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Debunking the Five-Factor Personality Type Theory

The five factors

Asher Lawson and Kermant Kakkar reference the “widely-used” “five-factor psychological system for identifying personality traits” in the April 2022 issue of Scientific American [“Fake-News Sharers” p. 78]. Here are the five factors underlined (my interpretation added in brackets):

  • Openness to experience [i.e. involvement in external affairs vs. active pursuit of inner life / learning-growth through introspection, reflection-Intuition, contemplation; also vs. inaccessible mind stuck in unchanging status quo,]
  • Conscientiousness: orderliness, impulse control, conventionality, reliability [vs. social non-conformance but not relevant to individual Judgment without Feeling-Values / morality, order-fairness, discipline, accountability]
  • Extroversion
  • Agreeableness [vs. social unpleasantness but not relevant to individual Understanding, Honesty, sincerity. I.e. not relevant to individual recognition of / respect for Reality-Truth]
  • Neuroticism [Possible interpretation: wounded-crucified Psyche victimhood, hollowness-scarcity, unaccountability, specialness-taking , unfairness / wounding crucifying vs. sharing of Abundance, affirmation, empowerment, reciprocation, adaptability to changing contexts-circumstances, responsibility for improvement-progress, i.e. for changing-moving contexts forward.]

What’s wrong here?

The five-factor theory doesn’t allow for the crucial distinction between personality types in individual-intimate contexts-relationships vs. social-group contexts-relationships. Its categories overplay attributes associated with social types oriented to group activity-relationships in the external-material body-sensed environment and severely underplay attributes associated with individuals oriented to the Intuition-sensed inner life of mind and soul:

  • involvement in external experience without reference to involvement in internal experience
  • conscientiousness measured by social conventionality-reliability without reference to internal moral-values
  • extroversion / outward orientation without reference to introversion / inward orientation
  • agreeableness (pleasantness) without reference to alignment with Logic. Necessity, Reality or Truth that can be disagreeable (unpleasant).

By putting outward-oriented body-sensing attributes on the surface and muting inward-oriented mind-intuited attributes five-factor categories can be judged a clear attempt to invalidate the distinction. It can therefore be judged an attempt by the scientific community rabidly biased in favor of the philosophy of “realism” based on the presumed reality of bodies and material-sensed environment and against the philosophy of “idealism” based on reality of mind and soul.

If so, it stands in opposition to the philosophy of physics which is open to questioning “realism” based on the progress, or lack of progress, toward quantum gravity [ref: Adam Becker, “The Origins of Space and Time: Does Spacetime Emerge from a More Fundamental Reality?”, in Scientific American February 2022 pp. 28-33]. It also would stand in opposition to the philosophy of Plato which distinguishes between ideas-subjects within Mind and their material expressions-objects in the external world and, between the two, attributes reality to the former, not the latter. Except for Plato the person’s felt perception of divinity in the image of the cosmos, his philosophy, the foundation of Western thought, places reality firmly within Mind, not matter.

Myers-Briggs personality type theory and the rationality of Intuition

Myers-Briggs personality type theory, descended from Jungian psychology, is enriched by insights from Intuition that recognize the distinction between outward and inward orientations and project no evident bias between the two. Competition from the five factor theory would appear to be motivated by opposition-resistance to an “unscientific” approach that strays from quantifiables. By opposition to any theory, however rational, that challenges the supremacy (tyranny) of science’s sensory perception.

If so, science’s position is highly irrational because the scientific measurements of “quantifiables” cannot be up to the task of understanding the whole of human motivation. The very thought that it can is laughable. Who would disagree that human motivation incorporates the qualitative – minds, introspection, reflection, intuition, reasoning, subjective values-evaluating, judging, choosing – along with the quantitative – external objects, bodies and sensory perception? If science had its way personalities would be “measurable” chess-piece objects – automatons -- being maneuvered on a game board by binary search algorithms, not by minds, hearts, and souls thinking, feeling, and judging for themselves,. Not by sentient beings endowed with Psyches and Free Will.

Why debunk the five-factor personality type theory? Because it’s bunk.

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