by a focus on structure, order, and organization to gain a measure of control over life's problems and irregularities rather than be at the mercy of random forces. The Idealist and Artisan patterns are characterized by a focus on motives and why people do things in order to work with the people they are communicating with rather than trying to force them into a preconceived structure.

Of the three lenses, temperament is the broadest and each temperament pattern describes the driving force of four of the sixteen types. Interaction Styles (For a complete explanation of Interaction Styles theory, see Understanding Yourself and Others®: An Introduction to Interaction Styles 2.0.)

Interaction Styles is based on observable behavior patterns that are quite similar to the popular social styles models and DISC(R). Interaction Styles tells us the "how" of our behavior. It refers to patterns of interaction that are both highly contextual and yet innate. Knowing our interaction style helps us locate interpersonal conflicts and situational energy drains. It gives us a map for greater flexibility in our interactions with others.

These four interaction style patterns are characterized by different interactional dynamics. Those dynamics are Directing/Informing and Initiating/Responding.

interaction styles chart

The Directing style has a time and task focus with a tendency to direct the actions of others to accomplish a task in accordance with deadlines, often by either telling or asking. Regarding motivations and process, the Directing style is explicit.

The opposite style is Informing, with a motivation and process focus. Using this style, people tend to give information in order to enroll others in the process. When a task needs to be accomplished, the Informing style engages others, describing outcomes and processes that can be used to complete the task.

Each style has its own best and appropriate use, and most people use both at different times but have more comfort with one.

Each of these patterns can also be further differentiated by another dimension--a preference for either Initiating interactions and a faster pace or for Responding to interactions and a slower pace. The four different interaction style patterns are shown in the matrix to the right.

Cognitive Dynamics

(For a complete explanation of Cognitive Dynamics, see the reference for Understanding Yourself and Others: Introduction to the Personality Type Code.)

Cognitive Dynamics is based in the Jungian theory from which the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is derived. Each of the sixteen types has a theme based in a unique dynamic pattern of cognitive processes and their development. Knowing our innate tendencies to use these processes in certain ways can help us release blocks to our creativity and to effective communication. This model provides us the key to growth and development.

Carl Jung's Theory of Psychological Type

In examining individual differences, Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung differentiated two fundamentally different orientations. He noticed some people seem primarily oriented to the world outside themselves. He called these people extraverted. He saw other people as primarily oriented to the world inside themselves. He called these people introverted. This extraverted-introverted difference is related to where you focus and recharge your energy. Then Jung noticed that people could be further distinguished by their preferred mental processes. Jung saw two kinds of mental processes used in everyday life: the process of perception (becoming aware of) and the process of judgment (organizing or deciding).

chart of cognitive processes

He then further differentiated two kinds of perception--Sensation and Intuition. Sensing is a process of becoming aware of sensory information. Intuiting* is a process of becoming aware of abstract pattern information and meanings. Both kinds of information are available to us, but we pay attention to only one kind at a time. Both are necessary and valuable in everyday life.

Likewise, he noted two kinds of judgment--Thinking and Feeling. Thinking judgments are based on objective criteria and are detached from personal values. Feeling judgments are based on subjective considerations and are attached to personal and universal values. Even the smallest act involves either Thinking or Feeling judgments, and both kinds of decisions are needed and valuable.

Each of these four mental processes can be used in either the external world of extraversion or the internal world of introversion, producing eight mental processes. Then Jung outlined eight psychological types, each characterized by the predominance of one of these eight mental processes (extraverted Sensing, introverted Sensing, extraverted iNtuiting, introverted iNtuiting, extraverted Thinking, introverted Thinking, extraverted Feeling, and introverted Feeling). In his writings he suggested that each of these eight dominant mental processes was supported by one of two opposing processes and that each of these eight types might vary according to which opposite mental process was used in support of the dominant. For example, the extraverted Sensing type with Thinking would be somewhat different from the extraverted Sensing type with Feeling. Thus, his notions imply sixteen type patterns, each characterized by preferences for the use of two of the eight mental processes, as shown in the table below. Enter Measurement and the Four-Letter Code When Isabel Myers began developing the MBTI, she faced several challenges. One challenge was the beginning of the self-report movement. Prior to that time, psychologists doubted that a self-report format would work. Also, it was a time of "measurement," and the scientific thinking of the time was to understand the world by dividing it into parts. Myers faced the challenge of keeping the holistic quality of Jung's types in the forefront, while meeting the demands of the tests and measurement world. She chose to focus on the opposites in Jung's theory. Jung said that the orientations of extraversion and introversion were dynamically opposite. You can't be in two places at one time! He also said the mental processes were dynamically opposite. Thus, one would have a preference for either Sensing or iNtuiting and Thinking or Feeling in one's day-to-day interactions. The genius of Isabel Myers (and her mother, Katharine Briggs) was to develop questions about everyday actions and choices that reflected these underlying opposing preferences.

When the preferences for each of these pairs of opposites were indicated, then the type pattern could be inferred. However, a difficulty remained in how to determine which mental process was dominant in the personality and which was auxiliary. Myers reasoned that we can more readily observe what we do externally, so she decided to add questions to try to find which preferred mental process individuals used in the external world. If they used their preferred judging process to order the external world, they would be likely to make lists and structure their time in advance. If they used their preferred perceiving process to experience the external world, they would avoid such planning and structuring and prefer to keep things open-ended. Thus, the Judging-Perceiving scale of the MBTI was born. The resultant four-letter code is used around the world to give people insights about themselves.

Type Dynamics and Development

Type dynamics is based on the theories of Carl Jung and refers to a hierarchy of cognitive processes (Sensing, iNtuiting, Thinking, Feeling) and a preference for being either in the external world (extraversion) or the internal world (introversion). Type dynamics and type development refer to the unfolding of the personality pattern as expressed through the development of the mental processes of perception and judgment. Since the personality is a living system, it is self-organizing--self-maintaining, self-transcending, and self-renewing. Growth and development follow principles of organic development, and there is an order to the evolution of the personality.

The first cognitive process to develop and become more refined is often called the dominant. It is the favorite. The second is often called the auxiliary because it "helps" the first one. It develops second (usually between the ages of twelve to twenty). Development of the third process usually begins around age twenty and continues until age thirty-five or so. The fourth or least preferred process usually comes into play more between the ages of thirty-five to fifty. These developmental ages are general, not fixed. At these times, we find ourselves drawn to activities that engage and utilize the processes.

Thus we can say that development is dynamic and growing. Development in this sense is like readiness to learn to talk or to walk. We don't have to make children do these, we only need to provide models and opportunities and then stay out of the way. Development can be diverted due to environmental pressures and so is not always in this order as we develop some "proficiencies" using these cognitive processes. Still, the innate preference pattern will remain the same.

Using the MBTI®

In looking at how the models relate to the MBTI, it is important to remember that the results of any instrument are just an artificial snapshot in time. Also, an instrument is not the theory. The results of an instrument are neither the whole of a theory nor the whole of a personality. This is why ethical and competent users of the MBTI follow the person-to-person feedback standards of self-selection and validation by the client. One must not assume the results of the MBTI (or any other instrument) are 100 percent accurate. They must always be validated through an exploratory process such as we describe in this book.

How Do the Models Relate?

chart of temperament matrix

The temperament patterns (extended out to the four variations of each) meet Jung's theory at the level of the sixteen type patterns. The four-letter codes produced by the MBTI, when they are accurate and verified for individuals, match Keirsey's sixteen type patterns. While at first glance the matching process looks illogical, it occurs at a deep theoretical level when comparing Jung's and Kretschmer's original works. More importantly, it occurs on a descriptive, behavioral level. Following, is The Temperament Matrix(TM) with the sixteen themes, Interaction Styles, the four-letter MBTI codes, and the type dynamics patterns represented by the type code. (The dominant is listed first, auxiliary second, tertiary third, and inferior fourth.)

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