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Posts relating to Personality:

6 years ago

High and Low Reactives

◊ Posted by A β Pseudolonewolf
Categories: Personality
I may regret posting this here since this site seems to bring me constant headaches, but this is something that I found really interesting, and sort of relevant to recent things, so maybe some people will get something out of it.

Again, it's got nothing to do with games, so if that frustrates you, please keep it to yourself; I am a human being, not just a games making machine.

I'm currently reading a book - and have been reading it for what seems like months now, in tiny little bursts whenever I'm waiting for something, rather than sitting down and reading it properly - which is called "Quiet: The Power of Introverts", by Susan Cain. I've been reading it for so long now that I've probably already mentioned it before and forgotten about it.

It's a really interesting read. It's about how, in America particularly, since it's an American book, everyone's essentially expected to be an extrovert, and introverted traits are seen as flaws; introverts are second class citizens and have to pretend to be extroverts all the time just to fit in or get employed... It makes the point that this is wrong, and introverts have their own strengths which extroverts lack, so a balance between the different personality types is what's important.

It isn't just one woman blathering on about her opinion, though. It seems to mainly be a collection of various studies conducted by others, which the author describes and ties together, rather than her just making stuff up and writing "I reckon" sorts of stuff.

I've learned a great deal about introversion from it, because she does mention all these studies and their findings.

For example, temperament is consistent from birth until death, apparently. I'd wondered about this before, and thought that it was nature more than nurture, so it's nice to find out that that is indeed true. It's because it's largely determined by brain anatomy; a part called the 'amygdala' affects the introvert/extrovert thing a lot, as do other parts I forget the name of.

Something of particular interest is the concept of 'high and low reactivity', which I want to talk about!

The amygdala handles input and decides how to respond, or something like that? I'm not sure... I can't remember what it said. In some people, it's a lot more sensitive, so they react more than others, and could be said to be 'high reactive'. Sensitive, essentially, to everything; all kinds of input.
Some scientists did studies on a bunch of toddlers, which involved inflicting various stimuli on them; noises, music, lights, colours, etc. Some of them reacted by waving their arms around and dancing and making noises and generally making open displays of interest and excitement, while others were more quiet and generally disinterested.
They then followed these toddlers throughout their lives until they were teens, and apparently the ones who were dancing to the music turned out to be the introverts! And there was a strong correlation, too; the scientists had predicted that those who reacted like that as toddlers would become 'shy, cerebral types' and most (all?) of them did, while the others became more 'cool' and chatty and social and generally extroverted.

It's because the dancing toddlers were 'high reactive'; they had a sharper sense of the external world. Things affected them more strongly, and continued to do so for the rest of their lives. This leads to many emergent traits, such as introversion (though it's not the only cause of that), because all the hubbub of the world causes them to retreat into their heads.
These high reactives - the word 'sensitive' seems to be used for the same concept - are more analytical of their environment and see things in greater detail than the low reactives... They even have higher empathy, a stronger reaction to the feelings and micro expressions of others, a sensitivity to pain, both physical and emotional. They're more likely to become anxious and embarrassed, and more likely to have strong 'morals'; to avoid doing wrong even if they wouldn't be caught, from an early age, all because of this difference in the amygdala. They become overwhelmed by social gatherings and loud parties and things like that, they speak softly, etc.

On the other hand, the low reactives are generally rougher, tougher, more cool and confident, because they don't really notice the external - or their own internal - world in the same way that the high reactives do. It's not that they're less intelligent or anything, since they're not; it's just that their perceptions are not 'sharpened' in the same way.
These are the ones who tell high reactives like me to grow a thicker skin, to take it easy, to ignore what others say and so on, because such things come entirely natural to them.

Some other study that the book mentioned involved giving a bunch of people some kind of test to do while a noise poured into their ears via headphones. They were allowed to tweak the volume of the noise to their preference, what worked best for them. The introverts/high-reactives chose a significantly lower volume than the extroverts/low-reactives. They tried swapping the two volumes - so the introverts/high-reactives got the higher one and vice versa - and the introverts/high-reactives became stressed and overwhelmed, while the extroverts/low-reactives lost interest and became restless because they weren't properly engaged.

It's a bit confusing though how the book mentions these things, but it's probably something I've missed or forgotten based on my erratic reading... At one point it seemed to be speaking of high reactives and introverts as one and the same, but at another point it mentioned that 20% of people are high reactives (so not all introverts are), and only 70% of those high reactives became introverts. So I don't know what's accurate there.

Still, I am very sure that I am a high reactive myself, and it explains a tremendous amount... Why I have anxiety issues, why I get so worked up and hurt by the words of others, even online, why I have always had a strong empathy and aversion to doing wrong, why I hate crowds and loud music and all kinds of sounds all around me, why I get headaches from too much stimulation... I only wish that everyone else in the world could understand, too, so then people would stop trying to tell me to be something that I'm not and don't want to be.

It's possible for high reactives to 'tame their amygdala', so to speak; the book's author mentions she was terrified of public speaking - she's a high reactive herself - but eventually got much better at it through training... However, there are occasional times where all the worry and anxiety comes back, so she's fighting a constant battle with her amygdala that low reactives never need to enter into.

The book goes into a lot more detail than this, and mentions various other intriguing studies that I've not mentioned here to support the point that it's trying to get across. I'd highly recommend reading it if you're interested in this kind of thing!

I'm only half way through at the moment myself, so I wonder what other intriguing things await me in the rest!

Oh, one other thing is that high-reactives/introverts seem to prefer jumping into deeper topics of conversation and get uncomfortable with shallow small talk, but get to the small talk when a conversation is dying down, while low-reactives/extroverts are the opposite, and consider deeper stuff 'too heavy' and speak mostly in small talk until they know someone quite well. Apparently.

As always, this stuff is not black and white, and there's all kinds of subtlety and nuance in every individual. I personally can relate very deeply to what the book says about 'high reactive' people, and it helps explain a vast amount of my behaviour and reactions, but other people may wonder whether they could be because they don't fit this or that trait, or things like that... I'd say that if you're doubtful and not sure, then you're probably not a high reactive... but my explanation here is probably just too lacking by itself for people to be sure about anything from it.

It's interesting that low reactives quite literally have thicker skins, in a sense. Their skin is less sensitive to pain, to touch, to temperature, to everything. Apparently you can even do some kind of experiment at home to test general reactivity, by squirting lemon juice on your tongue or something and measuring the amount of saliva (though I can but imagine how you'd measure saliva); apparently high reactives drool more, because they're more sensitive to everything.

It's also interesting that things typically seen as 'cool' are typical of low reactives... A relaxed pose is typical of a low reactive (high reactives are more likely to be stiff and to clutch themselves as if alert or anxious, in unfamiliar or public places), sunglasses hide the eyes so emotions can be hidden, alcohol dulls the senses and sensibilities.
Low reactives are usually more rough and tumble, braver, more likely to take risks and to shrug off pain or criticism. They're made of durable leather, while high reactives like me are made of brittle glass.
I think the book maybe mentioned that astronauts were chosen or rejected based on what was essentially their reactivity, with the best ones being the most low reactive, barely fazed by anything.

I wish that I could explain all this in full detail, but I can't; the book itself goes into far more detail than I could and cites the relevant studies to show that she's not just making it all up. I'm just trying to share fragments here, but I hope that it is at least slightly interesting to someone anyway.

Some things that I really do not want to hear:

* People telling me that they 'don't really agree' with this or 'see holes' or 'find it hard to believe' or 'people are more complicated than this' or any of that kind of stuff. I am not interested in arguing about the validity of this, especially if the one expressing doubts is 'just some teenager' who's essentially claiming to be more right than the author of this book or all the scientists whose studies she cites. It's usually just incredulity that makes people say such things, and I'm not interested in comments like that at this time.

* People telling me that I'm coming up with yet more 'labels' to 'excuse my flaws', so then I 'don't have to improve', or things to this effect. I'm sick of explaining that.

* General aggressive abuse. I wish I didn't have to brace myself for that, but some people can just be so upsettingly heartless.

Now, please don't make me regret this... D:
6 years ago

MBTI Hierarchy

◊ Posted by A β Pseudolonewolf
Categories: Myers-Briggs Personality
Sorry, this isn't a post about games (though I don't really have much I could say about them anyway). It's about something that I've seen mentioned by a few people in comments and private messages and things like that, and I want to share some of my research to increase understanding...

I'm not an expert on the Myers-Briggs thing by any means. Up until a few weeks ago, I hated and avoided it, but then the more I read, the more useful and interesting it seemed. I still have a lot to learn, but I've at least been trying to get the gist of it on a conceptual level so then I actually know what the letters mean.

It's led to me saying things like how Thinkers and I just don't see eye to eye... and this in turn has led to several people commenting on how they're 'balanced' in terms of thinking and feeling, often because of what a test told them, or because they both think and feel and, presumably, see the letter codes as being some kind of dichotomy and therefore 'wrong' since they seem to limited. "If you are T, you don't feel at all"; that kind of thing.

I don't like those tests, for a start, especially when they give percentage balance things at the end. I've got INFJ on all the tests that I've done, but often the questions are worded in such a way that they don't really address things 'at their core'... They only give an approximation of what they're trying to describe.

It's sort of like... someone has seen a beetle, but they don't know what it is. You think it might have been a cockroach, so you ask them various questions about it to see how cockroachy their answers seem. "Did it have six legs? Was it brown? How big was it?" and so on. You know what a cockroach is and what the differences are between a beetle and one of them, but you can only ask imperfect questions to communicate an idea that you understand in its entirety... And maybe the person will answer positively anyway, since beetles and cockroaches have enough in common visually to confuse someone who doesn't know the difference between the two. So they'd 'answer' yes to all your questions and you'd say to them that it was a cockroach, then... which is wrong, but it's because of the limitations of language.
Or something. I suppose I'm struggling to think of a sensible but comparable analogy. o_O

So just because tests give you inconsistent results, or give you a percentage that says that you lean to a certain letter with a ratio of 49%/51% or something, it doesn't mean that your type is elusive or 'balanced'; just that the way you answered the imperfect, roundabout questions gave those results. The tests only give an approximation...

ANYWAY. The main point that I wanted to get at is how each type isn't restrictive... and instead we all have the potential to display all kinds of thinking. The types just show our primary strengths, and the others all appear in a hierarchy.

For example, the hierarchy of preference for INFJ goes like this, from strongest to weakest:
Ni - Fe - Ti - Se - Ne - Fi - Te - Si

While in INTJ, they're like this:
Ni - Te - Fi - Se - Ne - Ti - Fe - Si

And in ENTJ:
Te - Ni - Se - Fi - Ti - Ne - Si - Fe

The four letters represented are T/N and S/F, which each come in 'introverted' and 'extraverted' (spelled with an 'a' in this system for some reason) flavours. For example, Fi - introverted feeling - would be when you feel things deeply inside but don't really express them, while Fe - extraverted feeling - would be an an emotional nature which is more readily shown and expressed to others. Fi might make you 'feel sad' inside, while Fe might make you cry and/or want to tell others about how you're upset. Or something.
This is a massive oversimplification on my part, though; the Feeling thing is a lot more complex than that.

Anyway, I'm apparently strongest with Introverted iNtuition, followed by Extraverted Feeling, then Introverted Thinking and - oddly, I think - Extraverted Sensing, and then comes Ne, Fi, Te and Si which are all progressively less natural to me, but still there in my mind, showing themselves infrequently and affecting the things that I do and think in their own small ways.

It's sort of like a Wizard class, who'd prefer to do battle using magic spells but, if absolutely desperate, could also fight with a dagger. He wouldn't prefer to use his dagger, but he would be capable of it and might see it used occasionally. It wouldn't be a characteristic of his general image or approach, though, and his dagger fighting could hardly compare to a Fighter's use of melee weapons.

I've read that people can work on and improve each of their weaker aspects to become a more well-rounded person, but the thing is that you usually do have to work on them; they don't come as naturally. I'm terrible at 'Extraverted Thinking', but if I really worked at it, I could become decent at it... It'd never really drive me in the same way it does for INTJ people though, and I'd always fall back on the more natural Fe in a pinch.

The wizard might practise and practise with his dagger combat so then he could hold his own in magic-blocking dungeons, but he'd always feel relieved to get back to using spells again.

Anyway, like I said, I'm still very much new to this system, so those of you who understand it better might see that I've made omissions or glaring mistakes here!
I just find it interesting to understand things, and have seen a lot of people expressing their 'dual natures' (notably INTJ and similar types expressing that they're driven by what sounds like Fi sometimes when making decisions), and thought this might go a long way towards explaining that.

To go into even more rambling detail (oh joy!1), here are some examples of what the N/S and T/F letters mean. Again, they're attempts to describe bigger pictures based on details - 'describing an elephant via its toenails' - so even if one bit seems unlike you while the rest all fit, it's not a deal breaker. (Note: These are stolen from some website; I didn't write them myself, except for the comments in brackets, which show my incomplete understanding.)


Concrete - depend on verifiable, factual information and direct perceptions. literal, mistrust fuzzy information

Realistic - value being practical, cost-effective, and exercising common sense.

Pragmatic - highly values the usefulness or applications of an idea - more interesting than idea itself.

Experiential - heavily grounded by first hand, past experience. Reluctant to generalize beyond direct experience.

Traditional - trust what is familiar, support established groups and methods, honor precedents.

(I imagine Se likes a hands-on approach, can be touchy-feely (SF huggy and ST violent?), and prefers to work with their body rather than mind, while Si prefers to observe the real world than live in fantasy? I've read that Si also builds a mental world based on archetypes and standards, so they have an idea of what a chair 'should' be, for example, and compare objects in the real world to this standard that they've got in their mental catalogue... or something like that? Si is alien to me.
S are the ones who do things as they are 'supposed' to be done; I suppose Se would also tell others to do the same?)


Abstract - comfortable with and inferring meaning from ambiguous and non-literal information. Perceptive.

Imaginative - enjoy being ingenious, clever and novel . . . for its own sake.

Intellectual - learning, acquiring knowledge, mental challenges are valued as an end in itself.

Theoretical - conceptual, automatically search for patterns in observed facts, comfortable with theories and inventing new ones.

Original - values initiative and enterprising, inventive, and novel solutions. Often mistrusts conventional wisdom.

(I imagine that Ni develops ideas by entering deep into their mind, retreating away from reality and going over their thoughts, while Ne might, I don't know, be the sort to act on 'hunches' or something, or be someone who likes to 'suggest new ideas' and things like that? Or who gets new ideas from exploring the world? So an Ni person might develop a story idea by sitting inside and just thinking for a few hours, while an Ne might go for a walk around town for new ideas? Maybe? I don't know.)


Logical - values and trusts detached, objective, and logical analysis.

Reasonable - is clear-thinking, objective, reasoned, and logical in everyday decision-making.

Questioning - intellectually independent, resistant to influence, self confident.

Critical Analytical - comfortable making distinctions, categorizing, making win/lose choices, being in adversarial situations.

Tough Minded - results oriented, will push for valued ends, stick on task. Firm

(I imagine that Te might like debate and technical science-like work, while Ti might like to go over their own ideas in private, in detail, to make sure that they 'make sense'...? I know that I hate debate, but like categorising and like things to 'make sense' in my creative projects.)


Affective - trusts emotions and feelings, values human considerations, in touch with feelings.

Compassionate - makes decisions on overall impressions, patterns, and feelings (including emotional likes and dislikes).

Accommodating - seeks consensus, deferential, conflict avoiding, seeks harmony.

Accepting - tolerant towards human failings, see positive side of others, instinctually seeks win/win resolutions of problems.

Tender Hearted - use gentle persuasion to influence, reluctant to force compliance.

(I imagine that Fe types show their emotions and openly talk about them, while Fi feel them deep down but keep them inside...? I know that I personally have a constant need to 'vent' whenever I react emotionally to anything, and am terrible at keeping my emotions to myself.)

I personally am definitely both N and F... though I can imagine people arguing that I can't be F based on the way I act sometimes on this site. "Why posod, you're not accepting or tolerant of everyone at all!!" and so on. And I certainly like categorising and that kind of thing.
I'd say that generally unpleasant life conditions and being on the receiving end of repeated attacks make all the difference here.

Interestingly, the prototypical bully or 'jock' type - the one who'd go around beating up other people to assert dominance or for fun or whatever - would probably be ESTP... Driven by Se - the need to make an impact on others physically - and also by Ti, which would make him wish to force his views onto others without caring how they feel about it. The P bit at the end just determines the order; ESTP would be Se-Ti while ESTJ would be Te-Si.
Similarly, the stereotypical 'nerd' would most likely be INTP or INTJ... It's interesting how these things compare with the demographics of this site.
(That's for males, anyway; with girls, the bullies might be ESFJ instead, while the nerdy girls - who feel different from others and like poetry and stuff - might be more likely to be INFJ or INFP...)

Se are more likely to be athletic, while Ni are more likely to be academic, but not necessarily... It's not black and white and nobody's so one-dimensional!

M  ScintillaPurpose, who knows more about the Myers-Briggs thing than I do, wrote a comment which explains the Se/Ti/etc things better than I could: ∞ Fig Hunter ∞
6 years ago


◊ Posted by A β Pseudolonewolf
I feel like I'll only regret this again, but something keeps coming to mind...

Weeks ago, when I was learning about the Myers-Briggs system, I looked up my type - INFJ - on several websites and read all kinds of descriptions that for the most part did fit with how I am. There were some weird details here and there which seemed too specific, but the overall bigger picture that they painted generally seemed to fit with how I am.

Of interest was a list of traits that I found on some site (I can't remember where), which I'll quote in their unformatted inelegance:
creative, smart, focus on fantasy more than reality, attracted to sad things, fears doing the wrong thing, observer, avoidant, fears drawing attention to self, anxious, cautious, somewhat easily frightened, easily offended, private, easily hurt, socially uncomfortable, emotionally moody, does not like to be looked at, fearful, perfectionist, can sabotage self, can be wounded at the core, values solitude, guarded, does not like crowds, organized, second guesses self, more likely to support marijuana legalization, focuses on peoples hidden motives, prone to crying, not competitive, prone to feelings of loneliness, not spontaneous, prone to sadness, longs for a stabilizing relationship, fears rejection in relationships, frequently worried, can feel victimized, prone to intimidation, lower energy, strict with self

Apart from the really weird one about marijuana legalisation (which I would have thought was a political rather than personality thing), and some others like 'guarded', the overall picture painted by these traits does describe how I am.
And I like being this way. I do not desire to change drastically, and would probably struggle and feel unnatural if I tried anyway.
(Please keep in mind that I only learned about the MBTI thing weeks ago; it's not like I've been aspiring to these kinds of descriptions for years or anything.)

People have been telling me that I use these things to 'excuse' my behaviour, but what does that actually mean? Do they see traits that I have which aren't like their own, or which they don't personally admire, and think that unless I alter myself to be more like them, I'm just not trying?
Is an introvert who says he doesn't really want to go to a party because he's introverted using that as an 'excuse' to not even 'try'?
Is a person with a broken leg refusing to run a marathon using that as an 'excuse'?
What's the difference between an 'excuse' and a 'reason'?

There's not One True Path that we should all follow, one Ideal Personality that we should all aspire to... Or at least, that's what I'd like to think. I don't want to be some tough, 'mature' extroverted type. I am aware that I have anxiety issues that I'm working on because they're less like personality traits and more like a hindering disorder, but other things like my sensitivity are not traits that I have any desire to change because the Ideal Personality to me would be sensitive, introverted, etc.

It's been really bothering me how certain kinds of people have been repeatedly telling me that I use personality types to 'excuse' my not aiming for the same ideal personality that they are.

Also, I hate arguing. I hate it. I hate conflict, and I do not 'grow' through argument. I don't enjoy it, and I don't find it stimulating. It makes me feel physically ill. But of course that's not going to stop people who see conflict as a way of coming to some kind of understanding from arguing with me anyway...

I have expressed distaste for 'Thinky' people... Here's something else from a website:
Thinking Characteristics

- Instinctively search for facts and logic in a decision situation.

- Naturally notices tasks and work to be accomplished.

- Easily able to provide an objective and critical analysis.

- Accept conflict as a natural, normal part of relationships with people.

Feeling Characteristics

- Instinctively employ personal feelings and impact on people in decision situations

- Naturally sensitive to people needs and reactions.

- Naturally seek consensus and popular opinions.

- Unsettled by conflict; have almost a toxic reaction to disharmony.

Can you see how there is dissonance between me and such people? I'm not any 'better' than them, but the approach that comes naturally to them causes me harm and doesn't even achieve anything since I don't operate on that level.

Now, I suppose I should brace myself from the gut punches from people who've essentially ignored everything that I've said here... I'm not quite sure why I keep running into the road, only to be hit by cars every time. Or some silly metaphor or analogy or whatever like that.