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Other approaches to the study of personality (I) – Early days and MBTI

Early days

The study of personalities is not something new but rather a subject that has intrigued human beings since ancient times. There has always been an attempt to explain or classify the way people act, and throughout history, several theories have been developed about these different types of behaviors.

The Greeks and Romans were some of the first interested in this topic. The theory of the four temperaments was outlined by the physician and philosopher Hippocrates (460–370 BC) and later supplemented by the physicist Galen. The idea came from studying the four essential elements of nature, earth, water, fire, and air. According to this theory, our body comprises four basic liquids or substances, which are also called humor: black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, and blood. 

A healthy human being should have a correct balance of these fluids. Depending on which of these substances predominates in our body, we will incline towards one of the four types of temperaments: sanguine (blood), melancholic (black bile), choleric (yellow bile), or phlegmatic (phlegm).

Another of the great researchers in this field was Carl Jung (1875-1961). Inspired by the four temperaments, he published his work “Psychological Types” in 1921, seeking an approach to this issue from the perspective of clinical psychoanalysis. 

MBTI bases

Jung’s book proposed that people can have two types of attitudes, but at different levels, introversion and extroversion. This division is not related to a person’s way of talking but rather to energy management. An introvert directs her/his energy inward, through thoughts or internal states. In contrast, an extroverted person directs her/his energy outward toward people and experiences. 

In addition to these two concepts, Jung also defined four possible functions or ways to deal with the world, both internal and external: sensing, thinking, intuition and feeling.

Through the functions of thinking and feeling, we can decide or judge the world, and through the functions of feeling and intuition, we can collect information and perceive the world. 

By combining attitudes and functions, you could define the 8 Jung Personality Types:

  1. The extraverted thinking type
  2. The introverted thinking type
  3. The extraverted feeling type
  4. The introverted feeling type
  5. The extraverted sensation type
  6. The introverted sensation type
  7. The extraverted intuitive type
  8. The introverted intuitive type

Jung’s ideas were taken in 1942 by Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katharine Briggs. None of them was a psychologist, but together they developed a system that made it possible to understand and interpret a person’s personality. The test they developed is called the Myers Briggs® Type Indicator (MBTI®) and, like DISC, is widely used in recruitment or training processes.

After answering approximately 125 questions, a person can determine their predominant personality type and preferred behavior type. The personality will then be a combination of some functions mentioned above plus two others added by the authors, judging and thinking. The MBTI orders these psychological differences into four sets of opposing pairs: extrovert (E) or introvert (I), sensory (S) or intuitive (N), thinker (T) or emotional (F), and rater (J) or perceptive (P), are also called “dichotomies”. According to this indicator, the combinations generate 16 possible personality types.


You can look up more on this topic on the Myers-Briggs® website or in one of the many sources available on the Internet. Personally, I’m not a big fan of this famous test, as it’s too difficult for me to remember all the personality types. As you know, I prefer DISC for its simplicity, but to each to their own.

And what test do you prefer to evaluate the personality of others? Do you have any experience with these personality tests? If so, leave a comment below.

Alexander Martinez

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