In the past you may have noted that this blog is occasionally referred to as INTJ-central (not to be confused with the real INTJ Central) and wondered what it was about this whole INTJ-business. INTJ is a particular classification of 16 different personality types. I will not explain it in detail suffice to give you a handy wiki reference for further detail.

What is most important to realize is that interpersonal understanding is often only based on an intuitive understanding of what motivates other people. This is particularly true of personalities which are mutually very different. In this case it is very hard to empathize with the other person simply because one possesses so little internally of the qualities that dominate the behavior of the other person.

There are 16 types but for the purposes of this post it is only necessary to cover four of the groups. The four groups have been given the names: idealists, rationals, artisans, and guardians. Very little is implied in these names. Do not make assumptions.

This type values personal growth, meaningful relationships, integrity and first and foremost authenticity. They are enthusiastic in their quest for wisdom whatever this may be. In the personal finance sphere this type is strongly attracted to minimalism, uncluttering, zen, feng shui, and various other new-age practices.

Artisan are spontaneous fun-loving people who like to do crazy things on a whim. They value experiences that can be experienced in the present. They value things that can be felt in the here and now. Food, music, etc. In the personal finance sphere, this type prides itself on being unconventional and a free spirit. They typically concentrate on travel, foods, extreme sports, and did I mention travel?

Guardians are dependable and hardworking. They like duties, responsibilities, procedures, and schedules. In the personal finance sphere, they are the ones telling you how to budget, how to dress for an interview, what your IRA limits are for 2010, that you should invest in index funds, why they like to put their finances on autopilot, and how to be responsible with your money. They also repeat themselves a lot.

Rationals (think they) have it all figured out. They are logical, analytical, skeptical, strategic, and very independent. Rationals do not care about established patterns and simply desire a pragmatic solution that works. To a rational, personal finance is simply another problem to be solved. Many rationals manage to solve it pretty fast and retire early. Rational bloggers are typically involved in lifestyle design, strategic planning, and taking over the world.

Why is this interesting? Mostly because each group of people write their posts as if by decree: This is the only right way to do it. Once one realizes the above, it is pretty easy both to see how a given person will respond or who a given person are based on their responses. For a good example see the recent “antitravel post“, which really got the artisans fired up because it challenged their most deeply held convictions about life as an ongoing party on some exotic beach location.

Occasionally I (rational) will also annoy the guardians who think I should be doing my duty and follow procedure by working for the rest of my life like they do even if a more efficient and dare I say rational solution exist.

I usually get along with idealists (I am probably one myself to some extent and aside from other rationals, this is the type I can relate to the best); except sometimes they annoy me with their romantic understanding, wishy-washy fundamentals, and the “feng shui” of minimalist computing. I am sure this generates some reciprocal tension as well.

Equally important to note is the general distribution in society. Rationals comprise about 10%; Idealists comprise about 16%; Guardians comprise about 46%; and Artisans comprise about 28%.

(These are US numbers. Cultures are slightly different. A rough global division is 15/15/35/35.)

A direct conclusion follows from human weakness to propaganda, namely people are likely to pay attention to whatever they hear the most rather than what makes the most sense. Because of the population division we hear that we must work and earn and that travel is amazing, respectively, from more than 70% of the population even though these jar with our own values, that is, if we do not happen to find ourselves nodding in agreement because the statements don’t resonate with out personality.

Well, seeing that you are probably a rational if you read this, I just want to tell you that it is okay if 1) You do not get much out of amazing experiences or have no particular desire to have your picture taken while snowboarding down a rock. 2) You do not find an uncluttering a reflection of your personal growth and a statement of your spiritual detachment from “things”. 3) You do not see the point in work for work’s own sake and you find idea of working for 30 years somewhat crazy when there is clearly no need.

Oh, and if you’re one of those other types, it is also okay, if you didn’t find this post particularly interesting 😉

If you know your type it would be interesting to hear how you deal with the other types in the comments below. Since learning about typing I have had a much easier time understanding other people, that is, once I can identify them.

Incidentally, here’s how to deal with INTJs courtesy of intjcentral. If you ever want to meet me, you need to read it 😀