Sleep, Day 11: The Cult of Personality

February 19, 2009 at 6:30 pm

No, this is NOT a post about Hitler or Kim Jong Il.

I think it’s sort of an instictive human desire to feel understood.  Granted, there are some among us who are more independent than others, who actually prefer to walk to their own beat without competition.  But I think even people like that get some satisfaction out of being told that someone else has figured parts of them out.

If this weren’t true, there wouldn’t be such a lot of hoopla made of Personality Quizzes in magazines and blog memes.  Why would I care which Harry Potter character I’m most like?  They’re FICTIONAL!  But some part of us seems fascinated by the very idea that we have kindred spirits, or at least that our ideosyncrasies are not just personal weirdnesses, but somehow connected to our mental wiring.  Inherent, genetic, immutable, and therefore worthy of respect and even study. 😉

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is by far the Mother Superior of all personality tests, at least as far as most laypersons are concerned.  There are enough versions of the test available online that anyone can work up their own four-letter profile, and enough websites dedicated to the interpretation of those letters that one can pretty much find out anything they want to know about themselves.

Some of my friends are really into this.  I go through similar fascination in stages, personally.  On one hand, I have noticed that no matter how often I take the actual test, I inevitably come out to be something like INFP or ENFJ or something, but the actual description associated with those letters doesn’t really ring true for me.  On the other hand, if you read through the profiles, it’s easy for a sort of horoscope-effect to happen, where you find that nearly all of the profiles fit you at various points in your life.   This makes the test seem a lot less definitive, and a lot more psychobabble hooey.

That said, though, I have to admit that I fit the profile of an INTP.  I mean, there are others that fit me… I am apparently more of an ISFP when it comes to the people I love, for example… but in my day-to-day life, I must concede that I am an Archeitect.

This came up this week in conversations with a friend, and I got to thinking about it here, too.  When I started this process, someone (maybe Rachel? I’m too lazy to go back and check now) said something like ‘the reason why there are so many approaches to diet and exercise and weight control is because everyone has to come to it in his or her own way’.  That struck me as interesting, because while that’s sort of obvious, we just don’t tend to think that way as a rule.  Advertising naturally suggests that something like Weight Watchers or Curves or Jenny Craig can work for anyone — call now to set up an appointment at a location near you!

But of course, the fine print always says ‘Results Not Typical’ when the enthusiastic skinny people are chirping how the plan worked for them and can work for you too.  Maybe this is because there is no such thing as ‘typical’ when it comes to this sort of thing.

So I went looking to see if anyone had come up with a website about this, since it seems like MBTI stuff is everywhere.  I actually did find one.  As with anything else, it’s something I think that must be taken with the proverbial grain of salt, but it is always interesting to see whether one’s MBTI results hold true in all situations or what.

Here’s what I discovered at

What Is Your Type?

One of the most popular personality typing systems is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), based on the work of psychologist Carl Jung. According to the MBTI, there are 16 personality types.

Although personality typing is much more detailed than this, here are four questions based on the Myers-Briggs system that can help give you a rough idea of your type and how it affects your weight-control success. Remember that we all have characteristics of both extremes, but tend to identify more closely with one end of the spectrum or the other.

To learn more about your type, ask yourself:

1. What stimulates you?

a. Extroverts focus on the world at large, which gives them energy, enthusiasm, and willingness to participate and volunteer in group settings. These members thrive on the message boards.

b. Introverts focus on their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. They tend to be more private and to shy away from large groups, favoring the anonymous nature of online diet programs. These people fare best when making contracts with themselves.

2. What is significant for you to know?

a. Sensors use their senses to keep abreast of the facts — details like calories and fat grams. These types are practical, realistic, and thrive on routines. Getting daily physical activity works for them only if it is scheduled as part of their daily rituals.

b. Intuitives rely on their senses, focusing more on the “big picture” than the details. These folks do best without the structure of a routine and like to take an active role in meeting their goals.

3. How do you make decisions?

a. Thinkers are logical and analytical; they consider all sides and determine the right course of action. Their decisions are rarely emotional. These are the “just do it” kind of members who heed advice and make necessary changes without much trouble.

b. Feelers are more personal, compassionate, and empathetic. Their decisions are based not only on what is important to them, but also what’s important to others. Many are trying to lose weight to please someone else or torture themselves by keeping tempting food in the house for other family members.

4. In what ways do you handle life?

a. Judgers like structure and well-organized lives. They tend to be decisive, goal- and action-oriented people. These folks like WLC’s detailed eating and fitness plans.

b. Perceivers are more flexible, with less structure in their lives, disliking governing rules. The flexibility of the eating plan is right up their alley. Journaling gives them grief.

The good news is that any personality can succeed on the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic program.

Admittedly, this is obviously at least in part a commercial.  They’re pushing WebMD’s weight loss program, and explaining how it magically suits the needs of every personality type.  But it is interesting to note the ‘questions’ they ask regarding personality type.

I am, by this definition, an Introvert.  I generally found meetings to be tiresome rather than inspiring, and while I do enjoy forums as a rule, and I definitely prefer online weight loss programs to real-world ones.   In the second case, I think I do fall in the Intuitive category;


Entry filed under: Sleep, Successes. Tags: , , , .

Sleep, Day 10: Why are people playing tennis on our Rollerblading court? Sleep, Day 12: Facebook and Fridge Graph

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