On Learning Typology through Spurious Sources

A young boy was raised on Disney.

Just a few DVDs ago, the boy had no qualifications in life, but he already feels like Disney has taught him everything he needs to know.

“What a great friend I have in Disney!” the boy thinks to himself as he skips down the street with a spring in his step.

Years later, the boy enters a library reading hall and encounters a dusty leather-bound volume. The book contains the original source material for The Little Mermaid, Hercules, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and other such stories.

“Oh, that’s nice,” the boy thinks to himself as he lodges the volume off the shelf. “I know this stuff. It will be fun to see what they’ve written about ‘my’ topic.”

The boy starts reading with gleeful anticipation. But his anticipation soon turns to disgust. This is not what he was expecting. The stories feature all manner of sinister convolutions that he doesn’t fully understand and what’s worse – these deviant versions of familiar themes are presented unapologetically as if they were the real accounts. It’s like Victor Hugo and Hans Christian Andersen never even stopped to apologize for deviating from Disney.

“This is ridiculous!” the boy exclaims. “These guys have it all wrong! Hercules never murdered his own children, and the Little Mermaid doesn’t die in the end! She gets the prince and they live happily ever after. If these authors don’t even know that, then they’re total idiots,” the boy thinks to himself.

Disgusted, he puts down the volume.

The boy makes a pledge to himself: To stay with Disney for the rest of his life.

There’s no good reason grown men can’t watch Disney.

29 Comments

  1. An interesting allegory for the Internet pop-typology culture so prevalent these days.

    There’s nothing wrong with liking “Disney” — just being too fatuous to appreciate the richer things in life. Of course, such folk will likely take umbrage at the suggestion to refine their palates.

  2. It’s OK to like the hip new adaptations as long as you are responsible enough to respect the progression of the material and get your facts straight. In a way I don’t really blame people for wanting to come together over something that’s easy to digest, I just don’t see why it has to use the same terminology as more heady subject matter and cause confusion that way.

  3. This is a broadly applicable allegory to many ambiguous ideological or learning issues.

    So I don’t mind if I steal it.

  4. Excellent comments, all.

    Travis: Exactly. We do offer some digressions/progressions as well, but we’re conscious that we’re doing so and we try to argue them.

    Especially on the matter of the terminology, we’ve been telling people that certain sources are defining the functions completely differently from Jung-Hoop-Myers, but using the same terminology. As someone said on this blog, that has the effect of turning out “an army of the uninformed.” It would be grand if these people would stop using the letters and terminology Jungian typology.

    And then of course, there is the whole matter of visual identification, which seems to grow ever more popular online.

  5. Interesting article, but it also serves as a reminder not to base your knowledge of MBTI too closely on Celebrity Types alone.

    To the credit of this site, it does follow Jungian theory much more closely than most other places on the net. And I would rather go here to hear this site’s opinions on the theory than I would those typology forums. I can’t stand those forums; the majority of the members don’t really comprehend the functions and instead just type based simply on E/I, T/F, S/N and J/P distinctions (ie. this person got really sad about something so they’re an F type).

    And it gets uglier when you have people using archetypes and stereotypes based on the descriptions for each type to judge someone, when these stereotypes only serve to distort their judgement (someone’s a scientist or philosopher and therefore an NT). And on those forums, there is also have a “hierarchy” among the users where N types are seen as more intelligent than S types, with the INTJ/INTP types right up at the top while ESFJ/ESFP types are at the bottom and stereotyped as being “stupid”. So much elitism in those forums! And some members even use the bloody D&D Character Alignment system, which further ruins the credibility of Typology theory.

    So I’d like to thank the admins for their work; they know their stuff and aren’t haughty about it.

  6. I second that. Celebrity Types is the best resource online of any that I have seen. Although it is not perfect it’s much better than most. And it’s infinitely better than smucks who use typology to feel superior to others and who don’t even understand the system as that Davesuperpowers guy. More and more people are finding out that he was a hoax.

  7. Yes, of course people should not base their entire knowledge about typology on our site alone. They should wait until our book is out and then they should base their knowledge on that alone ;-)

    Joking aside, we agree: Read Jung, Myers et. al. – they all have something to offer, and we can only hope to be one cog in the machine, albeit, perhaps a good one.

    There are a lot of haughty people who are engaging in this topic online. Colloquially, we call them chest bangers. It is a phenomenon that is far bigger than just any one person or forum, unfortunately.

    The idea of using overlays like the Enneagram, D&D Rules, body types, etc. does serve the point that a person’s type does by no means exhaust the entire personality. The problem is not with the thought of using an overlay as such, the problem is with the choice of overlay as neither the Enneagram, D&D Rules, nor body types should be given any credence (in our opinion). In fact, we think they should be given a negative credence. But we do use an overlay ourselves – a scientific overlay, namely the MCMI.

  8. Given the background of Enneagram, it’s quite clear it’s the furthest thing from a scientific model of personality as you can get. I think perhaps it has some descriptive value, but any collection of descriptions could have some applicability thanks to the Forer effect. I understand how people may find it fun to use the Enneagram to describe themselves, but it’s pretty much equivalent to taking a “Which pony are you?!” online survey and putting a “Twilight Sparkle” signature image in all of your posts — it’s just quite silly.

    —————————————————
    Twilight Sparkle; Lawful Good; 2w1; lavender chakra
    —————————————————

  9. @Desmond: I assume that signature at the bottom was satirical.

    I agree with what was said about Enneagrams, and I would also mention the Four Temperaments as being another comical example of categorical theory in psychology. Except it was invented in Ancient Greece thousands of year ago, back when they thought Earth was flat. This gives it some saving face that other equally weak systems don’t have.

  10. While proponents of the Jungian/MTBI/Keirsey systems want to distance themselves from these rudimentary and somewhat superstitious approaches to personality, I think even the Jungian approach may suffer from some of those systems’ other limitations.

    Like the triune brain theory, it may be too simple of a theory to truly account for the differences we see among specimens; yet, it may be a somewhat useful starting point. Dalton’s model of the atom was not wholly accurate, but it helped give us a foothold in trying to conceptualize something which could not be directly observed or studied.

    That being said, the Jungian model is, in my estimation, the most credible model which actually has a real theoretical component behind it (unlike the Five Factor Model).

    Oh, and it sounds sounds like someone’s jealous of my lavender aura. Hey, not everybody gets to be an indigo child. (Yes, I’m being facetious.)

  11. I too have my doubts about MBTI.

    For instance, the tertiary function can sometimes be stronger than the auxiliary function. If this was the case, an ISFJ with a strong tertiary Ti (btw, I’m probably an INFP), then wouldn’t that make them an ISTJ with Ti/Fe and not Te/Fi?

    And also you might have an ENTP who shows more Judging-typed behaviour than Perceiving-typed behaviour, despite being functionally Ne-Ti-Fe-Si.

    My third problem is that the tests only show the E/I S/N rather than determine what functions a person uses. And the test results would not only vary when the same test is taken at different times, but the results can be quite different from a person’s real type (I tested as xNTJ in the “Please Understand Me” book test, and INFJ and INTP on this site’s test).

    But I agree in that it is a useful instrument when used as a starting point for determining someone’s character and how they think, and one should bare in mind that the types aren’t pigeon-holing people. As you can see on the blog pages for each type, you have a lot of variations in personality between two people of the same type. And I deem it more credible than other psychology instruments are, including the Big Five Personality Traits.

  12. P.S. I missed the two other distinctions for the tests. So it’s E/I, S/N, T/F and J/P. But you all get what I mean. ;)

  13. Were the tertiary function actually stronger in an individual than the auxiliary, that person would have an exceptional preference for a particular function-attitude (Introversion/Extraversion) and either be hysterical and exceedingly labile or incredibly withdrawn, insular and resistant to external influence; either a disconnect with the world or their own static identity. Aside from the dominant function which admittedly is the most defining characteristic, such an ISFJ’s supporting functions would still be differentiating information in a very different way than an ISTJ.

    It’s difficult to picture an ENTP with strong Judging-type behaviors. Their dominant Extraverted function is Perceiving, meaning it’s not threatened to be upended by the tertiary with the aforementioned circumstance where one has an unusually strong preference for a certain attitude — both the dominant and tertiary are tied to the Extraverted orientation. Even if you’re talking about their Thinking function (sometimes referred to as an Introverted Judging function), the auxiliary never supplants the dominant as it’s tied to the inferior attitude.

    The tests are very limited. I don’t think Jung ever intended the theory to be used in such a way. I’ve personally never found much variance in my test results, however, when taking the same ones months or even years later. I took a MBTI survey in 2009 and found it somewhat interesting, but didn’t really think much about it until a year later. In 2010, I took it again getting nearly identical results, then learned about cognitive functions, and eventually ordered Psychological Types and Two Essays on Analytical Psychology. After learning the ins and outs of the theory, I took the same tests again and once again got nearly identical results. Either way, it sounds like a limitation of people’s ability to accurately assess themselves, or a limitation of the test itself; it doesn’t really tell you much about the validity theory it’s based upon.

    I am not really defending Jungian typology here quite so much as just not really understanding those particular criticisms.

  14. Those responses to my criticism were good, and showed a more solid understanding of the theory than I did. I accept that I was wrong, and such differences in Tertiary and Auxiliary functions as I had described would indeed leave a person to be mentally unstable.

    And yes, I agree in that Jung would find those tests too limiting.

    However, it would interest me to know exactly what bones you have to pick with this typology system. And I still have some doubts about MBTI even if I don’t know what those doubts are.

  15. It’s quite all right to be skeptical of something even if you can’t quite pin down anything in particular. Just because you haven’t found a flaw at first or even tenth glance, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t one.

    My doubts mostly stem from the general lack of empirical basis for Jung’s theory. Yes, he had based his theory on observations in an attempt to explain the patterns he saw, but there is certainly quite a leap there to say that people are defined to any appreciable extent by four function-types attached to one of two function-attitudes. The theory is simple, elegant, has a logical symmetry to the function-types and attitudes, and for the most part internally consistent, but I still question whether or not these cognitive processes truly reflect reality, and even if they do to what extent.

    I compared Jung/MBTI to the triune brain theory because while that theory missed the bull’s-eye, it wasn’t altogether off the mark — it didn’t completely mischaracterize the evolution of the human brain. Jungian cognitive functions may not be precisely why we see differences in people, but you can certainly see the similarities within the people listed on the pages here on Celebrity Types. Even if Jungian theory turns out to have some major flaws, I still believe there are some real patterns being identified here.

    Some of these concerns were addressed here in the articles section (“Is Jungian Typology Scientific?”) Interestingly, in the article CelebTypes concedes something I still don’t truly consider a valid criticism: “Jungian typology deals in binaries.” A binary implies two, a tertium non datur, and yet any given function can occupy one of four slots; an INFP is more “Sensing” than an ENFP, for instance, even though both are iNtuitive. Moreover, the theory suggests there are varying levels of differentiation within these partitions, as some INFPs can be more Sensing than others (especially if you subscribe to the notion of tertiary functions being utilized more heavily than the auxiliary in some more extreme instances). Yes, the four-letter type codes introduced in the MBTI system seem to imply a binary for the simple reason that when you type them out, you have to select one of two dichotomies for the four categories; however, there is more going on under the hood, so to speak, and it doesn’t actually imply a person is 100% Thinking or 100% Extraverted when their code is, say, ESTJ. The gravamen, at least to me, doesn’t even seem pertinent upon close examination.

    It may be harsh to say, but in a way I feel like individuals who dismiss the theory for that particular reason have difficulties determining what something even is to begin with, let alone be in a position criticize. It’s like complaining about a present you’ve yet to even unwrap; it’s difficult to have much confidence in their critical thinking skills when their ability to identify things has to be called into question.

    That being said, although many critics seem to have difficulty understanding Jungian theory, it is still just that; what these critics are failing to understand is Jungian canon. The theory doesn’t seem to make any specific, unique predictions that can be definitively tested, and so you could argue it falls more into the realm of philosophy.

  16. Looks like botched some of the HTML codes there with the italics; I didn’t intend to italicize everything between the “imply” and “is” at the end of the fifth and beginning of the sixth paragraphs. Whoopsie.

  17. It’s in my nature to question things, and I do it all the time! My Ne function is inquisitive.

    Yeah, philosophy seems to be a more apt way of describing the purpose of MBTI than it being a practical instrument for use in psychology. For those reasons said in the paragraphs above, the instrument is too limited for practical use and yet it makes valid points about many areas which makes it not entirely disposable.

    This would explain also why it’s more popular among N types than S types (although S types can be philosophical and take interest in the system). N types tend to be more theoretical and so lots of people who study the system, through either spurious sources or credible sources, identify themselves as N users. Either that or positivity bias, but as you can see by the pages on this blog for each type, greatness can be found equally in any type.

    Therefore my conclusion is to treat a person’s type as a way of sketching out the outline of who a person is so that the colours can be filled in more easily. If a person fits a particular type, they would probably show some particular personality traits but would not necessarily act in a certain way. And this is my main gripe with people trying to associate personality archetypes with types (“Please Understand Me” is very guilty of this, but it did help introduce me to the basics of the theory, which I am still learning. I shall read the works of Jung and Myers some day.)

    Incidentally I was wondering what your type was, Desmond?

  18. That’s a good way to use the system. If you understand its limitations and do your best to avoid the trappings of typology, it can be used to help understand certain aspects of yourself and others.

    It’s never fun to simply tell others my type right off the bat. You can take a guess, though. :)

  19. While I do like the Jungian/MBTI systems, you have to remember that it was not really intended to be a system to begin with, as Jung states. The only way to Truly know the personality system at a deeper level like Jung did is to experience it yourself. He created the whole basis of his “system” from experiences with patients who were already lost to the world (lost in there dominant function) and as a result the inferior or Anima as Jung calls it takes revenge. He then used his work with the psychotic and neurotic to do a self-psycho analysis to find what his personal roadblocks were in his psyche. So really the whole personality system as a whole only applies to the context or person that is currently under the microscope. It will always be just a template to go by but templates can only take you so far, so there will never be perfection because typology is looking at people through the lense of the thinking function, that by its own nature divides things into more easily digestible chunks for the brain to latch onto.

    Remember you can be an expert on typology but until you have lived the cognitive function and experienced it for yourself then you really know nothing.

  20. Oh yea, speaking to anonymous your need to doubt things resembles Ti to me not Fi. If I had to guess u would be an INTP, not INFP. Very similar in world view but motivation is very different. Ti is very good at seeing logical truth in concepts when coupled with Ne so of course there is going to be skepticism. Einstein did figure out how to split the atom by taking everything he learned as an indisputable truth. Desmond you sound like an XNTP but I could be wrong.

    By the way I really enjoyed the article it really hit home. My girlfriend is an INFP and her sister an ENFP and they are Disney freaks, think they even own a timeshare there lol. If it were up to them, everyday would look alot like an episode of Glee.

  21. @coleman: if you were basing your judgement on what you saw of me in my comments, then that could be true, and I have considered a typing as INTP. But you’ve only seen one dimension of my personality, which is the dimension which seeks understanding. I could be a violin-playing opera singer who likes to throw wild parties for all you know :P Besides, I attribute my curiosity in MBTI as a desire for understanding of self, which is an Fi-typed trait. And I really suck at Physics and Calculus, which I think could be one of a few other traits I’ve noticed of an Inferior Thinking function.

    And Desmond does strike me as using Ne and Ti, based on what I’ve seen of him. An Ni user is much less likely to put stock into a system which they view as deeply flawed, but an Ne would have less trouble taking something with both its flaws and virtues. Desmond also has that ability to approach things from more than one angle.

  22. You guys are on the right track. If people can correctly type me from just a few comments (or at least correctly narrow it down to my top two functions), there has to be something to the system. :)

  23. I have a feeling that Celebrity Types does not consider a person’s enneagram when typing them, which I think is a mistake. Understanding a person’s temperament is important to getting their MBTI correct. For example, I’ve known for years that I’m an INFJ, but my enneagram is 9w1, which is much more common for an INFP to have than it is for an INFJ. Consequently, in online tests, I often type as an INFP, which is really a joke since I’m so INFJ it’s disgusting. When I used the Celebrity Types “INFJ or INFP” test to see what I would get, the first time it came out as INFP. I believed, correctly, that this was because of the final (bullsh*t) question: “Are you more of a sage soul, or do you have the heart of a child?” I answered truthfully; that I have the heart of a child. Even my kids are always telling me that I’m like a little five year old. The test said I’m INFP. I took the test again and for the last question I answered that I have the soul of a sage. It said that I’m INFJ. So, in other words, that last bs question is determining if I’m an INFJ or INFP. Just ridiculous. I can’t imagine how many times Celebrity Types must be getting it wrong with typing some of these famous people. Sometimes, people are not the typical “type” for their MBTI type. They’re not the textbook example. I’m certainly not…

  24. Uhm, yeah. So if you actually read what we write on the site, no, we don’t use Enneagram, which has nothing solid to support it at all. We are, however, in agreement with your observation that there are aspects of the personality which lie outside of the aspects covered by Jungian typology, which we have also written about at length in various articles on the site, for example here. But we don’t use the Enneagram; we use the classical psychoanalytical personality styles as an overlay instead, as these are better supported than the Enneagram and as they were the styles that Jung himself operated on the basis of when he determined his types.

    With regards to the INFP or INFJ test, we can inform you that all of the questions carry equal (1/17) weight, so if one question changed your result, then your other answers were torn down the middle to begin with. The idea that only one of the questions on the test determines your type is ridiculous.

    With any type, there will always be oddities and exceptions to the general picture, which, again, we argue in multiple places on the site. On the test that you refer to, we even write: “Learning about type is a process of self-discovery and no test can replace your own self-assessment.” Likewise, with our type descriptions, we write: “When reading type descriptions, remember that “type portraits” can never accurately describe all people of a given type. Descriptions and portraits like these can only describe the types as they typically are.” The idea that we don’t allow for overlays and alternating factors of the personality to come through is really misplaced with regards to our site. Do you really think that Kanye West is a “default” example of an ISFJ? Or could it be that factors outside of the Jungian model makes him appear as a different type to the people who *don’t* supplement their understanding of type with other personality models?

    So in short, no, we do not use Enneagram, yes, there are exceptions to all types, yes, we have been arguing that for years, no, the tests on our site are not decided by one question, yes, in an ideal world someone should make a ‘global’ test that tests for both Jungian type, Big Five, and DSM styles all at once. Maybe we’ll do that in the future. But it requires a lot of work.

  25. Thank you for using an insulting tone, that’s always inspiring. I will further read your articles to learn more about your way of typing various people. I disagree that Enneagram is not useful; I actually think it’s very important, as I mentioned earlier. I guess that’s all.

  26. Well now – you called our content BS, so it seems you could dish it. It was only right to assume that you could take it by responding in an arrogant tone, wouldn’t you say? Look around the site. We generally answer all questions in a polite and open-minded manner. We also grant visitors their point when they are right and we are wrong. Best, CT Admins.

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