What Were Jane Austen’s Enneagram and Myers-Briggs Types?

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is one of the most renowned authors of the 19th century, and one of the most famous women from her day. Although she wasn’t so successful during her lifetime, biographers -- and, of course, her popular novels -- show us how intense and singular Jane really was. 

According to accounts and texts, Jane was most likely an Enneagram Type Five, and a Myers-Briggs INTJ. Here’s more about her fascinating and unique personality. 

Enneagram Type Five: The Investigator

Jane may have loathed her recent boom in popularity, following the many film and TV adaptations of her novels that have revitalized her work. “And she would have been quite appalled, I think, at even more fame than she had in her lifetime, which was little enough,” said her biographer Claire Harmon. “She didn't want to be gawked at by neighbors who'd discovered she was an author. She wanted to maintain her integrity and her freedom to look at the world and be able to honestly say what she thought about it.” 

An Enneagram Type Five, Jane Austen much preferred keeping to herself. She preferred the company of her own mind to many others, and was laser-focused on her work above all else -- all the signs of being an Investigator. 

Outwardly: Spotting the Five
  • Solo: Fives are comfortable, even happy, being alone. Jane Austen never married despite multiple offers -- and a one-day engagement. “"I must keep to my own style and go on in my own way; and though I may never succeed again in that, I am convinced that I should totally fail in any other,” she said.
  • Observing: Fives are wallflowers, but they pay attention. Austen drew her characters richly, and made keen observations about marriage, feminism, wealth, social class, and morality within her work.
  • Minimalistic: Fives don’t care much for money, wealth and status. Austen did not marry, or climb the social ladder. She often relied on her parents for money, and only made money of her own after Sense & Sensibility was published. She was 36.
  • Contrarian: Fives don’t play social games, and may speak or do things that run counter to cultural norms. They have clear beliefs and ideas about the world. 
Inwardly: 5 Traits of the Five
  • Intense: Their inner-world is rich and exciting. Even though Jane lived a quiet life, she painted exciting stories in her books. 
  • Intentional: They say what they mean, and mean what they say. Jane had pointed criticisms about society and culture. 
  • Independent: They crave freedom. "There are people, who the more you do for them, the less they will do for themselves,” she said. 
  • Enlightened: They enjoy learning, growing in their knowledge and conveying it. Jane was an avid reader and loved depth; she was afraid Pride & Prejudice was too “frivolous.” 
  • Calm: Always prepared, they tend to be cool under pressure.  

TypeFinder INTJ: The Mastermind

I: Introverted

Comfortable on their own, introverts like their solitude and silence. “There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort," she once said. Austen was a writer, born in a small English village, who never married; in fact, she turned down a few proposals. 

N: Intuitive

Intuitives tend to have a keen sense of narrative arcs, and building cohesive stories from idea to conclusion. The quality of her enduring works -- like Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, Mansfield Park and Emma -- reveal an intuitive mind. 

T: Thinking

Though not always common at the time, Jane attended school and maintained a strong thirst for knowledge. She was an avid reader, who spent tons of time in the family library. “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid," she said.

J: Judging

Jane Austen loved a buttoned-up tale; despite some criticisms from readers and critics, she gave all her characters the quintessential happy ending. So many of her stories ended with marriage and commitment.

Cognitive Functions 

Ni: Revered for her ability to thread brilliant tales with multiple plotlines and criticisms about society, Jane was a true introverted intuitive. She was wise, and incisive in her observations of the world. Her words and stories always held deeper meanings.  

Te: It’s a myth that Jane was a meek and gentle personality, according to biographer Claire Harmon. She was not afraid to speak her mind. In her recording letters, we see a “very sharp-witted and at times rather acid-tongued woman,” Harmon says. “And, you know, the mind behind the novels could only be a very discerning, very critical mind.” 

Fi: Jane was true to herself and her beliefs. Despite her novels' focus on marriage as a way to elevate a woman’s economic position, Jane remained a fervent believer that you should marry for love, not money or status. This is the focus of many storylines in her books, too.

Se: Jane may have had fine tastes, as well. “Let me know when you begin the new tea, and the new white wine,” she said. “My present elegancies have not yet made me indifferent to such matters. I am still a cat if I see a mouse.” 

Fast Facts about INTJs
  • INTJs are 2% of the population; 3% of men, and 1% of women
  • Rarest gender-type match in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
  • Score high on these traits: Discreet, Industrious, Logical, Deliberate, Self-Confident, and Methodical
  • Value “achievement,” and among the types with the highest income
  • Known for their brilliance, one of two types with the highest college GPAs
Jenna Birch

Jenna Birch is a content and brand strategist for startups, entrepreneurs and VCs. Before moving into consulting, she was a prolific journalist for national magazines and websites, and author of The Love Gap: A Radical Plan to Win in Life & Love (Grand Central Publishing). Her work has been published in The Washington Post, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Harper's Bazaar, InStyle, HuffPost, and more. She lives in Ann Arbor, MI with her EXTP fiancé and the best pup around, Ollie.

Comments

Toni-anne (not verified) says...

I agree that she was probably a 5/INTJ, but I disagree when you talk about her being "minimalistic" and "uninterested in being rich" because she relied on her parents and only made money at 36. It wasn't her choice. It's not that she was uninterested, she was a gentlewoman and gentlewomen in the Regency Era were not allowed to make or have money. They couldn't just move to New York in a tiny flat with terrible roommates and find a job at a bakery and start a new independent life.

She relied first on her parents and then her brothers for her entire life because there was nothing else she could do. Had she married, she would have relied on her husband and not even keep control over her dowry. When she finally sold her novels she was ecstatic for the little financial freedom she had gained.

I simply wish the article had made it cleared that wasn't her choice to rely on others.

Michelle L (not verified) says...

I really love this thought experiment of seeing if we can guess Jane Austen's MBTI. I have to say, I respectfully disagree, although I think you are close because she clearly has a robust Ni~ but due to that Ni being focused on human personalities and relationships, I think she was INFJ. This is classic INFJ territory, this is their life's calling. I am myself a female INTJ, I love reading Austen's Pride and Prejudice, especially because I relate so hard to poor Mr. Darcy having crazy feels but not knowing how to adequately convey them without being overbearing. I also love writing, but the thought of dedicating time to a novel about human relationships doesn't sound like something any INTJ I know would be interested in. (Believe, me, I'd love to claim to be on the same team as Jane Austen, I just don't see it.) 

Folks like us really love teaching about bodies of knowledge we know. I love passing on my knowledge about sound engineering and music theory (my own professional field) and writing music which expresses that Fi. But talking about people.... we really don't understand human interaction that well, and I do feel pretty confortable claiming that for most INTJs. We can recognize the truth in these novels (and feel so validated by her inclusion of people like us -- another reason I think she might be INFJ), I doubt we could recreate them. Jane Austen is rarely lauded as such but her ability to see into the human soul and her ability to write about the human condition with wit and charm is really genius and unparalleled. Us INTJs are great at systems, but not really with humans. 

Michelle L (not verified) says...

I thought I should mention as well - INFJs are avid readers, maybe even moreso than INTJs. We like reading if it is functional, but we don't just like reading for reading's sake and sometimes I think it's tedious. Just give me the red pill and hook me up to one of them machines for fastest absorption.

I think INFJs find more of a pull to reading because it is such a human experience, a person-to-person way to spread knowledge without having to leave the study and actually interact with other humans. :) As for the Fi thing - I have a pretty grounded set of morals but I actually don't bring those onto others or advocate for societal change, I just do them and don't care about other people. I give 0 efs about what the rules are. I don't spend any emotional energy on what aligns with other people. My INFJ best friend, on the other hand, is really expressive and judgy about societal ideals. It's like he's always defending his right to live a certain way against The Imaginary Peanut Gallery. I'm always like, bro. Just do your thing, no one cares and people who do are weird for caring. I guess when you ingest that much people knowledge you get wrapped up in majority opinions. 

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