December 19, 2014

Brain Efficiencies

What is your brain's hotline?

What is your brain’s hotline?

What if every time you wanted to pick up a pencil and write something, you had to stop to decide which hand to use?  Which hand would you use to eat? Brush your teeth?  Pick up something off of the floor?   If this were so, we would be pretty inefficient and get very little accomplished.  Fortunately, nature gave us hand dominance so we could go about our day doing ordinary things without getting tripped up by decisions of which hand to employ,.


Yet dominance doesn’t mean we don’t use the non-dominant hand!  We use it often and would be greatly challenged if we didn’t have our other hand.   We are wired this way in that we have brain- dominance for efficiency, while the other limb serves as an important second choice.


As a lifelong student of the brain, I was intrigued when I first learned how to use MBTI assessment.  Here, as in hand dominance, we have brain efficiencies that center around 4 cognitive parameters:

·      Extraversion versus Introversion-what is the primary source of our energy?

·      Sensing versus iNtuition-do we gather information by going from concrete details to concepts or concepts to concrete details?

·      Thinking versus Feeling- do we tend to employ analysis or empathy first when making a decision

·      Judging versus Perceiving- do we prefer a structured, predictable environment versus one that unfolds?


When administering the MBTI, I often have clients tell me “I do both”, which is true and it is the case for each and everyone of us.  In fact, an individual might use an opposing preference so much that it almost feels like the actual preference!  The gift of neuroplasticity allows the brain to change in response to the environment. The MBTI and other similar instruments try to identify the baseline cognitive preferences (not skills, not traits) so that you can leverage your natural strengths while becoming aware of what is out of preference – what might need a little extra attention, what might even be a blind spot!


Ultimately, the MBTI and other preference instruments take your four “brain efficiencies” and identify a whole personality type, commonly known by it’s 4-letter description- ENFP, ISTJ, ESFJ etc… There are 16 identified types.  However it is important to note that knowing your brain efficiencies in no way puts you in a box or says can only do certain things.  It’s merely a point of self –awareness and a pathway to effective living and personal development.


Do you know your 4-letter personality type? Is it empowering?  Confining?  How does this knowledge serve you?

3 Important Trends in the Use of the MBTI and Psychological Type

The venerable MBTI turns 70 years old next year.  In that time,  the MBTI has become one of the most researched, respected and widely used personality inventories in history.  It has remained relevant over 7 decades despite the emergence of other meritorious personality instruments. One reason for this is that there is always something new in the area of psychological type.

Here are 3 trends that I like:

1.  Increased emphasis on the introverted verus the extraverted manifestation of the mental functions (The 8 Cognitive Functions):  Rather than stating that an individual simply has a psychological preference for intuition vs sensing or thinking vs feeling, the distinction is regularly  being made about whether this is the an extraverted or introverted process.   For instance, introverted intuition is the process of internal visioning or imagining whereas external intuition is more like classic brainstorming.   These distinctions aren’t new,  but the nature of these distinctions are becoming more important and more clearly defined than ever before. This is no small difference especially because there is neuro data to back up these distinctions.

2. The EEG findings of Dario Nardi on brain activity based on the 8 cognitive functions.   Thanks to brain mapping and neuroimaging techniques, many theories about how the brain works have been confirmed or modified. A certain validation by skeptics is often bestowed if a concept of the mind, cognition or personality can be connected to findings in neuroscience using tools such as EEG, fMRI, PET scan. Dr. Dario Nardi has used EEG to measure the brain activity of  college students performing a variety of activities and solidly correlated these findings with the 8 cognitive processes.  (Read more).

3. The MBTI Step III.  It has long been acknowledged that the MBTI and/or the concepts of psychological type serve as a dynamic model of personal growth.   Your brain does not remain static in your type.  All of the recent data on neuroplasticity confirms that your brain continues to learn, adapt and form new connections.  The psychological type model asserts that healthy type development is defined by both well-developed natural strengths as well as knowing when one needs to operate out of preference.  The MBTI Step III is a recently released assessment tool that explores type development. (Read more).

These are my favorite important trends in the area of psychological type.   What are yours?