Does your personality type determine your politics?

Does your personality type predict your politics? A Truity survey of 25,223 individuals this month appears to confirm just that. While much has been made about the various factors driving increases in U.S. political partisanship, from social media bubbles to campaign tactics, this survey of those who took our Typefinder test (based on the theories of Myers and Briggs) shows that your underlying personality type may play a big role in determining your political affiliation. 

Key Findings from our Survey: 

  • Personality type is more predictive than age in determining whether or not you identify as a Republican or Democrat. 

    • Myers-Briggs theory describes a person’s personality through four opposing personality functions: Extraversion vs. Introversion; Sensing vs. Intuition: Thinking vs. Feeling: and Judging vs. Perceiving -- more on the well-established personality theory here

    • Three of these four key personality functions are more predictive of your political affiliation than age -- a remarkable finding, given that age is a key factor in predicting political affiliation in much public opinion polling (see Pew 2020 study and Pew 2015 analysis here).  

  • If you are an Intuitive type, you are almost four times more likely to be a Strong or Lean Democrat than a Strong or Lean Republican. 

    • Myers-Briggs defines Sensing vs. Intuition as one of the four core personality dichotomies, focused on how you collect information. Sensors gather facts from their immediate environment and rely on the things they can see, feel and hear. Intuitives look more at the overall context and think about patterns, meaning, and connections. 

    • Among Intuitives with a major party preference, 79% are Democrats while just 21% are Republican. In this case, your Intuition preference is actually a stronger predictor than both age and education level in determining your political affiliation! 

    • Even more Intuitive? Of those who identify with a third party, 90% are Intuitive. 

    • Within Intuition, the personality facets most telling of one’s political affiliation were how someone scored on “openness to progressive ideas” and “appreciation for the arts/aesthetics” questions.

  • 65% of Strong Democrats are Feelers, compared to only 50% of Strong Republicans. Feelers tend to have an inclination toward compassion, sympathy for the less fortunate, and a community-oriented ethos.

    • Myers-Briggs theory defines Feeling vs. Thinking as one of the four core personality dichotomies, focused on how you make decisions. Thinkers look for the logically correct solution, whereas Feelers make decisions based on their emotions, values, and the needs of others. 

    • Feeling attitudes that correlate with Democratic lean, are a consideration for “personal factors in decision-making,” a tendency to “feel sympathy for the less fortunate,” and a preference for “cooperation over an ‘every man for himself’” ethos.

  • People who are “Judgers” tend to more frequently identify as Republican, with strong Republicans showing the highest Judging scores. 

    • Myers-Briggs theory defines Judging vs. Perceiving as one of the four core personality dichotomies, focused on how you organize your environment. Judgers prefer structure and like things to be clearly regulated, whereas Perceivers like things to be open and flexible and are reluctant to commit themselves. 

    • Democrats are slightly lower than average on Judging, but the lowest scorers of all are those who identify as Third Party members (only 36% of the third party responders are Judgers). This might be due to the connection between Judging and structure; strong Perceivers tend to dislike hierarchy and institutions, so a third party may feel more attractive to them. 

    • Within the Judging traits, the highest correlation for predicting your Republican lean was with questions around one’s “self-disciplined attitude (rather than impulsivity)” and on “meeting expectations and fulfilling responsibilities.”

  • Republicans are more likely to be Extraverts.

    • Over 60% of Strong Republicans are Extraverts, compared to only 51% of Strong Democrats. 

    • Myers-Briggs theory defines Extraversion vs. Introversion as one of the four core personality dichotomies, focused on how you gain energy. Extraverts like to be with others and gain energy from people and the environment. Introverts gain energy from alone-time and need periods of quiet reflection throughout the day. 

    • Extraversion is the least correlated personality dichotomy in this survey, but still showed a significant link. Within Extraverted traits, the most important factors are a tendency to experience “strong positive emotions”, with the more upbeat also more likely to be conservative. Along with those who say they like to “keep busy”, being more likely to be conservative.

  • Based on this, you could say that a typical Democrat would be an INFP, while a typical Republican would be ESTJ. 

    • Democrats are most likely to be described as progressive, “Intuitive,” aesthetic, imaginative, and “Feeling.” 

    • Republicans are most likely to be described as “Judging,” disciplined, conscientious, orderly and joyful. 

  • Finally: There may be another reason it seems like you are seeing lots of Trump yard signs….

    • If you identify as a Strong Republican, you are nearly twice as likely to post a sign in your yard or wear political merchandise of a candidate you like, than someone who identifies as a Strong Democrat. 

    • Overall, people who’ve displayed any kind of party affiliation (yard signs, bumper stickers, clothing) are much more extraverted than people who haven’t. Perhaps no surprise, but interesting when noting that Republicans tend to be more extraverted than Democrats.

“Republicans tend to be more extraverted, and the link between having an extraverted personality and your inclination to advertise your political affiliation is quite strong. Although it’s perhaps not surprising in some ways -- if you are an Extravert you are much more likely to want to share your views with the world. It is striking that those who identify as a Strong Republican are nearly twice as likely to post a sign in their yard or wear political merchandise of a candidate they like, than someone who identifies as a Strong Democrat,” said Truity CEO Molly Owens. “This may add another dimension in how we draw conclusions based on displays of political affiliation."

You may ask: What good is all this if I still have to argue with my Uncle over politics this Thanksgiving?

Within the final weeks of an U.S. election cycle in which party affiliation has become even more polarized, many are finding it increasingly hard to understand how and why our family members, colleagues and partners came to their political beliefs. Using tactics used for decades in workplace organizational dynamics and relationship counseling for how to communicate better across personality types, may just help diffuse your political “discussion” with Uncle John.

“Of the four personality preferences created by Myers and Briggs, the widest gap in both political affiliation and overall differences is between Sensors and Intuitives. While the population is split roughly 50/50 on the other dimensions, a full 70% of people show a preference for Sensing over Intuition when taking a personality test.  However, per this study, if you are Intuitive, you are more than four times likely to be a Democrat than a Republican,” said Owens. “Extrapolating a bit, if you are a Democrat and your Uncle John is Republican, you can likely assume Uncle John is a Sensor -- and you are an Intuitive, and there are several tactics used in counseling psychology that you can use to have better dialogue with a Sensor."

Here are some points Intuitives can use to help you overcome the communication barrier so you can start enjoying a Sensor's company (or at least prepare yourself for holiday “discussions”).

  • The main communications difference between Sensors and Intuitives is this: Sensors prefer tangible information, whereas Intuitives prefer speculation and depth of insight. So, while a Sensor will perceive data points individually (one by one) and literally (as they are in that moment), an Intuitive will perceive them concurrently (all at once) and abstractly (as they could be in the future).  

  • Observe and be respectful of tradition: Sensors place an enormous amount of importance on the past -- institutions, loyalty, traditions, symbols, observances. Even if they don’t always agree with the foundation of that tradition (or are even aware of it), they tend to be very respectful of it -- so using language that is not flip, crass or dismissive of tradition and at least acknowledging the benefits of tradition is key, so that Sensors don’t just shut down.  

    • Hat tip topics: The integrity of governmental institutions and actors, military honor, and national loyalty for example.

  • Be concrete and clear in your arguments. Intuitives do not consciously define the steps that are needed to get from point A to point B because they instinctively leap across all the steps and make snap decisions based on an overall feeling. Communication frustration occurs because a Sensor needs those mechanical details. They want to see a practical application of the information you are giving them, and they want to follow a logical sequence from start to finish. Rather than providing a global concept, you're going to have to break down your vision and present it step-by step. Here are some things you might explain:

    • The information you have gathered on the topic, especially direct experiences you have had and other factual evidence.

    • The process you went through to think about the issue.

    • The conclusion you have reached (this should be definite and concrete).

    • How, precisely, a person could act upon the information. 

    • How your stance is relevant to the here and now, and why action is necessary (Sensors generally subscribe to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy).

  • Don’t over-rotate on the meaning of what Sensors say: Much of the frustration a Sensor has with an Intuitive comes when the conversation bounces off in all sorts of directions that may be interesting or have deeper meaning for the Intuitive, but has zero relevance for the Sensor. 

    • Suppose, for example, that you're shopping for a new car. Your Sensor partner strikes up a conversation about fuel consumption. Because as an Intuitive you focus on broader theory and metaphor, you attempt to extract a deeper meaning from the Sensor's literal words -- say about their general feelings on climate change, where none was intended. 

    • What you have actually done is put words into the Sensor's mouth. They were having a benign conversation about car value, while you were setting the world to rights. 

“Please don’t take this as a recommendation to engage your uncle in a political debate during tree-trimming this year,” added Owens. “But if you find yourself there, these time-tested tips for improving communications across very different personality types may just help.” 

Survey methodology: 

  • 25,223 individuals, sampled from October 8-October 15, 2020 via Truity.com
  • Customers who completed a full TypeFinder test based on the theories of Myers and Briggs, on Truity.com -- TypeFinder test. More on the methodology behind this test.

More about Truity: Truity’s personality tests are based on sound, research-backed theories, including Myers and Briggs' 16 personality types, the Big Five (Five Factor) model of personality, and the Holland Code system of career selection -- all of which have been subjected to a rigorous research process to ensure reliability and validity. Through Truity’s repository of the personality test data of +25 million customers -- and extended opt-in surveys and research, the company has studied how personality factors relate to everything from income to parenting style. Our research has been covered in major media outlets including Business Insider, the Huffington Post, and the Today Show.  

Truity

Truity was founded in 2012 to bring you helpful information and assessments to help you understand yourself and use your strengths. We are based in San Francisco, CA.

Comments

Milica (not verified) says...

ENFP here. This is very interesting.  I've always thought that debate was extremely valuable (which it seems we've lost that ability), however, actually arguing over politics to be a total waste of time.  It seemed to me that everyone is viewing the world through their own lens and their own set of priorities - so of course any position you take will make perfect logical sense depending on your filter.  When you argue with someone without catering to their own filter, you're just proving to them how right they are.  In any argument, we hardly ever set to choose the same filter through which we ought to construct our arguments. In any case, this all makes even more sense now.

These results also point to another interesting observation - how strongly people react to opposing opinions, especially since those opinions are coming from their inferior function.  I'm imagining an INFP and ESTJ arguing without realizing that they are actually two sides of the same coin.  I wonder if more people had the ability to appreciate and understand the importance of their inferior function, would they continue to be so polarized in their political views?  Something tells me there would be a lot less extreme positions and a greater ability to come together.  The current situation only shows how much we all need to work on ourselves before we go out condemning others for their own respective views.  

NC78 (not verified) says...

Great article! Always fascinating. What about the relationship between personality and the propensity to believe conspiracy theories? 

Gary C (not verified) says...

INFJ here and strongly Democratic. You've probably heard the famous movie line, "best way to win fight is not to be there". In my family we all know who is on which side of the political divide and simply do not talk about politics and everyone gets along. Arguing is a waste of time (as the first poster said) and people only change their minds on politics or any other topic through their own volition, experiences, thought etc. I've never heard 2 people arguing where one says, 'you know you are right and I am wrong, you've convinced me'. Best way to win politial argument is not to have one.  :)

Conservative Lady (not verified) says...

Feeling types, especially Intuitive Feelers - and I can say this because I am one (being an INFJ, close on Feeling and Thinking and on Judging and Perceiving) - while our intentions may be good, can gloss over, or not bother to consider, the facts and logic needed to effectively analyze political issues. An ideology or policy can be attractive to Feeling types because it is compassionate - or sounds like it is. It creates an emotion in us, that is evidence we care. But is it realistic? Is it practical? Do you know how it actually works, or would work? Have you read about the issue in depth, watched not only MSNBC and CNN, but also Fox News, and have you talked to those of a different political party from yours, to learn and better understand the bases for, the "whys" of perspectives? Given that research has established that the mainstream media is around 95% Democrat, there is a bias against conservative viewpoints. E.g., they don't even report on certain topics, such as the millions who lost health insurance coverage, or it became unaffordable, due to high premiums and deductibles resulting from President Obama's ACA. Medicare for All? Sounds compassionate, because doesn't everyone deserve affordable health care? But there are a lot of cracks in its veneer that could be detrimental to the quality of patient care and to medical professionals providing that care, and certainly the high cost of providing the program is a factor to be considered. I don't think either political party has the answer to the healthcare coverage issue, because it's complicated. But back to personality type. Any type can be guilty of accepting politician, or broadcaster, talking points at face value. So I'd like to suggest we all be honest with ourselves regarding how we are taking in, and processing, information and formulating conclusions. Be aware of our assumptions and biases. Watch both progressive/liberal and conservative news and political pundit shows, go online and ask "the pros and cons of (fill in issue or policy here)" and read, talk to others who may not think like you, and be open to understanding all perspectives on the issues, take time to refect, and don't forget to acknowledge the complexities involved in political decisions. Sometimes there is no "right" answer, but the nuances and long term effects of decisions must always be considered. To put it simply, if we take this action, what are the many ways it could play out both good and not so good? Who will it affect, and how? Use both Feeling and Thinking, and Intuition and Sensing, to analyze information and develop your viewpoints.

Lori Sly (not verified) says...

Interesting! How to talk across the intuative-sensor divide is an important skill to have in these divisive times. 

Lynnw/3 (not verified) says...

In my family and of the people I know personally, this article and survey is not applicable. In fact, quite the opposite. As an INFJ, I completely resonate and agree with Conservative Lady's perspective. I would also like to add that the Democratic party is NOT the same party as it was during my younger years. I would elaborate, but feel that this is not the platform on which to do so. I will suggest though that everyone not rely on MSM for your source of news. Do your own research and investigating. Dig deep and do not take any information at face value.

ENFP1 (not verified) says...

I agree with her as well, but I can see how Intuitives would be more liberal by nature.   For example, on a personal level, I am quite liberal, and I believe that everyone should have the freedom (and have that freedom be protected) to be who they are.  I see myself as so pro-freedom for myself and for all others, and I do not discriminate here. In fact, I find that it is most important that those I disagree with have freedom as well. Of course, it is implied that no one person's freedom can hurt or limit the freedom of another. I have a hard time with the contemporary Democratic Party because often I feel that it imposes its values in a rather tyrannical way, attempting to silence anyone in opposition.  I am very open and willing to hear all views, but I have noticed that my Democrat friends are quick to share their opinion without really any interest in hearing an opposing view. This isn't always the case, of course, but many have this sort of attitude. On the other hand, many trump supporters that I know are completely silent and will only open up if they see they aren't going to be attacked.  This alone is something that really bothers me, as a person who prizes freedom above all else. I can't imagine silencing a group of people because I don't like what they have to say.  I also wonder where this comes from.  Also, I've heard a lot of "if you're not with me, you're against me" talk.  This isn't a healthy mindset or something I want to affiliate with.  This goes for both sides, it just appears to me that Democrats are more guilty of this in the current environment.

Qaadir (not verified) says...

Why is this weighted towards Intuitives compensating for Sensors? This article clearly supposes that Intuitives need to adjust themselves to adapt to Senors. I disagree. Check the bias next time and account for adaptations for both sides... if this is truly a binary.

Rose1 (not verified) says...

Amazing... I am an INFP democrat.

remi (not verified) says...

As an european what i have to say on this cool article and comments is that in usa you seems to have a too limited choice.

Only having two political parties can hardly satisfy readers of this 4 dimensional personality theory.
I cant tell that in france we have a better way to go because today the main parti almost killed the system we had before, telling people they will take the best of the 2 ways axis (we had mostly the same usa have) .

But i lived in belgium, maybe ridiculously small but ... i found in this country (15 years ago) a very rich political diversity and political parties who, i think, had the keys of a better representation.

To simplify, there was economical conservators whith very progressist societal views , there was conservators for both societal and economy, there was socialists ones with very conservatives ideas about society and other socialists with very liberal views on society ... and 2 or 3 more complexs  (living there for 3 years i didnt understood all ;) )

So maybe a bi parties system is really too much simplifying and is only polarizing people at such a point that they cant think outside of the "with me or against me" frame.  
Dont take it as an offense, i personaly dont have strong politcal opinions mostly because i'm not satisfied with this oversimplified and polarizing representative system. I just cant play this "with or against" game :) And my country use to play this game as yours.

Maybe my english political vocabulary and my knowledge about your political system leads me to some messes, dont hesitate to correct or counter my comment !

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