Carl Jung’s Theory of Personality is a result of his studies in analytical psychology, which was Jung’s response to Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic approach in psychology and psychosexual theory of development. While psychosexual theory values the unconscious mind, Jung’s theory of personality bases on the systems that make up an individual’s personality. Jung noted that personality comprises “a complex network of interacting systems that strive toward eventual harmony” (Engler, p. 2008, 71). The interacting systems involve: (a) the ego, (b) personal unconscious, and (c) collective unconscious. The collective unconscious is, “made up of primordial images” that allows human beings to “respond to the world in a certain way” (Burger, 2010, p. 102). As an example, Jung pointed out how infants respond to mothers. Generally, infants respond well to their mothers because the image and character of a mother are ingrained in all of human beings’ collective unconscious.
Aside from the collective unconscious that dictates how we see the world and respond to people or things in our environment, there is also the ego, which is an individual’s conscious mind. The personal unconscious mind, on the other hand, involve innate feelings that can either be easily retrieved by memory or are repressed from it (Engler, 2008). Jung also described personality as comprised of parts that make up a whole. “For Jung, this wholeness is represented by the psyche, which includes all thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, both conscious and unconscious” (Sharf, 2011, p. 86) and that individuals aim to establish wholeness through their experiences and knowledge accumulated throughout their lives.
Aside from differentiating an individual’s personal and collective unconscious, Jung’s personality theory also defines introversion and extroversion as two primary attitudes depicted by human beings. According to Jung, introvert thinking (IT) “describes an individual’s desire to pursue their thoughts, inwardly directed” (Light, 2008, p. 26). Jung also described introverts as “emotionless, distant… private individuals, sometimes feeling a real need to be alone… are comfortable being alone, stimulated by private activities” (Light, p. 26). The main traits of introverts are: (1) withdrawn, (2) unsociable, (3) prefers to be alone, (4) shy, (5) passive, (6) careful, and (7) thoughtful (Knights & Willmott, 2006, p. 86). On the other hand, extrovert thinkers (ET) find it necessary to be objective about how they think. ETs do not repress their feelings because they are vocal and find it easy to get along with other people. The main traits of extroverts are: (1) sociable, (2) outgoing, (3) talkative, (4) gregarious, (5) active, (6) optimistic, and (7) impulsive. Although the introvert and extrovert personality types are extremes, Jung said that each person exhibits a certain level of both introversion and extroversion.
Based on the personality types of introversion and extroversion, Jung created the eight personality types: (1) Extroverted Thinking, (2), Introverted Thinking, (3) Extroverted Feeling, (4) Introverted Feeling, (5) Extroverted Sensing, (6) Introverted Sensing, (7) Extroverted Intuitive, and (8) Introverted Intuitive (Berens, 2000, p. 36). Since individuals can exhibit both extroverted and introverted personalities, Jung defined the eight personality types in order to characterize the dominant mental processes inherent in people. For instance, an individual can be extroverted when it comes to thinking, but introverted when it comes to feeling, or vice versa. The type of extraversion or introversion could be defined by thinking, feeling, sensing, and intuition. Thinking refers to how individuals interpret things or ideas, either subjectively or objectively. Feeling, on the other hand, refers to the preferences of individuals – what they like or dislike – including their dispositions and inert and immediate responses to stimuli. Sensing refers to the physical responses of individuals to stimuli, while intuition refers to unconscious perceptions (Nunez, 2008).
The sixteen personality types that could help determine dominant behavior include the following: Extraverted Sensing with Introverted Thinking (ESTP), Extraverted Sensing with Introverted Feeling (ESFP), Introverted Sensing with Extraverted Thinking (ISTJ), Introverted Sensing with Extraverted Feeling (ISFJ), Extraverted Intuiting with Introverted Thinking (ENTP), Extraverted Intuiting with Introverted Feeling (ENFP), Introverted Intuiting with Extraverted Thinking (INTJ), Introverted Intuiting with Extraverted Feeling (INFJ), Introverted Thinking with Extraverted Sensing (ISTP), Introverted Thinking with Extraverted Intuiting (INTP), Extraverted Thinking with Introverted Sensing (ESTJ), Extraverted Thinking with Introverted Intuiting (ENTJ), Introverted Feeling with Extraverted Sensing (ISFP), Introverted Feeling with Extraverted Intuiting (INFP), Extraverted Feeling with Introverted Sensing (ESFJ), and Extraverted Feeling with Introverted Intuiting (ENFJ). The Myers-Briggs personality test was based on Jung’s theory of personality that defined introversion and extroversion (Light, 2008). Today, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is used in the workplace to measure the kind of personality traits inherent in individuals (Berens, 2000).
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Overall, Jung’s personality theory refers to the inherent characteristics that represent an individual’s personality, such as how one interacts or responds to other people, things, or situations. Jung’s personality theory also values the outcome and implications of various processes that occur within a human being – thinking, feeling, sensing, and intuiting based on their ego (conscious thinking), personal unconscious, and collective unconscious. Jung’s theory could be used to explain gender and culture in people. Since an individual’s way of thinking is influenced by culture, and consequently, the traits that make up gender is prescribed by culture, Jung’s personality theory points that human beings behave and respond based on their gender and cultural background. According to Jung, “the individual forms a persona as an adaptation to the ideology of his or her culture, including… gender roles” (Baumlin, Baumlin, French, and Jensen, 2004, p. 14).
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Another evidence that Jung’s personality theory is influenced by gender concepts is its ties with feminism. Jung’s personality theories are heavily quoted and references in feminist literature and discourse. Since Jung’s personality theories focus on an individual’s personal and collective unconscious, he does not discriminate personality based on an individual’s gender, but rather on one’s innate traits. Moreover, according to Jung, “an unconscious man exists within the woman (animus) and that an unconscious woman exists within the man (anima),” (Enns, 2004, p. 186), which means that masculinity and femininity are not exclusive, and can thus be exhibited by both sexes. The concept mirrors Jung’s theory of personality that defines extraversion and introversion. While individuals can both exhibit extraversion and introversion, they can also exhibit both masculinity and femininity. In terms of culture, Jung’s personality theory acknowledges that an individual’s conscious (ego) and unconscious (personal and collective) minds are influenced by culture. Jung acknowledges that culture and society are two important factors in a human being’s existence, however, an individual’s psychological development in his own terms is more important and prevalent in his theory (Main, 2008).
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Although Jung’s theory covers the basic elements that make up personality, such as the conscious and unconscious elements of an individual’s psyche, other elements were absent in this theory. One of the primary criticisms toward Jung’s personality theory is the lack of background that would explain how the personal and collective unconscious develop inside the mind. Moreover, the idea of a personal and collective unconscious seems to contradict the theory itself. To explain the collective unconscious, Jung used the responses of infants toward their mothers to portray how individuals have shared internal ideas and responses operate in the mind of children. However, the problem is that each situation is different. For example, not all infants get to establish instant relationships with their mothers. In some unfortunate circumstances, other people assume the role of mother. In this case, it becomes complicated to prove how the collective unconscious works because the attachment between the infant and caregiver develops because of the sense of security that the infant feels whether the caregiver is the mother, female, or another person. Moreover, in previous discussions, culture was defined as something that influences the development of personality. However, if culture influences gender roles, then there is no definite description or characterization of male and female (animus and anima). Therefore, the exchange or union between masculinity and femininity is doubtful.
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According to Freud, aging influences the traits or personalities of human beings. “As individuals age, said Jung, personality archetypes change, and people adopt psychological traits more commonly associated with the opposite gender” (Hillier & Barrow, 2010, p. 61). For instance, as men grow older, they become more in touch with their feminine side and vice versa. Moreover, aside from developing personality traits that are commonly portrayed by the opposite sex, people also change as they age from seeing themselves as members of society – part of a whole – to seeing themselves individually and focusing on how they can improve themselves. Jung called it “interiority” because as people grow older, they focus more on internal growth. The phase of interiority often occurs during the late thirties or early forties. In this stage, interiority manifests when “youthful interests and pursuits lose value and are replaced by new interests that are more cultural and less biological” (Wrightsman, 1994, p. 39). To prove his point, Jung discussed various examples on middle age human behavior. Older men, according to Jung, become more nurturing towards children as they grow older. On the other hand, women become more dominant (Corey, 2012).
Another issue is that Jung’s personality theory does not detail how personality development occurs through life. In other theories of personality, development is traced since birth. However, Jung’s personality theory is generalized, such that as human beings get older, they become more focused on themselves. However, there are also external factors like level of maturity. For instance, there are some people in their mid-thirties who still feel or act like they are in their twenties. Jung’s personality theory do not take into consideration these differences – rate of growth, level of maturity, readiness, psychological preparedness, etc. – in the equation. Jung’s personality theory would become more solid if the changes that occur will be discussed in stages according to age or circumstances that determine the level of maturity of human beings and how they change accordingly.
Despite the weaknesses of Jung’s personality theory, the principles underlying it seem to explain well the differences in traits or personalities, especially when it comes to social interaction. Jung’s personality theory, which focuses on extraversion and introversion, for instance, determine how human beings behave depending on their responses and types of interaction with other people. While introverts tend to keep to themselves, extroverts, on the other hand are more outgoing. Jung’s personality theory studies the development of personality in a human being as he is a part of a system or of society. Moreover, Jung’s theory focuses on cognitive processes – conscious and unconscious thinking. By analyzing personalities based on their responses to social interaction and other situations, psychoanalysists would be able to determine what stimuli incite specific behavior – conscious and unconscious thinking in human beings.