As a political nerd, I’ve always wondered where people’s political opinions and beliefs come from. While I can accept that our politics are often influenced by our experiences, a completely non-scientific scan of my friends and family told me that politics seem to be — at least in part — innate. Have you ever had a political discussion that genuinely changed the other person’s mind? No, me neither: we stick to our political thoughts and beliefs come what may, helped along by a generous dose of confirmation bias.

Superficially, politics should be very simple: here are the facts. Here are the truths. Here are the potential solutions. Here are the decisions that have been implemented. Simple, straightforward, and easy— but politics is anything but simple, straightforward and easy. In a world of fake news, fake truths and fake discourse, the waters have been muddied, and convincing anyone to change their mind politically is nigh-on impossible.

Then, slowly, I began to wonder if there was a connection to personality type. Our personality type is innate, something we have no control over. Could it shape our political opinions? Were there clues in the 16 personalities that suggested how someone might think and behave politically?

It was worth looking deeper, and I think I’ve come to a few conclusions.

First, we need to define political opinions.

Right and left wing

The “wings” of political thought have long been established, and are a far better indicator of political opinion than being restrained to party lines. As a result, we’re going to stick to using the wings to describe political opinion rather than specific parties, not least because party politics is changeable. The wings, however, are eternal.

  • Left wing. The left wing is associated with liberalism. Left wingers are usually progressive in their attitudes. They believe that government should serve the people rather than corporations; it is unlikely that left wingers will embrace the concept of a completely free market. Left wingers are more likely to believe in stringent regulations and higher taxation to fund social areas such as education, healthcare, transportation, and infrastructure. They are more likely to be socially liberal.

Pop Culture Example: Rebecca Bunch of Crazy Ex Girlfriend

Political Example: Bernie Sanders

  • Right wing. The right wing is associated with conservatism. Right wingers are more traditional in their attitudes. They believe that government involvement in people’s lives should be minimal, and that competition should be the deciding force in the marketplace. Right wingers are more likely to believe in deregulation and low taxation, and often believe education, healthcare, transportation and infrastructure should be provided by private corporations. They are less likely to be socially liberal.

Pop Culture Example: Karen Walker of Will and Grace

Political Example: Paul Ryan

However, we also need to add a third category:

  • Centrists. As the term suggests, centrists agree with aspects of both left and right wing ideology. It is more difficult to ascertain an exact description of centrists, as the majority of centrists are self-determining. In the majority of circumstances, centrists embrace the progressive nature of the left wing on social issues, but are fiscally more conservative.

Pop Culture Example: Leslie Knope of Parks and Recreation

Political Example: Barack Obama

So, with these distinctions outlined, I’m now going to go through the 16 personality types and see if it’s possible to predict the political opinions each one correlates to.

INTJ: “The Mastermind”

For INTJs, their ability to dream and think big makes them natural candidates for the left wing. After all, this is a personality type that thrives on solutions and doing things differently, which defies the traditionalist perspective of right wingers. The INTJ desire for self-improvement can be expanded on a social scale, meaning that they are always looking for bettering the world around them.

However... INTJs are also deeply practical and logical. They understand that the world needs to be carefully strategized, and are more likely to be able to compromise with those they disagree with— something left wingers often struggle to do. Due to this, I believe that INTJs are most likely to be centrists, with a left-leaning view on social issues.

Conclusion: Centrists

INFJ: “The Counselor”

The idealism of INFJs combined with their desire to help means that there’s not a huge amount of discussion to be had here! I believe INFJs are most likely to be left wing, particularly in regard to social issues. Like INTJs, INFJs extrapolate their desire for self-improvement into societal improvement. They are also more likely to keenly feel issues created by inadequate healthcare or poverty, which motivates them to change the world and challenge the status quo.

Conclusion: Left Wing

INTP: “The Architect”

INTPs aren’t particularly good at conforming. They’re non-traditional, which tends to veer away from right wing thinking, and they’re unconventional. The innate INTP desire to do things differently doesn’t align with right wing values, which tend towards conservatism— something INTPs often find irritating and confusing.

Conclusion: Left Wing

INFP: “The Healer”

Again, this one seems rather simple to judge: INFPs tend to buck conformity, instead preferring to devise their own solutions to life’s ills. Their open-mindedness also allows them to conceive of the possibility of progress, and their desire to help others is an important motivator.

Conclusion: Left Wing

ENTJ: “The Commander”

ENTJs are a tough group to categorize. Their ability to see the need for, and then implement, solutions sounds almost progressive, which could be construed as left wing. However, there are a few mitigating factors that have led to the conclusion that ENTJs are more likely to actually be right wing. Their tendency towards practicality over emotional decision-making is inherently right wing, and their preference for logic and order also trend in this direction.

Conclusion: Right Wing

ENTP: “The Visionary”

With a nickname like “The Visionary”, it’s tempting to immediately call ENTPs left wing, but further analysis of this personality type actually suggests centrism is a more likely calling for this personality type. The ENTP core ability to “leave people be” doesn’t quite align with the activism most commonly found on the left, but their contentment to challenge the status quo doesn’t align with the right either.

Conclusion: Centrism

ENFJ: “The Teacher”

ENFJs focus on humanity as a whole, constantly looking to implement ideas and solutions for what they perceive to be wrong with the world. Their values are incredibly important to them. All of this makes them natural candidates for left wing ideas, though a strong dose of practicality helps them to make their ideas a reality, so there’s a small lean towards centrism too.

Conclusion: Left Wing

ENFPs: “The Champion”

ENFPs are easy to evaluate as being more likely to ascribe to left wing values. They want to engage with people, better their lives, and their attitude to life is that diversity is always a good thing. They may not be the most practical organizers, but their enthusiasm for change and genuine interest in people seems to make their political wing obvious.

Conclusion: Left Wing

ISFJ: “The Protector”

With a name like “the protector”, it seems that this personality type is immediately heading towards left wing values; but this doesn’t quite seem to be the case. ISFJs are dedicated people; they thrive on and seek to protect tradition and convention, and they see protection of these things as helping to defend the people they care about— and humanity as a whole. Their compassion is endless, and they care deeply about preserving the world as it is. As a result...

Conclusion: Right Wing

ISFP: “The Composer”

ISFPs are a true conundrum of a personality type. Their tolerance and willingness to embrace the strange and unusual trends towards a left wing perspective, but in truth, they are more likely to be apolitical. This personality type just doesn’t trend towards strong political viewpoints; they are interested in people, but less in the fundamental mechanisms of politics. So while there is a conclusion to be made here, this apolitical element is an important consideration.

Conclusion: Left Wing

ISTJ: “The Inspector”

ISTJs are one of the easier personality types to assess for political leanings. Their need to follow rules and conform to the status quo is almost stereotypically right wing. Their reliability and practicality helps to further this assessment.

Conclusion: Right Wing

ISTP: “The Craftsman”

ISTPs are very similar to ISFPs in that they seem to be more likely to be apolitical. Their lack of judgement and high level of tolerance leans them towards the left wing, but you won’t find an ISTP on a picket line or at a protest. They are calm, measured and practical, leading to the conclusion that they are...

Conclusion: Centrists (with a left leaning on social issues)

ESFJ: “The Provider”

ESFJs are a simple personality type to call, with their worldview neatly aligning with the values of conservatism and high moral standards that are associated with the right wing. They focus on the people they care for, rather than immersing themselves in societal issues, and value the ability to provide and assist their own family rather than relying on others (or the government) for help.

Conclusion: Right Wing

ESFP: “The Performer”

ESFPs are among the personality types who will not be particularly politically involved. They focus heavily on the enjoyment of life, with little interest in the nuts and bolts of political theory. While they care for people deeply, their sense of practicality and ease at which they can build bridges with people make their political leanings slightly easier to judge, but it seems unlikely ESFPs will be particularly politically engaged.

Conclusion: Centrist

ESTJ: “The Supervisor”

ESTJ is perhaps the easiest of all 16 personality types to apply a political philosophy to. ESTJs like things to be ordered, believe convention and tradition are vitally important, and their nature lends towards obeying the rules rather than trying to establish new rules. As a result, this one is pretty simple!

Conclusion: Right Wing

ESTP: “The Dynamo”

ESTPs are fairly difficult to judge in terms of politics. Their energetic approach to life, and the fact they are “doers” rather than “thinkers” helps to identify their wing, but realistically, ESTPs are a personality type that can go either way. However, the personality types they tend to find the most challenging to interact with are of the left, and this combined with their “find the solution at all costs” approach, means that...

Conclusion: Right Wing

Final thoughts

If, as I believe, our personality type shapes our political opinions, then it’s easier to see why political discussion is so difficult. When someone presents an idea to us that disagrees with our fundamental beliefs about how the world works, it chafes against the very nature of our sense of self. This opens us up to being more influenced by fake news, confirmation bias, and propaganda; we’ll seize anything that helps us to feel at ease with the opinions we innately hold as part of the very core of who we are.

Antonia Kelly
Antonia Kelly is a freelance writer and editor. She’s a dead-on INTP with a love of politics that borders on the obsessive, and her interests include activism, feminism, history, and — for reasons she doesn’t quite understand — watching WWE wrestling. She lives with her husband and two incredibly pampered cats in Leicestershire, England.