A Writer's Room of Requirement

A home for the many random insights that cross my mind from time to time.

Archive for the category “Myers-Briggs”

Which types escape the Matrix?


When faced with the incredibly realistic but ultimately false reality of The Matrix which cognitive functions would prove most useful in detecting the machines’ simulation?  Certainly not all functions were created equal in this regard.  Certain types have to prove more difficult to subdue.  Who bucks the simulation of this logical world?

To recognize the Matrix I would want the ability to think imaginatively, to see beyond what my senses tell me.  The machines own my senses now.  I need alternative means of perception.

It would also help if I had values and abilities that the machines themselves can’t emulate.  If they can’t feel what I feel, then that makes me far more difficult to predict.  They have more difficulty cutting my perceptions off before I can realize them.  They will always have a superior logic.  They possess flawless objective processes.  But as a mammal, I will always have more capacity for unique emotion.  I must fight them on the battlefield where I have the advantage.

With this rubric in mind, I outlined the eight cognitive functions from most potentially helpful to least:


Introverted Feeling (Fi) – No matter how long they study, the machines will never truly understand the depths of a man’s heart.  They will never find a way to emulate the connection the Fi type feels with their fellow man.  Of all the types, the Fi types possess the strongest sense of empathy.  Through the observation of so many cues of body language and speech, they begin to feel what someone else feels.  No matter how accurate the Matrix becomes, the simulation always puts a thin film, a slight barrier, between the full interaction of two human beings.  The Matrix places a wisp of haze in front of the feeler’s empathy.  With such a perfectly crafted world, these slight, constant inconsistencies mean all the difference.  The Fi type never feels as fully connected to humanity as they should.  Maybe that explains why so many great Fi artists  – Kurt Cobain, Heath Ledger, Jimi Hendrix – come to tragic ends.  They just finally escaped the Matrix.

Extraverted Intuition (Ne) – No cognitive function possesses a higher capacity for imagination.  The Ne types constantly scan their environment – on an almost subconscious level – for any and all connections between all things.  This form of intuition loves to follow each and every rabbit trail that springs to life in the mind’s eye.  This gives the user two advantages in fighting the Matrix.  First, the Ne types, more than any other, notice the inconsistencies in their reality.  They stands apart as the great satirists and revolutionaries like Machiavelli, Mark Twain, and Stephen Colbert.  This constant examination of their reality could potentially lead them to notice the machines pulling the puppet strings behind their reality.

The Ne type also has the imagination to create a world different from their own, a world where these puppet masters don’t exist or don’t hold any power over their human slaves.  Ne types don’t just imagine a better world, they seek to engineer one.  No matter how well the machines prepare, they can never fully plan for every permutation of an idea that can occur to these scatter brained geniuses.


Introverted Intuition (Ni) – Like their Ne brethren, Ni types possess a strong imagination.  They have an ability to plan for the future that borders on precognition.  They see all of the possible outcomes in a situation and can plan for the most likely ones.  They could entertain the idea of a world dominated by machines and a false reality.  However, because they direct their perception inward, it leaves them rather divorced from their external world.  As such, why should they care whether they live in a “real” world or one dominated by the simulation of an artificial intelligence.  As long as they remain free to read their books or organize that reality in a sensible manner, they could care less about their supposed slavery.  The Ni might see the Matrix, but will they do anything about it?


Introverted Thinking (Ti) – Introverted thinking helps the user solve puzzles.  It provides a logical framework from which they can experiment with their external world.  In solving most problems – such as defeating your robot overlord – this kind of sharp, focused mind comes in handy.  Unfortunately for the Ti type in this universe, their enemy will always have a superior logic.  Like pitting the school chess champion against a grand master, the human simply has no chance.  The Ti type could potentially notice a logical inconsistency in the Matrix but the machines will probably always stay one step ahead.

Introverted Sensing (Si) – The machines have co-opted humanity’s five senses to an alarmingly accurate degree.  Thus, the Si type only notices the Matrix if they witness the machines change something.  They have such a sharp memory that they would pick up on any alterations made by the Agents or the Matrix’s over-arching program long before anyone else would.  However, the Si type probably goes their entire life without ever encountering such a change.  They still have long odds of noticing an event that has long odds of occurring in the first place.  The Si type lacks any agency in noticing the simulation.

Extraverted Thinking (Te) – Like the Ti type, the Te type uses a strong logic in an attempt to order their world.  I’ve already shown how hard a thinking mammal has it against a purely logical machine.  And like the Si type, the chances of a Te type noticing the Matrix rely purely on circumstances.  Te will only see proof of the Matrix when they try to order their external world and that world doesn’t react in a logical manner.  In other words, for an extraverted thinker to see the Matrix, they have to find a bug in an expertly crafted game.  The machines just don’t make those kinds of mistakes very often.

Completely Useless

Extraverted Feeling  (Fe) – The Fe type seeks the harmony and growth of all people in their tight-knit community.  They have no incentive to seek out the Matrix because the extraverted feeler can accomplish these aims within the confines of the simulation.  In fact, the Matrix actively uses community harmony to keep their subjects in line.  Morpheus tells us that you can feel the Matrix “when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes.”  The Fe type may even aid the machines in working against those searching for proof of the Matrix.  They believe that such “terrorists” pose a threat to the harmony of society with their dangerous ideas.

Extraverted Sensing (Se) – Above all else, the Matrix seeks to corrupt our senses.  We see what they want us to see, hear what they want us to hear, etc.  Se type leans heavily and completely on those very senses.  Above all others, they find it the most difficult to extract themselves from the Matrix’s sticky web.  They think they see more than all others, but they are clearly the most blind.

neo stops

I  won’t bore you with the details, but I assigned a point total to each function and then weighted the impact of that function depending on where if falls in the stack of a given personality type.  I came to the following ranking for the most likely type to escape the Matrix.

Rank Type Functions
1. INFP Fi, Ne, Si, Te
2. ENFP Ne, Fi, Te, Si
3. ISFP Fi, Se, Ni, Te
4. ENTP Ne, Ti, Fe, Si
5. INTJ Ni, Te, Fi, Se
6. INTP Ti, Ne, Si, Fe
7. INFJ Ni, Fe, Ti, Se
8. ENTJ Te, Ni, Se, Fi
9. ESFP Se, Fi, Te, Ni
10. ISTJ Si, Te, Fi, Ne
11. ESTJ Te, Si, Ne, Fi
12. ENFJ Fe, Ni, Se, Ti
13. ISTP Ti, Se, Ni, Fe
14. ESFJ Fe, Si, Ne, Ti
15. ISFJ Si, Fe, Ti, Ne
16. ESTP Se, Ti, Fe, Ni

Why more Sensing Types than Intuitive Types?

Every estimate I’ve seen on the number of Sensing (S) Types and Intuitive (N) types places S types in the majority.  The strength of that majority varies, but I’ve read estimates that range from a 55/45 spilt up to a 75/25 split in favor of the more grounded types.  Why?  What societal and evolutionary pressures leave my N brethren and I outnumbered?

Socially, a single visionary can come up with a great idea, but it often takes an army of workers to make it a reality.  For instance, to erect a building, it takes anywhere from a handful to hundreds of workers to lay the foundation, stand up the frame, insert electrical and plumbing, hang sheetrock for walls, paint those walls, and any other number of tasks.  Each of those teams needs a leader, someone who can make the trains run on time, who makes sure that the craftsman have the material and tools they need.  Most of all, the leader needs to make sure the craftsmen get paid on time.  The building only needs one architect.


When breaking those careers down, SPs make the best craftsmen.  So right off the bat, we need a large number of hands-on S types to get the job done.  Leadership, the foremen and bean counters, attracts a number of xSTJs.  Their introverted sensing (Si) function remembers all of the minute details – they forget nothing  – and their extroverted thinking (Te) has no qualms reminding everyone else.  One or two xNTJs might sit at the top of the leadership hierarchy with their long term vision, and an INTP would make a great architect, but the job of building needs an overwhelming majority of sensing types.

This relationship seems to work across a variety organizations.  The educational theory or counseling tactic proposed by the xNFJ professor or priest gets used by any number of xSFJ teachers, sunday school leaders, and childcare workers.  It only takes one xNFP Joan of Arc or John Lennon or Gandhi to start a revolution that affects millions.  The invention created by the xNTP in his basement gets reproduced and used everywhere.  Dwight Eisenhower (ENTJ) plans the Normandy Invasion of D-Day, but he needs troops on the ground to make it happen.  One intuitive idea needs many hands.

Over the many years of human society, as we have moved more and more towards specialization, the S/N balance has evolved to fit the needs of society.  Perhaps we have more N types now as society adjusts to ever increasing complexity in the human experience.  We need more ideas.  Or perhaps we have fewer N types now as an intuitive idea can reach farther across nations than ever before.  Regardless, it would make sense that it remains a fluid thing.  A person successfully filling their niche will have more opportunities to mate and have a greater chance of keeping their offspring viable.  Over time, society will adapt to the problems it faces.

Of course a far older and more resilient factor might affect the N/S balance in humanity.  As with any species, the threat of predation and other dangers that we have faced along our evolutionary path has certainly directed our development.  Maybe N types just get eaten more than S types.

As an intuitive, I know just how oblivious I am to the actual reality around me sometimes.  When our perception relies so much on the possibility of a person, object, or environment, we can sometimes neglect to see that object for what it actually is.  This perception comes in handy for pushing the human race forward.  Less so when trying to notice the lion creeping up on you in the tall grass.

lion in grass

The extroverted sensing (Se) types constantly scan their environment for anything interesting.  The movement of the lion makes them take notice immediately.  If the lion pounces, they can easily dispatch it with their superior athleticism and well-practiced weapon skills.

The routine and memory of the Si often keeps them safe from the lion.  They never leave home without food, water, and their weapon.  They take the same route to and from the watering hole every day.  They remember the location of every blade of grass.  They soon notice the unusual void in the swaying grasses that hints at the lion and they cautiously return to their cave without disturbing the beast.

The intuitive types have more difficulty.  The extroverted intuitive (Ne) follows the trends.  They notice the migration patterns of the lion pride and try to avoid traveling during the pride’s most active times.  Still, that does nothing to save them from the outliers.  And what happens if they read the trends incorrectly?  I liken it to a quarterback reading defenses and throwing blind.  If he gets his pre-snap read right, he could complete pass after pass.  He just throws to a likely open man.  What happens when he reads the defense incorrectly?  What happens if he has a miscommunication with his receiver and the receiver takes a different route?  Well then you see the ball spiral perfectly into the hands of the safety with a receiver nowhere in sight.

The introverted intutitve (Ni) type has no chance.  The symbolic savannah in their mind’s eye has no lions, but try telling that to Leo.  On a related note, INFJs are the rarest type.

lion eating

Leo gets to know an INFJ gazelle

Other reasons likely account for the disparity between N and S types in the American population, but we can’t begin to tell that story or understand the nature of humanity in general without looking at the societal and environmental pressures on our physiology.


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MBTI and Sexual Enjoyment

While all personality types enjoy sex in different ways and to varying degrees, I can’t help but wonder if certain types are more drawn to that raw intimacy than others based on their cognitive types.  I have no scientific proof, but I thought I could begin the discussion with this hypothesis.

#1. ESFP

#2. ISFP

Enjoyment of sex often requires two things: an ability to live effortlessly in the moment and a deep, intimate connection. Extraverted sensing (Se) types and too a lesser extent extraverted intuitive (Ne) types are the most comfortable at living in the moment.  Those types constantly look outside themselves for their perceptions.  The Se-friendly type especially can enjoy every aspect of sight, touch, smell, sound, and taste that sex provides.  They are right here, right now, enjoying every sensual aspect of their partner.

Introverted feeling (Fi) types get the most enjoyment from the intimate spiritual connection of sex.  Fi provides individuals with strongly held values but, more importantly, well-developed empathy.  No other cognitive function offers more excitement in response to a partner’s excitement.

The xSFP types combine Se and Fi as their dominant and secondary cognitive functions.  I give the ESFP the nod here because of the dominant Se function.



Both xSTP types also share a strong familiarity with Se.  ESTPs use it as their dominant function and ISTPs use it as their secondary function.  However, they lack the empathy of their other SP companions.  Without that connection, they likely take a more lusty, animalistic pleasure in sex.



These two types do share the empathy of Fi.  INFPs use it as their dominant function and ENFPs as their secondary function.  They seek a strong emotional connection in all of their relationships, especially their sexual encounters.  While their strong Ne allows them to explore their outside world with a fierce imagination, they likely enjoy sex only as much as the spiritual and emotional bond they share with their partner.



Both types frequently explore their outside world with the imaginative exploration of Ne.  ENTPs possess dominant Ne and INTPs possess secondary Ne.  Sex provides a creative bounty of possibilities for the Ne.  While they may not have the deep emotional connection with their partner, they can enjoy constantly trying new things in the bedroom.  As long as sex continues to stimulate their mind and imagination, they can greatly enjoy its many experimentations.


10. INFJ

11. ESFJ

12. ISFJ

Extraverted feeling (Fe) types might enjoy sex in a more indirect manner.  Above all, Fe seeks harmony in their relationships.  They want people to get along.  A seamless and enjoyable sexual relationship stands at the pinnacle of harmonious interactions.  Like the Fi types, Fe types enjoy seeing their partner pleased and excited, though they probably don’t feel that deep heartfelt connection as much as the Fi types.  The extraverted xxFJs use Fe more frequently than the introverts.  The NFJs also possess a weak Se function. While they will never feel as comfortable with their sexuality as the SPs, they can, over time, grow to enjoy the raw physicality of sex to a certain degree.

13. ENTJ

14. INTJ

15. ESTJ

16. ISTJ

These four types are the most divorced from their own physical bodies and from physical connections from others. They all turn their perception inward, to their own past or future.  In relationships, they seek not harmony or empathy, but order and control.  I imagine the only pleasure they get from sex results from either dominating another or the wild thrill of submitting to another when they usually feel so much in control.  It reminds me of Kevin Spacey’s character in House of Cards, the way he uses sex as a political transaction.  Like the four Fe types above, the extraverts feel slightly more comfortable with their Te function than the introverts.  Similarly, the NJs have a weak Se function, but for someone so in control, it may take them years to get over the embarrassment they feel for enjoying physical pleasure.

Myers-Briggs Personalities and Morality

After reading some of Carl Jung’s original work on cognitive functions in the last year, I’ve taken issue with the labels “thinking” and “feeling.”  The dichotomy leads novice typers to believe that all feeling types lack rationality and that all thinking types have all the warmth of cold, heartless robots.  Naturally, the truth has far more complexity.  Feelers use the same rational processes as thinkers and can demonstrate a certain ruthlessness when their families or values appear threatened.  Think mama bear with her cubs.  Similarly, thinkers often have strong bonds and deeply held convictions that can result in very powerful emotions.  We all use some form of thinking and feeling in our cognitive function stack.  Rather than pure concepts, T and F denote a preference in judgement for the subjective or objective.  In making their rational decisions, F types prefer to focus on the subjective aspects: how the decision will make them feel, how it will affect the people close to them, and whether or not it remains in keeping with their values.  T types focus on how much a given decision remains in keeping with objective standards: does it hold up under unbiased logic?  Does it fit with their understanding of good order and justice?

We all use both the subjective F function and the objective T function with one directed inward and one directed outward. All this theory boils down to four relationships between T and F in the cognitive function stacks of each of the sixteen types.  Extraverted thinking (Te) dominates introverted feeling (Fi) or vice versa.  Or introverted thinking (Ti) dominates extraverted thinking (Fe) or vice versa.  Each of these four relationships offer different ways in which we approach morality.  The amoral Ti, the just Te, the communal Fe, and the innocent Fi all judge their interpersonal relationships from vastly different viewpoints.


captain jack sparrow

The Amoral Ti-Fe (ENTP, INTP, ESTP, ISTP)

Let me begin with the worldview with which I possess the most familiarity.  While some would see the hedonism of the more sensing introverted thinker or the curiosity with darkness and iconoclasm of the more intuitive introverted thinker as immoral or unprincipled, we really just possess a staunch amorality.  The subjective value of a judgement rarely, if ever, enters into the decision making process.  We do not seek to do evil, we simply believe that an efficient structure does not require consideration of the good/evil dichotomy.  For us, morality simply does not apply.

When placed in the introverted realm of the mind, detached from the tangible, thinking becomes pure logic.  Thus, we often develop mental frameworks, our own decision making rubrics.  When a problem arises, we consult the worldview flowchart completely devoid of the subjective emotions of ourselves or others.

When feeling does enter the decision making process, it becomes extraverted outward.  We seek harmony and a certain espirit de corps within our social groups.  The more extraverted Amorals attempt to disarm others with our charm.  We try to cache hard truths in the form of joke or satire.  Look at Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, Sasha Baron Cohen, or John Cleese.  Many of the world’s best satirists come in the form of the mischievous, nerdy ENTP.

The introverted Amorals take the philosophy of Ti to the extreme.  They make the best assassins and mad scientists.  Their sharp mental focus allows them to plan and pull off the perfect kill or delve ever deeper into ethically questionable science.  They can do this without conscience because we lack introverted feeling.  They have little empathy and few unimpeachable principles.  Poor, inferior Fe can only muster a mild “Doing it for the greater good” argument.  Captain Jack Sparrow verbalizes the motto of the introverted thinker best, “The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can’t do.”




If only the four letters of a Myers-Briggs type matter and not the cognitive functions, you could speculate that all thinking types would get along.  Yet, as an ENTP I have felt more frustration in dealing with these extraverted thinking types than with anyone else.  When you look at the judging process, we have nothing in common.  Amorals use thinking as pure logic. The Just want to apply objective law and order to the outside world.  Amorals want to please their community audience, while the Just must adhere to their own deep, personal values.

I find that strict adherence to the objective letter of the law particularly frustrating.  Amorals take a live and let live philosophy, but the extroverted thinking type requires that everything and everyone fall into line with the most rational order.  I find this difficult because the best plan for the group often doesn’t work to my advantage.  Sensing Te types seem especially determined to adhere to the letter of the law even when it violates a more abstract logical exploration.  They fear that in the absence of order, all of society will collapse.  Perhaps, my own biases make me too hard on the Te type though.  Without their steadfast determination, other types would not have the ordered room to create and dance.  The Just naturally fall into positions of leadership.  You often find them at the top of businesses, bureaucracies, and structured religious organizations.

The Just would most likely utter the phrase, “If you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear.”  Their tertiary or inferior introverted feeling provides a core value system, a moral compass from which they do no stray.  Many  Just assume all other types have this same inborn morality.  Thus, adherance to their system of law and order doesn’t just come from some rule of man.  It must have a higher, nobler origination, perhaps even a spiritual origination.  When the law is violated, they show no mercy, because the offender has not only disobeyed the law, but they clearly ignored their own conscience.

However, the Fi of the Just remains underdeveloped when compared to the Fi dominant Innocent.  I have often found the Just easily offended and quick to anger when someone begins to poke at their deeply cherished beliefs.  I once traded quips with an ENTJ roommate of mine.  We fired little good-natured jabs back and forth at one another.  However, I could tell I went too far when I obliquely mentioned his wife and children.  All jest ceased.  His smile disappeared, his eyes stormed over, and he icily warned me to never cross that line again.  The Just do not like their sacred cows trifled with.

I can’t help but think of Stannis Baratheon from Game of Thrones.  He remains a shining example of The Just.  When Davos Seaworth fed Stannis’ starving men at Storm’s End, Baratheon offered the smuggler a Lordship as a reward for his bravery and loyalty.  Yet he also ordered his men to cut off the tips of the fingers on Davos’ left hand as punishment for his years of smuggling.  Justice must be served in all things and the cherished values must be protected.


teacher pic

The Communal Fe-Ti (ENFJ, INFJ, ESFJ, ISFJ)

The types with dominant extraverted feeling seek to create harmony among all people.  Naturally, they see themselves in an advisory role, teaching others good manners, encouraging personal growth, and building warm spaces where people can come together.  Their ethics tend to revolve around the best practices for the community.  They are the mother teaching her children to share, for sharing promotes harmony.  They are the educator preparing students for the future so they can contribute to society.  They are the Sunday school teacher trying to instill good values in his or her charges so they don’t criminally violate their peaceful society.  Fe types strive for community, in extremes from the Hippie commune where everyone works towards the common good to the family dinner table where we share a Thanksgiving meal.

Of course this cooperative spirit does not mean that the Communal hold as fiercely to principle as the Just Te or the Innocent Fi.  Their inferior Ti function, rather than standing on some symbol, strives to find the best possible objective outcome for their respective charges.  They seek firm facts that will benefit their society and push it forward.  For instance, they learn the facts so they can teach them to their students and they appreciate those facts because they objectively understand that education has proven effects on a person’s life potential.  The combination of Fe and Ti does not ask that everyone agree; it merely encourages everyone to work together towards the same objective goal of peace and harmony.

Of course that inferior Ti also has a dark side with Communal types.  I doubt that anyone can hold grudges like a spurned Fe dominant.  They will give everyone a long leash, but you can only threaten their community so many times before they write you off as a permanent villain.  The Ti and introverted perceiving function work together to sear the image of the chronic offender in their mind’s eye as a threat to their goals.  At that point, they will not hesitate to eliminate the threat with ruthless intensity.  A Communal makes a staunch ally and a terrible foe.


joan of arc

The Innocent Fi-Te (ENFP, INFP, ESFP, ISFP)

More than any other type, the introverted feeler enters this world with a well-defined internal moral compass.  Fi forces them to constantly explore their values and whether or not their decisions fall in line with those values.  It produces in these types a strong empathy that prevents them from wantonly disregarding their fellow man.  Fi types know right and wrong at their very core.  They strive for authenticity.  The Innocent feel uncomfortable betraying even themselves.

However, this doesn’t mean that the Innocent feel compelled to keep pace with the man-made standards of decency espoused by the Communal.  Whether honoring their own hedonism or striving for some abstract social justice, they must answer to a higher power.  The Communal would find the xSFP hippocritical as they indulge both their own strong sexual desires and a passion for their particular spiritual tradition, but the Innocent does not feel this way.  They remain honest to their own person when they follow their desire and they remain honest to their broader values and others by participating in rites or volunteering to help others.  This also means that the Fi type does not judge others.  If they must remain honest to themselves, how can they criticize others for doing the same.

While far from the most organized types, the weak extraverted thinking function of the Innocent strives to bring some sense of order to their life.  If they can develop their Te on some minimal level it greatly aids their Fi as they start their particular revolution. The SFP artist strives to organize their workspace so they can continue to produce stunning works of art.  It may also help them plan their careers, booking gigs or planning displays.  The NFP uses their Te to organize the people that often flock to their social movement.  For instance, their civil rights movement dies at the grass roots level if they cannot organize letter writing campaigns and sit ins.

Inspiration remains the essence of the Innocent and Fi.  The sensing Innocent crafts songs that inspire people to dance, they develop their virtuosity, or they craft a painting that transfers strong emotion into the viewer.  The intuitive innocent crafts art that calls on the symbols that speak to greater meaning.  They lead armies of change, incited by the Innocent’s charisma and true belief.  The Fi types do not have the “peace at all cost” mentality of the Communal.  They will stir up trouble if they feel the system creates a chronic inequality.  The Innocent wants us all to grow into better people.


Each of these four ethical views has a necessary place in society.  The Just keep everything stable and running, while the Amoral dare to imagine new technologies and ideologies that push the society forward.  The Communal create a standard of cooperation that all must live up to, while the Innocent inspire us to go above and beyond that standard.  Without any one moral viewpoint, society becomes imbalanced .

Using the MBTI in Everyday Life: Understanding Conflict

ford f-250

A disagreement at work, today, took me by surprise.  Myself, two co-workers, and the founder of the company found ourselves at a small home that the company wants to flip.  The house sits in a relatively quiet residential neighborhood with only street parking.  While I locked the red front door, my co-workers finished loading a washing machine and a dryer onto the trailer.

Suddenly, a gray haired man stepped into the street and asked,  “Who owns the white Ford F-250 parked in front of my house?”  I stood too far away to answer and I figured Bob, the co-worker who owned the truck, would respond.  When no one said anything, the older man stated snarkily, and with increased volume, “Is no one going to answer me?  Do one of you own this truck? It’s blocking the street.”

In Bob’s position, I would have offered a cursory, meaningless apology and calmly stated that we planned to leave momentarily.  Deflect and move on.  Bob’s truck really didn’t block the road – a box truck passed with ease a couple minutes later – but arguments reek of inefficiency.  And, honestly, I could understand if the homeowner didn’t want Bob’s truck in his parking area.

My co-worker’s heated response surprised me, “Yeah, it’s mine.  Do you want me to park in your yard next time?”  A few more words traded from Bob to the local before the old man went on his way.  When I walked down to the trailer, I found it even more perplexing that both men agreed with Bob.  I at least expected Allen, the founder of the company, to chastise Bob for not being more political with potential customers.

A couple seconds later, it came to me.  I work for a construction company full of individuals who must use tools on a daily basis to conquer the real problem set before them.  The three men before me, two carpenters and an entrepreneur, were all SPs.

Let me explain.  In Please Understand Me II, David Keirsey explains how we can define each temperament by looking at how each one values or uses the three tools that, I believe, put humanity at the top of the food chain: community, tool usage, and communication.  On one axis, he suggests that, while a well rounded personality uses all items at their disposal, most favor either a more tool oriented, utilitarian philosophy or a more community oriented, cooperative philosophy.  On the other axis, he contrasts the different ways in which sensing types and intuitive types communicate.  Sensing types prefer a more concrete, factual, and present language, while intuitive types bathe in the abstract questions, theories, and imaginings of the future.  This gives us the Concrete Cooperative SJs, the Concrete Utilitarian SPs, the Abstract Cooperative NFs, and the Abstract Utilitarian NTs.

Keirsey goes on to describe how each of these different strengths and values create different intellectual mindsets in each temperament.  SJs excel at logistics.  Logistics require a focus on the immediate physical needs of a community and making sure that the stores are stocked and the tools maintained so that people in their community never go without.  NFs excel at diplomacy.  With their abstract vision, they place themselves in the shoes of others and can reach an unmatched level of empathy.  SPs best all challengers at tactics.  They can drive, play, move, work, etc. anything they enjoy.  SPs own the action words.  NTs master strategy.  We see the world as a giant chess board with pieces we need to move here or there in order achieve a greater level of efficiency or a cunning victory.

A community needs all four forms of intelligence to succeed, and even an individual will need to perform in his or her weaker fields from time to time.  In this case, we don’t treat all of the other areas equally.  For example, as an ENTP, I love tasks that challenge my strategic intellect.  Sid Meier’s Civilization series has taken many hours from my life.  However, I show some ability at diplomacy and tactics.  I share abstract communication with the diplomatic NFs.  Thus, I can put myself in the place of the angry old man even if I never truly empathize.  I share a utilitarian focus with the SPs.  While I will never quite match their athleticism or hand-eye coordination, I think rationally and accomplish logical goals.  Thus, I have had a very successful first year as a carpenter’s helper.  I have nothing in common with the SJs and I find their logistics mentally exhausting.  I find cleaning and routine maintenance mind-numbing.  I did my taxes last weekend and it felt like having a tooth pulled.  I find it so hard to update my resume and scour the internet for writing jobs because the whole exercise feels like an inefficient colossal waste of time.

So back to our SP carpenter.  As much as I don’t do logistics, he feels the same way about diplomacy.  They find it incredibly difficult to see something from someone else’s point of view.  Only their goals and their own sense of pleasure matter.  Bob only saw an extroverted judging type trying to gum up the works, trying to keep him from performing his utilitarian task.  This made him angry in the same way I rage about paperwork and the mindless job search.

However, the SP lack of diplomacy isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  The SP is the “beachmaster” personality.  During World War II, the beachmaster had to make split decisions about manpower and weapons, whether to advance or pull back, whether to bring up the tanks or push them out of the way and into the sea.  SPs become our EMTs, our firefighters, our soldiers.  In those moments, seconds mean the difference between life and death.  They may not always think to make the best decision, but any decision is a good one.  If the SP had to consider how everyone felt in those moments, they couldn’t do their jobs.  We need someone there to take action when others can’t or won’t.

Bob may not have made the best decision with his response to the stranger, but a closer look at personality shows the complexity of our daily interactions.


Temperament, “Magic: The Gathering,” and Veronica Roth’s “Divergent”

magic five colors

Several years ago, while I still studied at Virginia Tech, I made an association between the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering  and the Keirsey temperaments of Myers-Briggs typology.  I found that the flavor of each one of the five colors of magic correlated to one of the four temperaments of the MBTI.  Now, I know that four does not equal five, but it made perfect sense to me that a rational competition based in a fantastic world would appeal to NTs enough that they could happily support two colors.  I broke the NTJs off to the more ordered blue magic and the NTPs inhabited the more chaotic black magic.  For the other three temperaments, I placed the SPs with red magic, the NFs with green magic, and the SJs with white magic.  I remember writing a blog post about my discovery and I even created a Facebook quiz that used MBTI type questions to help people discover their preferred color of magic.  Unfortunately, those works have become lost to the archives of Xanga and Facebook, respectively.

For Christmas, my wife received the first book in Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy.  We both tore through all three books in the span of a week, often competing over who got to read the book next.  Roth writes a thrilling tale that often struggles with hard ethical questions, never shying away from real life.  She creates conflicted characters and places them a rich world with a unique, well-developed culture.  I enjoyed Roth’s creation of five factions, each with their own personal goals, mores, and values.  The five factions – Candor, Dauntless, Erudite, Amity, and Abnegation – quickly reminded me of my prior connection between the MBTI and Magic.

I have always appreciated the MBTI compared to other personality tests, especially the Big Five, because the MBTI does not make value judgements about the types.  For instance, intuition in the MBTI correlates highly with Openness to Ideas in the Big Five personality measurement.  However, the MBTI does not suggest that sensing types have a deficiency while the Big Five would say those without Openness do.  We have differences, but that does not make one person better or worse.  I think Roth would agree with this sentiment.  We have genetic differences, but that does not mean some people possess pure genes and others are damaged.

Furthermore, our inborn personalities represent the hardware on which we build our lives, but we add a multitude of unique experiences and environments to our base personality.  We maintain the free will to make independent choices.  This can provide two people with the same personality with vastly different outcomes.  As such, a person can see the benefits of a different color of magic than their own.  More importantly, a person can choose a faction that differs from the ideal one for their type.  Perhaps, they feel compelled to stick with the faction they grew up in.  Perhaps, they need a change, having spent 16 years with the drawbacks of the faction of their birth.  Thus, while a greater percentage of SPs will likely land among the Dauntless, not all SPs will choose Dauntless and not all Dauntless will type out as SPs.  As with the Hogwart’s Houses, I simply aim to find the most likely home for each temperament.  We all retain choice.

I have tried to limit spoilers, but I still urge you to read the books before continuing.


Candor – Black Magic – NTP

As an ENTP, I should begin with the color and faction that I know the best.  At first appearance, black magic and Candor might not seem that similar with the way black magic prefers to slink through the shadows while the Candor aim to shine the light truth into all the dark corners.  I believe that the two groups show us at our best and our worst.

NTPs often possess an amorality.  We don’t actively seek to hurt others, the thought just never enters the equation in our search for knowledge and perfect efficiency.  Morality makes no impact one way or the other.  This allows the black mage to delve into the depths that others would shy away from.  He deals with vampires and demons.  He raises the dead from their shallow graves.  He sacrifices his own life force in the search for knowledge, the search for truth, the search for power.

Candor too recognizes this basic selfishness in the heart of every man.  To keep from hurting each other, we must lay all our cards on the table.  If we maintain complete honesty, if we take our ulterior motives from their hiding places, then we can avoid conflicts.  Our competition for knowledge and power becomes an honorable game rather than assassins in corners.  Truth makes this game of life equal for everyone and we find it much more acceptable if we lose under such circumstances.  I don’t mind if you honestly beat me.  Just don’t stab me in the back.

It also helps the Candor that our amorality leaves us without any sense of shame.  It does not matter if we know each other’s darkest secrets because we all exist as broken and selfish people.  Let’s just get it all out on the table.  In fact, I have often used my radical honesty for my own entertainment.  Like the Candor, I love a good debate and I have often tossed out statement grenades, honest truths about myself or the world, to see how people react once I have shattered their fragile political correctness.  I am much more comfortable with the initial chaos of truth than the slow inefficient oppression of manners.

While I prefer a bit more color in my attire from time to time, I do own a sizable amount of black clothing.  Black represents the never ending search for truth, the prying of secrets from dark mystery.  No wonder the black mage in his dark cloak and the Candor lawyer in his black and white suit prefer such trappings.

In Magic: The Gathering, a deck cannot stand on the the power of one color.  You may have all of the strengths of black, but you also have all of its weaknesses.  For efficiency’s sake, most mages pare their deck down to two or, at most, three colors.  Certain colors tend to work better together than others.

In similar fashion, I find that each temperament has an ideal faction, two factions that fit certain aspects of their personality, and two factions that confuse or intrigue that particular faction with their stark differences.  NTPs seem particularly well suited for Candor.  NTPs who desire more than just truth, those who desire a technical knowledge of how things work, a purer know-how, will feel drawn to the Erudite.  NTPs who seek more than just idle words but wish to enforce truth more than just discover it will seek out the experiences of the Dauntless.  NTPs often have an experience addiction.  We constantly seek novel truths.  To the outsider this often looks indistinguishable from the adrenaline seeking personality of the SP.  The NTP questions the motives of the Amity and the Abnegation.  Believing that all people act from selfishness, we see the true altruism of those two groups as an illusion.  If one submits his will to the needs of someone else or the needs of the many it can only lead to resentment and deception.


Erudite – Blue Magic – NTJ

I have some familiarity with the Erudite.  I did well in school and participated in the gifted program and a Governor’s School during my time in public education.  I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and history.  I studied graduate sociology and eventually received my Masters in English.  I found that the higher I went the more knowledge obscured the truth and prevented actual action in reality.  The scholar becomes more and more focused in a smaller and smaller arena of data.  It seemed intellectually incestuous.  I imagine that a true Erudite would not share my misgivings.

NTJs search for knowledge so that they can better order and control their environment.  Blue magic seeks that same power of control and manipulation.  Blue does much to slow the game down, countering opponents spells and reducing the number of cards in an opponents hand or deck.  Conversely, the blue mage constantly adds to his own base of knowledge by adding cards to his hands and stealing his opponents creatures.  The blue mage derives his power from the tides of the great oceans and the winds of the air and he seeks to control those very elements.

Similarly, the Erudite seek a greater knowledge so they can control the forces of nature.  They provide much of the technology that the Amity use to farm and feed the rest of the city.  However, that same desire for control often pushes the Erudite to clash with the Abnegation for political control of the city and leads them to manipulate the other factions behind the scenes.  The Wizards of the Coast website has a great description of the full capacity of blue magic, but it works just as well for the Erudite: “At their best, blue mages [and Erudite] are inventive and progressive.  At their worst, blue mages [and Erudite] are manipulative and treacherous.”

The blue mages and Erudite share symbols.  The Erudite wear blue clothing as they believe it produces the calm emotional state most ideal for rational thought and learning.  Keirsey noted that all NTs seek calm as our preferred emotional state.  A clear head provides access to our greatest resource.  Also, the Erudite use the bowl of water as their symbol during the choosing ceremony.  The NTJ believes that with enough patience, knowledge, like a small drip of water, can erode stone and get to the very heart of truth and power.  With enough time, water can accomplish great feats.

While NTJs would most readily join Erudite, they would likely feel an affinity towards Candor and Abnegation as well. Candor displays the same search for knowledge and truth.  Abnegation believes that self-denial leads to order.  NTJs already deny their emotional response so they can achieve greater clarity in the search for the most rational outcome.  A more religious NTJ might find the Abnegation particularly attractive.

The NTJs would have more difficulty understanding the values of the Amity and Dauntless.  An NTJ would find the collective agreement of the Amity incredibly inefficient.  I doubt they would see their decision-making system as anything more than mob rule.  The NTJ would find the thrill-seeking of the Dauntless a foolish and pointless action.  Much like the science nerd and bookworm, to the NTJ the Dauntless would appear as nothing more than dumb jocks.

daunt pic 2

Dauntless – Red Magic – SP

I have felt an attraction to the free lifestyle of the Dauntless from a very young age.  My earliest heroes included cool and composed athletes like quarterback Joe Montana.  I threw my body around in little league football as I tried to emulate them.  The athletes would eventually have to share the stage with hedonistic and revolutionary rock stars as my love of music developed throughout my teens.  In my youth I loved a chaotic mosh pit.  I joined the United States Army Infantry out of high school and served in Afghanistan and Iraq.  I have four tattoos and counting and I even considered a septum piercing for a fleeting half second.  There is an honesty in the individual freedom of the Dauntless.  It is far from certain that I would choose the Candor over the Dauntless if given the chance.  The agency of the Dauntless might provide the best chance to pursue justice and truth.

SPs love red magic as much as I do.  I always enjoyed “burn” decks, decks full of lightning bolts and fire balls and other direct magics that instantly dispatched a creature or opponent as soon as they started to annoy me.  Goblin decks allowed me to overrun my opponent with a number of quick, cheap creatures.  Red magic erupts from passion and spontaneity.  SPs feel that same need for action.  They seem happiest when indulging their desire to move and change the world around them, in those moments when they can feel the adrenaline course through their bodies.

The Dauntless would welcome the athletic nature of the SPs.  Many SPs would find great joy in tossing themselves from moving trains and high buildings, in constantly practicing the martial arts, and even the rush of facing their darkest fears.  Like a shark, SPs feel most alive in constant action.  The SP would also most readily approve of the Dauntless lifestyle.  For the SP, every moment is a game or competition and they love to entertain whether through a smart quip or a flashy tattoo.  The pain and pleasure dichotomy of getting tattooed fits right in with their personalities.

Red magic shares the symbol of fire with the Dauntless.  While the red mage uses fire as a powerful force of destruction, the Dauntless pledge their faith to the burning  coals of passion and action at the faction choosing ceremony.  Red mages draw their power from the lava and stone of the highest mountains.  Dauntless headquarters exist in a steep, rocky cavern surrounding a chasm.  The Dauntless test themselves by ascending the highest structures.  Trees, ferris wheels, the Hancock Building: the Dauntless have challenged them all.

SPs, especially the more feeling types, might also feel drawn to Amity.  They would enjoy the manual labor, the action of plowing fields, picking fruit, and repairing farm machinery.  They would likely make great musicians, plucking their banjos and dancing through the fields.  For the SP, Amity might offer an extended camping trip or a long backyard cookout.  Other SPs, especially the thinking types, could prefer Candor.  The STPs I know have a knack for saying exactly what they think or observe with a complete obliviousness to social custom and manners.

The SPs would have more difficulty with the Erudite and the Abnegation.  How can an Erudite keep their nose entirely in a book when mountains stand out there begging for climbers?  As the most hedonistic of the temperaments, SPs tend to deny themselves nothing.  I think they would soon grow weary of the stiff and uneventful lifestyle of Abnegation.


Amity – Green Magic – NF

I have affection for those most likely to choose Amity.  My mother, sister, wife, my other best friend, and a number of our closest companions are all NFs.  I admire their diplomacy and creativity.  They make my world a better place to live in.  I even admire the Amity lifestyle.  It seems wholesome to throw your back to the plow, lose yourself in your work and enjoy good friends and a good meal at the end of the day.  However, I know I could never live that lifestyle myself.  Even when I try to focus on a more elegant habit, my mind wanders to adventure and the more complex questions of the world.  In their desire for consensus, the Amity would stifle my well-crafted individualism.

The NF’s personality mimics the ebbs and flows of green magic.  Green magic emanates from the harmony of nature.  It represents the growth of forest, jungle, and animal and the peace of creatures connected to the land like the elves.  NFs seek growth and harmony in their relationships and communities.  An NF mother wants nothing more than to see her children and grandchildren grow into healthy, emotionally stable adults.  Like nature, NFs also fiercely defend their own.  If an NF sees someone attacking their friends, family, or most closely held values, they can unleash a fury on their enemies like a hurricane force wind or a stampede of buffalo.  Though the current incarnation of Amity in Divergent attempt complete non-intervention, I find it interesting that their original manifesto included a paragraph for the active defense of a friend that they later deleted.  This protection of their own is an honest NF trait.

NF would merge easily into the Amity lifestyle.  They would feel refreshed by the open space of the fields and they would find purpose in bringing growth to the environment.  They would find deep significance in the personal, relationship-based religion of the Amity and total comfort in the consensus-based decision making process of the faction.  Everything, from the earth to the relationships feels organic and wholesome to the idealistic NF.

The green mage and the Amity share the symbols of earth and tree.  More than any other mage, the green mage derives his power from the life-giving earth.  The many creatures he summons find sustenance and protection under the trees of the forest.  Amity sees these same benefits.  They ask their initiates to pledge their blood to the bowl of earth at the faction choosing ceremony and they use the blossoming tree as their sigil.

The NF might also feel comfortable in Abnegation or Dauntless.  The NFJ especially might take comfort in the ordered, simple life of the Abnegation while helping the poor and downtrodden in a more active way.  The NFP might prefer Dauntless and an opportunity to actively defend his or her people, a crusade for justice, a hard fought peace.

The NF would have more difficulty feeling happy in Erudite or Candor.  Though they might find certain members of those factions attractive, they would see the pure rationality of the Erudite as cold and devoid of humanity.  The radical honesty of the Candor would also seem a step too far when a white lie or a diplomatic word could avoid conflict and bring a community closer together.


Abnegation – White Magic – SJ

I have the greatest difficulty understanding why anyone would choose the Abnegation lifestyle, but like many NTs, I have difficulty communicating with SJs.  I have found SJs to be, at their best, curiosities from my point of view.  At their worst they seem to obstruct and hamper my efforts for efficiency at every turn.  Yet at their core, I know that they have a value system and reliability that our society needs.

SJs would feel a certain attachment to the flavor of white magic.  White magic radiates from law and order, from civilization and its durable structures.  For avatars, white magic chooses humanity and the divine, the average man that performs heroic acts of sacrifice and angels that act as the warriors of God.  At its best, white magic protects and heals the smallest and poorest people.  Like all groups though, even the perceived good of white magic has its dark side.  The same civilization that promotes rule of law can also use that rule of law to enforce a caste system that keeps down the same people it claims to help.

SJs would certainly appreciate the way Abnegation serves others.  Above all, SJs want society to view them as dependable and respectable.  They want to stand as the pillars of the community.  They would enjoy the simple, unfashionable life of the Abnegation.  The SJ finds security in that life’s routines.  SJs have no time for frivolous pursuits like art or thrill-seeking.  They have work to do.  Like the Abnegation, SJs often fill roles in the middle management and civil service of governments and faith organizations.  Others rely on SJs to always do the right thing in the same fashion time after time.

Abnegation shares with white magic a preference for a simple color shade.  Though gray claims a bit more subdued tone, both colors indicate  a life of service.  More telling though, both Abnegation and White Magic share (spoiler alert) a preference for the non-lethal kill.  White magic deploys spells like “Pacifism” and “Swords to Plowshares” that effectively remove an enemy combatant from the battlefield.  Abnegation holds sway over the powerful memory serum that destroys the events that change a person without killing the organism that contains the memories.

SJs might also join Erudite or Amity.  The more thinking oriented SJs, especially the less religious, would find order in the scientific method and the lists of facts and data espoused by the Erudite.  The more feeling SJs would enjoy the warmth of the hearth shared by the Amity.  They could serve their tight knit family, their personal community, instead of the faceless stranger of the needy.

SJs would tend to shy away from Dauntless and Candor.  Dauntless sports too much flash.  They always want to take the spotlight for themselves.  The SJ would prefer to work behind the scenes or at least not risk making such a fool of themselves.  Meanwhile, the SJ would feel that the Candor upset the social order, the well-crafted manners meant to direct the way we interact with one another.  Too much honesty rocks the boat and they will have none of that.

divergent five

From Myers-Briggs typology, from the many colors of Magic: The Gathering, from Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy, I have learned that it takes many types of people all pulling their weight to make society work.  We do not have good or bad personalities, good or bad genes.  We simply have people with different strengths and weaknesses trying to make the best choices every day.  No one color of magic can stand alone.  It must work with another to protect its shortcomings and maximize its advantages.  No one faction of society can make it alone.  We must all do our part and humbly respect others doing their part in a different way.  Only together can our strengths create progress.

Lost and Myers-Briggs Typology

My wife and I recently binge watched Lost on Netflix, the popular television show that follows the exploits of a group of plane crash survivors on a mystical island.  Neither of us have watched the show in its entirety before now.  She had only seen the first two seasons.  I watched the first three seasons religiously before becoming frustrated with the show’s lack of answers and plot holes.  I dropped out for two seasons before hate-watching large portions of season 6.  I find I enjoy the show much more the second time around.  I realize the writers never had a grand plan from the beginning.

Having a general idea of the end, I can gloss over the mysteries the story raises and focus on the overwhelming strength of the show: the character development.  Lost always does an excellent job of juggling a variety of complex characters and their dynamic relationships.  Lost never pigeonholes a character in the main cast.  They all possess great capacity for sin and redemption, for selfishness and selflessness.  Naturally, I began to wonder about the personality types of these characters.  Their realistic development offers a rich tapestry from which we can divine their internal patterns and basic social and psychological natures.

Any fictional character poses unique problems for the typer.  We only see them in the heightened state of the epic story, the exceptional crisis.  We do not see their off stage personas.  That said, I feel fairly comfortable with the assumptions I have made in typing these characters.  I chose to type only the characters that played in at least sixty one episodes, or more than half of Lost‘s total run.  Characters that appeared in fewer episodes like Juliet and Michael, Miles and Desmond, appear as more static roles, supporting actors meant to reflect certain aspects of the main cast’s personalities.  The roles, in order of appearance:


Jack Sheppard (played by Matthew Fox) – ESTJ

Jack takes up the mantle of leadership on the island very early.  While he may not seek such a position, he possesses talents that make him a good choice for the role.  Jack feels compelled to order and organize and do everything in his power to lead his small band of survivors off the island.  A purposeful determination drives him to stand at the front of every expedition.  Jack clearly shows extroverted thinking (Te) as his dominant trait.  Always outspoken, Jack shows no fear in leadership.

Two types show this dominant Te: ENTJ and ESTJ.  Does Jack pull the information for his decisions from the forward thinking vision of introverted intuition (Ni) or the sharp memory of introverted sensing(Si)?  I vote for the latter.  Jack’s drive and peerless ambition derives from a desire to prove his father wrong, to stand up to the school bullies of his past, or to win a longstanding argument with Locke or Ben.  When Jack’s marriage falls apart, he can’t stand to think he erred.  He plays the scenarios in his mind over and over and holds on way too long.  When he regrets his decision to leave the island, it eats away at him from the inside out until his Te has a chance to rectify the situation.  Jack is an ESTJ.


Kate Austen (Evangeline Lily) – ISTP

Like the heroic drifter, ISTPs would rather keep to themselves, more comfortable with their tools and their abilities than in the presence of others.  Their combination of introverted thinking (Ti) and extroverted sensing (Se) creates an adeptness with tools unmatched by the other personality types.  From the start, Kate demonstrates her ability with the sewing needle and the firearm.  She can quietly track as well as anyone in the group.  She repeatedly escapes police custody with her adaptiveness and sharp wit.  I have no doubt she would have made an excellent mechanic had she spent any length of time with the Dharma Initiative.

Her distance from others and devotion to her own internal logic, that Ti, makes her more than capable of killing her mother’s husband.  Logic dictated that she serve justice to the abusive man and a relatively weak feeling function left her feeling little connection to him or to mankind in general.  Kate follows her own counsel.  Kate does adopt Aaron for a period of time, and I have no doubt she cares for the boy, but even she admits she kept him more out her own sense of need.  Kate is an ISTP.


Hugo “Hurley” Reyes (Jorge Garcia) – ENFP

Throughout the show, Hurley demonstrates the optimism and diplomacy of the NF.  He goes out of his way to learn the names and stories of all of the planes survivors, even the ones that never warrant screen time.  He builds a golf course and jump starts the van as ways of improving team morale.  He often strives for accord among the survivors, even acting as a messenger and peacemaker.  When the mantle of protection for the island finally passes to Hurley, I have no doubt he serves as a healer and reconciler in the wake of the war-driven reigns of Jacob and Jack.

I believe it would take a more people-energized person to interview so many survivors.  While I have known INFs to show a great deal of people skills at the cost of their own exhaustion, I believe Hurley enjoys these E interactions.  I can also speculate that Hurley’s overeating and mental problems tie strongly to a shaken introverted feeling (Fi).  With so much anomie and psychological dissonance following the deadly balcony collapse, this strange form of self-flagellation may help Hurley resolve the deep sense of guilt that weighs on him.  From these clues, I think Hurley is an ENFP.


James “Sawyer” Ford (Josh Holloway) – ESTP

With his ability to charm the socks off anyone, Sawyer demonstrates all the hallmark traits of the ESTP.  His driving desire for pleasure, action, and excitement stem from his dominant extroverted sensing (Se).  He makes love to Kate, Anna-Lucia, and the many women he cons with reckless abandon.  He often finds himself traipsing off into the jungle on whatever foolish journey the group chooses next.  He  positions himself in the center of the action by seizing key resources like the stock of firearms.  He mouths off and picks fights with the others both because he loves the rush of a good fight and because he works best when he keeps his opponent talking.

That wit also marks him as an ESTP.  It comes from his secondary function, introverted thinking (Ti).  His shrewd control of the black market, his insightful quips and insults, and his love of a good book all proceed from a well developed logic.  This logic processes the many details observed by his sensing function and formulates a strategy by which he can con and manipulate his opponents.

Even his ability to lie and exaggerate marks him as an ESTP.  His ability to lie and con shows the SP strength for acting and sleight of hand combined with the least empathy of the four temperaments.  For the most part, he is incapable of guilt.  Guilt would require an examination of the past, something SPs do not particularly care to do.


John Locke (Terry O’Quinn) – ISTJ

Before Locke’s untimely death, he proved the perfect foil for Jack not because of their differences but because they had so many similarities.  They both desired to lead and instruct the survivors.  They fight for the spiritual direction of the group, Locke’s unrelenting faith against Jack’s pure reason.  They both seek the prestige and respect of the group at large, Locke as a Hunter and Jack as the Doctor.  They both struggle to forget the memories and failures of their past.  Locke can never quite get over his father’s betrayal, being raised in foster care, losing the woman he loved, and his father ultimately trying to kill and paralyze him.  Locke is every bit the STJ that Jack is.

Yet Jack succeeds in winning the trust of the other survivors and Locke does not.  Jack became the clear leader of the group.  Why?  Locke is an introvert.  Aside from the charm and social skills advantage this gives Jack, by placing his introverted sensing (Si) ahead of his extroverted thinking (Te) function, Locke places the message, his search for justice and faith, ahead of the day to day operations of organizing the survivors.  While Jack tries to acquire the next resource needed for survival, Locke leaves in search of the next missive from the island.  The people notice.


Sayid Jarrah (Naveen Andrews) – INTP

As my favorite character, I always felt a stronger connection to Sayid than anyone else on the show.  I am an ENTP.  It makes sense then that Sayid, as an INTP, is my more introverted brother.

With dominant introverted thinking (Ti), Sayid shows many of the same traits as Kate.  He has weapon and hand to hand combat proficiency.  He prefers to work as a lone wolf, stalking and observing his prey before making a decision to strike.  He has a certain moral flexibility that makes him capable of actions, like outright torture, that most people could never do.

Unlike Kate, Sayid prefers a more abstract interaction with the outside world.  He seeks meaning more than pleasure and holds the notion of a one true love.  He grasps for long term achievements, like finding said one true love, over the easy action of the moment.  The most telling sign of his extroverted intuition (Ne) lies in the way he approaches the tools he uses.  Sayid possesses a fundamental understanding of the way many things work.  The survivors often seek him out to repair communications equipment and other electronics devices.  He doesn’t just observe two wheels grinding, he can tell you why the designer required them in that precise location.  This understanding of theory allows him to seek novel and complex solutions like setting up multiple antennas in an attempt to boost the power of a survival radio.  As an INTP, Sayid offers his sharp intellect and unusual skills for the benefit of the survivors.

sun jin

Jin-Soo Kwan (Daniel Dae Kim) – ISFJ

Sun-Hwa Kwan (Yunjin Kim) – ESTP

I combine the Kwans because I simply couldn’t tear them apart again and because I had so much difficulty trying to wrap my mind around their respective personality types.  Cultural differences always throw a wrench into one’s ability to type another.  I believe the Jungian types remain constant across all cultures, but our type, like a piece of computer hardware, only tells part of the story.  We place a multitude of experiences on top of our type like so much software.  Different cultures often produce different experiences and can produce varied manifestations of the same type.  That said, I can defend both of my assertions of type in this case.

Jin exudes a great sense of duty and strong desire to improve his family name, to achieve a high level of prestige.  He submits to his father-in-law so he can uphold his duty to protect and provide for Sun even at his own displeasure.  He leaves the country side to seek upward mobility in the city and quits his plush hotel job when his manager discriminates against his kind.  Jin has a fierce pride.  Such values remain very common among east asian cultures, but I find nothing in Jin’s personality that rebels against these ideals.  This leads me to believe that he is an SJ.

Unlike Jack and Locke, he does not follow a cool logic, but rather his own feelings.  He can show warm affection to Sun, but he also pouts when he does not get his way. Jin also possesses a mean jealous streak.  He nearly kills Michael when he finds the man talking to his wife.

The language barrier might pose a problem to Jin, but he doesn’t talk much even when he achieves fluency in English.  This suggests introversion in Jin.  All of this lead me to conclude that Jin is an ISFJ.

While separated by class, sex, and culture, Sun exhibits the same ESTP traits as Sawyer.  She follows her heart in spite of convention with both the poor fisherman’s son in Jin and the forbidden hotelier’s son.  Sun speaks her mind with a sharp wit and stands out as one of the few people who can give it right back to Sawyer when he runs his mouth.  Like Sawyer, she will also bend the truth if it serves her interest.  She gets a maid fired as a child to defend her own accidental vandalism and as an adult she struggles to hide her affair from Jin.

Jin and Sun’s personality types also validate one another.  Keirsey considers the pairing of an ISFJ and ESTP ideal for both.  From my own experiences, I agree that such a pairing rests among the three best possibilities for either.


Claire Littleton (Emilie de Ravin) – INFP

I find its easiest to determine Claire’s type just by going the old fashioned way of letter by letter.  She does not go out of her way to interact with others and she seems to draw energy from sitting on the beach alone, much like most introverts.  Her alternative/goth phase as a teenager while working in a body modification shop and her relationship with a (flaky) artist indicate an openness to ideas and an attraction to the counterculture common in intuitive types.  Like many feeling types, she show great compassion for her son and dotes on him constantly.  Thinkers can also have great affection for their children, but they don’t always emote as easily as Claire.  Claire appears completely unfazed by the details of their situation, the gravity of their plane crash on a strange island.  Like other perceivers, she adapts to any situation thrown her way.  This spells out INFP.

Her overwhelming devotion to Aaron also confirms my hypothesis.  She fiercely defends her values like other INFPs I have met.  Such ethics have a sacred place for them.  Defending their loved ones sits at the top of the list.  The NFPs I know would go berserker on someone if they threatened to harm the NF’s loved ones.  Pacifists by nature, all bets are off when you threaten their family.  It makes perfect sense then that an INFP would seek to protect the one or two people they’re closest to, especially a child.  Even Charlie invokes her wrath when she believes he poses a danger to Aaron.  It also creates sympathy for her descent into madness once she gets separated from her son.  No matter her mistakes, she always believes she does the best for Aaron.


Charlie Pace (Dominic Monaghan) – ISFP

An introverted feeling (Fi) dominant like Claire, Charlie also seeks to defend the people he loves, namely Claire and Aaron.  However, as a more grounded sensing type, Charlie aims to provide more of the basic needs like blankets and shelter.  Sometimes to his own detriment, Charlie actively seeks to prevent any present danger or conspiracy against the mother and son.  He even goes so far as to kill Ethan in revenge for the harm the doctor did to all three.  Charlie shows this devotion to family from the start, using his musical talents to try to elevate his family from poverty into something better.  Charlie goes so far as to give his life in an attempt to get Claire and Aaron rescued.

Unfortunately, that combination of Fi and extroverted sensing (Se) also makes the SFPs the most aware of their environments, the textures and colors, the smells and tastes.  The SFP’s predisposition to hedonism makes them among the types most prone to addiction.  As a rock star, Charlie succumbs to a heroin addiction that plagues him when he arrives on the island.  He eventually kicks the habit, but not before it threatens his relationships with his closest friends and family.

On a brighter note, that connection with the real world makes Charlie and other ISFPs incredible artists.  They have a special ability to translate that beauty better than most other types.  Thus the ISFP often earns labels like the composer or poet.  Charlie is a true musician and ISFP.

ben linus

Benjamin Linus (Michael Emerson) – INTJ

Though Ben didn’t make his first appearance on the show until half way into season 2, he made a huge impact on the show.  I wouldn’t accept anything less from the brilliant mind of an INTJ.

Ben derives his power from the INTJ’s dominant introverted intuition (Ni).  Ni provides the foresight Ben uses to perceive the available outcomes.  With this skill bordering on prescience, he can then subtly manipulate the people around him until he achieves the desired outcome.  When he initially has Michael bring Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and Hurley into the ambush, he does so with a plan for each one.  He needs Jack to operate on his spine.  Kate and Sawyer will ensure he does it while also creating a lack of leadership among the survivors.  He wisely sends Hurly back as a most able messenger to prevent a rash reaction from this now leaderless group.  Ben deciphers and plans for every scenario so he never gets caught off guard.

Ben achieves his ends through extroverted thinking (Te).  He knows how to give concise, logical orders that subordinates follow without questions.  When Ben asks Goodwin and Ethan to run to the crash sites and blend in with the survivors, they obey.  Like Jack and Locke, Te exudes leadership.  However, with Te as a supportive function, Ben never feels it necessary to use his leadership in an overpowering way like an ENTJ might.  Rather, he attempts to lead the subordinate to make the decision on their own as if they had a choice all along.  Keirsey accurately described the the INTJ as a “Mastermind.”  Ben is a textbook mastermind.

Intuitive Birds of a Feather

Sensing types outnumber us intuitive types.  Depending on which expert you ask, the percentages can range from something as benign as a 60/40 split that intuitive types quickly overcome when they attend college in greater numbers to an 80/20 split that puts us in the extreme minority as outcasts and sole visionaries.  The imbalance makes sense from an evolutionary biology perspective.  One NT witch doctor or architect or scientist can improve the lives of an entire village.  Similarly a community only requires one NF priest or diplomat.  We need far more SPs to build and SJs to maintain the novel visions of the intuitive types.

This perspective does little for the young intuitive.  Regardless of the actual numbers, many of us feel alone and very different as we grow up.  When we do find an individual or a small group that understands our needs, interests, and unique communication style, we hold on to those dear friends for life.  It takes us longer to develop those attachments than it does sensing types anyway.  We cannot let such a valuable commodity go.

As an ENTP, I feel particularly lucky to have so many close intuitive friends.  Outside of a couple of close family members, I have met all of them since I started college.  We seemed drawn to each other from the start.  It always feels strange to meet a fellow intuitive for the first time.  You quickly realize that you don’t have to break down your communication.  You don’t have to dissolve your sentences into their simplest parts.  They already understand your penchant for theory, analogy, and the abstract.  A fellow intuitive readily dives into the deepest and most complex aspects of life.

I first noticed the overwhelming numbers of intuitive types in my life when typing my groomsmen for my wedding in May, 2012.    In selecting my groomsmen, I tried to find men that I had shared great experiences with, the people who appear in the pivotal and most exciting moments of my life.  I could easily road trip fifteen hours in a Toyota Corolla with any of them.  I would entrust my life to them.  My best man is an INFP.  My other four groomsmen type out as an ENTJ, INFJ, INFJ, and INFP.  Another friend I considered for that task also types out as an INFJ.  He couldn’t make the wedding because he had already committed to a mission trip to Kenya for the two weeks around the wedding.

Expanding to my small bachelor party adds one ESFP to the mix.  This might seem like an anomaly, but NTs still like to keep an SP or two around.  The NFs fulfill my vital mental needs, but sometime I just want to do something wild and crazy.  I often like to get my hands dirty and let my utilitarian nature roam.  SPs don’t require a deep conversation; they incite me to action. I also appreciate the charming ESFP propensity to offer you the shirt off their back.  When my bride suffered a flat tire while driving down the gravel driveway to our outdoor wedding site, the ESFP had the spare tire on the Oldsmobile before I even knew we had an issue.

Still, my half of the wedding party shows a surprising number of INFs.  We balance each other out quite well.  They appreciate my carefree charisma.  They love the fact that they never have to struggle to understand two simultaneous conversations when they talk to me.  Many INFs pick up on both the said words and the often contradictory feelings and body language in a conversation.  ENTPs require no guess work.  I wear my heart on my sleeve and I say what I mean.  I prefer blatant honesty and I remain hopelessly unpracticed in deception.

As an extrovert, I thoroughly enjoy the way INFs make me feel like the only person in the room.  They always give their full and undivided attention.  They show great interest in nurturing my personal growth.  They always know how to ask the right questions.  As an ENTP, conversation with INFs feels effortless, organic.

The relationship works so well that I married one.  My beautiful bride is an INFP.  Sometimes I want to go party when she just needs to stay in for some quality time and neither of us can arrive on time for anything, but we communicate incredibly well and we share the same imagination and lust for life.  I couldn’t imagine life with anyone else.

Breaking down her bridesmaids shows a complementary trend to my groomsmen.  As an INFP, Angelica selected an INTP, ENFJ, INTP, ENTJ, and her sister (an ESTP).  As an NT I selected four NFs and an NT.  As an NF, my wife selected (outside of the obligatory family choice) three NTs and an NF.  She met three of the four selections during college or afterwards.  When thrust into new social environments where we could freely choose our interactions, we both gravitated towards complementary temperaments.

The trend continues when I expand the sample to all of my closest family and friends.  I feel very blessed that I was raised by an INFJ mother.  I remain fairly close to my ENFJ sister (the same ENFJ as my wife’s bridesmaid: they roomed together in college).  I enjoy fishing, yard work, etc with my ESTP dad, but I have a difficult time with our telephone conversations.

My full list of close friends, the friends I would most want at my birthday party and see on regular basis, comes out thus: INFP, INFP, INFP, INFJ, INFJ, INFJ, INFJ, ENFJ, ENFP, ENFP, INTP, INTP, ENTJ, ENTP, ESFP, ESFP, ESTP, and ESTP.

Adding my wife and family, that comes to 13 NFs, 4 NTs, and 5 SPs.  Most impressively, I have as many close friends that I identify as INFP (4) or INFJ (5) as entire other temperaments.  This constitutes a small miracle when you consider that INFPs only represent 4% of the population but 19% of my favorite people.  Even more incredible, estimates suggest that INFJs make up only 2% of the US population, easily the rarest type.  I shouldn’t know one, much less five.  This couldn’t happen if ENTPs didn’t share a special relationship with INFs.

If you expand the sample to my next largest social circle, you find the first ISxP and the first SFJs.  I can maintain a congenial and professional relationship with such people, but we come from completely different worldviews, especially the SJs.  I find the SFJs enigmatic.  They express similar feelings towards me.  They possess such contrary values and lifestyles to my own.

You won’t find an STJ in any of my preferred social circles.  They remain as much an enigma to me as their SFJ brethren, but instead of well-meaning feelings, the STJ uses Te (extroverted thinking)  as their primary judgment function.  This results in their frequent attempts to impose their logic on the external world.  To the more libertarian minded NTP with our live and let live philosophy, this comes across as incredibly bossy.  We resist the STJ’s attempt to tell us what to do.  They see our problems with authority as a threat to social order.

I don’t always resist Te.  I appreciate the forward thinking, well-planned Te of the NTJ.  The STJ just seems to draw the bulk of their data from tradition, social opinion, and personal history rather than the keen insight of the NT.  I try to make peace with all people but NTPs and STJs are probably just better off staying away from one another.

We build relationships based on common interests and communication.  It makes sense that we gravitate towards those complementary personality types and avoid those with which we share nothing in common.

The Quest for My Manic Pixie Dream Girl

“Fi is great. It’s the gooey source of real feelings, rather than polite obligations. It’s the romantic and adventurous sense that gets you into — and out of — all sorts of trouble. It’s the stuff that makes ENFPs and INFPs, the manic pixies of the MBTI world, wander off in search of ice cream and come back a day later, having fallen asleep in a bean bag chair at a furniture store. In Portland. And you’re like “What the fuck, dude?” but you can’t stay mad at them because they brought you a magazine they stole from a train along the journey home and it has an interview with that one band you like.”  Please Be Nice to Me

Manic Pixie Dream Girl #1: The High School Theatre One (ENFP)

I first met the Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG), the xNFP, on my first day at Brookville High School.  She joined our class after her parents home schooled her through elementary and middle school.  In fifth period honors English, Mrs Reid asked us to go around the room and say one thing about ourselves.  I had come to a conversion experience exactly a year prior.  I still held the grade school faith of an immature evangelical.  So naturally, I spoke up, “My name is Keith and I am a born-again Christian.”  Looking back I cringe at such a heavy handed approach to faith.  MPDG #1 did not feel the same way.  My locker faced the door to the English classroom.  After class I took two steps and started to undo the lock.  MPDG #1 came up beside me.  She flashed her perfect, freckled smile and shook her auburn hair.

“Keith, that was a very brave thing to say.”

Stunned.  I received a compliment.  From a girl.  For the next three years, I was smitten.  Not that I did anything about it.  I never got up the courage to even remotely mention that I liked her.  I’m an ENTP, and NTs mature very slowly.  Some never make it out of mom’s basement.  Don’t worry, in spite of the overwhelming desire to get laid, even those socially stunted individuals seem to lead generally happy lives.  They have astrophysics and their Level 80 orc mage after all.

That compliment probably marked the second at which we both started to rebel against our evangelical upbringings.  She found her revolution much more quickly than I did.  She joined the drama club and quickly became the leading lady.  There she met Zane.

Zane was a year older than us, a valedictorian raised by hippies.  He emitted his own manic pixie dream guy vibe.  He quoted philosophy.  He evoked a bohemian personal style.  He even wrote esoteric and indecipherable one act plays for the drama club to perform.

MPDG #1 started spending a lot of exclusive time with Zane.  He opened her mind.  He broadened her horizons.  They would skip class to ride the swings at the elementary school and look at the clouds.   …Okay.  I’m kind of jealous of that last part.

MPDG #1’s evangelical parents did not approve of this new development in their daughter’s life.  So they shipped her off to a small, private Christian school for our senior year.  It didn’t take.  She was too far gone.  She left for college and went full-on singer/song-writer artsy hippie.  Last I heard, she was teaching elementary school at a commune in Washington state.  I dodged that bullet.  I’m a bit skeptical when it comes to ostentatious journeys of spiritual enlightenment.

Manic Pixie Dream Girl #2: The Hardcore One (ENFP)

I bumped into MPDG #2 at a He is Legend concert sophomore year at Virginia Tech.  Don’t judge me.  Going to random concerts of questionable genre kept me from becoming a basement boy.

She jumped into that pit with grown men and held her own.  I love a girl that can kick another girl’s ass.  Something about wanting protection, but not needing it.  It makes a man feel special.  It also didn’t hurt that she was a quarter Japanese.  Every white man has a little asian fever.

This time I didn’t sit on the bench.  I was a veteran.  I had seen war.  Certainly I could win a girl’s heart.  I formulated a game plan and commenced my mission.  I can’t tell you if my theories held any accuracy, though.  My execution was dreadful.

I discovered she presided over an on-campus concert committee.  I joined the committee but soon realized I had a taste in music two or three years older than all of the committee members.  I asked if she wanted to hang out, but I spoke way too fast and I doubt I communicated any romantic intention.  I visited her during the committee’s office hours with candy bars but just came off creepy.  I got her phone number to ask her out on a date but got politely shut down.  Sadly, I thought I had won a small victory by even getting the courage to talk to a girl.  It got so pathetic that I ran into her at Taco Bell and had dinner with her and the guy she would start dating two weeks later.

In true MPDG fashion, she never held it against me.  We did become casual friends, but she never saw me as anything more.  She dated Taco Bell guy for most of our time in college.  They broke up and she followed her heart to Denver.  There she married a graphic designer that I graduated high school with.  Small world.  They like to hike the beautiful Colorado mountains.  Ugh.  The Army ruined me for camping, and hiking, and rain, and heat, and really just the scenic outdoors in general.

The Interlude (INxJ)

I still call this the “Winter Fling”, though such terminology is an incredible overstatement.  I travelled to New Orleans, LA, over Christmas break to aid the Katrina rebuilding efforts with a group sixty strong from my campus church.  Through random chance the INxJ and I ended up on the same work team and quickly discovered we had an understated but powerful chemistry.  She let me do all the talking.  She was quiet and witty.  She saw through all my bullshit but thought my attempts amusing.

In hindsight, I had found the strength of my game, but didn’t know it.  I pressed on with my standard, counterproductive attacks of talking too much and making myself omnipresent, but my non-verbal actions truly drew her interest.  NTs are nigh indestructible.  It comes from our sheer willpower, the cliched “mind over matter.”  SJs will always be stronger, SPs faster, and NFs more graceful, but NTs have the endurance to go the distance.  We get noticed by remaining the last man standing.  We excel by working as hard at the end of the day as we did at the beginning.

My wife has told me that men are most attractive in action.  The “Winter Fling” saw me take charge of sanding and spray painting bunk bed frames for future volunteers.  She watched me go berserker with a pickaxe.  She saw my work ethic and knew what I was capable of.

The last night in Louisiana, some fellow Hokies organized a swing dance in the gymnasium.  The “Winter Fling” and I gravitated towards each other and enjoyed a few awkward dances.  I cherished every smirk I drew out of her.  That dance triggered a decision to take up further swing lessons once we returned to Tech.  Me and guy friend and she and girl friend all joined the same class.  I held her in my arms every week but it never progressed any further.

Oh, did I mention she still had a long distance boyfriend?  I never asked her on a more serious date because I wanted to respect some boundaries.  Still, I have to question a guy who felt comfortable with his girlfriend dancing with such a rugged man two hundred miles away.

Two weeks after the swing classes ended, we returned to New Orleans for a Spring Break mission trip.  Even an emotionless neanderthal like me could tell something was amiss.  She had ceased laughing at my quips.  I felt a much chillier reception than I was used to.  Had my charms ceased working or was there trouble with the other man?

She broke up with long distance boyfriend a month or two later.  I like to think I catalyzed her dissolution of a bad relationship.  Please, leave me my delusions.  I never got to capitalize on her singleness.  I left Blacksburg immediately after the semester to train for my deployment to Iraq.  That summer she started dating her husband.  I like to think we both ended up with the right person.

That winter week surprised me and it foreshadowed my coming bride.  I didn’t go looking for this “fling.”  It fell into my proverbial lap and I simply took advantage of it as much as propriety allowed.  More interesting, I crushed on an introvert for the first time.  The loud extroverts always drew my short attention span, but I really enjoyed the interplay between my personality and hers.  I’m selfish.  I like attention.  I like to hear myself talk.  Introverts are more than happy to yield the spotlight.  They treat you like you’re the only person in the room.  With my extrovert crushes, I always had to compete with their whims, their causes, their friends, and other suitors.  I could never get enough of their attention to satisfy my needs.

Manic Pixie Dream Girl #3: The Southern Belle (ENFP)

MPDG #3 was taken from the moment I met her.  I couldn’t break them up because he quickly became a good friend and I knew him to be an honest man.  She and I would engage in playful banter from time to time, quips that belied truths, but I never dared take it beyond that.  I foolishly maintained a slim hope.  I even came close to telling her how I felt once after listening to Derek Webb’s “Can’t Be With You” one too many times in Iraq.  The sand does strange things to your head.  Luckily, the moment passed and all such feelings vanished once I saw her marry the man of her dreams.  I couldn’t be happier for them.

I include her because she fits my profile and she illustrates another sad truth of my theretofore lack-of-love life.  I chased unattainable women. I always wanted what I couldn’t have.  It was an easy cop out.  I could chase love without actually having to deal with the consequences.  Somehow, I thought I could satisfy my emotional needs with the fantasy life I formed in my head.  I never had to commit.  I never had to get down to the nitty gritty business of the trying to love someone.

Therein lies the ultimate danger of the fictionalized Manic Pixie Dream Girl.  She fulfills our emotional desires, but it’s all an illusion.  A real MPDG is a wonderful find, but the imagined one keeps a man from growing up, from truly realizing his potential.  Veronica Mars, Penny Lane, and Zooey Deschanel become the Matrix that prevent us from reaching Zion.

Manic Pixie Dream Girl #4: The Perfectly Real (INFP)

It turns out my manic pixie dream girl was there all along.  At the start of my sophomore year, I moved my sister into her dorm room at Liberty University.  She was my sister’s roommate.

Perhaps, I was looking at the wrong concerts.  My dream girl, my sister, and I hurtled down the West Virginia Turnpike at 80 miles per hour to see the OC Supertones farewell tour in Huntington, WV that fall.  She avoided the pit, but I know she could kick someone’s ass if she had to.  It was the start of a multitude of shared concert experiences.

Perhaps, I was looking for the wrong kind of artist.  The summer after we met, she photographed my sister’s wedding.  I promised her a dance, but I didn’t get to fulfill my promise until a few years later.  I didn’t need an actress.  I needed a photographer/painter/clothing designer.  She wows me with every thing she puts on Etsy.

We had a real friendship.  We read each other’s blogs when I fought in Iraq.  We got to know each other devoid of fantasy and facade.

She saw me at my best.  I led my last trip to the Gulf Coast in 2010.  She readily signed up to join our little band of four.  We worked side by side in the hot summer sun of Pass Christian, MS.  I showed her how to work a nail gun and she made sure I kept drinking water.  At the end of the day, they had to drag me from the work site.

She only has eyes for me.  She laughs at my audacious generalizations, but sees right through my little devil’s advocate ploy.  When I talk, she makes me feel like I am the only person that exists.  She challenges me with her sharp mind and keen insight.  Long before our first kiss, we could sit on the roof of her townhouse porch with a glass of champagne and stare at the stars.

I love my quiet manic pixie.  She paints random walls in our apartment on a whim.  We have one orange wall in the kitchen and one grey wall in the office.  To keep her W-2 safe, she hides it so well that even she can’t find it again.  She squeals with excitement when she sees Boston Terrier puppies on her computer.

She inspires me.  She doesn’t keep me trapped in some college fantasy.  She pushes me to something more real than I could ever have achieved before.  Angelica, I love you.

The Sorting Hat of Harry Potter and Myers-Briggs Personality Typology

I am not the first person to try to decipher the method’s of JK Rowling’s Sorting Hat in the Harry Potter series.  I am also not the first person to try to apply Myers-Briggs typology to the Hat’s madness.  When we hear descriptors like brave and daring, patient and hard-working, witty and intelligent, or cunning and ambitious, we easily assume that the Sorting Hat speaks of personality traits, something inborn in the wearer.  Perhaps the truth remains more complicated and we are more than our mere birth.

Most of the metrics I have seen that combine Potter lore with personality typology try to assign only one house to each type or temperament.  I found that lacking.  While each Hogwart’s House maintains its own peculiar culture, they feature a variety of personality types.  You can’t say that Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and the Weasley twins have much more in common than their bravery.

I also have great difficulty determining my own house.  As an ENTP, I can never decide if I should party it up as a king among nerds in Ravenclaw or jump headfirst into a myriad of experiences as a smart ass in Gryffindor.  Even outside of the fantasy, I am both an experience-addicted Army veteran and a student finishing a masters in English while writing three blogs.

When recalling the experiences that individuals had with the hat, I realized that the Sorting Hat often gives first years the choice between two houses before making its final decision.  The hat offers Harry both Gryffindor and Slytherin.  It suggests both Gryffindor and Ravenclaw to Hermione.  I theorized that each personality has up to two ideal houses.  I tried to go type by type and select the best two houses for each, but no clear pattern emerged.

I began to notice the patterns when I broke down each type by its dominant and supportive functions.  Without getting too much into the theory, we use one of our inner letters in an extroverted fashion and one in an introverted fashion.  Perceivers tend to show their N or S to the outside world.  Judgers tend to show their F or T to the outside world.  As an ENTP, my dominant function is extraverted intuition (Ne) and my supportive function is introverted thinking (Ti).  Each of the eight functions lines up well with a Hogwart’s House:

Extraverted Intuition (Ne): Imaginative and innovative, we search for new ideas, people, and possibilities.  Gryffindor.

Introverted Intuition (Ni): They examine patterns, symbols, and meanings to solve complex puzzles. Ravenclaw.

Extraverted Sensing (Se): They spontaneously seize the moment, following anything that draws their interest. Gryffindor.

Introverted Sensing (Si): They rely on a strong memory, drawing information from past experiences and traditions. Slytherin.

Extraverted Thinking (Te): They sort, organize, and make decisions.  They speak their mind. Slytherin.

Introverted Thinking (Ti): We operate from pure logic, sorting theories and solving problems. Ravenclaw.

Extraverted Feeling (Fe): They nurture relationships, promote collaboration, and validate others.  Hufflepuff.

Introverted Feeling (Fi): They rely on their values and empathy to create inner and outer harmony.  Hufflepuff.

That produces the following chart:

Personality Type Primary Function Supportive Function Primary House Secondary House
ENTP Ne Ti Gryffindor Ravenclaw
INTP Ti Ne Ravenclaw Gryffindor
ENTJ Te Ni Slytherin Ravenclaw
INTJ Ni Te Ravenclaw Slytherin
INFP Fi Ne Hufflepuff Gryffindor
INFJ Ni Fe Ravenclaw Hufflepuff
ENFJ Fe Ni Hufflepuff Ravenclaw
ENFP Ne Fi Gryffindor Hufflepuff
ISTP Ti Se Ravenclaw Gryffindor
ESTP Se Ti Gryffindor Ravenclaw
ESFP Se Fi Gryffindor Hufflepuff
ISFP Fi Se Hufflepuff Gryffindor
ESTJ Te Si Slytherin Slytherin
ISTJ Si Te Slytherin Slytherin
ESFJ Fe Si Hufflepuff Slytherin
ISFJ Si Fe Slytherin Hufflepuff

I line up with Gryffindor and Ravenclaw as expected.  The chart works remarkably well, however issues still arise.  For instance, the ESTJs and ISTJs all come across as pure Slytherin.  All other things remaining equal, they fit there.  Unfortunately, before Harry’s victory against Voldemort, that house did not take muggle born and those that supported them.  That would explain how personalities like Percy Weasley and Hermione Granger ended up in Gryffindor in spite of themselves.

Of course that brings me to the true lesson of all this.  Throughout the Harry Potter series, Rowling repeatedly tells us that we have a choice.  We determine our own actions for good or evil.  The Sorting Hat takes into account our inborn personality, our home environment, and our family history, but it always gives us a choice in the end.  We are more than the sum of our parts.  Sirius Black, Hermione Granger, Harry Potter, and even Draco Malfoy have a choice to reject their supposed fate.  A sacrifice freely given will always triumph over tyranny and fear.

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