It’s been called the Myers-Briggs Bible and Personality CliffsNotes.
Regardless of what you call it, this little blue handbook (which has never been advertised, but spread only by word of mouth) was one of the first books to popularize the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and bring MBTI categories into the public consciousness.
Please Understand Me II (a thorough overhaul of Please Understand Me, first published in 1978) begins with the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, the most widely used personality test in the world. Your answers to its 70 questions will place you in one of 16 possible personality types. The rest of the book sheds light on what those types mean–for yourself and for your interpersonal relationships.
In this book Keirsey introduced the concept of the four temperaments–Artisan, Guardian, Idealist, and Rational–which are determined by trait groupings, and shed additional insight on why people are the way they are, and what that means in practical terms.
Keirsey’s work is based on the premise that certain personalities aren’t right or wrong–they’re just different, and that’s okay. (Although he’s quick to warn that while people are likely to develop certain skills, behaviors, and attitudes based on their type, each type has its corresponding weaknesses, shortcomings, and temptations.)
MBTI geeks (and there are plenty of them) rely heavily on Keirsey’s groundbreaking work. I personally find that instead of putting people in boxes, his categorized types and temperaments foster communication and connection among those who understand them.
I’ve found his insights about how the various types and temperaments relate to each other to be invaluable, especially the chapters on mating and parenting.
Would you consider yourself an MBTI geek? Tell us about it in comments.
P.S. I wrote a book about personality! In Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything, I walk you through 7 different frameworks, explaining the basics in a way you can actually understand, sharing personal stories about how what I learned made a difference in my life, and showing you how it could make a difference in yours, as well.
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This is the twenty-first post in a series, 31 Days of Cult Classics. You can click here to see a list of all the posts, updated everyday in the month of October.