Know Yourself and Others: MBTI and Jungian Typology (55+)

Jungian typology illustrates several radically different ways of being a happy and effective person. These differences lead people to make decisions based on different kinds of information, which can result in misunderstandings and arguments. And they lead people to use communication styles that seem harsh or wishy-washy to others, resulting in frustration or even broken relationships.

We will use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the most widely used non-clinical measure of personality, to explore Jungian attitude-functions theory. Everyone habitually uses one of the MBTI’s four decision-making and four communications attitude-functions. These habitual preferences impact how we think, how we view right and wrong, and how we connect. Our goal is to understand individual differences to improve our interactions with others.

Note: Students will complete an MBTI test in class in Week 1 of this course.

Please note that enrollment in this course is reserved for adults 55+.

Currently not available for registration.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, you should be able to do the following:

  • Discuss the scientific basis validating Jungian typology and the MBTI
  • Identify your own habitual cognitive preferences and the behaviours they entail
  • Calculate how your cognitive preferences affect how you make decisions
  • Examine how your preferred interaction style will be received by others
  • Discuss how cognitive preference affects how you might engage in ethical action

Learning methods

You will learn through lecture, small group exercises with time for questions and answers (may vary from class to class). For Liberal Arts Certificate for 55+ students: you will write a reflective essay.


Week 1: Introduction to MBTI theory

We will discuss Jung’s theory of personality and how it was adapted by Myers and Briggs to produce MBTI theory and the MBTI instrument. MBTI theory dominates applied personality theory. The MBTI instrument is the most popular personality instrument in the world. Millions take versions of it every year. We will consider its reliability and validity as demonstrated by Dario Nardi’s EEG brain studies that demonstrate brain function differences for the cognitive functions

Week 2: What is your type?

Participants will work with the results of the MBTI taken in the first class, knowing their 4-letter Type (E or I; S or N; T or F; J or P). MBTI instruments are, however, only 75% accurate on average. We will use small group exercises to help participants verify the results they received on the MBTI, and what these results mean.

Week 3: Decision-making attitude-functions

People value different kinds of information, and think about problems differently, but assume everyone is much the same. Frustration and conflict arise when people seem to come to unexpected results. Jungian theory says there are four decision-making attitude-functions with different strengths and weaknesses. With mutual understanding, better decisions can result.

Week 4: Communications attitude-functions

People also communicate habitually using four very different styles but assume everyone problem-solves in much the same way. Thinkers, for example, are often impersonal and objective. Feelers may be very personal and seek not to hurt others. Sensors may prefer the “tried and true” while iNtuitors strive for creative new approaches. There is much room for disagreement but also the possibility of integrating the strengths of different perspectives into better decisions.

Week 5: Interactions between people with different preferences

Jungian theory emphasizes what individuals are like. Personally, I think its biggest value is in helping us understand and interact successfully with each other. There are predictable problems people often encounter. If I can see what another person values, and adapt myself to their decision-making and style of communicating, then agreement is more likely with greater satisfaction.

Week 6: Personality, ethics, and the belief that you are “right”

When I believe I am right and you are wrong, I am less willing to see your side. People have different takes on what is “right” or “wrong” and what to do about it. I could see ethics as rules and want to punish transgressors. I could prefer mercy depending on individual circumstances. I could try to right the past, or focus on improving future outcomes.

Books, materials and resources

Students will complete an MBTI test in class in Week 1 of this course. Instructions will be given in class. Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class.

Academic integrity and student conduct

You are expected to comply with Simon Fraser University’s Academic Integrity and Student Conduct Policies. Please click here for more details. Simon Fraser University is committed to creating a scholarly community characterized by honesty, civility, diversity, free inquiry, mutual respect, individual safety, and freedom from harassment and discrimination.

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