Personality Type

Alison Manheim

From the Boardroom to the Bedroom

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a psychological assessment tool invented by Katherine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers. It is based upon the work of psychologist Carl Jung. Most people first hear about the tool in their college's career counseling office, where it is often used to help people find work that is suited to their innate personality or personality type.

The MBTI uses a series of questions to assess four different aspects of personality. A person is categorized as being Extraverted or Introverted, Sensing or Intuitive, Thinking or Feeling, and Judging or Perceiving.

"We bring who we are as people into our relationships," explains Barbara Barron-Tieger, co-author of Just Your Type: Create the Relationship You've Always Wanted Using the Secrets of Personality Type (Little, Brown, 2000). Barron-Tieger realized the romantic potential of the MBTI when she first encountered it over 20 years ago. In fact, many people who take the test as part of career counseling immediately want to apply it to their love relationships.

It's tempting to think of personality type as a kind of horoscope. There's the same feeling of "Yup, that's me!" that you feel when reading your profile, whether it's describing an ESTJ or an Aries. But unlike a horoscope, you arrive at your type (sometimes with the help of a counselor trained in type indicators, sometimes by reading about type in a book and assessing yourself) by examining your responses to the series of questions. And unlike horoscopes, which tend to be limited in scope, type influences every aspect of your personality, including how you relate to others, how you take in information, and how you communicate.

Loving Your Letters
"The earlier we learn about our types, the better," says Barron-Tieger. "We are not all the same person," she adds. As part of her research for the book, Barron-Tieger surveyed hundreds of couples of all ages and all lengths of relationships in order to discover the joys and pitfalls of each of the 16 possible type combinations (such as INTP with ESFJ). "All relationships have their struggles, and all people have their strengths and weaknesses," she explains.

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