Have you heard of the eight types of personalities proposed by Carl Gustav Jung?
It is no secret that one of the main concerns of psychologists, historically, has been to describe personality traits. In some cases, this has been due to the need to create more or less objective parameters with which to create useful personality profiles for personnel selection, the description of client typologies, or research on mental disorders and risk factors.
In other cases, it could be explained by less pragmatic motivations. After all, the simple fact of putting some order in the chaos of behaviors that human beings can exhibit can be, in itself, something that satisfies. That is why several psychometric tests have been developed for decades (such as Raymond Cattell’s 16 PF ) that have offered the possibility of measuring aspects of personality and intelligence systematically.
Carl Jung, however, was not interested in this type of classification as he considered it too rigid. This follower of the psychodynamic paradigm initiated by Sigmund Freud preferred to wage war on his side.
The eight personality profiles, according to Jung
At the beginning of the 20th century, when psychology was beginning to enter its adolescence, one of the most important representatives of the psychodynamic current set himself the task of describing the personality types that define us from a mystical perspective, fundamentally esoteric, and probably without taking into account the possible practical applications of their proposals.
His name was Carl Gustav Jung, and even if you haven’t heard of him, chances are you’ve once used two of the terms he made popular: introversion and extraversion.
Carl Jung and his approach to personality types
The relationship between Carl Jung, philosophy, and psychology (understood as the exploration of the spiritual and the non-material) goes back to his first years of life and lasted until he died in 1961. During this time he tried to describe the logic that makes the human psyche work and how it relates to the spiritual world, using concepts such as the collective unconscious or archetypes. It is not in vain that Carl Jung is remembered as the founder of depth psychology (or analytical psychology), a new “school” distanced from the Freudian psychoanalysis in which Jung came to participate during his youth.
Carl Jung did not want to describe physical mechanisms that allow us to predict to a lesser or greater extent how we behave. He wanted to develop tools that would allow us to interpret how, according to his beliefs, the spiritual is expressed through our actions.
That is why, when the moment of his career came when he decided to investigate personality types, Carl Jung did so without giving up his particular vision of the immaterial nature of the mind. This led him to use the concepts of introversion and extraversion, which, despite being very abstract, have generated a lot of interest.
The introverted and the extraverted personality
Normally, introversion has been related to shyness and extraversion to being open to meeting people. Thus, introverted people would be reluctant to start a conversation with someone unknown, they would prefer not to attract too much attention and would be easy prey to nerves in situations in which they must improvise in front of many people, while extraverted people would tend to prefer situations socially stimulants.
However, Carl Jung did not define the introverted and extraverted personality by focusing on the social. For him, what defined the introversion-extraversion personality dimension were the attitudes towards subjective phenomena (fruits of the imagination and one’s thought) and objects external to oneself (what happens around us).
Introverted people, according to Carl Jung, are those who prefer to “withdraw into themselves” and focus their attention and efforts on exploring their own mental life, be it fantasizing, creating fiction, reflecting on abstract topics, etc. The extroverted personality, on the other hand, is characterized by showing greater interest in what is happening at every moment on the outside, the unimagined real world.
Thus, introverted people would tend to prefer being alone than in the company of unknown people, but exactly because of their shyness (understood as certain insecurity and a high concern for what others think of oneself), but as a consequence of what that makes them introverted people: the need to be interested in these people, maintain a certain degree of alertness for what they can do, look for topics of conversation, etc. Extraverted people, on the other hand, would feel more stimulated by what happens around them, regardless of whether it has to do with complex social situations or not.
The four basic psychological functions
In Carl Jung’s personality types, the introversion-extraversion dimension is mixed with what he considered to be the four psychological functions that define us: thinking, feeling, perceiving, and intuiting. The first two, thinking and feeling, were for Jung’s rational functions, while perceiving and intuiting were the irrational ones.
From the combination of each of these four functions with the two elements of the introversion-extraversion dimension, Carl Jung’s eight personality types arise.
Carl Jung’s personality types, published in his 1921 work Psychological Types, are as follows.
1. Introverted thinking
People in the reflective-introverted category are much more focused on their thoughts than what is going on beyond them. They are specifically interested in abstract type thoughts, reflections, and theoretical battles between different philosophies and ways of seeing life.
Thus, for Jung, this type of personality is the one that is the popular culture we could relate to the tendency to philosophize and the concern for the relationships between ideas.
People belonging to the introverted-feeling personality type are not very talkative, but they are nice, empathetic, and have no special difficulties in creating effective bonds with a small circle of people. They tend not to show their attachment, among other things due to the lack of spontaneity when it comes to expressing how they feel.
As in the rest of the personalities defined by introversion, the sensitive-introverted personality is characterized by being focused on subjective phenomena. In this case, however, these phenomena are more related to the stimuli received through the senses than to feelings or abstract ideas. According to Carl Jung’s definition, this personality type usually describes people who are engaged in art or crafts.
In this type of introverted-intuitive personality, what the person focuses on are fantasies about the future and what is to come … at the cost of not paying attention to the present. These people would be more dreamer characters, who show detachment from immediate reality and prefer to give space to the imagination.
5. Extraverted thinking
This type of reflective-extraverted personality is defined by the tendency to create explanations about everything from what the individual sees around him. This means that these rules are understood as immovable principles on how objective reality is structured, for which this type of person would have a very characteristic way of seeing things that change very little over time. Furthermore, according to Carl Jung, they try to impose this vision of the world on other people.
This sentimental-extroverted category would be made up of highly empathetic people, who easily connect with others and who enjoy the company a lot. According to Jung, this type of personality is defined by the fact that it is related to very good social skills and a low propensity for reflection and abstract thought.
In this type of sensitive-extroverted personality, the search for new sensations is mixed with experimentation with the environment and with others. People described by this personality type are highly pleasure-seeking in interaction with real people and environments. These individuals are described as very open to experiences they have never had before, so they show an opposite disposition to those who oppose what is unfamiliar to them.
Carl Jung’s last personality type, the intuitive-extroverted type, is characterized by the tendency to undertake all kinds of projects and adventures of medium or long duration so that when one phase ends, one wants to start another immediately. Travel, business creation, transformation plans… the prospects for the future related to interaction with the environment are the focus of these people’s concerns, and they try to get the rest of the members of their community to help them in their endeavors ( regardless of whether others benefit as much as oneself or not).
Are Jung’s Personality Types Useful?
The way Carl Jung created these personality types is a far cry from what is attempted today, based on statistical analysis and research involving hundreds of people. Neither in the first half of the 20th century did the methods and tools exist to create models of personality with some robustness, nor did Jung’s thought ever fit in with the way of investigating that is followed in scientific psychology, very concerned with creating objective criteria to delimit personality traits and test theories by contrasting expectations with reality.
Out of Carl Jung’s eight personality types has emerged the Myers-Briggs Indicator, and the concepts of introversion and extraversion have greatly influenced leading individual difference psychologists, but these descriptions are by themselves too abstract to predict typical individual behavior. people. Sticking to these types of definitions of personality can easily make us fall into the Forer effect.
However, the fact that Carl Jung’s proposal has almost non-existent scientific value does not mean that it cannot be used as a philosophical reference, a way of seeing ourselves and others that is suggestive or poetic. Of course, its objective value is not greater than that of any other classification of personality types that a person not trained in psychology or psychometry can make.
- Clay, C. (2018). Labyrinths: Emma, Her Marriage to Carl Jung, and the Early Years of Psychoanalysis. Madrid: Three Points Editions.
- Frey-Rohn, L. (1991, 2006). From Freud to Jung. Mexico: Economic Culture Fund.