Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Typology! (not the theological kind)

Thanks largely to my friend Mike, I am a big nerd for personality testing and profiling as a way to better know myself and others. I am also taking a class at my church called SHAPE (which stands for--let me try this without looking it up--Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, Experiences, and Values which didn't fit in the acronym) which is focused on helping people learn about their unique role in the church and uses several tests to help people learn more about themselves. Two of these tests are Strengths Finder, which is well-known in the business world, and the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator), which can be taken for free here. The practice of profiling people with the MBTI is sometimes called "typology", which unfortunately shares a name with a hermeneutical philosophy I won't get into here.

In a nutshell, the MBTI classifies people on four spectra (click the link or take the test for more details):
  • Extroversion - Introversion: Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world?
  • Sensing - Intuitive: Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning?
  • Thinking - Feeling: When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances?
  • Judging - Perceiving: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options?
The 16 possible combinations of these letter pairs form the 16 MBTI types. As may not surprise you if you clicked that first link and know me or my blog, I have tested as an INTJ each of the 5+ times I have tried. In SHAPE, though, I took the test again but as we were going through attributes of the types, I realized a lot of the P characteristics sounded a lot like me. So, I did what anyone would do and typed the traits of both types into a spreadsheet, sorted the list, pulled out the ones that appeared in both, and rated myself for all the unique ones on a seven-point scale, thus determining in a quintessentially T way that I am an INTP.
I also made this Venn diagram for anyone else who shares my confusion.
And then I did one better and did some crazy Python scripting to generate this spreadsheet showing the traits of each MBTI type by which neighbor(s) they are shared with. If you are similarly type-confused,  Note: to facilitate the finding of intersections between MBTI types, I split some compound traits into their parts, e.g. "objectively critical" to "objective" and "critical".

Looking back, I realized a big part of the reason for the shift is this blog, especially the writing I've done in recent months on working through doubt. Through it, I've realized that simply knowing true things--and, by extension, believing oneself superior to those who don't--isn't as crucial to Christian faith as I'd previously thought. It's tragic when Christians get more into knowing things about God and His word, than simply knowing God Himself and seeing how this knowing changes everything about us and the world we perceive. The words of Scripture are finite, but the new reality they describe and hint at is bottomless. The fact that I'll be exploring this reality for (I believe) eternity might be disheartening to a J, but I find it as joyful as it is humbling.

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