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Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types

Posted: Tue Jul 01, 2003 3:39 am
by damian
Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types (Keirsey,Bates).

A while ago someone mentioned the above book. I bought it and found excellent worth within. My partner also has valued it greatly and we have both held long discussions about our findings. More than confirming what I felt, it also allowed me to put a framework around my perceptions of her, her perceptions of me and my perceptions of myself in life and as a market participant. After quite a deep study period and re-assesment I was able to get even more from the book than I did after my first reading. I could talk a great deal about the process, it was most enjoyable.

I have since bought the follow up book (number II) and find that it is easier to read and for the most even more insightful.

I enjoyed the material as it allowed me to focus on my preferred topic (me). So far trhe best book I have read as an aspiring trader and I commend as a worthwhile effort.

I really feel like giving a precis of my personality type to my boss so that he understands how to get the best (or to be honest, any) value out of me.

Posted: Tue Jul 01, 2003 7:34 am
by kmulford

Do you recommend reading the books in sequence, or do you think one volume has more value than the other?

Also, can you talk a little about the process that the book recommends? I wish to learn more - I am deeply skeptical of self-improvement psych books.


Posted: Tue Jul 01, 2003 10:44 pm
by damian

I had a think about it and I came to the conclusion that that these books are not actually self help in the sense that I and perhaps yourself would mean it. What the book does is quite simple: it plonks you into a likely personality type based on answers to questions. It then explains that personality type in in detail in terms of character, interpersonal relationships, intimate relationships, work place relationships, marriage, children etc. What you do with the detailed info will determine the level of self help that this book provides. The book is not designed to make you feel good and offers no solutions, just facts. At least facts from the perspective of the writer.

You may not agree with the personality category to which you belong and this is good as you then re think your answers. I did it several times and always arrived at the same bucket, with perhaps minor change. You may not even like being categorised. Interestingly, ones take-away from the book is a function of ones personality type.

The character types are pretty obvious to someone who observes other people. But I had to really think and re-think my opinions before I could be comfortable with my classification. In retrospect, it didn't tell me much that I didn't already know about myself. However that does not at all detract from the value. without revealing too much personal info, my partner was suprised by her findings as she had never really analysed herself before. On the other hand, I understood and found that I had to stop myself from second guessing my findings as I have analysed my mind at great length in the past. As I suggested in the first post, these books lent some framework and rigor to my constant internal analysis.

The character typing is a little hit and miss. I can place myself squarely in one of the buckets, but i would consider myself a mild example of this character type. I would expect others of the same character type to be offended that I am in the same bucket! Interestingly, my online (ie forum) character is very different from my 9 days out of 10 'in real life character'.

Neither of the books are self help/inspiration orientated. They are rather clinically written. I believe that the second book was written 20 years after the first. You do not need to have read the first to read the second, if one were to only have read the second book then that would be no disadvantage at all.

If I were American I think I would find of great interest another of his books that categorises a number of past US presidents and explains their tenure in terms of their character type. The books I have read do actually step into history and give examples of well known characters for each character type.

There is no doubt that the world is composed of many different people and these books supply one of the no doubt many frameworks to describe these differences.

Posted: Tue Jul 01, 2003 11:16 pm
by Forum Mgmnt
Damian, I'm happy to hear you liked the book :)

Ken, I concur with Damian's assessment that this is not a "self help" book.

The work on personality typing comes directly from work done by the psychologist Carl Jung. This work was expanded and popularized by the mother-daughter team of Myers and Briggs. In fact, this type of personality typing is now most commonly referred to as a Meyers-Briggs test.

I too found that it gave me a framework for understanding myself and how I think and approach life differently from many others.

Knowing oneself is a prerequisite of excellent trading, IMHO.

- Forum Mgmnt

Posted: Wed Jul 02, 2003 7:42 am
by kmulford
Thank you, gentlemen. Damian, the framework sounds interesting and worth a thorough perusal. I appreciate your taking the time to make the case for the book. Forum Mgmnt, I have read Jung (and Freud and May and many others) in grad school and can find no better justification than Damian's description and the pedigree in the Jungian line. Amazon dot com, here I come.

Thanks so much.


Posted: Tue Jul 15, 2003 12:36 pm
by Jester
I agree with Damian and Forum Mgmnt, this book is excellent. I grew up in a family where 'psychology' was a dirty word, a fluffy, touchy, feely subject that was not worth studding (two PhD parents).

Now, I couldn't disagree with them more on this subject.

This is not a self-help book, it's a book that helps one understand personality types, and as Damian correctly says, the world is composed of many different people.
This book especially helped me when speaking to clients.
A+, in fact it was so good, I bought the second book which I plan on reading right after I finish toxic parents.


Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2003 6:10 am
by Bernd

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2003 8:49 am
by Jimmy
Just finished the book and it’s interesting to see how my temperament/personality traits have changed through different phases of my life. Prior to this reading, I took the Myers-Briggs twice, once during my senior year in high school and the other time just prior to graduation from college. At that time, I noticed a slight change in different categories of my personality, but didn’t think much about it. Maybe it’s the self reflection that I’ve been going through over the past few months, but I noticed and studied some of the changes after reading this book. Very interesting indeed!

Forum Mgmnt, in your experiences, have you noticed if one classification of personality types excels more than others at trading? I’m sure this is just a gross generalization, but it seems certain traits like N and T would be conducive to successful trading.


Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2003 9:39 am
by Sir G
Jimmy wrote:Forum Mgmnt, in your experiences, have you noticed if one classification of personality types excels more than others at trading? I’m sure this is just a gross generalization, but it seems certain traits like N and T would be conducive to successful trading.
Hi Jimmy-

I look forward to c.f.'s answer also and I wonder if this was something that Rich Dennis administered to weed out the turtle applications.

I believe N and T are conducive to successful trading. As are E and P as in “ENTP.â€

Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2003 11:14 am
by Mark Johnson
What is "rare"? That classification system defines sixteen types: 2 choices per category, 4 categories, (2 raised to the power 4) = 16 types. If you hate math, count up the items in this list and see whether you get sixteen: ESTJ, ESTP, ESFJ, ESFP, ENTJ, ENTP, ENFJ, ENFP, ISTJ, ISTP, ISFJ, ISFP, INTJ, INTP, INFH, INFP.

If the population were distributed among these types perfectly uniformly, each type would get exactly 1/16th of the population: 6.25 percent.

Since the expected value of any one type's prevalence is 6.25%, I myself wouldn't consider a type that had 5% of the population "rare". I'd consider it "slightly less common than average."

Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2003 12:12 pm
by Sir G
Hi Mark-

Yes, feel free to replace the word rare with the phrase "slightly less common than average." Or to satisfy most all bases, "slightly less common than average as of the publishing of the study."

I think this is a point where for all practical matters, my view on things cross with the math that is done with paper and pen. In another forum, c.f. had mentioned something along the lines of being suspect of MCS as in real life things are related. If Beans are up there may be a tendency for bean oil to be up. If you scramble everything and ignore the relations then how close to real are the simulations? That discussion reinforced to me that c.f. is also an ENTP.

Mark, I will never argue math with you (and many others on this forum) as you are blessed with the ability to think in those strictly logical terms, I am not.. But I will argue that some things are necessary to be dominate while others are necessary to be recessive, the survival of all species depends on that and that is by design. These will ebb and flow and will never (in my opinion) be divined mathematically with a simple average or any other formula.

Hence, averages are simply that, averages. All things that are rare are less then average, while not everything less then average is rare. The gene pool and environments that nurture behavior and characteristics are not evenly divided, nor do they know that there are 16 bins waiting to be evenly weighted. While the current buzz word is "randomness" I can't believe that mother nature balances her scales with it.

So in the case of the number of folks found being classified as ENTP, While it might be just be less slightly then average, I consider it rare. And from all the folks I have met in my lifetime, I would say it is a whole lot less then 1 in 20 that are ENTPs.


Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2003 3:09 pm
by Forum Mgmnt
Into the fray.....

The folks (David Keirsey wrote Please Understand Me) say that ENTP is found in "two percent (at most) of the population". Since the types tend to bunch with the more common types being in the 12% to 15% range, this is actually a significant difference in distribution frequency.

I'm not certain of the source but here's a web page which lists frequency distributions:

In this survery, I note that the NP combination in total is actually only 12% of the population even though it should be 25%.

The INxP types are only 1% each, while the ENxP types are 5% each.

In my earlier life, and during the time I was a Turtle, I was a pretty strong INTP. However, I have drifted over the years in my Introverted/Extroverted axis and am now, indeed, an ENTP. So I guess I've grown five times more common.

I still approach trading like an INTP, while I approach business and life more as an ENTP.

Einstein, Darwin, and Adam Smith were INTPs. Richard Feynman, Thomas Edison, Nicola Tesla, and Walt Disney were ENTPs.

I happen to believe that there are probably a limited set of types that would be drawn to system trading, I'd also guess that xNTx is more common than any other combination among those that are doing system research.

The more I have worked with different people the more I appreciate the strengths each type brings to any particular endeavor, so I hesitate to say which would be best.

My guess is that there are a lot of xNTJ traders who are very effective but much more inclined to be rigorous and skeptical in their research before beginning to trade.

I also think that it will be harder for xSFx xSTx personalities to put their faith in mechanical trading systems.

As with most things, I find these classifications to be useful but not all powerful. Indeed, an individual can move across any axis intentionally through exposure to others or because they are forced to assume a compensating role because of relationships with others. The classifications are also fuzzy in the sense that each of us probably has a continuum of comfort for each category.

For example on a scale where one can go from 5I to 5E, 5N to 5S, I'm probably comfortable going from:

4I to 3E but am naturally at 2E
5N to 2S but am naturally at 4N
5T to 2F but am naturally at 4T
5P to 1S but am naturally at 5P

It might be interesting to type the various traders, both famous and otherwise. Perhaps we should do a survey? There are plenty of online tests that don't take too long to complete.

Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2003 3:41 pm
by edward kim
Forum Mgmnt wrote:It might be interesting to type the various traders, both famous and otherwise. Perhaps we should do a survey? There are plenty of online tests that don't take too long to complete.
Forum Mgmnt, can you give a sample listing of those online sites so that forum readers can take the test? I'll set up a poll, and maybe I can even split the polls among system, discretionary, or hybrid traders.


Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2003 4:19 pm
by Forum Mgmnt
Here are some sites:

I haven't taken these specifically. It usually takes 10 to 15 minutes or so.

- Forum Mgmnt

Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2003 11:13 pm
by NeueZiel

Thanks c.f. for those two links. After taking those tests, I am an INTJ.
No wonder my last annual review in my first and last job working at an online brokerage firm was so terrible. The word "arrogant" came up several times in the review... Maybe that was the reason why I got sick of it all and decided that I work better alone....... I just can't stand being in a huge call center environment. Feel like a damn mindless drone making a dying instead of living out my full potential!!!!!

Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2003 11:26 pm
by DrHendricks
Took the humanmetrics test. INTJ. Guilty as charged yer honor. I too know thay my 'type' has drifted over time. You are correct in my case with respect to INTJ traders c.f..

character type polls are up

Posted: Fri Jul 18, 2003 2:25 am
by edward kim
There is a maximum to the amount of items I can put in a poll, so I separated between extroverts and introverts.


MODERATOR'S NOTE: This was subsequently merged into a single poll by Dan after he increased the number of items permitted in a poll.

another intj

Posted: Sun Jul 20, 2003 11:44 pm
by Nathan
I took the Keirsey test several times and each time scored "intj". It was interesting to see that of the first 30 poll respondents, almost 1/2 were intj. Especially interesting given their supposedly small (1%) representation in the general population. I have noticed that all of my good friends (a small number) are variants of the "NT" group.

I was interested in c.f.'s observation that one dimension of his personality (accoarding to the test) has changed over time. My guess would be that there could be substantial movement between "I" and "E", and "J" and "P" over the course of a lifetime. My "J" and "P" scores are very close, and I seem to have traits of both groups. I can see being a "P" rather than a "J". However, I am skeptical that many people switch between "N" and "S" traits. I sometimes wonder if strong "S" types are able to grasp abstract/conceptual matters at all. I have noticed that they tend to rely on memory rather than deduction or induction when solving problems or confronting a challenge.

Does anyone have any views about the most likely types of "trait migration?" Does anyone agree or disagree with the above theory?

As an introvert, I have found it useful to develop a quasi-extrovert personality that I use in some circumstances. I flip a mental switch and become "Mr. Extrovert" for a few hours. I can do this, but I find it to be tiring unless I am with my best friends. Have any other introverts found the need to consciously develop an "E" side? I know that doing this has made social situations much easier for me.

The Keirsey book points out that "NT's" are drawn to practical experimentation and system design/analysis. Sounds like the raw material for system traders to me.

Re: another intj

Posted: Mon Jul 21, 2003 3:17 am
by damian
Nathan wrote: As an introvert, I have found it useful to develop a quasi-extrovert personality that I use in some circumstances. I flip a mental switch and become "Mr. Extrovert" for a few hours.
Yes, me too. I call it beer :wink:

Just joking, I liked reading your post.


Posted: Mon Jul 21, 2003 3:39 am
by Kiwi
You are still a true Aussie Damian!

Ill buy you one when you make it back to QLD :)