Pierce Presents: ENFP

Michael Pierce is a video maker and contributing guest writer for CelebrityTypes. As always with guest writers on the site, Pierce’s piece represents his own insights and type assessments and not necessarily those of the site. Still, we very much enjoy his work and are pleased to be able to share it with our visitors.

By Michael Pierce

David Keirsey called them the “champions,” and I have also heard the nicknames “inspirer” and “advocate.” The stereotype I have seen in the Jungian community hasn’t been too far off, but as is to be expected, it fails to express the deeper aspects of the ENFP. They are seen as exceptionally energetic, friendly, capricious, dreamy, whimsical, warmhearted jokers; in a word, as “happy-go-lucky.” There is rarely any attention given to their distinctive dichotomy of idealism and disillusionment that makes war within their psyche.

As always, let’s break down what constitutes the ENFP functionally.

They are a perceiving type, meaning that they prefer extroverted perceiving and introverted judging. This means that they base their judgment criteria on subjective inner information, while simply observing and drinking in objective information and experiences. You could say that they are more receptive towards the outside world and more aggressive towards their inner experience.

Their preferred way of doing this is through extroverted intuition and introverted feeling. Extroverted intuition is innovative: it perceives and seeks out new possibilities from objective data, finding the ones with the most promise and bringing them to fruition. Introverted feeling is individualistic: it has deep, personal passions and convictions that it holds to despite outside opposition, and it greatly values the right to individual freedom of expression and being true to oneself.

Third, they are very similar to the INFP; both prefer Ne and Fi. The ENFP, however, prefers Ne more than Fi. Nevertheless, they are in some sense the same type, or at least sister types. I personally like to call NFP types the “Dreamers,” because their relation to the outside world is passive observation of the unreal, of possibilities and ideas; their passion and aggression lies in their individual convictions, which develop isolated from the outside world and become something of a personal dream: thus, both their inner and outer relations take on a somewhat dreamlike quality. Of course, “Dreamer” is merely a nickname to help me remember the NFP nature and does not mean all NFPs lie sprawled in fields of flowers and never accomplish anything.

The ENFP, then, is a “dreamer” for whom their objective perceptions and search for possibilities is more important than their individual convictions. They are primarily concerned with discovering, creating, and innovating, in other words, living off of everything new and exciting.

The word I like to use to describe ENFPs is “child-like”. This is not to be confused with the word “childish,” which implies the negative and trivial aspects of a child’s personality; “child-like” implies the positive, optimistic, joyful wonder at the world, and this is one of the most recognizable characteristics of the ENFP.

The ENFP is first a wanderer. They, more than any other type, with the ENTP as a close second, are afflicted with a wander-lust and disgust of boredom. One of their nightmares is to be locked up in a plain white room with nothing new to do or see. They hate to sit still and often find patience the most difficult virtue or altogether overrated. They want, even fear not to have, the freedom to pursue possibilities, and thus defend against the sickness of boredom and all its compatriots: habit, consistency, routine, etc. When they get the chance to play or explore with the new, whether a place, opportunity, idea, game, or even relationship, they become refreshed and energized. As Orson Welles said, “I love moving from town to town. I never got on a train in my life without my spirits rising.”

As such, their minds work at a rapid pace, or at least seem to do so, because they try to cut out any thinking that does not contribute to the creative or innovative process. Like a hummingbird they must constantly feed on sugary fluids to keep in the air, buzzing from one flower to the next; the ENFP searches for those flowers offering the most energy. This gives the impression that their mind is often racing, because they seem to jump from concept to concept extraordinarily quickly with no time to rest, for instance, in the improvisational comedy of Robin Williams. However, while it can make conversation with them an adventure and grants them a quick wit and ingenuity, sometimes their mind moves too fast for them to express themselves adequately. Sometimes their own words can barely keep up with their thoughts as the transitions between ideas become less and less.

The ENFP’s auxiliary Fi is responsible for their characteristic flamboyancy and eccentricity. ENFPs are more or less quirky. This is because they have personal, subjective values developed in isolation from everyone else. It is only natural for many of these values to appear alien to the rest of us, or in other words, quirky; and in line with Fi, ENFPs are quite pleased with their differences from others, and love to be respected for them.

Another important effect of Fi is its imagination: the ENFP develops a personal, subjective dream world where their values are exemplified. By delving so deep into their values they are capable of great, beautiful creativity which often manifests itself in stories, but more famously, in their use of language. They are often very clever, creative, and imaginative in their wielding of words to express their ideas and feelings, and ENFPs have the potential to become great writers.

ENFPs are also known for loving people. More specifically, they love individuals, as their Fi helps them appreciate and even love the differences in others. On the other hand, they dislike mobs or any massive organization where individuality is melted down into a collective, such as stereotypical corporations, churches, or governments. ENFPs love people on their own, for who they are. In fact, they have a tendency to become particularly attached to certain people, feeling a very strong introverted love for them, combined with a gregarious aversion to being alone, where it is easier to become bored; thus they may like to be around their friends all the time. This is only a potential problem, however, and most ENFPs do not become pathological about it.

You may now be able to see why I use the word “child-like” to describe ENFPs. Both ENFPs and the ideal child are pleasantly capricious, explorers, love the new, think faster than they talk, are quirky and imaginative, and love people, becoming very attached to them. The ENFP, in a nutshell, has maintained a child-like relationship to the world, full of wonder, love and optimism.

However, there is another very important side to the ENFP: they are not only a child, but also an adult. There is a sense that they are both joyously young and tremendously old. While at first they may demonstrate that stereotypical happy-go-lucky spirit, upon further inspection one discovers a severe and serious side of their personality, an adult spirit. Not just any adult spirit either, but a disillusioned, old spirit, someone who is all too aware of the pain and suffering in the world, who knows full well that everything is not happy or lucky. This side is dark and brooding, frustrated and passionate. It is the side of Mark Twain that wrote “The Mysterious Stranger,” an extremely pessimistic work concerning the “damned human race.” The ENFP is motivated by a sense of darkness of life, but also by an optimistic desire to find a better future. This dichotomy of old and young, dark and light, brooding on the past and living in the moment makes war within the ENFP and drives much of their art and expression. I think the best example of this union is demonstrated in Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World,” which presents a seemingly happy-go-lucky utopia of non-consequential sex, drugs and pleasure, but beneath which is all manner of darkness and controversy, asking many questions about social and political principles and where our own society is going.

The ENFP’s tertiary function is Te, which is responsible for inductive reasoning and the pursuit of logical, real-world goals. It is the direct opposite of Fi, which is responsible for subjective value-judgments and the expression of individual conviction. Te is a bulldozer, and Fi is the protestor lying down in front of it. However, in the ENFP the weight of Fi does not repress Te, and so the ENFP has a logical, driven, goal-oriented side. They are able to break away from pure expression and aggressively pursue real-world goals, and this is often done in the service of Ne, logically and efficiently getting what they want. This adds to their adventurous flair, making them fast and determined, running hither and thither, and gives them a willingness to drag someone along for the ride and bulldoze through obstacles if necessary.

The ENFP’s repressed function is Si, which represents the inevitable downside of strong Ne. Si is responsible for memory, realistic association, and the development of practical habits and routine: in short, a strong need to prepare sufficiently for the future. This caution is rather lacking in the typical ENFP, because their focus is always turned on the new. As I stated before, routine and habit and lack of the new is suffocating for the ENFP: they are wanderers and explorers by nature. What this ultimately means is that the ENFP is a ship that hates to drop anchor. Once the anchor is set down, the ship is stuck going in the same circles over and over again. The ENFP prefers, for better or worse, to drift at sea, rather than be tied down by any consistency. This can make it difficult for them to settle anywhere in society, whether a job, place, marriage, or really anything that requires some form of consistency.

So in summary, the ENFP is “child-like,” living off of the new, darting from flower to flower like a hummingbird. They are quirky and imaginative, quick-thinking and creative, and gregarious to the point of over-attachment. Their tertiary Te gives them an aggressive attitude to pursuing goals, while their repressed Si makes it very difficult for them to settle in any kind of consistency or treat the unknown future with due respect.

Thanks for reading, and to all the ENFPs out there, thank you for trying to rejuvenate the child-like genius in each of us.

Pierce Presents: ENTJ

Michael Pierce is a video maker and contributing guest writer for CelebrityTypes. As always with guest writers on the site, Pierce’s piece represents his own insights and type assessments and not necessarily those of the site. Still, we very much enjoy his work and are pleased to be able to share it with our visitors.

By Michael Pierce

Fieldmarshal, Executive, and Leader – these are some of the nicknames I’ve seen used for the ENTJ, one of the more infamous personalities in the Jungian community. The most widely accepted mascot for the ENTJ is Napoleon Bonaparte, which is meant to portray the stereotype of an exceptionally driven individual who always wants to be in charge, shouts down their opponents, and leads loud and powerful blitzkriegs against their enemies; a charismatic army general or ruthless CEO. And along with these descriptions, the ENTJ is often seen as naturally robust in figure, commanding in appearance, and dangerously bossy in demeanor. This stereotype is, in my opinion, a compass pointing in the right direction, with the actual journey into this personality yet to be undertaken.

Let’s break down what constitutes the ENTJ functionally.

They are a Judging type, meaning that they prefer extroverted judging and introverted perceiving. This means that they base their judgment criteria on objective outside information, while simply observing and drinking in their subjective information and experiences. You could say that they are more aggressive towards the outside world and more receptive towards their inner experience.

Their preferred way of doing this is through extroverted thinking and introverted intuition. Extroverted thinking is inductive. It forms conclusions based on objective data, which they then aggressively try to fulfill. Meanwhile, introverted intuition is contemplative, in that it has no real interest in reality, but perceives the possibilities of ideas within their own mind, developing more and more compelling and delicious intellectual ideas, theories and understandings.

Third, they are very similar to the INTJ; both prefer Te and Ni. The ENTJ, however, prefers Te more than Ni. Nevertheless, they are in some sense the same type, or at least sister types. I personally like to call NTJ types the “Trailblazer”, because they both develop compelling ideas and understandings of the world and then seek to accomplish these visions as efficiently and effectively as possible. Of course, “Trailblazer” is merely a nickname to help me remember the NTJ nature, and does not mean NTJs are necessarily more inventive or ahead of their time than other personalities, or likely to take up a career that would allow them to be so.

The ENTJ, then, is a “trailblazer” for whom objective data and its resultant conclusions are of more importance and interest than subjective perceptions and musings. They are primarily concerned with fulfilling their logically determined obligations in order to gain control over their environment.

The word I have found most useful in describing the ENTJ is “subjugation”. That word has a definite negative connotation that I do not wish to imply. While the INTJ demonstrates a “will to power,” a desire to control their environment through understanding it, the ENTJ is even more so concerned with this “will to power”, desiring to control their environment through any appropriate means, to which end understanding is a primary tool. So, the reason I use the word “subjugation” is not because the ENTJ wishes to stand triumphant on top of everyone else’s unconscious bodies or play the role of big brother, but because the ENTJ, like the ESTJ, wants to ensure that their environment cannot get a foothold on them, that they have acquired as much control and power over their lives as could be expected so that they cannot be overtaken by them, and so that they can accomplish what they know needs to be done. But while the ESTJ’s Si does this through a sense of responsibility in order to face an uncertain future, the ENTJ’s Ni is more trusting of the future and desires to crush their opposition by striding brazenly into it.

This principle of subjugating the environment gives the ENTJ two distinct characteristics: their enjoyment of leadership and their brutality in combat.

While the ENFJ seeks for high places so that they can appeal to a larger audience’s sentiments, the ENTJ seeks high places so that they can have better control of their environment. The ENTJ’s Ni visions can bring them the strong feeling that they see what is really going on in the world and how to make things better from a mechanistic and efficient standpoint. It is positions of leadership that allow the ENTJ to bring these visions to fruition. This is not to say that the ENTJ necessarily demonstrates a lust for power or desire to always command others, but it is to say that the ENTJ greatly enjoys and often aspires to calling the shots. For instance, I was once assigned an ENTJ to assist me on a project. He was already more experienced in the field, but I was more experienced with this particular project, and so he was more than happy to let me take the lead in planning and reporting. However, after a week or so he made known ways that he felt things could be made much more efficient, to cut out the fluff, streamline our process and be much more productive, and he courteously asked my permission to take the lead in these areas to try out his ideas. The ENTJ relates well to Julius Caesar’s claim: “I would rather be first in a village than second in Rome.” This is because the ENTJ can become very restless when they do not have sufficient power to change things, in short, when their environment starts to exercise power on them, instead of the other way around. The ENTJ greatly dislikes that feeling. The ENTJ can be very sensitive to the logical inconsistencies and inefficiencies of others and can become agitated if they are unable to correct the problem.

My ENTJ’s method of correcting such problems was forceful; he wanted to get straight to the point, to determine what point B is and to get there as effectively as possible. If meetings get off track, they need to be forcefully put back on track. If our break time ran too long, he would get very anxious and want to get back to work. If someone or something was becoming an obstacle, his first instinct was to break it, to snap its supports in half with one clean sweep; fortunately, he knew this had to be done in an appropriate way. But it is this idea of breaking the opposition that is critical to the ENTJ personality. This is also present in the INTJ, but only secondarily. The ENTJ wants to snap their opposition, to completely crush them, with no room for them to possibly gain any power or foothold on the ENTJ. Thus comes the ENTJ’s infamous brutality in combat. This is most often seen in argument, where the ENTJ naturally takes a strong offensive, practically attacking their opponent with their reasoning, trying to completely break down the plausibility of their view. The ENTJ fights to win, and this translates into a certain strident brutality against opposition.

Socially, ENTJs can often come off as strident and energetic in this way, but not entirely given over to it. There is an interesting dynamic between the dynamism of Te and the contemplation of Ni, and I’ve seen ENTJs who have demonstrated more of one aspect or the other, while remaining in true preference ENTJs. One kind may appear like a more logically focused and sharp, but still energetic ENFJ; the other appears very similar to the INTJ and may often mis-test as such, but despite a calmer and quieter attitude they still demonstrate a greater and more obvious striving for leadership and power than the INTJ, who often prefers to work alone, pulling the strings from the background, leading people only as a means to their vision. The ENTJ, however, finds leading people the more enjoyable activity, and has no problem demonstrating obvious control. For the ENTJ the vision is always secondary to the manifestation of power.

The ENTJ’s tertiary function is Se, and this gives a similar contrast between the INTJ and ENTJ as it does with the INFJ and ENFJ, in that the ENTJ has a better relationship with actual facts and reality. They possess both a contemplative perception of inner possibilities and a clear perception of the current state of affairs. For this reason the ENTJ is more comfortable working in real time, adapting to changes in the here and now. While the INTJ wants to prevent interference in the manifestation of their vision, the ENTJ is not nearly as concerned with this, and may even welcome the challenge of real time changes and problems so that they can demonstrate their strategic prowess and flexibility. They are also more comfortable and familiar with living life to the fullest, and at least do not demonstrate the INTJ’s difficulty with real time enjoyments.

However, the ENTJ’s Achilles heel, like that of the ESTJ, is their repressed Fi. If we imagine Te as a bulldozer and Fi as a protestor, then the ENTJ’s bulldozer runs the protestors over without mercy. This can be a serious problem for the ENTJ for two reasons. First, like the ESTJ, the ENTJ can have difficulty appreciating or taking into account the emotional values of others in their goals. This attributes to the ENTJ’s brutality in combat, because they are repressing the function that normally values inner sentimentality. This can even, if unchecked, become sadistic, in the sense that the ENTJ can have trouble telling if they are becoming too aggressive and are actually hurting people. Second, the ENTJ can have a similar and perhaps even more prevalent and dangerous numbness to their own personal values. The ENTJ can struggle with finding out what they actually want. They know what is objectively logical, and how to get from point A to B, but they may become terribly lost if they realize they don’t know what they themselves really want. Usually, the ENTJ focuses on their goal, but are fueled by a background, repressed, and therefore remarkably naïve sense of personal values, as though they ground out a clichéd Fi value system in a night so that they could focus all their attention on the much more satisfying task of Te. For instance, if you were to ask an ENTJ what they themselves valued, their eventual answer would probably be some vague and undeveloped concept of justice, or truth, or the greater good, a placeholder sentiment made to satisfy their psyche. But when the time comes that the ENTJ must reassess their own values, when for instance they cannot determine logically what their next move should be, when it is left up to their preference alone what their next point B should be, then this placeholder is worthless, and this lack of direction can result in confusion or even personal crisis.

So, in summary, the ENTJ is subjugating, seeking to have control of their environment through the acquisition of leadership and brutality against opposition. Their tertiary Se provides them with a clear relationship with real time events and adaptability to changing conditions; however, their repressed Fi can make them dangerously numb to others’ personal values or their own.

Thanks for watching, and for all the ENTJs out there, thanks for having the courage and strength to break down the obstacles in the path of great accomplishments.

Watch this piece as a video here.

Pierce Presents: INTJ

Michael Pierce is a video maker and contributing guest writer for CelebrityTypes. As always with guest writers on the site, Pierce’s piece represents his own insights and type assessments and not necessarily those of the site. Still, we very much enjoy his work and are pleased to be able to share it with our visitors.

By Michael Pierce

David Keirsey nicknamed them the “Masterminds,” and most INTJs are not at all aversive to the title. I have also seen the less popular nickname “the Scientists.” The stereotype supported by these nicknames is that of a highly logical individual, dispassionate, scientific and smugly atheistic, brilliant, self-confident, visionary, determined, and above all, able to see all the parts of a complex system and create the perfect strategy to win the game. When people imagine the INTJ, they will often imagine anyone between Dr. Gregory House and BBC’s Sherlock Holmes. As with the INFJ, the INTJ’s stereotype is too all-encompassing to really define what makes an INTJ tick.

Many attributes have been applied to the INTJ which would better describe the ISTJ, and many attributes that would apply to the INTJ have been ignored entirely. The INTJ is not scientific or even logical in the way it is usually defined, and in temperament they are generally more like a prophet or wizard than an analytical mastermind, which is a title I think the ISTJ rightly deserves, while the INTJ, in my opinion, is better described as an intuitive mastermind.

Let’s break down what constitutes the INTJ functionally.

They are a Judging type, meaning that they prefer extroverted judging and introverted perceiving. This means that they base their judgment criteria on objective, outside information, while simply observing and drinking in their subjective information and experiences. You could say that they are more aggressive towards the outside world and more receptive towards their inner experience.

Their preferred way of doing this is through extroverted thinking and introverted intuition. Extroverted thinking is inductive. It forms conclusions based on objective data, which they then aggressively try to fulfill. Meanwhile, introverted intuition is contemplative, in that it has no real interest in reality, but perceives the possibilities of ideas within their own mind, developing more and more compelling and delicious intellectual ideas, theories and understandings.

Third, INTJs are very similar to the ENTJ; both prefer Te and Ni. The INTJ, however, prefers Ni more than Te. Nevertheless, they are in some sense the same type, or at least sister types. I personally like to call NTJ types the “Trailblazer,” because they both develop compelling ideas and understandings of the world and then seek to accomplish these visions as efficiently and effectively as possible. Of course, “Trailblazer” is merely a nickname to help me remember the NTJ nature, and does not mean NTJs are necessarily more inventive or ahead of their time than other personalities, or likely to take up a career that would allow them to be so.

The INTJ, then, is a “trailblazer” for whom their subjective perceptions and musings hold more importance and interest than objective data and its resultant conclusions. They are primarily concerned with perceiving the possibilities of internal ideas, developing deliciously compelling intellectual insights.

The word I like to use to describe the INTJ nature is “visionary,” which conveys two major aspects of the INTJ personality: futurism and will to power.

By futurism, I mean that unlike the ISTJ who is planning against unpleasant possibilities in the future, the INTJ plans how to strive into the possibilities of the future. This is a contrast between Si and Ni; the first tends to over-prepare, while the second tends to under-prepare. In the spirit of intuition, the INTJ has a way of making uncanny leaps and bounds with their ideas, sometimes appearing ahead of their time; however, what they gain in foresight they lose in thoroughness.

For example, consider Isaac Newton and Nikola Tesla. Both made extraordinary leaps and bounds in their fields to the point that both were hailed as magicians, but these were, once again, leaps and bounds, which skip a lot of middle work in-between, giving an impression of mad determination and inhuman focus on their work until organization and important details are of no importance compared to the acquisition of their goal. Isaac Newton’s revolutionary development of calculus was only a means to an end. It gets the job done, but has a certain unrefined, hurried sloppiness to it. Another example is the explosive number of experiments and inventions Nikola Tesla was responsible for, some of which he didn’t take the time to write down because they were just curiosities he discovered while on the road towards a different goal. There is a definite sense of tunnel-vision and focus in the INTJ that blazes a trail into the future, but can sometimes be maddeningly imprecise and leave a lot of debris. In short, the INTJ’s Ni provides the futurist, intuitive vision, and the Te provides the intense focus to accomplish that vision, but because that vision is so distant on the horizon, the INTJ doesn’t always look down to see what they’re stepping on.

Unlike the ENTJ who is primarily interested in inductive reasoning and determining logical inconsistencies, this is not the focus of the INTJ. The INTJ, like the INFJ, is first an internal perceiver who gets hunches or sees visions of how the world really works. Logic is only a secondary tool towards accomplishing that vision or idea, which may not be compatible with reality. The INTJ has just as much an intuitive, mystical sense to them as the INFJ. Of Isaac Newton, John Maynard Keynes said he was not “the first of the age of reason, [but] the last of the magicians.” Similarly John Stone said that we must admit that Nikola Tesla was a prophet, as opposed to a scientist.

The second idea is the INTJ’s will to power. As I’ve already implied, the INTJ is known for having a tenacious will. This will is directed towards the acquisition of power, and this power often takes the form of knowledge and understanding. Te not only seeks to adapt to objective data, but also reworks its own mindset and judgments in order to have control over its environment. This is a major theme for the INTJ: they desire power over their surroundings through superior understanding. This is why the INTJ is often especially happy to be called the “mastermind,” because this implies them having a mastery of their environment through the mind. I have heard the INTJ mindset described as seeing the world as a game: they can naturally take stock of their resources, each resource’s future potential, and see a branching tree map of where different actions will probably take them. Thus their goal is to have as much mental control and understanding of the progressing game as possible so they know exactly how to move in every situation.

The INTJ’s will to power is also the result of an unrepressed Te/Fi axis. Te is more dominant, but Fi is not repressed and plays a very important role in the INTJ personality. Te is the opposite of Fi, where Te is the bulldozer and Fi is the protestor lying down in front of it. Te adapts to data; Fi stands firm behind sentimental principles. Thus the INTJ’s feeling is subjective and recoils from objects, retreating deep into the subject and burning quite fiercely in there.

Fi provides the INTJ with several interesting characteristics: it grants the INTJ the typical Fi isolated, alien sentiments. The INTJ’s passions and values are wholly their own and do not want to be attributed to any kind of conformity to other people’s standards. This makes the INTJ very independent and self-confident, even notoriously so. The INTJ often enjoys the image of a visionary standing bold and alone and single-handedly transforming the world despite all human opposition and ignorance. While the INFJ seeks to inspire others to cooperate, the INTJ may not want any supporters, or if they do, that is not their main focus. The INTJ could care less what other people think of their vision; what matters to them is its accomplishment according to their designs.

The INTJ is also notoriously unsocial, displaying the limited Fi range of expressions. They have no problem with people, but they don’t feel any immediate and pressing need for them, except those they have already adopted into their heart. Like the ISTJ, the INTJ very much loves who they love, and I have experienced this very genuine love and friendship from several INTJs in my life, as well as ISTJs. What it lacks in outward expression it makes up for in its endearing sincerity.

It should be noted that these characteristics of independence, willpower, and unsocial self-confidence can make a nasty recipe for acute narcissism, something that the INTJ often can struggle with. The INTJ is not as afraid of becoming narcissistic as other personalities and may often do or say things that appear narcissistic but are really the INTJ just stating the facts – for instance, Nikola Tesla stating how he has revolutionized the United States, which he has. But facts aside, the INTJ must keep themselves aware of how close to the edge of narcissism they are approaching.

Like the INFJ, the INTJ represses Se, which results in similar difficulties and reservations. The INTJ’s perception of the real world is very unreliable; they are so focused on what could be that it takes concerted and unpleasant effort to focus on what already is. As a result the INTJ often misses or ignores even large amounts of data in the conception of their vision, always drifting away from reality before managing to review all the evidence, a mistake the ISTJ hardly makes. This is another reason why the INTJ should not be considered logical or scientific in the regular sense: because their focus is not on logic or data, but on ideas and visions of the possible future, which, while appearing logical, are very often self-contradictory or paradoxical. The INTJ may hold passionately to ideas and theories that have no real evidence to support them at all. For example, Friedrich Nietzsche’s supposedly logical concept of the Eternal Reoccurrence, which represents a beautiful and compelling idea and seems validly logical, does not rely on any concrete facts or observations and makes many unproven assumptions which discredit both its inductive and deductive validity. The idea of Eternal Reoccurrence is just that, a beautiful idea. In these instances the INTJ’s expression of Te is rendered a mere illusion that doesn’t actually grasp at anything.

Another important effect is that whenever the Ni dominant types do experience their Se it is overwhelmingly vivid because of their lack of exposure to it, and they often struggle with their relationship to sensual pleasures such as food, thrills, sex, or anything of that nature. While the INFJ demonstrates a certain morally based aversion to sensuality reminiscent of an ascetic monk, the INTJ appears less gentle or mystical about it; their asceticism often appears a direct result of their tunnel-vision drive and marriage to their work. The INFJ appears like a mystic trying to transcend their human desires, while the INTJ appears like something already inhuman trapped in a human body and therefore having no human desires in the first place. But don’t let it fool you for a second; the INTJ does have such desires and is capable of swinging from one extreme to the other. INTJs are notorious for periodic sensual binges where they begin chronically overindulging in various pleasures far past the limits recommended by others – for instance, Jean-Paul Sartre’s statement that while working on a book he began taking amphetamines, until near the end of his work he was taking twenty pills a day. At the other extreme we have Nikola Tesla, who reportedly remained celibate his entire life despite his popularity among the ladies.

So, in summary, the INTJ is visionary, tenaciously and hastily striving to accomplish their future-oriented vision, playing life like a game of chess, which requires that they obtain superiority over their environment through greater understanding. They are very independent, self-confident, and unsocial, but do hold certain values and ideas close to their heart. Their repression of Se leads to a certain amount of disconnect with reality and a susceptibility to sensual binges.

Thanks for reading, and for all the INTJs out there, thanks for trying to blaze trails for us into the unknown but beautiful future.

Watch this piece as a video here.

Pierce Presents: ENFJ

Michael Pierce is a video maker and contributing guest writer for CelebrityTypes. As always with guest writers on the site, Pierce’s piece represents his own insights and type assessments and not necessarily those of the site. Still, we very much enjoy his work and are pleased to be able to share it with our visitors.

By Michael Pierce

David Keirsey nicknamed ENFJs the “teachers”, and as far as I have seen, they are often perceived as louder, more energetic, more social INFJs; in short, as the socially extraverted INFJ. The description isn’t completely wrong, but is it misleading and doesn’t grant the ENFJ a personality in its own right. As I’ve emphasized before, Jungian extraversion does not have to do with loudness or social skills; therefore, ENFJs are not necessarily any louder or more apparently outgoing than INFJs. In fact, an ENFJ I know very well often demonstrates great shyness in social situations. The distinguishing preferences of ENFJs run much deeper.

As with all of these articles, I aim to describe the core of the ENFJ profile and the typical ENFJ as an individual just as capable or incapable of becoming a hero of the history books as any other personality.

As always, let’s break down what constitutes the ENFJ functionally.

They are a Judging type, meaning that they prefer extroverted judging and introverted perceiving. This means that they base their judgment criteria on objective outside information, while simply observing and drinking in their subjective information and experiences. You could say that they are more aggressive towards the outside world and more receptive towards their inner experience.

Their preferred way of doing this is through extroverted feeling and introverted intuition. Extroverted feeling is accommodating. It adapts to objectively understood values, becoming whatever is appropriate, harmonizing or desirable for a given situation. Meanwhile, introverted intuition is contemplative, in that it has no real interest in reality, but perceives the possibilities of ideas within their own mind, developing more and more compelling and delicious intellectual ideas, theories and understandings.

Third, they are very similar to the INFJ; both prefer Fe and Ni. The ENFJ, however, prefers Fe more than Ni. Nevertheless, they are in some sense the same type, or at least sister types. I personally like to call NFJ types the “Teachers”, because they both develop compelling ideas and understandings of the world and seek to convey these visions to people in an accommodating and objectively desirable and engaging fashion. Of course, “Teacher” is merely a nickname to help me remember the NFJ nature and does not mean NFJs are more likely to have an interest in teaching as a career.

The ENFJ, then, is a “teacher” for whom communion with others and communication of their ideas takes precedence over contemplating the ideas themselves. They are primarily concerned with helping “men rise to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood” through compelling communication of their vision.

Thus, the word I like to use for ENFJs is “persuasion,” in the noble sense suggested above. The ENFJ, preferring dominant Fe, sees all sentimentality as objective, and therefore common. In other words, we are all family, derived from the same source, and by tracing back to that source we find a universal language. It is to this source that the ENFJ unconsciously appeals; they seek to reunite a now divided humanity and raise it towards their intuitive vision of a better world. They have no need of force or power to convince people of their vision, but make expert use of communication, whether in language, art, film, music, or other forms of presentation. They charm and persuade and evoke people to the light of their vision. “I have a dream,” Dr. King once said.

Like the INFJ, the ENFJ has a strong Fe empathy and sympathy for their fellows because of their preference for common sentiment. However, while the INFJ’s empathy is intense and individually focused, discovering uncanny psychological insights, the ENFJ’s empathy is broader, experiencing the suffering of the whole of humanity. What it loses in individual intensity it makes up for with its wide-open arms and charismatic amiability. It was said of Erasmus of Rotterdam, “Where is there someone whose heart Erasmus does not occupy?” ENFJs love all humanity at once, and therefore they want to reach as many people as possible. This drives them to higher ground where they may appeal to large audiences.

When communicating, the ENFJ is very socially and emotionally sensitive. It is actually for this reason that some ENFJs are shy in social situations; because they are so sensitive to what they feel could reasonably happen. But when in a more promising situation, they tend to be very expressive, strongly extroverting their feeling and unconsciously, but harmlessly, trying to persuade and affect the emotions of those around them.

Fe is focused on objective emotions and tries to affect them for the better, adapting to the changing moods of others. They can appeal quite skillfully to the warm fuzzy feelings in all of us, trying to touch humanly shared sentiments and evoke similar emotions to theirs. To commune with people and sense a shared and common feeling and unity is especially powerful and moving for the ENFJ. It is, to some degree, their psyche’s goal.

Their tertiary function is Se, and this provides one of the strongest divides between the ENFJ and the INFJ. Where the INFJ represses Se and fears to live life to the fullest, the ENFJ does not share this fear, but has a much clearer perception of reality and more direct connection to objective data. One effect of this is that their psychological intuitions are much easier to trace to concrete observations. Another more noticeable effect is their enjoyment and more natural control over sensual or thrilling experiences. The ENFJ rides the roller coaster while the INFJ watches and contemplates. The ENFJ is willing to let loose a little and have a good time. It also helps them connect with the masses, giving them quicker social reflexes, as it were, because they are more sensitive to what’s really going on. They can handle a lot of noise, people, cheering, crowding, colors and what not without becoming overloaded, allowing them the ability to more warmly and naturally interact with their audience.

However, in exchange for this the ENFJ represses their Ti function. Fe is responsible for their charismatic communication and adapting to objective sentiment, and it is the direct opposite of Ti, which holds fast to internal logical principles despite changing objective sentiments. In short, Fe cares how people feel, but Ti only cares about what is true. The repression of Ti often results in the ENFJ devaluing or even forgetting what is true for the sake of what sounds good. For instance, an ENFJ may be tempted to exaggerate the truth to have a better sentimental effect on their audience. This can also apply to their expression of emotion; without immediately realizing it, they may exaggerate laughter, sadness, or pain for the sake of sentimental effect. In these cases, it is not that the ENFJ is lying; they are just saying what is essentially true, editing details to better express the core idea to the audience.

So in summary, the ENFJ is persuasive, with a heart open to all men, seeking to unite humanity to a common cause. Their Se provides them with a proper appreciation for sensual experience and adaptability to reality, but their repressed Ti can make it easy for them to exaggerate the truth to tell a better story.

Thanks for reading, and for all the ENFJs out there: thanks for loving us and trying to show us a better path.

Watch this piece as a video here.

Pierce Presents: INFJ

Michael Pierce is a video maker and contributing guest writer for CelebrityTypes. As always with guest writers on the site, Pierce’s piece represents his own insights and type assessments and not necessarily those of the site. Still, we very much enjoy his work and are pleased to be able to share it with our visitors.

By Michael Pierce

The INFJ is the best-known personality type in the typology community. I think there are two main reasons for this. First, C.G. Jung was an INFJ, and therefore the first foundations of typology, though later modified by other personalities, come from an INFJ’s preferences of thought. For instance, the deductive nature of the theory appeals to the INFJ’s Ti, its interest in objectively understood human values and motivations appeals to Fe, and its overall compelling and contemplative nature appeals to Ni. Thus, INFJs are the most likely to be interested in Jungian typology and have gained a considerable presence in the field. Second, and probably because of this presence, INFJs have commonly been described and portrayed as the most interesting, mysterious, deep, mystically intelligent, and according to many sources, the most rare personality type. Without ever explicitly stating it or even consciously intending it, this plethora of praise often gives the researcher the feeling that the INFJ is the most desirable and gifted personality type.

The stereotypical aspects of the INFJ I have seen, whether accurate or not, are as follows: they are very caring and compassionate. They are private people and are difficult to get to know, making them mysterious. They are characterized by a very deep and complex nature, impossible to fully comprehend in a lifetime, often benefiting from therapy to help untangle their thoughts. They are unusually empathetic, having an uncanny understanding of others’ emotions and intentions, nearly to the degree of being psychic. They are the wise, deep, soft-spoken but charismatic prophets with multitudes boiling within their rich psyche.

Some, in reaction to this rather god-like composite image, have gone the other route and considered INFJs to be characteristically flawed, overly metaphysical, overly emotional, overly idealistic, and overall neurotic cranks. Neither of these descriptions gives a very insightful image into what really makes an INFJ an INFJ. Both descriptions are too vague and emotionally biased.

So let’s break down what constitutes the INFJ functionally.

They are a Judging type, meaning that they prefer extroverted judging and introverted perceiving. This means that they base their judgment criteria on objective outside information, while simply observing and drinking in their subjective information and experiences. You could say that they are more aggressive towards the outside world and more receptive towards their inner experience.

Their preferred way of doing this is through extroverted feeling and introverted intuition. Extroverted feeling is accommodating. It adapts to objectively understood values, becoming whatever is appropriate, harmonizing and overall desirable for a given situation. Meanwhile, introverted intuition is contemplative, in that it has no real interest in reality, but perceives the possibilities of ideas within their own mind, developing more and more compelling and delicious intellectual ideas, theories and understandings.

Third, they are very similar to the ENFJ; both prefer Fe and Ni. The INFJ, however, prefers Ni more than Fe. Nevertheless, they are in some sense the same type, or at least sister types. I personally like to call NFJ types the “Teachers”, because they both develop compelling ideas and understandings of the world and seek to convey these visions to people in an accommodating and objectively desirable and engaging fashion. Of course, “Teacher” is merely a nickname to help me remember the NFJ nature and does not mean NFJs are more likely to have an interest in teaching as a career.

The INFJ, then, is a “teacher” for whom their subjective perceptions and musings hold more importance and interest than accommodation. They are primarily concerned with perceiving the possibilities of internal ideas, developing deliciously compelling intellectual insights.

The word I use to understand the INFJ nature is “idealistic”. As usual, I mean this in a specific way. Unlike the ENFJ, whose focus is on communicating and communing with people (Fe), the INFJ is focused on discovering intuitive insights (Ni). Thus, part of the reason I refer to them as “idealistic” is because the INFJ is driven to discover the ideal vision of how best to solve problems in society. Once the ideal comes to them, they attempt to communicate it to the world. But their time and focus is first invested in contemplating the problem before taking action.

The combination of Ni and Fe makes for an interesting characteristic in the INFJ: they naturally lean towards a holistic philosophy; that is, they believe that the universe (or whatever system they are describing) is so intimately interwoven that one cannot properly understand any individual part without referencing the whole system. This is the result of both Ni’s tendency to combine and connect many disparate concepts and centralize information and Fe’s tendency to sacrifice individuality in favor of an objective standard; thus, an interwoven system that can only be understood as a whole.

This makes the INFJ perfectionistic, or from their perspective, idealistic. They are never satisfied with an incomplete or limited understanding of a subject, and they can’t rest until every branching idea has been sufficiently accounted for and attached to the same central trunk. They cannot present their vision until they are sure it is complete, with no loopholes, no unexplored implications, and all derivable from a common principle or source. The INFJ always seeks to discover a “perfect” system that is, in the end, too good to work in this imperfect world, but, as Plato himself admitted concerning his Republic, it can make a great reference to strive for, and it can refresh the world with new perspectives.

The INFJ is also famously empathetic and emotionally sensitive. They have an uncanny ability to perceive the emotions and motivations of others, and they can even be unhealthily affected by them. Seeing all people as inseparably interconnected, they play the part by intuitively seeing through others’ social barriers (or at least feeling that they can do so). This can give people the impression that they are psychic. However, while the INFJ’s insight may be mysterious, inexplicable, and creepily accurate, it’s usually not immediately practical or scientifically reliable, because the INFJ cannot point to any specific facts from which they derived their hunches about people.

The INFJ’s concern is not based on principle, but arises out of their empathetic experience of others’ suffering. Their compassion comes from walking in others’ shoes. David Keirsey nicknamed them the “counsellors” for this reason, because they don’t only listen, but feel to some degree what the other person is saying. Combined with this is a typically courteous, amiable, genuine, and soft-spoken manner reminiscent of a therapist, seer, or religious leader. They can develop a gentle charisma with people because of their insight and kindness. Simply put, people generally enjoy their company and are often surprised when the INFJ expresses their convictions and visions with such intense passion.

The nickname “counsellor” is not so far off, in that the INFJ enjoys and is notorious for playing the social role of therapist or psychologist, where the soul bearing is always done towards them and hardly ever reciprocated. It is only with the INFJ’s most intimate inner circle that they intentionally exchange thoughts and feelings.

In such exchanges their friends may make a strange discovery: Ni is not a judging function, but a perceiving function. It is not morally based, in the sense that it does not form criteria of what is an acceptable ideal or not. Rather, it plays with potentials and ideas, combining and recombining various disparate concepts until it synthesizes one theory; however, the INFJ does not realize that they are fully responsible for the theory’s creation. Instead, the INFJ feels that they have observed it in the world. Even without being able to offer specific data, they still consider themselves an empiricist basing their conclusions on objective observations. The point here is that the INFJ accepts their vision on the basis of how complete and intellectually delicious it is, and not whether it adheres to certain moral principles, the domain of Fi. The INFJ’s visions can be disconcertingly amoral, idiosyncratic, or upheaving, without the INFJ feeling the implications for themselves or others. They merely present the idea as the final product of their internal searching, happy to have found such a beautiful concept. Thus, INFJs can be notorious for making very controversial or even disturbing statements; for instance, Plato’s proposal of totalitarian censorship or Spinoza’s denial of free will. Both of these ideas embody a fascinating and internally consistent concept, but they may not have very practical applications in reality (Plato’s attempt to create his ideal republic in real life failed miserably).

Ti serves as the INFJ’s tertiary function. As I mentioned earlier, Ti plays a primary role in the INFJ’s perfectionism, seeking to discover all of the necessary deductions from an intuitive idea and ensure that its structure is logically sound. The INFJ is not immediately concerned with achieving goals, as the INTJ is with Te, but finds greater satisfaction in ensuring the logical integrity of their system. Likewise, the INFJ’s inner world is ruled by cold logic despite their projected warmth, whilst the INTJ seems cold on the outside, whereas within burns a passionate furnace.

Finally, the INFJ’s Achilles heel is Se, their inferior function rendered primitive by the sophistication of dominant Ni. Therefore the INFJ’s perception of concrete reality and facts themselves is extremely unreliable. While in contemplation, they may pass by fields of cattle and not notice a single one, or they may know someone for many years but have only a vague idea of what they look like, leaving out hair color, facial structure, and specific height. And then with sudden vividness their Se is reawakened and they are surprised by something that everyone else noticed hours ago. This can be a problem if the INFJ does not gather enough facts before building their theory; their ideas, while compelling, are often formed from a scanty number of actual observations.

A less comical effect of inferior Se in INFJs is their unease with sensual experiences. When they give some focus to Se, enjoyable physical sensations become especially vivid for them. Food, drink, thrills, art, music, sex; all of these can present overwhelming sensuality for the INFJ, tempting them to overindulgence. To fight the temptation, INFJ’s very often guard against sensuality. They lock carpe diem away, and fear living life to the fullest.

So, in summary, the INFJ is idealistic, contemplating how to help people by developing a holistic, internally perfect system based on amoral, intuitive perception. They are known for their natural empathy and one-sided therapeutic relationships. Unfortunately, they struggle to pay attention to the actual world around them, and they are easily overwhelmed by sensual experiences, either overindulging or never indulging.

Thanks for reading, and to all the INFJs out there: thanks for your compassion, insight, and game-changing ideals.

Watch this piece as a video here.

Pierce Presents: ESTJ

Michael Pierce is a video maker and contributing guest writer for CelebrityTypes. As always with guest writers on the site, Pierce’s piece represents his own insights and type assessments and not necessarily those of the site. Still, we very much enjoy his work and are pleased to be able to share it with our visitors.

By Michael Pierce

David Keirsey nicknamed them ‘The Supervisors,’ and their stereotype in the Jungian community, as far as I have seen, has been the insufferably traditionalist, inflexible and hard-nosed disciplinarian who taught your sixth-grade algebra class. This is clearly an unfair depiction, but those who try to give a more desirable description of the ESTJ often just describe a short-sighted and unambitious ENTJ.

In this piece I aim to describe the core of the ESTJ profile and the typical ESTJ as an individual just as capable or incapable of becoming a hero of the history books as any other personality.

To begin, let’s break down what constitutes the ESTJ functionally.

They are a Judging type, meaning that they prefer extroverted judging and introverted perceiving. This means that they base their judgment criteria on objective outside information, while simply observing and drinking in their subjective information and experiences. You could say that they are more aggressive towards the outside world and more receptive towards their inner experience.

Their preferred way of doing this is through extroverted thinking and introverted sensation. Extroverted thinking is inductive. It forms conclusions based on objective data, which they then aggressively try to fulfill. Meanwhile, introverted sensation perceives reality as it is, but invests its perceptions with subjectivity and recalls these subjective memories in similar situations. It is recording, or if you like, cataloguing or recalling.

Third, they are very similar to the ISTJ; both prefer Te and Si. The ESTJ, however, prefers Te more than Si. Nevertheless, they are in some sense the same type, or at least sister types. I personally like to call STJ types the “Scientists”, because they thoroughly examine reality and compare it with all the past experiences they’ve collected in their database. They then form logical conclusions from this breadth of objective data. Of course, “Scientist” is merely a nickname to help me remember the STJ nature; it does not mean STJs are more likely to have an interest in actual science.

The ESTJ, then, is a “scientist” for whom the objective data and its resultant conclusions hold more sway than their subjective perceptions. They are more concerned with fulfilling their obligations than with recording and exploring information gleaned from reality.

As such, the word I like to use to encapsulate the ESTJ nature is “responsibility”. As far as I understand it, the core element of this personality is the inductive formation of conclusions about the world: essentially, they develop a world-law or formula for how things logically must be and then seek to live according to this law, as not doing so would be illogical and nonsensical. In other words, they form conclusions from objective data and then feel obligated to live according to those logical conclusions; they have a solemn responsibility to do so, so long as the conclusions remain sound. They do this despite any inner, sentimental protests they may have. Their inner sentiment is repressed and seen as a weakness. The world law must be obeyed no matter what; it only makes sense to do so.

As such they feel that they ought to be held completely accountable for all their actions, good or ill, reasonable or flawed. Nothing will get done in their favor unless they hunker down and produce, working according to their understanding of the world. In other words, “stick to your guns” and “you reap what you sow.” Once they form a conclusion they ought to stick to it, accepting full responsibility for their actions, reaping whatever they sow by their brilliance or incompetence. They also expect the same responsibility of others and get frustrated when people pose sentimentally charged arguments, excuses or sob stories, which they perceive as the cowardly or petty avoidance of responsibility for their actions.

It’s now easier to see where the stereotype came from; they can appear hard-nosed and disconcertingly strict or harsh. Although, most ESTJs, as with any type, do not submit to their preferences pathologically. A typical ESTJ isn’t going to go about shoving their formula down everyone’s throat. But they will naturally take the perspective that people ought to stick to their guns, reap what they sow, suck it up and not fall back on sob stories to excuse themselves, even if they don’t go broadcasting this opinion or consider it an essential part of themselves.

On the other hand, the ESTJ may purposefully express their opinions in as bigoted and offensive a way as possible. This is an expression of the ESTJ’s tertiary Ne, because in this situation the ESTJ knows full well that their statement will be offensive to people. They state it so offensively in order to make fun of those who can’t handle the truth, while they just as easily could have stated it in a more politically correct way. I make mention of this as an example of the often unnoticed clever, multifaceted Ne side of the ESTJ. They are by no means narrow-minded, humorless, backwards disciplinarians. On the contrary, they have a tertiary perception of future possibilities and multiple facets of an issue, despite how their dominant Te may make them appear. Underlying their personality is the cleverness, innovation, and cognizance of a typical Ne type.

Finally, it is important to mention the adverse effects of their dominant Te. This causes a repression of the Fi function, responsible for forming judgment criteria based on personal, subjective values. As mentioned before, the ESTJ strives to keep their logical obligations despite any nagging sentimental protests. Its repression also extends to how they view other people, as they find it difficult or aversive to give any weight to others’ personal values. This is why they abhor sob stories, because it’s an expression of personal feeling and sentiment, and such feelings are repressed under the importance of keeping one’s obligations. They may find it difficult to empathize with others or understand what they’re going through, because they naturally believe that objective data ought to hold the greater sway for things in the world to go right.

So, in summary, the ESTJ is responsible, submitting to their logical conclusions, expecting nothing less of themselves and others than to get down in the dirt and produce without whining about it. Underlying it all, they have a clever and innovative spirit and humor. Unfortunately, they have trouble recognizing their own or others’ personal values and feelings, making it difficult for them to empathize with others and more likely to deeply offend them or mow them over.

Thanks for reading, and for all the ESTJs out there: thanks for trying to keep us on the straight and narrow.

Watch this piece as a video here.

Pierce Presents: ISTJ

Michael Pierce is a video maker and contributing guest writer for CelebrityTypes. As always with guest writers on the site, Pierce’s piece represents his own insights and type assessments and not necessarily those of the site. Still, we very much enjoy his work and are pleased to be able to share it with our visitors.

By Michael Pierce

ISTJs have been commonly nicknamed the “inspectors” or sometimes the “duty fulfillers,” given the stereotype in the Jungian community, as far as I have seen, of a rather boring worker bee satisfied to meticulously “inspect” and maintain all the boring detailed systems underlying society – in essence, an unambitious and short-sighted INTJ. This stereotype is far enough from the truth that the majority of people who get ISTJ on the MBTI test report that they don’t relate to their type description. ISTJ preferences merit far greater appreciation and respect than the nickname “inspector” produces.

As with all of these pieces, I aim to describe the core of the ISTJ profile and the typical ISTJ as an individual just as capable or incapable of becoming a hero of the history books as any other personality.

To begin, let’s break down what constitutes the ISTJ functionally.

They are a Judging type, meaning that they prefer extroverted judging and introverted perceiving. This means that they base their judgment criteria on objective, outside information, while simply observing and drinking in their subjective information and experiences. You could say that they are more aggressive towards the outside world and more receptive towards their inner experience.

Their preferred way of doing this is through extroverted thinking and introverted sensation. Extroverted thinking is inductive. It forms conclusions based on objective data, which they then aggressively try to fulfill. Meanwhile, introverted sensation perceives reality as it is, but invests its perceptions with subjectivity and recalls these subjective memories in similar situations. It is recording, or if you like, cataloguing or recalling.

Third, they are very similar to the ESTJ; both prefer Te and Si. The ISTJ, however, prefers Si more than Te. Nevertheless, they are in some sense the same type, or at least sister types. I personally like to call STJ types the “Scientists”, because they thoroughly examine reality and compare it with all the past experiences they’ve collected in their database. They then form logical conclusions from this breadth of objective data. Of course, “Scientist” is merely a nickname to help me remember the STJ nature and does not mean STJs are more likely to have an interest in actual science.

The ISTJ, then, is a “scientist” for whom their subjective perceptions of reality hold more importance than objective data and its resultant conclusions. They are more concerned with recording and exploring information gleaned from reality than with fulfilling its obligations.

The word I like to use for the ISTJ is “solidifying”, with a very specific meaning attached to it. As noted by the quote I began this video with, I have found that part of the principal driving force behind ISTJs is preparation for the future. With the ISTJ there is a sense that the world is unpredictable, ever-changing, and therefore unreliable. To counter this, the ISTJ’s Te collects masses of solid facts to determine with as much certainty as possible what is real and substantive, what is really going to come out on top in the future, and what really happened in the past. So when I say the ISTJ is “solidifying”, I mean they are seeking to find and factually bolster those things they deem real and of actual value and not just another passing fad in this crazy, irrational society of ours.

We can now see where the nickname “inspector” comes from: the ISTJ is notoriously thorough and meticulous. In some sense, they perceive the world as a maelstrom of nonsense and irrationality, and anything that they plan to do has to be constructed to withstand that storm, patiently waterproofing every inch of it and mathematically bolstering every inch of its structure as needed. Anything that they believe in must be submitted to meticulous testing and research to determine if it will serve reliably as they venture into the storm of the future.

Their intense scrutiny gives them another well-known characteristic which is being dutiful. This is because if they are putting their trust in anything it is because their trained eyes have deemed it safe to sail in, and there is no reason they ought not remain loyal to it even when it seems about to fall apart. They knew at the beginning that it would pull through, and no moment of terror will budge their original plan until they are up to their neck in water. Their dutifulness and loyalty extends in how they advise others. If others want to survive the storm, they need to determine what is reliable and then hold to it with courageous fidelity, and ISTJs are saddened or perturbed by how little effort others seem to put into their work and research.

There is another layer to their dutifulness, namely their tertiary Fi. As Sigmund Freud once said, “If I love someone, they must deserve it.” For the ISTJ, once something or someone has passed inspection, their feeling, sentiment and passion will grow deep and rooted within them, and though not deliberately or actively expressed outward, it is powerful and individual. They deeply love what they love, and it no longer becomes just a matter of logical obligation, but of sentimental attachment to those duties that merit this place in their heart. In other words, yes, there is a soft, fuzzy, boiling, passionate, sincere realm in their hearts.

The weight of their introverted sensation, which is responsible for their meticulousness and distrust of the unknown future, crushes their inferior Ne, which would be responsible for the perception and embracing of new possibilities. They recoil from the new and subject it to severe inspection and research, and if too much weight is given to this Si tendency, then the ISTJ can become overly stubborn and resistant to change and ingenuity. AKA the old man who complains about all this unreliable new-fangled junk like the internet and pockets, wishing we could go back to the good old familiar and tested days of radio and togas.

So, in summary, the ISTJ is solidifying, thoroughly determining the reliability of things in patient preparation for the unpredictable future through factual and practical research. However, they do become sentimentally attached to some of their most reliable things, giving them a loving loyalty. Unfortunately, their mistrust of the future can make it difficult for them to accept change and ingenuity without vigorous inspection.

Thanks for reading, and for all the ISTJs out there: thanks for trying to keep things real and reliable and lead us confidently into the future.

Watch this piece as a video here.

A Meditation on Parmenides

Michael Pierce is a contributing guest writer for CelebrityTypes. As always with guest writers on the site, Pierce’s piece represents his own insights and type assessments and not necessarily those of the site. Still, we very much enjoy his work and are pleased to be able to share it with our visitors.

By Michael Pierce

Way back, before the fame of Socrates, there was this Greek named Parmenides. He wrote this poem called On Nature where he said that there is no such thing as empty space; the space that seems to separate you from me and me from this computer and any object from any other object does not exist in its own right, but is just how we perceive a certain kind of relationship between objects.

488px-raffael_065Think about it. If we had a tube, and we sucked everything out – air, bacteria, and every single atom, molecule and particle – so that it was a truly empty vacuum, and then we said, “Everyone, inside this tube is absolutely nothing!” But the definition of nothing is nonexistence, so how can we point at something that doesn’t exist? How can we point at something that by definition cannot be pointed at? Aren’t we then saying that “nothing” is really “something”? That nothingness exists in its own right? Wouldn’t it then cease to be nothingness? But then how can we suck all this supposed nothingness out of the tube?

Parmenides had a student named Zeno who helps to further illustrate this principle with a series of famous paradoxes. I won’t go into them specifically, but the running theme in all of them is as follows: We see point A and point B, and we see there is ten meters between them. Now, what if we move point A forwards to cover half of that distance? Then it would be five meters. Now how about another half? That would be two point five meters. Then again: one and a fourth of a meter. Again: 0.625 meters. 0.3125 meters. 0.15625 meters. 0.078125 meters. 0.0390625 meters…

You can try it out on your own calculator until it runs out of decimal places, but never will the calculator actually declare the distance to be 0. Point A can never truly touch point B. Why not? Because as long as something exists, it must have some sort of mass, as shown by Parmenides, and if it has mass, it can be divided infinitely. But if that’s true, then how is movement through space possible? How does separation even work if there is an infinite amount of space between each of us? And how can there even be an “amount” of nothingness in the first place to separate you and me?

Taking it a step further, how can there be movement through time? Don’t we perceive time in a similar fashion to movement, as seconds or minutes or hours marching ceaselessly from the past through the present into the future? But if Point A takes 1 second to traverse 5 meters towards point B, then it will take 0.5 seconds to travel the next 2.5 meters, and 0.25 to travel 1.25 meters, and you get the idea.

Space and time, or as the physicists tell us, spacetime, do not have substance and do not exist in their own right. Space is not a receptacle of matter; it is how we perceive a certain kind of relationship between objects. But what does that mean? What do things “really” look like? As Parmenides theorized, because nothing is truly separated by either space or time, then everything must really be smashed together, compressed into one moment, one infinite and infinitesimal whole, everything in one point, existing for one moment, for all of eternity, without beginning or end.

So, metaphysically speaking, you, me, Parmenides, Zeno, Friedrich Nietzsche, Barack Obama and Jennifer Aniston are hugging it out across spacetime. Although we are “separate”, but not in the sense that there is a gap of nothingness between us, but in the sense that our “separation” is how we perceive a certain kind of relationship between each other.

God is often said to exist outside of spacetime, which would explain how God is omnipotent, because God can see all time happening at once. We on the other hand experience it moment by moment, like an ant burrowing through a loaf of bread.

If there is truth to this theory, I don’t believe this would necessitate any loss of free will. Our lives are not predestined just because they “already exist” in some sense. Whatever choices we are making in the future we are making right now in the metaphysical sense, as well as all the choices we’ve made before: our whole being, the whole worm of our time shape, makes its choices all at once, all in the same moment, but we experience it one slice of bread at a time. But why? I think that by focusing on one moment after another, rather than all at once, it allows us to make edits to our shape, something very difficult if not impossible when viewing the moment all at once. By viewing our time shape from this oddly limited perspective, we are unable to see our future, but able to remember our past, and therefore we are able to make informed decisions without inhibition of changing our future. Therefore nothing is set until the end. No mistake you make now is a final judgment; our personality, what we become, is not set in stone until the very, very end.

Hopefully we will use this time to become something better than whatever we were before we were born, because when the eternal moment has passed, and we exit from the stage, we will be whatever we choose to be for eternity, without beginning or end.

It’s a bit like Nietzsche’s Eternal Reoccurrence (which he actually had from Empedocles, ed.), which implores humanity to make the best life in spacetime as possible, for awaiting us after death is not a better opportunity for life, but only a re-occurrence of whatever kind of life we chose here, without a single thing changed. The question then is: what kind of life do you want to live over and over for eternity? As a prophet from the ancient Americas once said, “This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God.”

So, you may ask – what in the world does this have to do with Jungian typology?

Not that much, really, except that I believe typology can help us in our quest to “improve our time while in this life [before] the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed,” as the ancient American said. I think it’s one of many useful tools in that quest. While I believe there are tools essential for every human being in that quest, and I don’t believe typology is by any means essential, I still think it can be a great help, and that is the reason I write articles and make videos about it. I’m not even exaggerating to sound more awesome. I think that if one of my offerings helps one person better understand themselves and hold themselves a little better, then I ought to be satisfied.

Watch this piece as a video here.

Why Woodrow Wilson Is INTJ

“For Heaven’s sake never allude to Wilson as an idealist or militaire or altruist. He is a doctrinaire which he can be so safely with his personal ambition. … He hasn’t a touch of idealism in him. … [He’s] an utterly selfish and coldblooded politician always.” – Theodore Roosevelt, quoted in Kessler: Inside the White House Pocket Books 1996

“Wilson’s profile … is notable for … a low score on Agreeableness. … He scored highest of all presidents on Simonton’s Inflexibility scale [and was] most similar to Adams. … [Wilson] was ‘recalled as a man whose inability to compromise at critical times led to devastating defeats.’” – Steven J. Rubenzer and Thomas R. Faschingbauer: Personality, Character, and Leadership in the White House Potomac Books 2004

By Dylan Shapiro, with additions by Ryan Smith

The ‘default’ type assessment of Woodrow Wilson is as an Ni type, i.e. as an INJ. He has often been portrayed as a full-blooded idealist, reluctantly compelled to commit the United States to war but at heart a pacifist and a dreamer who, according to his psychological biographers William Bullitt and Sigmund Freud, “esteemed nothing higher than human motives and opinions.” Going by such accounts, one could understandably be led to believe that Wilson was an INFJ type, but this view of Wilson is not in accordance with the historical reality.

woodrowwilson1An early influential account of Wilson as a tender-hearted idealist was offered by the Bullitt-Freud account just mentioned. But since its inception, historians and psychologists have universally derided Bullitt and Freud’s analysis of Wilson. To give but two examples, psychologist Erik Erikson called the book “disastrously bad” and historian A.J.P. Taylor called the book “a disgrace.” Indeed, more recent studies have done away with the image of Wilson as a soft-spoken idealist and revealed a power-loving, dogged visionary. As such, it is my assertion that Wilson was INTJ rather than INFJ.

Why Wilson Is Not Fe/Ti

In Jungian typology, INFJs have Fe/Ti while INTJs have Te/Fi. Fe, or Extraverted Feeling, is characterized by a cooperative and mutualistic attitude that furthers its aims in the outer world through appeals to appropriate and commonly accepted social mores. Fe’s strength is typically to be found in the realm of social interaction, deploying soothing sentiment and furthering group harmony in order to sway others to the will of the Fe type. And while it is clear that Thomas Jefferson possessed these powers in abundance, Wilson did not.

In their study to compute and compile the Big Five scores of the various U.S. presidents, the psychologists Steven Rubenzer and Thomas Faschingbauer found that while Jefferson’s score on Agreeableness was the 51st percentile, Wilson’s was the 13th. Since Fe is the Jungian function that, by nature, is the most agreeable, it is unlikely (but not impossible) that Wilson, with his very low Agreeableness score, had auxiliary Fe. Indeed, as we know from decades of Big Five research, a person with low Agreeableness is likely to be argumentative and stubborn when others disagree with his views, which is really diametrically opposed to the soothing and appropriate Fe mode of approach.

As examples of this high-Agreeableness Fe, Thomas Jefferson himself said that: “In stating rules … I must not omit the important one of never entering into argument with another. I never saw an instance of disputants convincing each other by argument.” He also said that: “Self-love … [leads] us [to violate] our moral duties to others.” Wilson, on the other hand, according to the Rubenzer and Faschingbauer study, “was not modest or cooperative” and “was emphatic in asserting his judgments.” Both of these observations are in stark contrast to Jefferson’s manner. They suggest that Wilson did not exhibit an Fe mode of expression.

INTJ and INTJ: Wilson Compared to Adams

big fiveOn the other hand, if one compares Wilson to John Adams, striking similarities emerge. First, Adams’s Big Five scores look like a caricature of Wilson’s, but follow the same pattern: High Neuroticism and Conscientiousness, moderately high Openness, and low Extraversion and Agreeableness. Rubenzer and Faschingbauer’s study even groups Adams and Wilson while grouping Jefferson with other Fe types.

Aside from their very similar Big Five scores, Adams and Wilson share other similarities. Notably, both of them had extremely low scores on Interpersonal Style in the Rubenzer and Faschingbauer study, alluding again, perhaps, to the (all else being equal) lower interpersonal agreeableness of the INTJ when compared to the INFJ. Of all the U.S. presidents from Washington to Bush Jr., Wilson was deemed the lowest on the Interpersonal Style parameter, and Adams was deemed the second lowest.

Wilson’s Writings

Another way to determine whether Wilson was INFJ or INTJ is to pore over the body of Wilson’s political writings: When we examine Wilson’s political thought prior to his ascension to the presidency, we find indeed that Wilson’s writings contain many ideas that oppose those values and mental contents that we usually associate with Fe/Ti.

As previously detailed on this website, a person who has an Fe/Ti axis is more likely to believe that all people are created equal and that everyone should be held to the same standard (as indeed many of the founding documents of the United States, penned by Thomas Jefferson, seem to suggest). Conversely, a person with a Te/Fi axis is more likely to believe, a priori, that all people are not created equal and that it is thus mistaken to hold all people to the same standards. Setting aside the matter of FP types, in whom Fi is stronger than Te, a common belief of the TJ types, not just in politics but with regards to organizational principles as a whole, is that those who are the most competent should make the decisions while most others absolutely should not. In addition, a TJ type would be more likely to believe only in laws that are executable, as opposed to the more open-ended theoretical political principles which Fe/Ti types would be more inclined to enshrine as law. Though we are dealing here with mental contents (not processes), Wilson, during his academic career as a political scientist, argued for exactly the things we would expect of a TJ type. In his book Constitutional Government of the United States, Wilson wrote:

“No doubt a great deal of nonsense has been talked about the inalienable rights of the individual, and a great deal that was mere vague sentiment and pleasing speculation has been put forward as fundamental principle. The rights of man are easy to discourse of, may be very pleasingly magnified in the sentences of such constitutions as it used to satisfy the revolutionary ardor of French leaders to draw up and affect to put into operation; but they are infinitely hard to translate into practice. Such theories are never ‘law,’ no matter what the name or the formal authority of the document in which they are embodied. Only that is ‘law’ which can be executed, and the abstract rights of man are singularly difficult of execution. None the less, vague talk and ineffectual theory though there may be, the individual is indisputably the original, the first fact of liberty. Nations are made up of individuals, and the dealings of government with individuals are the ultimate and perfect test of its constitutional character. Liberty belongs to the individual, or it does not exist.”

In a few sentences Wilson scorns and mocks the abstract ideals of the Declaration of Independence while at the same time advocating more concretely executable practices of tangible law and individual-based liberty. Likewise, in the essay The Study of Administration, Wilson laconically asserts that “the bulk of mankind is rigidly unphilosophical, and nowadays the bulk of mankind votes,” and then proceeds to remark:

“In government, as in virtue, the hardest of things is to make progress. Formerly the reason for this was that the single person who was sovereign was generally either selfish, ignorant, timid, or a fool – albeit there was now and again one who was wise. Nowadays the reason is that the many, the people, who are sovereign have no single ear which one can approach, and are selfish, ignorant, timid, stubborn, or foolish with the selfishness, the ignorances, the stubbornnesses, the timidities, or the follies of several thousand persons – albeit there are hundreds who are wise. Once the advantage of the reformer was that the sovereign’s mind had a definite locality, that it was contained in one man’s head, and that consequently it could be gotten at; though it was his disadvantage that the mind learned only reluctantly or only in small quantities, or was under the influence of someone who let it learn only the wrong things. Now, on the contrary, the reformer is bewildered by the fact that the sovereign’s mind has no definite locality, but is contained in a voting majority of several million heads; and embarrassed by the fact that the mind of this sovereign also is under the influence of favorites, who are none the less favorites in a good old-fashioned sense of the word because they are not persons by preconceived opinions; i.e., prejudices which are not to be reasoned with because they are not the children of reason.”

Where once a reformer could appeal to one person and possibly convince them to change their mind, now the elective body of the people forms a group a million strong, and to reason with such a body is nearly impossible. Ultimately, Wilson’s solution to the problem of the masses is to create a bureaucracy drawn from the select minority of wise individuals and to make that bureaucracy independent of popular opinion, thereby commissioning a public bureau of skilled, economical administrators.

While we may say that this hierarchization of people points more to Te/Fi than Ti/Fe, all else being equal, it is nevertheless not beyond INFJ philosophers, such as Plato, to arrive at similar conclusions: Most people are base natures and only a few are fit to rule. However, where Plato holds holistic insight into “the whole of the good” as the primary qualification to rule, Wilson’s stated arguments are those of competence, proper training, and professionalism – the expertise itself entitles the few to rule rather than any alleged connection with an ineffable greater whole. In his own words, Wilson eschews “theoretical perfection” in government, while Plato and Jefferson appear guided by it. To Plato, there are people who are competent, but not insightful (Republic §485bc), whereas to Wilson, competence and insight seem to be inseparably connected as two sides of the same coin. Given that a cat has to be skinned, we are simply to establish the most rational and effective way to skin the cat. Amorphous considerations supplanted onto the task of skinning the cat, but not directly related to it, appear superfluous to Wilson.

Wilson’s preference for objectively measurable efficiency over theoretical perfection and his confounding of the efficient execution of a task with its moral value both suggest Te over Ti and Fe, but perhaps Wilson’s own terseness will make the point better than any exposition offered by us. In Wilson’s own words, “seeing every day new things which the state ought to do, the next thing is to see clearly how it ought to do them. … This is why there should be a science of administration which shall seek to straighten the paths of government.”

Why Wilson Is Te/Fi

Most of the evidence we have supplied for Wilson being a Te/Fi type so far has come from his academic career, which preceded his ascension to the presidency. As president, Wilson seemingly exhibited much more idealistic characteristics, and it is from this period of his life that the popular image of Wilson as an idealist is derived.

However, it is our contention that closer inspection of Wilson’s characteristics as president only serves to make his Te/Fi axis even clearer. One cardinal difference between INFJ and INTJ is the differing nature of how they translate the dictates of Introverted Intuition into action: Because INTJs have Te, they tend to translate their visions into something pragmatic and clear-cut; something that allows itself to be determined by outer objects and tasks while diminishing the holistic nature of the original Ni vision (Psychological Types §583). Hence when the original amorphous observations (Ni) are transformed into a series of specific injunctions (Te), the transformation tends to entail a certain lessening of the purity of their ideas. Conversely, INFJs have no Te and thus no need to transform the discernments of Ni into reductionistic and clear-cut conclusions. Consequently the mental processes of an INFJ are frequently more nebulous and abstract, rendering them more idealistic, but also less applicable to reality.

If one were to examine Wilson’s speeches and rhetoric from his presidential period, it would perhaps be understandable if one came away with the impression that INFJ was the better fit for Wilson’s personality. Yet as is so often the case in politics, rhetoric can be beguiling; indeed it often serves to mask the unpopular aspects of a politician’s underlying ideology or agenda.

In spite of the popular image of Wilson as a soft-spoken idealist, there is an ongoing scholarly debate over whether Wilson was really a hard-nosed realist or a starry-eyed, too-good-for-this-world idealist. The debate has raged for nearly a century and has still not been resolved. Yet if Wilson’s visions were so unabashedly idealistic, then why the need for this ongoing debate?

Even in the world of Jungian typology, both sides have been taken: There are those, including Keirsey, who class him as an STJ type, portraying him as a pragmatic realist with little need for impractical intellectual introspections, while at the other end there are those who class Wilson as an INFJ, supposedly on account of him being a full-blooded idealist type (and perhaps being led on by Bullitt and Freud’s “disastrously bad” but widely-read account of Wilson’s personality that was discussed above).

It is our suspicion that this century-old and perennially enduring divide in scholarly opinion may itself offer a clue to Wilson’s true leanings: He was neither an unabashed realist nor a pure-blooded idealist, but rather something in-between – a “pragmatic idealist.”

Wilson’s Factual Empiricism

“[We have not] adjusted to the facts of the case, and until we do, and unless we do, the facts of the case will always have the better of the argument.” – Woodrow Wilson: The New Freedom

One salient distinction between INTJs and INFJs is that INTJs, having Te, tend to be more empirically oriented than INFJs who have Fe/Ti and who are therefore more guided by principles and ideals. Wilson, despite his sometimes moralistic exterior as president, was really an empiricist with regards to the mental processes that led him to his conclusion. In the book Reconsidering Woodrow Wilson Trygve Throntveit explains:

“Empirical yet empathetic; reformist yet restrained – what exactly was the nature of the progressive politics Wilson brought to the White House? His injunction against drawing-board reforms sounds like the creed of a conservative, while his rejection of ideological rigidity created a safe distance from the ‘radicals’ of his day. Yet his legislative accomplishments in office mark him as one of the most radical reformers to occupy the presidency. In fact, the sweeping changes he effected in office can only be understood as the product of a skeptical and deliberative yet creative and adaptive mind – as the work of radical empiricist in politics.”

In other words, it may well be that “the facts as they were” – the arbitrary historical starting point that Wilson inherited as president – formed the irrefutable psychological basis of the changes that Wilson instituted in office. Rather than the nemesis of a radical and principled idealist, “the facts as they were” were Wilson’s enablers – the stepping stones that allowed him to see clearly the ways in which he wanted to reform the American government.

This characterization, if true, points again to a preference for Te over Ti in Wilson’s psyche. As explained in Psychological Types, Te types tend to begin with the facts before moving onto principles and theory, whereas with Ti types, the reverse is often true. Despite his idealistic aura as President, Wilson’s thought had empiricist origins.

Wilson’s Pacifism, Hegel, and the League of Nations

“Wilson’s thought owes a substantial intellectual debt to G. W. F. Hegel, especially when one considers the historicism and organic state theory that serve as the backbone for Wilson’s political arguments.” – Ronald J. Pestritto: Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism

“[Hegel] used to search for – and in most cases, find, it seems to me – the fundamental psychological facts of society.” – Woodrow Wilson: Personal Letter to Ellen Louise Axson

Finally, a large part of Wilson’s reputation as an idealist is grounded in his founding of the League of Nations and his ostensible love of peace. This is the popular view that Rubenzer and Faschingbauer allude to when they say that “Wilson is remembered as visionary, a man ahead of his time, whose dream did see eventual fulfillment in the United Nations.” If Wilson were indeed just someone who dreamt of reciprocal relations amongst all nations with no ulterior motives, then in terms of mental contents, then this longing might suggest the workings of an otherworldly INFJ over an empirical INTJ concerned with the practical efficiency and purpose of his commendations.

However, it is our contention that, far from forming an antithesis to Wilson’s political writings from before he was president, Wilson’s internationalist agenda as president and support for the League of Nations is actually a continuation of the same view of politics that Wilson had been espousing all along. In his essay The Wilsonian Chimera, the historian Stephen Wertheim argues that “understanding Wilson‘s political thought is especially important to understanding his internationalism.” Indeed, as Wertheim sees it, Wilson’s political ideas as an academic were wholly integrated into his ideals as President. This is our contention also.

As the quotes furnished above make clear, Wilson was strongly influenced by the philosophy of G.W.F. Hegel. Far from the popular image of the League of Nations as a forerunner to the United Nations that we know today with its use of conventions as a mode of ethics, it may well be that Wilson viewed the League of Nations as the embryo of “a fuller global polity,” that is to say, as a form of Hegelian teleological integration of world politics in its progress towards the end goal of history. Hence the Wilson of the pre-president years who had written that “seeing every day new things which the state ought to do … there should be a science of administration which shall seek to straighten the paths of government” is not at all different from the Wilson of the later president years who advocated an internationalist order as a step on the road towards global government.

If this analysis is agreed to, it will no longer make sense to view Wilson as a moralistic idealist or the savior-like persona that he is sometimes perceived as. Wilson did dream and he did have definite visions but his dreams were of a Hegelian nature and laden with empiricism. Overall, when examining Wilson’s thought and actions, there is little evidence of principled idealism and much evidence of pragmatic empiricism in spite of the outwardly idealistic rhetoric that he sometimes employed.

Conclusion

If the point that Woodrow Wilson was an Ni type is granted, the only feasible possibilities are INTJ or INFJ. Though Wilson may seem moralistic and idealistic at first glance, this view of him appears untenable once the full range of his life and work is factored in. In reality, Wilson was neither a realist nor an idealist, but rather something in-between – a “pragmatic progressivist.” Because Wilson was neither one nor the other, a century-long debate has ensued over whether he was really a realist or an idealist, and this debate has never been fully resolved.

However, examining Wilson’s viewpoints from before the presidency and reconciling them with his actions as president, we see that Wilson held empiricist and pragmatic leanings. His conclusions were thought through empirically, in spite of the seemingly idealistic conclusions he sometimes reached.

A final point of curiosity may be that Wilson’s personal values (namely self-love, power, measurable efficiency, self-confidence and a pride in standing firm in the face of opposition) are diametrically opposed to Jefferson’s beliefs in equality, modesty, mutuality, moral righteousness, and avoiding debate. While Wilson’s values are different from Jefferson’s, they are similar to those of John Adams. Wilson’s Big Five scores also closely resemble Adams’s in all regards but diverge strongly from Jefferson’s on Agreeableness, which correlates with the T/F dimension as known from the Jungian system.

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Photo of Wilson restored especially for this publication by artist AnushyaDevi Jeyaram.

REFERENCES

Bullitt & Freud: Woodrow Wilson: A Psychological Study Houghton Mifflin 1966
Garrett: Atlanta and Environs: A Chronicle of Its People and Events, 1880s-1930s University of Georgia Press 2011
Pestritto: Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism Rowman & Littlefield 2005
Rubenzer & Faschingbauer: Personality, Character, and Leadership in the White House Potomac Books 2004
Throntveit, in Cooper (ed.): Reconsidering Woodrow Wilson: Progressivism, Internationalism, War, and Peace Woodrow Wilson Center Press 2008
Wilson: Constitutional Government in the United States Quid Pro Books 2011
Wilson: The New Freedom Mundus Publishing 1965
Wilson: The Study of Public Administration Public Affairs Press 1955

Todd Essig’s Misconstrual of the MBTI

By Sigurd Arild and Eva Gregersen

In a quote that is popularly misattributed to Joseph Goebbels, it is said that “if you repeat a lie often enough, it eventually becomes the truth.” Since Adam Grant kicked off his sensationalist critique of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) last year, there has been no shortage of uninformed bloggers willing to sacrifice scientific integrity in order to bring down the Myers-Briggs. The latest of these derogators is Todd Essig, in a piece written for Forbes.

Since we have dealt with the majority of the issues raised by Essig long ago, we will ignore the idle repetitions and only respond to what’s new in his piece. Essig could have saved himself and his employers at Forbes some embarrassing misconstruals if he had read our previous articles first.

Here, in brief, is why Essig’s article fails:

1
Essig’s headline says that the MBTI is “meaningless.”

But the MBTI is not “meaningless.” Every single scientific, peer-reviewed study ever conducted into the validity of the MBTI has ended up concluding that there is some truth to the assessments yielded by the MBTI, while at the same time it is also true that the instrument has noticeable shortcomings.

2
Essig writes that: “The MBTI is pretty much nonsense, sciencey snake oil. As is well-established by research, it has no more reliability and validity than a good Tarot card reading.”

But Essig is flat-out wrong here. There is no well-established body of research proving that the MBTI has “about the same reliability as Tarot cards.” To furnish evidence for his point, Essig links to a scientific article. But this article does not conclude that the MBTI has no more reliability than a Tarot reading – on the contrary, the article concludes that “The available evidence suggests that the MBTI does measure constructs related to personality.” So the very article provided by Essig himself concludes the opposite of what Essig says it does.

Like Adam Grant, Essig belongs to a band of MBTI critics who are so willing to bring down the Myers-Briggs that they are willing to misquote from the scientific sources when they can’t find proper studies to back up their assertions.

3
Essig then addresses one of the well-known empirical problems with the MBTI instrument, namely that it breaks the indices measured into halves. Essig purports to illustrate this weakness by the following analogy: “Consider an imaginary single-letter Myers-Briggs Weight Indicator. The fictional MBWI, just like its namesake, is an either/or designation. You stand on the MBWI scale and it says your weight type is either obese (O) or anorectic (A). Can you imagine taking that seriously? Saying one’s weight is either obese (O) or anorectic (A) is not just lacking validity, it’s actually pretty absurd. And so too is the MBTI itself with its “four pairs of opposing preferences.” Personality traits just don’t fit the either/or structure of the MBTI any more than weight does. And like our absurd fictional example, it is absurd to say they do.”

The basic criticism voiced here is a sound one – the cut-up indices are an empirical problem for the MBTI. But the analogy is misleading because it suggests that the MBTI’s categories are either 0 or 100 when in fact its categories are rather 0-50 and 51-100. In Essig’s own analogy, it would be more accurate to say that the MBTI purported to tell you whether your body weight was over or under 150 pounds, not whether you were anorectic or obese.

However, as we have previously covered on the site, the MBTI is not an end in itself: It is an attempt to quantify C.G. Jung’s cognitive theory empirically, which means that the scores yielded by the MBTI are indicators and should not be taken to be direct depictions of the type preferences involved, just like a column of smoke should not be taken to be fire itself, but indeed can often be taken as a legitimate indicator of fire.

4
Finally, Essig gives us a rundown of some of the criticisms that his own reporting is based off: Adam Grant, Joseph Stromberg, and Drake Baer, as well as a New York Times article re-hashing the pieces of Adam Grant, Joseph Stromberg, and Drake Baer. In other words, we are dealing with a mindless copy-paste job of fallacious reasoning going back and forth between the usual suspects, all of whom we have previously debunked on the site, and all of whom can be demonstrated to be ignorant of even the most basic tenets concerning the MBTI. There is nothing new going on here – it is merely par for the course that the lie, repeated often enough, eventually becomes the truth.

 

Article Series: CelebrityTypes Debunks Bad MBTI Criticisms:

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MBTI for Skeptics © Eva Gregersen, Sigurd Arild, and CelebrityTypes International 2014.

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