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Type Truly Transcends Culture

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Type Truly Transcends Culture

Screenshot from Betsy Kendall's presentation

Screenshot from Betsy Kendall's presentation

The European Center for the distribution of MBTI® OPP Ltd has recently partnered with Philippe Rosinski of Coaching across Cultures fame to research the connection between Type and culture.

An invitation went out to all recently-certified MBTI® practitioners in the US, the UK, Australia, India, Asia-Pacific, and many other countries to fill out the Cultural Orientations Framework. Over 900 responses later, a lot of the data still has to be examined, but Betsy Kendall presented some of the findings so far.

Grain of salt upfront, the sample may not representative of the national culture; more likely it represents the distribution in the group of those people drawn to become Type practitioners.

Betsy presented some results for the four countries that had the most respondents. The countries and their most-reported Types are:

US: n=300 – 14.3 % ENFP

UK: n=109 – 13.8 % ENFP

Australia: n=129 – 19.4 % ENFP

India: n=172 – 13.4 % ISTJ

The whole sample n=918, and there is a statistical over-representation (i.e. more in the sample than you would expect) of INFJ, ENFP, INTJ and ENTJ.

If you’re a Type practitioner, you may not be surprised by the following. Interculturalists, hang on to your hats. If you know the results of Trompenaars’ and Hofstede’s research, these are astonishing:

USA scored higher on the Being dimension than India, and India scored higher on Competition than USA.

The Being vs Doing dimension is often cited as an obvious differentiator between the East and the West. Traditionally, Western countries were more associated with valuing achievement, getting things done, and being pro-active – working to control their environments (Doing). On the contrary, Eastern cultures were traditionally more associated with words like flow, fate, luck, and Karma, placing the locus of control more to the outside of the individual (Being).

Competition vs Collaboration is also something we had traditionally more associated with the West and East respectively. Perhaps this is where the ENFP predominance in the US sample and the ISTJ in India comes to play? The interaction style of an ENFP is Get-Things-Going, a hallmark of which is having everyone involved and motivated. 

India scored higher on the Future-Oriented dimension.

From intercultural research we would normally expect “old” countries, i.e. those steeped with history, traditions, and long-established customs to have more of an orientation towards the past and keeping those traditions alive. A country like the USA, which literally just celebrated its 238th birthday only, there isn’t that much history to look back on. Consequently, it makes sense for US Americans to be more present or future-oriented. A hypothesis for Indian nationals reporting higher on the future-orientation may be that they interpret it as a long-term orientation. In the States, as many of us are familiar, the future may just last through the next quarterly results statement.

India scored higher on Universalism than the USA.

Universalist cultures apply rules equally to everyone, whereas Particularist cultures believe making case-by-case exceptions is fairer. Previous cultural research suggested that the USA would be more prone to have rules and see them through. Another example of how we would the Stabilizer (SJ) and Catalyst (NF) temperaments would expect to respond, not what previous cultural research seemed to suggest.

USA scored higher on the Affective dimension.

I had to go back to Trompenaars’ book to have a look, and it seems this one is actually in line with previous culture findings.

The Affective vs Neutral dimension looks at how comfortable nationals are displaying emotion publicly. Take your greeting protocol for example. In Germany and the USA, a handshake is common. Both parties will maintain at least a foot or two of personal space at all times. In many other European countries, greetings include quick pecks on the cheek, or more precisely, pecks on the air near the cheeks. India is a diverse country with many different customs, and I’m mostly aware of the hands-to-heart Namaste bow. Throughout the continuing conversation, or even on public transport systems, however, personal space is much smaller.

Trompenaars’ found that 51 % of Indian respondents would not openly show emotion at work, compared to only 43 % of US Americans. “Affective” doesn’t mean “affectionate”, so displays of emotion include anger or annoyance.

What does this mean?

Type transcends culture in that its concepts travel well, and people across the globe, once exposed to it, find it at least useful, if not meaningful.

First findings also suggest that people of a certain Type preference, e.g. ENFP, are likely to find they have a lot more in common with another ENFP from a different culture, than a fellow countryman who has a different preference.

I thought Betsy’s whole presentation was terrific and can’t wait to learn more about their findings. I admit, I thought differences within Type through cultural expression would show up more markedly, and still maintain that a combination of both concepts provides a more holistic picture.

Either way, I am supported and encouraged to see that Type is obviously a key aspect to helping expats adapt in different cultures, particularly for executives who need to establish effective one-on-one relationships.

The data is currently being analyzed in more detail, because as you may be aware, Rosinski’s COF not only looks at orientation of where you fall in between Universalism or Particularism, for example, but also how you rate your ability to use either side. So – more (hopefully) soon. 

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An American INTP in the UAE

I'm in Miami at the Association of Psychological Type International Conference this week, learning about Type and presenting on how personality type can help expats prepare for international assignments, and how important it is to know your clients' cultural and personality background to coach them most effectively. I'm going to share a new profile each day this week of expats who have filled out my survey or whom I have interviewed.

You shared your experiences so generously, thank you very much, I truly appreciate it.

INTP in UAE_world

INTP in UAE_world

INTP in UAE

INTP in UAE

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An American ENFP in Spain

I'm in Miami at the Association of Psychological Type International Conference this week, learning about Type and presenting on how personality type can help expats prepare for international assignments, and how important it is to know your clients' cultural and personality background to coach them most effectively. I'm going to share a new profile each day this week of expats who have filled out my survey or whom I have interviewed.

You shared your experiences so generously, thank you very much, I truly appreciate it.

ENFP in Spain_world

ENFP in Spain_world

ENFJ in Spain

ENFJ in Spain

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An American ENFJ in Russia

I'm in Miami at the Association of Psychological Type International Conference this week, learning about Type and presenting on how personality type can help expats prepare for international assignments, and how important it is to know your clients' cultural and personality background to coach them most effectively. I'm going to share a new profile each day this week of expats who have filled out my survey or whom I have interviewed.

You shared your experiences so generously, thank you very much, I truly appreciate it.

ENFJ in Russia_world

ENFJ in Russia_world

ENFJ in Russia

ENFJ in Russia

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An American ENFJ in Australia

I'm in Miami at the Association of Psychological Type International Conference this week, learning about Type and presenting on how personality type can help expats prepare for international assignments, and how important it is to know your clients' cultural and personality background to coach them most effectively. I'm going to share a new profile each day this week of expats who have filled out my survey or whom I have interviewed.

You shared your experiences so generously, thank you very much, I truly appreciate it.

ENFJ in Australia_world

ENFJ in Australia_world

ENFJ in Australia

ENFJ in Australia

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An American ESTJ in Japan

I'm in Miami at the Association of Psychological Type International Conference this week, learning about Type and presenting on how personality type can help expats prepare for international assignments, and how important it is to know your clients' cultural and personality background to coach them most effectively. I'm going to share a new profile each day this week of expats who have filled out my survey or whom I have interviewed.

You shared your experiences so generously, thank you very much, I truly appreciate it.

ESTJ in Japan_world

ESTJ in Japan_world

ESTJ in Japan

ESTJ in Japan

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5 Words to Describe the USA

Hello! Thanks for visiting and please enjoy the free info below! 

Just fyi, you can find me over at www.dorisfullgrabe.com from now on, where I'm making custom lettering and calligraphy. 

This archive will be discontinued next month. 

Pic Credit: jurvetson
Pic Credit: jurvetson

Culture is to people like water is to fish.

We’re in it all the time, but we can’t see it, and we’re certainly not aware of it. We don’t think about our culture – until it’s not there anymore.

Many expats or international teams going through cross-cultural trainings are asked to define what their culture is. If nobody has ever asked you that before, this question can stump you.

I’ve been asking my clients and research participants to describe their country in 5 words, and here are some of their responses.

5 Words to describe the USA

From an ENTP who grew up in the North East

  • Education
  • Work hard
  • Do your best
  • Fairness
  • Justice

From an ENFP who grew up in the Midwest

  • Reliable
  • Responsible
  • Solid
  • Guarded
  • “Old Suburban”

From an ENFJ who grew up in Manhattan, NYC

  • Freedom-loving
  • Important to protect rights of the individual
  • Success is what you do
  • Land of Opportunity
  • Spiritual Poverty

From an INTP who grew up in the Midwest

  • “Pioneer values”
  • Helping neighbors
  • Very friendly but stays on the surface
  • Honest
  • “We don’t do the stuff that you hear about on Oprah.”

What would you add? :-)

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Step 7 - Living in the Present

Picture Credit tuppus Time is an individual construct, and our concepts of time differ by personality type as well as by culture.

Numerous research is showing that the ability to practice critical awareness and living in the present without worrying about the past or future is a key ingredient in wholehearted and well-balanced living.

I often wonder if people with a Sensing preference have an easier time of focusing on the present, type theory states Sensing is a more present-oriented function than Intuiting.

People of different Temperaments have a different orientation to time (Berens, L. 2010):

  • Stabilizer (SJ) - Past
  • Improviser (SP) - Present
  • Catalyst (NF) - Future
  • Theorist (NT) - Infinite Time

Thinking about the function attitudes of each Temperament it makes sense: Introverted Sensing for Stabilizers is concerned with remembering, recalling, and reviewing, whereas extraverted Sensing for the Improvisers is more about engaging with the environment at any given moment. For Catalysts, the identity and unique potential of a person is often future-oriented and tied with personal and professional development paths, whereas the Theorist is often more concerned with ultimate truths and lasting logical systems and frameworks.

In different cultures, we also see varying attitudes and approaches to time. If a nation has existed for a long time, especially when it has celebrated successes in the past, it is more likely to draw on those past successes and value tradition. Examples might be India or Greece.

Younger nations are more likely to be more present or future focused: since they don't have much experience to look back on, they model values and behaviors towards certain ideals. Take the United States and its Declaration of Independence, for example. Going by age, as one cultural analyst puts it, the US is in the throws of teenager-hood.

When it comes to my home country Germany, I think the attitudes are mixed. Germany's 18th Century writers, thinkers, and musicians are well-known across the world, and conservative politician Bismarck in the 19th Century laid the foundation of the welfare state we know and love today. Then the second world war changed everything. Mention Germany in any conversation today, and WWII will be one of the first things that come to mind. As a recent conversation with a dog-walker in our elevator reaffirmed:

  • Woman: what a nice accent, where are you from?
  • Me: Germany, originally, but I studied in Scotland.
  • Woman: Oh, yes, I'm German too. Well, not born and raised, but when I visited Russia a woman looked at me and said "German! Bad! Pft! Pft!" (spitting at my feet).

I still don't know what I'm supposed to say to that, except I'm sorry this happened to her.

Being present in the moment and living in a state of mindfulness, then, may come easier to those who grow up in a society where present-focus is being encouraged, and those who have a cognitive predisposition to more easily stay in the present in the first place.

Still, present mindfulness is not unattainable, but a question of practice. Five minutes of daily meditation where you do nothing but focus on your breath, counting your heartbeats in and out, is a good start. Up the time as you get more comfortable, and celebrate every millisecond your monkey-brain is not off somewhere making a groceries list.

Reference: Linda Berens, Understanding Yourself and Others, An Introduction to the 4 Temperaments 4.0, Radiance House, CA, 2010

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