Jung's Personality Typology

Jung was a trait theorist in addition to being a depth psychologist. Traits are durable characteristics of a person. Jung invented the extraversion/introversion dichotomy that is still very popular in academic psychology. Extraversion, in Jung's scheme, is an outward turning of "goal-directed energy." Extraverted people channel their life energy into activities and social involvement. Introverts, by contrast, are turned inward, more interested in the life of the mind than the events of the outside world. Jung recognized himself as an introvert, because he was more often interested in his mental reactions to life events than the events themselves.

How did Jung explain extraversion and introversion?

Although Jung's concept of extraversion vs. introversion proved very influential and durable, Jung did not think one dimension was enough to capture the complexities of human personality. Therefore Jung proposed a finer grade of distinctions.

What are distinctive features of the rational type? What are two sub-types?

Jung observed that some people seem to use their minds all the time, making conscious value judgments about which way to direct themselves. Jung called the active, decision-making individuals rational or "judging" types. Jung said they come in two sub-types: the feeling type and the thinking type. The feeling type makes decisions according to emotional evaluations (for example, marrying somebody out of love). The thinking type makes decisions based on conscious calculations (for example, marrying somebody who will someday be rich). Both the thinking and feeling types are "rational" personalities because both are conscious of the decision-making process. They are not impulsive. They ponder decisions.

Jung also identified two irrational types of personality. These are people who rely on perception or intuition to guide decision-making. They tend to be rooted in the present, and they are more likely to make snap decisions or do impulsive things. Some irrational types emphasize sensation. They respond to external stimuli and are quite attentive to sensory perceptions, which guide their actions in a way they would be at a loss to explain. Such a person might be found wandering in a meadow on a pleasant morning, drinking in the sights and sounds, or spending all night at a nightclub, for no reason the person could identify except "liking it."

What are distinctive features of the "irrational" type? What are two sub-types?

Other irrational types use intuition , which Jung defined as unconsciously derived inner knowledge or knowledge of unknown origin. Like the sensation-oriented person, the intuitive person reacts or makes decisions without knowing exactly why. Decisions "happen"-they are not carefully plotted out. This is like the perceptual type. However, in the intuitive type, the information that guides a decision comes from inside rather than outside.

What was a goal of personality development?

Jung said all four patterns are present in all people to some degree, but one or two usually dominate the personality. An intuitive person was not likely to be tuned in to sensory stimuli, for example. However, individuals were not doomed to be limited in this way, locked into one way of making decisions. Jung felt that a goal of personality development was to have access to as many of your talents and abilities as possible, which meant getting familiar with all four "function types." So you could be (for example) an extraverted, irrational type oriented toward sensations...but have a little of the feeling characteristics, too.

How does one come up with six Jungian traits?

The extraversion/introversion dimension can vary independently of the four subtypes, so there are at least six traits described by Jung that a person could have in varying degrees, if you accept Jung's theory.

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Copyright © 2007 Russ Dewey