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March 20, 2009


Personality type redux

by brainoids

I’ve always been bothered that MBTI’s 4 data vectors (introvert / extrovert, intuitive / sensate, thinking / feeling, perceiving / judging) are just a wee bit too much to keep loaded in memory.   The system needs help boiling it down to its essence for practical use.  The folks at 4-D leadership coaching may have (inadvertently) done just that.

While 4-D does much more than just personality typing (and I’d highly recommend their services for coaching leadership teams), I’ve been most interested in their quick-and-dirty typing system.  As I’ll show in a moment, I like to think of it as “rudimentary MBTI for executives”.

The 4-D scheme boils down to two axes:   whether individuals tend to focus on ideas vs people (or, rational/logical vs personal), and whether individuals tend to focus on the present vs the possible:

4-D model primary "axes" of personal focus

4-D model primary "axes" of personal focus

As with any inventory, people answer a series of questions and based on the answers find how much time they spend in each of the four “quadrants” above (note: it’s not all-or-nothing; typically people will have a dominant quadrant and a “blind spot” quadrant).    This yields 4 types of preferred behaviors:

4 types of behaviors in the 4-D model

4 types of behaviors in the 4-D model

I scored a strong “green” (valuing) when I took the test, although my “blue” (visioning) was pretty high too.    “Yellow” and “orange” (relating and directing) were my blind spots, which is fairly consistent with experience – I have to spend extra energy and attention at work towards not overlooking those areas.   They’re learned and self-reminded behaviors rather than innate one.   Under the 4-D model, a strong individual (and team) is well-balanced among the four quadrants.

Quick readers might see where this is going.   The 4-D axes are remarkably similar to the MBTI “inner” axes of Sensate vs iNtuitive (present vs possible) and Thinking vs Feeling (ideas vs people).  These axes loosely correspond to how individuals prefer to gather, and process, information.  MBTI purists will complain that all for ‘coordinates’ are necessary, but remember, this is shorthand for everyday use.

Mapping the 16 MBTI personality types into this space yields:

Myers-Briggs personality types mapped to the simplified 4-D space

Myers-Briggs personality types mapped to the simplified 4-D space

I’ve also taken some extra liberties of arranging the introverts and perceivers more “inside” the box than the extroverts and judgers.   This yields a pretty coherent arrangement: the Myers-Briggs types do tend to correspond meaningfully to the 4-D behaviors (Architects, Invetors, Masterminds and Field Marshalls are indeed “Visioning”; Teachers, Counselors, Champions and Healers are indeed “Valuing” (“Cultivating” is also used to describe this quadrant in 4-D).   This also helps overcome a frustration with MBTI, which is that while my core type is INFJ, in the various areas of my life, I know I have to operate in different modes, which is what 4-D is all about.

As a final aside: as “repeat-tester” Myers-Briggs Type Inventory INFJ, I’m amused to find many online descriptions which include the phrase “loves to take personality tests” – because I do.   INFJ’s are “people systems” people!

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Glenn Hatcher
    Nov 16 2010

    I would very much like a readable copy – and permission to use – your “Myers-Briggs personality types mapped to the simplified 4-D space visual. It is the best I’ve seen.

    Glenn Hatcher

    • Nov 16 2010

      I’m more than happy to share the full sized file … I’ve attached as a PDF. Thrilled you find it helpful! You absolutely have my permission to use it, although I should note that my mashup isn’t officially endorsed by 4-D Systems. Since they make a living off their IP, I’d suggest it would be good form to give them nods if you use the mashup for anything beyond immediate personal/professional needs. They’re a little hard to track down but the official website is:
      Regards… DB

  2. rnurnber
    Dec 10 2010

    Please send me the readable copy 🙂

  3. Jun 8 2012

    I would love a copy of this as well. I love the simple and understandable interpretation of this chart.

  4. Elsie Riley
    Aug 17 2012

    Hi, Could you send me a copy too please! The chart looks great!


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