The Power of Personality

IMAGE What makes one person rush forward, eager to experience the world, while another holds back? Personality. Unraveling the mysteries of your behavior patterns can help you discover ways to enrich your life and relationships and work more effectively. Great minds have pondered the complexities of personality, temperament, and health for centuries. As far back as Hippocrates in 400 BC, theories of personality have been of interest to people who study human behavior.Forty years ago, doctors noted a link between personality and health, dubbing competitive, rushing, and angry types who often experienced heart problems as Type A personalities.Those with a more laidback style were designated Type B. A few years later, a California psychologist described typical behavior of cancer patients holding in negative feelings and anger and called people who exhibit these traits Type C personalities.Personality and temperament also affect how we perceive the world and get along with others. Therapists, leadership development gurus, and other professionals use type and temperament models to help people learn more about themselves, appreciate differences in others, and improve family and work relationships. One popular methodology is the Myers-Briggs classification.


During the 1950s, Isabel Myers and Katheryn Briggs developed a method of personality identification based on Carl Jung's theory of psychological types. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator relies on a series of questions to determine which of 16 classifications best fits the respondent. The type patterns correlate with pairs of personality preferences:
  • Extroversion vs. introversion—Working with others energizes social extroverts, while solitude pleases introverts.
  • Intuiting vs. sensing—Intuiting types tend to anticipate the future and read between the lines, while reality and facts ground those with a preference toward sensing.
  • Thinking vs. feeling—Thinking types favor logical and impersonal decisions, while a preference toward personal or value-based judgments characterizes feeling types.
  • Judging vs. perceiving—Following through on deadlines and plans rather than keeping options open and letting things evolve are the characteristics that distinguish judging from perceiving types.
People do not fall neatly into categories, nor can they depend solely on a test to accurately determine personality type. A certified trainer can facilitate the evaluation, often using multiple models from different perspectives.

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