- How Can I Find My Somatotype?
- Know Thyself
- Predicting Personality from Somatotype
- Self Interviews
- Significance of “Centered” Somatotypes
- Somatotype and Measuring the Big Components of Personality
- Somatotype and Personality
- Somatotype and Relationships
- Somatotype Chart of Myers-Briggs Types
- Somatotype: Definition and Measurement
- Somatotypes of Famous People
- Somatotypes of Political Leaders
- Twelve types
- soma chart
- The Physics of Personality (A Self-Critical Dialog)
- Jim Carrey: Balanced Ectomorph
- Marlon Brando: Centrimorphic Mesomorphic Endomorph
- Jennifer Aniston’s Somatotype
- Putin “BEARS” His Chest
- Rachael Fredericksen – Biggest “Muscle” Loser
- The Failure of Psychology
- The Curse of Phrenology
- Somatotype and The Great Political Divide
- Somatotype and the Four Temperaments
- Somatotype and Myers-Briggs
- Jung’s Obsession With Mandalas
Physics of Personality
Q. PHYSICS OF PERSONALITY – That sounds like a set up for some new age theory that is trying to look scientific. So, what is the point you are trying to make?
A. The point is to try to stir our scientific imaginations. Try to imagine how a physics of personality would look. The very idea of a mechanistic approach to personality seems alien to most people. It’s hard to think of where you would start. After all, people aren’t machines. But like all objects they move, and are moved in space in certain directions relative to various forces. That’s basically sufficient to get started . That’s what Isaac Newton had to work with for his explanation of mechanics. Although the context may be different, patterns of human behavior ought to have an explanation. Unfortunately, the study of personality is stuck at the descriptive stage.
Q. What do you mean descriptive or classification stage?
A. Classifying is a way of getting started. A jigsaw puzzle is an example of a problem that requires a sorting strategy. Most people start out looking for the pieces with straight edges because that is the important feature to identify the boundary of a puzzle. Among the straight edged pieces, the search continues for the four critical right-angled pieces that identify the corners so that the top, bottom, left and right orientation can be determined. Next, we might arrange groups within a color range. Colors are then sorted into groups with similar textures. These are preparatory steps. The actual solution is fitting the pieces together with the result that the picture starts to emerge. If you have a lot of time on your hand, you can always turn the pieces picture side down for an extra challenge. This illustration has a lot in common with scientific research. When trying to apply the scientific method to an area of our world we need to explore by sorting and classifying until some basic elements and relations emerge. These elements can lead to proto-theoretical insights. Eventually you may arrive at scientific explanations that can be verified by predictability. In other words, the aim is to solve the puzzle.
Q. OK. I see the importance of classification at the start. But, how is personology stuck in the classification stage? There is no shortage of theories in the study of personality.
A. Having too many theories is symptomatic of the problem. We need to be careful about what gets the label of being a theory. A theory ought to do more than just describe things. A theory needs to explain causes and ideally enable some degree of prediction. This is not to say that describing things is unscientific. Description is an essential part of science. That is where it starts. However, it needs to go beyond that by explaining the cause. Personology is a field littered with models. When you are pulling ideas out of thin air, there is no limit to the number of models. Four-quadrant descriptions have been one of the dominant structures. Consultants love to display charts of their two-axis models as if they are magic squares that explain everything. Some of these have even resulted in useful taxonomies. There seems to be a pen and paper instrument for just about everything. These instruments have been used in evaluating people for career paths, leadership and even life mate selection.
Q. Well, isn’t the predictability of these tests evidence of real progress? It seems to be better than relying on stereotypes and other kinds of guessing. You mentioned the proliferation of four-quadrant models, are you overlooking the Five Factor Model? It’s become the dominant paradigm at least at the university research level.
A. It’s another model. That’s why it’s called the Five Factor MODEL! It’s claim to fame is that anyone who does the research that produced the FFM has a high probability of coming up with the same results. Consistency of results is important to science because it involves a degree of predictability. That’s why researchers like the FFM (also called the Big 5). By the way I’m not promoting the five factor model.
Q. OK even though you aren’t promoting the five factor model do you know anything about the methodology behind it? What is special about the methodology of the FFM that makes it different from other models so that it attracts serious researchers.?
A. The methodology is called the lexical approach. Lexical refers to the dictionary. In a sense, the lexical approach is a kind of theory. However, it’s not a theory of personality but rather a theory about word usage applied to personality. It is the idea that the most important ways of looking at personality will be embedded in language. Personality descriptions use common words and in some cases might involve several words to express a trait. The goal is to find clusters of words and phrases that correlate with the greatest number of descriptive words. These clusters are generated by analyzing data from individuals who answer questions on a variety of trait inventories. Advanced statistical techniques such as “factor analysis” are used to sort through the data. In spite of the sophistication of statistical analysis, it still is primarily a structure detecting procedure. Although the FFM has made advances toward a more objective model of personality, it remains at the description stage.
Q. Who came up with the FFM?
A. This method began back in the late 19th century with Galton and later in the middle of the 20th century, Allport, Thurstone, Cattell did extensive research with factor analysis. There was a major interruption in this effort because of shifting psychological paradigms. There was the Behaviorist period where all personality was considered learned behavior. This was followed by another significant interruption due to the popularity of Mischel’s theory that personality is not constant but varies with the situation. Real progress with the lexical approach was made at the point where computers became available to do the tedious calculations involved in factor analysis. Various researchers started consistently coming up with the same five baskets of factors. Consistently coming up with five major factors doesn’t explain the source of what’s in those baskets. All that can be said is that the source is biological, social or both.
Q. So, it’s still the nature/nurture problem! Or, is that really a problem?
A. It’s only a problem when a researcher on one side of the question wants to torpedo the other side. It’s easy to discredit an investigator with this issue. But, whichever side of this issue you want to weigh in on you will then be obligated to do some serious research to move the scale to your side. The dominant approach seems to split it in half allowing either side to proceed with their research until something definitive emerges.
Q. So, where is all this going?
A. At this point, there is a serious search for biological causes of the FFM. I think the problem is that they are looking in the wrong places. You mentioned the nature/nurture problem, but there is another split that has confounded efforts at understanding personality. I’m referring to the mind-body split, which leads to the idea that you have a brain and a body and if you are going to learn about personality the answers are in the brain or nervous system part of the body. Humans are obsessed with their big brains.
Q. It seems logical to look for answers in the brain and nervous system. What are you proposing?
A. One of the most significant things about the FFM is that it has greatly reduced the number of elements that we need to explore. The FFM has made it respectable to have just a hand-full of dimensions. If it really is the “BIG FIVE” then perhaps we ought to be looking at larger systems than the various sections of the brain and nervous system. Maybe the problem is that we are overlooking something that is large and obvious. If you are dissecting parts of the brain or looking at neurotransmitters you may find associations with the broader categories of human behavior, but those associations are not necessarily the cause of behavior.
Q. What could we possibly be overlooking?
A. This brings us back to the title of this discussion- “The Physics of Personality”.
Q. I asked you before and I don’t believe you answered my question. What do you mean when you say “The Physics of Personality”?
A. Physics is the ideal subject for science because you are dealing with “objects”. Objectivity is the standard. But, how can that standard be achieved when constructing a theory about something as subjective as personality? We can’t get out of our bodies. One thing we can do to maintain some objectivity is to avoid too much reliance on qualitative words when building the scaffold for our proposed theory.
Q. Can you explain what you mean by “too much reliance on qualitative words”?
A. Qualitative words are adjectives used to describe something from some perceiver’s viewpoint. Look at the major personality inventories. They are mostly descriptive terms primarily because they are at the description stage of research. Jungians use words like intuition, sensation, thinking, and feeling. DISC stands for dominance, influence, steadiness and compliance. The Big Five dimensions are openness, conscientiousness, steadiness, extraversion and neuroticism. These are just adjectives that describe. They don’t explain anything. Causation requires some nouns. It requires things acting on things. If we actually understood the causes we could finally clean up the field of psychology from a lot of the vague spiritualistic terms currently in use by mental health practitioners.
Q. Aren’t you falling into a behaviorist orientation? They wanted to explain everything with, stimulus, response and reinforcement.
A. Yes I am but with a wider scope than assigning all causes of behavior strictly to things outside of the body. I will make this clearer in a moment.
Getting back to the idea of a “Physics of Personality”, we can start out by copying some basic procedures from physics. Isaac Newton developed his mechanics with the simple concept that everything in the universe is moving. Mechanics then tries to predict the motions of objects as they interact. Shouldn’t we expect some aspects of motion would apply to humans and other living organisms since they are also in motion and part of the same universe. When discussing the laws of motion we can infer some important things based on an objects motion. We can say four things about all objects without resorting to qualitative descriptions.
1. All objects can be traced back to a cause.
2. Moving objects can move other objects.
3. Moving objects are moving in a single direction
4. Moving objects are moving in a certain space relative to all other objects
Q. Pardon me. But, at this point, I have to ask – so what? Humans and other animals are not simple chunks of matter orbiting each other.
A. Obviously, there is a difference between ordinary matter and living organisms. This difference can be accounted for by adding the prefix “self”. Living organisms are:
1. Self -Causing or Self-Forming.
3. Self- Directing or Deciding
4. Self- Relating or Orienting
By adding the word “self” we are establishing the basic functions of an organism. The next step is to look for the organismic structures that carry out the basic functions. These structures are best described as organismic systems because they involve a coordination of structures. Some structures share aspects of the basic functions but each has a main function. Here is a list of the dominant structures and their associated functions:
1. Digestive or vegetative organs process materials that form the organism.
2. Muscular system enables the organism to move.
3. Nervous system directs the organism’s reactions.
4. Sensory system provides orienting information.
Q. Ok, I can see the connections between the various functions and systems but how do you get personality out of that?
A. If people vary according to a ranking of these four systems, how is that any different than a personality test with four factors? The permutations of the ranking of four factors yields 24 possibilities. Researchers seem to have no problem with the explanatory power of this kind of calculus. The problem is a matter of coming to terms with the actuality of these relationships and that’s where real scientific explanation comes in. While at least half of personality may involve these basic organismic functions, you can’t ignore the impact of adapting to the infinite number of influences from the environment. This is the nature/nurture (genotype/phenotype) question. Actually, we should change the phrase to the genotype/phenotype SITUATION. Before we can understand environmental causes, we need to get a strong sense of what a person’s genetics contributes to the situation.
Q. How could that be done? I mean, even though it seems reasonable that people vary in some sort of percentage of the systems you mention how can you measure the four systems in a way that it generates the proper proportion.
A. It’s basically been done but like all theories it needs to be developed. In the last half of the 20th century, William H. Sheldon proposed a method for classifying the human physique. He called his taxonomy – somatotype. After sorting out 4,000 photographs, he could see a continuous variation of shape based on three variables. Physiques centered in the gut he called endomorphs. Those with emphasis on the chest and large muscle groups he called mesomorphs. The ectormorphs appear thin as if stretched out.
Q. That’s only three. What is the fourth dimension you are suggesting?
A. The fourth dimension is definitely a dimension but it is not in the same category as the other three because it is a derivative. It is derived from the condition of balance in the three major dimensions. Just as each of the main components at their extreme are polar opposite of the other two dimensions, the extreme middle forms a pole opposite all three dimensions. Sheldon acknowledged this situation and gave it quite a bit of attention in explaining temperament but he never systematized its influence by scaling it as he did with the other dimensions. The math required to create a scale of balance is not complicated and I’ve done this, including it in the somatotype tables. A person that is equal in endomorphy, mesomorphy and ectomorphy would be a seven in balance. That’s as much as I want to go into the technical side of somatotype. It’s not very hard to learn Sheldon’s final “objective method” of somatotyping. The inducement to learn the technique of somatotype is if you can see the possibility of its explanatory power.
Q. I can see a relationship between endomorphy and digestion and the necessity of muscle for movement. How does ectomorphy fit in?
A. The outer layer of the embryo, which is called the ectoderm, develops into the skin, brain and nervous system. By stretching an organism out you increase the ratio of surface to volume. The focus on extension limits or crowds out the other two layers and eventually affects the pattern of influence on the organism as a whole. The brain and nervous system specialize in coordinating the organism’s reactions.
Q. It seems the sensory system is all that remains in this scheme and the only empty chair is what you call balance. Is that a correct assumption?
A. Yes and it is the most difficult for people to comprehend. In discussions with others who were fans and associates of Sheldon’s I discovered that they all seemed to have a reluctance to see the need for a scale of system balance. Like all theories some have trouble with modifying their orthodoxy to adjust to newer insights. They have become so obsessed with the triangle that they lose their ability to think “into” the structure. Although there are significant correlations between somatotype and temperament I believe the inclusion of a measure of openness such as is found in the Five Factor Model would improve the correlations.
Q. Aren’t sensory receptors an extension of the nervous system? So, shouldn’t orientation be sitting on the same chair as the nervous system, even if it sits on its lap?
A. In reality all aspects of an organism emerge from the basic need to find nourishment to be metabolized. As the fertilized egg keeps dividing, it forms a spherical structure. There are initially no organs. At that point, you had no blood for a heart to pump, no brain, no stomach, bones, teeth, or anything else that would resemble an organ. In a sense all of the organs are an extension of what comes before it. The first real sign that some differentiation is taking place is the appearance of the three layers that Sheldon adopted for naming the basic dimensions of somatotype.
Q. How then does balance lead to sensory dominance?
A. Sensory dominance is orientational or exploratory behavior. When a person is balanced in their basic systems, they are confronted with the problem of what they should do next. This starts a process of playing around with the environment looking for something that will organize their behavior. There is a cycling through their basic needs while they explore their environment until something clicks. This is the core of the Big Five trait of openness which correlates with creativity. Balance shouldn’t be confused with stability. Stability results from a strong or dominant influence. It’s like a parent on one end of the teeter-totter and a little child on the other. The more closely balanced the two ends are the more effortlessly the desired up and down motion can occur. A balanced system is sensitive to environmental changes. You could even say it’s extraverted.
This has been a quick view of the elements of a system that is big enough to qualify as real causes of the big behavior suggested by the Big Five. Most personality systems do a good job of defining the relationships between clusters of behavior. Where these schemas go wrong is focusing on the brain, nervous system and neuro-chemicals to explain things like temperament and personality.
Q. Are you saying that taking MRI’s of the brain is a waste of time?
A. No. But, it shouldn’t be done to the exclusion of other methods such as somatotyping. Causation is a very complicated thing to prove. While it may be true that a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon could start a cascade that ends up in a hurricane you will never find that butterfly. The butterfly is embedded in much larger forces that need to reach certain critical levels before it can have the possibility of tipping the process toward the formation of a hurricane. Water temperature, air temperature, humidity, mild upper atmosphere winds are the big causes. Originally this scenario involved the flapping of a gull’s wings. Later the more poetic butterfly became the favorite symbol. Meteorologists don’t investigate the population and movements of butterflies and gulls in order to predict hurricanes. They look at the big causes. Probing the brain with million dollar MRI machines is “sexy” but it is missing the big causes. We have become trapped by our popular metaphors. We like to talk about how people are “wired” instead of how they are constructed. People forget that our plastic brains are embedded in a physique. Another way of saying this is that the brain is “housed” by the body. The word “ecology” comes from the Greek word “oikos” for house. Shouldn’t we pay attention to the immediate ecology of our bodies?
Q. Since you brought up ecology, what about the external world in which the human body itself is embedded.
A. The influences from outside the body can’t be ignored. Research involving twins has shown that the heritability of the Big Five hovers around 50%. These conclusions are fairly accurate because they involve a comparison of results with identical twins, fraternal twins and siblings. This means that external forces definitely influence our personalities. But these studies introduce the question of whether the increased blood flow in certain parts of the brain observed in fMRI studies is the cause of associated behaviors or is the increased blood flow the result of repeated behaviors under some other causal influence. The limited research into somatotype and temperament suggest significant correlative evidence that somatotype does influence behavior. Unfortunately, the fact that research has actually been done that correlates temperament and somatotype has been institutionally censored as quackery in a brazenly arbitrary way. Discussions in textbooks, fail to mention that there is published research supporting the influence of somatotype on behavior.
Q. Weren’t there some serious flaws to Sheldon’s research?
A. Sheldon’s early research produced high correlations between somatotype and temperament. Sheldon’s research was judged as flawed because he rated the subjects on temperament and also determined their somatotypes. Some have made their judgement for all time based on Sheldon’s “too-good-to-be-true” results. Sheldon wasn’t trying to pull a fast one. He was aware of the hazards of the halo effect and discussed it thoroughly in his book The Varieties of Human Temperament. His defensive arguments are very sophisticated and robust. It would be easier for someone to try to replicate his research than to verbally rebut his arguments. And, basically he made that challenge. A few researchers took up that challenge and while not replicating exactly what Sheldon did, they still came up with correlations that were respectable enough to encourage others with a serious interest in primary causes of personality differences to design their own experiments. One example is the research performed by Cortes and Gatti where the experimenters determined the somatotype and the subjects rated their own temperament based on a paper and pencil test based on Sheldon’s predicted traits. The subjects consisted of 79 boys and 100 girls. The correlations varied from 43% to 60%. I don’t want to go into detail but the research can be examined thoroughly in the article they published in the Journal of Consulting Psychology in 1965.
Q. OK. Even if you have research that correlates somatotype with temperament traits that still doesn’t prove causation.
A. That’s true. As I touched on before correlation and its associated statistical techniques are sorting tools. They are searching for likely places to drill deeper or define a boundary. Courses on statistics are quick to point out that correlation doesn’t prove causation. But there is another facet to this truism. Lack of linear correlation doesn’t disprove causation.
Q. This may be slightly off topic but I think you are wrong on that point. If the correlation is zero it means that there is definitely no relationship.
A. Researchers sometimes encounter situations where the calculations for correlation indicate low to zero correlation. However, when they observe the actual scatter plot of the data points there is a pattern that is clearly evident. That kind of pattern suggests some sort of non-linear correlation. Even if there is zero linear correlation and no indication of some non-linear relationship there can still be problems with an experiments design. In setting up the research there are all sorts of things that can be changed that can make a difference in the final results. To conclude dogmatically that zero correlation means zero causation assumes the researcher understands the area of investigation so thoroughly that they probably don’t even need to do the research in the first place.
Q. I suppose if you wanted to, you could use that philosophy to reject almost any correlative findings! So why even do correlations?
A. Once again, keep in mind that checking correlations is an indispensable tool. Since research is expensive and is often paid for by grants, you want to find the robust linear indications. This sidetrack about correlation while informative is unnecessary because there have been other researchers besides Sheldon who have found solid correlations between physique and temperament. The most significant part of Sheldon’s research is that somatotype is an objective physical measurement whereas evaluation of temperament by means of paper and pencil tests is more susceptible to error .
Most of the theories of human personality depend on self-report tests. These tests are evaluated on reliability and validity. But the context is entirely descriptive. Are the traits described in a way that people get the same results when they retake the test? What does that prove? It proves that people will choose the same self-description when given the opportunity. When it comes to validity, the question is whether the descriptions cluster around some core description. Once again, you are dealing with description.
Q. So how does somatotype do any better?
A. Somatotype deals with important forces that can be understood objectively. Then using the laws of self-motion, we can at least begin to move beyond description to the point where we approach the problem of causality. The laws of self-motion can be elaborated in a physics or mechanics of personality in a way that is as objective as Newton’s laws of motion. Like Newton’s laws, a physics of personality takes into consideration all forces acting on human behavior but especially the large forces. If we are going to predict the weather we need to be meteorologists not entomologists.
Perhaps there will be future conversations like this. Stay tuned.
Endomorphy: 4.0 (Visceral)
Mesomorphy: 4.0 (Muscular)
Ectomorphy: 6.0 (Nervous)
Balance: 6.0 (Orientational (Sensory)
Trunk Index: 1.45-1.50 (Area of Thoracic Trunk divided by Area of Abdominal Trunk)
Height: 73.3 inches
Weight Pattern(pounds @ age):160 @ 20 -171 @ 30 -181 @ 40 -186 @ 50
Simple Temperament Description:
Nervous(Plus)Orientational (Minus) Muscular = SEARCHING FOR IDENTITY/STATUS – AVOIDS CONFLICT
Although there are no written tests that are 100% compatible with somatotype, the D-I-S-C inventories are generally in range of what a somatotype would predict. This is one of the best locations I’ve found for this information. Axiom Sofware’s Description of D-I-S-C Personalities When you link to the site check the following boxes for Jim Carrey’s type: High Influence with Compliance and Steadiness
1. I = Influence (Very High)
2. C = Compliance (Very High)
3. S = Steady (Moderately High)
4. D = Dominance (Moderately High)
Additional Comments: Jim Carrey is a complicated personality. He could easily adapt as several different temperaments. This probably explains his ability to perform such a wide range of characters from goofy comedy to serious drama. Sometimes his characters are both serious and comedic. Above all he is a role player.
Marlon Brando: How Fat Can a Midrange Endomorph Get?
Marlon Brando was a mid-range mesomorphic endomorph. This means that he was primarily endomorphic but had a significant amount of mesomorphy balanced with a good amount of ectomorphy. This type looks tough and strong when young but endomorphy quickly gets the upper hand, especially for those who can afford leisurely rich dining. There is a screen test floating around that has Marlon standing next to a board that says he weighs 170 pounds and is 5’10″. ( COPY URL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2lRdkNGDcY ) I used the following wardrobe picture from “streetcar” for somatotyping Brando.(COPY AND PASTE THIS URL ) http://kinoimages.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/brando.jpg
By the time he was 55 his weight was around 220 pounds. His concern for the down- trodden is also quite typical for people with this structure. Sheldon would probably classify him as a 5½,4.0,4.0.
Marlon Brando is:
Endomorphy: 5½ (Visceral)
Mesomorphy: 4.0 (Muscular)
Ectomorphy: 4.0 (Nervous)
Balance: 6.0 (Orientational (Sensory)
Trunk Index: 1.30 (Area of Thoracic Trunk divided by Area of Abdominal Trunk)
Height: 69.6 inches
Weight Pattern (pounds @ age): 168 @ 20 –187 @ 30 -202 @ 40 – 212 @ 50
Simple Temperament Description: Visceral-Orientational-Muscular-Nervous. (Even though the Orientational index is higher in this physique than the Visceral it gets second place in the system ranking because it is really a derivative and as a rule of thumb needs to exceed another dimension by at least 1 degree.)
Visceral(Plus) Orientational (Minus) Nervous = SEARCHING FOR UNITY. AVOIDS BOUNDARY, CONVENTION, STATUS QUO AND LIMITATIONS. Although there are no written tests that are 100% compatible with somatotype, the D-I-S-C inventories are generally in range of what a somatotype would predict. This is one of the best locations I’ve found for this information. Axiom Sofware’s Description of D-I-S-C Personalities When you link to the site check the following boxes for Marlon Brando’s type: Steadiness, Influence, Dominance.
1. S = Steadiness ( High)
2. I= Influence ( High)
3. D = Dominance (Moderate)
4. C = Compliance (Moderate)
Additional Comments: Marlon Brando is a good example of how people confuse big biceps, and pectorals as athletic. The average male with 4 mesomorphy can quickly get these muscles bulging. These are the muscles men like to show off . However there is a lot more to mesomorphy dominance than just bulging biceps. The chest has to dominate the physique all the way down practically to the bottom of the torso. This is why methods of somatotyping that focus on muscle girth to determine mesomorphy fail to capture true mesomorphy. Brando looks strong in “Street Car” but a trained eye can readily see that the thorax ends quickly and the abdomen keeps going.
Jennifer Aniston: Ectomorphic Endomorph
Jennifer Aniston is an ectomorphic endomorph. This means that she is primarily endomorphic but has a significant amount of ectomorphy. There seems to be a lot of mirrored comments in various blogs suggesting that Jennifer is a Mesomorph. This shows widespread ignorance of somatotype. Endomorph, Mesomorph and Ectomorph are not just words to be thrown around loosely. In Jennifer’s case she is very close to a 1 in mesomorphy – which means she is minimally Mesomorphic.
Sheldon would probably classify her as a 5,1,4½.
Jennifer Aniston is:
Endomorphy: 5.0 (Visceral)
Mesomorphy: 1.0 (Muscular)
Ectomorphy: 4½ (Nervous)
Balance: 4.0 (Orientational (Sensory)
Trunk Index: 1.05 (Area of Thoracic Trunk divided by Area of Abdominal Trunk)
Height: 64.4 inches
Weight Pattern(pounds @ age): 112 @ 20 – 119 @ 30 – 125 @ 40 – 128 @ 50
Simple Temperament Description:
Visceral (Plus) Nervous – (Minus) Muscular = PLANNING FOR UNITY. AVOIDS HARD PHYSICAL LABOR AND PHYSICAL AGGRESSION.
Although there are no written tests that are 100% compatible with somatotype, the D-I-S-C inventories are generally in range of what a somatotype would predict. This is one of the best locations I’ve found for this information. Axiom Sofware’s Description of D-I-S-C Personalities When you link to the site check the following boxes for Jennifer’s type: Steadiness, Influence, Compliance.
1. S= Steadiness (Moderately High)
2. C = Compliance (Moderate)
3. I = Influence (Moderately High)
4. D = Dominance (Low)
Average Mesomorphy for Men is 4.0 and Women is 3.0 so you can see Jennifer Aniston is a long way from being described as a Mesomorph. Her Trunk Index is only 1.05 This means the area of her trunk profile is evenly split between the abdominal area and the thoracic (chest area).
I captured a segment of a video on Youtube that shows Jennifer in a bikini. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bR3MdVyTok4
Usually I would place a politician’s somatotype information on the page specifically devoted to that. But Putin is not just another politician. Overnight he has changed the power landscape from a monopolar world dominated by the USA into a multipolar world. This is a very critical situation. China, India, Brazil and even Israel aren’t interested in Cold War 2.0 They are open to new financial exchanges where they can carry on trade and this recent turn of events has provided an opportunity for experimentation.
There are many books that attempt to unravel Putin’s personality. These books rely on prescientific notions that personality is formed by a person’s environment. Studies of twins reared apart suggest that a large and very significant component of personality is determined at conception and authoritarianism is one of those traits. Some have tried to claim that Putin’s career as a KGB Lieutenant Colonel made him the way he is today. Did the KGB create Putin or did Putin’s personality fit the qualifications of a KGB agent? Some even suggest that Putin is crazy and out of touch with reality. If a person had serious adaptation problems it isn’t likely they would have had a fairly long marriage and a successful career. He did fairly well on his job. He proved himself capable of adapting to the New Russia. The mayor of Saint Petersburg found Putin to be reliable and trustworthy and was able to recommend Putin to Yeltsin’s circle. Yeltsin and other very astute power players agreed with Yeltsin’s choice of Putin as the successor. This was an extraordinary appointment for a man without a constituency who had never been elected to ANY political position. Men in power, and those who seek great power are often out of touch with reality. Their admirers call them men of vision. What is a vision? It isn’t a collection of easily achievable goals but rather the pursuit of the difficult or seemingly impossible.
I prefer to put all these things aside and look at the person in more objective terms. What does their body say about how nature has configured their constitution?
Let’s Look at Putin’s Somatotype
Putin’s propensity to “show-off” has made it fairly easy to make an accurate assessment of his somatotype. The internet is loaded with pictures of Putin removing his shirt and baring his chest . W.H. Sheldon would probably classify Putin as an extreme mesomorph. Here are the numbers: 2½, 6½,1½,
Endomorphy: 2½ (Visceral)
Mesomorphy: 6½ (Muscular)
Ectomorphy: 1½ (Nervous)
Balance: 3.0 (Orientational or Sensory system dominance [not to be confused with Jung’s Sensation function])
Trunk Index: 1.75 (Area of Thoracic Trunk divided by Area of Abdominal Trunk)
Weight Pattern (pounds @ age): 145 @ 20 -163 @ 30 – 176 @ 40 –185 @ 50
Simple Temperament Description:
Putin is extremely muscular with the remaining components fairly close. Having his nervous system last makes him stubbornly unconcerned about conventions and conflict over details.
There are no written tests that are 100% compatible with somatotype, the D-I-S-C inventories are generally in range of what a somatotype would predict. Click on Axiom Sofware’s Description of D-I-S-C Personalities This is one of the best locations I’ve found for this information. When you link to the site check the following boxes for Putin’s type: Extreme Dominance
1. D = DOMINANCE HIGH
2. I = INFLUENCE MODERATELY LOW
3. S = STEADINESS LOW
4. C = COMPLIANCE LOW
This type of person can be found in the executive suites of many companies. They seek results which they measure as success. They pursue their goals with intensity (muscular) always looking (Sensory) for the short cuts that will get the job done quickly. They have high confidence that they can achieve their most optimistic vision. They prefer tasks that are especially challenging because they hate being bored. The third position is an area of indifference. Endomorphy in the third position means that their close relationships will lack a strong sense of attachment (Visceral Feeling). The fourth position represents what he avoids. He avoids situations where he is rewarded only for being compliant. He wants the tough job so he can prove himself. He wants to be rewarded for something more than just showing up. He can play the servant role for only a very short time. When the obstacle to reaching his goal is blocked he will break out in more intense activity rather than suffer the feelings of inadequacy. In the worst situation this can unleash uncontrollable rage.
John McCain is somewhat similar to Putin. If a John McCain were president of the United States he would send in troops to challenge Putin directly. That would bring the world to the brink of a nuclear war because Russia would most likely lose in that kind of confrontation. But if Putin thought he would lose he wouldn’t hesitate to use the nuclear option. The planners in the State Department have chosen a strategy of incremental isolation of Russia using economic tools. The world is a big place and Putin can easily find people who will buy his oil and even use an alternative banking system and currency to carry on business. When economic pressure fails the US will be tempted to assert itself more aggressively perhaps by placing nuclear missiles closer to Russia. Putin would probably destroy those installations thus inviting NATO retaliation.
The main point is that the only good way out of this is to try the non lethal tools at your disposal. It at least slows the process down. It also gives time for rational minds to prevail. The reality is that Russia has thousands of nuclear weapons and the USA has thousands of nuclear weapons. Neither Russia nor the USA have a no-first-use (NFU) policy. Russia has made it clear that in the face of overwhelming military confrontation they would use nuclear weapons. It is not wise to back a person like Putin into a corner. The one thing Western leaders must avoid is the trash talking intended to humiliate Putin.
Mesomorphic arrogance get’s all leaders into trouble.It is time for an endomorphic response of “live and let live”.
Rachael Fredericksen, the biggest loser (2014) is an example of what happens when people ignore their body type. I would classify her as:
Endomorphy: 6 (Visceral)
Mesomorphy: 3½ (Muscular)
Ectomorphy: 2½ (Nervous)
Balance: 5 (Orientational (Sensory)
Trunk Index: 1.20 (Area of Thoracic Trunk divided by Area of Abdominal Trunk)
Height: 63.9 inches
Weight Pattern(pounds @ age): 147 @ 20 – 166 @ 30 -181 @ 40 – 191 @ 50
Simple Temperament Description:
Visceral (Plus) Orientational (Minus) Nervous = SEARCHING FOR UNITY. AVOIDS BOUNDARY, CONVENTION, STATUS QUO AND LIMITATIONS.
This type of person denies self, feels need to constrain self.
They devote themselves to a person or an ideal.
Have an strong need for security.
She most certainly ran out of fat and lost a lot of muscle too. She should not weigh much less than 135 as a professional athlete training for competition. A normal maintenance weight for her should never exceed 157 pounds and maybe 170 if she were pregnant.
She was obviously in it to win it at all costs. The show needs to change its prize structure so that they achieve an ideal athletic weight for their somatotype while competing. There should be several money awards. Send them home at an ideal weight and bring them back in six months and see who comes closest to maintaining their ideal weight.
Psychology is failing….. miserably.
The primary purpose of psychology is to help people understand themselves. Millions of college students every year take psychology 101. How many of them would you say “Know Themselves”. I have been thinking about this for over thirty years and I believe that we have accepted many systems to help us discover ourselves that have missed the mark. You can’t expect people to know themselves when there isn’t even a consensus about a method. Every science has a dominant theme based on our need for orientation. Astronomy answers questions about how our world fits into the universe. Chemistry answers questions about the differences between this stuff and that other stuff. Physics answers questions about how things work and move. Biology answers questions about life and its origins. Psychology is supposed to answer questions about our “selves”. What makes one person different from another? We need a BIG THEORY in psychology comparable to quantum mechanics in physics, the periodic table in chemistry, the Copernican revolution in astronomy, and DNA in biology. These BIG discoveries enabled a structured approach to experimentation and resulted in rapid progress.
But, before we get to the BIG THEORY, let’s first consider how we got to this point in psychology. Psychology is steeped in the religious belief in an immaterial soul. In fact psychology even derives its name from the Greek word for soul. Shamans believed that spirits animated everything that moves. Anima is the Latin equivalent of the Greek word psyche, or soul. Something that is animated is moving as if by some invisible entity. Animism, explained the source of movement of everything by invisible forces. The mystical understanding of the soul continued to be an enduring theme and philosophers became apologists for the religious/Platonic concept of soul which in turn set the stage for the scientific search for the soul. Locate the soul – became the mission. All of the unresolved conflicts involved with explaining the relationship between the body and its soul flowed right into psychology.
Some would say that connecting thinking with our brain was the first truly significant step forward. Humans began observing the behavior of people who suffered head injuries and brain poking has been going on ever since. The question became: How does the soul interface with the brain. This effort to locate and assign personality to various brain modules proceeds today with the help of advanced magnetic imaging technology (fMRI). Numerous studies have appeared with diagrams of brains divided into sections that are linked to certain types of behavior.
Others focus their brain studies on using introspection, paper and pencil tests, and dreams. Of course brains don’t have innate knowledge about how they work so a lot of the research is like being in a room of mirrors with infinite reflections everywhere you look. You have to get out of that room at some point so you can look elsewhere and gain objectivity. Brain studies haven’t made the difference you would expect from a BIG discovery. In some ways the focus on the brain has been the biggest distraction and set-back for psychology. It has perpetuated the misunderstanding that brain and body are unrelated.
In the last quarter century a new contender for the title BIG THEORY has appeared. The Big Five model of personality description is called BIG for a reason. The consensus at this point in time is that the Big Five Factors are the game changer for psychology. The source of material for this new effort is the dictionary. By means of statistical methods it sorts through the words humans have used to describe people with the goal of finding the fewest possible words that describe individuals. By means of paired twin studies they have established that the Big Five traits are significantly heritable proving that there are biological causes. But, where do they go to find these “causes”? They go directly to the brain and completely skip over the body (Soma).
The point that is missed is that the soul is not IN the body or any single part of the body. Rather the soul is OF the body. It is the whole functioning organism. A person is a particular relationship between the essential systems of a living organism. This understanding reaches all the way back to Aristotle’s model of the “soul”. In his treatise on the Soul (De Anima 2.3 413b 11-13 ) Aristotle describes soul
“ For the present let it suffice to say that soul is the principle of the capacities we have named; the nutritive, the sensitive, the ratiocinative, and movement.”
Basically, Aristotle is saying that there are only four capacities of an organism, and the interaction of the systems that generate these capacities identify the individual or “soul”.
- An organism needs a system for nutrition (gut).
- An organism needs to be able to move (muscle).
- An organism needs to select a direction (nervous system).
- An organism needs orientation (sensory system).
This system approach is explained in detail at: Measuring the Big Components of Personality.
These BIG structures and their capacities are variable and can be ranked based on dominance to generate an interpretive scheme similar to what is done with the scales of many paper and pencil tests. Is it so difficult to imagine differences in behavior between people who are muscular and skinny and others who are dominated by their gut and low in muscularity. A very simple scheme emerges with the various permutations of the rank order of the systems. Basically people could be described by what they want and their preferred method of getting what they want. The other side of the equation would involve describing people by what they avoid and how they tend to avoid what they don’t want. Using only four capacities/scales/dimensions yields twenty-four distinct types. This is quite enough to compete with any of the popular tests that are supposed to identify personality.
It should be evident that philosophy as a shaper of of attitudes can be extremely important in determining the direction of our research. If more attention had been given to Aristotle’s “soul” instead of Plato’s “soul” psychology might have had its revolution. Behaviorism attempted an escape from the “soul cloud” (J.B. Watson 1924) by skipping right out of the body and into the environment in search of the causes of behavior. By doing this they ended up throwing out the body along with the mind. But, even worse, behaviorism created an institutional split between those looking for the control center in the brain (neurologists) and the environmentalists who believed all control was somewhere “out there”. The body was lost in the battle. This is where body typing (somatotyping) comes in. Somatotype describes the essential systems of the body so that you can rank them by degree. It is the macro-structure of the organism that should be the starting point for studying the soul, not the micro-structure. It is the big things of the organism that lead to interpersonal struggles not some little neuron. The brain needs to be placed in proper perspective as only part of the organism/soul.
Somatotype has been ignored and even ridiculed by the psychological community. This is in spite of the fact that the little research that has been done, has consistently shown that the correlations between somatotype and personality tests are significant, though not as dramatic as researchers would prefer. My personal hunch is that the proper research will explain the importance of somatotype and also why the correlations aren’t higher. One of the biggest problems is with the lazily administered paper and pencil tests that are presumed to measure personality accurately. It may be that the most important trait is our adaptability which makes us adjust to our environment. If that is the case maybe the personality tests measure our adapted personality. In that case our core temperament may have adapted at the expense of our real self and would tend to get buried under a layer of poor adaptations. That seems to be the basic premise of psychotherapy. Such research can’t be done effectively in a climate where a serious amount of research is jettisoned based on nothing more substantial than professional prejudice.
In 1959 Aldous Huxley gave a series of lectures at Santa Barbara where he spoke enthusiastically about William H. Sheldon’s somatotype theory. His final words in that series of lectures illustrate why psychology may be doomed to a future of failure.
“The only criticism I have had has been in reference to some of the people that I thought had made important contributions, such as W.H. Sheldon. I may be wrong, and Sheldon may be wrong, but I happen to think he is right. In regard to this I will just say what I have already said, that it is not necessarily true that, because a particular doctrine at a particular moment is orthodox, it is correct. There have been too many examples in the past of orthodoxies proved to be profoundly incorrect, for anybody to feel it necessary to accept everything in the orthodox view.”
By promoting interest in somatotype I’m not asking people to accept a new dogma. What I am asking is that psychologists put aside their dogmatic rejection of somatotype and begin to treat this information scientifically as a “working hypothesis”. This is not a settled argument. I have been thinking about this for over thirty years and I have found some new clues that merit further investigation. There is ample evidence that this is an area that needs to be revisited.
After thousands of years, we still await the BIG THEORY in psychology.
The idea that you can look at someone’s physique and gain insight into their temperament is widely viewed as quackery. However, there is no real basis for this stance because anyone with an ounce of google can dig up published peer reviewed scientific evidence that a correlation actually does exist between certain personality traits and a person’s somatotype or body type. Scientists are not obligated to research or correct every idea that comes along. They pick things that catch their interest. If an area of research isn’t “hot” or even worse if it’s held in some kind of disdain there is little incentive to pursue it. Giving somatotype based personality research the pseudo-science label is a sure way to diminish a doctoral candidate’s interest in the subject. This is especially the case when introductory psychology text books are their main source of critical exposure.
In the middle of the twentieth century (1930-1960) William Sheldon developed his system of describing physiques using a 7 point scale for each of three dimensions; endomorphy (stout), mesomorphy (muscular), and ectomorphy (linear/thin). Sheldon found fairly high correlations between body-type and temperament but he was criticized for doing both the somatotyping and the interviews that formed the basis of his assessments. This left him open to claims that his research was biased due to the halo effect. After Sheldon’s original study a small number of researchers did similar research, but they used self-report tests to keep the somatotyping process separate from the temperament assessments. These more orthodox research methods produced correlations that were much lower but significantly in the same direction as Sheldon’s. In spite of these positive results the myth that somatotype is a “pseudo-science just like Phrenology” persists. That’s the Curse of Phrenology.
There is a good reason for phrenology’s bad reputation. In spite of the public’s enthusiasm for the idea of predicting personality based on skull topography, scientists found no correlation between head bumps and personality. Finally, when autopsies were performed there was no evidence that the soft tissue of the brain had the ability to push out the hard bone of the skull to produce a bump. That pretty much ended the possibility for any re-emergence of phrenology. But, what’s really going on when people accuse Sheldon’s theory of being “just like phrenology”. They are really expressing their belief that any effort to predict personality by means of some physical measurement is bound to fail. Equating somatotype with phrenology is a fallacious argument based on a poor analogy. Just because two things are similar in some respects doesn’t mean that they are necessarily similar in other ways. One big way in which somatotype and phrenology differ is that phrenology can’t predict personality traits whereas somatotype actually does. That is a significant difference that should be an antidote to the claims made against Sheldon’s theory. Any other similarities between somatotyping and phrenology are meaningless.
There is a deeper link between somatotype and phrenology in which they are significantly similar and that is at the core of the “Curse of Phrenology”. They both are associated with the “nature” side of the nature/nurture question. In the early twentieth century there was the beginning of a revolt against hereditarian theories of human behavior. Americans were tired of the arrogant claims of genetic superiority by the aristocratic class. The idea that your genes could influence your status tempts its adherents with the eugenic seduction. The results of the eugenic seduction can end up like the Nazis justifying their atrocities using theories of genetic superiority. After World War II any suggestion of inherited abilities were summarily rejected in the court of ideas. It was bad enough that there was this association of racism with constitutional psychology, but for whatever reason Sheldon explicitly spoke out in favor of eugenics to the point that he developed an enthusiastic interest in the American Nazi Party. No one wanted to run their careers off that ideological cliff. There were plenty of less controversial areas that psychologists could occupy themselves without taking on unnecessary baggage. The psychology of success, occupational interests, personality identification and growth through therapy and training all focused on human potential and avoided the idea of human limitation.
Openness to Experience and Political Orientation
There has been some significant research that suggests a person’s political orientation is rooted in their temperament or personality. The global trait of “openness to experience” (one of the Big Five personality factors) correlates negatively with Republican/Conservatism. Democrats and Liberals correlate positively with “openness to experience”.
So what exactly is openness to experience? Wikipedia describes it as follows:
Openness involves active imagination, aesthetic sensitivity, attentiveness to inner feelings, preference for variety, and intellectual curiosity.
People who score low on openness are considered to be closed to experience. They tend to be conventional and traditional in their outlook and behavior. They prefer familiar routines to new experiences, and generally have a narrower range of interests.
What really makes this important is that “openness to experience” along with the rest of the big 5 personality dimensions are highly heritable. Heritability doesn’t mean destiny. A trait can have a strong genetic basis without winning the tug-o-war with the environment. However, in this case heritability suggests that a person doesn’t make political choices based strictly on social influence or rational choice.
Finding the Influence of Body-Type (Somatotype) on Political Orientation
Anytime heritability becomes a factor I am curious to see if somatotype might be involved. So, with this information floating around I figured it would be interesting to see if there is a difference in the body-type of democrats and republicans.
I am at a disadvantage because I don’t have access to a large population that would participate in this kind of research. So, for this exploration I decided to somatotype known public figures who have identified their party affiliation. I selected 14 prominent Democrats and 13 prominent Republicans. The selection was based on an individual being chosen to represent their party as a candidate for either president or vice president. This method, although limited in number of subjects represents a process involving rigorous campaigning and the ability to appeal to a group that would form a data set in the millions. The assumption is that these individuals are the quintessence or em-BODY-ment of what attracts Republicans and Democrats. So instead of struggling for a good set of representative subjects I am able to piggy-back off of the millions of people involved in the selection process itself.
With practice I have become proficient enough with Sheldon’s technique to determine the somatotype of people based on weight, height, and a rough estimate of the ratio of their upper torso to their lower torso derived from fully clothed casual photographs.. People can be charted on a somatotype chart based on three dimensions or components; Endomorphy (Gut), Mesomorphy (Muscle), and Ectomorphy (Linearity). Somatotype is expressed as 3 numbers on a scale of 1 to 7 where 1 represents the minimum expression of a component and 7 is the maximum. If you need more information on Sheldon and his method, just type “somatotype” into Google, and start with Wikipedia and work your way down.
The results are reported in the following diagram.
You can readily identify the difference between Republicans (red) and Democrats (blue). Democrats (blue) cluster around the center and Republicans are more to the periphery but definitely in the mesomorphic area.
Interpreting the Results
I must admit that I didn’t anticipate these results. The Veterans hospital in Boston has accumulated somatotypes for 2,185 veterans. Back in 1986 I had their research service determine the number of somatotypes that would be considered balanced (5.5 or higher on a scale of 7 expressing degree of balance). The results indicate that roughly 60-65 per cent of that population would lie toward the center of the somatotype diagram. Based on that bit of research I would have guessed that there would have been no difference between democrats and republicans because they would represent a cross section of the general population. I was expecting this little experiment to be boring and just a confirmation of the idea that humans tend toward a classic bell curve regardless of their political orientation. As it turned out, not only is there a difference but it is quite definitive. You don’t need to wear special glasses to see it. My techniques are not error proof but they are very consistent. I would invite anyone who is skilled in Sheldon’s techniques to check my results.
The area of the chart occupied by Republican politicians is clearly mesomorphic. As mesomorphs (muscular) they believe in strength and seek control and power. It isn’t difficult to understand their insistence that everyone should carry their own load and be willing to work hard. They are influenced by their own superior physical strength and assume if they can work three jobs anybody can. Another problem is their belief that might is right. Complicated ideas and explanations that don’t involve action with an immediate benefit are viewed with suspicion.
The area of the chart occupied by Democrat politicians is in the middle. The middle-types, not dominated by any single extreme, tend to feel comfortable with their ability to adapt and change. This is clearly conducive to the Big Five Personality factor called “Openness to Experience”. The middle is not without problems. Because of their openness they are more prone to try “new” ideas that may not be ready for the expectations of national policy. They also have a tendency to believe that all problems can be solved simply by coming up with a clever plan. After they come up with a program and allocate funds for its execution they lack the ability to do the hard and boring “work” of “managing” the program.
So what does this mean? Does it mean that a person’s political orientation is completely the result of their biological constitution? Of course not. Regional, racial, economic, & ethnic factors figure into each person’s choice. However, the chart shows that when you are dealing with national elections and numbers in the millions, then the biological substrate starts to show through. When you look at this chart you will notice that most Republicans were Ectomorphic Mesomorphs low in Endomorphy. There were three Republicans that found themselves outside the dominant Republican somatotypes and promoted ideas that would get few Republican backers today.
1. Hoover. (5,3,4, [6 balance] When it comes to assessing Herbert Hoover, Republicans at best, are ambivalent. He actually considered himself a Progressive-Republican and distinguished himself as a committed humanitarian. His talents and writings covered a wide field from mining technology and mining history to a book promoting the personal benefits of fishing. His handling of The Great Depression killed his chances for a second term. No one knew exactly what to do to end the Depression. Hoover broke with the laissez-faire tradition of Republicans and instituted government projects to stimulate the economy. Unfortunately his demand for a balanced budget prevented his programs from being large enough to have any real effect.
2. Nixon (4,3,4½, [6 balance]) actually dared to introduced price controls. He also proposed a health care plan similar to “Obamacare” but it was trashed by Ted Kennedy because it wasn’t a single payer system. Don’t forget nationalized passenger railways. etc. etc. Milton Friedman once said Nixon was the most socialistic president of the 20th century.
3. Reagan. (4,3½,5, [6½ balance] )was originally a democrat who campaigned for Truman and Hubert Humphrey. Watch this video to see the early Reagan. Same persuasive manner but championing Democrat causes. http://www.youtube.com/… When you look at the Republican issues today Reagan wouldn’t be a viable candidate for the far right wing. He raised taxes, increased the size of government, granted amnesty to illegal aliens, expanded the earned income tax credit for poor people, and believed that nuclear weapons should be abolished. There is a mythological vine that has grown over Reagan that obscures an unbiased assessment of his deviance from Republican ideals.
Obama is an especially interesting outlier for a Democrat. He was imagined to be extremely Liberal. But, he is a reminder that it doesn’t matter what a person professes to be it’s a matter of what he actually does. Obama (2½,4½,5½, [5½ balance]) is not exactly in the thick of the Republican cluster but he is located just outside toward the types that tend to be Libertarian. Obama is low in Gut (2½) which means he doesn’t connect well with people. He really doesn’t like people. He likes himself and wants people to admire and like him. The result is that he really never cared passionately about people’s need of universal healthcare. He even abandoned the compromise position of the public option. Would Ted Kennedy (gutsy endomorph) have capitualted to such a faulty health plan? Obama appears to have just wanted to be credited with a win. Obama, also apparently didn’t “feel” like a true Democrat when he continued the Bush tax cuts. The mesomorphic Republicans respect and idolize strength, and have no mercy for a weakling who is so ready to compromise.
It should be noted that the lone female Republican has a respectable amount of muscle for being a woman. Sarah Palin is 4 endomorphy, 4½ mesomorphy and 3 ectomorphy. On the other hand the Democrat woman, Hillary, is right in the heart of the Democrat cluster with 5 endomorphy, 3 mesomorphy and 4 ectomorphy.
Newt Gingrich is an example of a Republican who is out of the range of his party’s typical somatotype. He is 5.5 (endomorphy), 4.0 (mesomorphy), 3.5 (ectomorphy) and 6.0 (centrimorphy (balance) placing him completely on the opposite side of the somatotype diagram. Republicans instinctively know that he’s not one of their kind. One reason they took him seriously for a while is they thought he had the “intellectual strength” to do battle with Obama on their behalf.
From a political standpoint it seems that it doesn’t matter what a candidate promises to his base. The most important thing is where they are situated temperamentally. If anything gets done it has to be achieved through compromise. The two sides are never going to agree 100% on important issues. When you are negotiating it is most important to know what you are willing to give up for what you really want. If a politician’s deepest “feelings” aren’t in sync with their party there is a high likelihood that when push comes to shove they might behave like the opposite party. Democrats need to have representatives that are at least a 3½ endomorphy or they won’t have the “guts” to stick to their position. Republican’s need representatives who are at least a 4½ mesomorphy or they won’t have the “muscle” to fight for their ideals.
Isn’t It Time To Take Somatotype Seriously.
The middle of Sheldon’s chart comes into special focus when considering political orientation. Including the condition of balance is essential to understanding the full landscape of temperament. Once you contemplate the effects of a balanced somatotype you end up with the four dimensions of temperament that have persisted as a pattern for at least a couple thousand years.
Sanguine Centrimorph (Balance)
Although Sheldon had no name for the middle “extreme” and simply referred to it as a 4,4,4 he certainly had some interesting things to say about it. Consider his description of the middle.
In this pattern (4,4,4) all three primary components of
temperament are as strongly represented as they can usually be
tolerated, one by another. To call a man a 4,4,4 may be
tantamount to crediting him with humor. Whatever else humor
may be, it certainly is characterized by two qualities:
(1) An inclination toward detachment – the quality of regarding
life and self lightly: (2) An inclination to tolerate and to enjoy
incompatibilities at a high level of awareness.”
The Varieties Of Delinquent Youths. New York: Harper, 1949
Isn’t this describing the factor of “openness” that characterizes the Liberal political view?
The chart gives some insight into the predicament of Democrats in winning an election. Because Democrats tend to be toward the middle of the chart they are victims of a divergence of opinions. Their openness and creativity is their undoing. On the other hand Republicans being at the periphery of the chart share one main feeling – fear of change and loss of identity. While 60 percent of the population are mid-range somatotypes they are fragmented. The 40 percent on the periphery that make up conservatives only have to get less than 25 percent of the middle types to have a majority. A mere one third of the middle (20 percent of voters) subscribe to the liberal ideas identified with Democrats. For Democrats elections are like an old western cattle round-up. They have to work hard just to get them to the market.
The most immediate insight is that the left-right, liberal-conservative, divide may never be eliminated but it can be bridged. The first step is to realize that there is something very deep and biological about these two different ways of looking at the world. Both views can lead to successful results under specific circumstances. Since people aren’t going to be persuaded to become more “open” or more “authoritarian” these two tribes have to make compromises. But compromise requires the ability to move in many directions. Compromise requires something conservatives struggle with – openness. Compromise is dependent on the creativity of the middle. Occasionally Republicans produce a candidate that is closer to the middle. A Republican that is toward the middle is probably advantageous for the passing of legislation that pleases Democrats. A Newt Gingrich is distasteful to Republicans but he could turn out to be better than a Democrat that galvanizes the paranoid right. The same might be said for Romney. Romney has shown that he can work with Democrats. Sometimes losing can be winning.
THE FOUR TEMPERAMENTS
The “four temperaments” are the oldest and most enduring typology. Whenever type is discussed the Classic Temperaments are at least given a brief nod of recognition. Today, various type theorists use that ancient model and go on to elaborate the 4 types into 12 types based on various combainations of the four temperaments. The following is a listing of temperament combinations:
Myers-Briggs is an extension of Jung’s system of psychological types. The glaring problem with the Myers-Briggs personality classifications is that it is based on the idea that everyone can be put in an either-or category. You have to be either Extraverted or Introverted. You must be a Sensation type or an Intuitive type.
You are either a Thinking type or a Feeling type. You are put in either the Perception box or the judgement box. The test questions are built on this assumption forcing the test-taker into choosing between opposites.
Nature doesn’t work that way. For an example consider the weather. Suppose you applied the either/or model to weather prediction. You decide 50 degrees Fahrenheit is the midpoint for temperature. You make the midpoint for humidity 50%. You make the midpoint for wind speed 25 miles per hour. There is no partly cloudy. The sky is either sunny or overcast. The weatherman looks at the data and discovers it’s 52 degrees, the humidity is 55% the wind is 19 miles per hour and there are clouds low on the horizon. So how does he describe the weather?
“Today its going to be overcast, hot and humid with a light breeze”
Is that a useful description? That’s what can happen with a test like the MBTI. It is no wonder that the Myers-Briggs has reliability problems. So many people fall into the middle ranges that only a slight change in mood, health, amount of sleep, general stress levels can push a person into a different category. You only need to browse the MBTI discussion boards to see how many people are struggling with variable test results.
Yet, millions believe it. Fortune 100 companies make personnel decisions based on it. Career consultants steer clients into occupations because the tests say they are a perfect fit. Dating services make similar matches.
It is tempting to just discard the MBTI because of these well-known problems. But it is important to find out what is working well enough to hold the interest of so many people. So what IS working? Humans are attracted to idea systems. Figuring out all those combinations of dichotomies is very engaging. The promise of discovering your real self among the various permutations of functions and attitudes drives a person to achieve some kind of closure.
The most valuable part of the process is that one of the 16 types is bound to fit comfortably enough to be declared a match. Once that happens you have a convert. And as so often happens the convert is so elated with their salvation that they set out on a path to enlighten friends and family. Eventually, you have a network of people discussing their sacred callings. As flawed as the process is, it still produces clusters of traits that probably describe real persons. This is no less true of astrology and the four humor temperament theories. Although the scaffolding has long been removed by the scrutiny of the scientific method, the buildings still remain standing. The buildings are the type descriptions and are useful in discussing personality. Consider astrology as an example. Science has shown that the position of planets, whether at conception or birth can’t explain personality. Still, some people feel their astrological sign explains it all. It isn’t unreasonable to believe that at least one out of four people will find one particular “sign” will be at least 50% accurate in its description of their personality. That’s sufficient to win a convert.
Let’s look a little closer at the problem of the bipolarity of the MBTI (Jungian) functions and attitudes. The main problem is that all the functions are necessary to all organisms. We all think, feel, do and see. We differ however in our preferences for these functions. Some of us are DOERS while others are FEELERS. Some of us are THINKERS and others are SEERS. This is what is referred to as our dominant function. If we add a secondary (auxiliary) system to the mix (temperament means “mixture”) we then become FEELING-DOERS, THINKING-SEERS, DOER-THINKERS for a total of twelve combinations. If you consider the rejected, weakest, inferior function/system, you have 24 permutations. Note that this means you can have THINKING-FEELERS, and DOER (Sensation)-SEERS (Intuition). Jung never figured that out.
We need to remember that types necessarily create some boundary problems. They are convenient for zeroing in on a probable space but each person must be considered as an individual person situated on a continuum of dimension variables. For instance, what does it mean when your dominant function is only slightly higher or equal to your auxiliary function. It makes a real difference.
Let us now attempt to map onto the Triangular Somatotype Chart, the probable location of the various MBTI personalities. Remember my typological scheme involves twelve primary types (24 types if you include the inferior system). Some of these will fit perfectly. Others are at best educated guesses. If there are only twelve primary types it can be expected that some of the MBTI types will prove to be redundant or not different enough to really be considered a distinct type. As of this time there really is no written test that you can rely on to settle the matter. Some may say that this is a perfect scenario for a pseudo-science. If test results don’t match the somatotype you can simply plead that the test is invalid or that the subjects are severely disturbed.
A POSSIBLE SOLUTION TO THE PERSONALITY RESEARCH PROBLEM
It is clear that pencil and paper personality tests have failed because of the obvious problems of reliability and validity. Some kind of objective measurement would solve these problems. There needs to be a way of bypassing the black box. The data goes in and like a roulette wheel no on knows where its going to stop spinning. Sheldon and others have suspected that there might be physical correlates of temperament. The problem is finding out which physical measurements are likely to be useful. Phrenology (head bump mapping) was a noble attempt. It was scientific because its statements were falsifiable. Unfortunately, for the phrenologists their theory was shown to be false. At this point if a person continues to believe phrenology then they are no longer behaving as scientists.
Some try to group Sheldon with the phrenologists. This is a mistake. No one has ever attempted to duplicate Sheldon’s research.
There have been attempts to correlate questionable paper and pencil tests with Sheldon’s somatotyping but these attempts were not exactly the same thing Sheldon did. But, nevertheless, there were low correlations in the direction Sheldon would have predicted. So, Sheldon’s work was never proven false. Sheldon relied on several consultations with a subject for close to a year with each of the 200 subjects he rated in his temperament research. The fatal public relations flaw is that Sheldon assessed the temperaments himself raising the issue of the “halo” effect where a researcher is suspected of seeing only data that supports his theory. But no one tried to repeat his research using a disinterested group of psychologists to collect the temperament data by means of similar interviewing techniques.
There is another way this could be investigated. Suppose you got a group of 200 or more people with the same somatotype? Let them discuss their lives with each other in an online social network situation. If there are strong similarities they will most likely discover them. My prediction is that significant discoveries would emerge from this process. It is at least as important as mapping the human genome. Just think what it would mean to have an accurate method of determining a person’s temperament. It is not out of realm of possibility that a paper and pencil test might emerge from such research that would really be accurate and at the same time could be cross checked against physical measurements.
LOCATION OF MBTI TYPES IN A SOMATOTYPE CHART
When you look closely at Jung it becomes clear that he doesn’t always use terms according to dictionary definitions. Because my main concern in this discussion is with the relationship between the four functions I will endure Jung’s sometimes idiosyncratic definitions. Later we can deal with the meanings of the individual functions.
Here is the problem:
“I (Jung) had to abandon the idea of the superordinate position of the ego. … I saw that everything, all paths I had been following, all steps I had taken, were leading back to a single point — namely, to the mid-point. It became increasingly plain to me that the mandala is the centre. It is the exponent of all paths. It is the path to the centre, to individuation.
… I knew that in finding the mandala as an expression of the self I had attained what was for me the ultimate.” – C. G. Jung. Memories, Dreams, Reflections
Jung fell victim to “box” thinking. He was searching for any figure that would systematize the four functions. Jung grabbed the most obvious geometric form available to the western mind . He naturally thought of the square. This is about as enlightened as saying “cat” when asked in the word association game “what comes to your mind when you hear the word dog?” Jung believed the mandala was the best expression of the relationships between the four functions. Even though we tend to think of a mandala as a square it can vary culturally. For instance the Yin- Yang symbol (Taijitu) is a kind of harmonizing of four dimensions. Actually mandala is sanscrit for “circle”. For whatever reason (probably a tendency toward dichotomous thinking) Jung chose the cross as the main figure for illustrating the relations of the four functions. The diagram below ends up as Jung’s definitive structure.
A square may be an obvious choice when picking a figure to represent four basic elements but it creates a big question. That question concerns the meaning of the middle of the square. What happens when a person is balanced on all four functions. Jung apparently felt that individuation ought to move a person to the center of the square where a person would achieve equal strength in all four functions. No such person can possibly exist. We are individuals to the extent that we present an imbalance in our function preferences. It is this imbalance that is best utilized in the context of a group with “gifts differing” for the enrichment of the whole. The real job for a human is not to see how they can be complete by themselves but how they can, by understanding their assets and limitations, form a synergy within their community.
The even distribution of energy is death. There is no value- no energy to homogenization. Wind is a good example. Wind is the movement of air due to the inequality of temperature at two locations. At the point where the pressures equalize the flow stops.
Many psychological tests that are expressed as a score on various scales refer to “flat” or “tight” patterns. These terms refer to the situation where all the scales are practically equal. Whenever this kind of profile is encountered it raises a red flag. Generally something is not exactly right when this happens. A counselor uses this signal as a reason to probe for possible causes. The point here is to illustrate that individuation as a process of equalizing the four functions may not be desirable. However, an awareness of the rank order of the strength of these functions is of utmost importance, because that’s what guides a person’s social preferences for vocation, mate, friends and understanding their enemies.
The problem with the “square” model is that once you explain the center you now have a “fifth” factor. What are you going to do? Are you going to conceive of a pentangular polygon to accommodate that “fifth” function? You have to stop somewhere. The place to stop is at the beginning. There is quite a bit of agreement on the significance of four-ness. But is there a better way of conceiving four-ness using a geometrical figure?
ENTER THE TRIANGLE
Instead of thinking about a chair with four legs we need to think about the old-fashioned milking stool. I don’t know if Jung ever met Buckminster Fuller but if he didn’t he should have. Both had a fascination with four-ness,but Fuller found the triangle to be the shape of preference if not necessity.
Consider the results if Jung and “Bucky” would have collaborated:
That’s as far as I care to go with this. From this point on it is a matter of unraveling Jung’s poorly conceived labeling of the basic functions. The solution is to understand that the functions need to reflect actual organismic systems. There is almost a universal understanding that we are feelers, doers, thinkers and seers. We feel, do, think and see. So, we can map this as follows:
Jung was not uniquely blind to the possibility of a triangle representing his concepts. Sheldon remarked that he looked repeatedly for a fourth dimension in constructing his scheme but was unable to find one. It was hiding in plain sight. In one of his books he included a chart wherein he used a very large font to label the middle as “HUMOR”. This is just a short step away from optimism, which is a principal trait of the Sanguine temparament
Whatever else may be true of humor, it represents a singular inclination to take life lightly, or whimsically, and a readiness to tolerate (indeed to enjoy) incompatible conceptions. The person with a sense of humor does not put himself in too serious a light and does not desire to be taken too seriously. He avoids the responsibility of exercising power [ mesomorphy (my note)] People with humor are not directly leaders in the world’s affairs. But humor is in no sense a polar trait. It involves both the relaxation of viscerotonia [endomorphy (my note)] and the restraint of cerebrotonia [ectomorphy (my note)]. Varieties of Temperament (W.H. Sheldon p. 53, 1942)
It is significant that somatotypes can best be expressed as a triangle or tetrahedron. This harmonizes perfectly with Jung’s view that the fourth or inferior function is not immediately apparent. It is hidden. It emerges from the relationship of the main three.