A Quick History
of Personality Typing
CATEGORIZING PERSONALITIES into types—an activity called “typology”— has been embraced by major civilizations since ancient times. For more than twenty centuries, scientists and scholars have recognized that, while individual people are unique, there are predictable patterns of human behavior. Around 400 B.C. the Greeks, most notably Aristotle, Hippocrates, and Galen, believed human behaviors fell into four groups, or “humors”—sanguine, melancholic, phlegmatic, and choleric.1
In the 1920s the pioneering Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung, who had been a favorite student of Freud’s,2 split away and developed his own typology. According to Jung, human beings’ four ways of intersecting with reality were thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition, which he outlined in his book Psychological Types, published in 1921. He called these the four “functions.”
Jung spent most of his life studying how people are similar and different. He concluded that certain inborn or early-emerging preferences become the steadfast core of our likes and dislikes about other humans and the physical world. He further described each of these functions as being used in ei
2Norman Winski, Understanding Jung (Los Angeles: Sherbourne Press, 1971), p. 10.