Epistemology: Defining the Concept of Learning


Epistemology is the study of how humans acquire knowledge.  Human learning is best defined as a relatively permanent modification of behavior that comes about as the result of experience. Read More →

Understanding Your Personality Type

Personality Types

Many schools of modern psychology have recognized four basic personality types, with various sub-groupings being comprised of mixtures of these basic traits. The main four are like the “primary colors” of the social palette. Although people can oftentimes find labels confining, an understanding of these basic personality types – and their distinctive approaches to life – may help you to understand how you see yourself and others, as well as your place in relation to the world.

The idea of personality types is not a modern concept. The ancient Greeks, for example, recognized that humanity’s approach to life and problem solving tended to fall within four key categories, and this idea may have originated even earlier. Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung made an extensive study of personality types, and many of his deductions have survived into modern psychological practice.

While labels can oftentimes be restrictive – and fail to honor the uniqueness of each person – some understanding of the basic personality types can help you to interact with others and make decisions with a greater degree of self-awareness. While most of us will share in the qualities of each group to some degree, you may find yourself resonating strongly with one in particular as you read its description. You could think of this as your primary stance in life, the way in which you see yourself in relation to the world.

Choleric people are drivers and doers. This type is the prototypical extravert. People in this category tend to be driven, organized and disciplined in the pursuit of their goals. Decisiveness is the dominant fact of their nature, and they back this up with a strong will. The shadow aspect of their will can express itself as stubbornness, arrogance and lack of consideration for the perceptions and feelings of others.

Sanguine (also known as expressive) people are filled with spontaneous, creative energy. This type makes for a good entertainer as well as a fun and energetic friend. The shadow side of the sanguine can be very self-centered, caught up in its own world. This can express itself in an overall lack of organization, and the inability – or unwillingness – to reciprocate in personal relationships.

Phlegmatic (also known as amiable) people are peacekeepers. They dislike conflict and strive to promote harmony. They tend to be good listeners. Amiable people can be counted on; they consistently pull through even when the going gets tough. On the downside, they may have problems communicating or setting limits because they’re so averse to confrontation. They may avoid certain responsibilities – particularly those involving decision making – for this reason.

Analytical people are neat and organized. They live their lives according to high personal standards. Their approach to life’s various challenges is typically persistent and thorough, and it proceeds according to a well thought out plan. They are good problem solvers for this reason. On the downside, the analytical tendency towards high standards can become overly rigid and demanding. Such people can become pessimistic or easily hurt when the world doesn’t live up to their expectations. The original word for this personality type was melancholy, but this is not so often used nowadays because of people’s tendency to associate that word with despondency.     

Understanding which personality type you resonate with most strongly can help you to interpret your interactions with other people better. It helps you to perceive the various conflicts in life as less a matter of right or wrong and more a matter of people’s different values. This awareness can serve you well when making major life decisions – for example, those involving career choices or the pursuit of an intimate partnership.

Wanna find out what your personality type is? Take a free, confidential assessment here. Once you’re done, let me know if the results align with what you perceive as your personality. I’m especially interested in hearing about anything you might disagree with or results that you find surprising.

Adultlescence: A New Phase of Life

Adultlescence is a relatively new word. To some, it is defined as a period of life in which many young people seem stuck. Rather than behaving like proper grown-ups, getting jobs, and having children, these “adultlescents” have moved back in with their parents, are still addicted to video games, and show few or no signs of taking up the responsibilities of home and career.

Others, however, are looking at adultlescence in a slightly different light. Adultlescence, under this viewpoint, is not some sort of social malaise or disorder, but rather a new phase of human development, brought about by an uncertain economy and/or the reality of drastic increases in human life expectancy over the past hundred years or so.

The latter view of adultlescence gains some credence when compared to other phases of human development. Childhood as we think of it, for example, did not exist prior to the 18th century. At that earlier point in human history, children were seen not as children but as “little adults.” The clothes they wore were simply smaller versions of adult clothing, the toy industry did not exist, and most children were expected to pitch in and begin working to support the family as soon as they were able. They were not to be coddled or indulged. Today, however, there are child labor laws, and the idea of a child being required to do backbreaking labor in a field all day in the hot sun is practically unthinkable. This implies that there is no “proper” age for any particular stage of development and that it is, rather, a construct based on the values and beliefs of any given time and society.

Looking at emerging adultlescence as a function of humanity’s increased lifespan also benefits from examination of past trends. For example, as late as the early 20th century, average life expectancy from birth was as low as 31 years of age. The present average life expectancy is currently more than double that. Granted, a large portion of the increase can be attributed to the reduction in infant mortality brought about by modern medical advances. However, people are not only living longer, but more people are living longer. Many people are also working much longer. This leads to increased competition for jobs and resources, as well as a perception that working life may be much longer for young people now than it was for their parents or grandparents. Since adulthood ends later than it used to, it naturally follows that it can now begin later, too.

This ties directly into the economic perspective on adultlescence. Few children would relish the thought of living beneath their parents’ roof indefinitely.  Returning to the nest, so to speak, is as likely to be a result of economic pressure as desire. This would suggest there is a case to be made for adultlescence as a malaise of society—if it can be seen as a malaise at all—rather than as a malaise of a generation.

Whatever the underlying forces behind its creation, adultlescence is growing as a sociological term and as a phase of human development in its own right. Whether or not it grows out of it and into something different, or simply passes away entirely is something only time will tell.

Herbert Spencer’s Synthetic Philosophy

Herbert Spencer isn’t a name that most people would recognize, but his prospectus on the System of Synthetic Philosophy was extremely influential. He was born in Derby in 1820. Though he died in 1903, Spencer’s ideas eerily foreshadowed the way in which humanity would evolve into a technological utopia. Moreover, he was the first individual to apply Darwinian ideology to psychology. Read More →