As Assistant Librarian of the Mason City Library, we don’t exactly have time on our hands, but I’d be the first to admit that we probably have more time to think about things than you do—questions that probably never come up in your mind. And believe it or not, Jung and all his theories do come up from time to time here in Mason City (along with the weather and the crops).
We came up with some questions about type theory here a couple of weeks ago. Why are there a certain number of people in each type? Are the numbers always the same no matter how much time passes by? And why in the world wouldn’t the percentages change over time?
Type Theory in Mason County, Iowa
You might not think that personality type theory would come up in a small part of the world like ours. You’d be surprised, though. About 20 years ago some of us started the Socrates Club, where several of us who have been around for a long time talk about all sorts of things. We have about 20 people in the club, and we meet once a week, but usually no more than 5 or 6 people show up.
The Socrates Club gathers once a week in Meeting Room B at the back of the library. We sit around a table and talk over coffee and soft drinks. I kind of lead the group and give them things to read and talk about.
We have people in the club who don’t have much to say, and some who never shut up. Mable Burns, who’s the legal assistant at the Sparks Law Firm, is a big talker. Last week she began the discussion by saying, “I’ve been thinking… It just doesn’t make any sense at all that there would be the same number of people in each personality type today as there were when Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers first came up with the instrument.”
“I agree with that,” Charlie Hansen shot back. “Nature is always changing how much there is of one species and how much there is of another according to all sorts of factors. If there really is some kind of principle or process that keeps the percentages constant, that would really be spooky.”
I thought to myself, “These are really smart people. I don’t think I’ve heard these questions raised before.”
Then Ida Lou Johnson, who runs Smith Assisted Living Center, spoke up and said, “You know, I’ve been studying this type table that Wigerthram gave us. There aren’t a lot of us in any one type, but there sure are a lot more of us in some personality types than others. Why would that be?”
“And why is there a greater percentage of people in one type box than another?” questioned Blake Garner, who owns the Subway Sandwich Shop in town. “How do you think that came about? I don’t know if it would be the design of a universal force, or by blind chance, or by something like natural selection. But there’s just got to be a reason.”
Why are There More ISTJs, ISFJs, and ESFJs? What Happened to INTPs, ENTPs, and ENTJs to Make them Such Small Type Groups?
“Well, this could this be it,” theorized, Stanley Brown, who works nights at the Ace Security Company. “There are a lot of those ISTJs, 13.5%. They are accountants and such, and they keep the books in businesses and take care of their families really well. Then there are those ISFJs, 13.8% of the population. They work in hospitals and take care of the sick. Those people are useful, and you’d think the good Lord would make more of them.”
“Now don’t go springing religion on us,” snapped our group agnostic, Herbert Long, who recently retired from the school. “Our bylaws say we’re not anything like a church.”
“I have a right to my own point of view just like you have yours,” Stanley shot back.
“I think it’s just what happened over the course of time,” continued Herbert, softening his know-it-all tone a bit. “Those INTJs are just a tiny group, 3.3% of the population. They think a lot, and probably starved to death because they didn’t ever go out and hunt. Then there are those people called ESFJs, 12.3%. That’s a large group. They help people get organized and keep things running. We’d need a lot of them, and they’d do well in the world.”
“But you look at some of those other types and it’s surprising they haven’t all died off,” said Mable Burns, jumping back into the conversation. “There are those INTPs, a little bitty group of 3.3%. They’re some of the most irritating people in the world, along with those ENTP’s, who are 3.2%. They know everything and you can’t tell them anything. Those people are so irritating that people probably stopped talking to them and they went out on a cold winter night and froze, and nobody ever went to look for them.”
“I think I’m agreeing with this line of thinking,” said Ida Lou, with a look of mischievous glee in her eyes. “You have those ENTJs, just 1.8%, and boy have I seen them operate. They try to run everything and they just love to shove people around. I’d imagine that over the years people got mad enough that they just got rid of them any way they could, if you know what I mean.”
So we came to the conclusion that there is just about the right amount of everyone, and that’s why there are fixed percentages on the type table. We had to stop there because everyone wanted to get to the Mason County Basketball Game. In the end I kind of agreed with them. What do you think?
*Editor’s Note: Not everything written about the Mason Country Library has been verified. You might not want to believe all the details.