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MBTI Temperament and ADD



“Another 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 andunlike 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:

1. Sensing 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. 

2. Thinking 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. 

4. Extravert 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.

Last updated: 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 nicest letters. 

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.

Nurture 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. Excellent book.

Do What 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.

Please 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. 

Worktypes 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 Psychological Type

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 medieval temperaments:

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 kingdoms.”

“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.” 

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