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Behaviours of Temperaments
24 July 2012

by I/O


The following are the only two characteristics that distinguish the four temperaments:

* whether one is oriented primarily toward input (p) or output (j); and
* whether one is guided by externalized (E) or internalized (I) references.

The above two choices determine the configuration of the input/output control system that drives the brain's cognitive processing. Many complex behavioural patterns develop from these two simple characteristics; the following are descriptions of the resulting temperaments.

The Observers - INFp, INTp, ISFp, and ISTp

IXXps identify mostly with their personal knowledge and abilities, which are built up incrementally through personal hands-on exposure, practice and experience. They are input oriented but seem to only take in information that dovetails into that which they already have accepted as true or fit into their skill set. They do seek considerable feedback to help them refine their knowledge base but they filter out much.

IXXps view the world comparatively; their internal standards are sacrosanct, and are used as a basis to measure everything and everybody, including themselves. They tend to refine their standards rather than change them to any degree; once something is set in their minds, it's very difficult for them to change their opinion. They are critical by nature and can perfect a subject to the exclusion of everything else, until it's sometimes beaten to death. This ability to focus along with a rigid set of references can blind them to a lot of other possibilities.

They seem to be continually in preparation mode - acquiring information and honing abilities are more important than actually producing something. Because of this, their talents and skills can remain hidden or untested. They also can get caught in endless loops of refinements where nothing is really completed. When they actually do produce something, they're never sure that it is good enough so they seek confirmation or recognition.

They are go-with-the-flow types who prefer to react rather than instigate so can appear somewhat unmotivated until they're stimulated (or threatened). They're superb at locking onto a target; they can navigate through chaos and are excellent at winging it. They enjoy the rush from taking calculated risks and they often test their knowledge and skill to their limits and beyond; this sometimes can threaten their own well-being, which is more important to them than anything else - a seeming contradiction for the observer temperament.

The Leaders - ENFj, ENTj, ESFj, and ESTj

EXXjs want to put ideas to use; they prefer to instigate rather than react. They attempt to control all situations but in the process, can sometimes lose sight or control of themselves and become myopic and intense to varying degrees. They continually try to tell others what to do because they frequently ask others what they should do. They seek feedback in their rationalization processes but are often accused of talking more than listening. They tend to propose things so as to get immediate responses to help them clarify their own thinking; they're usually excellent at getting a reaction and improvising.

EXXjs need immediate closure so can oftentimes appear impatient in their attempts to achieve closure. Impatience can cause them to make poorly thought-out decisions. They sometimes appear as in-your-face types when they're simply trying to make things better. In truth, they prefer status quo, and react negatively to those who upset routine or misbehave; and emotions can be on their sleeves.

Though they measure everything and everyone by their internal standards, they're continually reconfirming and amending their standards as norms of society change and new approaches becomes available, which can seem really contradictory to outsiders. However, any significant changes are usually exhaustively vetted with others.

Though they are dutiful types, they will eventually try to take over. They are continually striving to be a better competitor, honing their skills to become the 'alpha' on top. For them, success and security is achieved by being the best, or at the least, being perceived as being the best. Thus, in their continuous pursuit of status and accolades, they are great advocates for themselves and those close to them.

The Planners - INFj, INTj, ISFj and ISTj

IXXjs have plans although it may not appear all that obvious; they normally have fixed processes or ways of approaching every situation - methodological. Although their information may be incomplete or incorrect, their courses are usually set. They are driven to carry out what they think are their obligations or objectives, and should anyone stand in their way, they can be very condemning and ruthless.

They need a lot of down-time to assess information and come up with strategies, but while they do so, they can be oblivious to their environment and themselves. They're not good at making spur-of-the-moment decisions although they may try; and they hate being assessed or scrutinized although they will regularly do that to themselves. If they do something stupid and cannot shift the blame, they'll beat themselves up; they're usually dismissive of what others may think of them but they do care what they think of themselves.

They live a lot in their own minds, sometimes appearing detached or in another world. They're usually fixed on a course but they do not fully trust information or others in general - not even their own knowledge and abilities. Every venture is treated somewhat tenuously as if they're expecting something to go wrong so they are often perceived as being negative. They are cautious and suspicious by nature, and take a long time to get going, but sometimes they don't even start to plan because of fears of failing.

They seek independence and autonomy from everything and everybody, and they will resent any feeling of dependence that they might think they have. This can stand in the way of their relationships. As close and as loyal as an IXXj may be to someone, s/he still needs emotional distance and a certain amount of objectiveness, which may seem like a contradiction. They do need their space invaded every now and then, to be forced out of themselves.

Even though they try their best to avoid taking on responsibilities, IXXjs seem to attract many - maybe because they're good at making and adhering to plans. This temperament can sometimes be obsessively driven to see objectives through to the end. Many take their responsibilities way too seriously and anxieties about failure can paralyse them.

The Experimenters - ENFp, ENTp, ESFp and ESTp

EXXps need a smorgasbord of information and sensations; they are input junkies. They are the most difficult temperament to tie down, and will become aggressive if someone tries. Freedom is their watchword and they continually seek new environments and relationships; they become very anxious and defensive when they feel that they are being tethered. They're the most easily distracted temperaments yet they are the most inventive, perhaps because they're always looking under rocks for something new.

They usually have a predictable way of approaching or initially exploring a new environment but from there, their behaviour is largely data driven. Their decisions are based on what lies in front of them, but as this changes, so do their decisions; their opinions can frequently depend on to whom they most recently talked. They are not geared towards producing a product so their choices usually have more to do with how to further explore or experiment.

EXXps are excellent communicators because this feeds their need for input. When in 'search mode', they will accept information even though they may think that it hasn't much integrity; even dubious data is often thought of as potentially useful to them. They are not ones to throw things away; they like to keep their options open. However, when they're rationalizing information, they use people as sounding boards and don't really listen to them much; they may even get annoyed when others propose alternate approaches or views.

They seek rich, stimulating environments that won't bore them; they're very curious and on to the latest thing. They tend to treat everybody and everything somewhat like curiosity items or playthings. They do poorly in structured environments unless they happen to make it to the top where they can perhaps make things more interesting for themselves. They're great at coming up with ideas but not all that good with their realization unless they have others to do the leg work.

They seek rich environments but are not necessarily greedy. They try to get others to do the boring work but are not necessarily lazy. They like to be in charge but are not necessarily ambitious. They want to be the centre of attention but are not necessarily grand-standers. They often stir the pot but do not like living in chaos. A seeming contradiction for this temperament is that they want things done their ways but their ways are continually changing. Their primary objective is to be in what they would consider an input-rich environment.

Temporary Changes in Temperament

The above descriptions are certainly not exhaustive. It should also be noted that when under excessive stress and sometimes in downtime, the observer temperament will behave like an experimenter and vice versa, while leaders will behave like a planners and vice versa. This is because the psyche will attempt to change its reference perspective (from externalized to internalized, or vice versa) in an attempt to find solutions that have eluded them. However, temperaments never change their objectives and remain either input or output oriented.
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