How Many Types Are There?

How many Types are there? 

Myers and Briggs claim there are only  16.  Jung only really described 8.  Spoto posits at least 56, and Singer Loomis claim 2.5 million.

I think 40320 is a good number to settle on - but how do we manage that?

As an Ne, I "feel compelled" to ask questions and posit the hypothesis that any combination may be possible, until proven otherwise (I suspect that an Ni would stop once there is a lack of support (Ne – hypothesis, Ni - theory)).

Given that the only basis for the theory of Myers and Briggs regarding the direction and hierarchy of the function-attitudes is a short paragraph of Jung’s, and no empirical reason, it must be considered.  Mind you, the rule does many things

  • creates a framework of regular types
  • in a manageable number
  • that takes into account one P and one J function
  • one I and one E function, 
since we need at least one in each quadrant to function "evenly." 
So, it covers the four bases; it’s based on a rule; and is manageable – hence 16 Classic Types.  I have no problem having 16 Types that most people fit, if not perfectly.  But we always leave it there, without explaining how/why two people of the same type can be radically different.  Myers-Briggs basically only takes the first two function-attitudes into consideration and presumes the rest.  But I don't think we can call the variations "sub-types" because I think they're fully realized Types of their own.

Singer-Loomis supports my hypothesis by measuring the function-attitude directly, not through implication of the J/P scale in the MBTI.  (I still have problems with the SLTDI however.  I find it a poor implementation of the theory, but that’s another issue).  But they don’t describe very well how an Ni in the lead position is different from the last, and how that affects the overall synergistically gestalted Type.

So given that we have 8 mental function attitudes, that we possess all of them, and a safe presumption that we can rank them in order of preference, and that the order matters, we have an 8 factorial (8!) number of combinations, or 40320.  Singer Loomis breaks this down further by stating that there are actually 2.5 million+ possible combos because they’re using standard deviations of the scores and two mental functions can be “tied” for a position.  At this point I think you’re splitting hairs.  How does the order of preference affect 2.5 million types?

Now I believe in Beebe’s view of the hierarchy of archetypes with mental function attitudes.  It’s a structure of Judgment (after all, we’re talking framework/roles and rules) as opposed to a description of mental function-attitudes (description a Perception structure).  I'll save for another post why I do.  The archetypal roles of Beebe’s theory also happen to parallel those of Campbell’s Hero’s Journey.  I don’t need much more convincing than that!

So let us say for the sake of argument that we have Beebe’s 8-fold model as correct and logically supported.  Then we have the 8 function-attitudes well defined by whole body of works around MBTI.  So we have 64 possible Characters (archetypal role X function-attitude).  Type Resources' Function-Archetype Decoder describes these 64 characters – how each mental function works in each role.  But his decoder only does this for the 16 “Classic Types.”

Now 40320 is a pretty big number of combos to keep in your head – but given that most of us only fully develop the first two mental functions in a hierarchy of eight archetypes, let’s limit it to first pair.  That gives us 56 possible combinations.  I think 56 is good number – yes, you’ll need a book handy to reference the differences between the types, but it’s small enough that you can do the “math” of combining two function-attitudes in your head “additively.”  You may lose the synergistic “multiplier effect” of describing the gestalted combo at length, but it’s good enough until you can get to the “handbook” of 56 or the I-ching-like “encyclopedia” of 40320 using the “manual” of 64 characters.

Personally, under MBTI, I am an ENFP.  No problem with that here, but it is incomplete.  Under Singer-Loomis (I took it and had it debriefed to me a few years ago) I am Ni/Fi/Ti/Si/Ne/Te/Fe/Se – notice that my function hierarchy is identical to the ENFP – N/F/T/S, but the directionality isn’t the same (I’m a quadruple introvert!  But not really.  I’m clearly an E).  Am I a hybrid ENFP/INFJ?  The only variation to that is that I prefer Te over Fe instead of the other way around like I “should” if my last four were the perfect mirror of my first four; because I “hate” Fe – it actually should be the last one, but I was raised properly and *do* have manners so answered accordingly ;-) ?  A hybrid ENFP/INTJ? 

So what am I missing here?