Who are you, really? The puzzle of personality | Brian Little

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  • Auburn
    • Type: TiNe
    • Development: l--l
    • Attitude: Adaptive

    As I am excited to discuss topics in more depth now, on this new playform/forum, I’d like to indulge a bit of commentary related to the field of psychology by extension of some of its actors and proponents. This TED talk helps illustrate a point.

    Brian Little is a TeSi l-ll Seelie male, from what I can gather or is at the least doubly extroverted (Je+Pe) in some manner. For those of us familiar with vultology it’s quite striking and apparent, but he spends the latter half of the TED discussion elaborating on his alleged introvertedness.

    I believe he’s an example of someone who has bought into the narrative of Trait psychology at a very personal level, and has been using it from a self-centric perspective to explain his quirks to himself, in such a way as to make sense of his reality and place among people. As many (many) do, he has adjusted the definitions to his favor and cherry-picked ones that match his quirks and created his own version of the system.

    For example he elaborates that “Introverts are like [this]” where “this” is a series of personal anecdotes they’ve substituted or supplemented into the definition. This is what I call reverse-deduction in this article. He is very selective in what traits he affiliates with, and which he assigns to introverts in general. And I think they can be summed up as:

    • Sensitivity to Stimuli (despite having a lot of energy)
    • Meticulousness in speech (despite talking a lot)
    • Social Anxiety (fear/withdrawal from crowds and people)

    We know better than to count sensitivity to stimuli as introversion, as we see this emerge both from Se and Fi in the form of the “persistence effect” and in “permeability” respectively. And we know that meticulousness of speech, while possibly a trait of Ji, does not mean Ji is the primary function. And the social anxiety is so irrelevant that it scarcely deserves mention!

    All the while he ignores the obvious fact of his high enthusiasm, high energy, high talking speed, and engagement. To him, so long as he feels like he doesn’t really wanna be there, all of his energy can be considered an exertion. But this is true of someone with general anxiety, independent of any other factors. A self-confident, non-anxious introvert may not bother giving a speech and may not want to crawl 800 feet underground… and yet speak their words with a methodical pace and with plenty of pauses to reflect. Sam Harris is an example of an introvert without social anxiety. Brian’s an example of an extrovert with social anxiety.

    Big Five / OCEAN

    It is especially discouraging to me when I see “experts” get it so wrong. Susan Cain is not much better, and even Jordan Peterson’s understanding of personality differences through the Big Five is rather elementary. The Big Five is essentially a Temperament theory done in a more scientific way, but nonetheless still fundamentally limited in depth of explanation. It cannot go deeper into a proper psychoanalysis, and it’s disheartening that it’s the most accepted psychometric at present, as it shows me how far behind the field of psychology is.

    I hope to share some more thoughts I’ve had on this and other models. What do you guys think of Brian’s talk? Maybe someone has a more positive opinion. Do you know of any people who swear up and down they’re “[ insert personality ]” because they match a few particular attributes?

    • This topic was modified 2 years, 3 months ago by Auburn.
    • This topic was modified 2 years, 3 months ago by Auburn.
    • This topic was modified 2 years, 3 months ago by Auburn.
    • This topic was modified 2 years, 3 months ago by Auburn.
    • This topic was modified 2 years, 3 months ago by Auburn.
    • This topic was modified 4 weeks, 1 day ago by Auburn.
    • Type: NeFi
    • Development: l---
    • Attitude: Unseelie

    I do know people who swear up and down that they have certain personality traits. Usually for the typical reasons i.e. they’re introverted because they feel like antisocial weirdos, they’re intuitive because they don’t want to be boring, they’re thinkers because they don’t want to be stupid or are capable of complex analysis, etc etc.

    This Brian Little guy, although clearly a TeSi, could very well be introverted according to Big Five, since the original Big Five model really only seems to be measuring social introversion. Anyone subscribing to the Big Five model probably won’t have the same perspective on certain personality traits as you or many others who are into other forms of (Jungian) typology.

    I would have to agree with you in general as far as Big Five goes. However, because it is done in a scientific way, it obviously sees some use by psychologists, particularly when it comes to diagnosing personality disorders.  As a side note, Jordan Peterson seems to be trying to use his success to popularize the theory and get ordinary people to take the test on his website. Furthermore he seems to present a model that is really more of a Big Ten than a Big Five, dividing each trait into two sub-traits.

    For example:

    Extraversion is divided into Enthusiasm (closer to what we might call cognitive extraversion) and Assertiveness (more like social extraversion). This addresses the cognitive/social dilemma.

    Neuroticism is divided into Withdrawal (the tendency to avoid in the face of uncertainty) and Volatility (the tendency to become irritable and upset when things go wrong). This adresses an issue I have noticed where introverts score relatively low on “neuroticism” despite being very neurotic, because they are not as “volatile” in their behavior, even when they are emotionally or psychologically unsettled.

    This “Big Ten” approach seems to largely solve a lot of the issues with the original Big Five, although perhaps not completely.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 3 months ago by Spaceman.
    • This reply was modified 2 years, 3 months ago by Spaceman.
    • Type:
    • Development:
    • Attitude:

    I agree!

    • This reply was modified 4 weeks, 1 day ago by mileen.
    • Type: FiSe
    • Development: ll--
    • Attitude: Unseelie

    I could see how an extraverted Delta who’s an academic, such as this Brian, could consider themselves an introvert. Basically just like you (Auburn) were saying, he focuses on aspects he considers to define extraversion, such as needing stimulation, which does have some truth to it; but he seems to think that he isn’t an extrovert because he doesn’t like to party a lot or do extreme sports or take risks, (or lick elbows) and he prefers to spend time ‘in the quiet spaces on the second floor’. So essentially, it depends on how one defines terms, e.g. “extraversion”, “introversion”, “stimulation”.  His Te does need stimulation–or perhaps “interaction” is better, and he seems to do well with it in teaching and giving talks (even if he has anxiety, which any type can have).

    An issue in psychology (and somewhat in biology, which is one step “harder” of a science) is that things we wish to quantify or characterize, tend to not have physical properties which can be objectively measured–such as temperature, pH, mass, or chemical properties–but are more of abstract concepts. Making observations on them is much more subjective. They often seem to occur along a continuum; and even if they are normally distributed, as Brian mentioned of the Big 5 traits, which is good for doing statistics, observing these traits in the first place is still dependent on the observer’s opinion and personal understanding of what they mean.

    The most accurate way to measure personality traits, then, (using conventional means) as far as I know is what was utilized in creating the Big 5. It makes sense, then, that the Big 5 research was published in a scientific journal. In science, when you measure things, you should ideally perform multiple measurements, for the sake of accuracy and precision. So in creating the Big 5, to the best of my knowledge, they had multiple people describe each person, so they could see which traits were most commonly applied to each person. It is better than just one person’s opinion–but it still is an opinion. They also condensed all the adjectives used by participants to describe other participants, into clusters, which seemed to convey a common meaning or essence. This is again opinion-based but is considered valid on the basis that most people agree. As in, most people could agree that “talkative”, “gregarious”, “outgoing”, “loud”, “assertive”, and “domineering” could all be synonymized, or lumped into “extraverted”.  But not everyone would agree, and there are reasons for this, as was alluded to. For example, while most people would synonymize “shy” with “introverted”, we know that there is not a 1:1 correlation between shy people and introverted people, especially if you use concepts such as “cognitive introversion”. Nevertheless, despite its weaknesses, five main clusters of traits did emerge after many participants behavior was assessed by many others. Minus the assertive-turbulent scale, the remaining four scales bear striking similarity to Jung’s cognitive functions!

    Personally, I am a little surprised and perhaps disappointed that it is not more often spoken about that four of the Big 5 traits are nearly identical to the JCF or the version of which MBTI is based on. (Yet all over the internet, droves of pepole go to 16 Personalities to determine their “MBTI type”, whilst that site actually measures the Big 5 )

    I often hear it proclaimed that the Big 5 is *better* than MBTI, because “it’s scientific”. Yes, it was created by a scientific study, although it is a soft science, the main weakesses of which, I have attempted to describe above. Looking at all this, I find it interesting that the same 4-5 dichotomies have emerged when describing human personality psychology, even though via completely different roads. I am personally a fan of empiricisms, so I prefer the most objective method possible. That might end up being from brain-scans or genomic studies, but those haven’t fully borne themselves out yet. That’s also potentially complicated, because the most observable traits behaviorally, might not be directly caused by biological or genetic factors, but some of their subcomponents or sub-traits, might be (Props to those who made sub-traits out of the big 5 traits).  This does improve the problem where people overemphasize some components of a trait, while underemphasizing others, leading to disagreements on whether person X displays trait Y, or is actually more Z.

    For this reason, measuring traits at lower, or more directly biologically phenomenological, level seems desirable. This is one thing I appreciate about Cognitive Type. It is more objective to observe vultological signals than, e.g. trying to get everyone to agree on what extraversion is. Case in point, professional psychologist Brian’s opinion of his own self is that he’s an introvert; yet his vultology says extravert, possibly double-extrovert. So who’s right? Now, I do not actually know how the signal clusters in CT were created. I have a basic idea from the background I’ve read, but I would be interested to know if there’s a mathematical equation, or was it just done by informal observation of how frequently each signal occurred together with every other signal in individual persons. This to me just seems like a way to create a typology system from scratch, with variables that can be measured *close to* objectively (people still do disagree on vultology signals sometimes, of course), giving an empirically measured assessment of an indivdual subject’s “type”, wihtout relying on people’s opinions of other people’s personalities. The functions of CT are, egads, again strikingly similar to these functions that Jung thought he saw, granting the whole “thing” still more validity, but if they turn out to differ from the JCF in fundamental ways when empirically studied, I think it is worthy of realizing this, even if it makes the functions less intuitive or pop-culture trendy.

    • This reply was modified 4 weeks, 1 day ago by a.k.a.Janie.
    • Type: TiNe
    • Development: l-l-
    • Attitude: Adaptive

    This is a rather messy post, but I do not have much time, sorry. I can edit later

    Big 5 is build on a kind of consensus among humans around the world that these 5 factors are universal and are traits that can exist independent of each other (that extroversion is high does not imply anything at all about the other traits, you can be high or low on openness e.g.) And that the 6 facets that constitute each trait on the other hand tend to be there if one of the others do. This is what is implied in a typology, or at least is should be what one could expect, that if you have the trait of Ni , fx being into metaphysics then you should also have some of the other traits, not so proactive, a bit slower, etc…….. because this is the ingredients of Ni.

    Psychology as a science has not yet found any types, i.e. clusters of traits. Only traits.

    Take the oldest typology that exist, astrology, usually if one think that a person is a typical Sagittarius, it is because he has one or some of the traits, maybe he is enthusiastic and curious about philosophical questions. but you would also say that he is typical if he travels a lot. But are people who travels necessary into philosophy? And do they philosophers love horses? (a Sagittarius trait)

    The Big-5 traits were found by making factor analyses on all the words that people use to describe themselves and others with. And the groups of dichotomies that stood out was tested and it was seen that ones score of each trait tended to not change very much during life.

    And BTW, there is no personality qualities that cannot be closely associated with one of the five factors, e.g. If there were then there had to be added a 6th factor (but only if that quality did not tend to appear proportional to some other trait in the model) or else it would not be correct to claim that the model covers the big fives of human personality.

    So what CT implicitly claims is that there is some structure called “Te/Fi” that contains some tendencies that are clearly different from Fe/Ti so that the person who has Te/Fi will also tend to have the other qualities to some degree. So that could be a mechanistic worldview, but then are people with that trait often more extroverted? jumping more to fast conclusions? I wouldnt say. And I dont think that CT would say. It all depends on the other functions and their development. So some of the Te/Fi traits can “mix” with some of the traits on one of the P-axis, and here comes the biggest challenge for CT – how will this huge amount on traits manifest? It is still very difficult to predict anything just by knowing a persons type. A Si-dom can be a crazy guy like David Lynch, who should have thought. And especially it would not be the case that people with Te will tend to show Fi traits, which for must part are the farthest away one can come from Te (there are not many fairy-like mechanics).

    The problem with any typology is that they are more or less arbitrary. CT is the least arbitrary maybe, therefore i like the system and how it evolves, and how Auburn shows the courage to change direction when confronted with some limitation in the system.

    But there is a very long way to go before CT has a construct validity that comes just a bit close to Big 5.
    Fx I really struggle to understand what “Te/Fi-ness” is. I tend to think or intuit that is something that can be grasped, but when it comes to words, I would not know which ones to use.

    I am pretty sure that there is no concept in the English language that covers what it is. And some schools of though claim that before we have a concept for a phenomenon that phenomenon do not exist in our consciousness. So even if there IS a phenomenon (Te/Fi) people will not know about it. Like childhood e.g., not so long ago children was not considered persons before they were teenagers, and it was no big deal to loose one of them, and there were no name for that part of life. We only see snow as hard snow or wet snow but the Eskimos have a huge variety of different kinds of snow, and so they can see it (according to that philosophy).

    So maybe there is a cluster of traits that seems to go together so that when a Te-guy introverts he do so in a biotic way, he will leave his cold mechanic approach to life and be able to see essential values that transcends logic and causality that he use when dealing with the world, and in a way that the Fe-guy is not able to. I like the idea, because I see Te and Fi vultology go together which is such a tremendous thing, and it seems to imply the psychology that I described must be the case, that there must be a “Te/Fi-ness” but if I separate my thinking from CT I do not see it in people I meet. What I see is that more than often, if I want a Te person to look inwards I have to speak in Ti terms more than Fi, as he/she will tend to prefer a logical explanation of the inner world.

    By combining how you score on the five factors you will get a huge amount of “types”, only it is not types, its just a group of traits. And you can be high/low, very high/low or extreme on any trait.  But their combinations are very interesting. But I have to go for now.  Have a meeting….




    • Type: FiNe
    • Development: ll--
    • Attitude: Unseelie

    Personally, I don’t think it makes much sense to say that Brian Little is wrong when he says he’s an introvert even though he’s an extrovert in CT terms. He’s simply using a different meaning of the word introvert, and to be fair, his usage of the word “introvert” is more in line with The Big Five and the way people most commonly use it. Similarly, I don’t think The Big Five is “wrong” – it’s just measuring something different than what CT is measuring.

    It would be interesting to take a deeper look at the differences between The Big Five and CT. I agree that The Big Five is mainly about temperament, which I don’t see as being a strike against it. I think temperament is a very interesting concept that deserves study, and it seems to be more consistent across people’s lives than personality. But I have read that making clear distinctions between temperament and personality has proven difficult. I’m not really sure where CT would fall in all of this. It seems related to both temperament and personality while also being different than both of them. I guess the theory is that your CT type (sorry for the RAS syndrome) stems from your cognition and that can have an affect on your personality and/or temperament? What do you think, @Auburn?

    I have read about some studies that have found “types” in the sense of find clustering of certain traits. But it doesn’t seem to be well-established yet.


    Some relevant research that might be interesting to explore:






    • Type: TiNe
    • Development: l--l
    • Attitude: Adaptive

    fayest! 🙂 good to see you.

    You’re right that “right” or “wrong” are not objective terms, but contextual (system-dependent) terms, and Brian Little may classify as introverted or extroverted depending on the system of measure. The OP was a while ago but I think that was part of my initial point — to show how it is that, depending on how you parse out traits, you can land anywhere. And the arbitrariness of these parsing differences is certainly problematic.

    I also don’t I think the Big Five has truly solved this parsing matter, since it establishes consensual adjective clustering among people — which may or may not have a physical link to the biology of humans – which I hold should be prioritized in the establishment of static or innate typology. Without establishing a good link to some biological origin point, the 5 categories remain at a certain level of emergence only, and can vary with time. Which is fine, but it shouldn’t be understood as more than what it is (i.e. not the hallmark of personhood). It’s one’s behavioral classification within a broadly consensual human language descriptive system. It’s like a democratic process for generalizing about human beings, by surveying how humans describe each other. All methods of this variety have instrumental value, but I think they have a natural ‘cap’ when it comes to making progress regarding the inception of cognition from neural circuitry.

    I guess the theory is that your CT type (sorry for the RAS syndrome) stems from your cognition and that can have an affect on your personality and/or temperament? What do you think Auburn?

    Oy, tough question!

    Some of this is semantics but I’ll try my best to give my own brief definitions (I don’t know if this aligns with other usages). I would say that personality is the sum total of all factors that go into the constitution of personhood. That would make personality a holistic category which is unspecific in what it describes. I would then have to further divide personality into subcomponents, including (but not limited to):

    Personality = Nature x Nurture

      •  Nature:
        • 1: innate cognition
        • 2: innate physiology
      • Nurture:
        • 1: cognitive development
        • 2: emotional fixations
        • 3: emergent temperament (largely a result of 1 and 2)

    On the nature side of things:

    Innate cognition can involve things such as: cognitive type, autism, neurodiversity, etc. Innate physiology can involve things like hereditary schizotypal tendencies, hereditary inclinations towards anxiety, depression and aggression. Hormonal profiles, and what that does to personality. These are part of ‘nature’ from the emotional side of things.

    On the nurture side of things:

    Cognitive development can involve things like: CT’s dev levels, actualizing mental areas involved in spatial coordination, language centers, visual centers, executive centers, etc. These areas can be more or less ‘wired’, and when not wired, people will have deficiencies. Emotional fixations can involve attachment styles, learned/habitual coping mechanisms, so called personality disorders, traumas and so forth (i.e. enneagram overlap).

    Now.. emergent temperament is, to me, some sort of aggregation of all the above things within a specific metric system, collapsing all that complexity into a final value on a set number of behavioral spectra. I typically don’t like temperament because it’s so face value and it lacks any psychodynamic understanding of cause. But I guess that must be why it’s also attractive in many ways to academics, since it’s so straightforward.

    I don’t know if this answers the question, but it’s a rough outline of how I parse out the matter. But my understanding is also evolving as I learn more.

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 4 days ago by Auburn.
    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 4 days ago by Auburn.
    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 4 days ago by Auburn.
    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 4 days ago by Auburn.
    • Type: TiNe
    • Development: l-l-
    • Attitude: Adaptive

    @fayest42 I have seen the studies that I think you mean, they found 4 clusters of traits that showed some significance, but I found those “types” so uninteresting and useless that I cant even remember what they were, unfortunately the clusters that came up did not have any resemblance to any CT or MBTI types.

    Temperament has its own meaning in CT, like extroversion/introversion has, which I think can bring unnecessary confusion (I think it would be better to have more specific terms for specific CT concepts).
    In big 5 extroversion is a trait that consist of the facets: warmth, gregariousness, assertiveness, activity, excitement-seeking, positive emotions. Usually they go together but you can have positive people that are not so assertive, and assertive and active people that are neither gregarious or express positive emotions and any other combination. It would be interesting to see exactly how this differ from the CT definition (pardon if this distinction already has been made).

    I would say that usually temperament refers to behavior traits as impulsiv/careful, flexible/rigid, exited, violent/peaceful etc and wouldn’t it be right to say that these traits are part of ones personality?

    Maybe C,E,A in Big 5 can be seen as temperament to some degree , but Openness is more a mindset (more about cognition actually) and Neuroticism does not need to express itself in behavior, but in how one feels.

    In CT a connection is drawn between Big 5 and SNTF (and E/I). I only see a little similarity, especially after agreeableness has been been established as a separate dimension in CT.

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 4 days ago by sekundaer.
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