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Workshop shows what makes people tick

By Stephanie Corns
Arizona Daily Wildcat
December 8, 1998
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Matt Heistand
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Tim Wernette, a University of Arizona human resources coordinator for diversity education, speaks about the Myers-Briggs personality test yesterday at the National Optical and Astronomical Observatory. The Myers-Briggs test classifies people into different personality categories such as extroverted or introverted, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving.

While Jekyll and Hyde would most likely be confused during a personality test, the exam can be useful for self-exploration, a UA human resources coordinator said yesterday.

Tim Wernette, a University of Arizona human resources coordinator for diversity education, showed about 10 people yesterday how to employ the Myers-Briggs personality test.

"It (the test) is a self-understanding tool," Wernette said. "It shows what your preferences are - what pushes your buttons."

Participants analyzed their thoughts, feelings and actions yesterday in a workshop at the National Optical and Astronomical Observatory sponsored by the Association of Women in Science Southern Arizona chapter.

The Myers-Briggs test was developed by Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs, who based many of their ideas on theories popularized by Carl Jung, a 20th-century psychologist.

The mother-daughter team used eight personality traits, such as peoples' source of inspiration or whether they act on their intuition, to define 16 personality types.

According to the Myers-Briggs test, people are classified as extroverted or introverted, thinking or feeling, sensing or intuitive, and judging or perceiving.

Extroverts tend to talk about their ideas before they think them out, while introverts think before they speak, Wernette said.

The source of a person's energy is affected by the degree of extroversion or introversion, he said.

"Do other people tend to energize you, or do they tend to drain you?" Wernette asked.

He also said societal expectations, which are determined by a person's gender, can affect a person's personality.

Men are influenced by society to be less sensitive and base decisions on logic, he said. Men and women are split 50/50 in the "thinkers" and "feelers" classifications, Wernette said.

He also said sensing and intuition can affect a person's decision-making process.

Sensing people tend to base their decisions on the five senses, while those who depend on their intuition use their sixth sense.

"S's (sensing people) see the trees and have a hard time seeing the forest, and N's (intuitive people) see the forest and don't see the individual trees," Wernette said.

He said Myers and Briggs added the judging and perceiving aspect to the three already existing Jung ideas.

People who judge are often organized and have a plan of action. Perceivers, however, tend to improvise instead of preparing in advance.

"This depends on your environ-ment," said Beatrice Meuller, a research asso-ciate at the National Optical Astronomic Observatory, adding that her personality varies depending on whether she is at work or home.

Wernette said personality types can be important in career decision-making and education because it affects the way people learn, understand and interact with others.

"It's often very difficult to know who a person is," Wernette said. "But, fundamentally, you are in control of developing what your personality type is."

While people are often classified as an extreme of a particular personality type, it is better to fall somewhere closer to the middle of the spectrum, he said.

"You need to have a balance of both," Wernette said. "The challenge to balance ourselves within ourselves."

Meuller said the workshop helped her recognize areas in her life that need improvement.

"If I were a little more balanced, I think my relationships would work a little better," she said. "I think I would understand people better."

Stephanie Corns can be reached via e-mail at Stephanie.Corns@wildcat.arizona.edu.