January 19, 2013

MBTi Is More a Formula than a Set of Scales

I used to think that the 4 letters in the Myers Briggs Type Indicator were 4 scales and people fell to one side or the other, and some fell more to one side than others who fell toward the same side. In other words, each letter was like a slider and every person fell somewhere along the line.

The problem with this model is that when I would compare two people who seemed to be very similar, like an ISTJ and an ISTP, they didn't really seem all that similar. One would cower at the sight of a spider while the other was booking reservations to go fling themselves from a plane with only a thin layer of silk protecting them from imminent death.

The scale paradigm also meant that when you'd talk to people about their personality type, they'd feel like they had the option to sit on the fence, right in the middle of two ends of the scale. You could hang around the person for 10 minutes and tell right away that they were an extravert or an introvert, but because they could think of times when they had been an introvert as well as times when they had behaved in an extraverted fashion, they decided that meant they were both. (It doesn't. We all have times when we're introverting and times when we're extraverting. That doesn't mean we're on the fence in the middle. It just means that we're human.)

I had heard people talk about functions before, but I couldn't really follow what they were talking about. It wasn't until I watched several of DaveSuperPowers videos on YouTube that it all finally started to click. An introverted sensor is a very different animal than an extraverted sensor. The introverted sensor likes to collect details, data, facts. They store them up in their brain and, if you give them reason to get started, will talk your ears right off of your head about all those little boring bits of details until you're ready to shove a pillow over your own face till the pain stops. The extraverted sensor, on the other hand, likes to collect experiences. The old Mountain Dew commercials ("Been there. Done that.") epitomized the idea of collecting sensory experiences.

The more I learned about functions the more I came to realize that the 4 letters that describe a person's type are really not a series of scales, but a formula that describes the person's primary, secondary (and so on) functions. So an ISTJ and an ISTP are both S's, but they're two different kinds of S's: introverted sensor (Si) vs. extraverted sensor (Se). An ISTP (second function: Se) will have more in common with an ESTP (first function: Se) than an ISTJ (Se isn't among any of the ISTJ's functions).

Here's how the formula works. You start with the last letter of the set of four, the J or the P. This will tell you how a person behaves when they are extraverting. (We all have times when we extravert, even if our primary function is introverted.)

The INTJ (and any other person whose type ends with a J) will tend to be action oriented when they are extraverting. They will either be an extraverted thinker (Te) or an extraverted feeler (Fe). Te's are the people you call when something needs to get done yesterday. They are very practical, can-do people who will probably get to work even before you've finished telling them what needs to be done. An Fe is similar, except that they're not going to focus on things but on people. When people think "extravert" what they're often really thinking about is an extraverted feeler - someone who is people oriented.

The ESFP, on the other hand, (and any other person whose type ends with a P) will tend to be input oriented when they are extraverting. They will either be an extraverted sensor (Se) or an extraverted intuitive (Ne).  I mentioned Se's earlier. They're the "been there, done that" people who live in the now and seek sensory input. Ne's also seek input, but it tends to revolve around ideas. They love to brainstorm ways that things can be done differently or be improved upon.

Once you have figured out how a person tends to behave when they are extraverting, you know one of their top functions. When they extravert, they are either Te, Fe, Se or Ne. But just as everyone has times when they are extraverting, we all also have times when we are introverting. We're not looking out or dealing with the outside world, but we're inside our own head, thoughts, feelings, or ideas. If our first function is extraverted, then our second function will be introverted. But if our first function is introverted, then our second function will be extraverted. Everyone has one extraverted function and one introverted function for their top two functions.

Functions are something that we come to develop over time. When we're young, our primary function is the one that works the best for us, so we spend most of our time in that. But as we grow up we find that we have to learn to deal with the outside world (if we're introverts) or deal with our inner life (if we're extraverts). So we start to learn more about being in our secondary function. It's often not until we're adults that we begin to explore our third or fourth functions. If you've ever met a person who is in their 30s or 40s and they've said, "I used to be such and such a type, but now I'm more of this totally other type," that's because they're learning to use functions that they hadn't developed before. It doesn't mean that their personality has changed. Rather, they've reached a point in their life where they feel comfortable, perhaps even bored by, their primary and secondary functions and they're ready to stretch their wings a little into their third and fourth functions.

To find the third and fourth functions, you simply do some flip flopping. So if the second function was extraverted sensing (as in the ISFP example above), then the third function will also be a perceiving function (S/E), but it will be in the opposite attitude (I/E). So the other perceiving function in this case is intuition, and the opposite attitude is introvertion. So the ISFP's third function is introverted intuitive (Ni). Likewise, the fourth function is just the flip flop of the first function. So in this case the first function is Fi, the fourth function will be Te.

When using the scale method of MBTi, it's nearly impossible to figure out where you are, or where others are, on the scale. One day a person might be very secluded and thoughtful. The next day they might be the life of the party. As our circumstances vary, so do our behaviors. But there's a consistent pattern in there, and if you're start to look at the patterns, you'll see the functions emerge.

The New Myspace

I've only been using the new Myspace for a few days now, but I really like it. It's what I think Myspace was supposed to have been since the beginning - a means for musicians and bands to connect with their fans. I still haven't worked out all the in's and out's of the new site, but I thought I'd write up a bit of what I know to help others get started.

First you'll need to sign up for the service. If you've never tried Myspace before, then click on the blue "Join" button. But if you already have a Myspace account, or if you have a Facebook or Twitter account that you'd like to sign in with, select the gray "Sign In" button.

In the future, you'll be able to sign in with your username and password in the section to the right. But for now, assuming that you already have an old Myspace account, click on the dark gray bar to the left that's labeled "with Classic Myspace." (The "my" in front of that represents the old Myspace.)

To say that the new design is a study in subtlety is probably an understatement. Navigation and layout are a leap from anything else you've probably tried. In fact, I can't think of any other websites that operate like the new Myspace. The closest I can come is a newspaper or magazine on a handheld device (like an iPad). Don't think vertical. Everything is horizontal. And if you don't think to scroll right, you're missing out on a fair bit of content. That said, there are all sorts of things hidden in plain sight. I think that once I get used to it, I'm really going to like it. But right now it takes some time to figure out how to do what I want to do. Of course, once I've figured something out, it seems like it should have been obvious to me before.

The dark bar at the bottom of every Myspace page is your anchor. It tells you where you are on the site. It appears to be broken into three main sections:

1 - The lighter dark gray to the far left includes my personalized version of Myspace. When the blue bar is under the word Myspace, then I'm viewing the content that I've indicated I want to see (by "connecting" with artists.) When the blue bar is under my name, then I'm viewing my own profile. The two icons to the right of my name are for notifications and messages. The blue bar doesn't move to be under them (for whatever reason) and both of these work like toggles. Click once and you'll see notifications or messages. Click a second time and they're gone. Click - on. Click - off.

2 - The next section is a darker gray... or is that black? It starts with the word Discover and this is where you'll find the content that Myspace is going to push out to you. I don't know yet if they try to tailor it to each person or if everyone gets the same news there. While you're on the discover page, scroll right. This is a good chance to see how much content hides to the right of the screen. You can also search for content by clicking on the magnifying glass icon. (Again, the blue bar will sit under the word Discover, but the icon is just a toggle - on and off.)

The search page is a little bit trippy at first. It's a blank page with the words "Search Myspace" and "Start typing...". And that's it. But start typing and Myspace will start searching (before you even hit the "return" key.) In the example above, I searched for "Colorado" in hopes of finding local musicians. Unfortunately Myspace doesn't seem to organize bands based on where they're located yet. (If there is a way to search by location, please let me know.) So what I get instead is any song/album/band name that has Colorado in it. To start a new search, just double click on your old search term and start typing a new one.

3 - The third part of the navigation bar at the right is the music player. It's pretty straight forward, but there's one button I'd like to highlight. Any time you see the icon with two interlocked circles (anywhere on the site), it's a call for interaction. You can use it to connect with a band/musician. To connect appears to be similar to "follow" or "like." Myspace will show you updates related to those that you've connected with, and they'll hopefully also show related content based on what you've connected with in the past. But you can also use this button to do other things, such as add the currently playing song to a music mix or send it in a message to a friend.

This should be enough to get you started listening to great music. So pull up a band and get the player running so you have something to listen to while you do a few touch ups on your profile page.

To update your profile, click on your name to the lower left of the nav bar. Now look for a little pencil icon way up in the upper right hand corner of that page. (It took me several minutes to find that little bitty icon. *sigh* It's a perfect example of "Impossible till you know where to look.") Once you know where to find the icon, updating your profile is fairly straight forward.

You'll note that not every musician or band has a profile yet. If you're on an artist's page and you're viewing music, click on the name of the band/artist to see their profile page. If nothing happens and you find yourself still looking at a list of songs, then that artist has not moved their profile over from Myspace Classic to the new Myspace yet. Patience, young padawan. Come, they will. The new Myspace is, as the name implies, new. Not everyone is here yet. But it's a wonderful way to listen to music by your favorite artists, and to share it with all of your friends who aren't here yet, but will be coming soon. So spread the word. Get folks to check out the all new Myspace. The more the merrier. I think this is going to be a lovely place to hang out.