MBTI Temperament and ADD
possibility is that there are certain temperament traits that predispose individuals to
exhibit behaviors that are characteristic of both ADHD and creativity." - Dr.
Bonnie Cramond, The Coincidence of ADHD and Creativity.
Temperament consists of the traits you were born with. It differs
from personality, which is a combination of your temperament and life experiences,
although the two terms are often used interchangeably. Temperament is determined by your
unique neurological characteristics and unlike personality, it
cannot be changed. It's like handedness. If you were born left handed, you
will always have a preference for using your left hand, even though you can train yourself
to use your right hand more than you otherwise would. If you force yourself (or
someone forces you) to become right-handed, it won't work and you will only become
frustrated. Temperament is the same way. If you have a natural preference for
spontaneity and flexibility over being decisive and organized, you will always be that
way. You can train yourself to be somewhat more organized, but if you try to
completely alter your temperament you will only become frustrated and depressed.
While doing research for this site a few
years ago, I stumbled onto something called MBTI theory, a popular framework for testing
certain aspects of temperament that has been studied for decades. In 1999 over 2 million
people were typed using this method, usually as part of their job or for counseling.
I took a quick online test, which I thought was really daft at first, but I decided
to go along with it out of curiosity, and was told I am an ENTP or
"Extravert-iNtuitive-Thinking-Perceiving". I had no idea what that meant,
but I was floored by the description. "You mean, there are other people like
this?" I thought. There were all these things described that I had been criticized
for, or felt weird about, along with traits I was proud of, and here they were listed
under my temperament type. Including many of the traits associated with ADD. In
fact, they sounded pretty good when taken in context. Like being a non-conformist.
I always assumed it had something to do with repressed anger about being told to
clean up my room as a child or that maybe I'd been dropped on my head as an infant, but
no, I read that ENTPs are the most nonconformist of all the types. Thomas Jefferson
was supposedly an ENTP, and didn't his nonconformist tendencies come in handy?
"You mean, I'm supposed to be that way? It's OK?" I was stunned. And
validated. The description was a much more accurate snapshot of me than the narrow
diagnostic criteria for ADD.
I learned everything I could about MBTI
theory through books and websites. Like many others, I wanted to know whether there
is a relationship between ADD and MBTI temperament type. What I found was no quick
and easy "that type's ADD!", but rather a more complex set of relationships.
For example, extreme extraverts tend to be impulsive, full of energy, and easily
distracted. Combine that with a preference for flexibility and open-endedness over
structure, and now you're also disorganized and can't seem to finish things. Throw
onto that a preference for the abstract over the concrete "real world" and now
you're not only disorganized, hyperactive, and impulsive, you're also inattentive!
But mostly I found that ADDers, when they
read their correct temperament type, feel validated. From the quiet, daydreamy and
sensitive type to the outrageous and impulsive type, MBTI theory seems to described ADDers
better than the diagnostic criteria for ADD. With this sense of validation
comes a more positive attitude and a more realistic idea of what you can change, and what
you can't. MBTI is a very practical tool for finding the right career,
understanding better the people around you, and raising your children (there is at least
one book on MBTI just for parents). Under MBTI, there is no good or bad temperament:
each has its own niche. Rather, experts celebrate the diversity of temperament and
acknowledge certain trade-offs. For example, the more focused on organization you
are, the less flexible and open to new information you are. The more practical and
concrete your focus, the less imaginative you are.
MTBI Theory: In the early twentieth century a guy named Jung
invented a way to look at and differentiate personalities based on preferences in how
people perceive information from their environment and make decisions. If two people
perceive and process the same information differently because of their brain differences,
they are likely to have opposing views and attitudes, and misunderstandings are to be
expected. Later, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) was created, making the Jungian
system more practical and useful.
The beauty of this system, compared to
other systems, is that it focuses on and is defined by opposing functions, for
example, whether someone is an introvert or an extrovert. It does NOT predict exactly how
a person will behave, but it does predict what drives certain types of people and how they
are likely to perceive their environment compared with other people.
There are four opposing preferences which
make sixteen possible temperament types:
Vs. iNtuition. What you tend to focus
on. This is the most important category. Sensing individuals are more likely to pay
attention to facts and details and are observant of the here and now. Intuitors focus on
meaningfulness of the facts, relationships between among the facts, and the possibilities
of future events that can be imagined from these facts. They are introspective.
Most people are Sensors. ADDers may be of either type, but Intuitives might be more
likely to be classified as ADD. Intuitives, which are in the minority, are more
likely to appear inattentive because they spend a lot of time in their heads (and lose the
car keys), they have a holistic and non-sequential learning style, and are easily bored.
Some of the Sensor types (the SPs) can be labeled ADD as children because they are
action-oriented and do not like school.
Vs. Feeling: Your preference when making
value-based decisions. Thinkers base their decisions on objectivity, logic, and fairness,
while Feelers base their decisions on their values and tend towards a personal approach.
By the way, Thinkers are not smarter than Feelers (but they think they are) and Feelers
are not more caring than Thinkers (but they think they are). There is not much
correlation between this function and ADD. However, a Thinking preference can be the
source of social difficulties because Thinkers do not naturally feel the need to
sugar-coat what they say and may not notice social customs or consider people's feelings.
Feelers may be extremely sensitive and as children may not perform well for
teachers if they feel the teacher does not like them. Male Feeling types and Female
Thinking types often have problems with gender stereotypes (about 65% of women are Feeling
types and 65% of men are Thinking types).
3. Judging Vs. Perceiving: Judgers
are more decisive and prefer a lot of structure. ADDers are more likely to be Perceivers.
Perceivers prefer flexibility, adaptability and divergent thinking. They want to provide
for unforeseen change and consider a variety of techniques. Their motto is "On
the other hand..." They are more curious, spontaneous, indecisive, love to
start new projects, tentative, process or quality-oriented. The "P" could also
stand for procrastinating and pondering.
Vs. Introvert. Extraverts
are expressive and seem to get energy from the environment and other people, while
Introverts are naturally reserved and seem to be energized by being alone with their
thoughts and ideas. Extraverts, especially extreme extraverts, are impulsive,
energetic, and are easily distracted. Introverts, especially extreme introverts, are
prone to focus so intensely on their inner world that they do not realize people are
talking to them. In busy places extraverts can become overly wound-up and introverts
may shut-down. Based on my conversations with people, inattentive ADDers (without
hyperactivity) are usually introverts, especially Intutive Introverts.
It's actually a lot more complicated than
the above, but that's the gist of it. Someone who has preferences for Extraversion, iNtuition, Thinking and Perceiving is said to be an "ENTP" type.
One way to try and find out your type
is by taking the online Keirsey
Temperament Sorter , but read these tips first:
The test works for most people but not everyone (I believe it's something
like 85% accurate, and some people have trouble with the way the questions are worded). If
the description of your type does not sound correct, then you probably got the wrong
result. When taking the test, do NOT think of yourself in only one environment, like
work. Think of your entire life, in a variety of places (work,
play, relaxing). Don't overanalyze the questions. Just pick whatever comes to
you first. Don't answer the questions the way you wish you were.
Answer them using your natural tendencies. After you find out your type, read
Keirsey's description but keep in mind it's probably not the best description. Come
back here using your "back" button and I'll tell you more, including whether
you're one of the types than often gets pegged with the ADD label....
MBTI Results from Visitors to This Site
Here's a listing of
respondents to this page. These results are NOT representative of the
"real world" because certain types are grossly over-represented on the Internet
and more likely to take temperament tests. If this were a "real world" test
there would probably be a lot more of the action-oriented SP types (ESTP, ESFP, ISTP,
ISFP): These types rarely get on the Internet and take temperament tests.
September 26, 1998
Brief Descriptions of the Most Common Temperaments To Visit
This Site Quotes are from
the book "The Pathfinder"
by Nicholas Lore (by the way, this book has the best test I know of for determining temp
types, and the book isn't even about temperament).
INFP "The Healer" (By far the mostly likely type to identify themselves as ADD, considering
they are only 1% of the population): "Idealistic, warm, caring, creative,
imaginative, original, artistic, perceptive, supportive, empathetic, cooperative,
facilitative, compassionate, responsive, sensitive, gentle, tenderhearted, devoted, loyal,
virtuous, self-critical, perfectionist, self-sacrificing, deep, multifaceted, daydreamer,
persistent, determined, hard-working, improviser, initiator of new projects and
possibilities, agents of change. Drawn to possibilities, 'what could be' rather than 'what
is.' Values-oriented with high level of personal integrity. Their focus is on
understanding themselves, personal growth, and contributing to society in a meaningful
way. If their career does not express their idealism and drive for improvement, they
usually become bored and restless. Dislike conflict, dealing with trivialities, and
engaging in meaningless social chatter. Needs a private work space, autonomy, and a
minimum of bureaucratic rules." Some of the best novelists are INFPs. Suggested
careers: Counselor, artist, and journalist. INFPs are prone to depression when they
cannot meet their own sense of perfection or the expectations of others. The very often
accept blame, even when it's not deserved, and really dwell on how bad they think they
are, but they are not likely to let people know that. They also tend to write me the
ENFP "The Advocate":
"Enthusiastic, expressive, emotional, warm, evocative, imaginative, original,
artistic, improviser, perceptive, affirming, supportive, cooperative, positive, open
responsive, sensitive, playful, fun-loving, multifaceted, gregarious, zestful,
spontaneous, idealistic, initiators of new projects and possibilities, agents of change.
Their focus is on self-expression and possibilities, "what could be' rather
than 'what is.' Life is a celebration and a creative adventure. Enthusiastic
initiators of new projects, relationships, and paradigms. Masters of the start-up
phase. Lose interest when the project or relationship gets routine or when the primary
goal is well on the way to accomplishment. Often eloquent in expressing their vision
of a world where ideals are actualized. Frequently have a positive attitude in situations
others would consider to be negative. Work in bursts of enthusiasm mixed with times
when little gets done. Need careers that are personally meaningful, creative, and allow
for full self-expression and that contribute to other people in some way. Extremely
versatile. They may have friends from many walks of life, a wide range of interests
and hobbies, and they gain a professional level of mastery without formal training."
Suggested careers: Public relations, actor, teacher.
ENTP "The Inventor": "Enthusiastic, puzzle master, objective, inventive,
independent, conceptual thinker, creative problem solver, entrepreneurial risk taker,
improviser, competitive, questioning, rebellious, rule breaker, gregarious, witty,
involved, strategic, versatile, clever, adaptable, energetic action-oriented agents of
change. Improves systems, processes, and organizations. Relentlessly tests and
challenges the status quo with new, well-thought-out ideas, and argues vehemently in favor
of possibilities and opportunities others have not noticed ["Born To Explore" is
a prime example of an ENTP doing this!]. Can wear out their colleagues with their
drive and challenging nature. See the big picture and how the details fit together.
The most naturally entrepreneurial of all types. Usually not motivated by security.
Their lives are often punctuated with extreme ups and downs as they energetically
pursue new ideas. They have only one direction: ahead at full speed, leaving a trail
of incomplete projects, tools, and plans in their wake. Their idea of fun and best
creative self-expression involves devising new conceptual modeling and dreaming up
imaginative and exciting ventures. Need lots of room to maneuver. When forced
to dwell on details and routine operating procedures, they become bored and restless.
Respect competence, not authority. Seek work that allows them to solve
complex problems and develop real-world solutions. Often surrounded with the latest
technology." Suggested careers: High tech engineer, marketer, entrepreneur.
This type is the most likely to switch careers.
INTP "The Architect":
"Logical, original, speculative quick thinkers, ingenious, inventive, cerebral, deep,
ruminative, critical, skeptical, questioning, reflective problem solver, flaw finder,
architect and builder of systems, lifelong learner, precise, reserved, detached,
absent-minded professor. Seeker of logical purity. They love to analyze, critique,
and develop new ideas rather than get involved in the implementation phase. Continually
engage in mental challenges that involve building complex conceptual models leading to
logically flawless solutions. Because they are open-ended and possibility-oriented,
an endless stream of new data pours in, making it difficult for them to finish developing
whatever idea they are working on. Everything is open to revision.
Consequently, they are at their best as architects of new ideas where there are endless
hypothetical possibilities to be explored, and no need for one final concrete
answer. Their holy grail is conceptual perfection. May consider the project
complete and lose interest when they have it figured out. To them, reality consists
of thought processes, not the physical universe. Often seem lost in the complex
tunnels of their own inner process. Seek work that allows them to develop
intellectual mastery, provides a continual flow of new challenges, offers privacy, a quiet
environment, and independence. Thrive in organizations where their self-reliance is
valued and colleagues meet their high standards for competency." Suggested
careers: Chemist, lawyer, mathematician. INTPs are prone to depression when they
dwell on their inability to meet their extremely high expectations of themselves.
Where to learn more: The best source of
information is in books, but there's a lot of information on the Internet, too.
Unfortunately, the information on the Internet tends to be very brief and no where near as
helpful as what you can find in a book. It's good to read a variety of descriptions,
since each author has his or her own slant.
By Nature: Understanding Your Child's Personality Type and Become a Better Parent
by Tieger & Tieger. This book gives parents step by step instructions in
how to determine their child's temperament type, and then gives detailed descriptions of
what to expect and the most common mistake parents make for a child of that type.
You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets
of Personality Type by Paul D. Tieger, Barbara Barron-Tieger,
1995. After reading this book I have a better understanding as to why I keep getting
bored at my work. It helps you determine your temp type and explains what your type
needs in a job to be happy. Wish I bought it 20 years ago.
Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence
by David Keirsey, Ray Choiniere, 1998. Originally released in the 70's, this book is
considered a classic.
Type Talk at
Work/How the 16 Personality Types Determine Your Success on
the Job by Otto Kroeger, Janet M. Thuesen. This book helps you
learn to interact more effectively and understand your coworkers better.
by Jean M. Kummerow, Nancy J. Barger (Contributor), Linda K. Kirby (Contributor).
There's some interesting info on organizing in this book, as well as other tips.
Some websites (I also recommend that you
go to a search engine and enter your temperament type. There are lots of sites on
some of the types, especially INFP, as well as discussion groups).
The Official Keirsey Site
Personality Types Under Stress
Learning Styles of
And check out the MBTI prayers.
Another Temperament Test:
The Kingdomality Temperament Test is nothing
like the Keirsey test or MBTI theory. It's a fun one. The idea is to find out what role or
job you would have had back in medieval times, when certain occupations were thought to be
held by people with compatible temperaments. ADDers have been testing out as the follow
Discoverer: "Your overriding
goal is to go where no one else has ever gone before. Regardless of the number of
available natural problems to be solved, it is not unusual for you to continually
challenge yourself with new situations or obstacles that you have created. You are an
insatiable explorer of people, places, things and ideas. You thrive on constant change and
anything new or different. On the positive side, you can be creatively rational as well as
open minded and just. On the negative side, you might be an impractical and indecisive
procrastinator. Interestingly, your preference is just as applicable in today's corporate
"The Dreamer-Minstrel might be
found in most of the thriving kingdoms of the time. You can always see the "Silver
Lining" to every dark and dreary cloud. Look at the bright side is your motto and
understanding why everything happens for the best is your goal. You are the positive
optimist of the world who provides the hope for all humankind. There is nothing so
terrible that you cannot find some good within it. On the positive side, you are
spontaneous, charismatic, idealistic and empathic. On the negative side, you may be a
sentimental dreamer who is emotionally impractical. Interestingly, your preference is just
as applicable in today's corporate kingdoms."