The Personality Puzzle: Interview with Hunter Nuttall, Part 1

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Hunter Nuttall has a personal development blog, Hunter Nuttall . com where readers join him on a quest to “stop sucking and live a life of abundance.”  He is the author of several e-books, including The Personality Puzzle: Understanding What Makes People Tick. This is Part 1 of a two-part interview with him.

The ebook was fascinating, and I think I know my four-letter type for sure now!   They say that our type isn’t supposed to change throughout life. Do you agree with that?

I think our four-letter type is set either by birth or at least by early childhood. But while it determines our preferences, it does not determine our abilities or our behavior.

Therefore, we can act differently in different situations, without contradicting our type. I don’t enjoy doing my taxes, but I know that I need to enter accountant mode when I’m doing them.

Likewise, people will act differently when they’re around their parents, kids, friends, coworkers, etc. This doesn’t mean that their type is changing, or that they have multiple personality disorder. They’re just acting appropriately for the situation, but their underlying preferences haven’t changed.

Most experts say that our type doesn’t change during our lifetime. Personally, I’m open to the possibility that it can, but it would be about as likely as changing your left/right handedness or your sexual orientation (I think the former can conceivably change but the latter doesn’t, though I can’t be positive about that).

When people think their type has changed, they usually say they’ve gone from introvert to extravert (I’m using the official spelling of extravert, which comes from the original German). But if you take a closer look, you see that this didn’t really happen.

Introversion is different from shyness, although the two are correlated. Sometimes a shy introvert will get over their shyness and suddenly become very talkative. Or maybe they’ll find some people they have a lot in common with, so they’ll start hanging out with them all the time. These simple behavioral changes don’t make them an extravert though.

Sometimes a natural extravert will be silenced at an early age by abuse or being an outcast, and everyone will think they’re an introvert. When their true personality emerges much later, they think they’ve become an extravert. But again, their preference (and therefore their type) didn’t change just because their behavior did.

I used to be very concerned with “rules and regulations” when I was young, and by now I’m more relaxed about a lot of things (or worn out). Even if our type doesn’t change, do life events such as becoming a parent or getting old change how strong our preferences are?

Definitely. For one thing, our personality changes just by getting older. Our four-letter type, set by early childhood, determines what our dominant, auxiliary, tertiary, and inferior functions will be. However, these functions don’t all develop at the same rate.

Our dominant function emerges early in life, and our auxiliary function develops in our teenage years. But our tertiary function doesn’t come out until mid life, and our inferior function may never become developed. This is one reason we change over time.

Bringing new people into your life can also have a significant impact, as can a traumatic event, as can doing enough of one thing and just wanting to try something new. But I think the changes are more along the lines of changing the way you express your type, rather than changing your type itself.

While we have our preferences, we all have a bit of everything in us, and sometimes the lesser seen parts of us can come to the surface.

You went from being very concerned with rules and regulations when you were younger, to being more relaxed about a lot of things now. In MBTI terms, we can wonder whether you changed from a judger to a perceiver.

Not having known you back then, I can’t say. But the judger/perceiver dimension is where I’m the most borderline, and I do see how I bounce from one extreme to the other, depending on my mood and the task at hand.

Some people are probably used to seeing me one way, some the other, and some must think I’m really inconsistent. So it’s not hard at all to believe that a big event like having kids could make me swing one way or the other, at least in some aspects. I still think I’ll always have an overall preference for perceiving though.

Randy Pausch is a good example here. A lot of people think he changed from thinker to feeler (in MBTI terms, not to be confused with their common meanings). Actually, he was always a thinker, but he changed his way of expressing that as he got older.

An advisor once told him that his perceived arrogance was going to limit what he accomplished, and so he worked on minimizing that weakness (though in his book, he confessed to not having much patience for incompetence). As his student, I found him to be very nice, but unmistakably a thinker.

Anyway, the MBTI theory says that the strength of your preferences is less important than which side of the middle you lie on. For example, a mild introvert may be more similar to an extreme introvert than they are to a mild extravert. Thus, you can change without really changing.

Hunter will be around to respond to your comments, and also please remember to Digg, Stumble, Tweet, and otherwise share this if you like it! Check back tomorrow for the rest of the interview, including something specifically for us introverts!

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46 Comments

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention The Personality Puzzle – Interview with Hunter Nuttall, Part 1 — Introvert Zone -- Topsy.com

  2. I’m not really sure what type I am, although I have had four letter words thrown at me…I don’t think that counts though.

    I don’t know if I’ve changed type, but I have changed a lot. I attribute it to several things, an understanding of myself, environment, and increased confidence (biggest thing). For example, I used to be very shy and now I love public speaking.

    Public speaking and introvert, most people consider that an oxymoron.

    When I understood myself better. I learned to embrace my characteristics rather then fight them. I don’t think the foundation (type) changed, the house built on top of it did…so to speak.

    My point is this, I don’t believe that we change our personality type. Our tools stay the same, we just learn how to utilize them more efficiently. This can appear to be a shift in type. Of course I can only speak for my self.

    I am looking forward to part 2

  3. Well that was an interesting first part – I had to turn off my music so I could focus better on the content, even though I often relax and listen to music while I do my “blog study” 🙂

    Can’t wait to read part 2!

    Now, while we have an expert around, might as well throw out a question 🙂

    I don’t know if we change or not, but like Nick Laborde, I also used to be very shy (and probably still am), but when I was still in school I started reading books on how to become a better public speaker and learned stuff like “feel the energy coming at you from the crowd” and “have eye contact to each of them” – heck, I was standing in the living room speaking to empty chairs to practice how to have eye contact with all four corners of the room 🙂 I might still be the same four-letter-type as I was back then (don’t know, didn’t test), but at least now I *know* that I can speak in public if I want to – and if I’m prepared.

    A week ago I took a 40-question test that gave me those four letters: INTJ
    I: 75%
    N: 55%
    T: 55%
    J: 55%
    As you can see, NTJ is pretty close to the middle, I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, if I’m just “average”? 🙂

    But then I took another 40-question test a few days ago, that placed me as ISTP and a bit ISTJ. So I think it’s quite confusing with all those personality types when they can change so much in tests depending on your mood when you take them, and how you understand the questions.

    I guess my question is, Hunter, what is the *best* way to find out your four-letters?

  4. @ Nick, you really do sound like a personal development junkie. No wonder you call yourself that! It’s good to see you putting what you’ve learned into practice.

    @ Klaus, that’s a great question, and one that comes up all the time. I actually walked away from an MBTI workshop thinking I was an ISTJ, but not really being satisfied with that assessment because something didn’t feel right. Three years later, I discovered that I was actually an INTP.

    I was writing an answer to your question, but before I knew it I had 500 words, and I don’t want to spam the comment section too much. 🙂 If it’s OK with you, I’d like to post my answer to your question on my blog. I could either leave your name out of it or use your name with a link, whichever you prefer.

    • @Daniel – Thanks! I have learned so much, and of course now I’m noticing personality traits everywhere I look.

      @Hunter – Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview! We’ll have the other half tomorrow. Feel free to “spam” all you want 😉 or otherwise we’ll head over to your blog too to see the rest of your answer to Klaus when it’s there. I am excited about learning more about personality and understanding myself and the people around me!

  5. We are actually keep learning more about ourselves as time progressed. From the experiences, surroundings, incidents.. we get to know what will tick us off; how far can we go with our abilities and what that will never change, so on. I’m not surprise if one has to take a whole life to know him/herself, but certainly it’s my hope to change for the ‘best’. It may not drift far from my core but to know own personalities will be best into fitting ourselves better facing future challenges. Good job on the interview.

    @wchingya
    Social/Blogging Tracker

  6. Hunter, feel free to use my firstname/”Klaus @ TechPatio” name and/or link if you want to – I’m already subscribed to your RSS feed so I’ll be sure to see the post 🙂

    Thanks in advance!

  7. I know my four letters and it’s on the money of my personality type, I found that with age one goes through changes. Like many of the above responses, I was very shy but as I got older I find that I am more outspoken when I need to be due to my experiences and interaction with various people. I’m discovering different sides about myself everyday. So yes, my type does define me, but I see it more as tool that helps me expand my horizons.

    • @ Jennie, I like how you say your type does define you, but you see it more as a tool. That’s really the best way to see it. Unfortunately, some people see their type as either something to be ignored, or a prison to escape from.

      • I was one of those individuals before trying to be someone I’m not (ahh the teenage years). Now as an adult, I’m more accepting about who I am and frankly happier for it.

  8. Pingback: How To Find Out Your Real Personality Type

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