Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Follies-Presidents and Personality

As we bring this 2012 election season to a close, people have discussed the personality of the two men running for President extensively. One of the measures used to discuss personality is the Myers-Briggs test. A quick explanation of the Myers-Briggs personality test, courtesy Wikipedia:

Jung's typological model regards psychological type as similar to left or right handedness: individuals are either born with, or develop, certain preferred ways of thinking and acting. The MBTI sorts some of these psychological differences into four opposite pairs, or dichotomies, with a resulting 16 possible psychological types. None of these types are better or worse; however, Briggs and Myers theorized that individuals naturally prefer one overall combination of type differences.[1]:9 In the same way that writing with the left hand is hard work for a right-hander, so people tend to find using their opposite psychological preferences more difficult, even if they can become more proficient (and therefore behaviorally flexible) with practice and development.

The 16 types are typically referred to by an abbreviation of four letters—the initial letters of each of their four type preferences (except in the case of intuition, which uses the abbreviation N to distinguish it from Introversion). For instance:
ESTJ: extraversion (E), sensing (S), thinking (T), judgment (J)INFP: introversion (I), intuition (N), feeling (F), perception (P)

And so on for all 16 possible type combinations.

For those people out there who don't already know their type, here is a link to the test which will reveal your Myers-Briggs personality type:

To bring this into the political realm, what are the Mitt Romney's Barack Obama's Myers-Briggs types?

I'll analyze Mitt Romney first, because his personality type is a lot more obvious.  It seems to me, and most other observers, that Romney is an ENTJ, or the Field Marshal.  His type is described as thus:

ENTJs focus on the most efficient and organized means of performing a task. This quality, along with their goal orientation, often makes ENTJs superior leaders, both realistic and visionary in implementing a long-term plan. ENTJs tend to be fiercely independent in their decision making, having a strong will that insulates them against external influence. Generally highly competent, ENTJs analyze and structure the world around them in a logical and rational way. Due to this straightforward way of thinking, ENTJs tend to have the greatest difficulty of all the types in applying subjective considerations and emotional values into the decision-making process.

ENTJs often excel in business and other areas that require systems analysis, original thinking, and an economically savvy mind. They are dynamic and pragmatic problem solvers. They tend to have a high degree of confidence in their own abilities, making them assertive and outspoken. In their dealings with others, they are generally outgoing, charismatic, fair-minded, and unaffected by conflict or criticism. However, these qualities can make ENTJs appear arrogant, insensitive, and confrontational. They can overwhelm others with their energy and desire to order the world according to their own vision. As a result, they may seem intimidating, hasty, and controlling.

ENTJs tend to cultivate their personal power. They often end up taking charge of a situation that seems (to their mind, at least) to be out of control, or that can otherwise be improved upon and strengthened. They strive to learn new things, which helps them become resourceful problem-solvers. However, since ENTJs rely on provable facts, they may find subjective issues pointless. ENTJs appear to take a tough approach to emotional or personal issues, and so can be viewed as aloof and insensitive. In situations requiring feeling and value judgments, ENTJs are well served to seek the advice of a trusted Feeling type.

Romney seems to be a very typical Field Marshal personality, exhibiting all the usual traits that go long with such a personality.

When it comes to Obama however, people are all over the map.  I tend to think that Obama is an INFP, also known as the Idealist,  but I have heard stirring defenses of him as an INTJ, ENFJ, and an INTP.  Here is a description of the typical INFP:

The polite, reserved exterior of INFPs can at first make them difficult to get to know. They enjoy conversation, however, taking particular delight in the unusual. When INFPs are in a sociable mood, their humor and charm shine through. Disposed to like people and to avoid conflict, INFPs tend to make pleasant company.

Devoted to those in their inner circle, INFPs guard the emotional well-being of others, consoling those in distress. Guided by their desire for harmony, INFPs prefer to be flexible unless their ethics are violated. Then, they become passionate advocates for their beliefs. They are often able to sway the opinions of others through tact, diplomacy, and an ability to see varying sides of an issue.

INFPs develop these insights through reflection, and they require substantial time alone to ponder and process new information. While they can be quite patient with complex material, they are generally bored by routine. Though not always organized, INFPs are meticulous about things they value. Perfectionists, they may have trouble completing a task because it cannot meet their high standards. They may even go back to a completed project after the deadline so they can improve it.

INFPs are creative types and often have a gift for language. As introverts, they may prefer to express themselves through writing. Their dominant Feeling drives their desire to communicate, while their auxiliary intuition supplies the imagination. Having a talent for symbolism, they enjoy metaphors and similes. They continually seek new ideas and adapt well to change. They prefer working in an environment that values these gifts and allows them to make a positive difference in the world, according to their personal beliefs.

I think that is pretty spot on for Obama, but many other people have disagreed with that assessment.  To my knowledge, Obama has never stated what his Myers-Briggs personality type he has.  What do you think of the type of each candidate?  What is your Myers-Briggs type? What do think the Myers-Briggs personality is for other major political figures?


  1. Well, you finally got me to take that test (i've always been mildly curious about my "type." And, I'm INFJ.

    I suspect a lot of people are going to laugh at the idea of me being an introvert, although it does say I have only a slight preference for it. And apparently I have a strong preference for judging over perceiving.

    Although frankly I don't know too much about these terms, which makes it impossible for me to guess accurately about others.

    Ha! Both "law" and "librarian" are suggested as careers. And "social work," and "arts." They're not wrong . . .

    I share these traits with Mother Theresa! And John Calvin -- boo! And, Nicole Kidman?

  2. I think Romney's an ESTJ, I don't think he's intuitive :-)

    That makes sense, Beadgirl. I'm ENFJ. Shockingly, so are a lot of politicians.

    I think Obama must be close on one or more traits, and that's what makes him feel more obscure. Once Frankenstorm passes I'll try to figure out where I think he splits...

  3. So we think it breaks down like this: Obama is pretty clearly N and P. Mandi is more convinced than I am that he's also I. I think he's close on E/I. We both think he's close on F/T. Mandi leans INFP. I lean INTP.