The central structural component in Jung’s theory of human adaptation is his understanding and explication of what he developed and described as psychological type. According to Jung, the mechanism for adaptation and orientation is the psyche, which has two distinguishable perceiving functions, namely sensation and  intuition, and two judging functions, namely thinking and feeling. Furthermore, each of these functions is oriented according to a basic attitude, namely extraversion or introversion.

Extraversion is an orientation toward the external world, and the flow of energy is from object to subject. In contrast, introversion is an orientation toward the internal world, and the flow of energy is from subject to object. Consequently, in the energetic flow between the subjective idea and the objective thing, “for the introverted attitude the idea is the prime mover; for the extroverted, a product”.

When perceiving, The sensing function enables us to focus on what is real and actual, trust experience, take in via the five senses, apply experience and attend to the factual and concrete. Contrastingly, the intuition function focuses on possibilities, trusts imagination, is future oriented, see patterns and attends to the abstract and theoretical. When judging, the thinking function seeks order, uses cause and effect logic as well as employs impersonal decision making to analyse and critique. The feeling function seeks harmony and uses value-based logic to effect inter-personal decision making, it seeks to sympathise and focuses on appreciation.

Jung asserted that “it is not the purpose of a psychological typology to classify human beings into categories – this in itself would be pretty pointless. It’s purpose is rather to provide a critical psychology which will make a methodical investigation and presentation of the empirical material possible. First and foremost, it is a critical tool for the research worker, who needs definite points of view and guidelines if he is to reduce the chaotic profusion of individual experiences to any kind of order. . . . Secondly, a typology is a great help in understanding the wide variations that occur among individuals, and it also furnishes a clue to the fundamental differences in the psychological theories now current. Last but not least, it is an essential means for determining the personal equation”.

Jung’s theory of psychological types was been operationalised by Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs, who developed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), with the stated purpose “to make the theory of psychological types described by C. G. Jung understandable and useful in people‘s lives”. Whilst acknowledging that a psychometric instrument can never circumscribe the diversity of human behaviour, the MBTI does attempt to identify individual‘s psychological preferences. It is the most widely used personality instrument for normal, non-psychiatric populations in the world. It is a forced-choice self-report inventory, and generates strength of preference scores for each of four dichotomies.

John has applied psychological type in a number of ways including:

  • interpersonal communication
  • team dynamics
  • personal and career development
  • cognitive style, information processing, problem solving, decision making and planning

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Posted: September 14, 2014


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