Are Type Preferences Inborn or Learned?

Carl Jung believed that our type preferences were inborn. He discussed this belief in Psychological Types, which is Volume 6 of the Collected Works. Isabel Myers agreed with Jung and wrote about it in Gifts Differing. Rowan Bayne gives us an excellent overview in his book The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: A Critical Review and Practical Guide, pages 8-10.

Where is the evidence? Observations of children reveal very early differences. These differences are described by many authors, and some of these are listed below. There is some limited evidence available, primarily from studies of twins. References to some of these studies are also listed below.

Books on type and children:
  • The Developing Child, Elizabeth Murphy
  • The Inner World of Childhood, Francis Wickes
  • Nurture by Nature, Paul Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger
  • One of a Kind, LaVonne Neff
MBTI research related to type preferences being inborn:

Bouchard, T. J. (1995). Genetics and evolution: Implications for psychological theories. In J. Newman (Ed.), Measures of the five factor model and psychological type: A major convergence of research and theory (pp. 20-42). Proceedings of the symposium at APT-X, the Tenth Biennial International Conference of the Association for Psychological Type, July 1993. Gainesville, FL: Center for Applications of Psychological Type.

Bouchard, T. J. (Speaker). (1993, July). Twins and type. Presented at APT-X, the Tenth Biennial International Conference of the Association for Psychological Type. (Cassette Recording No. F196-4). Garden Grove, CA: InfoMedix (1-800-367-9286).

Green, K. L. (1993, Summer). Thomas Bouchard: Twins and type. Bulletin of Psychological Type, 16(3), 6-7.

Vandenberg, S. G. (1966). Contributions of twin research to psychology. Psychological Bulletin, 66, 327-352.

Vandenberg, S. G. (1967). Hereditary factors in normal personality traits (as measured by inventories). Recent Advances in Biological Psychiatry, 9, 65 - 104.

Twin studies cited by Rowan Bayne (these are not MBTI studies):

Bergeman, C. S., Chipuer, H. M. Plomin, R. et al (1993, June). Genetic and environmental effects on openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness: An adoption/twin study. Journal of Personality, 61(2), 159-179.

Bouchard, T. J., Lykken, D. T., McGue, M., Segal, N. L., and Tellegen, A. (1990, October). Sources of human psychological differences: The Minnesota study of twins reared apart. Science, 250, 223-228.

Note: Copies of all materials referred to above are available through CAPT Research CAPT Inc., 2815 NW 13th Street, Suite 401, Gainesville, FL 32609 • 352.375.0160

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