Personality type theory can help understand some of the causes of conflict in a relationship. But there is much more to it than simply having different preferences. Conflict can also be caused by type dynamics. This describes how the preferences relate to each other inside the individual, and how they relate to the context.
We can illustrate type dynamics by comparing introversion and extraversion with different types of batteries. Everyone has both extravert and introvert batteries. Having a preference for E or I means you have more of one type of battery than the other.
This can lead to seemingly uncharacteristic behaviour. If you are an extravert in an extravert job, then at the end of the day you may only have introvert batteries left. This means that, although at work you may be viewed as an extravert, at home you may be viewed as an introvert. This home/work difference is normal, but it may impact how people see you – for example, because your family only see you using your introvert batteries.
Einstein once suggested that things should be made as simple as possible but no simpler. Viewing someone as either just an extravert or just an introvert is too simple. Everyone has both sides to their personality. Therefore, to make use of type theory in relationships:
- don’t put yourself or others in a box
- don’t expect people to behave the same way all the time
- do recognise others as complex and unique
- do allow people to change their characteristics in different contexts