I’m an ENTJ, what are you?

My roommate recently started reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, and after the first few pages, put down the book and asked me, “Are you an introvert or an extravert?”

Hmm…if I say extraverted does that make me appear arrogant? But if I say introverted, will I seem timid? What if I’m both? Wait. I think I am both. Is that possible? There’s no way.

Needless to say, my definitions of introverted and extraverted needed some help, and as we delved into a long discussion regarding personality types, my roommate and I came to the conclusion that a person could be both introverted and extraverted. Well duh, Carl Jung already told us this a century ago. Jung’s theories must have been put on the back burner, overshadowed by Freud’s psychosexual theories in my introductory psychology course.

Which brings me to my newest interest, the science of personality.

Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology, proposed and developed the concepts of extraverted and introverted personality, archetypes, and the collective unconscious in the early 1900s. Jung defined introversion as being focused on one’s inner psychic activity and extraversion being focused on external factors in the outside world. His theories inspired the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), which measures psychological preferences in how people interpret the world, which thus influences decision-making tendencies. The MBTI is intended to translate personality type theory into practical application, such as in the workplace. It is thought that workplace efficiency can be increased when an employee’s personality type is considered and catered to accordingly.

According to Jung and Myers-Briggs, the four principle psychological functions by which we experience the world are sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking; sensing and intuition are perceiving functions, and thinking and feeling are judging functions. Further, each of the functions can be expressed in an either introverted or extraverted form. The MBTI sorts these psychological functions as pairs, resulting in 16 possible personality types. For example:

ENTJ: entraversion (E), intuition (N), thinking (T), judgment (J)

Extroversion vs. Introversion indicates whether one directs attention and gets energy from the external world of people or the internal world of concepts and ideas. Introverts are powered by the inner worlds and can be social but thrive on alone time; they want to think more than talk and may create interconnected frameworks of abstract information. Extroverts find energy in people and socializing; they tend to think on their feet and thrive off interpersonal interaction.

Sensing vs. intuition indicates whether one perceives the world by observing reality or using their imagination. Sensing people rely on their five senses; they want facts. Intuitive people just have that “spidey-sense” about something that tells them it is right; they are innovative.

Thinking vs. feeling indicates a person’s preference in decision making. Thinkers take analysis, logic, and principle into consideration; they value fairness in making decisions. Feelers value empathy and harmony and focus on human values.

Judging vs. Perceiving tells us whether a person views the world as a structured or spontaneous environment. Judgers are decisive self-starters; they take action quickly and follow their plan of action. Perceivers are curious, adaptable and spontaneous; they may start many things that they never finish and like to leave their options open.

Obviously, the science of a personality is multi-faceted, plastic, and highly variable. It would be impossible to cover the topic in a textbook, let alone a blog post. Though I’m not entirely convinced that each person falls into a specific personality, I do agree that people fluctuate in their behavior all the time, and even extreme “introverts” and “extraverts” do not always act according to their type.

According to my personality test results, I’m an ENTJ. Apparently I’m a leader that values knowledge and competence, and usually has little patience with inefficiency or disorganization. This may be true, however, right now I am writing this blog instead of studying for my last final, which means–brace yourself–I’ve stepped outside of my personality type. But in this age of technology, innovation, and distraction, I really think I have to be a little of both to succeed, and that is exactly what I will strive to be.


Before I Leave UCSB I want to…

Inspired by Candy Chang’s “Before I die” project, we created an installation specific to the UC Santa Barbara student community for our Multimedia Writing course. From writing about ambitious dreams to promiscuous endeavors, students were invited to write without restrictions.

I hope you enjoy our vision coming to life!

Sleepless in Santa Barbara


Finals week supplies

It really is almost a daily routine during finals to be in a similar state of unhealthy delirium with your friends as a result of drowning in water coffee. Oh, and don’t forget those really healthy late-night food runs – yeah, I know which drive-thru’s are open 24 hours…

After doing this for three years, I now am wondering how we all do this. How do we manage to put 10 weeks of information into our minds in 48 hours, pushing our bodies to stay up later than we should and waking up earlier than we want to (if we even sleep at all)? I’m going to explore the biology of sleep – or lack thereof. 

Sleep deprivations causes an altered state of consciousness – hence, the delirium – which result in loss of cognitive and motor functions. In sleep-deprived humans, recordings of electrical activity along the scalp show that there are periods of lower activity where a human is in this altered state of consciousness despite being physically awake, but no research has proven why humans biologically need sleep. There is no smarty-pants scientific proven reason for why we need to those precious eight hours of snooze every night.

Randy Gardner holds the record for the longest period a human has gone without sleep without using stimulants. Though he did experience moodiness, problems with concentration and short-term memory, paranoia, and hallucinations while he was awake for 11 days, he suffered from absolutely no long term psychological or cognitive effects.

This blows my mind. But I guess makes me feel better about charging on with my studying, embracing my cognitively dysfunctional brain in all its glory. Oh, college…

Hit Me With Your Best Shot


The group at Paintball USA in Ventura, CA.

I went paintballing for my first of time. It hurt. But it probably was the most fun I’ve had thus far this year. So what is it about paintballing, about seeking thrill, that is so loved? Why do we seek out activities like paintballing to fill our time with?

Thrill is anywhere you want it and strives upon uncertainty. The more unsure you are of a situation, the more thrilling your mind interprets it to be. This is why, covered in paint and nudged between a tire and a hay stack, my trembling knees and I were having the time of our lives. I was unsure of my situation; anyone could come around the corner at any moment and shoot a hurdling paint-filled bullet of doom at me, or at my face, which apparently was the easiest target of the day.

Temple University psychologist and former president of the American Psychological Association, Frank Farley, has studied people with type T, or thrill seeking, personalities. He states that type T people bask in the uncertainty and intensity associated with activities from roller coasters to bungee jumping. According to Farley, “there’s almost nothing else, including sex, that can match it in terms of the incredible sensory experiences that the body is put through.”

David Zald, a psychologist at Vanderbilt University, conducted PET scan research and found that type T personalities have a reduced number of dopamine autoreceptors, which act as brakes to stop the release of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter most involved with motivation and reward, so it makes sense that a person with less “brakes” is more prone to seek out thrill. So what does Zald have to say about the subject matter? “Thrill seeking is one of the things that leads people to explore new things, to discover new things. The world would be a boring place if we didn’t have people who were willing to take the risks because they were so interested or drawn to the new and exciting.”

I don’t think he could have said it better. Everything in life we love, whether it be a sport, dating, gambling, or even traveling, has uncertainty that we inherently crave. I wouldn’t consider myself that much of a type T, but I really do find an unbeatable sense of satisfaction from activities without a finish line in sight. Something about not knowing what is going to come next helps me to embrace and accept challenge. Even if I have black and blue battle wounds to deal with now…

Revising the Resolution

ImageIt has been too long since I wrote. So long, in fact, that I actually am disappointed in myself. This morning I made a mental note that I had to at least write something today, so here it is:

I started my first week of winter quarter, and of course one of my resolutions for the new year is to get straight A’s this quarter. Even the look on my Mom’s face seeing that report card would be satisfying enough. The class I’m most excited for thus far is Journalism Writing. I went in expecting this class to be an introduction to reporting, but it is actually part of an interdisciplinary collaboration with a Photojournalism class and a Sociology class. The final project among the three groups will be a published portfolio with the theme of “Justice” with writing and photography laid out in an aesthetically outstanding way, with each class focusing on their own specialty. Pretty cool, I think. Plus, it has been quite a while since I’ve taken a class that is not science-related, so it should be a breath of fresh air.

I recently read an interesting article in The Wall Street Journal by Jonah Lehrer on the science behind failed resolutions. He states that willpower is a rare limited resource, and that 88% of resolutions fail according to a 2007 study of over 3,000 people. The prefrontal cortex of our brain is the area largely responsible for willpower, among other functions such as focus, short-term memory, and abstract problem solving.

In an experiment at Stanford University, several dozen undergraduate students were divided into two groups. One group was given a two-digit number to remember and the other group was given a seven-digit number. They were instructed to walk down the hall, after which they were given two different snack options: chocolate cake or fruit salad.

The results show that students given the seven-digit number were nearly twice as likely to choose the cake as the two-digit students. The reason, according to Stanford researchers, is that the extra digits filled space in the brain, making it harder for the prefrontal cortex to keep its willpower. Thus, the students are more likely to indulge. “In other words, willpower is so weak, and the prefrontal cortex is so overtaxed, that all it takes is five extra bits of information before the brain starts to give in to temptation.” A brain pre-occupied with problems resists what we want our willpower to do for us. Even moderation must be done in moderation.

So I am now going to alter my resolution. I do not want straight A’s; rather, I want to strengthen my study skills and spend more time focusing on school work rather than on doing nothing like I normally do between classes. I am going to be active and make good usage of my time during the day. What is your resolution?

If There’s One Thing I’m Not Going to Miss About College…


Local New Year’s Eve celebration this year with some of my best friends.

New Year’s Eve has come and gone, and with so many statuses complaining about hangoversInternational Hangover Daydrunk, dying, and every derivation of those words, I thought it would be mildly appropriate to write my blog tonight on the science of a hangover.

The Biology of a Hangover:

Upon consumption, alcohol enters the body and causes the pituitary gland in the brain to suppress the secretion of vasopressin, the body’s antidiuretic hormone. This causes the kidneys to send water directly to the bladder without reabsorbing it into the body, which is why the bathroom tends to be a popular spot at a party. Frequent urination also expels valuable salts and potassium, resulting in headaches, nausea, and fatigue. The liver also breaks down glycogen to glucose as a result of alcohol consumption, and this glucose is expelled from the body during urination, which results in weakness and fatigue the next morning.

Alcohol also inhibits glutamine, which is one of the body’s stimulant hormones. When the drinker stops drinking, the body produces more glutamine to overcompensate and this stimulates the brain while the drinker is sleeping, prohibiting the drinker from getting a real night’s sleep, contributing to exhaustion and fatigue.

Because alcohol is absorbed directly through the stomach lining, the cells that line the organ quickly become irritated. An excess amount of hydrochloric acid is also produced in the stomach as a result of drinking, which sends a message to the brain that the stomach is irritated, prompting the common response known as puking, yaking, barfing, throwing up…you get the picture.

The next morning, the body feels all the effects of the many avenues of dehydration, which present themselves commonly in the form of dry mouth and headaches, as the brain decreases in size and strains the membranes connecting it to the skull when dehydrated.

Different types of alcohol are responsible for different types of hangovers, it turns out, because of the varying concentrations of congeners, which are byproducts of fermentation. The greatest amoung of congeners are found in red wine and dark liquors. Additionally, combining alcohol also can result in severe hangovers because of the incompatibility of the varying impurities.

I’m sure no one really wants to know what alcohol is doing to the inside of their body, so I’m just going to keep it short and sweet. We’ve all been there, and being in college I know I have plenty more hangovers to look forward to.

Blame it on the Altitude


Mt. Whitney (in the background behind us), the highest summit in the contiguous United States at 14,505 feet. Oh, and these are my best friends. Nothing beats coming home to them.

I feel so horrible for not writing in so long, but I went on a trip over the last few days to Mammoth to ski and snowboard before New Years. No internet access felt so unfamiliar, yet refreshing at the same time. Of course, I expected there to be tons of snow considering Mammoth had the most snow in the world this time last year, but sadly the few runs that were open were covered by icy man-made snow and the sides of the trails were lined with dirt. I guess global warming really is happening…

Aside from the lack of a winter wonderland atmosphere, there’s nothing quite like being in a cabin with ten of your best childhood friends. It really feels like home and reminds me how lucky I am to have been raised in a small town among great people.

During my trip, I noticed that quite a few people had headaches, nausea, and other uneasy symptoms. I had a fever for a day and horrible stomach pains, which I later found out was food poisoning…but that’s a story for another time. Going from sea level to up to 11,059 feet really can’t be easy on the body physically, and it sparked my curiosity to look up altitude sickness:

Altitude sickness is a pathological effect of high altitude caused by reduced air pressure and lower oxygen levels usually at altitudes exceeding 8,000 feet. Altitude sickness usually occurs following rapid ascent, as your body cannot get as much oxygen as it needs due to the “thin” air at high altitudes. It causes symptoms similar to a flu or hangover, such as headache, nausea, and fatigue. There are no specific factors, such as age, race, gender, or weight, that make one more susceptible to altitude sickness than another. According to altitude.org, some scientists believe altitude sickness is caused by swelling of the brain which could cause a small increase in the pressure inside the skull and lead to symptoms of altitude sickness. The swelling may be due to increased blood flow to the brain or leakiness of blood vessels in the brain, but research on this theory is not conclusive. The best way to avoid these symptoms is to ascent slowly and take it easy the first couple days at a heightened elevation. Your body can only help you as much as you help it.

And if you’re wondering, altitude sickness rarely occurs in airplanes because the cabin is pressurized to maintain a barometric pressure equivalent to that at 8,000 feet, which is tolerable by most. For those that are affected, there are always those handy barf bags…

Hope everyone has a great New Years tomorrow! Stay safe and make sure to share all your stories with me! May 2012 bring prosperity, laughter, and love.