Keirsey, my dude. You know I love you.

You have insight. You have expertise. You have given an immeasurable amount to the type world, and we owe you. We will never stop respecting your acumen.

But I have a bone to pick with your temperament groups. Because they’re just so darn inconsistent.

I understand the logic behind your groups – dividing the inventory into SJ types, SP types, NT types and NF types. I certainly identify with my ‘idealist’ category. I certainly understand how my ESFJ mother shares a great deal in common with my ISTJ father. It’s easy to understand how members of each group are similar to other members of their group.

But the problem is, your method of sorting types into temperament groups is internally inconsistent.

We sort sensing types together based on their dominant perceptive function, but when we look at the intuitive groups, Ni-doms are grouped in with Ne-doms and suddenly the decision-making preference becomes the main method of organizing temperaments. Huh?

So to help flesh things out, I’m suggesting a few alternate methods of categorizing the types. The effectiveness of categorizing them this way is debatable. But the following systems would, at the least, be internally consistent.

Method 1: Grouping All The Types By Their Middle Two Letter Preferences

If we were to adopt this method of organizing type, the temperament groups would be as follows:

NT Types: INTJs, ENTJs, INTPs and ENTPs
NF Types: INFJs, ENFJs, INFPs and ENFPs
ST Types: ISTJs, ESTJs, ISTPs and ESTPs
SF Types: ISFJs, ESFJs, ISFPs and ESFPs

This is secretly how I group the types in my head.

You’ll notice that in this example, the NF and NT groups still reflect Keirsey’s temperament categorizations. However, the sensing types are organized using the same logic as the iNtuitive groupings – that is, by matching their middle two letters with the other types that share their middle two letters. There is very little cognitive alignment in this method of separating types into groups (each individual is in a temperament group with two other types whom they share zero cognitive functions in common with), but it is certainly a consistent method of grouping temperament.

This method of organizing types takes into account the values of each type – NFs, NTs, SFs and STs tend to hold similar values to others who share their two middle letter preferences, even if they use different cognitive functions and pursue different lifestyles.

Method 2: Grouping All Types By Their Dominant Perceptive Function

If we were to adopt this method of organizing type, the temperament groups would be as follows:

Ne-Users: ENTPs, ENFPs, INTPs and INFPs
Ni-Users: INTJs, INFJs, ENTJs and ENFJs
Se-Users: ESFPs, ESTPs, ISFPs, ISTPs
Si-Users: ISFJs, ISTJs, ESFJs, ESTJs

You probably noticed that the SJ and SP groups remain the same as Keirsey’s in the above example. It certainly does make sense to group SJs and SPs together, but if you’re going to do so, it only makes sense to follow the same logic for grouping the iNtuitive types. In this example we’d be recognizing the similarities between all types that share the same perceptive function – therefor, we’d be grouping people together based on the similarity of their worldview.

Method 3: Grouping All Types By Their Dominant JudgingFunction

If we were to adopt this method of organizing type, the temperament groups would be as follows:

Fi-Users: ISFPs, INFPs, ESFPs and ENFPs
Fe-Users: ESFJs, ENFJs, ISFJs and INFJs
Ti-Users: INTPs, ISTPs, ENTPs and ESTPs
Te-Users: ESTJs, ENTJs, ISTJs and INTJs

In the above example, none of the groups resemble Keirsey’s temperament groupings. This doesn’t seem to be a popular method of organizing type, as people tend to define themselves more by their perceptive function than their decision-making axis. However, these groups would be consistent in that they would all approach decision-making in a similar way.

Method 4: Grouping All Types By The Orientation Of Their Dominant Function

If we were to adopt this method of organizing type, the temperament groups would be as follows:

Extroverted-Perception-Dominant Types: ESFPs, ESTPs, ENFPs and ENTPs
Introverted-Perception-Dominant Types: ISFJs, ISTJs, INFJs and INTJs
Extroverted-Judging-Dominant Types: ENTJs, ENFJs, ESTJs and ESFJs
Introverted-Judging-Dominant Types: INTPs, INFPs, ISTPs and ISFPs

Again, none of the above examples reflect Keirsey’s original temperament groups. However, these groups would reflect the lifestyle preferences of each type rather than their similarities in worldview. This method of grouping types wouldn’t make the most sense, since it would be a shallow, relatively surface-level method of grouping the types. But it would be internally consistent.

Method 5: Grouping All Types By Their Cognitive Functions (Without Taking Order Into Consideration)

If we were to adopt this method of organizing type, the temperament groups would be as follows:

Ne/Si/Fi/Te-Users: ESTJs, ISTJs, ENFPs and INFPs
Ni/Se/Fe/Ti-Users: INFJs, ENFJs, ESTPs and ISTPs
Si/Ne/Fe/Ti-Users: ESFJs, ISFJs, ENTPs and INTPs
Se/Ni/Fi/Te-Users: ESFPs, ISFPs, INTJs and ENTJs

This method of grouping the types together makes sense in that each group would share four cognitive functions in common with all other members of their group. However, order of usage skews the expression of cognitive functions so much that it makes very little sense to group the types in this way. Though it would certainly be a consistent method of grouping the types.

Method 6: Grouping Types By Their Specific Dominant Cognitive Function

This is how Jung originally grouped the types. However, it gives us eight groups rather than four. The groups would be:

Ne-Doms: ENTPs and ENFPs
Ni-Doms: INFJs and INTJs
Se-Doms: ESFPs and ESTPs
Si-Doms: ISTJs and ISFJs
Fe-Doms: ESFJs and ENFJs
Fi-Doms: ISFPs and INFPs
Te-Doms: ENTJs and ESTJs
Ti-Doms: ISTPs and INTPs

It makes perfect sense to group the types in this way, as each pairing shares a dominant cognitive function with their partner. However, it doesn’t help us much to sort personalities into groups of two. And if we were to do so, the most effective method of sorting them would likely be as follows:

Method 7: Grouping Types By The Similarity Of Their Cognitive Functions And Cognitive Structure

Again, this would give us groups of two:

Types Who Prefer Using Ne And Fi: ENFPs and INFPs
Types Who Prefer Using Ne And Ti: ENTPs and INTPs
Types Who Prefer Using Ni And Fe: INFJs and ENFJs
Types Who Prefer Using Ni And Te: INTJs and ENTJs
Types Who Prefer Using Se And Ti: ESTPs and ISTPs
Types Who Prefer Using Se And Fi: ESFPs and ISFPs
Types Who Prefer Using Si And Te: ISTJs and ESTJs
Types Who Prefer Using Si And Fe: ISFJs and ESFJs

This would certainly provide us with groups of types that process the world in the most similar fashion to one another. However, once again, there isn’t much utility in sorting the types into groups of two.

Method 8: Grouping All Types By The Letter Of Their Dominant Cognitive Function

iNtuitive-Dominant Types: INTJs, INFJs, ENFPs and ENTPs
Sensing-Dominant Types: ISTJs, ISFJs, ESFPs and ESTPs
Thinking-Dominant Types: INTPs, ISTPs, ESTJs and ENTJs
Feeling-Dominant Types: INFPs, ISFPs, ESFJs and ENFJs

This is how I secretly wish we categorized types.

In the above example, none of the groups reflect Keirsey’s temperament groups but it’s nonetheless a pretty cool way to look at type. Instead of considering lifestyle similarities, we consider the first cognitive preference of each group.

All N-dominant types analyze situations critically and evaluate the possibilities that each one might offer for the future before coming to a decision. All S-dominant types analyze the facts of the situation and consider which options are currently available to them before coming to a decision. All F-dominant types decide how they feel about a given situation before exploring where they could take the it, and all T-dominant types seek to understand the situation in as unbiased a fashion as possible before they explore where they could take it.

Interestingly, many theorists believe that romantic pairings work best between types who share a dominant letter, but have it oriented in opposite directions. So, an Si-dominant type would, theoretically, find the best romantic match in an Se-dominant type. An Ne-dominant type would find the best match in an Ni-dominant type, a Te-dominant type would find the best match in a Ti-dominant type and an Fi-dominant type would find the best match in an Fe-dominant type.

Of course, type pairings are very debatable.

But hey, so are temperament groups. And if I had to pick a side for the debate, I’d choose method #8. What would you choose?

Add comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Secured Content!!