Have you ever wondered what makes the people around you behave the way they do? What makes you, you?
We are taught to believe that labeling people isn’t fair and we should avoid doing that at all costs. However, in many cases being able to figure out what type the person we are talking to is can help us better understand their needs, desires, and even attitude toward life. Being a square peg in a round hole never worked for anyone.
High school years are when the majority of people curiously begin to discover themselves, what they like and dislike, how they behave in different situations, what truly motivates them, and what puts them off. As counselors, it’s our job to know the various methods for identifying our students’ unique personalities so we can learn how to relate to them.
16 Personality Types
The most popular personality test in 2021 is the 16 personalities MBTI test. According to it, a person’s personality type is an acronym made of four letters. Each letter corresponds to one of the 8 distinct preferences a person has. If, for example, a person’s four preferences are Extroverted (E), Sensing (S), Feeling (F) and Judging (J), their personality type is ESFJ. All possible combinations of the four preferences yield 16 different personality types.
The total of eight letters are grouped in 4 personality categories, as follows:
- Introversion/Extraversion: How people expend energy
- Sensing/Intuition: How people receive information
- Thinking/Feeling: How people make decisions
- Judging/Perceiving: How people see the world
No psychological type is better than the other. All personality types have their strengths and weaknesses, and each person has a unique set of equally valuable characteristics. Understanding your distinctive personality archetypes is useful in many aspects of one’s life including relationships, career and learning.
In 1986, Howard Gardner, a graduate of Harvard University and a developmental psychologist, developed the theory of Multiple Intelligences. He believes that intelligence goes way beyond IQ tests as they fail to explain the wide variety of human abilities. According to Gardner, in order to capture the full range of skills and talents a person possesses, we have to understand that there are multiple types of intellectual capacity including musical, interpersonal, spatial-visual, and linguistic.
Basically, each person is a mixture of different types of intelligences, with some naturally prevailing above others.
Here is a small summary of each type of intelligence:
- Visual/Spatial Intelligence people are good at remembering images and are aware of surroundings.
- Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence people are naturally good with writing, speaking, and memorization.
- Logical/Mathematical Intelligence people are driven by logic and reasoning.
- Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence people have good motor skills, are aware of their bodies, and love movement.
- Musical Intelligence people are musically gifted and have a “good ear” for rhythm and composition.
- Intrapersonal Intelligence people are adept at looking inward.
- Interpersonal Intelligence people thrive at gatherings and enjoy social interactions.
- Naturalist Intelligence people appreciate and are highly sensitive to nature. They can “see” how nature works.
Learning styles is a theory suggesting that utilizing different methods of learning helps people memorize and understand things better. As a counselor, you should be well aware that all students are unique and each one of them perceives information in different ways. The three most practical senses in learning environments are sight, hearing, and touch. The VAK model categorizes these sensory methods of learning as Visual (V), Auditory (A), and Kinesthetic (K) learning styles.
While most people have a dominant learning style, it’s worth mentioning that nobody has just one learning style. Everyone uses each of the learning styles to some degree. Some are stronger in one style while very few individuals are blessed with mastery in all styles.
The reality is that we all have a “custom” learning style that is, to an extent, a combination of Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic learning. It’s essential to figure out the strength of a student’s learning styles as they relate to each other. This allows you to focus on maximizing their learning potential. Recognizing a student’s distinctive set of strengths also helps you seek learning opportunities that will cater to their specific combination of learning style strengths. In recent years, many educators have started using knowledge of learning styles (and multiple intelligences) to improve teaching methods and in doing so, reach learners of all types.
Left/Right Brain Dominance
The two sides of the brain are known as hemispheres. The left hemisphere controls the right side of the body and deals with logical thought and linguistic function. The right hemisphere controls the left side of the body and deals with abstract thought and spatial orientation.
In 1960, Neuropsychologist Roger W. Sperry developed the right – left brain theory. He believed that the human brain is dominant on either the right or left side and that each side of the brain controls different types of thinking. Some individuals utilize both sides of their brains equally but most people demonstrate a greater tendency to think in a certain way.
The majority of people are left-brain dominant. The typical modern day school environment tends to favor left-brain thinkers who follow logical thought and practical action, while right-brain thinkers, who tend to be more imaginative and “outside the box”, are sometimes forgotten. Schools and counselors need to understand that both types of individuals carry high value to society and therefore it’s of high importance to encourage their interests.
Cynthia Halow is with PersonalityMax . PersonalityMax is the brainchild of Cynthia Halow, an MA in Psychology with a strong passion for Jungian teachings. The site launched back in 2007 and since then has been constantly evolving and adding more refined tests to its portfolio. PMax has been active for over 14 years and its tests have proudly been taken over 3 million times.