A comparison between systems for the classification of personality

Posted on Quora

Italian version


The MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) is a system of psychological types developed in 1917 by an American writer, Katharine Cook Briggs (in collaboration with her daughter), based on an extrapolation of the works of CG Jung present in his book Psychological Types.

In the theory described by Jung, the human being experiences the world using four main psychological functions: thinking, sensation, feeling and intuition. The MBTI collects a series of indicators that measure the extroverted and introverted tendencies of individuals based on these four functions, generating eight types: E (extraversion), I (introversion), S (sensing), N (intuition), T ( thinking), F (feeling), J (judgment) and P (perceiving); from their combination, we obtain 16 psychological types, which are then individually associated through a series of targeted questions.

This indicator and other characterisation methods rely on a broad generalisation of the psychological differences in human traits, using a methodology with the four Hippocratic temperaments as forerunners. And that’s precisely the way zodiacal astrology works: by processing human characteristics on a symbolic palette, this time representing the twelve months of the year or seasonal cycles, which in analogue language manifest the twelve primordial human energies or patterns.

But beyond this point, all generalisations cease. In the individual’s analysis, astrology relies on a series of tools (natal horoscope, transits, progressions, etc.) which together with the astrology signifiers (planets, signs, houses, aspects) and their mutual intertwining offer an extraordinary wealth of details. In that way, we can outline a very accurate and specific description of the person’s psychosomatic condition.

Although no description of reality is perfect (the map is not the territory), I can say that astrology is much more precise in elaborating the aspects forming the personality than the MBTI. Not to mention that astrology aims to synthesise the individual’s complex interiority to integrate them into the space of representation, in a relationship as suitable as possible between himself and the world.

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