I wrote earlier this week about personality type and how it affects fitness activity choices.
I've been interested in the topic of personality preferences and how this influences consumer behavior for years, but there's been very little done on this topic, which has always surprised me.
On a recent foray to seek out research, I found this bibliography, which is pretty thin for such a big topic. CAPT maintains a listing of all research into psychological type. While it may not be complete, it's usually the best place to start.
The dominant ethos of people who work in psychological type is that it is a tool useful for personal growth and development, useful to help people communicate better, and good for organizational and management development applications. There is a real resistance to going outside that realm, as somehow cheapening the use of the MBTI instrument.
The result of this is that if you want to include personality type in marketing research, you are looking at custom work, for the most part.
There is one instrument I am aware of that incorporates psychological type in a meaningful way, and translates type preferences into values orientation. It's the Market Evaluer tool. I've heard Maddie Hamill speak at QRCA events, and have been intrigued to use the evaluer instrument in a project. [Which has not happened yet. I think they were offering free trials at the last conference, but being the ENTP type that I am, all the materials from that conference are still sitting in a pile on my credenza waiting to be sorted, filed, or otherwise utilized].
You don't have to get fancy with this stuff to take personality type into account, however. A considerable amount of research is readily available on type and career choices. So, for example, if you know you are marketing to nurses, you know you are dealing with people who are predominantly Feeling in their judging orientation: they make decisions based on what is good for people. Hospital administrators, on the other hand, don't share that outlook.
Virtually every profession has been studied in this way, from airline pilots to medical specialties. Not only this, but if you understand the language of type, you can see these patterns emerging often through how people communicate.
While type is a finely nuanced field, some of the big differentiators are readily apparent in people. whether we love routine or hate it; whether we love detail or hate it; whether we love closure or want to keep gathering new information; whether we value facts more or ideas more. And so on.
Where we go wrong in marketing
We all tend to wonder why the rest of the world is not more like us. And we communicate in ways that make sense to us. Here's the problem -- even if your temperament is shared by a lot of people, it's not shared by everyone.
Here's a good example in action. I just finished a project where I talked to a large number of retail sales people. They told me that customers didn't care for the aesthetics of the brand in question, much preferring the design qualities of brand y. I passed this information along to the project team. At which point, the brand manager said, "I don't understand that. I like the design of our brand much better than brand y."
Well, it's okay to say that. But it's a so-what as far as improving your marketing performance goes.
The rest of the world is not like you. You may have suspected this before. And now you know.
If you want to know more about psychological type, there are many links and resources listed here.
Temperament is a different lens for viewing psychological type, and the dominant thinker in temperament continues to be David Keirsey. His very informative web site is here.