The Personality of Bloggers

After learning that Aleah is an INFJ, I was inspired again to try the Myers-Briggs test. After schizophrenically jumping between eNTj (the General, in my people-loving moments) and iNTp (the Architect, in my contemplation-loving moments) for a decade before I took up blogging, I was surprised last year to find I had moved over to eNfP (the Champion), with the (P)erceptual second only to the i(N)tuitive in dominance. Neither the (e)xtroversion energy focus nor the (f)eeling decision-making style was beyond the 55% level, however, so I was still not that far from iNtP, the Architect role that governed my personality in my quieter moments in the previous decade. But after taking three variants of the test today, I was consistently over the 60% mark in all four dimensions that prevailed last year, so I’m now a full-fledged ENFP (Champion).But I’ve concluded that Sensing is a misnomer: The answers that correspond to an S are all about a preference for facts and rigorous analysis, and I would argue that a better term would be Analytical. In fact, strong sensory awareness, as opposed to intellectualization and abstraction, seems to me to be reflected in the (P)erceiving score. With those clarifications I’m content that the results of the test do reflect my personality today:

  • The E reflects my preference for conversation over personal reflection, and my decreasing need for privacy (though I still value time for contemplation, I have learned to fit it in effectively in the spaces between interactions with others, which I find more valuable and productive)
  • The N reflects my right-brained, lateral-thinking, instinct-trusting personality, and my impatience with excessive analysis and abstraction
  • The F reflects my growing emotionalism, and conviction that what we feel is more important than what we think, though I suspect that this puts me offside the majority of my fellow progressives
  • The P reflects my open-mindedness and comfort with ambiguity, and my gradually improving ability to pay attention to what is happening in the real world

It is interesting to compare the profiles of bloggers with those of the population at large. Averaging data from several sites I came up with these numbers:

  • 73% of bloggers are I rather than E, compared to 60% of the population as a whole
  • 74% of bloggers are N rather than S, compared to 64% of the population as a whole
  • 53% of bloggers are F rather than T, compared to only 38% of the population as a whole
  • 67% of bloggers are P rather than J, compared to only 35% of the population as a whole (but 64% of Rhodes scholars!)

So while bloggers are even more reflective, contemplative, lateral-thinking and creative than the average citizen, they are starkly different in their emotional and sensitive, rather than analytical, approach to decision-making, and in their open-minded and adaptable, rather than decisive and disciplined, approach to personal life management. I differ from the prevailing personality of bloggers only in the first dimension — I am decidedly more outgoing and less private than the majority of bloggers.

If blog readers are more like the population in general, how should bloggers tailor their INFP writing to a predominantly INTJ audience? According to this site, they should lay out the objective of their writing up-front and make their writing clear, concrete and action-oriented (T personalities prefer this), and they should be brief, well-organized, useful and unambiguous (J personalities prefer this). This also suggests that online debates and blog posts that include two sides of an argument without a clear resolution are more likely to appeal to other bloggers than to their readers. This is a generalization, of course, but worth thinking about.

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6 Responses to The Personality of Bloggers

  1. Dave, last year I ran across Annie Murphy Paul’s book The Cult of Personality. In it she makes clear that there is no scientific basis for the Myers-Briggs test. So I’m pretty skeptical of using most personality tools (and particulary the Myers-Briggs test) for anything but, possibly, a way to learn a few things about my own behavior. But I don’t think that they’re of any prescriptive use. I think they can be downright misleading.-Bill

  2. zach says:

    I agree with Bill. While its appealing to have such a cut and dried ‘identity’ I personally have found it of very little actual use.

  3. David Locke says:

    Thinking is not a target of persuasive writing. So even if you are facing a thinker, go with emotions to persaude, unfortunately.

  4. David Locke says:

    When you look at negotiation styles, they tend to breakdown into line and functional unit people. The three weakest negotiators work in functional units. The strong negotiators are line managers, typically extraverts. So really, you only have to convince the extraverts.

  5. Dominic Ward says:

    I am a certified MBTI facilitator and would encourage you to go for a facilitated MBTI session rather than one you do yourself. I have found many people who think they are one type (and had it verified by the questionnaire) when they are actually something completely different.I highly recommend the Step II MBTI process as this uncovers aspects of our type that don’t fit into the typical 16 analysis’s available in the form.Scepticism is always a useful virtue when dealing with something that seeks to define personality (which MBTI doesn’t do actually). It is about insight and how we can use the information to better understand how we impact others and they impact us.

  6. Dave Pollard says:

    Thanks, everyone. I confess I don’t take M-B terribly seriously. I think it’s a tool for self-knowledge, and an interesting conversation-starter, and that’s about all. I’ve taken a lot of tests of this ilk and they’re intriguing, the way the tests in Cosmo are. But I wouldn’t base my business (or dating) behaviour on their results.

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