Myers-Briggs typology, the study of personality types, tells us at least two things. First, we are all of a certain type and are therefore part of a group of individuals who share similar psychological propensities. Stemming from this is the second truth of typology, namely, that there is an even larger group of individuals (i.e., those of a different personality type) who are disposed to thinking differently. By taking this latter point to its natural endpoint, we discover the magical gift of empathy. In my view, experiencing and applying empathy is among the most important goals for humanity.
Egoism and its attendent sense of self-entitlement stand in opposition to empathy. The ego privileges its own importance and survival over that of others. It conceives itself as an exemplar of the “right beliefs” and the “right behaviors.” Equally important is the fact that is leads us to assume and expect that other people think as we do. This is why people cannot help but criticize and try to change others; we attempt to shape the world and other people into the image of our own egos (or our own type). And because the ego views itself as superior, it develops a sense of self-entitlement.
Underlying sentiments of self-entitlement is a belief in free will. Since we perceive our own actions as being free or voluntary, we assume the same must be true of others. This contributes to the following assumptions:
1) We actively choose our beliefs and actions.
2) My beliefs and actions are the right ones.
3) Since others have this same freedom and are making less wise or noble choices, they are less deserving than I am (i.e., “I am entitled to more than others are.”).
A thorough understanding of typology leads to a different set of conclusions. Typology suggests that we are not entirely free in our manner of thinking. It informs us that we have a basic structure to our personality and cognitive processes that persists over time. This does not mean that people cannot change or grow, but that such changes will occur in within the structure of one’s type. A typological worldview thus informs an alternate set of assumptions:
1) We are not entirely free in choosing our beliefs and actions.
2) While my beliefs and actions may seem right to me, they may not be right for someone else.
3) Since others may be incapable of understanding or behaving the way I do, they are no more or less deserving than I am.
While these things may seem obvious to some, most of us could benefit from an increase in empathy and a decreased sense of entitlement. At least in my experience, the more one studies typology, the easier it becomes to understand and empathize with others’ differences.