Are INTPs judgmental
High sensitivity, MBTI and enneagram
by Niklas Friedrich Hobacher
People have different ways and approaches to deal with “inner questions”: questions about their own path in life, about individual needs, questions about goals worth striving for and ultimately also the question: “Who am I?”. One possibility is to approach these “inner questions” through typology.
As a “dichotomous construct”, high sensitivity does not represent a personality model of its own, but merely characterizes a trait. A trait in which the nervous system is exposed to a larger number of stimuli because its stimulus filter function is more permeable. Highly sensitive people have a very sensitive, a very sensitive nervous system, which is also reflected in the English expression "highly sensitive". “High sensitivity” is used as a term for this concept in the German-speaking area, but the term “high sensitivity” has become established.
A question that comes up again and again in this context is whether there is a direct connection between different types of different personality models and the highly sensitive trait. This article examines this relationship in more detail using two well-known models, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Enneagram. First of all, very interesting correlations have emerged.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
Let's start with a brief introduction to the Myers-Briggs type indicator. The MBTI is particularly popular and widespread in the USA and is often used in both coaching and human resources, e.g. at McKinsey. On the one hand, the great popularity is due to the fact that many people really relate to the different types of MBTI. On the other hand, it should not be forgotten that the MBTI type test is commercially oriented. There are many certified MBTI consultants who have acquired the license and the right of use in expensive courses.
Creation of the MBTI
The MBTI is based on the personality theory of the Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology Carl Gustav Jung. Interestingly, the indicator was developed on this basis by two non-psychologists, Katharine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs-Myers.
Basics of the Myers-Briggs type indicator
The MBTI is primarily about how people perceive their environment and how they subsequently make decisions. The “indicator” describes the differences between the 16 types in a consistently positive way. There are neither “good” nor “bad” types, every personality has potential.
“As a man is, so he sees. As the eye is formed, such are its powers. ", William Blake
As a basis for the assignment to one of the 16 types, four dichotomous preferences are examined using a detailed questionnaire:
- E.xtraversion - I.ntroversion
- S.Ensuring feeling - INtuition
- Think (Thinking) - F.cool
- To judge (Judging) - perceiving (Perceiving)
The preferences are neither skills nor talents. It is just a preferred "approach" with the emphasis on preferred, because every person naturally uses all preferences, but to a different extent.
The inquired preferences of the MBTI result in 16 different types, which are described by means of a four-digit letter code:
- ESTJ, ESTP, ESFJ, ESFP
- ENTJ, ENTP, ENFJ, ENFP
- ISTJ, ISTP, ISFJ, ISFP
- INTJ, INTP, INFJ, INFP
The psychological preference dimensions of the MBTI
Excursus: The introverted brain
The brain of introverted people, at least according to the British researcher and psychologist Hans Jürgen Eysenck, has a higher potential for arousal compared to that of an extroverted person. This is why introverts need less external stimulation. In other words: If the stimulation is too great, introverted people have to withdraw from the “overstimulation” in order to recover and process the information.
Interesting in this context is a study that the researcher and psychotherapist Marti Olsen Laney takes up in her book "The Power of Introverts":
Laney assumes that each person's individually composed neurotransmitter balance regulates the blood supply to the various brain regions. "Introverted brains" process information in a more complicated way, which is reflected in the blood circulation. Particularly the outward regions, which can be brought into connection with problem solving, experience and memory, are supplied with blood and activated. According to Laney, the high sensitivity of the "introverted brain" to dopamine is the reason and the primary neurotransmitter is therefore acetylcholine (and not exactly dopamine as in "extroverted brains"). Acetylcholine ensures calm attention, increased concentration and makes you “more receptive to new things”, but in return the retrieval of stored information is inhibited.
Extraversion - Introversion [E vs. I]
Where do you get your energy from?
This is the central question to ask yourself when trying to find out whether you are introverted or extroverted. Because introversion and extraversion have in the MBTI - as well as in the classic sense according to C.G. Jung, who coined the terms - only marginally involved with social introversion (shyness) and social extraversion (open to contacts).
The extroverted person:
- has the focus on the outside
- gets its (psychological) energy from the environment, from experiences and from other people
- speaks things through
- has many interests
- Act - think - act
The introverted person:
- has the focus inside
- gets its (psychic) energy from within itself, from thinking about and reflecting on impressions made
- think things through
- has deep interests
- Think - act - think
Sensitive feeling - INtuition [S vs. N]
How do you prefer to absorb information?
This is about how you absorb information and how you perceive your environment:
- takes in information preferentially through the senses
- prefers practical applications and facts
- the focus is on what is (lives in the here and now)
- sees details first
- Information is created through associations
- Imagination and ideas (theorists)
- the focus is on what is possible (lives in the future)
- sees the big picture first
Thinking - Feeling [T vs. F]
How do you prefer to make decisions?
- Logic and objectivity are important
- sees mistakes (critic)
- uses meta-level to analyze a problem
- personal values and beliefs are important
- shows appreciation (praise) and finds common ground
- puts himself in the situation
- relationship oriented
Judging - Perceiving [J vs. P]
How do you prefer to organize yourself in the outside world?
- plans and organizes life
- avoids last minute stress
- likes to come to the "conclusion"
- spontaneous and adaptable
- draws energy from time pressure
- likes to keep options open
The 16 types of the Myers-Briggs type indicator
A detailed description of the different types would go beyond the scope of this article. Therefore, at this point, reference is made to the specialist literature and the link sources below and only a brief graphic comparison of the 16 different types (percentage of the total population - type - motto) follows:
The Enneagram is both a personality model based on human patterns of perception and a development model for human consciousness. It is mainly used in coaching, management consulting, pastoral care and therapy.
The origin of the enneagram
There are different speculations about the origin, ranging from "Sufism", Plato or Pythagoras to Christian mysticism (Evagrius Ponticus). The foundation stone for today's form of the Enneagram was laid by Georges I. Gurdjieff, one of the most famous and influential mystics and wisdom teachers of the 20th century.
"As long as a person is not appalled at himself, he still doesn't know anything about himself.", Georges I. Gurdjieff
Nine different ways of perceiving the world
The Enneagram essentially describes nine different ways of perceiving the world. More precisely, it explains nine different type patterns (ego fixations) and their central strategy in dealing with “trauma”: A program rooted in the depths of the unconscious as a “default trauma navigation system” and a primary solution strategy that is a not insignificant part of the individual Personality influences and is particularly evident in stressful situations.
Of course, the type samples are just drawers that depict reality in a simplified manner. And at this point we should also warn against the danger - which, by the way, is inherent in every personality model - of fully identifying with one of these drawers. Nobody IS the drawer. Only when he sits down does it become a drawer.
The systematic structure of the enneagram
The Enneagram distinguishes in the first "layer" and rough structure between three "intelligence centers", the triads, from which, depending on the type, is preferred:
- Head (mind)
- Heart (feeling)
- Belly (instinct)
Every triad is based on a conditioned emotional reaction that is automatically called up as a standard when things get "uncomfortable". With head types 5, 6 and 7 this is fear, with stomach types 8, 9 and 1 anger and with heart types 2, 3 and 4 this is shame.
Within each triad, the types differ as follows:
- the emotion is suppressed (3-6-9)
- the emotion is directed / projected outwards (2-5-8)
- the emotion is directed inwards / internalized (1-4-7)
This results in a total of nine type patterns. The following brief description of the different "ego fixations" can only be a very brief outline of the respective pattern and is - not to be alarmed - presented a bit exaggerated. The “subtleties” of the Enneagram pattern such as wings, drive variants and stages of development cannot be dealt with here and reference is made to the specialist literature.
Nine dreams of forgetting
EIGHT: The dominant boss
The EIGHT expresses its anger and energy very directly to the outside world in order to deal with stress or challenges and to get what it wants. Eighth have the tendency to let their fellow human beings feel the anger directly - the strategy is that of a "bulldozer". People with an 8 fixation are self-confident, decisive and do not shy away from conflicts and arguments. Others often feel dominated and controlled by EIGHTS.
NEUNer: The peace-loving mediator
NINE are like 8 belly types and the dominant emotion is anger. However, this anger is suppressed, not shown and often not even felt. Anger simmers beneath the surface. NEUNer have a harmonizing effect, avoid anger and have difficulty feeling their own positions and wishes. Others are often annoyed that, on the one hand, the NEUN is not able to say what it wants, but on the other hand it does not do what you want from it.
ONE: The perfectionist reformer
ONE's turn their anger inward, so they tend to be principled perfectionists. They are very strict with themselves and therefore usually also very strict and judgmental with their fellow human beings. They look for mistakes in themselves and in others and for this reason others often feel criticized by the ONE.
TWO: The helper
The TWO carries a deep sense of shame that it projects outwards. TWO want attention and love and will do anything to get it. They are helpful, generous, and meet the needs of others but ignore their own. Therefore, people with a 2-way fixation are sometimes perceived as manipulative by others.
DREIer: The success-oriented doer
The THREE suppresses their sense of shame and literally runs away from the secret threat of feeling worthless. In order to pull the rug from under the feet of this thought from the start, the THREE tries to prove again and again how ridiculous such a thought is. Success, performance and recognition give the DREI the certainty: "I am valuable and good." 3-way fixations are dynamic, active, competition and success-oriented and always put their own achievements in a very positive light. You are sometimes perceived as deceptive by others.
FOUR: The romantic individualist
The FOUR internalizes its sense of shame. From the VIER's point of view, nobody can even begin to understand what she has to go through: It gives her a feeling of uniqueness and emotional depth. FOURS are often melancholy and dramatic on the outside, feeling good or bad, but nothing in between. Others often perceive the FOUR as exaggerated and feel drawn into their indissoluble relationship dramas.
FIVE: The thinking observer
FIVE are head types and thus shaped by the dominant emotion fear. You project them outwards or perceive them from the outside. The world is an insecure place and 5-way fixations prepare themselves thoroughly for this insecurity by accumulating knowledge about the world, thinking about it and getting lost in the formulation of strategies. Actions and feelings are postponed until later. Others sometimes feel that the FIVE is being watched and viewed from above.
SIX: The loyal skeptic
SECHSer suppress their fear and are masters at pretending to themselves that fear is an emotion that actually doesn't exist. Fear is suppressed by SECHSer creating security, "security systems" in different forms: These can be people and, above all, authorities, or physical things such as alarm systems or high garden fences. 6 fixations can be very suspicious and reject anything that is unknown or new to them. Others often feel that the SIX has tested them for their reliability and loyalty.
SEVEN: The versatile connoisseur
The SEVEN internalizes their fear and flees from it. The threat inside is so great that the SEVEN focuses entirely on the outside. The world is full of interesting and exciting possibilities, full of fun and fascinating things. Everything has to be tried; Peter Pan is their patron. Others often perceive the SEVEN as superficial and erratic.
“It is the great gift of the Enneagram that it accurately describes the knot of the ego. Our sword is mindful awareness, and the enneagram shows us the knot to cut. In this way self-knowledge is possible. ”, Eli Jaxon-Bear
Nine ways to freedom
The exciting thing about the Enneagram is that for every “ego fixation” there is also a “path of redemption”, a path to freedom, a development model for human consciousness. And that's actually what defines the core of the Enneagram. Unfortunately, this cannot be discussed in more detail at this point and reference is made to the specialist literature at the end of the article.
The connections between high sensitivity, MBTI and enneagram
The connections between high sensitivity, the Myers-Briggs type indicator and the Enneagram should be examined and derived here. In the first step, the similarities between high sensitivity and MBTI are examined in more detail, as some empirical and theoretical research results are already available here. The connection between high sensitivity and enneagram is then established using the type correlation MBTI / enneagram.
High sensitivity and MBTI
The I factor (introversion)
As noted above, the brain of an introverted person has a higher potential for arousal. According to the definition, there is a close connection to the concept of high sensitivity, because according to Elaine N. Aron, who is considered a pioneer in this field, this is defined as follows:
"High sensitivity" is an "innate trait", "which is expressed on the one hand as the perception of subtleties in stimuli and on the other hand as the potential to be overwhelmed by too strong stimuli" (Aron & Aron 1997; quoted from Aron 2014, p. 20).
High sensitivity is Aron's experience and, according to him, a “neutral” characteristic that expresses itself through a special form of perception and a “sensitive nervous system”.So the similarities are obvious and justifiably one also has to ask the question why one should make a difference between high sensitivity and introversion at all. What is certain, however, is that introversion is no longer used in common parlance as Jung originally defined the term. Today, introversion is primarily understood to mean social introversion.
The MBTI test shows time and again that numerous people who associate themselves with an extroverted type such as ENFJ or ENFP are highly sensitive. This could be due to the fact that these people have learned through helpful circumstances to behave socially open-minded, but are basically introverted.
In short: introversion is an obvious, but not a compulsory, characteristic of high sensitivity.
The N-factor (intuition)
The social behavior scientist, philosopher and author Birgit Trappmann took on exactly this topic in a study: to empirically examine the connection between the N-factor intuition of the Myers-Briggs type indicator and the concept of high sensitivity.
In their study, 5000 test persons were questioned, with the following result: “The result could be shown that Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS) correlates highly with N in the sense of the MBTI and there are many indications that SPS is identical with intuitive perception (N) is “, says Trappmann.
The high correlation between Sensory Processing Sensitivity (scientific term for high sensitivity) and intuitive perception indicates that these two constructs are at least closely related.
David Ritchey, the author of “The H.I.S.S. of the A.S.P - Understanding the Anomalously Sensitive Person ". According to Ritchey, intuition is by far the decisive factor in the MBTI as to whether or not someone is highly sensitive. Followed by the factors of introversion and feeling.
Conclusion high sensitivity and MBTI
For the relationship between high sensitivity and the Myers-Briggs type indicator, this means that the six types with the greatest likelihood of a highly sensitive predisposition are as follows:
Here again the well-known MBTI graphic - however, the types with the greatest probability of a highly sensitive disposition are now highlighted in color:
High sensitivity and enneagram
Now that we have determined the "highly sensitive type pattern" of the MBTI, we can determine the connection between high sensitivity and the Enneagram via the detour of the correlation between MBTI types and Enneagram types.
Here you can find an interesting study by Heidi Prieb in this regard, which has been applied to the highly sensitive types that are relevant to us in the following graphic (source: http://a.disquscdn.com/uploads/mediaembed/images/3062/7275/original. jpg).
This results in the following Enneagram type patterns, in which a highly sensitive predisposition is most likely:
- FOUR: The romantic individualist
- FIVE: The thinking observer
- TWO: The helper
Summary: high sensitivity, MBTI and enneagram
In summary, it can be stated that there is a high probability that there are similarities between the type patterns of different personality models and the concept and trait of high sensitivity.
In the case of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the six types with the greatest likelihood of a highly sensitive predisposition are as follows:
In the case of the enneagram, the three types with the greatest likelihood of being highly sensitive are:
- FOUR: The romantic individualist
- FIVE: The thinking observer
- TWO: The helper
It should be noted that, of course, other types of type are also possible for a highly sensitive disposition, but with a lower probability.
Aron, Elaine N. (2005): Are you highly sensitive? How to recognize, understand and use your sensitivity *. mvg publishing house.
Marti Olsen Laney Psy.D. (2002): The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World *. Workman Publishing Company
David Ritchey (2003): The H.I.S.S. of the A.S.P: Understanding the Anomalously Sensitive Person *. Headline Books.
Don Richard Ruso, Russ Hudson (2000): The Wisdom of the Enneagram *. Goldmann publishing house.
Trappmann-Korr, Birgit (2014): Highly sensitive: Simply different and yet completely normal: Life between giftedness and overstimulation *. Verlag VAK, 6th edition.
Trappmann-Korr, Birgit (2014): Research report on the study on high sensitivity and personality. http://www.trappmann-korr.de/über-mich/vita/der-n- Faktor-report/
Heidi Priebe (2016): Here Are The Most Common Enneagram Types For Each Myers-Briggs Personality Type. http://thoughtcatalog.com/heidi-priebe/2016/01/mbti-and-the-enneagram-2/
Personality Hacker (2014): Understanding the Enneagram. http://www.personalityhacker.com/understanding-the-enneagram/
Petra Weiß (2014): The Enneagram as a guide to the true self. http://www.netzwerk-frauengesundheit.com/das-enneagramm-als-wegweiser-zum-wahren-selbst/
Pamela Michaelis (2008): Enneagram - Nine Realities of a Wholeness. https://www.sein.de/neun-realitaeten-einer-ganzheit/
Aerzteblatt.de (2009) Messenger substance in the brain promotes learning and inhibits remembering. http://www.aerzteblatt.de/nachrichten/37519
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