Chapter 3: Jung – Analytical Psychology

Part 3: Jung’s Personality Types

One of Jung’s most practical theories, and one that has been quite influential, is his work on personality types.  Jung had conducted an extensive review of the available literature on personality types, including perspectives from ancient Brahmanic conceptions taken from the Indian Vedas and types described by the American psychologist William James.  In keeping with one of Jung’s favorite themes, James had emphasized opposing pairs as the characteristics of his personality types, such as rationalism vs. empiricism, idealism vs. materialism, or optimism vs. pessimism (see Jung, 1971). Based on his research and clinical experience, Jung proposed a system of personality types based on attitude-types and function-types (more commonly referred to simply as attitudes and functions).  Once again, the attitudes and functions are based on opposing ways of interacting with one’s environment.

The two attitude-types are based on one’s orientation to external objects (which includes other people).  The introvert is intent on withdrawing libido from objects, as if to ensure that the object can have no power over the person.  In contrast, the extravert extends libido toward an object, establishing an active relationship.  Jung considered introverts and extraverts to be common amongst all groups of people, from all walks of life.  Today, most psychologists acknowledge that there is a clear genetic component to these temperaments (Kagan, 1984, 1994; Kagan, Kearsley, & Zelazo 1978), a suggestion proposed by Jung as well (Jung, 1971).  Of course, one cannot have an orientation to objects without consciousness, and consciousness cannot exist without an ego.  For Jung, the ego is a complex, so it is associated with both the conscious psyche and the personal unconscious.  According to Jung, “it is always in the center of our attention and of our desires, and it is the absolutely indispensable centre of consciousness” (Jung, 1968).

Jung’s four functions describe ways in which we orient ourselves to the external environment, given our basic tendency toward introversion or extraversion.  The first opposing pair of functions is thinking vs. feeling.  Thinking involves intellect, it tells you what a thing is, whereas feeling is values-based, it tells what a thing is worth to you.  For example, if you are trying to choose classes for your next semester of college, perhaps you need to choose between a required general education course as opposed to a personally interesting course like Medical First Responder or Interior Design.  If you are guided first by thinking, you will probably choose the course that fulfills a requirement, but if you are guided by feeling, you may choose the course that satisfies your more immediate interests.  The second opposing pair of functions is sensing vs. intuition.  Sensing describes paying attention to the reality of your external environment, it tells you that something is.  In contrast, intuition incorporates a sense of time, and allows for hunches.  Intuition may seem mysterious, and Jung freely acknowledges that he is particularly mystical, yet he offers an interesting perspective on this issue:

The two attitudes and the four functions combine to form eight personality types.  Jung described a so-called cross of the functions, with the ego in the center being influenced by the pairs of functions (Jung, 1968).  Considering whether the ego’s attitude is primarily introverted or extraverted, one could also propose a parallel pair of crosses. Jung’s theory on personality types has proven quite influential, and led to the development of two well-known and very popular instruments used to measure one’s personality type, so that one might then make reasoned decisions about real-life choices.

In 1923, Katharine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers learned of Jung’s personality types and became quite interested in his theory.  After spending 20 years observing individuals of different types, they added one more pair of factors based on a person’s preference for either a more structured lifestyle, called judging, or a more flexible or adaptable lifestyle, called perceiving.  There were now, according to Briggs and Myers, sixteen possible personality types.  In the 1940s, Isabel Myers began developing the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) in order to help people learn about their personality type.  To provide just one example of an MBTI profile, an individual who is extraverted and prefers sensing, thinking, and judging (identified by the initials ESTJ) would be described as:  “Practical, realistic, matter-of-fact. Decisive, quickly move to implement decisions. Organize projects and people to get things done…Forceful in implementing their plans” (Myers, 1993; Myers & McCaulley).  While it is relatively easy to find shortcut tests or variations of the MBTI online, if one plans to make any meaningful decisions based on their personality type, they should consult a trained MBTI administrator.  What sort of decision might one make? The MBTI has become a popular tool for looking at career choices and workplace relationships. A number of popular books, such as Do What You Are (Tieger & Barron-Tieger, 2001) and Type Talk at Work (Kroeger, Thuesen, & Rutledge, 2002), are available that provide information intended to help people choose satisfying careers and be successful in complex work environments.  In addition to its use in career counseling, the MBTI has been used in individual counseling, marriage counseling, and in educational settings (Myers, 1993; Myers & McCaulley, 1985; Myers & Myers, 1980).

Another popular instrument, based once again on Jung’s theory and compared directly to the MBTI, is the Keirsey Temperament Sorter.  David Keirsey uses plain language in an effort to make personality types easy to comprehend.  Setting aside introversion vs. extraversion, he has identified eight character portraits: mentors, organizers, monitors, operators, advocates, engineers, conservators, and players.  When Keirsey adds extraversion and introversion back into the mixture, he can identify one’s personality type even more clearly: monitors become either supervisors (E) or inspectors (I), players become performers (E) or composers (I), engineers become inventors (E) or designers (I), etc.  As with the MBTI, Keirsey provides concrete recommendations regarding how one might use the results of his temperament sorter to make decisions about one’s choices in life (Keirsey, 1987).

Table 4.2: Jung’s Eight Personality Types*
Introverted Thinking Focused on own internal thoughts and ideas, do not communicate well, can be highly conflicted and will lash out at critics, generally stubborn and do not get along well with others
Introverted Feeling Tend to be silent, inaccessible, and melancholy, have deep emotions but hide them and appear cold and reserved on the surface, tend to be suspicious of others, most are women
Introverted Sensing Guided by subjective impression of real-life objects, often express their sensations through artistic endeavors, the objective world may seem make-believe and comical
Introverted Intuitive Tend to be peculiar and lack contact with reality, may be completely misunderstood even by those who are close to them, may seem like a mystical dreamer and seer on one hand but just a cranky person on the other, may have vision but lack convincing power of reason
Extroverted Thinking Seek intellectual conclusions based on objective reality, seek to influence others, suppress emotion, can be rigid and dogmatic (tyrannical when others penetrate their power province)
Extroverted Feeling Feelings harmonize with objective situations, can be highly emotional, will avoid thinking when it proves upsetting, most are women
Extroverted Sensing Immersed in realism and seek new experiences, whole aim is concrete enjoyment, most are men
Extroverted Intuitive Always seek new opportunities, may seize new opportunity with enthusiasm and just as quickly abandon it if not promising, has vision, often found among business tycoons and politicians, but have little regard for the welfare of others

Table Source:  Kelland, M. (2017). Personality Theory. OER Commons. Retrieved October 28, 2019, from  Licensed under CC-BY-4.0.

Jung and Personality Development

Jung believed that “everyone’s ultimate aim and strongest desire lie in developing the fullness of human existence that is called personality” (Jung, 1940).  However, he lamented the misguided attempts of society to educate children into their personalities. Not only did he doubt the abilities of the average parent or average teacher to lead children through a child’s personality development, given their own personal limitations, he considered it a mistake to expect children to act like young adults.  This is not to suggest that childhood is simply a carefree time for children.

So, if childhood is a critical time, but most adults never grow up themselves, what hope does Jung see for the future?  The answer is to be found in midlife. According to Jung, the middle years of life are “a time of supreme psychological importance” and “the moment of greatest unfolding” in one’s life (cited in Jacobi & Hull, 1970).  In keeping with the ancient tradition of the Vedic stages of life from Hindu and Indian culture, the earlier stages of life are about education, developing a career, having a family, and serving one’s proper role within society:

Man has two aims:  The first is the aim of nature, the begetting of children and all the business of protecting the brood; to this period belongs the gaining of money and social position.  When this aim is satisfied, there begins another phase, namely, that of culture. For the attainment of the former goal we have the help of nature, and moreover of education; but little or nothing helps us toward the latter goal… (pg. 125; Jung, cited in Jacobi & Hull, 1970)

So where does one look for the answers to life?  Obviously, there is no simple answer to that question, or rather, there are many answers to that question.  Some pursue spiritual answers, such as meditating or devoting themselves to charitable causes. Some devote themselves to their children and grandchildren, while others to gardening, painting, or woodworking.  The answer for any particular individual is based on that person’s individuation.

Individuation is the process by which a person actually becomes an “individual,” differentiated from all other people.  It is not to be confused with the ego, or with the conscious psyche, since it includes aspects of the personal unconscious, as influenced by the collective unconscious.  Jung also described individuation as the process by which one becomes a “whole” person. To some extent, this process draws the individual away from society, toward being just that, an individual.  However, keeping in mind the collective unconscious, Jung believed that individuation leads to more intense and broader collective relationships, rather than leading to isolation. This is what is meant by a whole person, one who successfully integrates the conscious psyche, or ego, with the unconscious psyche.  Jung also addresses the Eastern approaches, such as meditation, as being misguided in their attempts to master the unconscious mind. The goal of individuation is wholeness, wholeness of ego, unconscious psyche, and community (Jung, 1940, 1971).

Supplemental Materials

Personality Types-Jung and MBTI

This video [13:15] describes Jung’s personality typologies and the MBTI.



Myers Briggs (MBTI) Explained

This video [5:59] describes the history and purpose of the MBTI.



Carl Jung:  What is the Individuation Process?

This video [11:03] examines one of the most important elements of Jungian psychology-the individuation process.



Text:  Kelland, M. (2017). Personality Theory. OER Commons. Retrieved October 28, 2019, from  Licensed under CC-BY-4.0.

Human Factors for Healthcare.  (2016, October 17). Personality types part 3-personality typing Jung and MBTI.  [Video File]. Retrieved from Standard YouTube License.

Practical Psychology.  (2019, June 30). Myers Briggs (MBTI) explained-personality quiz.  [Video File]. Retrieved from Standard YouTube License.

Academy of Ideas.  (2017, October 26). Carl Jung: What is the individuation process?  [Video File]. Retrieved from Standard YouTube License.


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PSY321 Course Text: Theories of Personality by The American Women's College Psychology Department and Michelle McGrath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.