Psychological Type and Archetypes

"This failure to holistically harmonize the types with the archetypes…is the central intellectual cause of the split in the Jungian family."
John Giannini, Compass of the Soul

Millions of people around the world know their "type" – the results of completing the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® assessment. The MBTI® instrument is a tool created by Isabel Myers, based on Carl Jung's personality type theories.

Many others know Carl Jung for his concept of the archetype. Many consider archetypes to be the "principal structural idea" of Jung's psychology, believing that psychological type offers only an "introductory approach to the complexities of personality" (Hillman, 1974, italics his).

This "failure to harmonize the types with the archetypes" (Giannini, 2004) typifies the split between the Jungian analyst community and the many professional business consultants, life coaches, and relationship counselors who use the MBTI instrument to serve millions of clients.

CAPT's archetype assessment instrument, the Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator® (PMAI®) helps heal that split. This instrument recognizes the importance of archetypes (with a nod to the analyst community), while applying the successful assessment approach (favored by typologists) to the study and use of archetypes.

Type basics

Jung proposed three fundamental, innate, dichotomous ways by which individuals take in information and make decisions. Isabel Myers identified a fourth categorization implicit in Jung's work when she created the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator instrument. An individual can use either "side" of each of the following dichotomies, but will prefer and tend to use one "pole" over the other.

Orientation: Extraversion or Introversion (E or I). The preferred direction of an individual's orientation of attention and energy:

  • Outwardly, towards external people and things, or
  • Inwardly, towards thoughts and concepts.

Perceiving: Sensing or Intuitive (S or N). Our perceiving function refers to the way in which we prefer to take in information:

  • Sensing types process information in the here-and-now, using what we call the five senses.
  • Intuitive types look for underlying meaning, patterns, and possibilities inherent in the information.

Judging: Thinking or Feeling (T or F). The judging function describes the way in which we prefer to weigh information and draw conclusions:

  • Thinking types evaluate and decide based on logic, analysis, and objectivity.
  • Feeling types evaluate and decide based on harmony and values.

Attitude towards the world: Judging or Perceiving (J or P). Though each of us both perceives and judges, we prefer one style over the other:

  • Judging types prefer to plan, decide, and set goals
  • Perceiving types prefer to take in information and keep their options open.

There are 16 different possible combinations of these preferences, abbreviated by a four letter code (e.g., ENFP or ISTJ). Deeper self-understanding results from knowledge of how different preferences interact within a personality (type dynamics ), or from considering the strengths, challenges, and lifelong development paths for different types. CAPT's online MBTI assessment includes one hour of feedback and guidance from an experienced professional.

Differences in type and archetype

The relationship of type to archetype within the Jungian community can be both confusing and controversial. Here are some key clarifications:

  1. Type is more descriptive of how we behave. Types describe "how" we prefer to function. Archetypes are more concerned with the forces that motivate our functioning.
  2. Type has fewer dimensions. There are only four dimensions of type as measured by the MBTI instrument, but, per Jung, "there are as many archetypes as there are situations in life." The PMAI measures twelve of the most common archetypes.
  3. Archetype profiles change. Type theory maintains that preferences are inborn and lifelong. Because there are so many archetypes available in our collective unconscious, however, different ones are likely to be more influential at certain stages or situations of life. Assessing both type and archetype, therefore, provides more information, encompassing both dispositional and situational influences upon personality.
  4. Archetypes are more influenced by culture. People who share type preferences perceive and judge in similar ways, regardless of their countries of origin. In contrast, archetypes are influenced by "a person's culture, setting, and time in history" (Pearson & Marr, 2002). Thus, both societal culture and smaller subcultures can profoundly influence archetypes.
  5. Archetypes link to our unconscious. Psychological type is partly if not primarily a conscious activity, with type functions either described as "modes of consciousness" (Hillman, 1974, p. 84) or ranked from "most conscious" to the "essentially unconscious" inferior function (Quenk, 2000). In contrast, archetypes are the "contents of the unconscious." Assessing archetypal influence, therefore, can provide an avenue to a deeper level of self-understanding.

Using the PMAI and the MBTI Instruments Together

By studying results from the MBTI and PMAI instruments used in combination, CAPT has confirmed predicted relationships between these two measures. For example, per Pearson & Marr (2002), the Seeker archetype is largely concerned with potential – visualizing and pursuing possibilities. High Seeker scores on the PMAI are associated with a preference for Intuition on the MBTI measure (McPeek, 2007).

But combining MBTI and PMAI results might tell us something important and unique about our Seeker. A judging function preference for Thinking would orient a Seeker towards facts, accuracy, and knowledge – a "search for truth." A Seeker with a preference for Feeling will be concerned with harmony, contentment, and human values—more like a "search for bliss." Each may thus seek different goals or follow divergent career paths—for example, a truth Seeker as a cancer researcher and a harmony Seeker as a marriage counselor.

There are many more examples of the interaction of type and archetype preferences. Measuring both affords a deeper self-awareness, encompassing both conscious and unconscious processes, lifelong and life-situational tendencies, and preferences for behavior that range from fundamental to nuanced.