Friday, April 3, 2009

How Reported type can be misleading, Use Best-Fit instead.

I recently found a copy of my Step 2 MBTI report that I received when I became qualified in the MBTI. I was very surprised to see how far it was wrong. This particular report was for an INTJ, while as you can see at the bottom of this blog I feel that my best fit type is INFP. It was through using the eight functions that I truly discovered how easily that can happen. When you look at it from the dichotomous, either/or, perspective I agree with the Introversion, and iNtuition. But obviously I do not agree that Thinking and Judging as my other two choices.

Looking through the lens of type dynamics I understand that my preference for Extraverted iNtuition (Ne) which is my auxiliary function can often come out as dominant since in certain circumstances where I am in charge or teaching a class or working with others, being my preferred extraverted function it seems to take over when others are around, or "how I orient to the outside world". I have also discovered that while I orient to others through this extraverted function, I allow this to happen as long as my true dominant, intraverted Feeling (Fi), feels safe and my values are not being compromised. I often joke that in my house I am in charge and my wife allows me to be. In truth because I try to treat our relationship in that way, we have had some rocky times but overall it has been a great 26 years. Fi in effect is allowing Ne to be in charge, and Ne being the good parent will try to remain faithful to the desires of Fi. Just like I remain faithful to the desires of my wife.

Now, looking at the T and J and using type dynamics, the T and J together tells me that in the INTJ type code the preferred T is extraverted Thinking (Te). Using Type dynamics again I know (and personally agree) that my fourth or inferior function is Te. According to Beebe, the inferior supports the dominant function like the spine supports the body with the dominant the head and the inferior the feet. With that analogy in mind, I might say that Te is the protector of my Fi value system. Like with Ne above it remains hidden behind the extraverted Thinking so that when I am not willing to share my values, or through experience I know that my values are not going to win an argument, I switch to Te to provide a logically supported reason that meets the needs of my values that I then do not have to share.

Te is the epitomy of what makes the J stand out over the P in the J-P dimension, Logical decision making, using lists and tools to demonstrate a decision and remain organized. At the time I took that instrument I was the senior instructor for a senior level Army Reserve course and was tasked to re-develop the entire course. At the time I was up to my eyeballs in organization, lists of tasks, and reporting to several very senior leaders on its progress. Logical decisionmaking is what the Army is all about and I learned to do it well. So it is no surprise that I was probably reflecting what turns out to be a very comfortable function for me and it showed in the instrument that day.

For this reason more than any other, using best fit type and allowing the person to decide without influence from the practitioner as to their preferred best-fit type code is so important in helping that person understand themselves. It truly was for me.

What do you think?



  1. Ken,
    Your best-fit approach helps me understand choosing INFP over INTJ
    Also I like your shelfari - first one I have seen.
    MCB - Durham, NC

  2. Ken, you are absolutely right about using best fit type over reported type. It is certainly the height of hubris to say we or a "questionnaire", if you will, knows the learners better than they know themselves. Personally, I never give out the reported type until near the end of the session and not without first giving them:

    - a lot of supporting information about that reported type (currently I use the Introduction to Type booklets from CPP or similar sources if the client can afford it, otherwise materals from OKA's Type Talk Tool Kit software for non profits on a tight budget)
    - numerous quiet times in the session (after each dichotomy is covered) for participants to take their best (and private) guess at what they think their preference is apt to be on each of their dominant, their auxiliary and the other dichotomies.
    - encouragement to ask for descriptions of other 4 letter combinations

    When I first "took" the MBTI, the facilitator simply gave me 1 sheet of paper at the beginning of the session with just 4 letters, saying that was my type and not accepting my protestations about the misfit. As a result, for years I thought the MBTI was bunk yet beat myself up for not exhibiting behaviors associated with the ENFJ type that the facilitator said represented me. She did not explain, as Peter Geyer always says, "Type is not behavior since different people do the same things for different reasons."

    After a long journey, I am now a MBTI Master Practitioner comfortable in my ENFP skin.

  3. Ken, I have been agonizing over my type for the last month or so, dredging the collective wisdom of the interwebs to find that ONE piece of information that would make it all click, that would help me understand which pattern fits me best. I usually test as INFP, and that description has always fit me pretty well, but I've struggled to understand how I use the functions, and found myself waffling between INFP and INFJ or ISFJ. After reading how you applied Beebe's methodology to the INFP functions, I realize I was right all along. Thank you for providing me that elusive information puzzle piece.

    1. Glad to know I could help. I also appreciate you finding my blog and adding your thoughts. I don't spend a lot of time blogging like others do but some times I just have to put my thoughts down. Not an easy thing for me do but I am finding out that by doing so I bring clarity to my thoughts and as I seem to be doing bringing clarity to others as well. Thanks for the comment


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