Psychological Type and U. S. Political Party Affiliation
Do your psychological type preferences relate to your political party
affiliation? Your political ideology? This article suggests that
psychological type preferences indeed do influence both of these
Does your psychological type influence your political orienation and
party affiliation? We think so, but research on the topic is
almost non-existent. One attempt to explore the question can be
found at personalitypage.com. Unfortunately, the results
presented there categorize responses for each MBTI type into Democrat,
Republican, Liberal, Conservative, Other, and so on. Thus,
party affiliation (Democrat, Republican, etc.) is included as a
category separate from political ideology (liberal, conservative,
moderate, etc.). Given that party affiliation and ideology tend
to be strongly correlated, this separation makes it difficult to
explore the influence of type preferences on affiliation and ideology
Probably the best source of information is provided by
responses collected when Consulting Psychologists' Press revised the
MBTI in 1998. The revision process involved a representative
national sample of more than 3000 people in the United States.
One of the questions asked concerned party affiliation.
from the survey are shown in the type table below. Take a moment
to study the table and see if you can find any patterns.
Table 1: Psychological Type Preferences and Political Party Affiliation
This table was adapted from 3 different slides presented in: Peter B. Myers and Katherine D. Myers, Snapshots of the 16 Types. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press. Copyright 2001.
of the first things you might have noticed is that the distribution for
party affiliation is fairly equal for many of the types, particularly
for the ENFPs and ENFJs. In comparison to this
pattern for the ENFs, however, the INFJ pattern shows a clear
inclination for this type to report an affiliation for Democrat (49%)
and away from Republican (22%). The mirror to this pattern can be
seen in the responses of the ESTJs, who show a fairly clear preference
for Republican (46%), although a respectable 32% of ESTJs indicate an
affiliation with Democrats. Just as interesting, however, is the
comparison of the INTs with the INFs in terms of Democratic vs Republican
affiliation. So, one question that arises is "why
do INFs differ from these Thinking types in terms of Democratic vs.
affiliation?" We'll present one possible answer below.
Another interesting pattern concerns the NTPs: ENTP and INTP.
These two types appear inclined to declare a stronger affiliation with
Independent than do most other types (49% and 45%, respectively).
These results are mirrored by the results for the SJs and particularly
the STJs. As can be seen, the STJs (ISTJ and ESTJ) report the
lowest levels of affiliation with the Independent label (28% and 22%,
respectively). Thus, another question that arises is "why do STJs
differ from NTPs in party affiliation?".
Finally, at look at the four corners of the type table (the "hard
edges") shows the TJs clearly affiliate with the Republican Party more
so than most of the other types. As can be seen, at least 40% of
each of the four TJ types (ESTJ, ENTJ, ISTJ, INTJ) indicate a
Republican affiliation. Our third question thus is "why do TJs tend
to affiliate with Republican?".
Before answering these three questions, it
might be helpful to provide some context regarding political
affiliation and ideological self identification.
start, let's look at trends in how people identify themselves with
respect to ideology: liberal, moderate, and conservative. The
graph below shows results from the biennial survey conducted by the
American National Election Studies (ANES)
at the University of Michigan. Participants in the survey are asked to
indicate their liberal-conservative orientation using seven categories:
extremely liberal, liberal, slightly liberal, moderate or middle of the
road, slightly conservative, conservative, and extremely
conservative. Participants may also indicate they "don't
know". For the table below, all liberal responses are combined
and all conservative responses are combined.
indicate at least four interesting trends. First, the
percent of participants who self-identify as "liberal" has remained
fairly constant, ranging from about 15% to 20%. (Recently, the
percent has edged above 20%.) Second, the well-reported trend towards a
more conservative orientation in the U.S. is evident in the increased
number of self-identified conservatives. Approximately 30-35% of each
sample have reported a conservative orientation since the
mid-1980s. Third, the percent of moderates has remained
consistently in the 25% neighborhood from about 1984. Finally,
the percent responding "don't know" has been decreasing since 1990 from
a high of 33% to a low of 20% in 2004.
let's look at the relationship between party identification and
ideological orientation. As mentioned in the introduction, these
two factors tend to be significantly related. This relationship
can be seen in the next table (below). The results for Republican
Party affiliation strongly show the influence of a conservative
political identity with about 75% of Republicans indicating some degree
of conservative leaning. Similarly, Democratic Party affiliation tends
toward a liberal orientation with 40-45% of Democrats indicating some
degree of liberal leaning. Clearly, however, the association between
party affiliation and ideological orientation is stronger for
Republicans. Finally, Independents tend to mirror the national
norms (especially for 2004) with Independents divided amongst
ideological orientations in the following proportions: liberal (25%),
moderate (45%) and conservative (30%).
chart above shows the significant relationship between ideology and
party affiliation (and the relationship is statistically significant). But, what does it mean to be conservative or
Probably the most studied indicator of
liberal-conservative orientation has been issue opinions related to
social and economic issues as well as opinions about the role of
government in society. For example, in terms of social issues,
conservatives tend to be pro-life, against gay-marriage, and for the
death penalty. Liberals, on the other hand, tend to be pro-choice,
tolerant of gay-marriage, and against the death penalty. (Note: Some polls indicate these patterns are not always consistent.)
such positions on issue opinions help define liberal or conservative
orientation, there are more fundamental factors that appear to underly
such opinions. Our position is that these more fundamental factors can
be expressed as differences in psychological type preferences.
Sensing and intuition are the only psychological type preferences that
show any consistent relationship to political ideology (in the few studies of
which we are aware). In particular, clearer preferences for Sensing associate with conservative leanings whereas clearer
preferences for Intuition associate with a more liberal orientation.
Consider the characteristics of Sensing and Intuition
types. Sensing types routinely are characterized as practical,
realistic, and concerned with the here-and-now. They trust experience
and facts. On the other hand, Intuiting types are characterized
as imaginative, abstract, and concerned with the future. They
trust hunches and possibilities.
Now consider this
definition of conservatism from David Horowitz "...conservatism [is] an
attitude about the lessons of the actual past. By contrast, the
attention of progressives [is] directed toward an imagined future."
Also, consider these definitions from the Merriam-Webster On-line Dictionary for Conservative and Liberal:
Conservative: "... tending or disposed to maintain existing views, conditions, or institutions: TRADITIONAL."
Liberal: "...not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or traditional forms."
these different perspectives clearly suggests the conservative's
respect for the proven institutions and practices of the "actual past"
quite similar to the Sensing type's respect for experience and
tradition. The conservative's desire for constructive and
incremental change--Edmund Burke's notion of organic change--seems similar to the Sensing type's desire for
change that clearly has been established from the facts of the
situation and tradition. On the other hand, the liberal's preference for
envisioning a new future is quite consistent with the Intuiting type's
preference for imagination and creativity. The liberal's inherent need to not be
bound by tradition is the Intuiting type's preference for change and
perspective seems futher supported when we look at the critiques
conservatives and liberals sometimes employ when discussing the other's
psychology. For example, the following conservative critique of "leftism's" psychology clearly seems to involve S-N conflict about change:
The central proposal here may seem at first paradoxical but it is that
attitude to the status quo characterizes Leftists rather than
Rightists. It is proposed that it is not Rightists who are in favour of
the status quo. They are in fact indifferent to it and may equally
favour it or oppose it according to circumstances. Leftists, on the
other hand, characteristically RESENT the status quo -- at least in the
modern democracies. Whatever else the Leftist may be, the bedrock of
Leftism is a strong dislike or even a hatred of the way the world is.
They have a strong desire or even a need for political change, often
ideas expressed here, we suggest, reflect a clear example of S-N
differences (and particularly SJ vs. NP differences) with respect to
change. Those individuals with a preference for Intuiting indeed do
have "a strong desire or even a need for" change. Does this need for
change extrapolate to the political world? We think so. Consider
the author's further comments about "Rightists":
The Rightist, by contrast, generally has no need either for change or
its converse. If anything, Rightists favour progress -- both material
and social. So most Rightists are conservatives (cautious) not because
of their attitude to change per se.
On some occasions they may even agree with the particular policy
outcomes that the Leftist claims to desire. They resist change, then,
mainly when it appears incautious.
who have worked with psychological type and organizational change will
tell you, these sentiments look very much like the Sensing type's
attitude toward change in organizational life. As the author
notes, Rightists (or Sensing types) are not against change--if the
change is incremental, pragmatic, "sensible."
The foregoing critique is, of course, just that: a critique. As such,
the opposite political orientation (type preference) is portrayed in a
somewhat less than flattering light. One of the contributions
that psychological type knowledge can make in the study of politics--at
least in our opinion--is to reframe what often seems as life-and-death
political differences as typological differences that might be
understood. For example, what might we gain if the Leftist (Intuiting
type's) preference for change, variety, and the pursuit of
possibilities is understood as just that rather than a "resentment" of
the status quo?
On another note,one
interesting possibility is that the Sensing-Intuition dichotomy is
involved significantly in current politics to the extent that S-N
preferences relate differently to religious politics. Is it possible
that the "culture wars" that are so prevalent in the press reflect the
S-N differences played out in religious differences? Consider some of
the following results from studies relating psychological type preferences to a variety of religious factors:
A sample of 315 adult churchgoers completed an index of
conservative Christian belief together with the Eysenck Personality
Questionnaire and the MBTI. Christians who prefer sensing and thinking
are more inclined to hold traditional beliefs than Christians who
prefer intuition and feeling.
A sample of 315 adult church-goers completed the MBTI
questionnaire assessment of psychological type together with an index
of Christian agnosticism. The data demonstrate that Christians who
prefer intuition rather than sensing are more tolerant of religious
These results support more than 20 years of research suggesting that
the S-N preferences play a significant role in one's religious
affiliations--much as they appear to do with respect to political
affiliations. That is, Sensing
preferences tend to be associated with more conservative religious
beliefs and practices whereas Intuiting preferences tend to be
associated with more liberal religious beliefs and practices.
Thinking-Feeling. Read the following seemingly disparate quotes and see if you find a theme:
"Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has no heart; and
any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains." -
Sir Winston Churchill
"Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11
in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the
9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and
understanding for our attackers." - Karl Rove
From a psychological type perspective, both quotes seem to comment on type
preferences for Thinking and Feeling. For example, Thinking types often
are stereotyped as making decisions with their "head" and Feeling types
are stereotyped as making decisions with their "heart". Consider
the common characteristics of the Thinking type: rational, logical,
impersonal, critical, analytical. Now consider the common
characteristics of the Feeling type: personal, relationships oriented,
seeks harmony, sympathetic.
comments, of course, represent partisan Republican comments targeted
to a Republican audience and thus his statements about liberals is
framed for his purposes. However, such framing is not unusal to
the world of psychological type and tends to reflect "type bias" or the
tendency to characterize the opposite preference in a less than
flattering light. Regardless of intention, Rove's comments imply
conservatives manifest Thinking characteristics in that they have made
the rational, logical, critical ("tough") decision and have "prepared
for war." Also by implication, liberals are characterized as
providing therapy and understanding--both characteristics arguably
being characteristics of a Feeling preference (and thus,
stereotypically characterized as "soft").
the dynamics of sex-role stereotyping further camouflage the potential
Thinking orientation of conservatives and the potential Feeling
orientation of liberals. For example, CNBC commentator Chris Matthews'
characterization of the Republican Party as the "daddy" party and the
Democratic party as the "mommy" party illustrates this point.
Along the same lines, University of California, Berkeley linguistics professor George Lakoff has
provided an academic
treatment of the topic that frames political ideology within the
metaphor of the family. Within Lakoff's model conservatives envision
the ideal government as one which is similar to conservative parenting
practices referred to by Lakoff as the "strict father" model. In
contrast, liberals envision the ideal government as one which is
similar to liberal parenting practices termed "nuturing parent" by
Lakoff. Recent empirical research provides some support for
Lakoff's ideas. For example, the editor of American Journal of Political Science noted about a recent article :
In “Competing Visions of Parental Roles and Ideological
Constraint,” David C. Barker and James D. Tinnick III provide an
intriguing account of how family values shape political behavior and
constrain attitudes across issue areas. Using data from the 2000
American National Election Study, Barker and Tinnick find support for
the idea that “nurturant” visions of parental roles engender
egalitarian and humanitarian political values, while “disciplinarian”
visions of proper parenting are associated with political individualism
and traditionalism. Here, then, is a stimulating perspective on the
red/blue “culture war” that in recent years has captivated the media
and the popular imagination.
Here are some of Lakoff's descriptions
of the "strict father model" that suggest a Thinking preference,
particularly in terms of the impersonal, and ciritical approach to
In addition to support and protection, the father's primary duty
is tell his children what is right and wrong, punish them when they do
wrong, and to bring them up to be self-disciplined and self-reliant.
Through self-denial, the children can build strength against internal
evils. In this way, he teaches his children to be self-disciplined,
industrious, polite, trustworthy, and respectful of authority.
The strict father is restrained in showing affection and emotion overtly...
Life is seen as fundamentally difficult and the world as fundamentally dangerous.
Compare the above characteristics with Lakoff's description of
the "nuturing parent model" that suggest a Feeling preference,
particularly in terms of the more personal and sympathetic approach to
The primal experience behind this model is one of being cared for
and cared about, having one's desires for loving interactions met,
living as happily as possible, and deriving meaning from one's
community and from caring for and about others.
Children are taught self-discipline in the service of nurturance:
to take care of themselves, to deal with existing hardships, to be
responsible to others...
Through empathizing and interacting positively with their
children, parents develop close bonds with children and teach them
empathy and responsibility towards others and toward society.
Clearly the above descriptions imply a "masculine" vs. "feminine" framing. However, the
possibility that sex-role stereotypes might obscure a relationship
between T-F preferences and political ideology will not come as a
surprise to anyone familiar with the history and construction of the
MBTI. In particular, the T-F index on the MBTI is the only index
that consistently has been scored using separate scoring weights
for Males and Females (although the most recent Form M version does
not). As might be expected, males historically have been more
likely to indicate a preference for Thinking whereas females have been
more likely to indicate a preference for Feeling.
The video at the end of this article shows a presentation by
Dr. Lakoff wherein he discusses his ideas in more depth. The
video runs for approximately 50 minutes.)
The last letter in your "type formula" is a J or a P (e.g., ESFJ,
ISTP). This last letter indicates how you prefer to deal with the
outer world. More specifically, this last letter indicates which
of your preferred mental functions you typically use in the outer
If you prefer Judging (i.e., you are a J type),
then you use either T or F in the outer world, depending upon your
mental functions preference. For example, an INTJ uses T in the
outer world. An INFJ uses F in the outer world. Thinking and Feeling
thus are mental functions of Judging.
If you prefer Perceiving
(i.e., you are a P type), then you use either S or N in the outer
world, depending upon your mental functions preference. For eample, an
INTP uses N in the outer world. An ISTP uses S in the outer world.
Sensing and Intuiting thus are mental functions of Perceiving.
Js use a decision-making function (T or F) in the outer world, they
prefer to have things decided, settled, and so on. Because Ps use a
perceiving function (S or N) in the outer world, they prefer
that things be more flexible, spontaneous, and dynamic.
a look at the pictures below. Which drawer is yours? If you are a "J"
you probably prefer that your outer world be organized, planned,
scheduled, ordered, somewhat predictable and so on--like the drawer on
the left. If you are a "P" you probably prefer that your outer
world be creatively chaotic, emergent, boundryless, and so on--like the
drawer on the right.
Understanding which mental function a person uses in the outer world
helps understand how that person prefers to exist in, and interact
with, that outer world. Moreover, given that politics is usually
considered as something that exists in the outer world, understanding
J or P preferences should be helpful in understanding someone's
orientation to politics.
First, the conservative believes that there exists an enduring
moral order....This word order signifies harmony. There are two aspects
or types of order: the inner order of the soul, and the outer order of
Second, the conservative adheres to custom, convention, and
continuity....Conservatives are champions of custom, convention, and
continuity because they prefer the devil they know to the devil they
Fourth, conservatives are guided by their principle of
prudence....Any public measure ought to be judged by its probable
long-run consequences, not merely by temporary advantage or popularity.
Liberals and radicals, the conservative says, are imprudent: for they
dash at their objectives without giving much heed to the risk of new
abuses worse than the evils they hope to sweep away.
This sampling of Kirk's words suggests J characteristics and
preferences as seen in the emphasis on order, continuity, planning and
so on. Moreover, the statement about liberals "dashing
without...heed" might be restated in "P" language as being spontaneous.
constrast in Judging and Perceiving orientations between conservatives
and liberals may be evident when "Law and Order" issues are
considered. In this situation, conservatives display their J
tendencies when they emphasize the "Rule of Law," mandatory sentencing
laws, limited appeals and so on in that these practices emphasize
having things decided in a standard manner. On the other hand,
liberals reflect their P tendencies when they seek judicial discretion
in sentencing, extended appeals and other actions that keep the judicial
process flexible and open to information to more fully inform decisions.
Conservative S, T, J vs. Liberal N, F, P?
above discussion briefly suggests that conservatives may tend to prefer
S, T, and J compared with liberals who may tend to prefer N, F, and
P. How do these suggestions help us answer our original questions about type and party affiliation?
STJ vs NTP. First, let's consider the contrast between NTPs and STJs.
As noted above, NTPs seem to affiliate with an Independent party
identification whereas STJs tend to affiliate more with a Republican party
identification. Morevover the STJs are more likely to be
Democrat than Independent whereas the NTPs tend to be slightly more
Republican than Democrat.
The STJ affiliation with the
Republican party seems reasonable given that about 75% of Republicans
self-identify as conservative and S, T, and J preferences clearly imply
conservative traits: order, practicality, custom, tradition, stability
and so on. But, why would STJs identify more with Democrats than
Independents? We believe the SJ orientation to tradition and
custom influences the STJs to choose a traditional party over something
somewhat undefined such as "Independent". Though independence may be a
trait that conservatives admire when it comes to liberty, freedom,
small government and self-reliance, we propose the SJ orientation to
thus traditional political institutions--influences this type's choice
to express their political identity within the traditional two-party
looking at the NTP's Independent affiliation, let's look at something
Isabell Myers & Mary McCaulley wrote about the SJ types and the NP
types in the 1985 version of the MBTI Manual :
SJs seek order in their environment. They are organized,
dependable, and conservative. They tend to solve problems by reliance
on past experiences, and they dislike ambiguity.
NPs constantly seek the challenge of the new. They
adapt to new possibilities as they arise. The are unconventional,
independent spirits who hate to be fenced in.
In contrast to the conservative, traditional, SJ is the uncoventional
and independent NP. Keep in mind our discussion above about J and P; in
the case of the NP type, they prefer to experience and interact with
the outer world with their Inuition. Thus, the NP attempts to
enact in the outer world all manner of creative, changing
possibilities. What is preferred is the new and original (and progressive?), not the
conventional--and quite possibly not even the traditional, conventional
what about the results in out third table above which combines
liberal-conservative orientation with party identification? Don't these
show that liberals and conservatives are about equally represented
amongst those who self-identified as Independent in the ANES data? How
can the NPs be our more liberal, non-traditionalist Independent when an
almost equal number of conservative (and thus SJ types) also identify
possibility is that it is not SJ conservatives who self-identify as
Independents; instead, the combination of Sensing and Perceiving
preferences (SP types) may be the conservative Independent. The
preference for Sensing again implies a trust in what is practical,
realistic, and pragmatic. However, when combined with the
preference for a Perceiving orientation to the outer world, we obtain a
Sensing type who is likely to be more open to risking new things--to
being a little more unconventional--than their SJ cousins.
One of the more interesting treatments of SJ and SP types in the political arena is provided by Dr. David Keirsey in his work on Presidential Temperament. Although there are distinct differences
between Psychological Type theory and Temperament theory, there are
those who have worked to combine the insights from both models.
Consider, for example, Dr. Linda Berens' perspective on the 4 temperaments:
As David Keirsey developed his theory of the four temperaments, he
began to display them to show the aspects the four temperaments have in
common. As Linda Berens expanded on his work, she began to consistently
display the Idealist (the types with N and F in their type codes) and
the Guardian (those with S and J in their codes) on the top of the
matrix to show that these two temperaments have in common a social
attitude—they tend to take more affiliative roles and focus on
interdependence. The Rational temperament (with N and T in their codes)
and the Artisan (with S and P in their codes) are on the bottom of the
matrix to show that they have in common a more pragmatic,
do-what-it-takes attitude that focuses on autonomy and independence.
The relevant comparison here is between the "autonomy and
independence" of the SP Artisan with the SJ Guardian's "focus on
interdependence." (For an interesting "mapping" of the four temperaments onto the Nolan chart, see here.)
Our second observation about the Consulting Psychologists Press data is that
the TJ types appear to indentify themselves with a Republican party
affiliation more so than do the other types. As can be seen in the type
table presented here, the TJ preferences include the four types found in
the corners of the traditional type table.
These four corners often are referred to as the "hard edges" of the
table. This nickname results from the fact that each of these
four types uses the Thinking function in the outer world. Thus,
these types tend to engage the outer world in such a way as to plan,
organize, and control events in a "hard" way via the impersonal,
critical, task-focused Thinking function. In contrast to the "hard
edges" types are the four types in the center of the type
table. These four FP types all use the Feeling function in the
inner world and are referred to as the "soft center" of the type table.
TJ types also are referred to as the "executive types" and are
described in the 1985 MBTI Manual as "...tough-minded, executive,
analytical, and instrumental leaders." To the extent that the
Republican party is the party of business, then these results make some
sense. Numerous studies of managerial populations suggest a clear
preference for TJ amongst these individuals. The TJ types also share
numerous characteristics with the "strict father" parenting role
discussed earlier, especially if we equate managerial style with
parenting style. STJs in particular tend to prefer organizations that
are conservatively designed with a clear emphasis on a chain of
command, clear roles and responsibilities, discipline and so on.
we to do with the fact that we now have placed N preferences (ENTJ,
INTJ) in the mostly conservative Republican category when earlier we
noted that N preferences have been shown to relate to a more liberal
political ideology? Three factors might help us understand this
tendency. First, we need to keep in mind that there are different kinds
of political conservatives, and that social and religous conservatives
may be different from the business conservatives. Thus, it is possible
that social conservatism may arise more from the SJ combination and
business conservatism may arise more from the TJ combination.
NTJs' liberal tendencies may be moderated by the fact that the NTJs use
their Intuiting function in the inner world. Third, the results from
ANES studies discussed above indicate about 5 to 10% of Republicans do
self-identify as liberal and it may be the NTJs who contribute to this
INF Democrats. Our third observation about the data in
Table 1 is that 49% of INFJs indicated an affiliation with Democrat.
The INFPs are similar in that 38% of INFPs report an affiliation with
Democrat. Moreover, both INFJs and INFPs report the lowest proportion
of affiliation with Republican (22% for each type). These results
contrast with the INTJs and INTPs (and TJs) who tend to affiliate with
Republican but not Democrat.
tendency to affiliate with Democrat may be understood, in part, by
examining the characteristics associated with their NF mental functions
combination. In particular, this combination can be thought of in a
shorthand way as N=possibilities and F=for people. The NF types thus
frequently are found in occupations which involve helping people to
develop in some way. Such occupations include counseling and the
clergy. The NFs also are attracted to the arts, humanities, and other
occupations which give expression to the human spirit.
When asked to "draw something
which represents your ideal organization," NFs tend to
present an organization that allows for human growth and development,
that is decentralized, that has as a part of its mission to serve the
greater good and so on. To the extent that one's preferences in the
realm of organization also represent one's preference for a style of
governing, then NFs clearly seem to express democracy in the sense of Mary Parker Follett's
concept of democracy as self-creating coherence in that organization
emerges from the interaction of the people who are involved.
Other NF visions of how to govern can be found in Harrison Owen's work on open-space technology and Peter Senge's work on the Learning Organization.
Consider Senge's charachterization of learning organizations as
…organizations where people continually expand their
capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and
expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective
aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to
see the whole together.
Such language--nuture, collective aspiration, seeing the
whole together--is the language of possibilities (N) for people
(F). Such language is very different from that of the TJ--and STJ
particularly--where ideal government is characterized as efficient,
rationale, practical, and so on.
Comparing NF with ST mental functions presents fairly clear
contrasts in that these mental functions groups are opposites. The more
intriguing contrast in Table 1 is between the INFs and the INTs. As can
be seen in the type table presented here, these types occupy the upper
right quadrant of the type table. The four types share in common
preferences for I and N. As described in the 1985 MBTI
Manual, this group is referred to as the "thoughtful innovators" who
"are introspective and scholarly. They are interested in knowledge for
its own sake, as well as ideas, theory, and depth of
understanding. They are the least practical of the types."
the term " pointy-headed liberal" come to mind? Such would seem a
natural type biased statement about this group. But, then, what
are we to make of the fact that the INTs self identify as Republican
(and Independent)? Clearly, the T vs F difference plays out here in
that the INFs associate with Democrat and INTs associate with
Republican. Thus, the discussion contrasting T and F preferences
presented above may explain the different party affliations.
Another possibility is that NTs
see the Democratic Party as incompetent and thus would rather associate
with a political self-concept that is Independent rather than
incompetent Democrat. We raise this possibility given both the record
of the Democratic Party over the past 20 or so years combined with the
NT concern with competency. However, such a notion is only a hypothesis
at this point.
Personality and Politics in Italy
Numerous factors influence
one's political identity (parents, e.g.) but we are suggesting that
one's normal personality perferences also influence one's
politics. And, given the assumption that Jung's psychological
types are universal, then we should expect that the relationships
discussed above between MBTI preferences and political orientations should
be evident in other cultures. Unfortunately, we are not familiar with
any studies relating MBTI preferences to political orientations beyond
the few mentioned previously.
Fortunately, relevant research has
been conducted in Italy by political psychologists. Instead of using
the MBTI, however, these researchers used the Italian version of
the Five Factor Model (FFM) of personality. The FFM involves five
personality factors and is sometimes refered to as as the OCEAN model
of personality to reflect the five factors: Openness to Experience,
Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. (More about the FFM can be found here.) Of significance for our
investigation, research shows four of the FFM factors correlate with
MBTI scores: higher scores on Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness
and Conscientiousness correspond to E, N, F, and J scores on the MBTI.
Abstract: Voters' political choices have presumably come to depend
more on their personal preferences and less on their social
characteristics in Western democracies. We examine two aspects of
personality that may influence political choice, traits and personal
values, using the Five Factor Model of personality traits and the
Schwartz (1992) theory of basic personal values. Data from 3044 voters
for the major coalitions in the Italian national election of 2001
showed that supporters of the two coalitions differed in traits and
values, largely as hypothesized. Center-left voters were higher than
center-right voters in the traits of friendliness and openness and
lower in energy and conscientiousness.
Translating the above FFM results into our MBTI framework produces the following:
"Center-Left (Liberal) voters were higher than center-right
(Conservative) voters in traits of friendliness (Feeling) and openness
(Intuition) and lower in energy (Extraversion) and conscientiousness
(Judging)." So, similar to our discussion above S, T, and J preferences
related to more conservative political orientations whereas N, F, and P
preferences related more to liberal political orientations.
Personality measures of more than 6000 US electors on the Big Five
Factors have been collected on the Web through a Web site designed to
assess their personality. By means of structural equation modeling the
impact of personality factors as well as of demographic variables, such
as age and sex, on voting intentions on the forthcoming US presidential
elections was investigated. Personality variables accounted for 16% of
variance of voting intentions, while gender and age accounted for no
more than 3%. High Agreeableness and Openness were predictive of
intention to vote for Kerry, while all high Energy, Conscientiousness
and Emotional Stability were predictive of intention to vote for Bush.
Results are consistent with previous research conducted in a different
country, using a different language.
Once again, the suggestion is that preferences for N and F are associated with intentions to vote for a more liberal candidate (Kerry) whereas E and J preferences are associated with intentions to vote for a more conservative candidate (Bush). The results for Emotional Stablility (Neuroticism) are not directly comparable with the MBTI Step I framework, but are interesting.
Personality and Politics in U.S. College Students
More recent research employing the FFM futher supports a relationship between personality and political orientation. This research focused on college students across five different samples (total N = 19,248) who completed a FFM questionnaire and self-identified their political orientation. Results from these studies stongly supported a relationship between Openness and Liberal self-identification, and moderately supported a relationship between Conscientiousness and Conservative self-identification. Translated into "type" terms, these results again suggest Liberals tend toward N and P preferences whereas Conservatives tend toward S and J preferences.
Research shows that how one asks a question influences the answer one
gets. And, this maxim is true for questions related to political
party affiliation. In our case, we have been unable to determine
the exact wording used in the 1998 study conducted by Consulting
Psychologists Press to determine Party Affiliation. We have twice
requested a copy of the wording used in their survey, but have not
received a copy. Our discussion thus is based on the assumption
that the wording is similar to what has been used in the ANES research.
That said, if you have a copy of the wording of the question, please
feel free to share it!
What we have tried to do here is outline some introductory ideas about
how Jung's psychological types might relate to political
orientations. As mentioned, the research in the area is sparse
(at least there is little published research). We thus invite
your comments, and will revise this page as ideas develop.
Professor George Lakoff on How Liberals and Conservatives Think
Professor George Lakoff on How Liberals and Conservatives Think: