Personality types and choice of medical specialties among medical students in Ghana
UNIVERSITY OF GHANA MEDICAL SCHOOL
COLLEGE OF HEALTH SCIENCES ACCRA, GHANA
DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY HEALTH
PERSONALITY TYPES AND CHOICE OF MEDICAL SPECIALTY AMONG MEDICAL STUDENTS IN
BY DR. BERNARD FIIFI BRAKATU
1.0. PERSONALITY TYPES AND CHOICE OF MEDICAL SPECIALTY AMONG MEDICAL
STUDENTS IN UGMS
The objective of the study was to first appreciate the distribution of the various personality types
amongst medical students in Ghana and then to explore the interests or choice of medical specialty
among University of Ghana Medical School (UGMS) students taking note of any particular drifts in
distribution. Inferences were then made to tie-in the correlations between the choice of medical
specialty and the personality types. A cross-sectional study was carried out in a representative
sample of medical students from MB2 to final year at UGMS
2.2. PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
Most of the statistical findings and data regarding personality types and medical specialty originate
from the western cultures such as “Personality profiling of the modern surgical trainee: insights
into generation X” by Swanson JA et al. and therefore do not necessarily apply elsewhere as
confounding variables peculiar to different societies could account for drifts towards certain
No study has been published on the PubMed database that analyzes the correlation of personality
type and choice of medical specialty in Africa, thus leaving a lot of questions to be answered: What
is the distribution of personality types among medical students in Ghana? Is there a particularly
dominant personality type among medical students in Ghana? Does the personality type of
Ghanaian medical students reveal any pattern of drift to particular specialties?
To determine the random distribution of personality types among medical students at UGMS,
random survey about specialty interests among the medical students, to explore possible factors
that influence the choice of specialty and to find out any pattern between the specialty choice and
the personality type among the medical students.
1. To explore the interests or choice of medical specialty among UGMS students
2. To explore the various personality types among random students at UGMS
3. To tie-in the correlations between the choice of medical specialty and the personality type
4. To explore other factors that influences the choice of specialty among medical students at UGMS
3.1 STUDY LOCATION
The study would be done at the campus of the University of Ghana Medical School, in Korle-bu,
3.2. STUDY DESIGN
3.2.1. TYPE OF STUDY: This will be a cross-sectional study
3.2.2. STUDY POPULATION: This study will be under taken among students at the University of
Ghana Medical School
3.2.3. SAMPLE SIZE AND TECHNIQUE VARIABLES: The sample size would be 150 students
selected by a systematic sampling method
3.2.4. INCLUSION AND EXCLUSION CRITERIA: Only University of Ghana Medical Students would
be allowed to participate in this study and participants in any academic year would be allowed to
3.2.5. TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES OF DATA COLLECTION: The study tool to be used is a 20-item
questionnaire containing both open and close-ended questions. The questionnaire shall contain
technical questions adapted from MBTI and other personality typing modules that bears the
cultural and local relevance of the Ghanaian medical student. The questionnaire will seek to classify
the medical student into one of the 16 personality types suggested by the MBTI module.
3.2.6. DATA ANALYSIS: Collated data would be analyzed using these software: Microsoft Excel
2012 and SPSS version 16.0 for Windows
3.2.7. ETHICAL ISSUES: No compulsion whatsoever would be placed on any student to participate
in this study. Willing participants would be assured of their privacy and anonymity, and the study
shall be explained to them in full detail. Their full consent would be sought before administering the
Carl Gustav Jung (26 July 1875 – 6 June 1961) was a Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist who
founded analytical psychology. Jung created some of the best known psychological concepts,
including the archetype, the collective unconscious, the complex, and synchronicity. Jung states that
there are two differing attitudes toward life--two different modes of reacting to circumstances. No
one lives completely as one type or the other; your type might be innate, at least your type begins
very early in life. .
Extroverted attitude: a standpoint characterized by an outward flowing of personal energy
(libido)an interest in events, in people and things, a relationship with them and a dependence on
Introverted Attitude: characterized by an inward flowing of personal energy; The introvert is
usually happy alone with a rich imagination, and prefers reflection to activity.
The modern 16 personality type evolved from this broad classification by Carl Jung
THE 16 PERSONALITY TYPES
A succinct description of the traits of each of the 16 personality types has been outlined below and a
pseudonym adapted from the MBTI that embodies the traits given to each type has been stated to
facilitate understanding of the personality types.
ISTJ - The Duty Fulfiller
Serious and quiet, interested in security and peaceful living. Extremely thorough, responsible, and
dependable. Well-developed powers of concentration. Usually interested in supporting and
promoting traditions and establishments. Well-organized and hardworking, they work steadily
towards identified goals. They can usually accomplish any task once they have set their mind to it.
ISTP - The Mechanic
Quiet and reserved, interested in how and why things work. Excellent skills with mechanical things.
Risk-takers who they live for the moment. Usually interested in and talented at extreme sports.
Uncomplicated in their desires. Loyal to their peers and to their internal value systems, but not
overly concerned with respecting laws and rules if they get in the way of getting something done.
Detached and analytical, they excel at finding solutions to practical problems.
ISFJ - The Nurturer
Quiet, kind, and conscientious. Can be depended on to follow through. Usually puts the needs of
others above their own needs. Stable and practical, they value security and traditions. Well-
developed sense of space and function. Rich inner world of observations about people. Extremely
perceptive of other's feelings. Interested in serving others.
ISFP - The Artist
Quiet, serious, sensitive and kind. Do not like conflict, and not likely to do things which may
generate conflict. Loyal and faithful. Extremely well-developed senses, and aesthetic appreciation
for beauty. Not interested in leading or controlling others. Flexible and open-minded. Likely to be
original and creative. Enjoy the present moment.
INFJ - The Protector
Quietly forceful, original, and sensitive. Tend to stick to things until they are done. Extremely
intuitive about people, and concerned for their feelings. Well-developed value systems which they
strictly adhere to. Well-respected for their perseverance in doing the right thing. Likely to be
individualistic, rather than leading or following.
INFP - The Idealist
Quiet, reflective, and idealistic. Interested in serving humanity. Well-developed value system, which
they strive to live in accordance with. Extremely loyal. Adaptable and laid-back unless a strongly-
held value is threatened. Usually talented writers. Mentally quick, and able to see possibilities.
Interested in understanding and helping people.
INTJ - The Scientist
Independent, original, analytical, and determined. Have an exceptional ability to turn theories into
solid plans of action. Highly value knowledge, competence, and structure. Driven to derive meaning
from their visions. Long-range thinkers. Have very high standards for their performance, and the
performance of others. Natural leaders, but will follow if they trust existing leaders.
INTP - The Thinker
Logical, original, creative thinkers. Can become very excited about theories and ideas. Exceptionally
capable and driven to turn theories into clear understandings. Highly value knowledge, competence
and logic. Quiet and reserved, hard to get to know well. Individualistic, having no interest in leading
or following others.
ESTP - The Doer
Friendly, adaptable, action-oriented. "Doers" who are focused on immediate results. Living in the
here-and-now, they're risk-takers who live fast-paced lifestyles. Impatient with long explanations.
Extremely loyal to their peers, but not usually respectful of laws and rules if they get in the way of
getting things done. Great people skills.
ESTJ - The Guardian
Practical, traditional, and organized. Likely to be athletic. Not interested in theory or abstraction
unless they see the practical application. Have clear visions of the way things should be. Loyal and
hard-working. Like to be in charge. Exceptionally capable in organizing and running activities.
"Good citizens" who value security and peaceful living.
ESFP - The Performer
People-oriented and fun-loving, they make things more fun for others by their enjoyment. Living for
the moment, they love new experiences. They dislike theory and impersonal analysis. Interested in
serving others. Likely to be the center of attention in social situations. Well-developed common
sense and practical ability.
ESFJ - The Caregiver
Warm-hearted, popular, and conscientious. Tend to put the needs of others over their own needs.
Feel strong sense of responsibility and duty. Value traditions and security. Interested in serving
others. Need positive reinforcement to feel good about themselves. Well-developed sense of space
ENFP - The Inspirer
Enthusiastic, idealistic, and creative. Able to do almost anything that interests them. Great people
skills. Need to live life in accordance with their inner values. Excited by new ideas, but bored with
details. Open-minded and flexible, with a broad range of interests and abilities.
ENFJ - The Giver
Popular and sensitive, with outstanding people skills. Externally focused, with real concern for how
others think and feel. Usually dislike being alone. They see everything from the human angle, and
dislike impersonal analysis. Very effective at managing people issues, and leading group
discussions. Interested in serving others, and probably place the needs of others over their own
ENTP - The Visionary
Creative, resourceful, and intellectually quick. Good at a broad range of things. Enjoy debating
issues, and may be into "one-up-manship". They get very excited about new ideas and projects, but
may neglect the more routine aspects of life. Generally outspoken and assertive. They enjoy people
and are stimulating company. Excellent ability to understand concepts and apply logic to find
ENTJ - The Executive
Assertive and outspoken - they are driven to lead. Excellent ability to understand difficult
organizational problems and create solid solutions. Intelligent and well-informed, they usually excel
at public speaking. They value knowledge and competence, and usually have little patience with
inefficiency or disorganization.
Personality typing is an integral part of modern psychology that seeks to first understand the core
behavioral nuances of individuals and to classify them into various blocks that clearly shows the
distinct traits of individuals of a particular personality type.
There have been many attempts to classify personalities by various groups. Personality type is
sometimes referred to as temperament. Personality typing embodies a combination of mental,
behavioral and emotional traits of individuals, making their natural predispositions and interests
One of the more influential ideas originated in the theoretical work of Carl Jung as published in the
book Psychological Types. The original German language edition, Psychologische Typen, was first
published by Rascher Verlag, Zurich in 1921. Typologies such as Socionics, the MBTI assessment,
and the Keirsey Temperament Sorter have roots in Jungian philosophy.
Carl Gustav Jung was born July 26, 1875, in the small Swiss village of Kessewil. His father was Paul
Jung, a country parson, and his mother was Emilie Preiswerk Jung. He was surrounded by a fairly
well educated extended family, including quite a few clergymen and some eccentrics as well.
The elder Jung started Carl on Latin when he was six years old, beginning a long interest in
language and literature -- especially ancient literature. Besides most modern
western European languages, Jung could read several ancient ones, including
Sanskrit, the language of the original Hindu holy books.
Carl was a rather solitary adolescent, who didn't care much for school, and
especially couldn't take competition. He went to boarding school in Basel,
Switzerland, where he found himself the object of a lot of jealous harassment.
He began to use sickness as an excuse, developing an embarrassing tendency to
faint under pressure.
Although his first career choice was archeology, he went on to study medicine
at the University of Basel. While working under the famous neurologist Krafft-Ebing, he settled on
psychiatry as his career.
After graduating, he took a position at the Burghoeltzli Mental Hospital in Zurich under Eugene
Bleuler, an expert on (and the namer of) schizophrenia. In 1903, he married Emma Rauschenbach.
He also taught classes at the University of Zurich, had a private practice, and invented word
association at this time!
Long an admirer of Freud, he met him in Vienna in 1907. The story goes that after they met, Freud
canceled all his appointments for the day, and they talked for 13 hours straight, such was the
impact of the meeting of these two great minds! Freud eventually came to see Jung as the crown
prince of psychoanalysis and his heir apparent.
But Jung had never been entirely sold on Freud's theory. Their relationship began to cool in 1909,
during a trip to America. They were entertaining themselves by analyzing each other’s dreams
(more fun, apparently, than shuffleboard), when Freud seemed to show an excess of resistance to
Jung's efforts at analysis. Freud finally said that they'd have to stop because he was afraid he would
lose his authority! Jung felt rather insulted.
World War I was a painful period of self-examination for Jung. It was, however, also the beginning
of one of the most interesting theories of personality the world has ever seen.
After the war, Jung traveled widely, visiting, for example, tribal people in Africa, America, and India.
He retired in 1946, and began to retreat from public attention after his wife died in 1955. He died
on June 6, 1961, in Zurich.
Jung's theory divides the psyche into three parts. The first is the ego, which Jung identifies with the
conscious mind. Closely related is the personal unconscious, which includes anything which is not
presently conscious, but can be. The personal unconscious is like most people's understanding of
the unconscious in that it includes both memories that are easily brought to mind and those that
have been suppressed for some reason. But it does not include the instincts that Freud would have
But then Jung adds the part of the psyche that makes his theory stand out from all others: the
collective unconscious. You could call it your "psychic inheritance." It is the reservoir of our
experiences as a species, a kind of knowledge we are all born with. And yet we can never be directly
conscious of it. It influences all of our experiences and behaviors, most especially the emotional
ones, but we only know about it indirectly, by looking at those influences.
There are some experiences that show the effects of the collective unconscious more clearly than
others: The experiences of love at first sight, of deja vu (the feeling that you've been here before),
and the immediate recognition of certain symbols and the meanings of certain myths, could all be
understood as the sudden conjunction of our outer reality and the inner reality of the collective
unconscious. Grander examples are the creative experiences shared by artists and musicians all
over the world and in all times, or the spiritual experiences of mystics of all religions, or the
parallels in dreams, fantasies, mythologies, fairy tales, and literature.
A nice example that has been greatly discussed recently is the near-death experience. It seems that
many people, of many different cultural backgrounds, find that they have very similar recollections
when they are brought back from a close encounter with death. They speak of leaving their bodies,
seeing their bodies and the events surrounding them clearly, of being pulled through a long tunnel
towards a bright light, of seeing deceased relatives or religious figures waiting for them, and of their
disappointment at having to leave this happy scene to return to their bodies. Perhaps we are all
"built" to experience death in this fashion.
Jung’s Personality Modules
The first of Jung’s general psychological types was the general attitude type. An attitude, according
to Jung, is a person’s predisposition to behave in a particular way. There are two opposing
attitudes: introversion and extroversion. The two attitudes work as opposing, yet complementary
forces and are often depicted as the classing yin and yang symbol.
The introvert is most aware of his or her inner world. While the external world is still perceived, it
is not pondered as seriously as inward movement of psychic energy. The introverted attitude is
more concerned with subjective appraisal and often gives more consideration to fantasies and
The extrovert, by contrast, is characterized by the outward movement of psychic energy. This
attitude places more importance on objectivity and gains more influence from the surrounding
environment than by inner cognitive processes.
Clearly, it is not a case of one versus the other. Many people carry qualities of both attitudes,
considering both subjective and objective information.
Jung’s Four Functions of Personality
For Carl Jung, there were four functions that, when combined with one of his two attitudes, formed
the eight different personality types. The first function — feeling — is the method by which a
person understands the value of conscious activity. Another function — thinking — allows a person
to understand the meanings of things. This process relies on logic and careful mental activity.
The final two functions — sensation and intuition — may seem very similar, but there is an
important distinction. Sensation refers to the means by which a person knows something exists and
intuition is knowing about something without conscious understanding of where that knowledge
The Eight Personality Types Defined by Carl Jung
Jung developed a theory of eight different personality types. Jung's personality types are as follows:
Extroverted Thinking – Jung theorized that people understand the world through a mix of
concrete ideas and abstract ones, but the abstract concepts are ones passed down from
other people. Extroverted thinkers are often found working in the research sciences and
Introverted Thinking – These individuals interpret stimuli in the environment through a
subjective and creative way. The interpretations are informed by internal knowledge and
understanding. Philosophers and theoretical scientists are often introverted thinking-
Extroverted Feeling – These people judge the value of things based on objective fact.
Comfortable in social situations, they form their opinions based on socially accepted values
and majority beliefs. They are often found working in business and politics.
Introverted Feeling – These people make judgments based on subjective ideas and on
internally established beliefs. Oftentimes they ignore prevailing attitudes and defy social
norms of thinking. Introverted feeling people thrive in careers as art critics.
Extroverted Sensing – These people perceive the world as it really exists. Their perceptions
are not colored by any pre-existing beliefs. Jobs that require objective review, like wine
tasters and proofreaders, are best filled by extroverted sensing people.
Introverted Sensing – These individuals interpret the world through the lens of subjective
attitudes and rarely see something for only what it is. They make sense of the environment
by giving it meaning based on internal reflection. Introverted sensing people often turn to
various arts, including portrait painting and classical music.
Extroverted Intuitive – These people prefer to understand the meanings of things through
subliminally perceived objective fact rather than incoming sensory information. They rely
on hunches and often disregard what they perceive directly from their senses. Inventors
that come upon their invention via a stroke of insight and some religious reformers are
characterized by the extraverted intuitive type.
Introverted Intuitive – These individuals, Jung thought, are profoundly influenced by their
internal motivations even though they do not completely understand them. They find
meaning through unconscious, subjective ideas about the world. Introverted intuitive
people comprise a significant portion of mystics, surrealistic artists, and religious fanatics.
Applying Jung’s Orientations to a Complete Personality
A person is not usually defined by only one of the eight personality types. Instead, the different
functions exist in a hierarchy. One function will take have a superior effect and another will have a
secondary effect. Usually, according to Jung, a person only makes significant use of two functions.
The other two take inferior positions.
In his 1921 work, Psychological Types, Jung compared his four functions of personality to the four
points on a compass. While a person faces one direction, he or she still uses the other points as a
guide. Most people keep one function as the dominant one although some people may develop two
over a lifetime. It is only the person who achieves self-realization that has completely developed all
According to Carl G. Jung’s typology human consciousness is characterized by its preference of the
Extraverted vs. Introverted
It is also characterized by its preferences within the two pairs of its mental functions:
Sensing - Intuition
Thinking - Feeling
The three parameters introduced by Jung are dichotomies (i.e. bipolar dimensions where each pole
represents an opposite preference). Jung proposed that in a person one of the mental functions is
going to be dominant.
Isabel Briggs Myers introduced the fourth dichotomy with the opposite poles of judging and
Judging – Perceiving
This parameter helps to determine which of the Jungian mental functions is dominant.
All possible permutations of the 4 criteria above yield 16 different combinations representing
which of the opposite poles in each of the four dichotomies dominates in a person, thus defining 16
different personality types.
The 16 personality types can be identified by a combination of 4 letters (a personality type name)
corresponding to the opposite poles in each of the four dichotomies:
The 16 Personality Types
ISTJ ISFJ INFJ INTJ
ISTP ISFP INFP INTP
ESTP ESFP ENFP ENTP
ESTJ ESFJ ENFJ ENTJ
The first letter in a personality type name corresponds to the first letter of the attitude preference
(“E” for extraversion and “I” for introversion).
The second letter in a personality type name corresponds to the preference within sensing-
intuition pair: “S” stands for sensing and “N” stands for intuition (to distinguish from “I” for
The third letter in a personality type name corresponds to preference within the thinking-feeling
pair: “T” stands for thinking and “F” stands for feeling.
The forth letter in a personality type name corresponds to a person’s preference within the judging-
perceiving pair: “J” for judging and “P” for perception.
ISTJ stands for an Introvert, Sensing, Thinking, Judging
ENFP stands for an Extravert, iNtuitive, Feeling, Perceiving
The basis of the 16 personality types simply seeks to explore four main concepts:
How an individual Prefers to Get Energized...
People who prefer extraversion tend to focus on the outside world and get energy through
interacting with people and doing things.
◆ Rapid speech.
◆ Appears to “think out loud,” talk things out.
◆ Louder voice volume.
People who prefer introversion tend to focus on the inner world and get energy through reflecting
on information, ideas and/or concepts.
◆ Pauses in answering or giving information.
◆ Appears to be thinking things through.
◆ Quieter voice volume.
◆ Shorter sentences, not run-on.
How an individual Prefers to Take in Information...
People who prefer sensing tend to notice and trust facts, details, and present realities. They like to
take in information through the five senses.
◆ Asks for step-by-step information or instruction.
◆ Asks about the present situation.
◆ Asks “what” and “how” questions.
◆ Uses precise descriptions.
People who prefer intuition tend to pay attention to and trust interrelationships, theories, and
future possibilities. They are drawn to the big picture.
◆ Asks for the purpose of an action.
◆ Asks for current and long-range implications.
◆ Asks “why” questions.
◆ Talks in general terms and possibilities.
How You Prefer to Make Decisions...
People who prefer thinking tend to make decisions using impartial, logical, and objective analysis.
They focus on the logical implications.
◆ Appears to be “testing you” or your knowledge.
◆ Weighs the “objective” evidence.
◆ Not impressed by what others decide.
◆ Conversations follow a pattern of checking logic, “if this, then that.”
People who prefer feeling tend to make decisions to create harmony by applying person-centered
values.They focus on the impact on people.
◆ Strives for harmony in the interaction.
◆ May talk about “values.”
◆ Asks how others have acted or resolved the situation.
◆ Matters to them whether others have been taken into account.
How You Prefer to Approach Life...
People who prefer perceiving tend to adopt a more spontaneous approach to life and are flexible,
adaptable, and like to keep their options open.
◆ Seems to want “space” to make own decisions.
◆ The tone is “let’s explore, what are some more factors to consider?”
◆ May decide at the “last moment.”
◆ Enjoys processing.
People who prefer judging tend to like a planned approach to life and are organized, orderly,
structured, and decisive. They want closure.
◆ Impatient with overly long descriptions, procedures.
◆ The tone is “hurry up, I want to make this decision.”
◆ May make decisions prematurely.
◆ Enjoys being “done.”
Over the sixty five plus years since its inception in 1943, the MBTI or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
® has evolved and been perfected through continual test research and development of ever more
accurate questions. Since it is considered a breach of professional ethics to administer an MBTI ®
without person-to-person follow-up verification by a qualified practitioner, none of the free
personality tests purporting to determine your MBTI or Myers Briggs Personality Type on the Web
are the "real thing." The Web is replete with "inventories" that purport to measure personality
types, psychological type or the 16 Myers Briggs personality types (like the David Keirsey type-
temperament indicator)! Besides only being approximations of the "real thing," I am aware of none
that have met commonly accepted psychometric standards for reliability and validity. Bottom-line.
While every inventory has room for improvement, the genuine MBTI ® is the "gold standard."
1. ^ Bernstein, Penner, Clarke-Stewart, & Roy (2008). Psychology, 8th edition. Boston, MA:
Houghton Mifflin Company.
2. ^ Totton and Jacobs (2001). Character and Personality Types. Philadelphia, PA: Open
3. ^ Bess, T.L. & Harvey, R.J. (2001). Bimodal score distributions and the MBTI: Fact or artifact?
Paper presented at the 2001 Annual Conference of the Society for Industrial and
Organizational Psychology, San Diego, USA.
4. ^ Furnham, A., & Crump, J. (2005). Personality Traits, Types, and Disorders: An Examination
of the Relationship Between Three Self-Report Measures. European Journal of Personality,
5. ^ Asendorpf, J. B. (2003). Head-to-head comparison of the predictive validity of personality
types and dimensions. European Journal of Personality, 17, 327–346.
6. ^ Pittenger, D. J. (2004). The limitations of extracting typologies from trait measures of
personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 37, 779–787.
7. ^ McCrae, R. R., Terracciano, A., Costa, P. T., & Ozer, D. J. (2006). Person-factors in the
California adult Q-set: Closing the door on personality types? European Journal of
Personality, 20, 29-44.
8. ^ "Bates, K. L. (2006). Type A personality not linked to heart disease". Retrieved 2006-11-
9. ^ Bottlender, Miriam; Preuss U., Soyka M. (2006). "Association of personality disorders with
Type A and Type B alcoholics.". European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience
256 (1): 55–61. doi:10.1007/s00406-005-0601-y. PMID 09401334. Retrieved 21 February
10. ^ Kagan, J. (1994). Galen's Prophecy: Temperament in Human Nature. New York: Basic
11. ^ Jung, Carl (1976). Campbell, Joseph. ed. The Portable Jung. New York, NY: Penguin Books.
12. ^ Myers, Isabel Briggs with Peter B. Myers (1980, 1995). Gifts Differing: Understanding
Personality Type. Mountain View, CA: Davies-Black Publishing. pp. xi–xii. ISBN 0-89106-074-
13. ^ Keirsey, David (May 1, 1998) . Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character,
Intelligence (1st Ed. ed.). Prometheus Nemesis Book Co. pp. 3. ISBN 1-885705-02-6.