Newsletter #6


In this issue:

About Myers-Briggs® and Personality Types: Who Becomes a Psychologist?

About the Strong Interest Inventory®: What's a Flat Profile?

The FIRO-B and Team Roles: Mismatches

Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode (TKI): What's Wrong with Avoiding?


About Myers-Briggs and Personality Types: Who Becomes a Psychologist?

Many of you are thinking about new careers. Psychology is a popular subject for those interested in the Myers-Briggs and personality. Of course, the next question many ask is, "Does my type show up as psychologists?" Well, the answer is yes, no matter what your type is. As in all occupations, if you test enough people, you'll eventually find every type. It's true that some types will be represented far more frequently than others, so trends will emerge. However, it's important to remember that any type can work successfully and happily in any profession.

Psychology is an interesting field for another reason. Like law and other professions, there is a great variety of jobs that use psychologists. The American Psychological Association has over 50 divisions. There are widely diverse fields such as military, consumer, gay/lesbian, school, experimental, and organizational psychology and many more. Many people likely think first of therapists when someone mentions psychologists, yet many psychologists work at universities, in industry, or research institutes and never see patients. There are likely to be differences among the types that are attracted to the various fields of psychology. Perhaps someone will research this one day.

So who shows up most frequently as psychologists? If you guessed ENFP, you win! In second place were the INFPs, while third place was filled by ENTJs. In last place were the ESTPs, while the next two places went to ISFP/ESFPs and ISTPs. Here's how all the types came out:

ENFP: 18.4%

INFP: 14.7%

ENTJ: 11.7%

INTJ: 10.7%

INTP: 8.5%

ENFJ: 8.2%

INFJ: 7%

ENTP: 6%

ISTJ: 3%

ESTJ: 2.7%

ISFJ: 2.5%

ESFJ: 2.2%

ISTP: 1.5%

ISFP: 1.2%

ESFP: 1.2%

ESTP: 0.5%

What jumps out looking at these numbers? First, the group is 85% Intuitives, which is quite a change from their usual low numbers in society. It's interesting that the split between Extraverts and Introverts is about even 51:49%. The Judger - Perceiver split is close to even: 48:52%. It's also not surprising that the group has more Feelers (55%). Intuitive Feelers made up the largest group (48%), while Sensor Feelers were the smallest (7.2%) on those scales (Intuitive Thinkers were 37%; Sensor Thinkers 7.7%). Likewise Intuitive Perceivers were the largest group (47.5%) while Sensor Perceivers were the smallest (4.5%) on those dimensions (Intuitive Judgers 37.6% and Sensor Judgers 10.4%). Dominant Intuitives came out as 42% of the group, while Dominant Sensors came out the lowest at 7.2%. Dominant Thinkers were 24.4% and Dominant Feelers were 26.4%.

For those ENFPs out there who have thought about becoming psychologists, perhaps you can see why the field is to attractive to many. On the other hand, it's understandable that most ESTPs would not be attracted to the field. Still, as always, if you're interested in psychology, study it. Avoid making a decision based on the data. Remember, they show how groups behave, not individuals. You might be the world's best ESTP psychologist. You'll never know until you try it out.


About the Strong Interest Inventory: What's a Flat Profile?

In short, a flat profile means you score average or below on all scales and all your scores are close to even. You might have one or two occupational scales that are high, but not enough to show a pattern. You might also have all your scores in the very little interest range. What causes these kinds of patterns?

There are many possible explanations. These include narrow or well-defined interests, little knowledge of the world of work, cultural differences, mood, chronic indecision, unwillingness to make a commitment, family or peer pressure, role conflict, low self-esteem, and a pervasive indifference. While we cannot go into detail on all of these possible reasons, we will look at a few.

Sometimes people have flat profiles simply because they do not want to work. They have a job because they need one, so work is something they endure. They often have little desire to pick a more suitable career. Basically, they don't care about work. The test results will show this.

Cultural differences can result from those who speak a language other than American English as their first language. These people may be unfamiliar with some terms or occupations and be unsure how to answer the questions. In such instances, people tend to be reluctant to respond "Like" to those questions they are unsure about.

For some in the midst of a career change, there may be some reluctance to commit to specific career or area. Sometimes these people struggle between accepting the status quo and moving on to new areas. This is particularly likely if their scores on the Risk Taking scale are towards the "Play it safe" pole. In short, this might be a temporary condition, brought about by the impending change. They could be unready or unwilling to make a change. In these cases, further discussion would likely clarify the underlying causes and reveal possible solutions.

Mood can play a role in how a person responds to the Strong questions. Obviously, if you are tired, worn out, rushed, or coerced into taking the test, the results are unlikely to be an accurate reflection of your true preferences. This can be true for those recently unemployed as well. Sometimes the loss of a job can affect how we see ourselves for quite a while. It might not be obvious to the person taking the test how much he or she has been affected by leaving a job. Even if the departure was voluntary, it's likely that a person's emotions will be active for some time. Waiting until things have settled down a bit might be the best course of action in such cases.


The FIRO-B and Team Roles: Mismatches

The FIRO-B helps us clarify many interpersonal issues. One such issue is team mismatches. This issue we'll look at the problems surrounding mismatches regarding Wanted Inclusion.

For those whose lowest wanted need is Inclusion, there are several challenges with a team that is expressing a great deal of inclusion. If this is the team's highest expressed need, it's clear you'll have the greatest separation to overcome.

Some ways you might express your discomfort with the team in this example might include skipping meetings, not listening to conversations (tuning out), sitting farther away at meetings, turning your body away from the group, doing other work during meetings, or keeping your head down when others speak. If Expressed Inclusion is your lowest score, you're less likely to exhibit these behaviors. You might have learned that some behaviors are considered unacceptable in your environment, so you no longer do them. Note that your frustration is likely to remain the same. Your expression of that frustration will likely be different.

Of course, the opposite scenario could also happen. If your highest wanted need is Inclusion and the team expresses too little inclusion, you're likely to have a different reaction. Some behaviors you might see include sharing more information that you know, asking for the opportunity to share your thoughts and views, asking that the others fill you in on the background information, asking everyone on the team to express his or her opinion, arriving early for meetings and sitting in the middle, and offering the team a written proposal, report, example, or model. In each of the above examples, the purpose is to foster a more inclusive team environment. If the team resists your efforts, conflict might result.

As is so often the case, knowing more about the team composition and the expressed and wanted needs of the team members will contribute to a more effective group. We are most likely to get into trouble when we sense something is wrong, but cannot identify it. That's one reason tools such as the FIRO-B are so useful.


Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode (TKI): What's Wrong with Avoiding?

As with each conflict management style, avoiding has advantages and disadvantages. The challenge is to know when to use each of the five styles for greatest effect. This time we'll discuss the downside to using the avoiding style to resolve conflict.

The first item to note is avoiding doesn't resolve conflict. It remains, to grow and eventually to erupt again, perhaps in a more serious form. Avoiders often know the problem is still there, but they hope it will go away on its own. Rarely does that happen. When dealing with other people, important issues rarely become unimportant. While it can occur, it's more likely to continue to bother the other person. Many avoiders passionately dislike the confrontation, harsh words, and bad feelings conflict can release, so they do everything they can to prevent that from happening. Again, it's rare that this tactic will lead to success. Instead, the avoiders often carry around bad feelings inside them for a great length of time. The paradox is that if they were to bring these feelings out into the open, the potential ill will would likely be rather brief, at least compared to carrying around suppressed feelings for a long time.

Stereotypes are often sustained by avoiding. Without the chance to discuss differences in the open, people can make assumptions about others, which can frequently be quite off the mark. If the work group spends much time avoiding one another, work is surely going to suffer. How can you get things accomplished if you're avoiding others on the team?

Resentment is likely to grow among team members who are being avoided. People will notice they are being avoided. Few people appreciate such treatment. Declining work relationships are highly probable. Important issues might not be addressed as people attempt to avoid speaking out on the really substantive issues. Concurrently, delays might result from failing to address items that require attention. Delays increase frustration, take up even more time, and can ruin team morale and initiative.

Again, each style can be useful in certain situations and counterproductive in others.


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