RE: Techwriting and Personality

Subject: RE: Techwriting and Personality
From: Barry Maid <bmmaid -at- prodigy -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2001 18:48:19 -0400 (EDT)


> I saw something interesting on the net -- and thought I'd
> throw it out for
> discussion. It's definitely a much more fluffy discussion
> than the legal/ethics
> thread (which I enjoyed tremendously). I read that technical
> writing is a good
> career fit for those of writers with the ISTJ personality
> type (this is Myer's
> Briggs by the way). I found that to be interesting since my
> type is somewhere
> between INFP and ENFP -- the exact opposite of ISTJ. Any
> thoughts on the
> validity of the ISTJ-techwriting claim?

You've forced me out of lurkdom. As someone who is a qualified MBTI user, someone who has researched the connections between personality and writing, and someone who has taught tech comm for a long time, let me say that trying to decide you want a career in tech comm by first looking at personality type is not only a clumsy way of doing things, it's also a misuse of the MBTI.

I do think MBTI can tell us much about ourselves, how we act or react, how we respond to others, and, what I'm especially interested in, how we engage in certain intellectual processes--like composing, revision, and so forth.

Now the Center for the Application of Psychological Type does keep an Atlas of type and professions. Some types do seem to migrate towards certain professions. That doesn't mean, however, that if you're a certain type, you'll have the skills to perform in any particular profession. For example, ISTJ's (the type you mentioned) are found in great numbers in both law enforcement officers and surgeons. We all know the skill sets for those two professions are identical with one another and with the skills needed to be a good tech writer.

Barry Maid
Barry -dot- Maid -at- asu -dot- edu


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