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Personality Type Myths and Misunderstandings

Founder and Chief Career Coach

Its common that new comers to the world of personality type try to explain things using type that are really not intended to be covered by type theory. Here we will shed some light on these common mistakes.

Personality Type and Intelligence

My type is smart than your type. My type is more intelligent than your type.

This is so common. I just read a post on Facebook where an ISTP was declaring that people of his type were much more intelligent than say ISTJ.

If you go to the INTJ (my own type) group on Facebook, you will see countless people claim they must be more intelligent than others because they are INTJ. It's wrong.

Personality Type has nothing to do with one's intelligence!

There are many kinds of intelligences. Certain personality types may have more of a certain kind of intelligence than others. Each type has unique abilities and gifts.

It is more healthy to believe that each of the 16 personality types has something special to offer the world. The benefit of knowing which each type is so you can more quickly discover a person's talents and abilities. Type theory gives you a framework to understand this. Type theory only suggests which type has which strengths and weaknesses. However, each person is vastly different, so you have to get to know the individual personally before you can determine what they are good at.

This myth about certain types being smarter probably comes from our stereotypes. In the US, we have a stereotype that people who do well in classroom learning - sitting in a chair, being lectured to and doing well on tests - are more intelligent than others. NOT TRUE.

Introverts will do better in traditional classrooms and get better grades in some classes simply because they learn better that way. Extroverts will do better in classes where they can talk and share.

Certain types will do better at learning physical skills rather than book learning. That has nothing to do with intelligence.

So in the US we might think a person who is good at math and physics is more intelligent than someone who does not do well in those subjects, but who does well in other subjects.

There are many kinds of intelligences. In 1983 an American developmental psychologist Howard Gardener described 9 types of intelligence:

  • Naturalist (nature smart)
  • Musical (sound smart)
  • Logical-mathematical (number/reasoning smart)
  • Existential (life smart)
  • Interpersonal (people smart)
  • Bodily-kinesthetic (body smart)
  • Linguistic (word smart)
  • Intra-personal (self smart)
  • Spatial (picture smart)