Partner Satisfaction As Measured By the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

by Nancy S. Marioles, Ph.D.

The American Psychological Association

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St. Mary's University researchers, headed by psychologist Nancy S.Marioles, Ph.D asked 426 married and premarried couples to take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator which measures peoples preferences on how they relate to the world. The authors then compared each type with each spouses' marital satisfaction. A person can have four different types that determine how they deal with the world.

One can be either extraverted or introverted. Extraverted people prefer to relate to people in the outer world rather relating to the inner world of ideas which Introverted people prefer. A Sensing person likes to have known facts to make decisions whereas an iNtuitive person prefers to look for possibilities and relationships that aren't apparent to make decisions. Thinking types like to base their judgments on interpersonal analysis and logic, and Feeling types like to base their judgments more on personal values. Finally, Judging types like a planned, decided and orderly way of life compared to Perceiving types who like a flexible, spontaneous way of life.

The couples were monitored over a seven-year period to determine marital behavior and predictors of satisfaction and divorce. The authors examined how many times each person was married, the length of the marriage, changes of marital status and sources of marital satisfaction and irritation.

The couples, said Dr. Marioles, were most satisfied in their marriage if they both could confide in their mate, share outside interests, calmly discuss and exchange ideas. Premarital couples needed to satisy those areas plus be able to plan together, question each other and kiss each other.

The authors found very little evidence that opposites marry. The only exceptions were ESTJ men married to INFP women and ESTP men married to INFJ women. These two types of men, said the authors, were also the two types who had been married the most often. Men who were INFPs, INFJs and INTPs most often married a female with the same psychological type. Women, on the other hand, who were ENFJs and INFJs married men with the same type.

The researchers also found that female feeling types (mostly ESFJs) were married the longest and that female thinking types (mostly INTP) were married the fewest number of years. Perceiving types were more likely to have divorced than judging types. Extraverts tended to be more satisfied with their relationships than Introverts which didn't take into account their length of marriage or how many times they had been married.

"Our research and the overall trend," said Dr. Marioles,"supports the likelihood that people are more likely to be attracted to and marry someone of the same type then they are a person of the opposite type."

Women were dissatisfied with the marriage most often (33 percent) when they were married to a man who was an INTP; 31 percent were dissatisfied when they were married to an INFP; and 22 percent were dissatisfied when they were married to an ISFP. Only 13 percent of the men were dissatisfied when the women were an ENFJ and 12 percent of the men were dissatisficed when the women were an ENFP.

5/29/98

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(Full text available from the APA Public Affairs Office.)

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 142,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 49 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 58 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting human welfare.

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