College students of all personality types find success

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Ari Davis
BYU civil engineering student Maggie Peterson receives information about the Myers-Briggs personality test at the Career and Academic Success Center in the Wilkinson Student Center. (Ari Davis)

No two students will have exactly the same college experience. Some students will find themselves more prone to engage in class discussions and answer questions, while others will focus more on the work behind the scenes.

The major college students choose may have a strong correlation with their personality type, according to an analysis of psychological research published in April 2016.

These distinctions can be credited to difference in personality types, commonly dictated by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which assists individuals in identifying their personality type. 

This assessment, created by Katharine Cooke Briggs and Isabel Briggs Meyers, states there are “16 distinctive personality types that result from the interactions among the preferences.” These preferences include introversion or extroversion, sensing or intuition, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving. 

BYU civil engineering student Maggie Peterson has an introverted, sensing, thinking, judging personality type, according to the assessment. She discovered her personality type after a friend told her about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test and she proceeded to take an online quiz.

Peterson said her personality type has had an effect on the rest of her college experience because she tends to be more cautious than most.

“It took me a long time from when I first started college to fall in with a group of friends and become completely comfortable with my new college routine,” Peterson said. “I’ve had a lot of practice being more extroverted over the past couple of years. I feel like it’s necessary in a college environment where it’s required to interact with many people of different backgrounds.”

Peterson said she believes BYU students are generally aware of their personality types because it has become a part of popular culture. She said she even took the Myers-Briggs test in one of (her) classes last year.

Students in a class such as Career Explorations may take a test like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which is offered in the Career and Academic Success Center. Rebecca Watkins, a paraprofessional in the center, said this test goes “more into the personal side of things.”

“It’s a different perspective for students to look at and a helpful way to start their research on what they want to do,” Watkins said.

BYU public speaking professor Stephanie Freeman said she sees a variety of college students come into her classes. She said all personality types have strengths and weaknesses.

Freeman said introverts are naturally inclined to be more organized, but they are not usually comfortable around large groups of people. She said extroverts, on the other hand, are generally outgoing and leadership-oriented, but may miss details or waste time.

However, Freeman said specific personality types are not limited in their abilities.

“Just because you have a disposition toward a particular style or habit, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn the other techniques that might be a little more foreign to you, to help you succeed in circumstances at work, at church, at school and even in the community when they need your voice,” Freeman said. 

Provo psychologist Rodrigo Veas said he agrees a personality type does not limit an individual’s abilities. Veas said he cautions against using labels to compartmentalize people.

“When we say someone’s an introvert, we’re trying a bulk amount of information about them into one word,” Veas said. “While they may be primarily an introvert, that doesn’t mean that’s the only part of them.”

Veas advised friends and family to communicate with others about their preferences, and to avoid preconceived notions about their personality types.

“Make sure there’s communication,” Veas said. “If you have a friend who’s an introvert, don’t assume they don’t want to do things. It’s worthwhile asking. If you have a friend who’s an extrovert don’t assume they like certain activities. It’s still worthwhile asking.”

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