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What Personality Characteristics are Important for Psychologists?

If you’re interested in one of the wide range of occupations that deal with psychology, you probably want to know more about the ideal personality traits of psychologists. The truth is, any personality type is suited for a career in psychology, but some types seem to choose this path more than others. As in any career, people who work in psychology have to learn professional skills and adapt to their environments. However, when it comes to the traits they are born with, understanding those traits is more important than having one particular combination of traits.

Professional Skills

Psychologists need to be emotionally perceptive so that they can analyze what a patient is saying as well as the patient’s body language. They need to be in complete control of their own emotions so that their personal lives don’t bleed through to their professional lives. This quality goes along with being professional in general, but psychologists especially must show patients an air of stability and empathy to gain their trust. Above all, psychologists need to have a high level of concentration and excellent analytical skills, no matter what personality type they’re born with.

Different Personality Types

Psychologists disagree over the idea of personality types because testing shows that most people have an even mix of all personality types. Only a relative few individuals have distinct personality types, meaning they don’t have the characteristics of the other types. The Myers-Briggs personality test breaks people down into 16 categories, and each category is made up of a combination of four personality types chosen from eight possible types.

myersbriggsAccording to Myers-Briggs, the four spectra of personality traits are Extraversion-Introversion, Sensing-Intuiting, Thinking-Feeling and Judging-Perceiving. Research has shown that most people fall almost exactly halfway between each of these types on a spectrum, with the tail ends of the population falling closer to one type or the other. However, most people favor one trait over the other and identify themselves as, for example, thinking rather than feeling or perceiving rather than judging.

Inborn Personality Traits of Psychologists

Research has also shown that psychologists are represented by every personality type on the Myers-Briggs scale. One important point to mention is that 85 percent of psychologists are intuitive rather than sensing, even though most people in society favor sensing over intuiting. People who prefer sensing do not read into a situation more than they can see, instead waiting for observable facts. Intuitive people analyze what they see in an attempt to learn more than the facts presented by what is observable. It’s also important to note that intuitive people are not always right about what they read from a situation; they just naturally try to guess more than they can observe.

The next most common personality trait among psychologists is feeling, the opposite of thinking in the Myers-Briggs personality scale. People who prefer feeling over thinking outnumber those who favor thinking over feeling by 5 percent. The other traits are split more or less evenly among psychologists, but the most common combination of traits is Extraverted-Intuitive-Feeling-Perceiving, followed by Introverted-Intuitive-Feeling-Perceiving. The least common personality type is Extraverted-Sensing-Thinking-Perceiving, which only makes up 0.5 percent of psychologists. This fact makes sense because most psychologists are intuitive feelers rather than sensing thinkers.

Anyone interested in psychology can become a psychologist, but the most important step is to become a sharp, critical thinker and ethical professional. Understanding your personality traits and how they relate to the field of pyschology, will help you as you study and develop as a psychologist.

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