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Marriage and Personality Type

The Myers Briggs model of personality is often used to promote mutual understanding between people. This understanding is aimed at improving interpersonal relationships, and promoting positive attitudes towards people who are different, such as understanding, appreciation and respect.

What area could be more appropriate for such understanding than marriage?

How can Myers Briggs be used in marriage?

It is easiest to start answering this question by pointing out the areas where we believe Myers Briggs should not be used in marriage. These include:

However, Myers Briggs can be useful in marriage by helping you to:

Does Personality Type influence who gets married?

This is an interesting and controversial question. There are many factors that affect who you decide to marry, such as:

Marriage

Personality, if it has any effect, is just one of a whole range of influences that contributes to who you marry. Within that context, what effect does personality tend to have on choice of marriage partner?

There are three main schools of thought in this area:

1 - Personality type has no effect on choice of partner

2 - We tend to choose partners who are different from ourselves

3 - We tend to choose partners who are similar to ourselves

This table tends to indicate that, if anything, similarity attracts more than difference. However, the statistics and interpretation raise lots more questions than they answer. For example, it might be that difference attracts, but that similarity makes marriage more long-lasting, as there is some evidence to suggest the latter from Ray Cattell's research in the 16PF Handbook.

Cattell researched marital stability using 16PF and found that 'all 16PF husband-wife correlations in stable, normally happy marriages are positive, whereas half of those in unstable marriages, or those planning divorce, are negative' (Handbook to the 16PF, p293). Within this overall principle, there were some variations depending on individual traits (eg: there were not many stable marriages with two dominant people). However, Cattell did conclude that there seemed to be two separate principles at work in creating marital stability:

  1. the degree of likeness between the two partners and
  2. the degree to which one can supply compensatory support for what the other needs to operate in the world.
Perhaps an awareness of personality type could help us to recognise the importance of (2) and provide our partners with better support.



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