Social workers frequently need to understand other people’s personalities and motives, to predict their behaviour and to communicate effectively. This chapter outlines a widely used personality theory and applies it to communication problems and strategies. This is psychological type theory in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) sense (Myers with Myers, 1980; Bayne, 2004), and it has several strengths. First, the evidence for its validity is at least as strong as it is for rival theories, especially the strong relationship between MBTI results and scores on measures of four of the Big Five personality characteristics (Bayne, 2005): Big Five theory has dominated mainstream personality research for many years, much as MBTI theory has dominated applied personality theory. Second, it is a very positive and constructive theory. Third, it is useful at the straightforward level discussed here but has deeper levels too.
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