Misidentifying Fours and Sixes

While there are real similarities between the two types, there are even more differences. The principal difference is that Sixes are usually extremely appealing and relate well to people; they have the ability to unconsciously engage the emotions of others so that others will like them and form secure relationships with them. Fours, in contrast, do not relate primarily to people but to their own inner emotional states. Fours take it for granted that they are alone in life, and find it difficult to form bonds with others—something that comes easily to Sixes. The psychic structures of the two types are also very different: Fours are true introverts, while Sixes are a blend of introversion and extroversion—true ambiverts who possess qualities of both orientations.

Confusion arises between these types principally on the part of Sixes who think that they are Fours for two main reasons. First, some Sixes identify with the negative side of the Four (depression, inferiority, self-doubt, and hopelessness, for example) and think they must be Fours because they recognize similar traits in themselves. The difference lies in the motivations for these traits. For example, while all the types can become depressed, Fours do so because they are disappointed with themselves for having lost some opportunity to actualize themselves. They become depressed when they realize that in their search for self, they have gone down a blind alley and now must pay the price. Unhealthy, depressed Fours are essentially angry with themselves for bringing this on themselves or for allowing it to happen.

By contrast, Sixes become depressed when they fear that they have done something to make their authority figure mad at them. Their depression is a response to their self-disparagement; it comes from the fear that the authority is angry with them and will punish them. Thus, the depression of Sixes is exogenous (coming from the outside) and can be relieved by a word of reassurance from the authority. This is not the case with Fours whose depression is endogenous (coming from the inside), a response to their self-accusations.

Second, we have characterized the Four as The Individualist , and some Sixes who are artistic think that they therefore must be Fours. However, as noted above in the discussion of Fours and Nines, artistic talent is not the sole domain of Fours, so it is entirely possible for Sixes to be artists of one kind or another. Even so, there are important differences in the creative work produced by these two types.

In general, Sixes tend to be performing artists, while Fours tend to be original creators. Sixes are more likely to be actors or musicians than poets and playwrights, more likely to perform the words or music of someone else than to create it themselves. Even those Sixes who are creative tend either to be traditionalists, creating within firmly established rules and styles, or they go to an extreme and become rebellious, reacting against traditionalism–such as rock stars and experimental novelists who purposely defy traditional forms. In either case, both tradition and reactions against it are an important aspect of their art. The themes typically found in the art of Sixes have to do with belonging, security, family, politics, country, and common values.

Creative Fours, by contrast, are individualists who go their own way to explore their feelings and other subjective personal states. The artistic products of Fours are much less involved either with following a tradition or with reacting against it. Fours are less apt to use political or communal experiences as the subject matter for their work, choosing instead the movements of their own souls, their personal revelations, the darkness and light they discover in themselves as they become immersed in the creative process. By listening to their inner voices, even average Fours may speak to the universal person or fail to communicate to anyone, at least to their contemporaries. They may be ahead of their time not because they are trying to be rebellious or avant-garde, but because they develop their own forms to express their personal point of view. What is important to Fours is not the tradition but personal truth. Tradition is no more than a backdrop against which Fours play out their own personal dramas. Compare and contrast the personalities of Rudolf Nureyev and Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky (Fours) with those of Mikhail Baryshnikov and Johannes Brahms (Sixes) for further similarities and differences.