Home | “Is any of this based on research?”

Hey everyone, I’m Erik Thor, an expert on using personality psychology for flow and personal development.

“Is any of this based on research?”

Hi Eric,
I have been trying to learn about MBTI for awhile now and it seems like every website has a different theory on how it all works. Do you know if any of this is based on research? 


The thing about these kinds of theories are that they do not emerge from research but from self-reported ideas from people that try to explain their thought patterns and how they think. The most established research on different ways of thinking has been done by Howard Gardner as he worked on his theory of multiple intelligences. He and Jung both argued that the theories should not be held as science, but that they should be understood more like biographical or literary work. Most of these theories are purely subjective categories and terms that may not have any place in science. But they can still seem meaningful to an individual, just as any work of fiction or literature could teach us about people. It doesn’t have to come from science to add meaning and offer growth.
Jung was interested in archetypal patterns in thinking, similarities and differences in how we act and make decisions. And there are tons of different opinions on how these things are best organised. Gardner said we could look at people with brain damage and we can look at and give good arguments for how the brain is best divided. But because of how complex the mind is, and because of how unique it is for each person, a 100% answer will never be possible. Still, I don’t think that’s a reason to frown, I’m kind of relieved really.
Despite this, I’ve worked hard to read and study neuroscience and genetic research on the human mind. There is tons of research on different networks and different ways for the mind to signal and reward us to take certain behaviour. When studying neuroscience, what I learnt was that, while anyone can come up with a definition for anything… A good definition about personality psychology must be connected to health and flow. A personality type is a definition of a positive state for an individual person, like an INFJ should strive to be in an INFJ state of mind. They should avoid an ESTP state of mind. This is due to the stress and anxiety that the mind will experience in those conditions. Overwhelm, restlessness, antsiness, you’ve probably experienced it.

My personal goal when formulating theories and definitions are:

– That my definitions are relatable and that people can recognise themselves in what I say
– That my definitions are as clear as possible, so that people can easily tell the functions apart
– And that my definitions make sense from a personal growth perspective, and that the definitions can give people an idea about how to be more healthy. How to feel more confident, how to make better decisions, and how to be more proactive.
Bad definitions then are all over the internet. The MBTI and modern jungian theories constantly give the impression that a person is doomed to be a certain way, I.e, a perceiver is doomed to be lazy and to struggle with inaction or to always be late. And if they ever grow out of that, it must be because they develop their Judging. Me, personally, I think a perceiving type performs better and is more proactive in an adaptable environment. An environment that accommodates their need for scouting out options and adjusting to circumstance. That’s how I separate myself from the rest of the theories. Now, you could say “what’s the value of a definition like that?” I am moving away from being a typology to being an actual psychology. A study of the psychology and development of the types, rather than a categorisation scheme of the types.
Well, unlike all other definitions I’ve come across. It adds a dynamic dimension to each type and it adds a range in which we can study INFJs who are out of touch with their judging function. And the issues and health consequences that come about as a result. That means I can offer advice on how an INFJ can become more proactive and decisive. Other theories can only offer a category, that has no value beyond being simply a category and a starting point for reflection. I see myself going further than most and changing the tradition of typology to have more value for personal growth and the pursuit of happiness.
I don’t see my work necessarily becoming a science or an established research, that’s not my goal or expertise. But I’m open to and want other people taking my theories and finding scientific support for them, or showing me issues and flaws based on scientific studies. That way I can try to connect my studies to modern psychology and neuroscience. What I recommend you to do is think critically, very critically. Think about what you read online, ask yourself, how good is this definition, does it help me in any way. How does it fit with my experience? And how dynamic is it? If it’s a stereotype, toss it out of the window. If it’s too much theoretical jargon, toss it out too. You want it to have and to add meaning to your life and to your personal experience. And if it doesn’t, it’s not for you.
Best wishes,

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