My Creepy People Models

Bunny Slippers and Personality TypesTo some extent, I think that the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a load of crap. But then, I think that of just about all tests. Still, these tests can be really helpful in understanding oneself. I test as an INTP (introversion, intuition, thinking, perception). As I’ve gotten older, that “thinking” part has become much less extreme and now I sometimes test as “feeling” instead. This is clearly part of the vagaries of the test. While it is certainly true that I’ve gotten more in touch with my feelings as I’ve gotten older, thinking is still primary.

Let me give you an example, which may creep some of you out if you aren’t of my type. I create mental models of every person I meet. It’s not like a hobby, I just do it automatically and I always have. One of the great delights of my life is when someone I know breaks my model. I immediately begin creating a new model for that person. Most people never break my initial model. The really complex ones do it once. But there is one guy who I went to college with named Mark. He broke my model three times. And I think that makes him the most interesting man in the world, regardless of what beer he drinks.

I fully admit that I’m not a very observant person. But when it comes to little things, I am often shockingly observant. Many people have observed that I won’t notice the most obvious thing in the world but I will notice some little thing they never would have. It’s a little like autism, but let’s not dwell on that. (Although I’m an excellent driver!) So when I make my models of people, they aren’t based on the big picture. I just grab hold of a bunch of little things and try to synthesize them. It is heavily weighted toward the questions that people ask and how they ask them.

Many years ago, I was at a dinner party with David Griffiths. I knew of him because he wrote a very popular intermediate level electromagnetism book that I quite liked. At the party, all he did was ask questions—about everything. He was a knowledge sponge. He really put a lot of people off because they thought he was challenging them. That wasn’t true at all. He was complimenting them. He just assumed that they knew what they were talking about. If it was knitting, he knew he wasn’t an expert, so he assumed the other person was. And from a practical standpoint they were. He quizzed me excessively about the film Citizen Kane. I was thrilled about it; very few people care enough to ask questions about the things you care about. Anyway, clearly, I have a model of him and I doubt if I spent more time with him, it would change. People don’t have to be ineffable to be interesting. It doubtless helps that we are both intellectual sponges, just of different types.

But as I think you can tell from all of this, I may have a thinking tendency—a need to take data and organize it into theoretical models. But this is not Mr. Spock kind of thinking. Regardless, my thinking function is not all that pronounced. What is most pronounced is my “introversion” and “intuition” functions. And that’s why I think I notice the little things but commonly hit my head on clearly visible obstacles. (That is not hyperbole.) So the data I get to work with are fascinating and varied, but not necessarily reliable. Thus the fun of getting to reevaluate an entire person based on the inflection of a single word, as opposed to, say, the corpse rotting in their bathtub that I overlooked.

All of this is to say that I totally have you figured out. Until I don’t. But it will not take long for me once again to have you totally figured out. And that’s all there is to it. Unless you are Mark.


Regular readers know how much I love tests! If you want, you can take the test (72 yes/no questions) and then read all about yourself on Wikipedia! History shows that most of the people who can put up with me are INFPs. There are some Ss and Ts in there, but the I and P are extremely common. The J types are far too reasonable to waste time reading me. And the E types have friends to meet at that bar everyone goes to. Or to put it the Frankly Curious way, “The Js are boring and the Es are all drunks!”

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “My Creepy People Models

  1. I’m also a bit skeptical of the test, but in any event it’s a good conversation starter! I’m INFP, but only a bit more "F" than "T."

  2. @Mark – I tell ya, that’s my world. It would be sad if it weren’t for the fact that the IN*Ps are the very best people!

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