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Exploring the Interface of the Type and
Emotional Intelligence Landscapes

Henry L. Thompson, Ph.D.

 Bulletin of Psychological Type, 2006, 29, 3, 14- 19.

During the past 10 years, there has been considerable interest in the Type community about the relationship of Emotional Intelligence (EI) and Psychological Type. Recently, attempts have been made (Dulewicz & Higgs, 1999; Higgs, 2001; Pearman, 2001a, 2001b; Lawrence, 2001; Torrington, 2001; Farnsworth, Gilbert and Armstrong, 2002; Sitarenios, 2004, Maddocks, 2004; Engstrom, 2005; Richmond, Rollins & Brown, 2005; and Thompson, 2006) to identify what relationship, if any, there is between EI and the MBTI instrument. For the most part, the results have been mixed, with the exception of Thompson (2006), in that there seems to be a positive relationship between overall EI and the MBTI scales of Extraverting and iNtuiting and mixed findings on the other preferences. Thompson’s study is the most comprehensive research on Type and EI to date and the only study to examine the MBTI Form Q facets and EI. More information about this particular study will be provided later in this article.

This paper has a multi-fold purpose: (1) to provide a thumbnail sketch of how Jung’s typology fits into an overall Dynamical Human Systems Model; (2) to look at Type and EI landscapes through a dynamical systems lens; (3) to explore the application of EI in the Type setting; (4) and to tug on Superman®’s cape—just a little.
Affect tends to contaminate or distort each of the functions: we can’t think straight when we’re mad; happiness colors the way we perceive things and people; we can’t properly evaluate what something is worth to us when we’re upset; and possibilities dry up when we’re depressed (Sharp, 1987, p.18).

One of the principles of the Dynamical Human Systems Model is that all perception (Perceiving) and decisionmaking (Judging) have both cognitive and emotional components that influence what is perceived and the decisions that are made. Cognitive ability constrains a person’s level of Perceiving and Judging development, and emotions strongly influence what we perceive and, ultimately, the decisions we make. This principle holds true for all 16 Types at all levels of Type development. I realize that this principle requires some explanation.

Dynamical Human Systems Model™

To unpack the meaning of this principle, I will begin with an overview of a Dynamical Human Systems Model™. For years, I have been studying, researching and writing about Psychological Type from the perspective that Psychological Type is a dynamical system (Thompson, 1998a, 1998b, 1998c). Dynamical systems behave very differently from the simple linear systems described by Newtonian mechanics. That is, dynamical systems are nonlinear and are characterized by numerous interactions among many components across many timescales. These systems are self-organizing and greater than the sum of their parts. And although they surpass the boundaries of our current knowledge of mathematics, they are the real world. Therefore, Psychological Type is far more complex than a linear alignment of the function-attitudes (Thompson, 1996).

The Dynamical Human Systems Model views a person as a system nested within a larger system and composed of numerous subsystems which self-organize across time, resulting in each person being unique. There are eight major systems that influence the development and robustness of the Human System (and typology) across time. These systems include social, physical, emotional, neural, cognitive, chemical, environmental and the psyche. The neural wiring of the brain begins before birth. Some neural pathways (for example, instincts) come prewired (as do some aspects of psychological Type). Other aspects of physiological and psychological development are in place and ready to emerge during the maturation process.

Psychological Type, which is a system and, therefore, must be viewed as a whole, is only one aspect of humanness and, consequently, one aspect of personality. All people with a preference for ENFP are similar in many ways and unique in many others. The eight systems above play a role in the self-organization and emergent behavior exhibited by each person with an ENFP preference. Since the focus of this paper is on Type and EI, I am only going to focus on the dynamical, self-organizing relationship of Type and the emotional system.

Type Through the Function-Attitude Lens

Jung defined the function of Sensing as a mental process that allows us to “see what is.”

Sensation is the psychological function that mediates the perception of a physical stimulus. It is, therefore, perception . . . . Sensation is related not only to external stimuli but to inner ones, i.e., to changes in the internal organic processes (Jung, 1976, p.461).

The Sensing function, therefore, is a Perceiving process that plays at least two roles: an extraverted role (Se) that allows us to take in information that is external to the psyche and an introverted role (Si) that allows us to compare information with known (internal) Sensing information.

The Se and Si roles are also recursive, that is, they feed back on each other and continually modify each other’s “Sensing” (Figure 1). For example, if I want to find my red pen, my Si knowledge and memory of my red pen influence what my Se is most likely to perceive—and the blind spots created—while searching the environment. When I perceive my red pen, the Gestalt (context), which includes any emotion (happy, sad, frustrated, etc.) that becomes attached to the act of perceiving the pen, modifies the “red pen” in my Si database and will influence the perceiving process the next time I search for my red pen. This creates a Ying and Yang effect (Thompson, 1999). Se and Si are just opposite sides of the same coin (Sensing) and totally interdependent. If Se is working (which it is constantly), so is Si. (Remember Superman’s cape?)

Image 2
Figure 1
The Recursive Nature of Sensing (Ying and Yang)

Each of the four functions has this dual role of extraverting and introverting processes and operates in a recursive fashion. The four functions (S, N, T, F) and two processes (E, I) result in the eight function-attitudes (Se, Si, Ne, Ni, Te, Ti, Fe, Fi) described by Jung (1976) and are very popular with many Type practitioners today. Each function-attitude is not only recursive within its particular function, but also with each of the other function-attitudes (Figure 2). It is important to remember that the function-attitudes are not eight separate, independent entities of Type, but rather labels for two specific processes (relationships) operating within each of the four functions, within Type, within the Psyche, within the Human System, etc.

Image 4

Figure 2
The Recursive Nature of the Function-Attitudes

When I look for my red pen I receive a barrage of stimuli, with some estimates as high as ten million pieces of information per second. Fortunately, most of it is filtered out. As I search for the pen, all of my function-attitudes get involved, some consciously, some not so consciously, but all are involved. My Type preferences tend to strongly influence how much each function-attitude gets involved. Type is a system. All components are interdependent and contribute to the pattern of the overall Type system. With this systems perspective in mind, we can now turn to emotions.

Emotions Happen

The first book on emotions was published in 1872, Charles Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. This was the most comprehensive study and written account of the expression of emotions of that time and is still valid today.

The term emotion has no universally accepted definition, but most researchers agree that it is a type of neural impulse that motivates a person into action. For example, fear motivates a person into the fight or flight response. From a dynamical systems perspective, emotions can be seen as discrete systems, each with its own energy and goal. For example, the goal of anger is to overcome, disgust to reject and contempt to dismiss the stimulus. Emotions can be recruited and self-organized into larger systems, or motivational complexes. It is not uncommon for anger, disgust and contempt to form a motivational complex sometimes called the hostility triad.

Image 6

Figure 3
Emotion Perception Through Action Pattern

Motivational complexes may couple with other motivational complexes to form higher level systems, or emotional action patterns. If these patterns are activated frequently, they may become entrained, building neural super highways that become a permanent part of the individual’s personality—regardless of Type preferences.

Each individual is born pre-wired (innateness) for emotional development to include the degree of development. Emotions emerge according to a specific sequence and time periods. The primary, or basic, emotions emerge during the first six months of life. These include interest, joy, happiness, sadness, disgust, anger, surprise, interest and fear. The self-conscious emotions occur between 18 and 24 months and include embarrassment, empathy and envy. Self-conscious emotions require the emergence of a new cognitive ability, objective self-awareness (or self-referential behavior).

The third set of emotions, self-conscious evaluative emotions, appear between 30 and 36 months, and include pride, shame, guilt and others. Self-conscious evaluative emotions require the emergence of a second cognitive ability, the ability to compare personal behavior to a social standard.

Emotions, emotional complexes and action patterns continue to evolve rapidly during infancy and slow as we get older. The plasticity of the brain and neural connections allows for the formation of new motivational complexes and action patterns, or changes in earlier ones. Changing an established action pattern may take more effort than a person is willing or capable of producing. An example is the emotional complexes and action patterns within phobias.

Again, I am suggesting that there is an individual innateness associated with emotions and that emotions are attached to all aspects of Type, to include Type development.

Emotional Intelligence

Various authors (Leuner, 1966; Payne, 1986; Salovey & Mayer, 1990; Goleman, 1995; Bar-On, 2002) have used the term Emotional Intelligence to describe a non-cognitive Type of intelligence. My view is that EI is a dynamical system, and on a macro-level, can be described as a person’s innate ability to perceive and manage his/her own emotions in a manner that results in successful interactions with the environment, and if others are present, to also perceive and manage their emotions in a manner that results in successful interpersonal interactions.

Note that this definition does not require interaction with another person. EI involves managing/ controlling the Awareness and Appraising of emotions and the resulting action patterns in a manner that produces successful outcomes whether in the presence or absence of others.

When others are present and interpersonal interactions occur, the EI process of managing outcomes becomes several orders of magnitude more complex. Now I have to manage the perceiving and appraising not only of my own dynamic emotions, but the dynamic emotions of other people involved in the interaction. All the components in the EI system are also interacting in a recursive manner, resulting in a very complex self-organizing process.

Managing the perception of my emotions and the emotions of others, if present (Awareness), provides the foundation for being able to manage the appraisal and action patterns. EI begins by managing/controlling emotions, then awareness of emotions. EI manages a recursive cognitive and emotional appraisal and the blending of emotions, motivational complexes and actions patterns (Figure 4). Intelligent responses to situations require appropriate management of the emotional system in a manner that produces the highest probability of successful interactions with the environment and others, if present.

Image 8

Figure 4
Emotional Intelligence System Overview

This entire process of Awareness of the dynamic emotions in myself and others and the dynamic Action Patterns in myself and others is recursive, with each component continually feeding back into the system, making it a continuous self-adjusting process (dynamical system) that requires continuous, appropriate managing/controlling to produce “intelligent” results. EI is not a set of four or more separate, linear processes that just happen to result in intelligent emotional management. It is about managing a dynamic process to produce successful outcomes.

The EI community, in general, tends to use a variation of a two-by-two model to depict a linear model of EI. The most common variation of this model is shown in Figure 5. According to this model, EI consists of four basic processes: being aware of my emotions, managing my emotions, being aware of others’ emotions and managing the relationship.










Relationship Management

Figure 5
A Common EI Two by Two Model

As with any emerging field of study, EI is not without critics. In general, people tend to be divided into one of two camps, academics and practitioners. The academics tend to be critical of the concept of EI as a unique and viable psychological construct.

EI practitioners believe that emotional intelligence is a viable construct. This group is largely made up of corporate trainers, researchers/practitioners who interpret the research data as being supportive of a unique construct of EI. They point out numerous examples of the positive use of EI in influencing individual and organizational performance.

Even with these internal disagreements, the support for EI as a viable psychological construct continues to grow. This growth has been paralleled by the effort to use EI as a means for analyzing and improving individual and organizational performance. Corporate America appears to believe that EI measurements are worthy of being used alongside such longstanding assessments as the MBTI instrument, the California Psychological Inventory and FIRO Element B. Type practitioners are beginning to see the value of adding EI to their tool boxes to complement Type.

EI and Type Landscapes Intersection

Two questions being explored by Type theorists today are, “What happens at the intersection of the Type and EI Landscapes?” and “How do EI instruments relate to the Jungian-based MBTI instrument?” Each will be explored in turn.

I was surprised recently when a well known practitioner said that the relationship of EI and Type was old news. There was really nothing new to learn. I believe we are just beginning to understand what the two landscapes look like and posit how they might interact. Several Type practitioners are working to unravel the Type and EI conundrum. So far, I have been presenting my models of Type and EI through the dynamical systems lens. Now a brief look at two other perspectives.

Pearman (2001) says that each Psychological Type develops interpersonal awareness and competence in different ways and that EI is related more to one’s overall development, not Type. He further elaborates by hypothesizing a relationship between the function-attitudes (mental processes) and the eight abilities of emotional intelligence proposed by some EI theorists. For a more detailed description of Pearman’s (2006) thoughts, see his article in this issue.
Maddocks (2004) takes the approach that EI is about managing our Type (personality) and not that some Types have more or less EI than others. He does believe, however, that it would be useful to identify patterns of differences among Types. More recently, he hypothesized the fit of the function-attitudes into his four-quadrant EI model, such that Si and Ni are about Self Awareness, Se and Ne are about Other Awareness, Ti and Fi are about Self Management and Te and Fe are about Relationship Management. For a more detailed description of Maddocks’s (2006) thoughts, see his article in this issue.

My work with Type and EI over the years leads me to the following working hypotheses:

  • All attitudes, functions and function-attitudes are affected by emotions.
  • The Type-Emotion relationship is recursive.
  • Type mediates emotional action patterns.
  • Type mediates EI.
  • EI is innate in the way Type is innate.
  • EI is developing concomitantly with Type
  • Both Type and EI are dynamical systems and interact as such.
  • Type and EI are components within the same Human system and share a nonlinear relationship, such that each influences the development and use of the other.
  • In general, some Types are predisposed to have higher EI potential than others (Superman’s cape again).

MBTI and EI Instruments

The question of “How do EI instruments relate to the Jungian-based MBTI instrument?” can be examined by looking at the research specifically designed to address this question. Of the 10-12 published studies focusing on EI and the MBTI instrument, the findings suggest that there is a relatively strong relationship between the EI instruments and the Type preference for Extraverting. This is not surprising given that most EI instruments have a strong bias toward interpersonal interaction.

It seems that researchers begin with the assumptions that EI is composed of separate “parts,” Type is composed of separate “parts,” and linear relationships exist among these “parts.” I see the EI and Type landscapes as inextricably linked—they cannot be separated. For example, neurological research has shown that people cannot make decisions or judgments (use the Judging functions) when the emotional center of the brain has been damaged (Damasio, 1994).

Admittedly, in my 2006 study, for the benefit of completeness, I examined the relationships among the BarOn EQ-i subscales (parts), the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Form Q preferences (parts), the facets (parts) and Whole Type. This was the first attempt to look at the Form Q facets and the BarOn EQ-i subscales . Participants were 638 supervisors through executive level leaders (64% male and 36% female) from several different organizations.  Some Whole Type findings are shown in Table 1 to point out the impact of Extraverting on, in this case, BarOn EQ-i scores. Other instruments that measure Extraversion produce similar results with EI instruments, e.g., the NEO-PI.

Table 1, shows the difference between the Top and Bottom five Types for Total EI and Top and Bottom five for the emotion of Self-Awareness on the BarOn EQ-i. The differences between groups in each category are statistically significant.

Total EI



Top 5

Bottom 5


Top 5

Bottom 5


























Table 1
Selected Whole Type Top 5 & Bottom 5 Ranking on the BarOn EQ-i

Differences among the Types can be found at all levels of analysis (preferences, functional pairs, function-attitudes, temperament and whole Type). Enough evidence is accumulating to suggest that all Types are not created equally on a variety of characteristics, and certain aspects of EI may be some of them. Even so, I suggest caution in interpreting results of Type and EI instruments because researchers are not controlling for the impact of the other six key systems in the Human System.

The Future of Type and EI

Although the last ten years may have polarized the EI community more, I think the Type community has seen some movement away from speculation and more movement toward a scientific investigation of the relationship of Type and EI. I also believe that over the next few years, the differing theoretical perspectives of Roger Pearman, Joe Maddocks, myself and others will begin to coalesce into a solid Type-EI theory that will get the Type and EI communities away from the experience of trying to “nail Jell-O® to the wall.”

What keeps me awake at night is my concern over the current reductionist zeitgeist in psychology, in general, and Psychological Type, in particular. One of the dangers of the function-attitude approach to Psychological Type is reductionism. That is, people can become so infatuated with the study of the individual function-attitudes that they may lose track of the complexity that arises from the self-organization that takes place within a dynamical system like Type. Just as most people agree that Type is more than E+N+F+P, it is also more than a linear arrangement of the eight function-attitudes. Danger exists in that the more time and effort we as a community expend trying to codify a phylogeny of function-attitudes, the further we get away from understanding the holistic nature of Psychological Type.

I am convinced that linear thinking, seeing Type as less than a whole, has slowed our development of knowledge about Psychological Type. I have met people whom I believe have a preference for ENFP, but not a single person who was just Ne, or who was even NeFiTeSiNiFeTiSe. The linear, additive combination of the function-attitudes is not what Jung or Myers meant by Psychological Type. Psychological Type is a dynamical, self-organizing system and must be studied as a whole if we are to advance our knowledge of Type and the use of the MBTI instrument. Emotional intelligence is also a dynamical system and, as such, requires a nonlinear approach to studying the relationship of Type and EI.


Bar-On, R. (2002). BarOn Emotional Quotient Inventory: A Measure of Emotional Intelligence. (Technical Manual). Toronto, Canada: Multi-Health Systems, Inc.

Damasio, A. (1994). Descartes’ error: Emotion, reason, and the human brain. New York, NY: Avon Books.

Darwin, C. (1872). The expression of the emotions in man and animals. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Dulewicz, S. and Higgs, M. (1999). Can emotional intelligence be measured and developed? The Leadership and Organizational Journal, 20(5), 242-252.

Engstrom, M. (2005). A study of emotional intelligence as it relates to organizational outcomes beyond what is contributed by personality. Unpublished dissertation. Loyola University, Chicago, IL.

Farnsworth, R., Gilbert, E., & Armstrong, D. (2002). Exploring the relationship between the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the BarOn Emotional Quotient Inventory: Applications for professional development practices. ASAC, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. New York, NY: Bantam Books.

Higgs, M. (2001). Is there a Relationship Between the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Emotional Intelligence? Journal of Managerial Psychology, 16, 7/8, 509-534.

Jung, C. G. (1976). Psychological types. (A revision by R. F. C. Hull of the translation by H. G. Baynes.) Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Lawrence, G. (2001). Emotional intelligence: Does it develop differently in thinking types and feeling types? Proceedings of APT-XIV, the Fourteenth Biennial International Conference of the Association of Psychological Type (pp. 273-280). Minneapolis, MN.

Leuner, B. (1966). Emotional intelligence and emancipation. Praxis der Kinderpsychologie und Kinderpsychiatrie, 15, 193-203.

Maddocks, J. (2004). How emotional intelligence measures can add value to users of type instruments. British Association for Psychological Type, Type Face, 15(1), 14-15.

Maddocks, J. (2006). Linking emotional intelligence with Jungian typology. Bulletin of Psychological Type, in press.

Mayer, J. (2001). A field guide to EI. In Ciarrochi, J., Forgas, J., & Mayer, J., (Editors). Emotional intelligence in everyday life: A scientific inquiry. New York, NY: Psychology Press, Inc.

Payne, W.L. (1986). A study of emotion: Developing emotional intelligence; self-integration; relating to fear, pain and desire. Dissertation Abstracts International, 47, (01), p. 203A. (University Microfilms No. AAC 8605928).

Pearman, R. (2001). Emotional intelligence and psychological Type. TypeWorks, Issue 39, 5-6.

Pearman, R. (2001). Introduction to type and emotional intelligence. Palo Alto, CA: CPP, Inc.

Pearman, R. (2006).What type practitioners need to know about emotional intelligence and type. Bulletin of Psychological Type, in press.

Richmond S., Rollins, P., & Brown, J. (2004). Emotional intelligence and TJ leaders: Openings for growth. Management and Organizational Development Symposium, Fifteenth Biennial International Conference of the Association of Psychological Type, Toronto, ON.

Salovey, P., & Mayer, J. (1990). Emotional intelligence. Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, 9, 185-211.

Sharp, D. (1987). Personality types: Jung’s model of typology. Toronto, Canada: Inner City Books.

Sitarenios, G. (2004). Relationship between the EQ-i, MBTI, and FIRO-B in a corporate sample. MHS Technical Report #019. Toronto, Canada: Multi-Health Systems.

Thompson, H. (1996). Jung’s Function-Attitudes Explained. Watkinsville, GA: Wormhole Publishing.

Thompson, H. (1998a). The Organizational Psyche: Part I: The New Paradigm. Bulletin of Psychological Type, 21, 1, 14-16.

Thompson, H. (1998b). The Organizational Psyche: Part II: The Personality Landscape. Bulletin of Psychological Type, 21, 2, 1-6.

Thompson, H. (1998c). The Organizational Psyche: Part III: The Organizational Landscape. Bulletin of Psychological Type, 21, 3, 28-32.

Thompson, H. (1999). The Ying and Yang of Sensing. Bulletin of Psychological Type, 22, 2, 14-16.

Thompson, H. (2005). The Impact of Stress on the BarOn EQ-i® Reported Scores and A Proposed Model of Inquiry. High Performing Systems, Inc., Technical Report 15-5.

Thompson, H. (2006). The relationship among the BarOn EQ-i® scales and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Form Q preferences and facets. High Performing Systems, Inc., Technical Report 16-06.

Torrington, A. (2001). Relationship between the BarOn Emotional Quotient Inventory and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Multi-Health Systems, Inc., Technical Report #0018. Toronto, Canada.

Dr. Thompson’s Abbreviated Bio
Henry L. (Dick) Thompson, Ph.D., M.S., M.A., is president and CEO of High Performing Systems Inc., an international management consulting and training firm he founded in 1984 to help leaders, teams, and organizations achieve high performance. He is an internationally recognized consultant, educator, speaker, and author. Emotional intelligence, FIRO, and psychological type theory are integral parts of Dr. Thompson’s work and ongoing research.  The Leadership Potential Equation™ and The CommunicationWheel® are just two of many tools he developed to facilitate leader and organizational development. He is a recipient of the Mary McCaulley Lifetime Achievement Award for work with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator instrument. (Expanded bio)

The BarOn EQ-i subscales are: Self-Regard (SR);Emotional Self-Awareness (ES); Assertiveness (AS); Independence (IN); Self-Actualization (SA); Empathy (EM); Social Responsibility (RE); Interpersonal Relationship (IR); Stress Tolerance (ST); Impulse Control (IC); Reality Testing (RT); Flexibility (FL); Problem Solving (PS); Optimism (OP); and Happiness (HA).

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