SimilarMinds Personality Descriptions are TOO Negative!?

I occasionally get angry missives from people complaining about how negative some of the personality descriptions on SimilarMinds are. At the root of this is that Extroversion/Introversion as it's measured by most tests is a mix of at least two different and unrelated traits, emotional stability and social desirability bias. Introverts, who are a mix of low emotional stability and low social desirability bias, are more likely to self rate in the most negative and/or socially undesirable way. Extroverts, who are a mix of high emotional stability and social desirability bias are more likely to self rate in the most positive and/or socially desirable way.

That's one of the reasons I created the MOTIVES personality system which seperates Introversion/Extroversion into emotional stability (Vital) and social desirability bias (Materialist). As it stands, some people that score as Introverts will be emotionally stable and have a very low social desirability bias and some will have very low emotional stability and high social reward bias. Both may appear similar outwardly (the former, quiet because they don't care to impress anyone, the latter, quiet because they are so afraid of being unimpressive), but they are internally very different. Because Introversion is more associated with emotional instability (depression) in how most tests (Big Five, Jung, MBTI, etc.) measure it, the personality descriptions will be more negative because emotional instability / depression are associated with lots of negative things (such as increased risk of suicide).

Evidence that links Introversion (as it's currently measured) to various negative things:

A significant positive relationship has been shown between a predominance of introverted interests (as measured by the E-I Interest test) and the predominance of depression in characteristic affective tone and attitude. (source)

The personality dimension of introversion may be a risk factor for suicidal behaviour in depression. (source)

A growing body of information suggests that core or underlying personality is a significant concomitant of depression and suicidality. Introversion (ie, low extroversion) is especially promising in its relationship to the phenomenology and outcome of depression, and may represent an underlying heritable trait of etiologic significance. (source)

Physically active men (n = 11) have lower depression (scale 2) and lower social introversion (scale 10) than the sedentary men (n = 11). Depression (scale 2) is the most powerful discriminator between physically active and sedentary men, followed by hysteria (scale 3) and social introversion (scale 10). (source)

Adolescents who engaged regularly in physical activity were characterised by lower anxiety-depression scores, and displayed much less social behavioural inhibition than their less active counterparts. (source)

In multivariate analyses, introversion and depression were independently associated with mortality. We conclude that personality introversion and depression are associated with increased mortality following stroke. (source)

Lower depression, social introversion, and psychopathic deviance scores were associated with increased probability of exercising in midlife for both men and women. (source)

Typology flaws aside, it's unlikely for an individual to ever improve as a person or respond well to criticism about who they are if they've religiously embraced the notion that...

A. Personality type is fixed/unchangeable
B. Their personality type/preference is healthy (when it's actually not)

This site is devoted to objective research and honest deconstruction of human personality. I'm interested in helping people to become happier in an honest way. Informing someone they are great when they are troubled is a good way to make money as a personality consultant or author, but I really don't see any other benefit to it long term (for them or the world). As I've said, all the descriptions on this site are made up of items large sample sizes of individual types self rated higher on, there is no editorial involved (the only omitted items are ones with D-scores that are too low to merit inclusion). Most personality type descriptions you read on the web are not compiled in any remotely scientific way. They are based on and/or borrowed from books which themselves are based on a lot of subjective personal opinion or insufficiently small sample size personality testimonials, not to mention the inherent flaws in many of the personality systems themselves (Enneagram, Jung/MBTI, and even the Big 5).

Beyond the above, personality descriptions are never going to be one hundred percent accurate for each person (at best, they are pretty accurate for most people). Not everyone reads items to mean the same thing and not everyone is honest (consciously or unconsciously) about who they are. Also, the more you score between types the less accuracy you are going to find in the Jung and SLOAN descriptions. Additionally, if the trait/system being measured is flawed (as with Extraversion/Introversion) the results will be less accurate.

If we are talking about Introversion vs Extroversion in terms of Carl Jung's original ideas. For the most part, both orientations are potentially equally dysfunctional. For Jung, extroversion is about identifying too much with the ideals of the outside world, the external and introversion is about identifying too much with one's internal world / voice / ideals. Jungian Extroversion is associated with Narcissistic, Histrionic, and Anti-Social personality disorders and being shallow and materialistic. However, as previously discussed, Introversion/Extroversion as measured by the Big 5 and Myers Briggs tests (on my site, other sites on the web, or offline tests) shows greater correlations to the Vital drive (with Big 5/MBTI extroversion correlating with a high Vital orientation, and Big 5/MBTI introversion correlating with a low Vital orientation) that's why the introvert descriptions on my site which are merely reflective of introvert self-ratings are more dismal than the extrovert descriptions.

One of the key Big 5/MBTI Extroversion vs. Introversion items is

I'm more outgoing than reserved.

The correlations for the above item with the MOTIVES system are:

Materialistic .335
Offbeat .239
Thinking -.052
Interpersonal .165
Vital .336
Easygoing -.093
Sectarian .090

So, the more you rate yourself as Reserved (vs. Outgoing), on average, the more likely you are to not be Materialistic, and/or the more likely you are to not be a happy/resilient/optimistic person, i.e. not be high on Vital. Because being outgoing / reserved involves multiple different personality traits, the term introvert or extrovert is lacking in clear descriptive value. Are you an extrovert because you are emotinally stable (Vital) or because you want to impress others (Materialistic) or because you like to take risks (Offbeat) or because you put others first (Interpersonal)? The traditional extrovert label doesn't answer that.

Here are some of the items low Vital scorers self rate far higher on...

I have little control over life.
At a certain point in life I became broken and I've never recovered.
I would be better off dead.
The image I present to others and who I really am are not the same.
Being optimistic leads to disappointment.

Further Clarification: The main thrust of this essay is to illustrate that the popular conception of Introversion/Extroversion is not consistent with Jung's original ideas/descriptions and that commonly found/understood Introversion descriptions are conflated with low Emotional Stability (Vital) traits (and other traits). Consequently, validation of Introversion as it's currently understood would be a validation of emotional instability. Stripping away the Emotional Stability (and other trait) biases found in most Introversion/Extroversion inventories, you are left with the following average health items for each disposition:

Average Health Introvert/Ascetic Items
Appearance to me, doesn't really strike me as a priority.
I have no need for power over others.
I prefer a basic/simple/spartan living space to a high-end/luxury one.
External indicators of success such as power or recognition seem shallow to me.
I seem to care less than my peers about wealth, fame, and status.
I do not like to appear better than others.
I don't care about dressing nicely.
When I am depressed, I desire less social interaction

Average Health Extrovert/Materialist Items
I find being better than others (superior) rewarding.
I gravitate towards people I think have the most prestige.
You can never be too attractive/popular.
I value beauty the most.
It is important that I impress my superiors.
I expect other people to entertain me.
I choose romantic partners I can control.
When I am depressed, I desire more attention.

One can see a clear pattern of rejection of external value vs. over dependence on external value in the above items, both of which are potentially nonconstructive cognitive tendencies and align with Jung's original ideas on what Extroversion/Introversion is. So, while I think Introversion as it's defined by the MBTI, Big 5, and most personality systems and authors is more pathological than healthy, when it comes to a non-emotional stability biased Introversion/Extroversion spectrum, I don't think either preference is necessarily better or worse.

Emotionally Healthy Extrovert/Materialist Items
I don't mind being the center of attention.
I'm very popular in mainstream society.
I like having my picture taken.

Emotionally Healthy Introvert/Ascetic Items
I never worry about my looks.
I don't measure my success by public opinion.
I do not get upset easily.

Emotionally Unhealthy Extrovert/Materialist Items
I'm jealous of people that I think are better than me.
My self esteem is based on how attractive I am to others.
I get upset when things don't go my way.

Emotionally Unhealthy Introvert/Ascetic Items
I find not having to be in control rewarding.
I am overly modest.
I am not special.

MOTIVES correlations of common introversion/extraversion items

introversion items

Additional Relevant Links:

Personality Type Descriptions

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