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personality theories, types and tests

personality types, behavioural styles theories, personality and testing systems - for self-awareness, self-development, motivation, management, and recruitment

Motivation, management, communications, relationships - focused on yourself or others - are a lot more effective when you understand yourself, and the people you seek to motivate or manage or develop or help.

Understanding personality is also a key to unlocking elusive human qualities, for example leadership, motivation, and empathy, whether your purpose is self-development, helping others, or any other field relating to people and how we behave.

The personality theories that underpin personality tests and personality quizzes are surprisingly easy to understand at a basic level. This section seeks to explain many of these personality theories and ideas. This knowledge helps to develop self-awareness and also to help others to achieve greater self-awareness and development too.

Developing understanding of personality typology, personality traits, thinking styles and learning styles theories is also a very useful way to improve your knowledge of motivation and behaviour of self and others, in the workplace and beyond.

Understanding personality types is helpful for appreciating that while people are different, everyone has a value, and special strengths and qualities, and that everyone should be treated with care and respect. The relevance of love and spirituality - especially at work - is easier to see and explain when we understand that differences in people are usually personality-based. People very rarely set out to cause upset - they just behave differently because they are different.

Personality theory and tests are useful also for management, recruitment, selection, training and teaching, on which point see also the learning styles theories on other pages such as Kolb's learning styles, Gardner's Multiple Intelligences, and the VAK learning styles model.

Completing personality tests with no knowledge of the supporting theories can be a frustrating and misleading experience - especially if the results from personality testing are not properly explained, or worse still not given at all to the person being tested. Hopefully the explanations and theories below will help dispel much of the mistique surrounding modern personality testing.

There are many different personality and motivational models and theories, and each one offers a different perspective.

The more models you understand, the better your appreciation of motivation and behaviour.

personality models on this page

The Four Temperaments/Four Humours

Carl Jung's Psychological Types

Myers Briggs® personality types theory (MBTI® model)

Keirsey's personality types theory (Temperament Sorter model)

Hans Eysenck's personality types theory

Katherine Benziger's Brain Type theory

William Moulton Marston's DISC personality theory (Inscape, Thomas Int., etc)

Belbin Team Roles and personality types theory

The 'Big Five' Factors personality model

FIRO-B® Personality Assessment model

The Birkman Method®

Lumina Spark


Other personality theories and psychometrics tests models


personality theories and models - introduction

Behavioural and personality models are widely used in organisations, especially in psychometrics and psychometric testing (personality assessments and tests). Behavioural and personality models have also been used by philosophers, leaders and managers for hundreds and in some cases thousands of years as an aid to understanding, explaining, and managing communications and relationships.

Used appropriately, psychometrics and personality tests can be hugely beneficial in improving knowledge of self and other people - motivations, strengths, weaknesses, preferred thinking and working styles, and also strengths and preferred styles for communications, learning, management, being managed, and team-working.

Understanding personality - of your self and others - is central to motivation. Different people have different strengths and needs. You do too.

The more you understand about personality, the better able you are to judge what motivates people - and yourself.

The more you understand about your own personality and that of other people, the better able you are to realise how others perceive you, and how they react to your own personality and style.

Knowing how to adapt the way you work with others, how you communicate, provide information and learning, how you identify and agree tasks, are the main factors enabling successfully managing and motivating others - and yourself.

Importantly you do not necessarily need to use a psychometrics instrument in order to understand the theory and the basic model which underpins it. Obviously using good psychometrics instruments can be extremely useful and beneficial, (and enjoyable too if properly positioned and administered), but the long-standing benefit from working with these models is actually in understanding the logic and theory which underpin the behavioural models or personality testing systems concerned. Each theory helps you to understand more about yourself and others.

In terms of 'motivating others' you cannot sustainably 'impose' motivation on another person. You can inspire them perhaps, which lasts as long as you can sustain the inspiration, but sustainable motivation must come from within the person. A good manager and leader will enable and provide the situation, environment and opportunities necessary for people to be motivated - in pursuit of goals and development and achievements that are truly meaningful to the individual. Which implies that you need to discover, and at times help the other person to discover, what truly motivates them - especially their strengths, passions, and personal aims - for some the pursuit of personal destiny - to achieve their own unique potential. Being able to explain personality, and to guide people towards resources that will help them understand more about themselves, is all part of the process. Help others to help you understand what they need - for work and for whole life development, and you will have an important key to motivating, helping and working with people.

Each of the different theories and models of personality and human motivation is a different perspective on the hugely complex area of personality, motivation and behaviour. It follows that for any complex subject, the more perspectives you have, then the better your overall understanding will be. Each summary featured below is just that - a summary: a starting point from which you can pursue the detail and workings of any of these models that you find particularly interesting and relevant. Explore the many other models and theories not featured on this site too - the examples below are a just small sample of the wide range of models and systems that have been developed.

Some personality testing resources, including assessment instruments, are available free on the internet or at relatively low cost from appropriate providers, and they are wonderful tools for self-awareness, personal development, working with people and for helping to develop better working relationships. Some instruments however are rather more expensive, given that the developers and psychometrics organisations need to recover their development costs. For this reason, scientifically validated personality testing instruments are rarely free. The free tests which are scientifically validated tend to be 'lite' introductory instruments which give a broad indication rather than a detailed analysis.

There are dozens of different personality testing systems to explore, beneath which sit rather fewer basic theories and models. Some theories underpin well-known personality assessment instruments (such as Myers Briggs®, and DISC); others are stand-alone models or theories which seek to explain personality, motivation, behaviour, learning styles and thinking styles (such as Benziger, Transactional Analysis, Maslow, McGregor, Adams, VAK, Kolb, and others), which are explained elsewhere on this website.

In this section are examples personality and style models, which are all relatively easy to understand and apply. Don't allow providers to baffle you with science - all of these theories are quite accessible at a basic level, which is immensely helpful to understanding a lot of what you need concerning motivation and personality in work and life beyond.

Do seek appropriate training and accreditation if you wish to pursue and use psychometrics testing in a formal way, especially if testing or assessing people in organisations or in the provision of services. Administering formal personality tests - whether in recruitment, assessment, training and development, counselling or for other purposes - is a sensitive and skilled area. People are vulnerable to inaccurate suggestion, misinterpretation, or poor and insensitive explanation, so approach personality testing with care, and be sure you are equipped and capable to deal with testing situations properly.

For similar reasons you need to be properly trained to get involved in counselling or therapy for clinical or serious emotional situations. People with clinical conditions, depression and serious emotional disturbance usually need qualified professional help, and if you aren't qualified yourself then the best you can do is to offer to help the other person get the right support.

Beware of using unlicensed 'pirated' or illegally copied psychometrics instruments. Always check to ensure that any tools that are 'apparently' free and in the public domain are actually so. If in doubt about the legitimacy of any psychometrics instrument avoid using it. Psychometric tests that are unlikely to be free include systems with specific names, such as DISC®, Situational Leadership®, MBTI®, Cattell 16PF, Belbin Team Roles. If in doubt check. These systems and others like them are not likely to be in the public domain and not legitimately free, and so you should not use them without a licence or the officially purchased materials from the relevant providers.


personality types models and theories

As a general introduction to all of these theories and models, it's important to realise that no-one fully knows the extent to which personality is determined by genetics and hereditary factors, compared to the effects of up-bringing, culture, environment and experience. Nature versus Nurture: no-one knows. Most studies seem to indicate that it's a bit of each, roughly half and half, although obviously it varies person-to-person.

Given that perhaps half our personality is determined by influences acting upon us after we are conceived and born, it's interesting and significant also that no-one actually knows the extent to which personality changes over time.

Certainly childhood is highly influential in forming personality. Certainly major trauma at any stage of life can change a person's personality quite fundamentally. Certainly many people seem to mature emotionally with age and experience. But beyond these sort of generalisations, it's difficult to be precise about how and when - and if - personality actually changes.

So where do we draw the line and say a personality is fixed and firm? The answer in absolute terms is that we can't.

We can however identify general personality styles, aptitudes, sensitivities, traits, etc., in people and in ourselves, especially when we understand something of how to define and measure types and styles. And this level of awareness is far better than having none at all.

Which is is purpose of this information about personality and style 'types'. What follows is intended to be give a broad, accessible (hopefully interesting) level of awareness of personality and types, and of ways to interpret and define and recognise different personalities and behaviours, so as to better understand yourself and others around you.


the four temperaments - the four humours/humors

The Four Temperaments, also known as the Four Humours, is arguably the oldest of all personality profiling systems, and it is fascinating that there are so many echoes of these ancient ideas found in modern psychology.

The Four Temperaments ideas can be traced back to the traditions of the Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilisations over 5,000 years ago, in which the health of the body was connected with the elements, fire, water, earth and air, which in turn were related to body organs, fluids, and treatments. Some of this thinking survives today in traditional Eastern ideas and medicine.

The ancient Greeks however first formalised and popularised the Four Temperaments methodologies around 2,500 years ago, and these ideas came to dominate Western thinking about human behaviour and medical treatment for over two-thousand years. Most of these concepts for understanding personality, behaviour, illness and treatment of illness amazingly persisted in the Western world until the mid-1800s.

The Four Temperaments or Four Humours can be traced back reliably to Ancient Greek medicine and philosophy, notably in the work of Hippocrates (c.460-377/359BC - the 'Father of Medicine') and in Plato's (428-348BC) ideas about character and personality.

In Greek medicine around 2,500 years ago it was believed that in order to maintain health, people needed an even balance of the four body fluids: blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. These four body fluids were linked (in daft ways by modern standards) to certain organs and illnesses and also represented the Four Temperaments or Four Humours (of personality) as they later became known. As regards significant body fluids no doubt natural body waste products were discounted, since perfectly healthy people evacuate a good volume of them every day. Blood is an obvious choice for a fluid associated with problems - there'd have generally been quite a lot of it about when people were unwell thousands of years ago, especially if you'd been hit with a club or run over by a great big chariot. Phlegm is an obvious one too - colds and flu and chest infections tend to produce gallons of the stuff and I doubt the ancient Greeks had any better ideas of how to get rid of it than we do today. Yellow bile is less easy to understand although it's generally thought have been the yellowish liquid secreted by the liver to aid digestion. In ancient times a bucketful of yellow bile would have been the natural upshot, so to speak, after a night on the local wine or taking a drink from the well that your next-door neighbour threw his dead cat into last week. Black bile is actually a bit of a mystery. Some say it was congealed blood, or more likely stomach bile with some blood in it. Students of the technicolour yawn might have observed that bile does indeed come in a variety of shades, depending on the ailment or what exactly you had to drink the night before. Probably the ancient Greeks noticed the same variation and thought it was two different biles. Whatever, these four were the vital fluids, and they each related strongly to what was understood at the time about people's health and personality.

Imbalance between the 'humours' manifested in different behaviour and illnesses, and treatments were based on restoring balance between the humours and body fluids (which were at the time seen as the same thing. Hence such practices as blood-letting by cutting or with with leeches. Incidentally the traditional red and white striped poles - representing blood and bandages - can still occasionally be seen outside barber shops and are a fascinating reminder that these medical beliefs and practices didn't finally die out until the late 1800s.

Spiritually there are other very old four-part patterns and themes relating to the Four Temperaments within astrology, the planets, and people's understanding of the world, for example: the ancient 'elements' - fire, water, earth and air; the twelve signs of the zodiac arranged in four sets corresponding to the elements and believed by many to define personality and destiny; the ancient 'Four Qualities' of (combinations of) hot or cold, and dry or moist/wet; and the four seasons, Spring, Summer Autumn, Winter. The organs of the body - liver, lungs, gall bladder and spleen - were also strongly connected with the Four Temperaments or Humours and medicinal theory.

Relating these ancient patterns to the modern interpretation of the Four Temperaments does not however produce scientifically robust correlations. They were thought relevant at one time, but in truth they are not, just as blood letting has now been discounted as a reliable medical treatment.

But while the causal link between body fluids and health and personality has not stood the test of time, the analysis of personality via the Four Temperaments seems to have done so, albeit tenuously in certain models.

The explanation below is chiefly concerned with the Four Temperaments as a personality model, not as a basis for understanding and treating illness.

early representations of the four temperaments as a personality model

Stephen Montgomery (author of the excellent book People Patterns - A Modern Guide to the Four Temperaments) suggests that the origins of the Four Temperaments can be identified earlier than the ancient Greeks, namely in the Bible, c.590BC, in the words of the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel, who refers (chapter 1, verse 10) to four faces of mankind, represented by four creatures which appeared from the mist:

"As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle." (from the Book of Ezekiel, chapter 1, verse 10)

Montgomery additionally attributes personality characteristics to each of the four faces, which he correlates to modern interpretations of the Four Temperaments and also to Hippocrates' ideas, compared below.

four temperaments - earliest origins

 Ezekiel c.590BC  Hippocrates c.370BC
lion bold blood cheerful
ox sturdy black bile somber
man humane yellow bile enthusiastic
eagle far-seeing phlegm calm

N.B. The Ezekiel characteristics, (bold, sturdy, humane, far-seeing), do not appear in the Bible - they have been attributed retrospectively by Montgomery. The describing words shown here for the Hippocrates Four Temperaments are also those used by Montgomery, other similar descriptions are used in different interpretations and commentaries.

Later, and very significantly, Galen, (c.130-201AD) the Greek physician later interpreted Hippocrates' ideas into the Four Humours, which you might more readily recognise and associate with historic writings and references about the Four Temperaments and Four Humours. Each of Galen's describing words survives in the English language although the meanings will have altered somewhat with the passing of nearly two thousand years.

Hippocrates c.370BC Galen c.190AD
cheerful sanguine
somber melancholic
enthusiastic choleric
calm phlegmatic


The Four Temperaments or Four Humours continued to feature in the thinking and representations of human personality in the work of many great thinkers through the ages since these earliest beginnings, and although different theorists have used their own interpretations and descriptive words for each of the temperaments through the centuries, it is fascinating to note the relative consistency of these various interpretations which are shown in the history overview table below.

Brewer's 1870 dictionary refers quite clearly to the Four Humours using the translated Galen descriptions above, which is further evidence of the popularity and resilience of the Four Temperaments/Humours model and also of the Galen interpretation.


The Four Temperaments also provided much inspiration and historical reference for Carl Jung's work, which in turn provided the underpinning structures and theory for the development of Myers Briggs'® and David Keirsey's modern-day personality assessment systems, which correlate with the Four Temperaments thus:

Isabel Myers 1950s Galen c.190AD David Keirsey 1998
SP sensing-perceiving sangine artisan
SJ sensing-judging melancholic guardian
NF intuitive-feeling choleric idealist
NT intuitive-thinking phlegmatic rationalist

N.B. Bear in mind that certain copyright protections apply to the MBTI® and Keirsey terms so I recommend that you be wary of using these in the provision of chargeable services or materials since under certain circumstances they are likely to be subject to licensing conditions.


David Keirsey's interpretation of the Four Temperaments is expressed by Montgomery in a 2x2 matrix, which provides an interesting modern perspective and helpful way to appreciate the model, and also perhaps to begin to apply it to yourself. Can you see yourself in one of these descriptions?

says what is,
does what works
says what's possible,
does what works
says what is,
does what's right
says what's possible,
does what's right

(Please note that in this article for various reasons the positions of the four temperaments/humours may vary when shown in a 2x2 matrix arrangement. The consistent use of colours/colors instead offers help in understanding the correlations between models.)

Again bear in mind that nobody is exclusively one temperament or type. Each if us is likely to have a single preference or dominant type or style, which is augmented and supported by a mixture of the other types. Different people possess differing mixtures and dominances - some people are strongly orientated towards a single type; other people have a more even mixture of types. It seems to be accepted theory that no person can possess an evenly balanced mixture of all four types.

Most people can adapt their styles according to different situations. Certain people are able to considerably adapt their personal styles to suit different situations. The advantages of being adaptable are consistent with the powerful '1st Law Of Cybernetics', which states that: "The unit (which can be a person) within the system (which can be a situation or an organisation) which has the most behavioural responses available to it controls the system".

The ability to adapt or bring into play different personal styles in response to different situations is arguably the most powerful capability that anyone can possess. Understanding personality models such as the Four Temperaments is therefore of direct help in achieving such personal awareness and adaptability. Understanding personality helps you recognise behaviour and type in others - and yourself. Recognising behaviour is an obvious pre-requisite for adapting behaviour - in yourself, and in helping others to adapt too.


overview history of the four temperaments - or four humours

From various sources and references, including Keirsey and Montgomery, here is a history of the Four Temperaments and other models and concepts related to the Four Temperaments or Four Humours. The words in this framework (from Hippocrates onwards) can be seen as possible describing words for each of the temperaments concerned, although do not attach precise significance to any of the words - they are guide only and not definitive or scientifically reliable. The correlations prior to Hippocrates are far less reliable and included here more for interest than for scientific relevance.

N.B. the colours in these charts do not signify anything - they merely assist (hopefully) with continuity between the different tables. The initials K and M denote interpretations according to Keirsey and Montgomery. Ancient dates are approximate. Some cautionary notes relating to the inclusion of some of these theorists and interpretations is shown below the grid. For believers in astrology and star-signs please resist the temptation to categorise yourself according to where your star-sign sits in the grid - these associations are not scientific and not reliable, and are included merely for historical context and information.

Keirsey/MBTI® reference artisan/SP sensing-perceiving guardian/SJ sensing-judging idealist/NF intuitive-feeling rationalist/NT intuitive-thinking
Ezekiel 590BC lion ox man eagle
Empedocles 450BC Goea (air) Hera (earth) Zeus (fire) Poseidon (water)
The Seasons Spring Autumn Summer Winter
Signs of Zodiac Libra, Aquarius, Gemini Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo Aries, Leo, Sagittarius Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
Hippocrates 370BC blood black bile yellow bile phlegm
Hippocrates 370BC 'Four Qualities' hot and moist cold and dry hot and dry cold and moist
Plato 340BC (M) artistic sensible intuitive reasoning
Aristotle 325BC 'contribution to social order' (K) 'iconic'- artistic and art-making 'pistic' - common-sense and care-taking 'noetic' - intuitive sensibility and morality 'dianoetic' - reasoning and logical investigator
Aristotle 325BC Four Sources of Happiness (K) 'hedone' - sensual pleasure 'propraieteri' - acquiring assets 'ethikos' - moral virtue 'dialogike' - logical investigation
Galen 190AD Four Temperaments or Four Humours sanguine melancholic choleric phlegmatic
Paracelsus 1550 'Four Totem Spirits' (K) Salamanders - impulsive and changeable Gnomes - industrious and guarded Nymph - inspiring and passionate Sylphs - curious and calm
Eric Adickes 1905 Four World Views (K) innovative traditional doctrinaire sceptical
Eduard Spranger 1914 Four Value Attitudes (K) artistic economic religious theoretic
Ernst Kretschmer 1920 (M) manic depressive oversensitive insensitive
Eric Fromm 1947 (K) exploitative hoarding receptive marketing
Hans Eysenck 1950s (trait examples from his inventory) lively, talkative, carefree, outgoing sober, reserved, quiet, rigid  restless, excitable, optimistic, impulsive  careful, controlled, thoughtful, reliable 
Myers 1958 (M) perceiving judging feeling thinking
Myers 1958 (K) probing scheduling friendly tough-minded
Montgomery 2002 on Jung/Myers SP - spontaneous and playful SJ - sensible and judicious NF - intuitive and fervent NT - ingenious and theoretical
Montgomery 2002 on Keirsey's Four Temperaments says what is,
does what works
says what is,
does what's right
says what's possible,
does what's right
says what's possible,
does what works

Empedocles (c.450BC), the Sicilian-born Greek philosopher and poet was probably first to publish the concept of 'the elements' (Fire, Earth, Water, Air) being 'scientifically' linked to human behaviour: in his long poem 'On Nature' he described the elements in relation to emotional forces that we would refer to as love and strife. However 1870 Brewer says that Empedocles preferred the names of the Greek Gods, Zeus, Hera, Poseidon and Goea. (1870 Brewer, and Chambers Biographical, which references Jean Ballock's book, 'Empedocle', 1965.)

Aristotle explained four temperaments in the context of 'individual contribution to social order' in The Republic, c.325BC, and also used the Four Temperaments to theorise about people's character and quest for happiness. Incidentally 1870 Brewer states that Aristotle was first to specifically suggest the four elements, fire, earth, water, air, and that this was intended as an explanation purely of the various forms in which matter can appear, which was interpreted by 'modern' chemists (of the late 1800s) to represent 'the imponderable' (calorie), the gaseous (air), the liquid (water), and solid (earth).

Paracelsus was a German alchemist and physician and considered by some to be the 'father of toxicology'. His real name was Phillippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, which perhaps explains why he adopted a pseudonym. According to Chambers Biographical Dictionary he lived from 1493-1541, which suggests that his work was earlier than 'c.1550'. Keirsey and Montgomery cite the connection between Paracelsus's Four Totem Spirits and the Four Temperaments, however there are others who do not see the same connection to or interpretation of the Four Totem Spirits. If you are keen to know more perhaps seek out the book The Life Of Paracelsus Phillippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, by A Stoddart, published in 1911, referenced by Chambers Biographical.

Hans Jurgen Eysenck was a German-born British psychologist whose very popular scalable personality inventory model contains significant overlaps with the Four Temperaments. It's not a perfect fit, but there are many common aspects. See the Eysenck section.

Galen was a Greek physician (c.130-201AD - more correctly called Claudius Galenus), who became chief physician to the Roman gladiators in Pergamum from AD 157, and subsequently to the Roman Emperors Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Aurelius Commodus and Lucius Septimus Severus. Galen later interpreted Hippocrates' ideas into the Four Humours, which you might more readily recognise and associate with historic writings and references. Galen's interpretation survived as an accepted and arguably the principal Western medical scientific interpretation of human biology until the advancement of cellular pathology theory during the mid-late 1800s, notably by German pathologist Rudolf Virchow (1821-1902, considered the founder of modern pathology), in his work 'Cellularpathologie' (1858), building on the work of fellow cellular scientists Theodor Schwann, Johannes Muller, Matthias Schleiden and earlier, Robert Brown.

Beware of erroneous correlations between the various sets of four temperaments, humours, elements, body organs, star-signs, etc - it's easy to confuse so many sets of four. I believe the above to be reliable as far as it goes. Please let me know if you spot a fault anywhere. Also remember that the correlation between these sets is not precise and in some cases it's very tenuous.

The above table of correlated four temperaments and other sets of four is not designed as a scientific basis for understanding personality - it's a historical over view of the development of the Four Temperaments - included here chiefly to illustrate the broad consistency of ideas over the past two-and-a-half thousand years, and to provoke a bit of thought about describing words for the four main character types. Keep the Four Temperaments in perspective: the history of the model provides a fascinating view of the development of thinking in this area, and certainly there are strands of the very old ideas that appear in the most modern systems, so it's very helpful and interesting to know the background, but it's not a perfect science.

You'll see significant echoes of the Four Temperaments in David Keirsey's personality theory, which of all modern theories seems most aligned with the Four Temperaments, although much of the detail has been built by Keirsey onto a Four Temperaments platform, rather than using a great amount of detail from old Four Temperaments ideas. The Four Temperaments model also features in Eysenck's theory, on which others have subsequently drawn. To a far lesser extent the Four Temperaments can also be partly correlated to the Moulton Marston's DISC theory and this is shown in the explanatory matrix in the DISC section. Jung, Myers Briggs® and Benziger's theories also partly correlate with the Four Temperaments; notably there seems general agreement that the phlegmatic temperament corresponds to Jung's 'Intuitive-Thinking', and that the choleric temperament corresponds to Jung's 'Intuitive-Feeling'. The other two temperaments, sanguine and melancholic seem now to be represented by the Jungian 'Sensing' in combination with either Jungian 'Feeling' or a preference from the Myers Briggs® Judging-Perceiving dimension.

The Four Temperaments are very interesting, but being over two-thousand years old they are also less than crystal clear, so correlation much beyond this is not easy. Connections with modern theories and types and traits, such as they are, are explained where appropriate in the relevant sections below dealing with other theories.

Dr Stephen Montgomery's 2002 book 'People Patterns' is an excellent guide to the Four Temperaments, in which he provides his own interpretations, and explains relationships between the Four Temperaments and various other behavioural and personality assessment models, notably the David Keirsey model and theories. Incidentally Montgomery is Keirsey's long-standing editor and also his son-in-law. Keirsey's acknowledges Montgomery's depth of understanding of the Four Temperaments in Keirsey's book, Please Understand Me II, which also provides a very helpful perspective of the Four Temperaments.


carl jung's psychological types

Given that Carl Jung's psychological theory so fundamentally underpins most of the popular and highly regarded personality systems today it makes sense to explain a little about it here.

Carl Gustav Jung was born 26 July 1875 in Kesswil Switzerland and was the only son of a Swiss Reformed Church Evangelical Minister. According to Maggie Hyde who wrote the excellent Introduction to Jung (Icon Books 1992), he was a strange melancholic child who played his own imaginary games, alone, for the first nine years of his life. Eight of Jung's uncles were in the clergy, as was his maternal grandfather, who held weekly conversations with his deceased wife, while his second wife and Carl's mother sat and listened to it all. A recipe for Jung's own extraordinary personality if ever there was one. The boy Jung was raised on diet of Swiss Protestantism and pagan spirituality and seemingly his only outlets were his father's books and sitting on a big rock. Poor kid... His weird family clearly had a lot to with Jung's troubled young life and his psychotic break-down in mid-life, and his ongoing obsession with trying to make sense of it all.

It is amazing that from such disturbed beginnings such a brilliant mind could emerge.

Jung's work and influence extend way beyond understanding personality - he is considered to be one of the greatest thinkers ever to have theorised about life and how people relate to it. For the purposes of this explanation however, we must concentrate on just the relevant parts of his work - Jung's Psychological Types - or we'll be here for ever.

Carl Jung was among many great personality theorists who drew inspiration and guidance from the ancient Greek Four Temperaments model and its various interpretations over the centuries. Carl Jung's key book in this regard, which extended and explained his theories about personality type, was Psychological Types, published in 1921. His theory of Psychological Types was part of a wider set of ideas relating to psychic energy, in which he developed important concepts for clinical psychological therapy and psycho-analysis (psychiatric diagnosis and therapy).

It's helpful to note that Jung approached personality and 'psychological types' (also referred to as Jung's psychological archetypes) from a perspective of clinical psychoanalysis. He was a main collaborator of Sigmund Freud - also a seminal thinker in the field of psycho-analysis, psychology and human behaviour. Jung and Freud were scientists, scholars, deeply serious and passionate academics. They were concerned to discover and develop and extend knowledge about the human mind and how it works. They were also great friends until they disagreed and fell out, which is a further example of the complexity of the subject: even among collaborators there is plenty of room for disagreement.

In psychoanalysis, it is important for the analyst to understand the structure or nature or direction of the 'psychic energy' within the other person. More simply we might say this is 'where the person is coming from', or 'how they are thinking'. Logically if the analyst can interpret what's going on, then he/she is better able to suggest how matters might be improved. As with any analytical discipline, if we have some sort of interpretive framework or model, then we can far more easily identify features and characteristics. Jung's work was often focused on developing analytical models - beyond simply being a psycho-analyst.

Modern psychometrics has benefited directly from the analytical models that Jung developed for psycho-analysis, and while this section is essentially concerned with explaining the model for the purpose of understanding personality types, if you can extract some deeper therapeutic knowledge and self-awareness from the theories and ideas which underpin the models, then I would encourage you to so so. There is enormous value in deepening understanding of ourselves as people, and Jung's ideas help many people to achieve this.

Jung accordingly developed his concepts of 'psychological types' in order to improve this understanding.

The fact that Carl Jung's 'psychological types' structure continue to provide the basis of many of the leading psychometrics systems and instruments in use today, including Myers Briggs® and Keirsey, is testimony to the enduring relevance and value of Jung's work.


jung's ideas about the conscious and the unconscious

First it's important to understand that Jung asserted that a person's psychological make-up is always working on two levels: the conscious and the unconscious. According to Jung, and widely held today, a person's 'psyche' (a person's 'whole being') is represented by their conscious and unconscious parts. Moreover, a person's conscious and unconscious states are in a way 'self-balancing', that is to say - and this is significant - if a person's conscious side (or 'attitude') becomes dominant or extreme, then the unconscious will surface or manifest in some way to rectify the balance. This might be in dreams or internal images, or via more physical externally visible illness or emotional disturbance. Jung also asserted that at times in people the unconscious can surface and 'project' (be directed at) the outside world, particularly other people. This acknowledgement of the power of the unconscious features strongly in the thinking of Freud and notably in the underpinning theory of Transactional Analysis (it's a big section - take time to look at it separately).


jung's psychological 'general attitude types' - introverted and extraverted

Jung divided psychic energy into two basic 'general attitude types': Introverted and Extraverted.

These are effectively two 'type' behaviours that combine with others explained later to create Jung's psychological types. Moreover Jung's Introvert and Extravert 'general attitude types' feature strongly as two opposite characteristics within very many modern personality systems, including Myers Briggs® and Keirsey.

The 1923 translation of Jung's 1921 book Psychological Types uses the words Introverted and Extraverted to describe these types, which in German would have been Introvertiert and Extravertiert. Some interpretations of Jung's ideas use the alternative words Introvert and Introversion, and Extravert and Extraversion to describe Jung's types. The word Extravert was devised by Jung, which is how it appears in German. He formed it from the Latin words 'extra' meaning outside, and 'vertere' meaning to turn. The words extrovert, extroverted and extroversion are English adaptations which appeared soon after Jung popularised the word in German. Both 'extra' and 'extro' versions are acceptable English. Jung formed the word Introvert from the Latin 'intro' meaning inward and 'vertere' to turn.

The word 'attitude' in this sense means a deeper more settled mode of behaviour than the common day-to-day use of the word.

In his 1921 book Psychological Types, Jung described the introverted and extraverted general attitude types as being:

".... distinguished by the direction of general interest or libido movement..... differentiated by their particular attitude to the object.."


"....The introvert's attitude to the object is an abstracting one.... he is always facing the problem of how libido can be withdrawn from the object...... The extravert, on the contrary, maintains a positive relation to the object. To such an extent does he affirm its importance that his subjective attitude is continually being orientated by, and related to the object...."

(The 1923 translation by H Godwyn Baynes is understandably a little awkward for modern times. 'Abstracting' in this context means 'drawing way', from its Latin root meaning. 'Libido' in this context probably means 'desire', although the word seems first to have appeared in earlier translations of Freud, who used it in a more sexual sense.)

Both attitudes - extraversion and introversion - are present in every person, in different degrees. No-one is pure extravert or pure introvert, and more recent studies (notably Eysenck) indicate that a big majority of people are actually a reasonably well-balanced mixture of the two types, albeit with a preference for one or the other. Not black and white - instead shades of grey.




psychic energy is directed out of the person to the world outside them the person's psychic energy is internally directed
objective - outward subjective - inward
"... maintains a positive relation to the object. To such an extent does he affirm its importance that his subjective attitude is continually being orientated by, and related to the object...." (Jung) ".... attitude to the object is an abstracting one.... he is always facing the problem of how libido can be withdrawn from the object...." (Jung)
"an extravert attitude is motivated from the outside and is directed by external, objective factors and relationships" (Hyde) "an introvert is motivated from within and directed by inner, subjective matters" (Hyde)
"behaviour directed externally, to influence outside factors and events" (Benziger) "behaviour directed inwardly to understand and manage self and experience" (Benziger)


Jung's 'general attitudes' of Introverted and Extraverted are clearly quite different.

It is no wonder then that strongly orientated extraverts and introverts see things in quite different ways, which can cause conflict and misunderstanding. Two people may look at the same situation and yet see different things. They see things - as we all tend to - in terms of themselves and their own own mind-sets.

It is almost incredible to think that these words - extravert and introvert - that we take so much for granted today to describe people and their personality and behaviour, were not used at all until Jung developed his ideas.

Without wishing to add further complication Jung said that extraversion and introversion are not mutually exclusive and will be self-balancing or compensating through the conscious and unconscious. A strongly outward consciously extravert person will according to Jungian theory possess a compensatory strong inward unconscious introvert side. And vice versa. Jung linked this compensatory effect for example to repression of natural tendencies and the resulting unhappiness or hysteria or illness.

We are each born with a natural balance. If our natural balance is upset due to repression or conditioning then our minds will in some way seek to restore the balance, which Jung saw as the power of the unconscious surfacing as 'the return of the repressed'.


jung's psychological types - the 'four functional types'

In addition to the two attitudes of extraversion and introversion, Jung also developed a framework of 'four functional types'.

Jung described these four 'Functional Types' as being those from which the "...most differentiated function plays the principal role in an individual's adaptation or orientation to life..." (from Psychological Types, 1921) By 'most differentiated' Jung meant 'superior' or dominant.

Jung's Four Functions contain significant echoes of the Four Temperaments and of the many related four-part patterns or sets ('quaternities') that relate to the Four Temperaments, dating back to ancient Greece and arguably earlier, although Jung's ideas are more a lot sophisticated and complex than the Four Temperaments model.

Like many theorists before him who had attempted to define personality Jung opted for a four-part structure, which he used alongside his Introverted-Extraverted attitudes:

Jung's Four Functions of the psyche are:

  • thinking and
  • feeling

which he said are the functions that enable us to decide and judge, (Jung called these 'Rational') and

  • sensation and
  • intuition

which Jung said are the functions that enable us to gather information and perceive (Jung called these 'Irrational').


Significantly Jung also asserted that each of us needs to be able to both perceive and to judge (gather information and decide) in order to survive and to carry on normal functioning behaviour.

And he also said that in doing this each of us prefers or favours one of the functions from each of the pairings.


Jung's Four Functions are described below. These very brief definitions and keywords are based respectively on descriptions by Hyde, Fordham and Benziger, all experts and writers on Jungian theory. The final column explains the pairings according to Jung's 'Rational' and 'Irrational' criteria, which nowadays correspond to the Myers Briggs® functions of 'Judging' and 'Perceiving' as featured in Myers Briggs'® theories. The colours are to help the presentation and are not part of Jung's theory:

jung's four functional types - definitions

Thinking what something is meaning and understanding analytic, objective, principles, standards, criteria, both are opposite reasoning and judging functions - people consciously 'prefer' one or the other - Jung called these functions 'rational'
Feeling whether it's good or not weight and value subjective, personal, valuing intimacy, humane
Sensation something exists sensual perception realistic, down-to-earth, practical, sensible both are opposite perceiving functions - people consciously 'prefer' one or the other - Jung called these functions 'irrational
Intuition where it's from and where it's going possibilities and atmosphere hunches, future, speculative, fantasy, imaginative

Katherine Benziger, a leading modern thinker in the field of personality, is not alone in suggesting Jung's Sensation function equates to Galen's Phelgmatic temperament, and that Jung's Intuition function equates to Galen's Choleric temperament. Relationships between Jung's two other functions (Thinking and Feeling) and the other two of the Four Temperaments (Melancholic and Sanguine) are more complex and are not a direct match, although common elements do exist between these Jungian functions and Galen temperaments. You might find Benziger's model helpful for understanding more about each of the four functional types and the characteristics each represents. Benziger's four quadrants of the brain equate directly to Jung's four functional types.

Jung said that Thinking and Feeling are 'Rational' because both of these functions evaluate experience. In Jung's theory the Thinking and Feeling functions are 'Rational' because they reason and decide and judge.

Jung said that Intuition and Sensation are 'Irrational' since they are concerned with perception and do not evaluate. According to Jung the Intuition and Sensation functions are 'Irrational' because they simply gather information and perceive the nature of something - they do not reason or decide or judge.

The Rational and Irrational descriptions that Jung attached to the four functions might not appear particularly significant at first, especially given that Jung's use of the words is rather different to the modern meanings. However consider the modern words that describe Jung's meaning of Rational and Irrational, respectively Judging ('rational' Thinking and Feeling) and Perceiving ('irrational' Sensation and Intuition) and you can begin to see how Myers Briggs® arrived at their Judging and Perceiving dimension, which they developed from Jung's ideas, largely as a way of determining the dominance or priority of auxiliary functions within the Jungian model. (This will hopefully make more sense when you know something of the Myers Briggs® model.)

Here's another perspective - some short descriptions of each of Jung's Four Functional Types:

Thinking Jung's 'Thinking' function is a 'rational' process of understanding reality, implications, causes and effects in a logical and analytical way. It is systematic, evaluates truth, and is objective to the extent that evaluation is based on personal intelligence and comprehension. 'Thinking' is the opposite to 'Feeling'. judging

(Jung's 'rational' functions)
Feeling Jung's 'Feeling' function makes judgements on a personal subjective basis. It is a 'rational' process of forming personal subjective opinion about whether something is good or bad, right or wrong, acceptable or unacceptable, etc., and involves sentimentality and humanity. 'Feeling' is the opposite to 'Thinking'.
Sensation Jung's 'Sensation' function translates signals from the senses into factual data. There is no judgement of right or wrong, good or bad, implications, causes, directions, context, possibilities, themes, or related concepts. Sensation sees what is, as what it is. 'Sensation' is the opposite to 'Intuition'.   perceiving

(Jung's 'irrational' functions)
Intuition Jung's 'Intuition' function translates things, facts and details into larger conceptual pictures, possibilities, opportunities, imaginings, mysticism and new ideas. Intuition largely ignores essential facts and details, logic and truth. 'Intuition' is the opposite to 'Sensation'.


At this point you might like to pause and go make a cup of tea and some toast. Have a rest. Don't try to absorb and understand all this in one sitting if it's new to you.


Jung accordingly arranged his four functional types as two pairs of opposites, thinking or feeling (the rational 'judging' pairing), and sensation or intuition (the irrational 'perceiving' pairing), which are often shown as four points (like North South East West) on a compass.

intuition or sensation

Jung said that each person has a main natural conscious orientation towards one of the four functions (their 'superior' or most 'differentiated' function), in which case the opposite function (the 'inferior' or unconscious function) would be represented and compensated within the person's unconscious.

Of the other two functions, either one could be next dominant, depending on the person, and generally would 'serve' as an auxiliary function in support of the person's 'superior' function. (Again just to complicate matters Jung said that in some cases both of these functions could serve as auxiliary functions, but generally the interpretation is that one auxiliary function would be more prevalent than the other. The point here is that the auxiliary functions are not as polarised - into conscious-unconscious - as the superior and inferior functions, which are more strongly polarised into conscious-unconscious.)

So, a personality would generally be represented by a conscious dominant function from each opposite pair: one of these dominant functions being dominant overall ('superior') and the other dominant function being the supporting ('auxiliary') function.

In the example above, the superior function is Thinking. The opposite Feeling function would largely or entirely be a compensatory unconscious element within the whole person. Depending on the person either the Sensation or Intuition function would be the prevalent auxiliary function, causing its opposite partner to reside to an appropriate extent in the unconscious, so again balancing the whole person.

Jung's important principle of personality being represented by one type from two opposing types (or a series of single types from pairs of opposites) is featured strongly in the models developed by Keirsey and Myers Briggs®, amongst others.

In his Psychological Types book and theory Jung presented his (major eight) 'psychological types' as simple combinations of Introverted or Extraverted together with one 'superior' function, eg, 'Introverted-Thinking' (IT). It is however perfectly appropriate and proper (as Jung explained) to extrapolate or extend the number of Jung types to include auxiliaries, eg, 'Introverted-Thinking-Sensation' (ITS - commonly shown as IT[S]) in which case 'S' is the auxiliary. So, while Jung's work originally presented eight main psychological types (each represented by a two-letter abbreviation), subsequent interpretations commonly add the auxiliary function (resulting in a three-letter abbreviation). In fact to assist this extension Myers Briggs® later introduced the Judging-Perceiving dimension, which acted mainly as a means of identifying which two of the four functions are dominant and auxiliary within the Jung framework for any particular personality (of which more later below).

Here are the four conscious orientations (aside from extraversion and introversion which are added to the model later). In these examples the prevalent auxiliary function is not indicated. It could be either of the right or left functions, depending on the person.

thinking is superior function

  thinking < conscious 'superior'
intuition < either is auxiliary > sensation
  feeling < unconscious  


feeling is superior function

  feeling < conscious 'superior'
intuition < either is auxiliary > sensation
  thinking < unconscious 


intuition is superior function

  intuition < conscious 'superior'
thinking < either is auxiliary > feeling
  sensation < unconscious


sensation is superior function

  sensation < conscious 'superior' 
thinking < either is auxiliary > feeling
  intuition < unconscious


jung's eight psychological types

This all leads us to Jung's eight major 'Psychological Types', which as already explained Jung constructed by adding one or other of the introversion or extraversion 'general attitude types' to each of the possible foursuperior functions described above.

Logically this produces eight main psychological types. The eight psychological types do not include 'auxiliary' functions and as such do not represent full personalities in themselves. The 'type characteristics' below are generally applicable keywords - they are not absolutes or exclusive. Interpretations can vary a lot - it impossible to summarise a personality type that encompasses millions of variations within it in just a few words, although hopefully the matrix helps to convey some sense of the collective and comparative types within the model. Fuller descriptions are available on specialised resources, for instance at Dr Robert Winer's excellent website Some commentators and resources suggest 'job examples' for the different types, and some also suggest examples of famous people falling into each type, although stereotypical 'typing' guesswork of this sort can be misleading if taken at all seriously. Remember again that these eight main types are not the 'whole person' - people comprise a least one other functional preference, plus unconscious balancing functions, all to varying degrees, all of which which produce personality types that are much more complex than the basic eight main types shown here.

type name type characteristics
Extraverted Thinking analytical, strategic, plans, implements, organises others
Introverted Thinking contemplative, discovering, theoretical, seeks self-knowledge
Extraverted Feeling sociable, sentimental, seeks personal and social success
Introverted Feeling inaccessible, enigmatic, self-contained, seeks inner intensity
Extraverted Sensation practical, hands-on, pleasure-seeking, hard-headed
Introverted Sensation intense, obsessive, detached, connoisseur, expert
Extraverted Intuition adventurous, innovative, seeks novelty, proposes change
Introverted Intuition idealistic, visionary, esoteric, mystical, aloof


jung's psychological types - principal and auxiliary functions

Jung's eight main psychological types are in themselves an over-simplification. This is borne out by Jung himself in his 1921 book Psychological Types following his presentation of each of the eight main types:

"...In the foregoing descriptions I have no desire to give my readers the impression that such pure types occur at all frequently in actual practice. They are, as it were, only Galtonesque family-portraits, which sum up in a cumulative image the common and therefore typical characters....... Accurate investigation of the individual case consistently reveals the fact that, in conjunction with the most differentiated function, another function of secondary importance, and therefore of inferior differentiation in consciousness, is constantly present, and is a relatively determining factor..." (Psychological Types, Chapter 10, General Description of the Types, point 11: The Principal and Auxiliary Functions)

(Incidentally, the word 'Galtonesque' is a reference to Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911), an eminent English scientist, cousin of Charles Darwin, who asserted that personality and other traits and abilities are hereditary (inherited or genetic) factors. Interestingly Galton also devised the finger-printing identification system which he first published in his book Finger Prints in 1892. Jung's use of the word Galtonesque intends to convey a general 'broad brush' meaning - the main family groups of personality - as if 'inherited' - not detailed personality types which implictly within Jung's concepts are subject to much influence and change after a person's conception, and therefore outside Galton's ideas of inherited 'genetic' traits.)

Jung's theory does not aim to 'pigeon-hole' all people into one of eight personality types. The eight Psychological Types are simply the eight main groupings represented by Extraversion or Introversion and one 'Four Functional Types' (the superior or principal function). In reality each of these eight type-combinations (represented by E or I plus one Function) is augmented by one or other 'auxiliary' function according to the Jungian theory whereby conscious personality is represented by a dominant function from each of the 'Rational' and 'Irrational' (judging and perceiving) functional pairs of opposites.

So, for example, an 'Extraverted Thinking' main psychological type would be augmented by a preferred auxiliary function from the 'Irrational' (or perceiving) Sensing-Intuition pairing, on the basis that Thinking is the preferred 'Rational' (or judging) Function.

And also for example an 'Introverted Intuition' main psychological type would be augmented by a preferred auxiliary function from the 'Rational' Thinking-Feeling pairing, on the basis that Intuition is the preferred 'Irrational' (or perceiving) Function.

jung's sixteen personality types

These types are automatically and unavoidably implied by Jung's theory, although Jung himself never made a big song and dance about them. They do however help to build up a fuller picture of Jung's theory, and they also relate directly to Myers Briggs'® interpretation and equivalents of these types (for which Myers Briggs® used their additional Judging-Perceiving dimension to determine dominance between the two preferred functional types after the Jungian Introverted or Extraverted 'attitudes').

Logically, adding an auxiliary function to each of Jung's main eight Psychological Types now produces sixteen types, which (subsequent to Jung's Psychological Types book), might be shown as follows, and in each case the first 'Function' (the middle word) is the most dominant. Remember that Introversion and Extraversion are not 'Functions', they are Jungian 'Attitudes':

  1. Extraverted Thinking Sensation - ET(S)
  2. Extraverted Thinking Intuition - ET(N)
  3. Extraverted Feeling Sensation - EF(S)
  4. Extraverted Feeling Intuition - EF(N)
  5. Extraverted Sensation Thinking - ES(T)
  6. Extraverted Sensation Feeling - ES(F)
  7. Extraverted Intuition Thinking - EN(T)
  8. Extraverted Intuition Feeling - EN(F)
  9. Introverted Thinking Sensation - IT(S)
  10. Introverted Thinking Intuition - IT(N)
  11. Introverted Feeling Sensation - IF(S)
  12. Introverted Feeling Intuition - IF(N)
  13. Introverted Sensation Thinking - IS(T)
  14. Introverted Sensation Feeling - IS(F)
  15. Introverted Intuition Thinking - IN(T)
  16. Introverted Intuition Feeling - IN(F)

Using what you know about each of these attitudes and functional types you might now be able to begin to identify and understand your own Jungian type.

(How each of these Jungian types including auxiliaries relate to the Myers Briggs® interpretation and system is explained in the Myers Briggs® section. As you will see when you come to it, the Myers Briggs® system uses the additional dimension or pairing of Judging-Perceiving, not only as a type indicator in its own right based on Jungian ideas, but also as a means of determining functional dominance among the two preferred functions, whose methodology depends also on whether the dominance is directed via Introversion or Extraversion.)


While Jung's theories are used widely in psychometrics and personality testing, his original purpose and focus was clinical, in pursuit of better understanding and treatment of mental illness, and improving the quality of human existence. As such Jung placed greater emphasis on the unconscious than is represented within modern psychometrics and 'commercialised' personality theories.

On which point there is great value for us all in Carl Jung's thinking about the deeper workings of the mind, especially the unconscious, beyond simply seeing Jung's ideas as a model for categorising personality.

Significantly Jung for instance observed that improving our awareness and acceptance of the four functions within ourselves - whether as conscious or unconscious elements - is important for developing a healthy existence, and 'life-balance', as we might say today.

Conversely, repression of any of the functions, by oneself or by another person or pressure, is unhelpful and unhealthy, and leads to problems surfacing sooner or later, one way or another.

We see evidence of this when parents condition or force certain behaviour on their children, or when adults inhibit their feelings, or deny themselves sensation of reality. We also see evidence of people's unconscious mind reverting from unconscious to conscious behaviour when they are under the influence of alcohol or significant stress. And we also see the unconscious mind as a chief element within the theories of Transactional Analysis, which when studied alongside Jung's ideas, together provide a powerful perspective of personality and behaviour. It's all mighty powerful and thoroughly fascinating stuff.

The aim of studying and learning about these ideas brings us back to Jung's own purposes and the fact that Jungian theory recommends that all people should strive to develop any neglected or suppressed functions, and to embrace all four functions as being part of the whole person.



myers briggs® type indicator (MBTI®)

The Myers Briggs® Type Indicator (MBTI®) is a widely used and highly regarded system for understanding and interpreting personality, and derives most of its underpinning theory from Carl Jung's Psychological Types ideas and to a lesser extent the Four Temperaments (or Four Humours).

Myers Briggs® (in fact Isabel Briggs Myers working with her mother Katharine Briggs) essentially developed Carl Jung's theories into a usable methodology and system for understanding and assessing personality (more easily and accessibly than by becoming an expert on Jung and his theories).

The owners of the system, the Myers Briggs® Foundation, explain that the purpose of their MBTI® 'personal inventory' system is to "make the theory of psychological types described by Carl G Jung understandable and useful in people's lives...", and that, "..The essence of the theory is that much seemingly random variation in the behavior is actually quite orderly and consistent, being due to basic difference in the way individual prefer to use their perception and judgment...."

(This last sentence is interesting because it highlights Myers Briggs'® emphasis on and interpretation of their Judging-Perceiving dimension - basically Jung's Rational/Irrational definitions - as a means of clarifying function dominance within each whole MBTI® personality type.)

The MBTI® model and test instrument was developed by Katharine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers in 1942 after their studies particularly of Carl Jung, whose basic concepts relating to this aspect of personality and behaviour are described above.

Myers Briggs'® MBTI® concept is featured in Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers' key book 'MBTI® Manual: A Guide to the Development and Use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®' which was first published in 1962, some years after the tests had been in use. Isabel Briggs Myers later extended and built on these ideas in her 1980 book 'Gifts Differing'.

The Myers Briggs Foundation explains also that "...The theory of psychological type was introduced in the 1920s by Carl G. Jung. The MBTI® tool was developed in the 1940s by Isabel Briggs Myers and the original research was done in the 1940s and 50s. This research is ongoing, providing users with updated and new information about psychological type and its applications..."

According to the Myers Briggs Foundation more than two million people are assessed using the MBTI® personal inventory instrument around the world every year. It's a big business...

The MBTI® model (along with other personality theories and psychometrics models) is particularly useful for:

  • understanding and developing yourself
  • understanding and developing others
  • understanding what motivates others
  • understanding others' strengths and weaknesses
  • working in teams - by ensuring that all relevant necessary capabilities are represented in the team
  • allocating and agreeing tasks and project responsibilities
  • agreeing roles and development with others and for oneself

Myers Briggs® theory and the MBTI® model is a method for understanding personality and preferred modes of behaving. It is not a measurement of intelligence or competence, emotional state or mental stability, 'grown-upness' or maturity, and must be used with great care in assessing aptitude for jobs or careers: people can do most jobs in a variety of ways, and the MBTI® gives little or no indication of commitment, determination, passion, experience, ambition etc., nor 'falsification of type', all of which can have a far greater influence on personal success than a single personality test.

In most respects psychometrics tests and personality models are aids to personal development and to helping people understand more about themselves. They are not to be used a single basis for recruitment or career decisions.

myers briggs® theory and the MBTI® model

The Myers Briggs® MBTI® system uses a four-scale structure for identifying and categorising an individual's behavioural preferences, based almost entirely on Carl Jung's theories and his (translated) descriptive words.

Each of the four MBTI® scales represents two opposing 'preferences' (in other words, preferred styles or capabilities). All abbreviations are obvious first letters, other than N for Intuition, which causes the word to be shown sometimes as iNtuition - just in case you were wondering. The Myers Briggs® Judging-Perceiving dimension basically equates to Jung's Rational/Irrational categories of the two pairs of Jungian Functional types. The colour coding is consistent with the colours used in the Jung section - it was not part of Jung's or Myers Briggs'® theory, but hopefully the colours help explain the pattern and connections.

(E)   Extraversion  or


(I) the focus or direction or orientation of our behaviour - outward or inward 'Attitude' or orientation
(S)   Sensing or 


(N) how we gather information Function (Jungian 'Irrational' or MB 'Perceiving')
(T)  Thinking or 


(F) how we decide Function (Jungian 'Rational' or MB 'Judging')
(J) Judging  or   Perceiving (P) how we react to the world - do prefer to make decisions or keep open to options (and also which middle 'Functions' do we favour) Myers Briggs'® added dimension equating to Jung's 'Irrational' and 'Rational'


Myers Briggs® (Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine Briggs) added a fourth dimension to the three Jung dimensions (Introvert-Extravert, Thinking-Feeling, Sensation-Intuition), namely Judging-Perceiving, which is related to a personality's approach to decision-making, and particularly how the personality deals with the outer world (Extraverted) as distinct from the inner world (Introverted). The Myers Briggs® Judging-Perceiving dimension can also be used to determine functional dominance among the two preferred functional types (aside from Introvert-Extravert, which are not functions but 'Attitudes', or orientations). This can be a tricky little aspect of the Myers Briggs® theory and is explained at the end of this Myers Briggs® section. Happily it's not crucial to deriving value and benefit from Myers Briggs'® ideas, so don't agonise over it if you don't understand it straight away.

Aside from determining functional dominance, irrespective of the way decisions are made (by Thinking or Feeling) the Judging type makes decisions sooner than the Perceiving type. As such the Myers Briggs'® Judging-Perceiving dimension is not found (as a functional dimension) in the Jung model, although Judging and Perceiving most certainly relate to the Jungian descriptions respectively of Rational and Irrational, which Jung uses to categorise the two pairs of Functional Types (the Rational 'judging' Thinking and Feeling, and the Irrational 'perceiving' Sensing and Intuition - refer to the Jung explanation).

Moving on, David Keirsey, in his book Please Understand Me II, provides some additional helpful explanation of how Isabel Myers attached her own meanings to these Jungian words, he said, "putting her own spin on them". Keirsey interestingly also points out that Myers differed markedly from Jung's use of the words Sensation and Perception, which Jung considered held the same meaning, but to which you can see here and elsewhere that the Myers Briggs® system attached different meanings. For this reason if you want to avoid doubt and any confusion in the minds of Jungian purists then it's safest to use the words 'Rational' and 'Irrational' when correlating these Jung terms to the Myers Briggs'® 'Judging' and 'Perceiving'. The right-side column is simply a translation, using more recognisable modern words, for showing the four MBTI® dimensions.

MBTI® type names, based on Jung's language alternative Myers Briggs® meaning or 'spin'
(E) Extraversion or Introversion (I) (E) Expressive or Reserved (I)
(S) Sensing or Intuitive (N) (S) Observant or Introspective (N)

(T) Thinking or Feeling (F)

(T) Tough-minded or Friendly (F)
(J) Judging or Perceiving (P) (S) Scheduling or Probing (P)

It is interesting to note that many of these words above appear commonly in different personality testing systems, for example DISC systems, which again demonstrates the closely connected nature of many psychometrics models and products.

Most people, to varying degrees at different times depending on circumstances, use both preferences within each of the four scales, but each of us tends to have (and therefore will indicate via testing) a certain preference for one style or another in each of the four scales.

There are no 'right' or 'wrong' or 'good' or 'bad' preferences, and there are no good or bad or right or wrong 'types' although obviously certain 'preference' behaviours and personality 'types' can be more or less appropriate or effective in given situations. Within personal limits, adaptability, as ever, is a valuable attribute. Self-awareness enables adaptability. If you seek confirmation of the value of adaptability look at the Cybernetics page (later best, not right now).

Here are descriptions of each of the MBTI® preferences in slightly more detail.

preference for the outer world and one's own action and effect on it

(E) Extraversion

or Introversion (I) preference for inner self and ideas to understand and protect or nurture it
gathers information by: focusing on facts within information

(S) Sensing

or iNtuition (N) gathers information by: interpreting patterns, possibilities and meaning from information received
decides by using logic, consistency, objective analysis, process-driven conclusions

(T) Thinking

or Feeling (F) decides according to what matters to self and others, and personal values
in dealing with the world organises, plans, controls, and decides clear firm actions and responses - relatively quick to decide (J) Judging or Perceiving (P) in dealing with the world responds and acts with flexibility, spontaneity, adaptability and understanding - relatively slow to decide


According to the Myers Briggs® (MBTI®) system each of us is represented by four preferences, one from each of the four scales. Can you begin to identify yourself, and others around you?



Extraversion or Introversion

(I) do we focus on outside world (E) or inner self (I) - do we find people energising (E) or somewhat draining (I)?

Sensing or iNtuition

(N) the way we inform ourselves - how we prefer to form a view and receive information - observed facts and specifics (S) or what we imagine things can mean (N)?

Thinking or Feeling

(F) our way of deciding - how we prefer to make decisions - objective and tough-minded (T) or friendly and sensitive to others and ourselves (F)?
(J) Judging or Perceiving (P) our method for handling the outside world and particularly for making decisions - do quite soon evaluate and decide (J) or continue gathering data and keep options open (P)?


By measuring or categorising a person's overall personality or behavioural style according to four preferences - one from each of the four scales (E-I, S-N, T-F, J-P), the MBTI® system logically contains sixteen main 'types', each represented by four-letter code, for example: ESFJ or INFP or ESTJ, etc.

The sequence of the four-letter preferences within the Myers Briggs® code, whatever the combination, does not change:

The 1st letter denotes the Jungian 'Attitude' or orientation; the direction or focus of the personality - Introvert or Extravert

The middle two letters denote the Jungian 'Functional Type' preferences, namely:

The 2nd letter is the preferred Jungian 'Irrational' function (Myers Briggs® 'perceiving') - Sensing or Intuition

The 3rd letter is the preferred Jungian 'Rational' function (Myers Briggs® 'judging') - Thinking or Feeling

The 4th letter is Myers Briggs'® added dimension to indicate the preferred way of dealing with the outer world; to evaluate and decide or to continue gathering information - Judging or Perceiving - equating to Jung's 'Irrational' and 'Rational' functional type categories, and thereby enabling functional dominance to be determined.


All sixteen different Myers Briggs® MBTI® personality type combinations, each being a four-letter code, are commonly presented in an MBTI® 'Type Table'.

In the 'Type Table' example below the groupings correlate (according particularly to Keirsey) to the Four Temperaments, which for interest is reflected by the colour coding in the table below to to aid comparisons when you look again at the Four Temperaments types. However this is merely an interesting point of note, and is not significant in the workings of the Myers Briggs® theory or its application. The Four Temperaments correlations are more significant in the Keirsey model.

The MBTI® 'Type Table' is typically shown elsewhere in other resources without these headings, and can be shown using other groupings, depending on the views of the theorist or interpreter.


the MBTI® 'type table' related to Four Temperaments Keirsey groupings

 SP - sensing perceiving SJ - sensing judging NF - intuitive feeling NT - intuitive thinking
sanguine or artisan melancholic or guardian choleric or idealist phlegmatic or rationalist


I repeat that you will see these MBTI® types shown in different groupings than the Keirsey/Four Temperaments structure shown above. This is by no means the definitive arrangement of the MBTI® personality types. There are others. I place no particular significance on the structure of these groupings and perhaps neither should you since many great minds disagree about it.

For example Myers Briggs® themselves prefer to show the types in no particular stated grouping, but which are actually grouped in four columns ST, SF, NF and NT, which are the four logical groupings when combining pairs of Jung's four functional types. This is close to Keirsey's presentation of them, but not the same.

And highly the regarded MBTI® Jungian neurologist, psychiatrist, psychopharmacologist, and psychotherapist Robert I. Winer, M.D., prefers the following four-way grouping on the basis that he considers these types to be the four most distinguishable through observation of people's behaviour: TJ, ('Thinker-Judgers') FJ ('Feeler-Judgers'), SP ('Sensor-Perceiver') and NP ('Intuitive-Perceiver'). You pays yer money and takes yer choice as they say. Incidentally Winer's 'Winer Foundation' website ( is one of the most impressive and wonderous on the web dedicated to MBTI®/Jungian theory, full of useful profiles and guidance for self-awareness and development. He seems a lovely fellow.

Other interesting groupings of the sixteen MBTI® types are shown in matrix presentations in each of the Benziger and DISC sections. These different groupings attempt to correlate the personality types (and traits implied) between the different systems and as such can be very helpful in trying to understand it all.

The Myers Briggs® organisation is at pains to point out, rightly, that all (MBTI®) types are equal. As with the individual 'preferences', there are no 'right' or 'wrong' or 'good' or 'bad' types, although again obviously, certain 'type' behaviours can be more or less appropriate in different given situations.

Indeed most people will display type-behaviours resembling many of the sixteen types in any one day, depending on the circumstances. It is however the case that most of us will have a certain preferred type with which we are most comfortable, and which is held to be, according to the MBTI® model, our 'personality'.

In terms of understanding what personality characteristics each of these sixteen various 'MBTI®' types represent, at a very basic level you can simply combine the type descriptions, for example:

An ISTJ is someone who is on balance focused inwardly (Introvert - I) who tends to or prefers to gather information by concentrating on facts (Sensing - S), makes decisions by logic and process (Thinking - T), and whose approach and response to the world is based on order, control, and firm decisions (Judging - J).

And for a contrasting example, an ENFP is someone who is on balance focused on external things and people (Extravert - E) who tends to or prefers to gather information by interpreting patterns, possibilities and meaning (Intuitive - N), makes decisions according to personal values and what matters to self or others (Feeling - F), and whose approach and response to the world is flexible, adaptable and understanding (Perceiving - P).

At a more detailed level it's useful to consider 'functional dominance', specifically relating to the original four Jungian functions (the middle two letters of the four-letter Myers Briggs® MBTI® code). The methodology for identifying dominant and auxiliary functions, and thereafter 3rd and 4th functions (which do not appear in each four-letter type code), is explained below in the MBTI® function dominance sub-section. While a little tricky for some people to grasp quickly, anyone can understand this if they put their mind to it, and it's well worth the effort because identifying functional dominance does provide an excellent and rapid way to define each and any of the sixteen main personality types from their four-letter codes without the need for reams of supporting notes.

At a more complex and fully detailed level there are various resources which give detailed descriptions of the MBTI® personality types, including, and in my opinion far more fully and clearly at the excellent The Jungian psychologist Michael Daniels' website at is also an excellent resource for learning about Myers Briggs® types and Jungian theory.


MBTI® function dominance

Acknowledgments to Simon Pusey for the in MBTI® Function Dominance diagram (Powerpoint slide) and a PDF diagram; also to Andrew Roughton for the alternative explanation of MBTI® dominance; to Ian Mitchell for correcting an error in the the ISTJ example below (previously wrongly shown as ISTJ), and to José María Ribal for correcting an error in two paragraphs which wrongly referred to the 2nd letter being 'Thinking or Feeling' instead of 'Sensing or iNtuition'.

For a quick explanation see the in MBTI® Function Dominance diagram in Powerpoint slide format or as a PDF. For a more detailed explanation of function dominance read on.

It's not vital to understand function dominance in order to benefit from the Myers Briggs® theory, but it does help explain how to identify the dominant function (of the middle two letters - the Jungian Functional Types) within any MBTI® four-letter type code, and logically from this the auxiliary function (and then also the 3rd and 4th functions). The methodology therefore enables rapid description and understanding of any four-letter MBTI® type code without supporting notes. It's a neat technique. An additional alternative explanation of MBTI® dominance using different examples and perspective follows this one. Feel free to skip ahead to it if the first explanation is not to your liking. In any event having two different perspectives of a complex theory is often helpful towards gaining best possible understanding.

Remember that the first letter is the Introvert-Extravert 'Attitude' or orientation - it's not a 'function', and the fourth letter is the Myers Briggs® additional Judging-Perceiving dimension, it's not a Jungian 'Function', and was largely introduced by Myers Briggs® in order to determine dominance between the preferred Jungian Functions (second and third letters).

Understanding Myers Briggs'® functional dominance methodology also helps explain how the Myers Briggs'® four-dimension model (four letters) relates to Jung's three-dimension model (main Jungian 'Psychological Type' plus auxiliary function - three letters), at least in the way that the Myers Briggs® interpretation implies and considers it to do so. (Just to repeat once more, Jung didn't use the Judging-Perceiving dimension as such, he stuck with three dimensions: Introvert-Extravert; Sensing-Intuition, and Thinking-Feeling.)

This explanation necessarily repeats the essential structure already explained in order to stand alone as a useful item in its own right.

Here goes. Hold on to your hats.

The Myers Briggs® MBTI® personality type is always presented as a four-letter code, in which the letters take the same positions in the code regardless of dominance. This is to say: function dominance is not indicated by the sequence of the letters.

Again, here is the sequence of the MBTI® letters and descriptions of what they denote. View this table as columns, not rows:

1st letter 2nd letter 3rd letter 4th letter
Extravert or Introvert Sensing or Intuition Thinking or Feeling Judging or Perceiving
E or I S or N T or F J or P
inwardly or outwardly focused/oriented how we get information how we decide how do we handle the outside world? - how soon do we decide? - do we judge or continue to perceive?
Jungian 'Attitude' or orientation Jungian 'Irrational' or Myers Briggs® 'Perceiving' Function Jungian 'Rational' or Myers Briggs® 'Judging' Function dimension added by Myers Briggs® - also identifies which Function is used in dealing with the outer world


These four preferences produce a four-letter code, for example ENFP or ISTJ.

It is very useful if we can determine within the personality which is the dominant Function of the essential Jungian 'Four Functional Types'. In other words is it the 2nd or 3rd letter that is most dominant within the whole type?

If we know the dominant superior function then obviously we can determine the auxiliary, because it will be the other middle letter in the code. (Incidentally when we've sorted out the superior and auxiliary functions, we can also then determine the 3rd and 4th functions, which is explained after we sort out the superior and auxiliary).

So, for the examples above:

Within the ENFP personality type is Intuition (N) or Feeling (F) dominant?

And within the ISTJ personality type is Sensing (S) or Thinking (T) dominant?

In fact the dominant function within the ENFP personality type is N (Intuition), which for the sake of this exercise we will show as ENFP. This means that F (Feeling) is the auxiliary function.

And the dominant function within the ISTJ personality type is S (Sensing), which for the sake of this exercise we show as ISTJ. This means that T (Thinking) is the auxiliary function.

But why?

Here's my best explanation of the Myers Briggs® methodology for determining dominant function, which they based on their interpretation of Jung's theory, and it is quite logical when you think about it. The methodology operates by using different points of reference - it's like a formula or a process:


  • Extraverts direct their dominant function outwardly, towards the outer world, and their auxiliary function inwardly.
  • Introverts direct their dominant function inwardly, towards their inner world, and their auxiliary function outwardly.
  • So whether the personality is Extravert or Introvert (1st letter E or I) is a factor in determining functional dominance (between the 2nd and 3rd letters).


Remember Jung categorised the two pairs of opposite functions as Irrational and Rational, which correlate to Myers Briggs® Judging and Perceiving:

  • Myers Briggs® 'Perceiving' refers to Jung's 'Irrational' functions (2nd letter) - Sensing or Intuition.
  • Myers Briggs® 'Judging' refers to Jung's 'Rational' functions (3rd letter) - Thinking or Feeling.


  • A Judging preference (4th letter J) indicates that the personality prefers to use the Judging function (3rd letter Thinking or Feeling) to deal with the outer world.
  • A Perceiving preference (4th letter P) indicates that the personality prefers to use the Perceiving function (2nd letter Sensing or Intuition) to deal with the outer world.

Fourth, therefore,

If the personality is Extravert (1st letter E) and is also Judging (4th letter J) then the Judging Function (3rd letter Thinking or Feeling) will be the dominant function (since this is the function used chiefly to deal with the outside world, and Extroverts use their dominant function chiefly to deal with the outside world). For example in the ENFJ type, Feeling is the dominant function, which is mainly directed outwardly. The auxiliary function Intuition which tends to be directed inwardly.

If the personality is Extravert (1st letter E) and is also Perceiving (4th letter P) then the Perceiving Function (2nd letter Sensing or iNtuition) will be the dominant function (again this is the function used to deal with the outside world, and Extroverts use their dominant function to deal with the outside world). For example in the ESTP type, Sensing is the dominant function, which is mainly directed outwardly. The auxiliary function is Thinking, which is mainly directed inwardly.

Fifth, (on the other hand),

Remember that an Introvert's dominant function is mainly directed inwardly, towards their inner world, therefore an Introvert's Judging-Perceiving preference (4th letter J or P) which represents how they approach the outer world will indicate their less dominant function, which means that for Introvert types, the letter other than the one indicated by the 4th letter J or P will be their dominant function.

So it follows, if the personality is Introvert (1st letter I) and is also Judging (4th letter J) then the Judging Function (3rd letter Thinking or Feeling) will be the auxiliary function, since this is the function used to deal with the outside world. Remember, Introverts use their dominant function chiefly to deal with their inner world, not the outside world. An Introvert uses their auxiliary function chiefly to deal with the outside world. For example, in the INTP type, Intuition is used mainly to deal with the outside world, but since the priority focus of the Introvert is their inner world, so Thinking is their dominant function.

Similarly if the personality is Introvert (1st letter I) and is also Perceiving (4th letter P) then the Perceiving Function (2nd letter Sensing or iNtuition) will be the auxiliary function since this is the function used to deal with the outside world. The dominant function will be the other function, which the Introvert focuses on their inner world. For example, in the ISFJ type, the outside world approach indicated by the Judging preference (4th letter J) is Feeling, which because it is focused on the outside world in an Introvert is the auxiliary function. Therefore the other function, Sensing, is the dominant one focused on the Introvert's priority inner world.

There. That's the difficult bit. You may now take a break.

Here is additional explanation of MBTI® dominant functions. Having a second perspective can assist overall appreciation of any complex matter.


additional explanation of MBTI® function dominance

This additional explanation is kindly provided by Andrew Roughton, which is gratefully acknowledged. (I'm also grateful to Ian Mitchell for correcting an error in the ISTJ example above which was wrongly shown as ISTJ, and to Pierre Lemasson for correcting an error in 3b below - probably my typo, not Andrew's - which stated that the the remaining letter will be your auxiliary instead of dominant function.)


1) Your dominant function is found in either the 2nd or 3rd letter in your code. You also have an auxiliary (second) function.

a) If the 2nd letter is your dominant function then the 3rd is your auxiliary function and vice versa.

b) If the 3rd letter is your dominant function then the 2nd is your auxiliary function.

Remember the 2nd letter in your code relates to your Perceiving function. Do you perceive information through your senses (S) or through intuition (N)?

The 3rd letter in your code relates to your Judging function. Do you make judgements (decisions) through Thinking (T) or through Feeling (F)?

2) The 4th letter describes how you relate to the outside world. Do you prefer to deal with the world through your Judging function or through your Perceiving function?

a) If your 4th letter is J then we first look to the Judging functions - Thinking or Feeling.

i) If your code is ISFJ then we first look to the judging functions.

b) If your 4th letter is P then we first look to the Perceiving functions - Sensing or Intuition.

i) If your code is ENFP then we first look to the Perceiving functions.

3) The 1st letter in your code (E or I) tells you whether you will first find your dominant or your auxiliary function.

a) If your 1st letter is E (Extravert) then you will first identify your dominant function letter and the remaining letter will be your auxiliary function.

i) If your code is ENFP then you will find your dominant function. Because the 4th letter is P we look to the perceiving function letter in your code which in this case is N for Intuition. So your dominant function is Intuition. Your auxiliary function is represented by the remaining letter F for Feeling.

b) If your 1st letter is I (Introvert) then you will first identify your auxiliary code and the remaining letter will be your dominant function.

i) If your code is ISFJ you will first identify your auxiliary function. Because the 4th letter is J we look to the judging function letter in your code which in this case is F for Feeling. So your auxiliary function is Feeling. Your dominant function is represented by the remaining letter S for Sensing.

4) The reason for the different treatment for Extravert and Introvert is to do with the preference for the outer (E) or inner (I) world, and the 4th letter only identifies how they relate to the outer world. For the Introvert this will always be their auxiliary function because their dominant function must relate to their inner world.

a) Logically if the introvert relates to their outer world through, for example, their judging functions (thinking or feeling) then their remaining letter tells you which function they use in their inner world. This, for them, is their dominant function.

i) The ISFJ relates to the outer world through their Judging function (represented by the J) which in this case is Feeling (represented by the F). By elimination they must relate to their inner world through the Sensing function (represented by the S). Thus Sensing is the ISFJ's dominant function and Feeling is their auxiliary function.

b) Extraverts on the other hand use their dominant function to relate to the outer world and so the 4th letter identifies how you relate to the outer world.

i) The ENFP relates to the outer world through their Perceiving function (represented by the P) which is Intuition (represented by the N). Thus Intuition is the ENFP's dominant function and Feeling is their auxiliary function. 


Andrew Roughton, July 2006.
National Principal
Vision College New Zealand



identifying 3rd and 4th function dominance

Logically according to Jung's theory, and Myers Briggs® interpretation, functional dominance can be extended beyond the superior (dominant) and auxiliary (secondary) functions to potential tertiary (3rd) and quarternary (4th) functions. This enables the identification of the order (relative strength or preference) of all four functions - Thinking, Feeling, Sensing and Intuition - within any given type. The process for doing this is simple, once you crack the dominant and auxiliary methodology. Here's how to determine 3rd and 4th functional dominance:

Remember Jung's principle of opposites and the four compass points. The most dominant or 'superior' function is balanced by its opposite in the unconscious, and will be correspondingly the least dominant just as the superior function is the most dominant, to whatever extent.

The 4th function therefore, available consciously in whatever degree, is always the opposite of the superior. For example, where a personality's superior or most dominant function is Thinking, logically its quaternary (or 4th or weakest function) function will be Feeling. Where a personality's superior function is Feeling, its 4th function will be Thinking. Where Intuition is dominant, so Sensing will be least strong. Where Sensing is the superior function, so Intuition will be the weakest. And that's the full set.

Applying the same 'balancing opposites' principle, logically, the 3rd function is the opposite of the 2nd or auxiliary. Same pattern as for the 1st-4th correlations. Easy.

The extent to which any personality is able to make use of supporting functions depends on other factors. Some people are able to draw on the 3rd and 4th functions more ably than others (dominant and auxiliary as well for that matter).

From the perspective of understanding and describing each of the sixteen MBTI® personality types simply from their four-letter codes, identifying functional dominance - from superior or dominant, to auxiliary, to 3rd and to 4th functions - is a very useful technique. When you understand the methodology you can say a great deal about any personality type just by looking at its MBTI® four-letter code - because you can determine the preference (which implies prevalence and priority) of each of the four functions, two of which will not even be represented in the MBTI® four-letter code!

Below is the complete set of functional dominance mixtures, showing 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th preferred functions according to MBTI® type. By using this methodology we can also very usefully group the Myers Briggs® types according to their Jungian four dominant functions, which is a super matrix for understanding these theories, and for applying the thinking to team-building and job roles within teams, etc.

MBTI® types and functional dominance

The left column shows the MBTI® sixteen types, colour-coded as to Extravert or Introvert. These MBTI® types are grouped in four sets according to '1st functional dominance' ('superior' function) which are colour-coded in the middle and right columns accordingly. For each MBTI® type, the middle and right columns show the dominant (superior) function, followed by the 2nd (auxiliary) function, and then the 3rd and 4th functions, which are largely unconscious and can be accessed when required depending on the person. Note that each of the four main functional dominance groupings (Thinking, Feeling, Sensing, Intuition, represented by the four colours) contains only two different sequential 'dominance sets', and that each of these can be formed by both an Extraverted and an Introverted type.

MBTI® type functional dominance - 1st to 4th
ESTJ TSNF Thinking, Sensing, Intuition, Feeling
ISTP TSNF Thinking, Sensing, Intuition, Feeling
ENTJ TNSF Thinking, Intuition, Sensing, Feeling
INTP TNSF Thinking, Intuition, Sensing, Feeling
ESTP STFN Sensing, Thinking, Feeling, Intuition
ISTJ STFN Sensing, Thinking, Feeling, Intuition
ESFP SFTN Sensing, Feeling, Thinking, Intuition
ISFJ SFTN Sensing, Feeling, Thinking, Intuition
ESFJ FSNT Feeling, Sensing, Intuition, Thinking
ISFP FSNT Feeling, Sensing, Intuition, Thinking
ENFJ FNST Feeling, Intuition, Sensing, Thinking
INFP FNST Feeling, Intuition, Sensing, Thinking
ENTP NTFS Intuition, Thinking, Feeling, Sensing
INTJ NTFS Intuition, Thinking, Feeling, Sensing
ENFP NFTS Intuition, Feeling, Thinking, Sensing
INFJ NFTS Intuition, Feeling, Thinking, Sensing

The extent to which people are able to call upon and make use of their auxiliary, and particularly 3rd and 4th functions depends on the individual person, and is also the subject of continuing debate and ongoing research by psychologists. Most people are capable of developing their less strong functions to some degree or other. Knowing what they are and that they exist in us is the starting point.

Similarly everyone is capable of understanding their own functional dominance and how this style might be perceived by others. Using this matrix you might be able to have a good guess as to your own Myers Briggs® MBTI® type and your functional dominance. Look at the right column: ask yourself - and maybe also ask someone who knows you well - what order of preferences best represents your own personality? Having decided this, are you mainly extraverted or introverted? You might now have a reasonable idea of your own MBTI® personality type.

If anyone can suggest more clearly how to present all this I am very much open to suggestions. Please let me know any daft typos or errors in this. It's not an easy thing to explain.

Aside from using Myers Briggs® MBTI® model to understand one's own or other other people's personality types, the most important opportunity is that everyone can and should use systems such these to endeavour to access and develop their weaker functions.

This was central to Jung's motivation, and this opportunity and encouragement echoes through Myers Briggs'® ideas too. Awareness of the fact that we all possess these unconscious under-developed functions is the first step towards realising that they can be developed and used, alongside our natural preferences, brought into play consciously, where we see the need and possibility to do so.


The Myers Briggs® MBTI® system typically involves the use of MBTI® testing instruments to determine people's own types or 'profiles', the process and analysis of which is best administered by a suitably qualified person to give proper explanation and feedback to people being 'tested'.

There are significant commonalities between the Myers Briggs® personality model and that of David Keirsey. Both systems draw strongly on the work of Carl Jung and (Keirsey's more than Myers Briggs®) also to the Four Temperaments. Further comparisons are indicated in the Four Temperaments and Keirsey sections on this page, and these cross-references between models (notably Benziger) help with the understanding of each model independently, and also help to build up a variety of perspectives of oneself, and human personality and behaviour.

There are some differences between Myers Briggs® and Keirsey's interpretations. Not least, as Keirsey points out, Myers Briggs® is effectively an interpretation and extension of Jung's model - both of which focus on the minds and thinking types of people, whereas Keirsey's system, building on Myers Briggs®, Jung, and others, seeks to identify and point to what the different personality types can do well in different circumstances. In addition there are some detailed differences between certain type descriptions of Myers Briggs® and Keirsey, which concern complex interpretations that seem to me to be a matter of personal opinion, based on the experiences of the theorists themselves and not matters that can be proven one way or another. As we've already seen, this is not a perfect science, and when we drill down deeper than broad definitions the detail is open to different interpretation, which I encourage you to do yourself. Despite the best efforts of some of the providers in the psychometrics industry to convince us that all this is highly complex and impenetrable, you can hopefully see that much of the thinking is extremely accessible and within the grasp of ordinary folk.

As you learn about these concepts, see each model (Myers Briggs®, Jung, Keirsey, Four Temperaments, Eysenck, Benziger, etc) as self-sufficient and stand-alone. Note the common aspects between the models by all means because there are many: seeing the common aspects will greatly improve your overall understanding of the subject and of people; but do not try to overlay and match definitions and descriptions from model to model if the fit is not obvious and clear. Respect each model in isolation for what it is - a different perspective of the same highly complicated thing - the human mind.

More information about the Myers Briggs® organisation and MBTI® system and types descriptions is at

Note that Myers Briggs®, MBTI® and other terminology is likely to be protected trademarked intellectual property for use in direct training and testing applications, so beware of using any of these terms for commercial purposes without a licence, or at least checking whether a licence is required or not.



david keirsey's personality model and the 'keirsey temperament sorter'

As mentioned above, David Keirsey's work refers significantly to the age-old 'Four Temperaments' model, and to the work of Carl Jung, and Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, who also drew strongly on Jung's work. Keirsey's key book (with Bates) was 'Please Understand Me', first published in 1978 and since revised and re-issued several times, more recently as 'Please Understand Me II', which is a wonderful book and includes a self-test to discover your detailed temperament type (of the sixteen types).

David Keirsey's ideas extend and develop the Four Temperaments and the ideas of Carl Jung, and also relate very directly to the Myers Briggs® MBTI® system.

In fact according to Keirsey the two systems - Keirsey and MBTI® - are quite similar. (Here's a good explanation of the similarities and differences between the Keirsey and Myers Briggs® systems.)

Keirsey's model has for many years underpinned a highly regarded personality assessment methodology, which Keirsey claims to be the most widely used in the world. Keirsey's model has also enabled the development of a considerable supporting business corporation, which markets his testing instruments and their associated training and accreditation.

Like Myers Briggs®, Keirsey's personality model analyses human personality according to sixteen types, which are compared below to the Myers Briggs® MBTI® equivalents. There are fundamental similarities between the Keirsey types and the Myers Briggs® types, but there are also some significant differences, so do not see the two systems as being the same thing.


keirsey/MBTI® types correlations

Keirsey's personality model is particularly helpful because of the meaningful personality 'type' descriptions, especially when used alongside Myers Briggs® abbreviated letter codes. The colour-coded groupings reflect Keirsey's view that certain categories of MBTI® or Keirsey types equate strongly to the Four Temperaments. Keirsey is a fan of the Four Temperaments. Not everyone is, particularly when it comes to categorising MBTI® types. This layout is shown because Keirsey favours it. The use of colours are purely to aid comparison with the Four Temperaments model shown earlier in this section. Other than an echo of Jung's 'Perceiving' and 'Judging' within the SP and SJ blocks, these colours do not relate to the colours used in the Jung and Myers Briggs® sections.

artisan SP sensing-perceiving rational NT intuitive-thinking
promoter ESTP fieldmarshall ENTJ
crafter ISTP mastermind INTJ
performer ESFP inventor ENTP
composer ISFP architect INTP
guardian SJ sensing-judging idealist NF intuitive-feeling
supervisor  ESTJ teacher ENFJ
inspector  ISTJ  counsellor INFJ
provider  ESFJ  champion ENFP
protector  ISFJ  healer INFP

N.B. Again bear in mind that certain copyright protections apply to the MBTI® and Keirsey terms so I recommend that you be wary of using these in the provision of chargeable services or materials since under certain circumstances they are likely to be subject to licensing conditions. Also please note that in this article for various reasons the positions of the four temperaments/humours may vary when shown in a 2x2 matrix arrangement. The consistent use of colours/colors instead offers help in understanding the correlations between models.

A free 'lite' Keirsey personality test and descriptions of each of the Keirsey sixteen types is available via the Keirsey website at The 'lite' test indicates your dominant or preferred temperament of the four main types, but not your detailed type within the temperament, which is something you need to pay to discover. In my view the most enjoyable and useful way to do this is to buy a copy of Keirsey's book 'Please Understand Me II', which contains the 70-question Keirsey Temperament Sorter II personality test, which will in a few minutes reveal your detailed Keirsey personality type, and also provides a vast amount of descriptive information relating to your type and all the other fifteen types within the Keirsey model.



eysenck's personality inventory and the four temperaments

British psychologist Hans Jurgen Eysenck (1916-97) was born in Berlin. A Jewish sympathiser, he left Germany in 1934 for England, where he studied and later taught psychology at London University. He became a prolific writer in the field of clinical psychology and also had a great interest in psychometrics. He disagreed with the principles of psychoanalysis and preferred the (at times controversial) view that genetics (inherited factors - our genes) are significant in determining the psychological differences between people, and more besides.

Eysenck used extensive research and questionnaires to build a personality inventory which he related to Galen's Four Temperaments. The fit is not perfect with the more recent interpretations of the Four Temperaments (Keirsey, Myers Briggs®) but there are certainly many common aspects between the Eysenck and Galen models.

Eysenck's concepts are particularly interesting, and provide a valuable additional perspective compared to the Four Temperaments, Jung, Myers Briggs®, and Keirsey, because they explore and analyse a personality dimension related to emotional stability.

Eysenck's approach to personality assessment was the first popular scalable mathematical methodology. Previous theories generally placed a person within one of the defining types, or between two types, or attributed a mixture of types to a person's personality.

Eysenck's 1950s theory (he later added a third dimension) measures personality using two scales:

  • introversion-extraversion
  • stability-instability (unemotional-emotional*)

Eysenck's theory also refers to instability as unstable, emotionally unstable, or neurotic.

*While Eysenck's scientific headings of 'stable' and 'unstable' or 'neurotic' can be seen as judgemental (good or bad) it's important not to see them in this way. Academics (including Eysenck) tend to write for other academics and forget or disregard that certain language carries negative meanings and stigmas in normal life, such as the words unstable and neurotic. Eysenck did not use the words to convey a sense of good or bad - he used them because he felt scientifically comfortable with the terms. If discussing these concepts with people who might be sensitive to words like 'unstable' or 'neurotic' it can be helpful to interpret Eysenck's 'instability' or 'neuroticism' to mean 'emotional', and for 'stable' to equate to 'unemotional'. 'Unemotional-emotional' was not Eysenck's alternative scale, it's my suggested alternative for seeing that this scale is not a question of good or bad.

By surveying many thousands of people, using many and various adjectives (traits) representing behaviours and types, Eysenck built a scalable model which also formed the basis of what became the Eysenck personality test.

Eysenck's theory regards the choleric and melancholic temperaments as being emotionally unstable (let's say 'emotional'), and the sanguine and phlegmatic temperaments as being emotionally stable (unemotional). The theory sees the phlegmatic and melancholic temperaments as being introverted, and the choleric and sangine temperaments as being extraverted. At this point there is clear divergence from the Eysenck model and certain recent interpretations of the Four Temperaments, since, for example, Keirsey and Myers Briggs® clearly assert that introversion and extraversion appear in each of the four temperaments. Eysenck's ideas are a part-fit with MBTI® and Keirsey, but certainly not a direct overlay.

The Eysenck theory produces four main types types of personality, which he said resembled Galen's Four Temperaments:

  • unstable-introverted (emotional-introverted) = melancholic
  • unstable-extraverted (emotional-extraverted) = choleric
  • stable-introverted (unemotional-introverted) = phlegmatic
  • stable-extraverted (unemotional-extraverted) = sanguine

Within which are several key words of graduated significance relative to the heading elements (Eysenck presented this as a four-quadrant circle containing his describing words, rather than the matrix shown here). The colours merely reflect those used in the Four Temperaments section for ease of comparison and do not appear in Eysenck's theory:

stable-extraverted (unemotional-extravert)
sociable outgoing talkative responsive easy-going lively carefree leadership
calm even-tempered reliable controlled peaceful thoughtful careful passive

moody anxious rigid sober pessimistic reserved unsociable quiet

touchy restless aggressive excitable changeable impulsive optimistic active

Can you see yourself, and others perhaps, in this model? Could you define yourself according to a mixture of these characteristics? Perhaps you can see in yourself a leading 'type' with one or two supporting types? (This is not how Eysenck intended the model to be used, but seeing it in this way can be helpful for understanding your own and others' personality types. Also please note that in this article for various reasons the positions of the four temperaments/humours may vary when shown in a 2x2 matrix arrangement. The consistent use of colours/colors instead offers help in understanding the correlations between models.)

Again note that the fit is not perfect between Eysenck's model and recent interpretations of the Four Temperaments such as Keirsey and Myers Briggs®, but there are certainly many common aspects between Eysenck and Galen.

The significant difference between Eysenck's ideas and the Four Temperaments interpretations of Galen and the older theorists is that Eysenck's (1950s) theory measures personality according to two scalable dimensions, introversion-extraversion and stability-instability; whereas traditional Four Temperaments ideas simply seek to define personality according to one of the four temperaments. In this respect Eysenck's model is far more sophisticated, and indeed add an extra dimension (stable-unstable) that is not found at all in popular systems such as Keirsey and Myers Briggs®. In this respect Eysenck's model offers a highly significant and helpful additional perspective to the Four Temperaments, Jung's Psychological Types, and the Keirsey and Myers Briggs® systems on which they were based.

Eysenck's ideas have been developed and supported using studies and surveys of many thousands of people. Eysenck was one of the most prolific researchers and writers on the subject of personality and its measurement, and yet he continued to strive for improved understanding and interpretation into the 1990s, having worked for 60 years in the field. Proof, if any were needed, that this is indeed a complex area, and one which we are still a long long way from fully comprehending.

It is interesting to note also that Eysenck's 1950s key words feature strongly in at least one modern version of the DISC personality testing system, which testifies to the enduring importance of Eysenck's work, and which provides yet another indication of the similarity and common themes between many of these 'different' personality models.

Eysenck later theorised about a third dimension: psychoticism, from his studies of mentally disturbed people, and which can be related to risk-taking and eccentricity. In his later life Eysenck also developed better scientific understanding of Jung's introversion and extraversion 'attitudes', which, along with his other ideas helped Katherine Benziger develop her own ideas of personality and behaviour.

Hans Eysenck's key books include: Uses and Abuses of Psychology (1953); Know Your Own IQ (1962); Race, Intelligence and Education (1971), and the autobiographical Rebel without a Cause (1990).



katherine benziger's personality and brain-type theory

Benziger's model is relatively recent compared to the Four Temperaments, Jung, Eysenck, etc. Her theories and tools have been widely used by many of the world's major corporations, and are still the subject of ongoing research and refinement.

Benziger's key book, The Art Of Using Your Whole Brain, was first published in 1989, revised as 'Thriving In Mind' in 2000. Benziger's main psychometrics instrument is the BTSA (Benziger Thinking Styles Assessment).

Katherine Benziger is unusual compared to many other personality thinkers (and particularly the way that other seminal theories have been developed into highly commercialised 'testing' systems) because she places greatest emphasis on 'wellness' and the need to help people avoid 'falsifying' their true type. Benziger says that very many people 'falsify type', so as to fit into a role or career path that might not be right for them, which has a negative impact on health, happiness and personal effectiveness.

Benziger drew great inspiration from Carl Jung and from the work of Myers Briggs® and Hans Eysenck. Her work has also been influenced and supported by the late 20th century scientific developments into brain imaging, using modern scanning technologies - basically using safe equivalents of X-Ray techniques - to actually determine which parts of the brain are being used for various functions and types of thinking ('thinking' here in the general sense of what the brain is doing, not in the 'logical' Jungian sense).

Put simply, Benziger's theory expresses personality in terms of four quadrants of the brain (basal means rear or back):

  • Basal Left - process and routine
  • Basal Right - intuition and empathy
  • Front Left - logic and results
  • Front Right - vision and creativity

Benziger relates these modes of thinking to Jung's Four Functions, and Benziger's theory provides many people an immensely helpful way to make sense of what Jung said and advocated. For ease of comparison between Benziger's and Jung's models the same colours are used for corresponding 'functions' or 'styles', although these colours were not part of either theorist's concepts.

Importantly Benziger acknowledges and uses the Jungian Extravert and Introvert dimension, but does not represent it within the four-quadrant model of the four functional types (Benziger's 'behaving' or 'thinking' or 'preferred' styles - the word 'thinking' is used here in a more general sense than the specific Jungian meaning).

These brain-type functions also correlate to the Myers Briggs® and Keirsey models, naturally since all of these theories make use of the fundamental Jungian 'four functional types' reference points - Thinking, Feeling, Sensing, Intuition.

  Benziger's model uses this representation of the brain (viewed from above, top is front) and the summary definitions below. The brain has four specialised areas. Each is responsible for different brain functions (which imply strengths, behaviour and thinking style). Within Benziger's model the specialised areas are called 'modes'.   brain assessment - personality assessing

According to Benziger each of us possesses natural strengths in only one of these specialised areas, which causes us to favour and use a certain style ahead of others. Outside of that one style, we may have strengths and weaknesses which are based on what competencies we have been exposed to, or developed, and indeed which competencies we have not been exposed to.

Katherine Benziger refers to the natural specialised area as the 'preferred thinking and behavioural mode'. Typically this will equate to the Jungian 'superior function' and the Myers Briggs® 'dominant function' as described in this section.

Benziger's books ('The Art of Using Your Whole Brain', and in revised form 'Thriving in Mind') contain an excellent and simple personality assessment to illustrate this point. The benziger personality assessment relies on complete honesty when answering - if you are 'falsifying your type' then you will distort the analysis (which of course is true for any personality assessment or psychometrics test, although most theorists and providers seem to emphasise this aspect far less than Benziger). Incidentally the Benziger assessment also contains a section which determines the extent to which the person is falsifying type, and this for Benziger is a fundamentally important aspect of her theory and assessment methodology.

Without wishing to go off on a long tangent, Benziger's ideas about 'falsification of type' relate strongly to the need for people to seek proper 'congruence' and 'alignment' between their own true natural personal preferences, style, strengths, and the organisations and services within which they work. Organisations and employers need increasingly to wake up to these issues, both in terms of re-aligning their own values and aims so that they become more helpful for the world at large, and also in helping their people to identify and pursue and fulfil their own unique potential and destiny. Benziger's ideas are at the heart of this very modern sort of organisational philosophy.

Now back to the model. Here's how Benziger's model relates to Jung's Four Functions. Once more the colours are merely to help with comparisons to the Jung and Myers Briggs® models:

Benziger brain quadrant Benziger's describing characteristics examples Jungian 'function' or 'attitude'
frontal left analytical, objective, principles, standards, criteria, critiques Thinking
basal left realistic, down-to-earth, practical, sensible, the past Sensing
basal right subjective, personal, values intimacy, sees extenuating circumstances, humane, sees harmony Feeling
frontal right hunches, speculative, fantasy, imaginative, the future Intuition
behaviour directed inwardly to understand and manage self and experience Introversion
behaviour directly externally, to influence outside factors and events Extraversion

Remember while Benziger certainly acknowledges and makes use of Jung's Extravert-Introvert dimension, it is not represented within Benziger's four-quadrants brain model.


These are Benziger's brain functions or 'modes' in more detail. Note again the correlation to the Jungian functions.

mode specialised area brain functions response to stimulus Jungian function
1 basal left Order and habit
Ordered procedures
Sequential routines
Remembers definitions. What is, is as described. Sensing
2 basal right Spiritual experience
Rhythm and feeling
Picks up emotional tone and the presence or absence of harmony (including harmony between people). What is, is how we feel about it. Feeling
3 frontal right Internal imaging
Metaphor and imagination
Sees the essence of things, in pictures and metaphors. What is, is something meaning or enabling something else. Intuition
4 frontal left Structural analysis
Prioritising and logic
Converts into logical results or effects. What is, leads to, or produces results. Thinking


Benziger says that people possess one and only one natural leading function or 'mode' in which their brain is naturally efficient.

People can and often do however develop competencies in other modes. When they do in practice they will be using more areas of their brain, and when they do this the competencies outside their natural lead are always somewhat draining, which links to Benziger's ideas about the dangers of falsification of type. If it's 'draining' using competencies that are not our natural strength, it must be more stressful still when we have to work exclusively in a competence other than our natural preference.

benziger and correlations to other personality models

Benziger's model is particularly helpful for many people in providing an excellent framework for comparing and understanding other personality models, including Jung's original four functional types, Kolb, and one or two other less well-known ideas from around the world. Once more the colours aim to help show the relationships with Jung's model, and are not part of the original theories. The correlations to the Myers Briggs® MBTI® types (and by implication Keirsey's also) are based on the functional dominance within each of these types (explained in the functional dominance sub-section of the Myers Briggs® section).

Benziger brain mode or quadrant Benziger (broad) types Jung's 'Four Functional Types' Jungian 'superior' and 'auxiliary' Myers Briggs® MBTI® types Keirsey types Kolb's learning styles

basal left
process and routine sensing ST and SF ESTP ISTJ ESFP ISFJ promoter inspector performer protector Reflective Observation

basal right
intuition and empathy feeling FS and FN ESFJ ISFP ENFJ INFP provider composer teacher healer Concrete Experience

frontal right
vision and creativity intuition NT and NF ENTP INTJ ENFP INFJ inventor mastermind champion counsellor Active Experimentation

frontal left
logic and results thinking TS and TN ESTJ ISTP ENTJ INTP supervisor crafter fieldmarshall architect Abstract Conceptualisation


More detail about Katherine Benziger's fascinating theory is on the Benziger page.




You will see the DISC model often represented as DiSC®, which reflects the ownership of this particular logoform by the US Inscape Publishing company. Inscape has extensively researched and developed its own DISC systems, which according to the company's publicity have been used by over 40 million people since the early 1970s, which are used with the intention of enabling people to "...gain the insight they need to be more successful, productive, and fulfilled at work..." Inscape also say, "... DiSC® instruments are based on a simple idea - that the foundation of personal and professional success lies in knowing yourself, understanding others, and realizing the impact of your actions and attitudes on other people..."

The DISC model is attributed to Dr William Moulton Marston, whose book Emotions Of Normal People (1928) first explained the model using the DISC terminology, and which also provided the descriptive words on which the commonly used DISC personality assessment systems were built. Marston didn't create an assessment tool. This was done initially by researchers at the University of Minnesota, in 1972 according to Inscape. Inscape, and others, have continued to develop, test and validate DISC assessment systems, which are marketed with gusto to the corporate and organisational development communities.

The dimensions of Behaviour and Situation feature strongly in Marston's ideas.

There are several slightly varying interpretations of this model. Here's a general outline.

DISC basic personality types model

There are different interpretations of this model, based on the same underpinning structure. This presentation of the DISC model borrows from various interpretations. The colours mainly emphasise the columns - they are not part of the original DISC theory - but they also reflect the logical correlations to two of the Four Temperaments and Keirsey main types (D = Phlegmatic/Rational; I = Choleric/Idealist) and the Jungian Extravert-Introvert 'attitudes'. Other than this there is no attempt here to overlay the DISC model or personality traits directly onto any other personality model. There are overlaps and correlations between DISC and other personality systems but not a direct overlay. Logical comparisons and correlations between DISC types and the types contained in the theories of Jung, Benziger, etc, are shown lower in the grid below.

Dominance Influence Steadiness Compliance
generally proactive and extravert   generally reactive and introvert  
decisive, dominant, self-assured, forceful, task-orientated, instigates, leads and directs motivates others via influence and persuasion, good communication skills, presents well, friendly, affable, inspires others, intuitive, gregarious, friendly reliable, dependable, process-orientated, listener, friendly, trustworthy, solid, ethical, finishes what others start and leave, methodical, decides according to process painstaking, investigative, curious, decides using facts and figures, correct, checker, detailed,
things people people things
motivated by responsibility and achievement motivated by recognition and personal approval motivated by time, space and continuity to do things properly motivated by attention to detail, perfection and truth
strong focus on task and forceful style can upset people emphasis on image can neglect substance  dependence on process can become resistance need for perfection can delay or obstruct
fears failure and loss of power fears rejection and loss of reputation fears insecurity and change fears inaccuracy and unpredictability
Benziger 'double frontal' (frontal right and frontal left), extraverted Benziger 'double right' (basal right and frontal right), extraverted Benziger 'double basal' (basal left and basal right), introverted Benziger 'double left' (basal left and frontal left) introverted
Jung's ET(N) and EN(T) Jung's EF(N) and EN(F) Jung's IF(S) and IS(F) Jung's IT(S) and IS(T)
Intuitive-Thinking Intuitive-Feeling Sensing-Feeling Sensing-Thinking
Myers Briggs® ENTJ, less so ENTP, INTJ, INTP Myers Briggs® ENFJ, less so ENFP, INFJ, INFP Myers Briggs® ISFP, less so ISFJ, ESFP, ESFJ Myers Briggs® ISTP, less so ISTJ, ESTP, ESTJ
closest Keirsey type equivalent is fieldmarshall closest Keirsey type equivalent is teacher closest Keirsey type equivalent is composer closest Keirsey type equivalent is crafter
temperament or humour implied by Keirsey is entirely phlegmatic (Keirsey's rationalist) temperament or humour implied by Keirsey is entirely choleric (Keirsey's idealist) temperament or humour implied by Keirsey is half sanguine half melancholic (Keirsey's artisan and guardian) temperament or humour implied by Keirsey is half sanguine half melancholic (Keirsey's artisan and guardian)


N.B. The closest equivalent types shown above from the models of Jung, Myers Briggs® and Keirsey are just a guide, and have been arrived at by factoring in the typical DISC dimensions of extraversion-introversion and proactive-passive, which imply the obvious Extraverted or Introverted Jungian equivalents, and Judging (proactive) or Perceiving (reactive) Jungian equivalents. As we've seen, none of this is a perfect science, and the correlations are formed by logical extension rather than clear admissions of statements from the originating theorists. Benziger's correlations however are those stated by Katherine Benziger herself.


Unlike testing systems such as Myers Briggs® and Keirsey which typically match people to defined 'types', The DISC model instead presents a series of four main 'type' descriptions (titled above as Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance). The DISC testing instruments tend to identify people's dominant or preferred type and one or two supporting types from the four available, and this mixture is then represented by a graph or personality description based on the mixture of the types.

In this respect no person is exclusively just one of the four DISC types. Most people have a dominant or preferred main type, plus one or two supporting types in different degrees depending on the person and the situation. DISC systems commonly not only assess the person but also the person's mix of dominant types from different perspectives.

It is important to note again that the DISC system of personality assessment, like all personality models, provides a guide and a perspective of personality; it is not a 100% reliable or definitive measurement.

Under certain circumstances DISC and related terminology are protected or trademarked intellectual property, so if you have ideas to use any DISC theory or tools in connection with the commercial delivery of personality assessment or testing services it's wise to check whether you can do so freely or whether such use is governed by licensing conditions.

DiSC® is a trademark of the US Inscape Publishing company.




belbin® team roles

Dr Meredith Belbin, UK academic and consultant developed the Belbin team roles model in the late 1970s. Belbin's work at Henley Management College demonstrated that balanced teams comprising people with different capabilities performed better than teams that are less well balanced. Belbin's key book 'Management Teams - Why They Succeed or Fail', was first published in 1981. According to Belbin publicity (Belbin founded Belbin Associates, who produce and provide psychometrics (personality and behavioural testing) instruments and other related services based on Belbin's theories) the Belbin Team Roles model is used by over 40% of the UK's top 100 companies, and thousands more internationally.

N.B. The Belbin Team Role model and certain related teminology is © Belbin Associates - if in doubt about usage check with Belbin. The use of Belbin tests and training materials is subject to licence from Belbin.

Meredith Belbin initially identified a set of eight roles, which, it is argued, are all present in a team provide good balance and increase likelihood of success. The eight roles were later increased to nine, with the addition of the 'Specialist' role. Presumably due to political correctness and changing attitudes in organisations, the names of certain roles have been altered in recent years. Below are the modern role names and brief descriptions, with notes of what they were previously called where appropriate.

There are no 'good' or 'bad' roles. People are as they are, and all roles play important parts in successful teams.

Belbin suggested that certain roles tend to be more extraverted (outgoing, proactive, outward-looking) while other roles tend to be more introverted (inward-looking, reactive). These days less emphasis is placed on whether a role was considered extravert or introvert, but for the record, the roles originally presented as extravert are indicated with an asterisk* within the roles listing and descriptions below:

belbin team roles and descriptions

It is not easy to correlate precisely the Belbin team roles to specific personality types in other personality models, although there are certain common elements, for example Extraverted and Introverted roles, which are colour coded appropriately below. There are also some useful correlations with the Big Five Factors model. This colour-coding does not form part of the original Belbin theory, it simply aims to assist comparisons with other models explained in this section.

role name strengths and styles

Coordinator (CO)*

able to get others working to a shared aim; confident, mature - (originally called 'Chairman' by Belbin)

Shaper (SH)*

motivated, energetic, achievement-driven, assertive, competitive

Plant (PL)*

innovative, inventive, creative, original, imaginative, unorthodox, problem-solving

Monitor-Evaluator (ME)

serious, prudent, critical thinker, analytical

Implementer (IMP)

systematic, common sense, loyal, structured, reliable, dependable, practicable, efficient (originally called 'Company Workers')

Resource Investigator (RI)*

quick, good communicator, networker, outgoing, affable, seeks and finds options, negotiator

Team Worker (TW)

supportive, sociable, flexible, adaptable, perceptive, listener, calming influence, mediator

Completer-Finisher (CF)

attention to detail, accurate, high standards, quality orientated, delivers to schedule and specification
Specialist (SP) technical expert, highly focused capability and knowledge, driven by professional standards and dedication to personal subject area

* Belbin suggested these roles are more extravert than introvert.

N.B. It does not follow that extraverted roles are always self-motivating. Neither does it follow that introverted roles need 'motivating' or instructing. The proactivity, direction, attitude and motivation of any roles, in a Belbin context (as for any other personality profiling system), depend on a wide variety of factors, including alignment of organisational and personal aims and values, personal circumstances, emotional maturity, life-stage, leadership influences, reward systems, and more. Greater understanding of these issues can be achieved by considering many different behavioural perspectives, theories and models.

The simplest central point relating to motivation is that different people respond to different stimuli. Therefore the more we understand about ourselves and people, then the more we understand about what motivates us.

People are more motivated and happy when they are performing and working in a way that is natural to them. Expecting a person with a particular personality type (be it represented by a Belbin team role, a Jung psychological type, a Myers Briggs® MBTI®, or whatever) to perform well and enthusiastically in a role that is foreign or alien to their natural preferences and strengths is not helpful for anyone.


The UK DTI quality management guidance notes provides further some useful interpretation of the parts that these roles play in teams:

'belbin team roles' within teams

The Co-ordinator clarifies group objectives, sets the agenda, establishes priorities, selects problems, sums up and is decisive, but does not dominate discussions.

The Shaper gives shape to the team effort, looking for pattern in discussions and practical considerations regarding the feasibility of the project. Can steamroller the team, but gets results.

The Plant is the source of original ideas, suggestions and proposals that are usually original and radical.

The Monitor-Evaluator contributes a measured and dispassionate analysis and, through objectivity, stops the team committing itself to a misguided task.

The Implementer turns decisions and strategies into defined and manageable tasks, sorting out objectives and pursuing them logically.

The Resource Investigator goes outside the team to bring in ideas, information and developments to it.

They are the team's sales-person, diplomat, liaison officer and explorer.

The Team Worker operates against division and disruption in the team, like cement, particularly in times of stress and pressure.

The Finisher maintains a permanent sense of urgency with relentless follow-through.

All of these roles have value and are missed when not in a team; there are no stars or extras.

An individual's team role can be determined by the completion of a Belbin questionnaire. It is not essential that teams comprise eight people each fulfilling one of the roles above, but that people who are aware and capable of carrying out these roles should be present.

In small teams, people can, and do, assume more than one role.

In addition, analysing existing teams and their performance or behaviour, using these team role concepts, can lead to improvements, for example:

  • Under-achievement demands a good coordinator or finisher
  • Conflict requires a team worker or strong coordinator
  • Mediocre performance needs a resource investigator, innovator or shaper
  • Error prone teams need an evaluator
  • Different roles are important in different circumstances, for example:
  • New teams need a strong shaper to get started.
  • Competitive situations demand an innovator with good ideas.
  • In areas of high risk, a good evaluator may be needed.
  • Teams should, therefore, be analysed both in terms of what team roles members can play, and also in relation to what team skills are most needed.

Despite having well defined roles within a team, the interaction between the different personalities of individuals can be a frequent source of friction. However, this can largely be avoided by understanding and valuing people's differences.

(The above notes about Belbin team roles within teams are UK DTI quality management guidance notes and are Crown Copyright.)


the 'big five' factors personality model - OCEAN

'The Big Five' is the commonly used term for the model of personality which describes the five fundamental factors of our personality. For reasons explained below the model is commonly referred to as OCEAN, being an acronym for names often used for the five traits. The alternative acronym CANOE is less commonly used.

This summary and explanation has been provided by psychologist and psychometrics expert Paul Sinclair (see Paul's biography below), which is greatly appreciated. 

The Big Five 'super traits' have been researched and validated by many different psychologists (WT Norman 1963, McCrae & Costa 1987, Brand & Egan 1989, LR Goldman 1990 and P Sinclair 1992) and are at the core of many other personality questionnaires.

While Raymond Cattell 'uncovered' 16 traits from his factor analysis (a statistical way of reducing a variety of things down to a smaller number of related clusters) in the development of the 16PF; no one else was able to replicate his work.

On the other hand, the Big Five Factors have been replicated in studies across the world and give us a confident summary of our mental building blocks, according to trait theory.

This had led to a number of slightly different 'translations' of the Big Five model, although each version essentially deals with the same theory and content. The words describing the characteristics change, but the basic characteristics do not. The 'translations' between the different interpretations are explained later.

Trait theory, on which many of our occupational questionnaires are based (for example, Cattell's 16PF and Saville & Holdsworth's 'OPQ' Occupational Personality Questionnaire), states that by the time we are in our early 20s and start work, our personality traits become more stable and reliable.  This does not necessarily mean we become more stable or reliable, but that our individual personality traits become more fixed and are thus capable of being reliably measured. 

For example, loud, confident, creative people tend to remain loud, confident and creative people throughout their careers. Quiet, unassuming, dependable people tend to remain so also.

When the first Big Five questionnaire was launched the UK in 1990, people were surprised and a little sceptical about the speed of the personality profiler; it took under 10 minutes to complete. 

This was because it was only measuring five factors and not sixteen or thirty-two personality factors.

Suffice it to say, validation studies were published and presented to the British Psychology Society by the end of the 1990s the Big Five was established as a significant and fundamental personality testing model.


N.B. The pink colour in the tables is used for the Big Five terminology recommended by Paul Sinclair. Aside from this, colour is used (hopefully) to improve presentation only, and does not relate to other personality models on this webpage.


the big five model - five 'bipolar' scales

The bold names in the left column are the recommended names (by Paul Sinclair) for these factors. Other names are used for each of the factors, which might equate to names in the left or right columns. See the OCEAN names below.

 Extraversion  vs  Introversion
 Confidence  vs Sensitive 
 Detail-conscious  vs  Unstructured
 Tough-minded  vs  Agreeable
 Conforming  vs  Creative


These scales are commonly alternatively represented by the OCEAN acronym and descriptions:

  • Openness to experience (equates to Creative, opposite Conforming above)
  • Conscientiousness (equates to Detail-conscious above)
  • Extraversion/Introversion (same as above)
  • Agreeableness (equates to Agreeable, opposite Tough-minded above)
  • Neuroticism (equates to Sensitive, opposite Confidence above)

While some psychologists refer to the OCEAN terminology it's not particularly recommended for use where people are likely to be sensitive to the words, notably 'neuroticism'. Other words in the OCEAN scale can also be perceived as judgmental or stigmatised. And while 'Conscientiousness' is technically accurate, using this word tends to influence decision-makers (notably users of psychometric testing systems) towards the characteristic and those displaying it, not least because the other end of the scale would logically be called 'Unconscientious'; better instead to refer to the scale of 'Detail-conscious - Unstructured', which carries no sense of good or bad.

It is generally more helpful to use the Big Five terms as detailed in the grid, which tend to present the scales as 'one or the other' rather than 'good or bad'.

For the sake of reference however, here is the correlation between the OCEAN Big Five factor names and the more user-friendly names. See above for the precise description correlations.

Recommended Big Five Factor terms Common 'OCEAN' equivalents
Extraversion - Introversion Extraversion/Introversion
Confidence - Sensitive  Neuroticism/Stability
Detail-conscious - Unstructured Conscientiousness
Tough-minded - Agreeable Agreeableness
Conforming - Creative Openness to experience


You will find other variations of how people refer to the Big Five Factors.

For example The Big Five according to McCrae & Costa (1987) is typically shown as:

  • Neuroticism (vs Emotional Stability)
  • Extraversion (vs Introversion)
  • Openness to experience (vs Closedness to experiences)
  • Agreeableness (vs Disagreeableness)
  • Conscientiousness (vs Lack of conscientiousness)


The following tables show the typical behaviours within this model.

Psychologists and psychometrics practitioners use the term 'Factor' to describe each of these five 'large traits' or scales.

In turn, each of the Big Five Factors contains several behaviours, which are clustered under the five main Factor headings. 

Of course each main Factor can be further broken down into 'sub traits' or 'facets', for example, Extraversion could have sub-traits such as Sociable, Competitive, Energetic and Seeking Recognition.

Each factor is named according to the 'high scoring' end of each scale.

Low scores logically indicate behaviours at the opposite side of the scale.

High scores are not good or bad.

Low scores are not good or bad.

The majority of us actually tend to score close to the middle (the 'norm').

The higher a person scores for the behavioural elements shown within each of the five factors, the more (logically) they will exhibit these behaviours, and be less able to sustain the tendencies of the low scorer. And vice versa.

Again, there is no good or bad. It's simply a measure of what we are.


the big five factors including behavioural elements

Other commonly used factor names (notably OCEAN) for the Big Five Factors are shown in Green.


low score (introversion)

high score (extraversion)

  • Reserved and shy in company
  • Able to concentrate on long tasks
  • Prefers a calm environment
  • Dislikes the limelight and attention
  • Inhibited and somewhat reluctant in teams
  • Not a natural communicator
  • Deliberate, and reflects on things
  • Lacks spontaneity
  • Open and talkative
  • Competitive, enthusiastic and persuasive
  • Enjoys a fast pace and variety at work
  • Gregarious
  • Socially active and energetic
  • Can be impulsive or indiscreet
  • Needs praise - enjoys attention
  • Can lack concentration in routine or long tasks



low score (sensitive, aka neuroticism)

high score (confidence, aka stability)

  • Unsure of self, hesitant, checks with superiors
  • Prone to anxiety under pressure
  • Dislikes making big/important decisions
  • Not ambitious, somewhat pessimistic
  • Concerned by change or the unexpected
  • May be temperamental, low emotional control
  • Nervous presenting self or own ideas
  • Relaxed, calm under pressure
  • High self esteem
  • Decisive, asserts him/herself
  • Optimistic, enjoys taking lead
  • Resilient to pressure
  • Copes with the unexpected
  • Enjoys autonomy, ambitious



low score (unstructured)

high score (detail-conscious aka conscientiousness)

  • Flexible and informal approach to work
  • Multi-tasker
  • Not detail conscious - expedient
  • Prefers 'big picture' - strategic
  • Less committed to formal tasks
  • Works well in a chaotic environment
  • Dislikes paper work - unstructured
  • Structured approach to work
  • Quality-conscious and detailed
  • Plans and forecasts - organised
  • Reliable and efficient
  • Persevering and dutiful
  • Committed to the job - striving
  • Keen to achieve goals



low score (agreeableness)

high score (tough-minded)

  • Empathetic and consensus oriented
  • Enjoys team participation
  • Tolerant of others
  • Seen as kind and generous
  • Patient and democratic with others
  • Can find disciplining others difficult
  • Can be seen as too soft or submissive
  • Naturally democratic management style
  • Self reliant and independent - pushy
  • Not a natural team player - dominant
  • Goal oriented - tough and determined
  • Capable of dealing with 'office politics'
  • Drives through obstacles
  • Somewhat impatient with weaker colleagues
  • Able to make unpopular decisions
  • Autocratic management style



low score (creative, aka openness/openness to experience)

high score (conforming)

  • Finds routines and systems constricting
  • Enjoys challenging the status quo
  • Champions change - accepts risks
  • Idealistic, with a variety of interests
  • Creative thinker and problem solver
  • Unconventional and intellectual
  • Thinks on feet, improvises
  • Follow rules and procedures
  • Risk-averse and cautious of change
  • Adapts rather than creates new approaches
  • Conservative and serious
  • Obedient to corporate methodology
  • Practical and down to earth
  • Adheres to guidelines and systems


the combinations of factors define the personality - not single scales

When using this model, as with many other personality concepts, it is the combination of scores from all of the scales that shows us how people operate and identifies their underlying preferences.

Looking at a single scale in isolation tells us hardly anything, and can be very misleading.

For example:

Although a creative (non-conformist) has the intellectual ability to be creative, if their non-conformity is combined with introversion and low confidence, they may not express their creative thoughts and ideas. 

A creative (non-conformist) who is also extravert, confident and unstructured (low detail-conscious), will not only express their ideas but may also propose quite impractical suggestions.


usage of the big five factor model

The Big Five is a very useful model for assessing non-managerial staff, but it lacks some of the rigour required for assessing people in or destined for managerial and executive roles. The Big Five model gives us an accurate and fast way of assessing the main drivers of someone's personality. But the model by itself is not able to drill down into complex management capabilities or competencies. For this we must refer more to work-related behaviours rather than 'pure' personality.

Management performance depends more on the subtle use of discretionary elements of the job, which the Big Five will not measure. The Big Five is a 'broad brush' personality methodology. A different approach is required for management assessment, to gauge the 'components' of people's behaviour and the detailed combinations of working style.

Each of the Big Five factors consists of 'sub-traits', for example, 'Agreeable' (at the opposite end of the 'Tough-minded' scale) consists of sub-traits (behavioural elements) such as 'Tactful', 'Diplomatic', 'Team-centred', 'Submissive', 'Warm', 'Friendly','Tolerant' and 'Democratic'. In typical use of the Big Five model and tests, a person's score on the 'Agreeable' scale will be an average of how they match the sub-traits. Showing the detail and variance of the sub-traits scores would entail a vastly more complex and time-consuming analysis.

The strengths of the Big Five Factor model lie in its speed and ease of use and this makes it a very useful tool for gaining a rapid overview of a person's key drivers.

The Big Five Factor model has been very well validated, and while it has shown correlations with performance in jobs, studies indicate that the correlation with particular jobs does not exceed 0.30, which accounts for no more than 15% of the variables. There is a big difference between measuring job suitability, style, etc., and measuring personality per se.

The Big Five model is a modern, widely replicated and validated methodology for understanding, explaining and measuring personality.

Various Big Five tests have been developed. The first to be launched in the UK, and one of the most popular, is the RPQ (Rapid Personality Questionnaire), which is available from various suppliers.

Here is a free Big Five mini-test (5 mins max) on the excellent website of Professor George Boeree (pronounced boo-RAY). This test gives a very quick Big Five profile and is more for understanding the model thank for serious personality assessment, although as a quick simple guide it works well.

Bear in mind that the Big Five factor headings Professor Boeree's mini-test vary slightly compared to factor names mentioned above, and correlate as follows (precise correlations in bold). Aside from 'Stability' Boeree uses the OCEAN headings:

Recommend Big Five Factor terms Boeree mini-test equivalents
Extraversion - Introversion Extraversion
Confidence - Sensitive  Stability
Detail-conscious - Unstructured Conscientiousness
Tough-minded - Agreeable Agreeableness
Conforming - Creative Openness


the big five - some notable combinations

The 'personality-based sub-types' in column one are broad generic profiles and do not relate to any particular model's definitions. Be careful not to read too much into these single-word descriptions - they provide a rough guide, not a detailed scientific correlation.

personality-based 'sub-types' will contain Big Five high scoring factors will contain Big Five low scoring factors
dependent conforming confidence, tough-minded
social leader confidence, extraversion  
intellectual extraversion conforming
submissive   extraversion, tough-minded
need for praise confidence, extraversion  
defensive   confidence, tough-minded
exhibitionist extraversion, tough-minded  
autonomous confidence extraversion, conforming
harm avoidance conforming tough-minded
supportive extraversion tough-minded
conscientious detail-conscious, conforming  
impulsive tough-minded, extraversion conforming
authoritarian tough-minded, conforming  
sensitive to criticism tough-minded confidence
persuasive extraversion, confidence conforming
completer-finisher detail-conscious, conforming confidence


'the big five' correlations with other personality models

Here are correlations between the Big Five factors and respectively the models of 16PF, OPQ and the Belbin 'team role' types.

Below first are the Big Five correlations with Cattell's 16PF model. Understanding these correlations is aided by knowing the 16PF scale definitions. As ever, single word descriptions are open to different interpretations, hence inclusion of the 16PF letter codes. An explanation of the 16PF model will appear on this page in due course.

The word 'negatively' below means that the correlation is with the opposite end of the Big Five scale concerned, for example, below, the 16PF description 'Shrewd' correlates to the opposite of the Big Five 'Extraversion', ie., 'Introversion'

big five and 16pf

Big Five Factors Cattell's 16PF descriptive equivalents
Extraversion Assertive (E)
Happy-go-lucky (F)
Venturesome (H)
Shrewd (N), negatively
Experimenting (Q1)
Controlled (Q3), negatively
Confidence Emotional (C)
Assertive (E)
Happy-go-lucky (F)
Conscientious (G), negatively
Apprehensive (O), negatively
Experimenting (Q1), negatively
Tense (Q4)
Detail-conscious Happy-go-lucky (F), negatively
Conscientious (G)
Controlled (Q3)
Tough-minded Assertive (E)
Happy-go-lucky (F)
Conscientious (G), negatively
Suspicious (L)
Experimenting (Q1)
Controlled (Q3), negatively
Conforming Assertive (E), negatively
Happy-go-lucky (F), negatively
Conscientious (G)
Venturesome (H), negatively
Shrewd (N)
Controlled (Q3)


the big five and opq (occupational personality questionnaire)

Below are the Big Five correlations with the OPQ model (Occupational Personality Questionnaire). Understanding these correlations is aided by knowing the OPQ scale definitions. As ever, single word descriptions are open to different interpretations, hence inclusion of the OPQ letter codes. Again, an explanation of the OPQ model will appear on this page in due course.

And again, the word 'negatively' signifies that the correlation is to the opposite end of the Big Five factor concerned, eg., OPQ description 'Modest' correlates to the opposite of the Big Five 'Extraversion', ie., 'Introversion'.

Big Five Factors OPQ (Occupational Personality Questionnaire) descriptive equivalents
Extraversion Persuasive (R1)
Controlling (R2)
Independent (R3)
Outgoing (R4)
Confident (R6)
Modest (R7), negatively
Traditional (T5), negatively
Change Orientated (T6)
Innovative (T8)
Emotional Control (F4)
Optimistic (F5)
Critical (F6)
Competitive (F8)
Achieving (F9)
Decisive (F10)
Confidence Persuasive (R1)
Controlling (R2)
Independent (R3)
Outgoing (R4)
Socially Confident (R6)
Modest (R7), negatively
Traditional (T5), negatively
Change Orientated (T6)
Innovative (T8)
Relaxed (F1)
Worrying (F2), negatively
Tough Minded (F3)
Optimistic (F5)
Detail-conscious Traditional (T5)
Detail Conscious (T10)
Conscientious (T11)
Tough-minded Independent (R3)
Democratic (R8), negatively
Caring (R9), negatively
Detail Conscious (T10), negatively
Critical (F6)
Conforming Persuasive (R1), negatively
Independent (R3), negatively
Outgoing (R4), negatively
Modest (R7)
Traditional (T5)
Innovative (T8), negatively
Competitive (F8), negatively
Achieving (F9), negatively
Decisive (F10), negatively


the big five and belbin 'team role' types

Below are the Big Five correlations with the Belbin team role types. Given the overlap of Big Five factors across the Belbin team role types, the correlations are shown between the Belbin types and the corresponding dominant Big Five factors. See the Belbin section above.

Belbin 'team role' type Big Five correlating scale score/emphasis

Coordinator/Chairman (CO)*

Extraversion, Confidence

Shaper (SH)*

Extraversion, Tough-minded, Creative

Plant (PL)*

Extraversion, Confidence, Tough-minded, Creative

Monitor-Evaluator (ME)

No strong correlations with the Big Five, probably because this Belbin team type is not high or low on any scale, ie., they are sober, detached, able to look at things objectively. They are most likely people with 'middle scores' across most of the Big Five scales, suggesting a balanced profile with little emphasis on any specific scale, quite a rare Big Five profile.

Implementer/Co Worker (IMP)

Detail-conscious, Agreeable, Conforming

Resource Investigator (RI)*

Extraversion, Confidence, Creative

Team Worker (TW)

Introversion, Sensitive, Detail-conscious, Conforming

Completer-Finisher (CF)

Sensitive, Detail-conscious, Agreeable, Conforming
Specialist (SP) Not correlated with the Big Five. This recently added Belbin type is based less on personality and describes a technical specialism, thus linked to specialist knowledge/ability rather than temperament.


paul sinclair biography

Paul Sinclair is the founder and managing partner of Sinclair Associates and has spent fifteen years at the leading edge of psychological profiling and performance development.  He works with companies to assess individual and team potential and develops plans to improve personal competencies.

Paul co-launched the UK's first 'Big Five' personality profiler in 1990 and published a paper on 'Personality and Performance' in the British Psychological Society's journal - Selection and Development Review, and also presented a validation of the Big Five against the OPQ and the 16PF, at the BPS conference in 1992. 

Paul has been interviewed on BBC Radio 4 and consulted on the BBC2 TV series, 'Mind of the Millionaire'.

Paul now focuses on business coaching and team building. A member of the European Mentoring & Coaching Council, Paul is based near Bath and works across the UK & Europe.

Paul's website is: and his email is

Paul's contribution of this explanation of the Big Five Factor model is gratefully acknowledged.  




FIRO-B® stands for Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation-Behaviour.

Developed by William Schutz in 1958, Schutz first used the FIRO-B® tool to assess how teams performed in the US Navy.

The FIRO-B® is an assessment tool used to help individuals and teams better understand their preferences in satisfying three basic social needs:

  • Inclusion (the degree to which one belongs to a group, team or community)
  • Control (the extent to which one prefers to have structure, hierarchy and influence)
  • Affection (one's preference for warmth, disclosure and intimacy).

For each of these factors, FIRO-B® assesses individuals as to:

  • how much they express the needs and
  • how much they want to have the needs expressed to them from others.

In this respect, FIRO-B® is measuring the three aspects of Inclusion, Control and Affection, from two 'needs perspectives' of expressing (outwardly directed behaviour towards others) and wanting (behaviour from others directed towards oneself).

The overall 'scores' from the assessment also reveal the degree to which people attain satisfaction from their interactions with others versus time spent alone.

The FIRO-B® assessment data is particularly rich in enabling understanding individual and team behaviour.

As with many other personality assessments, there are no 'right or wrong', nor 'good or bad' profiles.

By reviewing the assessment information, an individual can gain insight into what kind of teams they prefer to work in, what kind of environment they'd like to work in, and what roles they prefer in the workplace.

The FIRO-B® model and assessment tool can also provide information regarding leadership styles and areas of potential conflict.

If teams take the assessment together, they can compare the extent to which each person's preferences complement or conflict with colleagues. For example, a team member wanting a high degree of inclusion would appreciate and respond well to a manager who invites him/her to various meetings. A team member with a high degree of expressed affection is likely to work well with a colleague who seeks affection and attention.

The FIRO-B® system is a simple and elegant model that particularly assists understanding of team dynamics, greater self-awareness, mutual awareness among team-members (which relates helpfully to the Johari Window model), and team leadership development.

My acknowledgements to Barbara Heyn for these introductory notes about the FIRO-B® assessment. Barbara runs Atticus Consulting LLC in Blue Ash, Ohio, and specialises in developing teams, leadership and organisations. See also Barbara Heyn's article in the love and spirituality section - about bringing compassion and humanity to work, which is obviously closely connected with understanding and respecting personality.

FIRO-B® is a trademark of the CPP, Inc (Consulting Psychologists Press).


the birkman method®

I am grateful to Birkman International Inc. for their help in providing this summary (within which the US-English spelling of 'behavior' is used because it is appropriate for the terminology and origins of the theory).

The Birkman Method® consists of ten scales describing motivations (Interests) and occupational preferences. It also has eleven scales describing 'effective behaviors' (Usual behaviors) and eleven scales describing interpersonal and environmental 'expectations' (Needs). A corresponding set of eleven derived scales describe the associated 'less than effective' (Stress) behaviors when expectations are not fulfilled. Together, these eleven scales are titled Components.

In application, The Birkman Method® provides a method of improving personal and interpersonal effectiveness, articulating issues and resolving them, and revealing hidden assumptions that directly affect interpersonal effectiveness.

The Birkman Method® notably:

  • assesses perceptions and situational motivators

  • is non-clinical, online, valid, reliable, and without 'adverse impact'

  • identifies 'effective,' 'less than effective' behaviors and provides practical suggestions to improve personal and interpersonal effectiveness

  • provides respondents with a unique problem-solving approach that can be applied to many situations, even situations beyond the extensive report options

  • identifies the career choices most likely to appeal to the respondent

  • and is translated into 13 languages.

The core of The Birkman Method® predicts significant behavioral and motivational patterns by asking respondents about personal and social perceptions. Dr Birkman confirmed that individuals don't react to the 'real' world, but rather to their perception of it. This is the scientific response to the adage, 'perceptions are reality'.

Most researchers at the time were focused on 'why' respondents behaved the way they did. Dr Birkman was interested 'what' behaviors resulted from their perceptions. Specifically, Birkman identified work and business behaviors resulting from 'self' and 'other' perceptual responses. Ultimately, the Birkman Method® became a multifaceted, self-report tool that provides practical insights into everyday issues confronting adults as they live and work. It offers a unique way of discovering how individuals accomplish goals or miss opportunities.

origins of the theory

Roger W Birkman PhD, began his exploration of individual differences of behavior and perception while pilot and pilot instructor. His experience with the impact that misperceptions – both visual and interpersonal - had on pilot performance and student learning led him to the study of psychology. By 1950, Birkman had developed a new method of assessment called the Test of Social Comprehension. It was empirically developed from workplace interviews and observations. The instrument was designed to measure the human characteristics that he saw influence perceptions, behaviors, and motivations in normally functioning adults. Eventually, Birkman met Roy B Mefferd Jr, who was a statistician/psychometrician. Mefferd was a colleague of H J Eysenck and Mefford also worked closely Raymond Cattel, creator of the 16PF. Mefferd was the first to analyze, modify and revise The Birkman Method using factor analysis. Over the years, many more PhD psychometricians have added to the research base.

Originally, Birkman developed the scale descriptions by comparing self report item results with descriptions of likes, dislikes, and behaviors provided by third parties. Birkman then matched self-report results, item by item, with these third party behavioral descriptions. Eventually, these scales and the relationships between these scales became the working model of perceptual and interest interactions.

During the 1960s, the assessment further integrated interests and occupational measurement. This integrated assessment came to be known as The Birkman Method®. Minor modifications and improvements occurred in the following decades. In 2008, The Birkman Method was updated to current standards by combining classical test theory and item test theory to review and update the instrument. Refer to the 2008 Technical Manual for The Birkman Method® for more information.

scales used in the method

interest scales

Interest scales describe an expressed motivational construct. Individuals with high scale values tend to prefer to be engaged in activities consistent with the commonly expected responsibilities of the interest scale meaning. The scales interact to form measures of general interest beyond measures of specific interest. The scale values measure intensity of desire to be involved with these activities, not skill or proficiency with these responsibilities.

The reporting style of the Interest scales ranks Interests in order of highest to lowest values. Long bars indicate a strong preference or attraction while short bars indicate minimal interest and possibly disinterest or avoidance. The following figure depicts a typical Interest profile for a respondent.

birkman method - typical interest profile

component scales

According to Birkman's research, the Components are the constructs that significantly affect normal adults in the work environment. The following is a list of the Components titles and descriptions:


The Acceptance scales describe a sociability-based construct that addresses the manner of relating to people in groups. It includes the degree to which an individual wants to be talkative; enjoy people in groups; enjoy of social laughter; comfort in talking to strangers; enjoying parties and group activities; and approachability.


The Activity scales describe a construct that addresses preferred pace of action and aspects of style, planning and decision making. This construct includes the degree to which an individual prefers action; quick thinking; and physical expression of energy.


The Advantage scales describe a construct that includes the degree to which an individual prefers to drive for personal rewards or to share in team rewards. This construct addresses the approach to idealism, and team vs. individual approaches to winning competitions and incentives. It also encompasses cautiousness about giving trust; involvement with money (as an incentive); and seeking personal advantage.


The Authority scales address approaches to directing and influencing or persuading others in verbal exchanges. This construct describes the degree to which an individual wants to persuade; speak up; express opinions openly and forcefully; and/or argue.


Challenge involves the way in which a person approaches and understands the issues of socially correct behavior and especially social image. The scale addresses issues on managing social image and social expectation.


The Change Orientation refers to openness to new personal experiences. Individuals who score low tend to prefer repetitive effort, minimal personal disruptions, and predictable responsibilities. Individuals who score high tend to seek new experiences and explore novel approaches, even within stable environments.


The Empathy scales describe a construct the degree to which an individual is comfortable with emotional expression and involvement of feelings.


The Esteem scales describe a sensitivity-based construct that includes shyness; saying no; praising and being praised; sensitivity about correcting others or being corrected by others; getting one's feelings hurt or being embarrassed.


The Freedom scales describe a construct concerning the degree to which an individual is more conventional or unconventional in their approach to solving issues.


These scales describe an orderliness-based construct that includes the degree to which an individual insists on to giving or receiving clear direction; following instructions carefully; finishing tasks; dealing with detailed tasks; working for accuracy; and using systematic approaches.


The Thought scales describe a construct concerning the degree to which an individual approaches forming conclusions and making decisions; concerns for making the right decision the first time; and concerns over the consequences of those decisions.

construction of the component scales

This section provides one example of the scoring of The Birkman Method®. For the purpose of explaining this approach, let's create a fictitious Component named Handedness. Low scores indicate a left-handed approach to solving dexterity problems and high scores indicate right-handed preferences. The following scale uses numbers to indicate the degree to which the left hand is preferred.

Handedness: From a Left-Hander's Perspective

birkman example component

Conversely, we could explain Handedness from the right-handers perspective using the same scale. If the Handedness score (or bandwidth) is between 1 and 9, the right hand is never used and, by default, the left hand is always used (unless hurt).

Handedness: From a Right-Hander's Perspective

birkman component example 2

Scores of 1-9 and 90-99 are the pure forms of opposing preferences; they are differences of kind. For some individuals, the pure forms are more than 'preferences'. They are often viewed as the 'right' way. In terms of application, these 'differences of kind' can lead to one or more individuals becoming judgmental or unable to see things from the 'other' perspective. As you might suspect, the three middle bands (scores of 10-39, 40-60 and 61-89) are differences of degree, that is, they are blends of the two pure preferences.

Birkman crafted the expected Component scales so that individuals with 'low scale' values needed situations and relationships that precipitated one style of behavioral effectiveness and those who expected 'high scale' conditions that created the opposite productive style of response. Scales contained only descriptive information, no value judgment was attached to either end of any scale; therefore, both ends of the scale had equal value and positive cultural connotations. The scale values described how an individual needed to be treated or what type situation an individual prefers, not intensity or frequency of need alone.

The next section describes the aspects of each Component scale in more detail.

expectation (need) scales

Birkman found that when an individual was in a situation or relationship that proceeded in a manner that was consistent with their underlying expectations (needs) that individual felt good about self, was adaptable and exhibited positive, productive behaviors. When the relationship or situation was consistent with the individual's expectations, the individual frequently behaved in a productive manner. Birkman also found that when these expectations were not met, individuals tended to exhibit less-than-effective behaviors. This is consistent recent research in the related topic of Self-Regulation and the attending behavioral implications.

Ultimately, Birkman found that the conditions that created less-than-effective behaviors varied greatly. The only precise way for Birkman to define these 'frustrating' conditions was that they were not the expectation 'fulfillment' conditions. In other words, there were many ways to frustrate expectations but very few ways to fulfill them.

productive (usual) behavior scales

The typical, or usual, productive behaviors are expressed in a variety of situations and are readily observable by others. These scales describe an individual's effective style of dealing with relationships and tasks. These behaviors are typically described as positive or effective (although it may not mean the goals are accomplished). Low scale values are described as approaching relationships or tasks in one manner and those with a high scale value are described as approaching them in an opposite but equally effective manner.

It is easy to envision two equally skilled individuals, one excellent at motivating using intangible rewards and someone else who motivates excellently using only tangible rewards. Theoretically, this is similar to the FIRO-B Elements® assessment, which assumes that an individual's behavior is independent of their desired environmental conditions.

less-than-effective (stress) behavior scales

Scale values indicate an individual's ineffective style of dealing with relationships or tasks. These behaviors are typically described as 'how he acts when he is under stress,' or 'how she behaves when she is frustrated'. Within The Birkman Method®, this non-productive behavior might be practically productive in the short term, but costly in terms of relationships and long term effectiveness. In essence, there might be bodies along the way to achieving the objective. Individuals often report that they are not pleased with themselves after they use these 'less-than-productive' behaviors.

Again, scale values indicate the style of behavior, not level of ineffectiveness.

Note: Further insights into the causes of various less-than-productive behaviors have recently been studied by researchers within the self-regulation domain.

the birkman method® and MBTI® comparison

In 2008, CPP and Birkman International teamed together to develop the correlation tables between The Birkman Method® and the MBTI® Step II Facet Scales. For a complete comparison between both the MBTI® and MBTI® Step II, please refer to the 2008 Technical Manual for The Birkman Method®.

similarities and differences found in the study

Both The Birkman Method® and the MBTI® are non-clinical assessments. The technical manuals for both assessments have established and documented face, content, construct (convergent/divergent), and criterion-related validities. However, these two instruments have fundamentally different foundations and psychometric properties.

The MBTI® is an indicator of type. As such it does not measure the amount of a personality trait. Rather, the MBTI® sorts, or categorizes, individuals based on preference or type ('Bill prefers introversion.'), but not the strength or degree of preference ('Jane strongly prefers extraversion') nor degree of aptitude ('Harry is good at thinking'). The MBTI® is socially and environmentally independent, provides generic descriptions of productive and less-than-productive behaviors for each the sixteen possible types, and has no corresponding equivalent of the Birkman Expectations.

The Birkman Method® provides the degree of preference across eleven scales, and independently measures ten motivational factors. As well, The Birkman Method® reports on specific contextual factors which affect behavior (Expectations). Birkman reports contain thousands of productive and less-than-productive behavioral combinations and provide specific prescriptions for improving performance.

comparison between the birkman method® and the 'big five' factor model of personality

The Birkman Method® aligns with the FFM (Five Factor Model or 'Big Five' or OCEAN model), but also has sub-factors for Emotive, Social and Control Orientations. This provides additional insight into the personality and productiveness dynamics.

FFM Constructs ('Big Five' or OCEAN model) Birkman Orientations Associated Birkman Components
Neuroticism Emotive Orientation Empathy, Thought, Activity
Extraversion Social Orientation Esteem, Acceptance
Conscientiousness Process Orientation Structure
Agreeableness Control Orientation Advantage, Authority
Openness Change Orientation Change


appropriate uses for the birkman method®

The continuous trait-measurements, multi-dimensional properties, and predictive reporting provided by The Birkman Method® make it useful in decision-making and issues-based activities, such as hiring, selection, conflict resolution, personal development, leadership development, and team building.

birkman international - acknowledgements

I am grateful to Birkman International for their help in providing this summary.

For more about The Birkman Method® assessment or to purchase a copy of the 2008 Technical Manual for The Birkman Method® call (800) 215-2760 (USA) or email The 2008 Technical Manual contains the complete statistical analysis between The Birkman Method® and the MBTI® Step I and MBTI® Step II. The Technical Manual also covers the full developmental history, theoretical background, reliability and validity, empirical evidence, and norms for The Birkman Method® assessment. You may also visit the Birkman website at for general information about Birkman International, Inc., The Birkman Method® assessment, and other products and services. For more about the MBTI® or MBTI® Step II or to obtain a copy of the technical manuals, visit

References/sources used in compiling the Birkman summary:

Birkman, R.W., Elizondo, Fabian, Lee, Larry G., Wadlington, Patrick L., Zamzow, Matt W. (2008). The Birkman Method® Manual. Houston, TX: Birkman International, Inc.
Birkman, R.W. (1961). Development of a personality test using social and self perception inventories. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Texas, Austin.
Birkman, R.W. (1997). True Colors. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Briggs Myers, Isabel, McCaulley, Mary H., Quenk, Naomi L., Hammer, Allen L. (1998). A Guide to the Development and Use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®. Mountain View, CA: CPP, Inc.
Pittenger, David J. (1993). Measuring the MBTI And Coming Up Short. Journal of Career Planning and Employment, November, pp. 48–52.
Quenk, Naomi L., Hammer, Allen L., Majors, Mark S. (2001). MBTI Step II Manual: Exploring the Next Level of Type with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Form Q. Mountain View, CA: CPP, Inc.
Quenk, Naomi L. (1993). Beside ourselves: Our hidden personality in everyday life. Palo Alto, CA: CPP, Inc.
Stricker, L.J. & J. Ross. (1964). An Assessment of Some Structural Properties of the Jungian personality Typology. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, Vol. 68, pp. 67-72.


lumina spark

The Lumina Spark system was created in 2009 by Stewart Desson, founder of UK company Lumina Learning®. According to Desson, Lumina Spark was designed to expand on the Big Five models by measuring both ends of a measurement scale separately, i.e., not 'forcing choice' on a subject. High scores in a certain area therefore do not necessarily mean low scores in another, and participants can claim qualities at opposite ends of a polarity. The system also focuses on visual representation, creating engaging personality 'portraits' that are said to be easy for users to decode and use.

archetypes - aspects - qualities

The Lumina Spark psychometric tool uses several classifications of increasing specificity. This could be described alternatively as levels of sub-categories, each containing narrower and more detailed characteristics. This multi-level structure comprises:

  • Four coloured 'archetypes' - which are are underpinned by:
  • Eight more detailed 'aspects' - which are in turn made up of:
  • Twenty-four specific 'qualities'

The model is designed to be useable at each level depending on the subject's need and available time/resources.

The four archetypes are dived broadly by colour:

lumina spark - four archetypes

 archetype colour
Inspiring  Yellow
Commanding  Red
Empowering  Green
Conscientious  Blue


The more specific eight aspects are also categorised by colour but with a level of overlap. For example the 'Extraverted' aspect includes elements of both yellow and red.

lumina spark - eight aspects

aspect colour
People Focused Green 
Outcome Focused    Red 
Inspiration Driven   Green/Yellow  
Discipline Driven Red/ Blue
Big Picture Thinking Yellow
Down to Earth Blue 
Extraverted Yellow/ Red
Introverted Blue/ Green     


The twenty-four qualities are arranged in twelve pairs of contrasting attributes. Again, although arranged within the colour framework, their classification is flexible: a quality can have elements of more than one colour. The table therefore is shown without colours.

lumina spark - 24 qualities

(in contrasting pairs)
Intimate Takes charge
Accommodating Tough
Collaborative Competitive
Empathetic Logical
Adaptable Purposeful
Flexible Structured
Spontaneous Reliable
Conceptual Practical
Imaginative Evidence-based
Radical Cautious
Sociable Observing
Demonstrative Measured


lumina mandala - example

When taken together the twenty-four qualities are displayed within a circular 'mandala,' a visualisation designed to be quickly and easily understood by the subject. 

Here is an example of a Lumina Spark Mandala showing a tendency towards red/blue archetypes, with a strong element of Big Picture Thinking (yellow).

Lumina Spark is designed to allow for apparent contradictions in a subject's personality, and a subject may record high percentage scores in two opposing qualities.

For example, a person may record high scores in both 'collaborative' and 'competitive.'

As with many other personality models there are no 'good' or 'bad' qualities and attributes, and the language is deliberately chosen to avoid value judgements.

   lumina mandala

three personas

Lumina essentially creates 3 separate models within the same criteria: three different 'personas,' which aim to demonstrate a subject's personality in different situations.

  1. The 'underlying' persona is the subject at their most relaxed and natural, and is the persona most likely to be displayed in private.
  2. The 'everyday' persona is the manner in which the subject acts in public, and is the one most often seen by other people.
  3. The 'overextended' persona indicates the subject's personality while under stress or when confronted with unexpected situations.

lumina spark uses

The Lumina Spark model is particularly suited to team-building, employment and interviewing, and intrapersonal awareness exercises. The mandalas are designed to be easily comparable with others, so subjects can quickly 'speed-read' their own and others' personality profiles to identify areas of conflict or similarity.

The Lumina Spark model can also be fitted to organisations as a whole, creating a mandala that demonstrates, for example, a staff perception of a particular company, or their desired qualities for a company.

comparisons with other methods

The Lumina Spark model draws obvious comparisons with the ancient four humours (four temperaments) at the four colour stage, and then again with Big Five models at the aspects level. This is partly intentional, as the model is designed to expand on previous psychometric tools, and to be familiar to those who have already used such tools in the past.

The inclusion of scales of introversion and extraversion also invites comparisons with the MBTI® (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®), and Lumina can easily be viewed through a Jungian lens, although (Lumina say) the model is designed to be both easier to follow and more flexible in its classifications than MBTI®.

Lumina Spark is a product of Lumina Learning, and is distributed by qualified practitioners globally.

More information can be found at



Morphopsychology is a method of analysing human personality/mood/health by interpreting the shape and features of a person's face.

Morphopsychology should not be confused with concepts such as physiognomy (an anciently-founded loosely defined concept of assessing human character from appearance) and phrenology (assessing human character from skull/brain size and shape).

Neither is there any connection between morphopsychology and other traditional concepts which link mind and body, such as the Four Humours/Humors or Four Temperaments, except the proposition that human physiology/physicality and personality/mood are linked and so may enable analysis of the latter through the former.

Morphopsychology is not claimed to be a science. It is reasonably called a 'pseudo-science'. However, like many other concepts/systems/instruments which lack scientific validation, morphopsychology attracts and is supported by many highly professional and credible users, advocates and practitioners.

Morphopsychology might be regarded as having similar value and credibility as graphology (the study/analysis of handwriting). There are people who believe strongly in its validity and effectiveness, and there are plenty of detractors too.

Morphopsychology was named and defined in the 1930s by French psychiatrist Louis Corman (1901-1995).

Morphopsychology is a translation of the French word morphopsychologie, which Corman announced in his 1937 book, Quinze leçons de morphopsychologie (Fifteen Lessons of Morphopsychology).

Human face shape and features (front and side views) are technically called 'human facial morphology'. A practitioner/expert in morphopsychology may be called a 'morphoanalyst'.

Corman asserted that essential forces in the human body produce different facial shapes and forms. At a simple level this is undeniably true: When we smile we crease our eyes. When we frown we crease our foreheads. The human face displays more emotions and feelings than we can scientifically describe. It does this every waking moment, for as long as we live. It is not unreasonable therefore to imagine, aside from other theoretical explanations for morphopsychology, that our faces could reveal quite a lot about us as people.

Corman was influenced by the French doctor Claude Sigaud (1862-1921), specifically incorporating Sigaud's concept of 'dilation and retraction' into morphopsychology. (Both of these terms are explained later.) Claude Sigaud had earlier identified connective patterns between human sickness and facial features. As with many personality concepts, the methodology was developed essentially by reverse analysis/application of observed and recorded correlations. Cormon built on Sigaud's work, by which he developed many face/personality correlations, a very elegant structured model, and a set of rules, based on clinical observation, which became morphopsychology.

morphopsychology - basic theory

Morphopsychology theory analyses facial shape and features according to:

1. Width and depth of the face - indicating the dominant instinct of 'expansion' (growth) or 'conservation' (preservation)*

2. The 'three levels of the face' ** - indicating the main centres of interest.

3. Skin texture - indicating how the person interacts with his/her environment.

4. Firmness of the facial features - indicating activity and control.

5. Ratios between sensors (eyes, nose, mouth) and width of the face - to determine the global behaviour/behavior.

* The 'expansion-conservation' scale is fundamental within the model.
** The 'three levels of the face' are vertical sections: forehead to eyes/eyes to nose-base/nose-base to chin.

Assessment of these aspects produces an analysis according to the four morphopsychology base 'types', for which summary details are provided below:  

1. Dilated (D)

2. Lateral Retracted (LR)

3. Front Retracted (FR)

4. Retracted (R)

These 'types' relate to human development.

People possess the four types in varying degrees.

A person's age does not determine his/her dominant types.

Most of us possess one or two dominant types, although it possible for a person to possess three types of equal dominance.

Here are the four basic types in a little more detail:

morphopsychology 'type' life stage
typical face characteristics traits examples

1. Dilated (D)

baby face wide and round, big eyes and mouth, plump red flesh, plain cheeks, small thick nose extravert, needs-driven, noisy, easily angered, expansive, detail-averse, at-ease, sensual, materialistic, expansive

2. Lateral Retracted (LR)

teenage longer, diamond-shape, pronounced nose and chin, inclined forehead, prominent cheekbones slightly extravert, self-conscious, social, exploratory, learns by trial and error, slightly expansive

3. Front Retracted (FR)

adult rectangular, balanced, harmonious, vertical profile, retracted (sheltered*) eyes, nose and mouth, ripples forehead slightly introvert, responsible, cautious, thoughtful, adaptable, appropriate, conserver, perfectionist

4. Retracted (R)

old age narrow, with small deep-set eyes, thin mouth, long crooked nose, creased pale thin skin introvert, shy, discreet, complex, detailed, change-averse, frugal, socially selective, preserves personal energy

(*Sheltered refers to a the eye, nose, mouth being partly obscured when seen from the side, or a nose turned down not up, or mouth behind chin. The 'Front Retracted' term chiefly refers to these characteristics.)

The 'expansion-conservation' scale helps us to understand the four types above:

Expansion (growth/risk) is more prevalent in early life. Conservation (preservation/self-preservation) is more prevalent in later life.

However it is possible for very young people to have the wisdom and caution of an older person, just as it is possible for an older person to have the adventure and freedom of a child. A child may be 'R-dominant', just as an old person may be 'D-dominant'.

That said, generally any individual is more 'D-dominant' when young (when expansion instinct is most needed for growth) and more 'R-dominant' when old (when conservation instinct is needed to prolong life).

This is a very basic summary of morphopsychology theory. Study it in more detail if you seek to test or apply it.


uses of morphopsychology

Advocates and practitioners in morphopsychology use the concept mostly for:

I am grateful to Olivier Maillet, a qualified morphopsychology practitioner, for his help in producing this summary guide to morphopsychology. More information and help is available on Olivier Maillet's Morphopsychology website.

The main organization for defining, teaching, qualifications/accreditation and standards for morphopsychology, based heavily on the work of Louis Corman, is in France: the SFM (Société Francaise de Morphopsychologie)

Separately morphopsychology expertise exists in Spain, around Dr Julian Gabarre, an SFM graduate who maintains connections with the SFM.


other personality theories and psychometrics tests models

Review and explanation of additional personality types theories and psychometrics tests models will be added to this section in due course. If you have suggestions, or if you are a principal provider of personality testing services, psychometrics tests or personality and behavioural assessment instruments, and wish to contribute some helpful explanatory theory please get in touch.


cattell's 16PF

Here's a very brief summary.

Raymond B Cattell (1905-1998) developed his 16PF in the 1940s. Most sources indicate an original publication date of 1949, so it's been around for a while, and has gone through at least five edition revisions, which probably explains the strange letter coding sequence. The PF stands for 'Personality Factors', and there are sixteen of them, hence 16PF.

The 16PF is one of the longest-standing and most widely used personality testing systems of all. Belbin used the Cattell 16PF model in constructing his 'Belbin Team Roles' theory, model and testing instruments.

Cattell's theory asserts that every person possesses a degree of each of the following sixteen traits. Note that these traits include scale descriptions (not shown here) and terminology can vary; hence the code letters are helpful references. Cattell's 16PF personality testing instruments are available from various providers.

  1. Warmth (A)
  2. Reasoning (B)
  3. Emotional Stability (C)
  4. Dominance (E)
  5. Liveliness (F)
  6. Rule-consciousness (G)
  7. Social Boldness (H)
  8. Sensitivity (I)
  9. Vigilance (L)
  10. Abstractedness (M)
  11. Privateness (N)
  12. Apprehension/Apprehensiveness (O)
  13. Openness to change (Q1)
  14. Self-reliance (Q2)
  15. Perfectionism (Q3)
  16. Tension (Q4)

The Cattell systems also include an interpretation of the 'Big Five' factors, which the Cattell organisation refers to as 'Five Global' factors (and which mostly use different descriptive factors names).

PRISM Brain Mapping

PRISM Brain Mapping is an online neuroscience-based instrument specifically designed to identify the behavioural (US-spelling behavioral) preferences that directly relate to personal relationships and work performance. Aside from the core 'Brain Mapping' instrument, PRISM systems also embrace and offer other established profiling and HR tools.

PRISM Brain Mapping was conceived in the early 1990s for use by the medical professions in the USA to help enhance communication and rapport with patients. The creation of the tool coincided with the US national 'The Decade of the Brain' scheme, aimed at raising awareness of brain research and its benefits. The early version of the instrument attracted the attention of the business community, encouraging extensive development to meet wider commercial needs. Dr G T Viki, Senior Lecturer in Forensic Psychology at Stanford University led the development/validity studies to enhance PRISM's scales and effectiveness. Further psychological work was carried out in the UK, including preparation for the translation of the instrument into a variety of languages. PRISM is now available in English, Russian, Arabic, Chinese and Spanish, and the Indian languages, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi and Hindi. PRISM intellectual property rights are held by a nonprofit membership organization in the USA, The Center of Applied Neuroscience, which is dedicated to advancing understanding of the brain and behaviour. The instrument is now distributed globally by PRISM Brain Mapping Technologies whose offices are located near Gatwick Airport on the outskirts of London.

The core application PRISM Brain Mapping identifies people's behaviour preferences based on brain activity. Unlike traditional psychometric instruments, PRISM approaches human behaviour from the perspective of neuroscience, rather than psychological theory.

PRISM's methodology indicates an individual's natural/instinctive behaviour preferences, and also how preferences are modified and adapted when responding to perceived demands of specific situations, notably for example, in the job role.

The PRISM organization asserts that brain complexity prevents human beings being credibly divided into a fixed number of types or groups of people, who by implication are unable to act outside of their preferences. The PRISM system therefore does not categorize people or 'score' answers in the way that many psychometric instruments tend to. Instead PRISM provides users with detailed explanation as to why they approach situations and individuals in different ways. PRISM provides three distinct profiles, or 'maps', of a person's behaviour:

  • how he or she naturally prefers to behave
  • the extent to which he or she feels it necessary to modify that behaviour on occasions to achieve key objectives, and
  • the overall pattern of behaviour that he or she tends to use for most of the time.

Beyond this, PRISM's various systems offer a comprehensive range of behavioural preference analysis, by incorporating other established methodologies, and as such, PRISM's offering can be considered a battery or range system, in addition to containing PRISM's own unique neuroscience-based methodology.

Outputs/capabilities of PRISM profiling services include:

  • profile maps showing a candidate's natural preferences, adapted preferences and consistent preferences
  • Emotional Intelligence (EQ) profile
  • 'Big Five' profile
  • 26 point career development analysis chart
  • mental toughness report
  • overall profile text narrative
  • candidate profile-matching to job benchmarks (notably for recruitment screening)
  • 360-degree feedback process management, using in-house or generic competencies

PRISM's systems must be managed by a certified PRISM practitioner, which requires a two-day training/qualification programme/program. Thereafter practitioners have access to PRISM's seemingly extensive and flexible online systems and support.

The people at PRISM will be able to provide a lot more detail about their offerings, and I am grateful for their help in providing this brief summary. PRISM contact details: - - +44 (0)1892 535432 



Which stands for: Occupational Personality Questionnaire.

Coming in due course...



PARIO (oiginally named PRISM, and since changed to PARIO, to avoid confusion with a different PRISM system) is a relatively very modern personality model and psychological profiling system, developed by occupational psychologist David Sharpley in the late 1990s.

PARIO was designed to identify Individual Needs, and Patterns of Response to work demands.

PARIO was developed to address Performance at Work, and is structured somewhat differently to many traditional trait-oriented profiling systems.

PARIO draws particularly on the psychological Needs theory of Henry Murray (in turn relating to David McLelland), and George Kelly's Personal Construct theory (which is referenced and explained on this website in John Fisher's work), to produce a 24-scale model organised into Edgar Schien's three broad Career Anchors of:

  • analytical competence - in relation to problems and problem-solving
  • interpersonal competence - in relation to working with and through people
  • emotional competence - in relation to tasks and taking responsibility for and achieving them


enneagram of personality types

The nine-point model developed by Gurdjieff et al during the 1900s.

Explanation coming in due course...



Graphology is the study and analysis of hand-writing. Graphology can be used to understand personality of self and others, and has been used as an aid to recruitment and selection for many years. Interestingly graphology can also be used for self-awareness and self-development, to change and improve personality traits and behaviours. See the graphology and handwriting analysis section.



using free personality tests to create interest in seminars and workshops etc

Free personality tests of various types are becoming increasingly prevalent and available on the internet. Many require the test to be completed online, which, given the increasing numbers of employees with internet-enabled laptops, makes these tests ideal for team development sessions. Other free tests can be downloaded and used manually, such as those featured on this site.

Free tests present opportunities for training and development, but care is required when using them.

Free tests can be free for various reasons, for example:

  • 'lite' versions offered by serious psychometrics providers as 'teasers' or introductory tools
  • tests created by various providers for different purposes and available legitimately to use and share
  • (intentionally or unwittingly) unauthorised copied or 'pirated' tests which find their way onto websites or which appear to be in the 'public domain' via photocopies (unauthorised tests are obviously to be avoided since using them can incur serious liabilities)

Legitimately free-to-use tests have a place in the learning and development toolkit, but they should only be used for certain situations.

Free tests are fine for fun and for basic rough indicators, but generally (there are some exceptions) not for serious applications, nor for purposes involving sensitive situations or serious decisions, such as recruitment, career direction, counselling, or serious training and development needs analysis.

Personality tests hold a big fascination for most people - it's human nature to want to learn and discover things that we don't know about ourselves, and to have our strengths confirmed, and to have our weaknesses and vulnerabilities gently queried or explored. Tests can do all of these things - even free ones.

Personality tests can therefore introduce great interest and also stimulate lots of discussion when used in a light-hearted way in meetings, seminars and workshops, etc., but you do need to ensure that you position and explain your purpose - and the limitations of the test - carefully, so that delegates understand and feel comfortable.

People with strong (Jungian/Myers Briggs®) 'sensing' and 'thinking' personalities (engineers, adminstrators, accountants for example) will be less comfortable with vague and approximate tesst than people who have strong intuitive and empathic mindsets. Think about your type of audience before you decide on a use and an explanation. Ensure it's acceptable and suitable for the delegates.

If you ware using free personality tests 'mostly for fun', and 'just as a rough indicator' then say so. Do not position a free 'lite' test of uncertain origin and debatable scientific validity as being a reliable indicator; if you do then people will take it too seriously and you'll defeat the object - which might simply be to introduce a bit of amusement and a discussion point.

All tests - whether robust or otherwise - provide a reflection of personality of some sort, the use of which usually provokes thought, prompts discussion and possibly also invites a little self-discovery. Tests cause us to think about ourselves from a different perspective, which in itself is a liberating exercise.

Provided that the use of a test is not serious, and is positioned and explained accordingly, then it's possible to make good stimulating use of many and various free 'personality tests' that are increasingly available on the web.

Be careful to avoid unintentionally using any tests that appear free but which are actually subject to copyright and intellectual property terms of use and costs. When using free tests available on the web check that the the terms of use are appropriate for your purposes, and certainly be suspicious if anything looks too good to be true, because it might be. If in doubt seek clarification from whomever's source model or test name is referenced in the material.

There are very many free tests that can be 'positioned' for given functions (eg, management style) subject to thinking logically about how the perspective of the particular test relates to personality, style, and by implication (in this case) to management.

For example, on this website all of the free tests (such as the test based on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, the Multiple Intelligences test, and the VAK learning style test) can be used to indicate management style from a particular perspective. It's a matter of interpretation.

In this way, provided that your purpose is not serious (I repeat, recruitment, for example, is not to be trifled with) tests of all sorts can generally be used one way or another for most job functions, roles or aspects of work. It's a question of thinking about how a particular test relates to people's interests and/or what you are seeking to discover or indicate, be it management style, learning style, personality, aptitude, communications style, personal outlook, etc.

Thus, all tests - even the free 'lite' versions available on the web (MBTI® free versions, Enneagrams, Keirsey Temperament Sorter, etc) - can provide a useful management style perspective - or any other perspective - subject to understanding how the test criteria or model relates to whatever aspect of personality or work is being explored.

Additionally, if you want to include a personality test in a seminar or workshop, and are unsure where to start, it generally helps if you first ask your audience what they'd like to know about themselves, and if they already are aware of any particular frames of reference or personality models. And then seek and source tests accordingly, that are aimed at, or which enable, measuring those criteria, or which use the model concerned.

As with measuring anything involving the participation of a group of people, it's important to use a measurement model or set of criteria that your audience understands, otherwise the test won't mean much, on which point, different audiences more naturally relate to different models and personality theories.

By way of example, Carl Jung's 'Psychological Types' model is very applicable to management style and will commonly be readily recognised and understood by a healthcare audience or medical professionals. Having established such a 'fit' you can then set about finding a suitable Jungian test (and as already previously referenced on this page, a good free Jungian-type test is available from, along with some really wonderful reference material).

Free tests are useful and helpful when used appropriately, and when they are adapted and interpreted in a way that is meaningful to the audience.

It's the same as using any other tool for any other situation: first understand the perspective - the frame of reference of the audience or user - and then select and adapt a tool to fit.


personality types and tests - in summary

There are very many other personality models, psychometrics tests and concepts aside from those featured here.

If you are a provider or developer of personality and psychometrics testing materials and you'd like yours featured on this page please contact us.

Personality theories are immensely helpful in achieving greater self-awareness, and in helping yourself and others to develop personal potential, effectiveness and fulfilment, at work and in life as a whole. Explore the personality theories featured here and any others you find that interest you.

No perspective is ever completely accurate and reliable. The more perspectives we have, then the more clearly we see and understand ourselves and others.

Knowing about people's preferred styles and strengths enables us to provide people with assistance, opportunities, direction and responsibilities that fit well with their needs and motivations.

Knowing about our own preferred styles and strengths enables us to decide how and when to adapt, so as to match our behavioural style and communications to best meet the needs of others, and also to see more clearly our own true potential, and for some, our own destiny.

Please bear in mind that many psychometrics and personality assessment models are protected intellectual property and care should be taken before using related materials for training, testing, and the delivery of commercial services. The fact that these models are explained on this page must not be interpreted as permission for their commercial exploitation.

If in doubt about using any materials (whether found on this website or otherwise) you should check with the owner of the intellectual property concerned.

In addition to sources mentioned in context, references and recommended further reading include, in no particular order:

Katherine Benziger, The Art of Using your Whole Brain (1995)
katherine Benziger, Thriving in Mind (2000)
Frieda Fordham, An Introduction to Jung's Psychology (1953/59/66)
Maggie Hyde, Introduction to Jung (1992)
Carl Jung, Psychological Types (1921)
David Keirsey, Please Understand Me II (1998)
Stephen Montgomery, People Patterns - A Modern Guide to the Four Temperaments (2002)
Isabel Briggs Myers & Kathryn Briggs, MBTI Manual: A Guide to the Development and Use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (1962)
Isabel Briggs Myers, Gifts Differing (1980)
William Moulton Marston, Emotions of Normal People (1928)
R Meredith Belbin, Management Teams, Why they Succeed or Fail (1981)
Chambers Biographical Dictionary


See also:

nudge theory - discover the hidden influential factors in people's thinking

love and spirituality in management and business - bringing compassion and humanity to work

erikson's psychosocial theory of human development charisma

adams' equity theory on job motivation

benziger personality assessment model

charles handy - motivation calculus

emotional intelligence (EQ)

gardner's multiple intelligences

herzberg's motivational theory

johari window model and free diagrams

kolb learning styles

mcgregor X-Y theory

mcclelland's achievement-motivation theory

maslow's hierarchy of needs

personal change process

stress and stress management

tannenbaum and schmidt continuum

transactional analysis - eric berne and early theory

transactional analysis - recent theory

tuckman's forming storming norming performing model

VAK learning styles model

free tests and assessments materials and tools


The Belbin Team Role model and certain related teminology is ©Belbin Associates - if in doubt about your usage check with them.

Keirsey's Temperament Sorter and related Keirsey types terminology when used in certain contexts are protected trademarks and ©David Keirsey and related commercial organisations - if in doubt about your usage check with them.

MBTI, Myers-Briggs and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator are trademarks or registered trademarks of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Trust in the United States and other countries - if in doubt about your usage check with the trademark owners.

FIRO-B is a registered trademark of CPP (Consulting Psychologists Press), Inc - if in doubt about your usage check with the trademark owners.

The Birkman Method is a registered trademanrk of Birkman International Inc - if in doubt about your usage check with the trademark owners.

PRISM intellectual property rights are held by a nonprofit membership organization in the USA, The Center of Applied Neuroscience - if in doubt about your usage check with the trademark owners.

Lumina Spark and Lumina Learning are trademarks of Lumina Learning, UK.

Please bear in mind that many psychometrics and personality assessment models are (often fiercely) protected intellectual property and care should be taken before using related materials for training, testing, and the delivery of commercial services. The fact that these models are explained on this page must not be interpreted as permission for their commercial exploitation. If in doubt about using any materials (whether found on this website or otherwise) you should check with the owner of the intellectual property concerned.

Contributions of material are gratefully acknowledged: Explanation of The Big Five Personality Factors, Paul Sinclair 2006; Introduction to Firo-B, Barbara Heyn 2006; Additional Explanation of MBTI Function Dominance, Andrew Roughton 2006. Summary of the Birkman Method from Birkman International Inc., 2009.

© alan chapman, review, explanation, code 2005-2014; other trademarks and concepts and material as shown. Please retain this notice on all copies.

Please see additional referencing/usage terms below.