Dec 16, 2006

Which Are Better - Functions or Dichotomies?

When newcomers to Jungian psychological types take the MBTI - the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator - they are given a "type" that consists of one of the poles of four different dichotomies: (extraversion vs. introversion, sensing vs. intuition, thinking vs. feeling, and judging vs. perceiving). Each of the four letters in the type name reflects a pole of each dichotomy - for example, the type "ISTJ" or "ENFP."

Often the test-taker is also shown his location on a scale of each dichotomy, e.g.
"extraversion 56%, introversion 44%"
The greater the difference between the two poles of the dichotomy, the higher the probability that the dichotomy in question was accurately diagnosed.

The result of this approach is that people get used to thinking that they are "a little bit of both," that they "used to be more sensing than they are now," that they are "sometimes one, sometimes the other," etc.

All of this is foreign to the concept of psychological types introduced by Carl Jung.

Jung spoke not of dichotomies but of functions. He described four functions, each of which comes in an extraverted and an introverted variety. Each person has a dominant function that dominates his or her personality and being. In addition, he postulated the existence of the auxiliary, tertiary, and inferior functions.

Jung did not think of the individual as moving left or right along the scale of a dichotomy during their lives; instead, he talked about the possibility of developing functions' strength, while maintaining that their natural order did not change.

Myers' and Briggs' switch in emphasis from functions to dichotomies made testing more straightforward (more easily quantifiable), but significantly diluted the strength of Jung's original ideas. Dichotomies are easier to measure, but they effectually ignore the main concepts of the typology (which is fine, of course, but it freezes the development of typology theory itself).


Unknown said...

The more I read your articles, the more I realize that the websites you have organized are the only reliable way to learn socionics on the web..... I really hope the basics of the wiki gets finished soon.

Outwit. Outkill. Outclass said...

if i think in terms of dichotomies versus functions, i will get two different results...

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Actually the assumption that we must actively use an "inferior" and "tertiary" function were coined by the creators of the MBTI system. There is a common misconception that MBTI is only about dichonomies, when in reality, they proposed the 4 function model. As I read psychological types (it being right in front of me) jung describes an auxillary supplement to the main function. He describes the auxillary as a type of assistant to the lead, but essentially describes the rest as "mostly unconscious". The creators of the MBTI then assumed that "Oh, the rest of that must be very distinct then."