@blackbearnh @madprime I will add more to this as time permits. As mad mentioned, this is mostly a passion-project with the imagined best-case-scenario goal to be able to introduce a DNA-based personality test that can predict a person’s personality type. But that’s a lofty goal, especially given current Big 5 GWAS results and the tiny tiny tiny effect sizes of each individual SNP.
- I actually think that one of the biggest complaints of the MBTI, even amongst MBTI enthusiasts-- that people are categorized into “types” rather than given a percentage on some continuum-- is one of its strengths for something like a genetic study. Since the 4 dimensions (thinking-feeling, sensing-intuition, introversion-extraversion, judging-perceiving) are meant to be independent, you can group people by one dimension ("introversion vs extraversion) and run a case-control GWAS on that data.
The MBTI is meant to get at someone’s innate, preferred, way of perceiving the world and making decisions on it. Now, lots of people deviate from their preferred way of doing things, and being in certain environments can definitely alter our preferred way of doing things (to the point that after a while you don’t even notice you have “adapted” to your surroundings). Animals/plants do this all the time as well. But I think that one of the most beneficial concepts from MBTI is that when we are “adapting” there is a stress on the body/nervous system that can eventually wear a person down (in animal literature this would be measured as lower fecundity, lower ability to maintain resources, less survival rates). In human literature this would be known as “burnout”. In MBTI speak this is known as “Falsification of Type”. We see this a lot in humans that are disengaged from their work, low energy, etc. And then you find people that are at the top of their games or “self-actualized”. What are the genetic and environmental conditions that lead to these two alternative outcomes (assuming average, non-traumatic upbringing)?
Getting back to the “this” or “that” behaviors: in the animal literature you have males of the same species that prefer to guard the nest and males that prefer to venture out/hunt/collect food. Both come with a series of risk and rewards and obviously under certain conditions the same male could show both behaviors. But the idea is that on average, the male shows predominantly one or the other behavior (the strategies oppose one another). There are many more examples of these divergent “personality traits” or “behavioral syndromes” in animals. Although I concede that in the animal literature most of the talk is about these traits being on continuums as well…
So I agree that the MBTI test itself (and all the clones out there) is not, by itself, a very accurate way of getting at someone’s “Personality Type” (assuming such a thing even exists). However, this is more due to the fact 1) personality is inherently difficult to measure 2) people are not very self-aware/they lie 3) people tend to compare themselves to other’s in the immediate surroundings, so a person’s definition of extravert or introvert can vary widely 4) people don’t always have all the information necessary to make accurate decisions about themselves (either because they’ve never encountered certain situations or because they tend to see only the good/bad side of themselves, etc), and not really a flaw of Jung’s system itself… The MBTI is actually always supposed to be accompanied by a session with a trained MBTI specialist, for these exact reasons (they would ask questions to probe for natural responses/behaviors). Now this would be impossible to do for a genetic study and I actually switched from the MBTI to a clone for financial reasons and other more technical issues (I’ll correct this in the description).
To summarize, I think the theory of personality types has some great potential, if only as a way to bring together very disparate fields (humanities: ie, search for meaning/self-actualization/human needs/religion), the soft sciences (psychology, economics/decision-making, social psychology, sociology, etc) and more hard core sciences (behavioral genetics, neuroscience, animal behavior, etc). I think one of the first steps towards getting personality types to be recognized as a legitimate thing to study by academics would be some genetic support for their existence.
Goal is to publish.
I have Dr. Dario Nardi as a collaborator, but he is more an MBTI enthusiasts and runs EEG studies on personality type. If you know anyone interested please let me know, since I have been mostly shunned by academics by email and on twitter, lol. I am not a personality psychologist or psychologist, this is an interest I developed during my postdoc which was hard-core single-cell electrophysiology in rat brains (studying neuronal responses to noradrenaline in the prefrontal cortex; which is kind of related to personality/decision-making in a circuitous way; I believe there are lots of fMRI studies showing how people with different genetic variants in noradrenaline receptors respond differently to certain tasks).
It’s a GWAS. I have a very small sample set of 340 people from the previous iteration of this project on Gencove (ran for 8 weeks) that is analyzed using PLINK all the way to the association data… there are hits at 1 x 10-7/1 x 10-6 which is supposed to be in the interesting range. Now I’m just not sure what to do with it. If there are any GWAS specialists interested in taking a look at the data/helping me figure out fact from fiction I am looking. All data is housed on DNANexus/can’t be copied to personal computers/etc.
My power analysis suggested I would need 200 people/type, so about 3000-6000 people in total. Any more than that and personality type will probably not be easily predictable (perhaps with polygenic analysis but that is above my understanding at the moment). Goal is to find a pattern of SNPs that could predict a person’s personality type.
The big issue I have with my previous dataset is that it was HEAVILY biased towards INTPs/INTJs/ENFPs/ENTPs and introverts in general. So would probably need help recruiting outside of the internet.
Ok that was more than I intended to write. If there are more questions I am happy to answer.