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Thursday, February 11, 2010

T3 - Multiple Personality...Types

I wanted to do a follow-up post on personality type combinations. I found a better online version of Florence Littauer's Personality Plus (wouldn't you know I found it after this series), and you can take it here. Even if you did take the test earlier, TAKE THIS ONE. It'll make the rest of what I'm about to type make sense.

Even given the 10 percent margin of error inherent in these types of tests (the word you picked to describe yourself is based on your perception of yourself, not fact), your score should indicate that one type is your dominant type. Usually, you'll have another type that comes in second, called your secondary type.

You can have a strong dominance of one type over the secondary, or almost equal scores in two types. Either way, there are some "natural" combinations that occur at birth that I've listed below.

Otter/Lion
Lion/Beaver
Golden Retriever/Otter
Beaver/Golden Retriever

The reason for this type of pairing is that the strengths of one are usually the weaknesses in another. A normal, "healthy" pattern is characterized by balancing scores of strengths and weaknesses in any single type (i.e., you're not going to have every strength of an Otter without a healthy dose of Otter weaknesses, as well).

The following two combinations are what Florence Littauer calls "unnatural combinations."

Otter/Beaver
Lion/Golden Retriever

These are sometimes seen quite frequently, but Littauer claims they aren't inborn in a person, and after a bit of research, I believe she's right, as well. She believes the combinations to be evidence of one of two things: 1) a "misunderstanding" about what some of the words might actually mean that were selected as representative of the person or 2) a "personality mask," because the traits in the above combinations are diametrically opposed to one another.

Before I get into what a mask is, I want those of you who might have one of these combinations to go back and take the test again, this time using one or all of the methods below:

1) Use a dictionary to make sure you know what the words mean
2) Select words that represent who you truly are, not who you want to be (for example, if you have learned a behavior--say, spontaneity or being scheduled--that doesn't come naturally for you, don't check that description). Another way of thinking about this is to select which word describes you as a child, not an adult.
3) Go back over the word groupings--if you had a difficult time choosing just one, check both. If nothing sounds appropriate, skip that question.

If after taking this test, you still have one of the "unnatural" combinations, then it might be the result of a personality mask. Masks are indicative of outside forces working on our lives that try to tell us what we should be, or how we change to conform to what we think someone else wants us to be. A mask could also be developed in childhood as the result of trying to survive a difficult or dysfunctional family living situation.

Some situations that might cause masking:

1) A domineering parent or a controlling spouse
2) An alcoholic parent
3) Being rejected by one/both parent(s) in childhood or by a spouse in adulthood
4) Emotional/physical/sexual abuse
5) Single parent home
6) Legalistic religious home
7) Birth order (firstborns in particular are subjected to zealous parents)

(I can give particulars on any of the above if anyone of you would like examples. Just email me or ask in the comments.)

Now, there are occasions when a person scores the same in three categories or four. When this happens, the best thing to do is to have someone who knows you very well to objectively look at the test for you. You might find that you're not exactly who you think you are, or that you've covered up your natural inclinations so much that you don't know who you are. (When my husband took the test "for" me, I tested high Beaver. When I took it myself, I was high Lion. Just interesting how his perception of me was a bit different than my perception of me.)

I hope that you've enjoyed this series as much as I have. Personality types are a great way to understand yourself, your loved ones, and your CHARACTERS.

Q4U: What have you learned--if anything--from this series? Anything take you by surprise?

The drawing is still going on for both copies of Mary DeMuth's memoir, Thin Places. Scroll to yesterday's post to leave a comment to be entered!

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8 comments:

Maureen said...

Hi Jeannie - this has really been a great series! Going by the chart, I'm neurotic, but not unnaturally so...Well! Now tell me something I didn't already know! ;)

For character development, this series has been priceless and thank you SO MUCH for the time you've spent doing this for writers.

Also, it's very interesting that you see yourself as a high Lion and your spouse sees you as a high Beaver...do you think the "truth" is somewhere in between? Or do you feel you know yourself best? I think you've highlighted another great point for writers here, the issue of perceptions in a relationship!

Jessica said...

I think mine is natural. High phlegmatic then halfway melancholy.
But I did it based on who I am not. I have a feeling that as a child I was a high melancholy. Extremely moody, jealous, sensitive. I agree with what you've said about time and situations molding us so that we've had to adapt and become someone different in order. I hope I never wear a mask, though I did wonder if my perception of myself is different than what others would think of me. I know I can be different, mood-wise, depending on who I'm with.
Hmmm, this is SO fascinating. Thanks Jeannie! And I love hearing what you scored as. That's pretty funny. :)

Jessica said...

Whooops! On my first line, I meant I did it based on who I am NOW!!!!
LOL

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

maureen - i'm not sure, quite honestly, who sees the "right" picture. :) i bet you're right...it's somewhere in the middle.

jessica - glad you clarified that! :)

Rena said...

Loved this series- but I'm a little confused by my test results- is it possible to be a blend of all four? :-)

I'm an Enneagram Three- which means that one of my strengths is being highly adaptable- I feel like I adapt to all four of these at different times. I'll have to read up on this more to figure myself out... thanks for the great info!

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

rena - according to Littauer, you should maybe have someone else take the test for you. if you're so adaptable that you're adapting to the questions, then maybe someone else would be a tad more objective? just a suggestions. :)

Eleven Eleven said...

Thank you so much for this series. I saw my life flash before my eyes; when I was little, learning to taper my ambition to include others, in school, putting so much into my performance that I became overly critical of others, early in my marriage, selling out for peace at every turn, and recently, becoming so disorganized and flighty just to keep enjoying the moment. I am obviously an otter now, but would my earliest childhood best indicate my true personality? If so, I haven't been in touch with it since I was three.

nascarccmgrlfan said...

I always test as choleric, sanguine or a mixture of the two, if the test allows mixtures.

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