How Your Personality Type Impacts Your Income

You're probably well aware that your income depends on how much education and experience you have. You may have thought about how much more you might earn by moving to a hotter labor market or changing industries. But there's a big piece of your earning power you may be overlooking—your personality type. Those traits you were born with can impact your earnings more than you may expect.

This may not be news to you. In fact, several studies have shown how personality traits can impact your income. If you score highly on extraversion and goal orientation, for example, it's been shown that you may well see more job success and a better salary. However, most of the existing studies are based on the Big Five model of personality, which tends to be less well understood among non-academics. So, we set out to translate these results for those of us who are more familiar with Myers and Briggs' theory of personality type. Would your income potential change depending on which of these 16 personality types describes you best?

Turns out, your type according to Myers and Briggs makes a big difference to your earning potential. In fact, some personality types command a five-figure income premium over others.

A look at our research

We used the TypeFinder® personality assessment to collect personality data and survey 72,331 respondents who volunteered to provide us with information about their income, employment status, and various other career-related data. The TypeFinder measures the four personality preferences developed by Myers and Briggs, as well as 23 unique facets of personality (more about these later).

To analyze the connection between personality type and income, we first estimated an average income for each of the 16 personality types.

As you can see, the differences are dramatic. There was a difference of more than $26,000 between the highest earners (ENTJs, with an average income of $59,993) and the lowest earners (average income of $33,736—sorry, INFPs!). We can see that overall, Extraverted Thinking types appear to earn more.

Looking at the data in a different way, we looked at the percentage of each personality type falling into the category of very high earners ($150,000 USD and up). The Extraverted Thinking types again dominated the ranks of these income powerhouses, along with INTJs.

Income by personality preferences

So why do some types earn more than others? We can gain some insight by looking at the eight personality preferences that make up a personality type. When we break down income by preference, we can see that Extraverts, Thinkers and Judgers have higher income than their counterparts.

In the chart below, you can see that having an Extraverted preference means a major income advantage, with Extraverts commanding a premium of nearly $10,000 a year over their Introverted colleagues. A similar difference exists for Judgers and Perceivers, with Judgers earning about $7,000 more than Perceivers. And Thinkers out-earn Feelers by nearly $8,000 per year.

While these findings might seem startling, they correspond with plenty of academic research based on the Big Five, which has shown an income advantage for people who are more extraverted and have traits that correspond to Myers and Briggs' Judging and Thinking preferences.

How income changes over time

Could the income disparity among types be partly due to the choices they make in their career paths? We know, for example, that Intuitive types are more likely to pursue higher education, while Feeling types (particularly women) may spend more time caring for family than climbing the corporate ladder. It follows, then, that we might see different trends in income over the career lifespan for different personality types.

To investigate this, we looked at average income for each personality type in each decade of a typical working life. We discovered that different personality types do indeed have distinct career arcs.

ENTJs, who tend to be the highest earners overall, start strong: they out-earn all the other types in their twenties and thirties. However, once they reach their 40s, ENTJs’ salaries are eclipsed by late-blooming ENTPs, who are fairly average earners until they reach their stride in middle age and become the highest-earning types of all.

Other late-blooming types include ESTP, INTJ, and INTP, who all tend to earn their highest incomes in their fifties. All four of the Introverted Intuitive types (INFJ, INFP, INTJ, and INTP) were more likely to report that they were spending time on higher education, which might explain why INTJs and INTPs are slow starters in the earnings game.

ESFPs, ISFPs, and ISFJs also have incomes which reach a peak later in life. Digging into the employment status data revealed that these types were much more likely to take time off to care for children in the midst of their earning years.

The personality traits that make the biggest impact

The TypeFinder assessment does not just measure the eight major personality preferences; it also breaks those broader dimensions down into 23 more detailed facets. Each of these facets describes a more specific aspect of a larger preference, allowing the TypeFinder to describe your personality in much more granular detail than a typical personality type assessment.

For example, the dimension of Extraversion breaks down into the facets of:

  • Placid vs. Energetic - describes a person's energy level and their preference for being busy
  • Private vs. Prominent - indicates a person's preference for privacy versus social status
  • Solitary vs. Engaged - shows how sensitive a person is to loud, stimulating environments
  • Reserved vs. Expressive - describes a person's readiness to speak their mind
  • Calm vs. Joyful - indicates how much positive emotion a person experiences
  • Aloof vs. Friendly - describes how apt someone is to approach other people

Because we had access to this detailed facet data, we were able to dive deeper into our analysis of the link between personality and income. We found that some facets were closely linked with income, while others seemed to have little to no effect.

Among the facets of Extraversion/Introversion, the Expressive, Energetic and Prominent styles were most associated with high earnings. Some facets, however, did not correlate: Friendly people had incomes on par with the more Aloof, and Calm and Joyful people earned about the same. This suggests that the income advantage for Extraverts is mostly associated with their aptness to speak up, keep busy, and be comfortable in the spotlight.

The facets of the Sensing/Intuition dimension seemed mostly uncorrelated with income. However, we did find that those with a preference for a Conceptual style had higher incomes. This facet is related to an Intuitive preference and describes the degree to which a person likes to see the big picture and is interested in understanding theories. It's possible that this big-picture outlook may lead to positions with more responsibility, and thus, higher income.

Within the Thinking/Feeling dimension, a few facets seemed to explain most of the income advantage for Thinkers:

  • Challenging denotes a person who does not avoid conflict and enjoys debate.
  • Objective describes a person who makes decisions based on data and rational arguments, rather than personal concerns.
  • Rational indicates a person who prefers to avoid emotional displays, both in themselves and others.

While these three facets of Thinking seemed to boost income, others appeared mostly irrelevant. For example, those who like to cooperate with others earned about the same as those who prefer to strike out alone. We can assume, then, that the income premium for Thinkers has mostly to do with their detached, rational style of behaving and making decisions, as well as their comfort level with conflict.

Within the Perceiving/Judging dimension, one key facet stood out as a relatively strong predictor of high income: Ambitious, which describes a person who sets lofty goals for themselves and is highly driven by achievement. Those who were more laid-back and less goal-driven earned markedly less.

Surprisingly, other facets of Judging showed weaker associations or none at all. An individual’s preferences for being orderly and following a schedule appeared mostly irrelevant to income—an unfortunate surprise to those who have invested a lot of time improving their personal organization skills!

These findings point to the surprising conclusion that ambitious goal-setting appears to be the primary reason that Judgers tend to out-earn Perceivers—more important, even, than persistence or meticulous organization.

Making the most of your earning potential

If you’re an Introverted Perceiver reading these results, fear not—these findings don't mean that you must resign yourself to low wages. These are just statistics, not your destiny. You may well be an INFP who earns a solid six-figure salary. And remember, this research focuses solely on income. We didn’t analyze who was happiest in their jobs!

If you belong to one of the lower-earning personality types, you may be wondering if you should try to change your personality in pursuit of higher income. While our research did point to some concrete behaviors you might mimic for higher earnings—for instance, making an effort to speak your mind, or not shying away from conflict—for the most part, it's smarter to work with your own natural strengths. Research has demonstrated that people whose jobs are a good fit their personality earn a higher income than people who are not so perfectly matched. So you're more likely to maximize your earning power if you're honest about who you are—not to mention, more likely to be happy in your work.

If you're hoping to boost your income, there’s a final takeaway you can focus on: you can shine simply by having the drive to succeed. Our findings show that more so than any other characteristic you might possess, the facet of Ambition is predictive of your earning power. So even if the cosmic personality dice have not rolled in your favor, your high aspirations and lofty goals can help you to make your own luck.

 

To read more about our research on personality and income, check out the full research report: The Income Effect of Personality Type.

Molly Owens

Molly Owens is the founder and CEO of Truity. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley and holds a master's degree in counseling psychology. She began working with personality assessments in 2006, and in 2012 founded Truity with the goal of making robust, scientifically validated assessments more accessible and user-friendly.

Molly is an ENTP and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she enjoys elaborate cooking projects, murder mysteries, and exploring with her husband and son.

Comments

KE (not verified) says...

Wow! Another spot on assessment! My husband and I studied the same degrees at university. He is an ENTJ and I am ENFP.

He is earning at least 3 times more than I do. I’m always the one volunteering, starting unpaid creative projects and just am the weakest ink financially.

im Extroverted and Ambitions but when ever I’ve tried to focus on money as they driver it back fired badly, I felt I was swimming against the stream. Now I work for an NFP getting paid half as much as what I would be if I was doing the same thing for profit, but im happy and feel in my element.

much to my husbands annoyance, thank god he is an ENTJ!

i showed him this article to prove that I can’t help being myself, and neither can he 😆

Molly Owens says...

Glad we could provide some validation! I hope your husband appreciates all the wonderful non-monetary things that you bring to the relationship. :)

J. Neil Tift (not verified) says...

I have worked for non-profit family service agencies for over 30 years. Since management in most of these agencies are primarily females, I would have to disagree with the pay disparities comparison. In organizations managed predominantly by females, I have found that females tend to earn more. That is unjust.  In the for-profit, business world yes, men tend to earn more. That is also unjust.

In the non-profit world, there are a wide range of organization categories- health care, education, higher education, the arts and many more. But in truly nurturing not-for-profit fields like mine- social service agencies, family resource centers, parenting programs, battered women's shelters, transitional housing, teen pregnancy centers, this disparity of male's salaries being significantly more than female's salaries does not occur. It's often reversed.

But I continue to work in these fields because, as an ENFP and a right-brained male, my passion is helping parents be the best they can be.

DEH (not verified) says...

Seems like  your job/work/career is a huge factor in the ‘Wage Gap’ in your specific situation. This is no criticism, just an observation in the context of Molly’s article.

Rook (not verified) says...

KE, what a cool epiphany, thanks for sharing that.

I think calling yourself "the weakest link financially" sounds way too harsh. Consider this: You are always the one volunteering, starting unpaid creative projects, and choosing to take a personal pay-cut. These things measurably improve the world. 

That is infinitely more important than personal wealth! 

I think it's wonderful that you have your husband in a position to support you while you do your important work, and that he has you to make this a better place for all of us. Please never use the word "weak" to self-describe again. You're both amazing. :)

James Michael Nolan (not verified) says...

Man, this is interesting. I have to print  it out (Old White Guy Syndrome) and study it some more. A LOT of it/all of it makes intuitive sense, AND it also points out the challenges some of us face (I am a strong INFP) in engaging in entrepreneurial activities. Letting it sink in. Not exactlysure how or when I got on the Truity mailing list, nor even sure what you DO, but you just got me very interested. James Mick Nolan, Psychologist/Entrepreneur

Molly Owens says...

We're planning some more in-depth research on personality and entrepreneurship soon. I'm particularly interested in whether some personality types do better when they own their own businesses than they do in traditional jobs.
As to what we do, we develop personality assessments and resources to help people understand themselves—and, as you can see, we do some research into personality as well!

reikirach (not verified) says...

Great article, I’d love to read the research on personality and Entrepreneurship 😊 I’m an INFJ who has dabbled in many mundane purposeless jobs never staying at 1 longer than 2 years and although I have an entrepreneurial spirit I lack the confidence because I compare myself to the extroverted leaders who are making it big and it fills me with self doubt if I need to become that to be successful as I definitely am not extroverted 🤪

im currently researching how to be a successful introverted entrepreneur in an online business hehe 

Bhaveshkumar J. Bati (not verified) says...

I think INFPs and generally Interovert people would be doing much better when they're in control of their own businesses. 

Rook (not verified) says...

What a cool comment! Truity, you might have the classiest most self-aware community I ever done saw. 

INFJ volunteering in Cambodia (not verified) says...

i would like to see a similar study that examined the same data in different economic historical technological and cultural environments. Would a different economic or cultural context favor different traits than those favored in this study? And could it be possible to form a new environment that more equally rewarded the hard work of all the varying strengths of different types? Ambition and volunteering are both needed for a healthy society. Why isn't there a way to reward both? An INFJ wants to know how to make things better for everyone but can rarely reach the pay grade to do much work toward accomplishing it. At least in materialistic western culture.. Yet ancient kings often recruited sage like advisors that would have been allowed to function in their strengths by spending large amounts of time studying reflecting and pondering without being punished for it economically because they were not as materialistically productive. But those societies also left the majority of people as slaves. Changing the world must be done carefully... which requires a lot of reflection says the INFJ

Thanks for this article and data.

Molly Owens says...

That's a great point and very interesting questions. We lumped all countries/cultures together for this study, but it would be fascinating to drill down to different regions and see how different cultures reward personality traits differently. Great idea for a future project!

SpiroR (not verified) says...

‘Changing society one person at a time.’

Well done, INFJer Cambodia.

As a fellow INFJer, I am strong on N and modest on F. But I hold to a strange life philosophy that says that you are not Only your hard wiring. You are Hard wiring (50% +) plus adaptive learner. Steward/Custodian mentality, not User/Victim mentality ! You get both domains right...you invariably become a stand out. Not an ‘average’ statistic, but an Outlier ! But that is the hero’s journey... that I continue to ‘wrestle with my God, playing to an audience of One’ that few humans take...that I am modelling for my wife and two boys and my circle of influence. 

You would think an INFJer is likely not to do well in a customer sales role, right ? Mmmm.   What if that sales role eventually migrates to having in every call multi-dimensional, paradoxical, Quality of Life and ‘death’ discussions and service...with every ‘client’, whether it be in Melbourne, Australia or Cambodia, Vietnam ?  Now THAT is a Mission worth the journey...right ? That is a big Why in one’s heart, right? 

With 6 National Sales Awards, with 2 Runner’s Up, over 2 pharma companies over 10 years, I can say the hero’s journey of finding and expressing your big Why...is worth it. You become the admired Outlier whether you want to or not...with whatever personality you have. What do you think of this?

Go serve your worthy King.

SpiroR.

Saved to Serve.

Bard says...

Depressing, but nothing I didn't know.  :-(  We INFPs are doomed to be losers in society's eyes, it seems!  (And in our own unless we work very hard to counter that message.)

Molly Owens says...

No way! INFPs are less likely to be rewarded for their gifts with money, but that doesn't mean they don't have value in society. INFPs are amazing writers, artists, counselors, teachers...maybe these aren't paths to riches, but they're certainly paths to meaning and purpose.

Rook (not verified) says...

Hey Bard, another view of the data is this one: Starting attributes are just the difficulty level. But what really matters is what you do and how well you play the game. 

Far from doomed! You are gifted with a life in which you can make and do and become anything you choose.

JuliaY (not verified) says...

Interesting article...but I was most struck by the lack of diversity in the 55 pictures of people at the top of the post. That's a bummer. 

markK (not verified) says...

I'm curious, did you happen to notice that many of the pictures of the people are replicated?

Meaning, that there's not actually even 55 different people being represented. The article is not about world-wide ethnic diversity. It's about "personality-type" and "income."

So, technically, there should only be 16 photos...right?

It's probably just a stock photo. I wouldn't let it bother you...unless you want it to.

Molly Owens says...

It is indeed a stock photo. When we create our own images we are very mindful about representing a range of people, but often we don't have a lot of choice when we are choosing stock photos that relate to a particular blog topic. Representing diversity of all kinds is important to us, and we do our best.

JayElle (not verified) says...

Thank you for yet another interesting Truity article! Each time I've taken the personality assessments over the past almost 30 years, the result has been the same: I'm both an ENFJ/INFP. I read somewhere that INFPs are "swans in the sea of ducks," which has helped me to be comfortable looking at the world through a broad global lens while living inside my head and appearing anti-social to friends and family. My INFP side has spent a lot of time researching and spotting opportunities in the marketplace for which I'm currently writing business plans, while the ENFJ side has had a fun career in corporate communications, marketing, business management, and coaching so far. Am excited to see how this ENFJ/INFP combo fares through the stages of entrepreneurship and business development. I, too, would enjoy reading more about the various Types and Entrepreneurship.   

I'm FiNe (not verified) says...

I'm wondering if one non-type related category may be skewing the results for consideration: gender.  In the US there is still a glass ceiling.  Over 60% of men prefer Thinking.  Over 65% of women prefer Feeling.  Men tend to earn more than women in the same role.  Is it because they are men or because they prefer Thinking?  Or both?

An INFP reading... (not verified) says...

I am INFP in my 40s. I actually make a pretty comfortable living and like other percievers, I job hop quite frequently throughout my career and with every hop, my salary goes up significantly. My annual salary is now at over 300k+ base as a full time non-managerial employee in a high tech company. As I contemplate this study, after getting over my initial shock of INFP being the lowest earner, I began to see some rationale here. About 5 years ago, I started to experience serious burnout at my job. Money just did not satisfy me and I got tired of chasing jobs that rewarded me with lots of mony and short-lived feel-good validations. There has got to be something more to my life.

INFP seeks meanings and a sense of mission in everything we do. What is happiness? What do we leave behind after we die? How do we influence the world and nudge it towards a better place with our existence?

Money is just one of the ways we are rewarded (and a pretty artifitial way) for what we do in this world. It is being talked about the most because it is a number. Black and white. Easy to measure and compare. But many of what INFP seeks cannot be measured by money, and money absolutely does not equate success.

You can find ways to be happy as INFP, or whoever you are. Spend time with your friends and family. Go out and explore. Try different things. Make new friends. Talk to people from different cultures. Try their food. Take a trip to their countries. That's the footprint that you can leave behind that does not require you to compare how fat your paycheck is with others. Compare happiness. Compare influence. Compare life satisfaction. Compare how much others come to you for emotional support and comfort.

INFP is awesome.

Don't sell yourself short.

Ryan A. (not verified) says...

Thanks for this great post! I can COMPLETELY relate to everything you said. I'm an INFP who has been feeling VERY unsatisfied in my current job for the last couple of years. I work for a great company with an incredible company culture, but am selling a software product that I'm not super excited about, and am desperate to do something more meaningful, and have been feeling a TON of anxiety about what my next step should be in my career. I've even been considering going back to school and making a complete career change. 

I'm curious to know what you do at a tech company for that kind of pay. Are you a developer?

Thanks again for your insight.

Laura Brown says...

I am an ESFJ and I am definitely the lower income earner in our duo.  My husband has without a doubt the T in his personality - although he hasn't taken the personality test that I know of, I can see it in everything he does.  I took time off to raise children and that's where my heart was at the time.  I'm in my 50's now and am looking seriously at how I can better position myself with the skills and personality traits I have to make a higher income.  I can relate to INFP's thoughts on money not being the only measure of success - that you should go out and relate to other people and cultures, try their food, go to their country.  However that does require a certain amount of income above and beyond paying the bills, especially taking a trip to another country.  Those are things that do motivate me however, I do want to leave the world a better place.... it's always a balancing act.  

Olorin (not verified) says...

I would love to see the same charts broken out by gender. It would be useful to know how much of this is personality based and how much is attributed to gender (whether through bias or  lifestyle choices). 

Parth (not verified) says...

This is great article for me.The Personality is impact on income or not i say yes it may imapact more in our income.

Thanks for sharing this article.

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