- Paperback: 248 pages
- Publisher: CPP; 2nd ed. edition (January 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 089106074X
- ISBN-13: 978-0891060741
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 103 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,191 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type 2nd ed. Edition
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Ringing with practical implications, Gifts Differing both educates and inspires.―Judy Waterman, Principal, Career Management Group
About the Author
The late Isabel Briggs Myers devoted her life to the observation, study, and measurement of personality. With her mother, Katharine Briggs, she authored the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® personality inventory. Peter B. Myers, Ph.D., continues research work on the development and application of personality type. Former staff director of the National Academy of Science, he is currently extending the use of the MBTI® instrument worldwide.
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After much anticipation (and plenty of five-star reviews at Amazon!) I found this book incredibly difficult to get through. When I found myself skipping paragraph after paragraph of general descriptions of characteristics of various personality types I realized the book was not working for me. It's clearly oriented for people with prior experience and interest in the subject, because I was hoping for a more thorough description of the criteria for one's placement in each of the categories. "Sensates tend do this, while intuitive tend do do that..." These may be important distinctions, but they were give scant attention in favor of the classification system itself. I found myself hoping that there might be some OTHER book that would describe how and why one is classified in one way or the other, but in the end I just lost interest.
Apparently there are two types of people: those for whom classification of personality types defines their understanding of interactions with others, and, uh, the rest of us. Some folks do this with astrological signs. ("You sound just like a Libra.") That doesn't work for me either.
The central crux of the book is that differences between people can be explained and understood and no one is "better" than anyone else. Everyone has one of 16 viewpoints that encompass how they view themselves and the external and by understanding them you can not only learn how others think, but even clarify how you think and learn your own strengths and weaknesses better.
I think that most of the ideas from the book can be found online for free in various essays and such, but, IMO, the original book is far more clear, concise, and complete. I had read on Myres-Briggs for over a year before getting the book and the book provided a lot of useful insight. This would serve as a good introduction to the theory and as a good reference for anyone.
The book overviews the theory by first analyzing each of the four dichotomies (I/E, N/S, T/F, P/J) and how they work with an internal or external viewpoint. They then cover each of the 16 types. That is the crux of the theory and takes up about half of the book. Coming off of that there are a few chapters that address specific details of how the personalities act in life, such as education. The material is presented concisely; the authors have specific points to make and they make them well. There are many tables that compare and contrast various personality attributes, so it's easy to consult and read on a whim.
The authors compiled are a lot of statistics related to types, many (most?) of which are education oriented. However, some of their statistics have been contested and newer results exist. In specific, this book claims that the extrovert to introvert ratio in the world is about 2:1 (aka, 66% extroverted, 34% introverted). Recent results peg that closer to 50/50, maybe 55/45.
The writing style and vocabulary is digestible by just about anyone -- it's formal, but doesn't have the academic style that annoys or intimidates casual readers. The content (aka, the actual MB theory) itself has a bit of complexity to it. There's a decent amount to digest, but it's not overly difficult to learn with a little diligence. But you need to pay attention to what they say, don't skim.
For someone being introduced to MBTI, I would offer a bit of advice for reading this book:
1) They use their own definitions for certain words, like "intuition". When you see these kinds of words, leave your own definition at the door and accept theirs. You'll have a hard time understanding the material and you'll over-complicate matters if you don't use their vocabulary. Doing so is a standard practice to do when you need to use clear definitions repeatedly.
2) Myres-Briggs is only about preferences. They never say anything about what one is bound by nature do or what one cannot do, they only speak of what one prefers to do. It is all about preferences, and preferences lead to patterns in behavior. It is vital that you understand that.
3) They are a little blunt about strengths and weaknesses. They talk about what strengths and weaknesses are enjoyed or struggled with by various types, and the address how to use them and how to counter them (respectively). They point out common faults that people can be blind to. On that note, they're not "politically correct". They aren't anti-PC either, they just call it, gently but firmly, as they see it.
Overall: The Myres-Briggs theory (regardless of this book) is a great theory and very helpful for daily life. This book does a terrific job of explaining it.