Since psychology has come up with a multitude of proposals for classifying personality types.

Some with more scientific backing, others with more creative work behind them than reality, the criteria used to find different types of people vary so much that personality systems can be created to cover practically any need.

An example of this is the theory of the 4 unproductive personality types devised by Erich Fromm .

We recommend: “Erich Fromm: biography of a humanistic psychoanalyst”

Productivity according to Erich Fromm

As one of the pioneers of the humanist philosophy applied to psychology, Erich Fromm believed that personal development consists of fighting to gain one’s autonomy while creating bonds with others and their life projects. Thus, true productivity only appears when we relate the tasks we carry out with the conquest of our own freedom .

In other words, it is born from the moment we adopt a sincere commitment to the objectives to be achieved, a fact that only happens when this goal has a meaning that we relate to our own growth.

This implies, for example, that productivity is for Fromm much more than simply performing the greatest amount of work in the minimum time possible, but rather has to do with the way we embrace certain tasks in order to incorporate them into our own philosophy of life .

The Unproductive Personality Types

Based on this conception of productivity, Erich Fromm described some personality types that he called unproductive . He gave them this denomination because, as personality types, they pigeonhole human beings in a comfortable situation in which it is very easy to shirk responsibilities and adjust indefinitely the achievement of objectives related to personal development and the conquest of one’s autonomy.

These personality types have characteristics that are valued as positive, but nevertheless are not simply undesirable . Erich Fromm did not shy away from expressing the contradictions embodied in the different ways of life, and that is why he also identified some positive characteristics in each of these aspects of personality.

Therefore, if these personality forms deserve to be labeled as “unproductive” it is because some of their negative characteristics make us prone to fall into unrecommended work dynamics.

Related article: “10 excuses always used by unproductive people”

The unproductive personality types are as follows .

1. The merchant

Merchant people turn their philosophy of life into the sale of their own image . They try to climb socially thanks to their aesthetics and the social level reflected in their way of speaking, dressing, walking, etc. They turn themselves into a brand to be sold through a self-promotion campaign that lasts a lifetime.

This type of personality is unproductive because much of his work simply focuses on speculating with the value associated with his image .

However, these types of people also have desirable characteristics, such as their motivation and their ability to direct their efforts towards long-term projects.

2. The operator

People defined by this type of personality have, according to Fromm, a propensity to use for their own benefit many of the things they find , regardless of who produced them or who they belong to. In other words, they do not see much importance in earning what serves them to achieve their short-term goals.

Although this characteristic is negative, they also show desirable properties, such as self-confidence, self-reliance and initiative.

3. The receptive

People who show the receptive personality type would be characterized, according to Erich Fromm, by having a good capacity for acceptance and tending to dedicate themselves selflessly to their tasks . However, they also tend to be passive and conformist, as well as preferring to run away from conflicts and confrontation of ideas.

They show ease in legitimizing the present state of things, however harmful and unjust it may be, and they can also transform work teams into a sounding board in which the leader’s ideas are always received with approval, even if they are tremendously bad.

4. The accumulator

Accumulators are prone to a materialistic mentality in which even the people around us (friends, family, etc.) are seen as resources in themselves. That is why individuals defined by this type of personality value highly the “possession” of socially and economically well-placed friends, and accumulate this type of assets to make their value become their own.

The positive side of this type of person is that they are very goal-oriented and obtain clear results, as well as avoiding unnecessary expenditure of resources.

The application to business and organizations

This part of Erich Fromm’s theory can be applied to many organizations and work teams, since refers to aspects of personality that can be present in professionals of any field .

However, to fully understand the way in which Fromm understood the nature of these features it is good to go into the work of this author, since the philosophical and psychoanalytical background of this author makes it difficult to separate this part of his ideas from his whole theoretical legacy.