No personality type is free of stereotypes. These “myths” can be extremely misleading, even harmful, and are often not true. ESFPs are victims of stereotyping more than most, and that’s largely because they’re underrepresented online so their true natures are generalized or misunderstood.
Ready to debunk some myths? Let’s begin!
1. ESFPs are self-centered hedonists
This is THE biggest misconception of the ESFP personality type. After all, even we at Truity call ESFPs “the Performer” due to their ability to charm others, be the center of the fun and enjoy life. And it’s true that ESFJs take pleasure in the things around them. The simple things are some of the most enjoyable!
However, people often confuse the ESFP’s live-in-the-moment enthusiasm as a type of self-centeredness, where they pursue a good time to the detriment of others. This can’t be further from the truth. While we love a good time, we won’t have it at the expense of someone else’s feelings.
Being Feeling types, ESFPs have a natural sympathy for others which is often not talked about. They’re always there to help in a crisis and will be great friends. I’m not saying every ESFP is an angel, and less developed ESFPs may sometimes go overboard with their fun-seeking. But self-centered hedonism is not the natural way of being for the ESFP.
2. For ESFPs, every party is a good party
ESFPs, like all Extraverts, gain their energy through activity in the outer world. This can range from a fun physical activity to an enjoyable, meaningful conversation. They enjoy people and love to spend time with those they care about.
So while ESFPs may be stereotyped as party animals, you have to define “party.” Many of us would choose a small get-together with friends over a big and noisy nightclub. Everybody is unique and enjoys different things – and that’s okay. Personally, I never turn down a fun night with my friend group where we just sit around and talk and listen to music. Connections like this are important for ESFPs, and our personal relationships are some of the most meaningful things in our lives.
3. Every ESFP enjoys sports
Everyone has their own interests. People are wonderfully individualistic with their own likes and dislikes. So, while Sensing-Perceiver types are often known for their physical ability and athleticism, it cannot be said that all of these types will prevail at sports or even enjoy them.
On the whole, ESFPs do greatly enjoy the physical world and all it has to offer. Being a Sensing type, they are realistic and down to earth, and they tend to enjoy practical pursuits over intellectual hobbies. But the physical world has more to offer than sports!
To use myself as an example, I’m not into sports, but I always jump on an opportunity to work with tools. Whether it’s putting my computer desk together or fixing my often-broken couch, there’s a lot of enjoyment in doing things with my hands and body. It’s even better when the result is something tangible.
4. ESFPs don’t think before acting
ESFPs are realists. This doesn’t mean that they will put down other people’s fanciful ideas, as they are still Perceivers. But there is always a reason for an ESFP’s action. The reason may be something unimportant, like the ESFP was in pursuit of pleasure or a sensory experience when they decided to cook that complicated recipe or dance around the apartment – but that doesn’t mean they don’t think about things. In fact, any pursuit involves thought first.
While their reasoning may not take the form of extensive planning and options-weighing like a Thinking-Judging type would do, they still generally consider the pros and cons before they take action. Impulsive? Yes, they can be. But it’s not because they don’t think – it’s often because they trust their gut instinct and go with what feels right in the moment.
5. ESFPs don’t care what others think
ESFPs are strong Feeling types. So when it’s said that they don’t care about what others think, it’s often not true. ESFPs are really observant of others and attentive to their needs. Criticism, even constructive criticism, can be very difficult for them to digest, especially if it’s about their lifestyle or choices.
When clashes occur, it’s often with more traditional Sensing-Judging types, who often have firm ideas of “how things should be.” This can be difficult for ESFPs or Perceiving types in general who have a more carefree approach to life. To the ESFP, if they’re not hurting anyone, why does it matter how they live their life?
6. ESFPs are shallow commitment-phobes
ESFPs are deeply loyal people once they have formed a connection with someone. Which is why it baffles me that many say ESFPs avoid commitment. While their natural approach to life is a Perceiving approach – spontaneous and freewheeling – they can be deeply committed when they put their minds to something.
For example, I am in a long-term relationship with a wonderful INFJ and I couldn’t be happier! It just shows the wonderful potential ESFPs have for commitment, and it should be acknowledged more than it is.
7. ESFPs are doers, not thinkers
ESFPs prefer to get in on the action than ponder it and have a realistic approach to life – so yes, they do rank among the “doers” of the 16-type system. But it’s not either / or, doing versus thinking. Rather, they do both.
To be able to just do something rather than endlessly think about it is a valuable skill. It makes ESFPs well-suited for so many different careers that need concrete, definite results. Though ESFPs often have an intolerance for book learning, they have tremendously sharp minds and great potential for changing the world in tangible ways. We call this kinesthetic intelligence, and it’s just as important as thinking with the brain.
ESFPs are some of the most fun-loving and kind-hearted people you’ll meet. They show great concern for others and help out in concrete, tangible ways. They are people who can find enjoyment in everything and are great fun to be around – and I’m not just saying this because I’m one of them!
This type is, however, prone to stereotypes. These misconceptions vary greatly from simple misunderstandings to potentially harmful generalizations, so it’s important that we break down these myths and get to the truth. When we can do this, we learn not to judge people prematurely, but to see the real content of their character. From this, we can form meaningful connections and make the world a more harmonious place.