A New Approach to The Eight-Function Model
Most MBTI® practitioners use a standard formula to introduce Type. This formula involves asking clients to self select on each dimension through either a series of guided activities (for a group) or targeted questions (with individuals). This model provides a basic understanding of Type and has served the Type community for more than a half century. Yet, there is a limitation with this approach, the tendency for clients to think of type as sixteen personality categories with little to no flexibility. The eight-function model offers clients a chance to experience the richness of type dynamics and the "flavoring" provided by the function-in-attitude.

The added complexity of the eight-function model makes it a more flexible approach to type. The added complexity also poses a challenge. How do practitioners present the richness of this model in a simple and easily understood manner? Type Resources has approached this challenge by using a training aid most of us can understand…food. We compare the psyche and its functions-in-attitude with the ingredients that go into a good batch of party mix.

A Quick History of the Party Mix Approach
About two years ago, Bob McAlpine, president of Type Resources, contacted me about developing a new way to present type dynamics to clients. We discussed drawing some kind of analogy with food. We looked at cakes, sodas and salads. Bob liked the salad idea and felt we could draw an analogy between the salad dressing and the attitudes. This set off a chain of Extroverted iNtuiting, Introverted Sensing and finally Introverted iNtuiting thoughts. The result is our party mix approach.

There is a holiday tradition at our home that revolves around party mix. Every year my daughter, Cassandra and I spend the Thursday after Thanksgiving refilling our turkey roaster with an overly large batch of homemade party mix. We took over this tradition from my mother-in-law, Lenore. Lenore makes wonderful party mix. When we took over the tradition, we started with a great recipe and slightly altered it to meet our personal preferences. Our favorite ingredient is nuts, so we load a heaping helping of nuts into the mix. When Cassandra eats the party mix, she finds herself picking out the nuts and eating them first. But she also eats the cereal, pretzels, etc. Cassandra eats nuts first and balances the nuts with other ingredients.

I should note that we began working on the idea of comparing type dynamics to food around Thanksgiving. As Cassandra and I were pouring the ingredients into the turkey roaster, I reflected on how we picked out the nuts, but still wanted the nuts balanced with other ingredients. Type was the last thing on my mind. But, being an INTJ, I could reflect on the past only so long. About the time I added the second batch of nuts, a flash of Introverted iNtuition hit me like a two-by-four. We ate party mix the same way we use the functions-in-attitude.

The Mix, the Whole Mix and Nothing but the Mix
Baking that much party mix is somewhat of a chore. Cassandra and I could just buy several jars of seasoned nuts. But it wouldn't be the same. We don't want nuts. We want party mix. What makes the nuts taste so good are the other ingredients of party mix. Cassandra needs all the ingredients to have a complete batch of party mix. It is that unique mixture which not just Cassandra, but her friends and family look forward to each year. It is wonderful and worth the effort.

Adding a Little Attitude to Our Mix
One of the things that make this mix so wonderful is its secret ingredient. That ingredient is Italian salad dressing. You really can't taste the Italian dressing, but there is a certain "zing" to the mix. Cassandra is not particularly fond of Italian salad dressing. If someone recommended she try some party mix that tastes really delicious because it has Italian dressing in it, Cassandra would politely pass. But it is a key ingredient, just like the nuts are. Even though Cassandra doesn't like Italian dressing, it is as essential to the flavor of the whole mix as the nuts are. Cassandra would not like the mix nearly as much without the dressing (I know this because I have made the party mix with butter and seasoned salt; it's not the same).

We compare the salad dressing to an attitude. Just as the salad dressing attaches itself to the dry ingredients of the mix, attitudes attach themselves to functions, giving those functions more meaning and definition.

Putting the Party Mix to Practical Use
There are many more analogies to draw between party mix and the eight-function model. There are also some practical ways to use party mix when introducing the eight-function model to a group. Here are some ideas you might want to try:

1) Use party mix as a training aid to introduce each of the mental functions. Ask participants to:
  1. Use their five senses to experience the party mix (Extroverted Sensing)
  2. Recall a memory related to the mix (Introverted Sensing)
  3. Imagine all the possible uses for the party mix (Extroverted iNtuiting)
  4. Look for any symbolism in the party mix (Introverted Intuiting)
  5. Arrange the party mix (Extroverted Thinking)
  6. Categorize the party mix (Introverted Thinking)
  7. Use the party mix to benefit others (Extroverted Feeling)
  8. Place a piece of party mix in their hands and reflect on their most strongly held personal values (Introverted Feeling)
2) Use the party mix as a tool for dividing participants into function-in-attitude groups and then let participants practice using that function-in-attitude.
  1. Ask participants to pick their favorite ingredient in the party mix.
  2. Ask participants to pick their next favorite ingredient in the party mix.
  3. Ask participants to pick their least favorite ingredient in the party mix.
  4. Ask participants to pick their next least favorite ingredient in the party mix.
  5. Relate/connect the ingredients to the functions-in-attitude that are most preferred and least preferred.
3) Use the party mix to demonstrate being "in the grip" of a less used function or out of balance by overusing a function.
  1. Mix up a batch with too much salad dressing or Worcestershire sauce.
  2. Mix up a batch with far more nuts than cereal and one with more cereal than nuts.
  3. Mix up a batch of regular mix.
  4. Ask participants to taste each batch.
  5. Discuss the participants' reactions to the various mixes.
Draw an analogy between the party mix batches and being in the grip or being out of balance.

Recipe for Party Mix

  • 16 oz of corn Chex (1 box)
  • 16 oz of rice Chex (1 box)
  • 8 oz of Cheerios (½ box)
  • 4 oz of small or crushed Melba toast
  • 16 to 32 oz small pretzels (1 or 2 bags)
  • 1 to 2 32 oz jars of dry roasted salted peanuts
  • ½ to 1 lb pecan halves
  • ¼ to ½ lb walnuts halves
  • 1 bottle (16 oz) of Italian salad dressing
  • 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ teaspoons of soy sauce
    Pre heat oven to 250° Fahrenheit.
  1. Pour a small amount of salad dressing into the roaster (or very large Dutch oven).
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a very large bowl and separate into thirds.
  3. Mix liquid ingredients in a separate bowl.
  4. Pour ¹/3 of the dry ingredients and ¹/3 of liquid the ingredients into the turkey roaster. Gently fold ingredients.
  5. Repeat with each of the thirds.
  6. Mix gently but well, until party mix is thoroughly coated with the salad dressing mixture.
  7. Bake uncovered for 1 hour. Party mix will need to be gently stirred (or folded) about every 15 minutes.