Personality Matters - OPP's blog

How does personality type affect self-awareness?

Posted 30 Oct 2017 by Helen Rayner, Lead Consultant, OPP

In our recent research, we asked people who knew their MBTI type preferences about their views on self-awareness. They answered questions about how they saw themselves in relation to four aspects of self-awareness, which are: 

Self awarenessInsight
the ability to name feelings, acceptance of uncomfortable feelings, understanding one’s motives

Self awarenessReflection
reflecting on one’s thoughts and feelings, valuing self-reflection and others’ self-reflection

Self awarenessRumination
recalling negative events, considering the past and how things could have been done differently

Self awarenessMindfulness
paying attention to the present moment, having a focused mind (not wandering)

People were also asked about the different methods they used to develop their self-awareness, and which were more effective. 

Self-awareness facets and MBTI type

Here are some of the findings from our research into the aspects of self-awareness. 

Insight

Those who say they are insightful are more likely to have preferences for Extraversion. Associated with these preferences is the energy and enjoyment gained from being around and spending time with other people. Perhaps taking these opportunities to share and explore their feelings and motivations with other people allows them to name and share their experiences? 

Those who reported highest on the Insight scale also indicated that training to become a coach was a particularly useful method of developing their self-awareness. Training to become a coach affords opportunities to gain insight about motivations and behaviours. There might be times when the coach learns to ask challenging questions that cause themselves and their coachee discomfort. Personal change is often reported as an uncomfortable process, even though it is often associated with positive outcomes.

Reflection

Those who scored highly on Reflection rated journaling (eg keeping records of highs and lows, possibilities, questions and discoveries) as being an effective way of developing their self-awareness. They also commented on how spiritual practices such as contemplation have also helped them to develop their self-awareness. Those who scored highly were more likely to have preferences for Introversion, gaining their energy from their inner world. 

Rumination

Although those with preferences for Extraversion gain energy from people and the world around them, they also reported a greater propensity to ruminate compared to those who have preferences for Introversion. Those with preferences for Extraversion do gain their energy from the outer world, but they will still go into their inner world to reflect for periods of time. For those with preferences for Extraversion, they may benefit from learning to find the balance between time with others and time alone after a difficult period. 

Those with preferences for Thinking also reported they spent more time looking back and thinking about things that have gone wrong, and how they could have done things differently. This could be due to their desire to think logically and rationally about tasks and people. 

Mindfulness

Those who reported higher on the Mindfulness scale were more likely to have preferences for Judging. Associated with preferences for Judging is a desire to live life in a structured and organised way. In turn, this could be because living in a more planful way allows for attention to be focused on what is going on in the present moment. 

Another lens we can use to understand these results is type dynamics. Those with preferences for ESTP or ESFP have the dominant function (sometimes known as the favourite process) Extraverted Sensing. ESTPs and ESFPs are often described as engaged, curious and aware of their surroundings – indeed, these are all elements of being mindful. Interestingly, those with dominant Extraverted Sensing did not score more highly on the Mindfulness scale, despite the similarities between mindfulness and the characteristics of Extraverted Sensing. 

Those who reported higher on the Mindfulness scale commented on an increased acceptance of themselves, improved relationships and improved communication as a result of their mindfulness. Those who are energised by their inside world report that they are more often on ‘autopilot’, whereas those who are energised by the outer world report that they often find themselves rushing from one activity to the next. We are often hearing lots about the benefits of mindfulness, but it is interesting to note that both those with preferences for Extraversion and Introversion may find it challenging to live ‘in the moment’. 

Developing yourself

This research has shown that when we use the MBTI instrument as a framework for understanding personality, we see differences in people’s personality and their perceived self-awareness.

What facets of self-awareness do you feel you may need to develop? How might you go about doing this? Try answering the following questions: 

  • Are you paying attention to the outer world and your inner world? Do you need to spend time talking to trusted colleagues? Or do you need to spend time away from others? 
  • What information do you trust and rely on? Do you need to check facts? Or do you need to think more about wider implications? 
  • Are you considering both an objective analysis and considering people/harmony in your decisions?
  • How are you living your life? Do you need to spend time planning? Or do you need to be more spontaneous?  

In our next blog post on self-awareness, we’ll look at the methods used by different MBTI types to raise their self-awareness, and we’ll discuss how useful those methods were.

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