Friday, 27 April 2018
I've made fun of MBTI stereotypes before in this post, but recently I've been thinking about it again; how annoying it gets, when people forget about how complex everyone is, or how your MBTI is hardly your whole personality. Actually you could say that MBTI is not about personality at all, at least, not about what people often think personality is. MBTI is about cognition. How you take in information and process it.
Of course this will lead to common characteristics. Just the other day, I too found myself saying: "I think Si-users are often tidier than Se-users". And maybe it's true in general, though I can't say for sure because it's just what I remember seeing around. In any case, what I shouldn't forget is, that it's not the whole truth. If I started typing someone based on things like how tidy their room is, I would definitely make a lot of mistakes.
And people do make these mistakes. Like once upon a time on a forum someone asked me: "Are you sure you're not an ESTP?" And apparently this was based on their perception of my general activity level in life, things like how often I played sports. Like, liking to move was way too much of an Se thing for an INFJ.
Being an Se-inferior doesn't mean you don't like sports. Being a Ti-inferior doesn't mean you're stupid. Being an Fe-inferior doesn't mean you can't put yourself in someone else's shoes.
Just like Being an Si-dom doesn't mean you have a good memory, and being an Fe-dom doesn't mean you're kind.
INTs are cold, hard logic types who look down on emotions, right?
Well, I know an INTP who talks about his emotions more than any of my Fe-friends. He also worries about the world more than my Fi-friends.
ES-type's brain would explode if they had an original thought, right?
I know an ESFP who won a poetry contest and her poem was praised for the beauty of language and insight into human nature. Sounds like typical NF-stuff?
I also know an INFP who goes for a run or hits the gym every day, and an ESFP who can't even be persuaded to go for a walk.
I know an INTJ who praises good movies for their emotional impact, an ESTP who writes cheesy love songs, an ISFJ who is LOUD and charismatic. Also an ISFJ who is one of the meanest people I know, and an INTJ who couldn't hurt a fly, no matter how "efficient" it would be. An ESFJ who went against all the traditions and beliefs of her family, an ISTJ who failed math, an ENFJ with a resting bitch face, an ISFP who couldn't draw a stick figure, an ESTJ who is the most quiet and humble person in his family...
Also, the most devoted theists I know happen to be INTs.
While the most vocal atheists I know are INFs.
Funny world, huh?
Empathy is a human trait, not an Fe-trait. Athletic abilities are not exclusive to Se-doms and auxs. Absolutely anyone can be good, or bad at these things. And it enforces harmful, narrow views about human nature in general when people use the theory to say "You are this, so you can't also be this". Humans are way more complex than that.
I suppose some people would question, at this point, what the MBTI theory is good for then, if you can't predict people with it?
Well, it's not that you can't. It's just that this isn't the kind of stuff that has anything to do with your MBTI type.
MBTI doesn't answer the question of what you like, or are good at, or believe in.
The way I've come to see it, is that MBTI is about why you like the things you like the way you like them, why you are good at the things you are good at the way you're good at them, why you believe the things you believe the way you believe them. Why you generally do anything the way you do it. Not what you do. The way you do it.
So yes, I think MBTI is absolutely a good tool at understanding people. You just have to use it the way it was meant to.