This question is about personality and mindsets. I'm interested in categories of opinions, something more than left vs. right, conservative vs. liberal. Is there a set of basic questions that once answered would identify a type of mindset? You are type 123 and here's another 123 mind coming by. I know you will see eye to eye on nearly everything. Let's say something unexpected happens. Jesus is discovered in an Iowa supermarket. We never asked a 123 person what his opinion would be of such a thing but because we know his type we also know how he will think about this unexpected event. Whatever that event might be.

Briggs Myers created a controversial personality test. The idea is that your personality can be identified and categorized into one of 16 types. Once you are identified then it's easy to say what sort of job you should have or who you should marry. It's controversial because it doesn't have strong scientific support and yet gives us some attributes that you can clearly see in others and yourself.

A shy personality type might not want to talk to a stranger but this doesn't say anything about how that person might consider a stranger standing on a street corner. One mindset might see the stranger as threatening whereas someone else would hardly notice and some other mind would look at the stranger as a wonderful curiosity.

What are the fundamental attributes of mindsets? Please, there must be more to this than the successful entrepreneur mindset verses everyone else.

  • Eysenck Personality Questionnaire has some basis in psychology and physiology, in particular it builds on the idea of four temperaments en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eysenck_Personality_Questionnaire But of course it is a far cry from predicting behavior. This is to be expected, human behavior is too complex to be predicted based on 16 categories, or even 100, at best mindset determines some general attitude.
    – Conifold
    Sep 16, 2015 at 22:59

1 Answer 1


There may not be an answer to your question at all. Consider that that sort of predictive power would have to account for substantial variations from mind to mind. This topic also touches on the concept of qualia, for which there is myriad variation.

There is also not a clear agreement as to where to draw the lines. To provide an alternate scheme to the one professed by Meyers-Briggs, I turn to Journey to the West, which specified four types of apes that defy categorization (one traditional meaning attributed to these types of apes in Journey to the West is types of personalities people can have). If nothing else, it shows how culturally specific such categorizations must be:

“May I ask what these four kinds of ape are?” the Bodhisattva asked.

“The first kind is the intelligent stone monkey,” the Buddha replied. “He can do all kinds of transformation, knows all about the seasons of Heaven and earthly advantages, and can move the stars and their constellations about. The second kind is the red-rumped mandril that knows all about the Yin and the Yang and human affairs, can go into or out of anywhere, and knows how to prolong its life and avoid death. The third kind is the magic-armed gibbon that can catch the sun or moon, shrink mountains, see what is auspicious and what is not, and fool around with heaven and earth. The fourth kind is the six-eared macaque which has wonderful hearing and perception. It knows about the past and the future and understands all creatures. These four kinds of ape do not come within any of the ten categories and are not listed among the creatures that live between heaven and earth. I can see that the false Sun Wukong is just such a six-eared macaque. Wherever he stands he can know what is happening hundreds of miles away and hear everything that is said. That is why he has such wonderful hearing, brilliant perception, and knowledge of the past, the future, and all beings; that is why he looks and sounds just like Wukong. He is a six-eared macaque.”

One key challenge with building such categorizations is that the more specific of prediction you want, the more categories you need to have. On one extreme, "people do what they will do" is right 100% of the time using only one category. Another extreme, "people will always choose money over love" is right some percentage of the time, but still only calls for one category. Another extreme, correctly predicting the exact behavior of every individual for all time calls for a complete mapping of their brainstate... and even then is only possible if you believe in hard determinism. Any level of freewill causes that to get complicated. Which categorization is most useful to any given person is subjective, based on what they believe is the most important features to see in others' actions.

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