Against a Cognitive Function Based Personality Psychology
I practice a motivation-based form of personality psychology, studying personality psychology from the basis of trying to understand human needs and motivations. This means I do not consider personality type to be behaviour, as in, how you act or what you do on a day, and I do not consider personality type to be pure cognition, how you make decisions or how your mind “thinks” or perceives reality.
Now, to clarify, I am not disagreeing with the existence of the cognitive functions themselves as useful definitions of personality traits. I like the original jungian definitions of the cognitive functions. I am just saying, any person can use any cognitive function, and you can not argue that only certain personality types can intuit in an extroverted way.
My motivation-based approach means I understand the emotional connotations behind every cognitive function or personality trait. We are many that have developed to act in ways we honestly find stupid or tiresome. We have chores and musts and duties that suck our energy out.
My criticism against a cognitive function based personality psychology is that it makes the argument that our personality type is connected to our inherent skills or abilities. If I am good at communication, that suggests I am a Feeling Judging type. If you are good at logic, that suggests you’re an iNtuitive Thinking type. I tend to be strongly critical towards anyone who makes the argument that your abilities are the result of your type.
Do your skills make you who you are?
While you may have some natural talents and areas where you are unsuspectingly good at, the relationship between skill and personality type is far from complete. There are many who have developed to be really good in areas where their personality type should normally be very weak.
The MBTI has long been used to sort people based on personality type into the area where they are most talented, for example, extroverts have been shoved into areas that require you to be able to manage people. Still, there are many extroverts out there that are terrible at managing people or struggle in interpersonal relationships. Just as not all introverts will make good writers, not all feeling types will make good artists, and not all judging types will make good planners.
When people treat personality psychology as a matter that involves skill rather than motivation or passion, they raise the argument that skill is something inherent rather than something practiced and developed. I’m just going to say why I use a motivational based approach. It’s because motivations are the most consistent way to track personality. While our skills and abilities change and are relative to who we are around, motivations and interests tend to remain for many years.
Our motivations are interesting, because while anyone can use introverted feeling and while everyone will need to once in a awhile be able to access this cognitive function, only IXFX personality types tend to hold an intrinsic motivation and natural interest in this cognitive function.
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