Excerpts from The TYPE Reporter, Issue No. 4
by Tom Carskadon, INFP
Sometimes folk wisdom is right on, but sometimes it’s so contradictory that it’s no help at all. Do opposites attract, or do birds of a feather flock together? This is an important question not just in friendship, love, and marriage, but also in team building.
A large body of research in psychology suggests that in general, we are most attracted to people who are fairly similar to us. Isabel Myers concluded that we tend to favor people similar in type to ourselves, more often marrying them, for instance; but that when it comes to team building, a well rounded mix of types is the most effective and desirable.
This idea has been part of type lore for decades; but is there actual research evidence to back it up? A few years ago Bruce Blaylock, a professor at Eastern Kentucky University, did a major study in which 17 four-person teams of students competed with each other over a month in a sophisticated and realistic simulated production exercise.
Some of the teams included a wide variety of types; other teams had all members with the same type or very similar types. All were objectively evaluated according to their total effectiveness. The teams composed of a broad range of types clearly and significantly outperformed the teams with little or no variety in types. Writing in Volume 6 of Research in Psychological Type, Dr. Blaylock notes that no particular type preference was predictive of success; instead, teams with a thorough mixture of types outperformed virtually any single-type or similar-type team.
This is one area where type theory and type research mesh very well. In forming teams, it may be tempting to choose people similar to ourselves and this could be a special trap for feeling types who value harmony so highly – but even in tasks that seem made for a particular type, the best results are likely to come from a well rounded mix of types.
(At the time of writing this article, Tom Carskadon,INFP, was a professor of psychology at Mississippi State University and editor of the journal, RESEARCH IN PSYCHOLOGICAL TYPE.)