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The origin of typologies
In psychology, a typology refers to a classification of people on the basis of a defined number of Personality Traits. Each ‘Type’ is then attributed a number of more or less stable personality characteristics, thus enabling us to predict behavior to a degree. The number of personality types is directly related to the number of applied dimensions.
Even the ancient Greek philosophers Hippocrates and Galenus were looking to categorize human behavior in types. They developed a reasoning to describe people, amongst others, in “melancholic” “flegmatic” types.
The 20th century generated lots of research on the subject, starting with Kretschmer (1922) defining his 4 basic character groups, Heymans (1920) a leading Dutch experimental psychologist who defined 8 personality types based on two dimensions. Also important to mention is the work of Eysenck (1954) with the PEN-model (Psychoticism, Extraversion, Neuroticism)
The largest impact on the development of personality typologies must be contributed to the Swiss Carl Gustav Jung who in 1921 defined his four basic types of human personality. The psychological types as defined by Jung are at the basis of the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator), a leading classification-instrument developed by Briggs & Myers to group people in specific types. Myers & Briggs (1962, 2001) use 4 dimensions to 16 types. The different types are in general represented by 4 letters to describe a person’s behavior on the four scales.
The leading view on Personality Types is the assumption that people can always be classified dichotomous on a specific personality trait.