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Politicians and Myers-Briggs

Myers-Briggs is one of my obsessions within psychology. A brief outline of this is that it is Jungian-informed personality theory, developed by a mother and her daughter. By the multiplication of the four factors of one’s personality – E/I, N/S, F/T, and P/J, we arrive at a total number of sixteen possible types.

We are all aware of extroversion and introversion, but a brief explanation is your preference for thinking and perceiving at a pre-conscious level: extroverts tend to have an easier time relating to people and have a genuine desire to consistently connect; introverts, on the other hand, can find relating to new people difficult and spend a great deal of time in their heads.

I’m an introvert who tries his best to be warm and open to people, but I need lots of space and time to obtain rest and relaxation. I do this primarily by reading, listening to music, exercising, taking showers and putting on my headphones to drown out the noise from the world.

I also enjoy the occasional glass of wine, which a recent coverage of a study states that it provides the requisite levels of resveratrol than spending one hour in a gym. This makes my preference for the odd glass of wine when I’m a little stressed quite healthy. I am deliberately choosing not to read the study behind the news, because I fear that I will pick too many holes in it, rendering it useless.

Back to the point: The N/S stands for iNtuitive verses sensing. This domain relates primarily to the ways in which you process information and your ways of working: sensors tend to be very detail-oriented and view work as a duty; intuitive types are those who turn around systems by analysing the bigger picture, and sometimes miss vital details. There are strengths and weaknesses to both of these types.

Thinking and feeling relates to how you process thoughts and the world; i.e., a thinker is more likely to approach a work and social rationally and in accordance with their value system – when free of psychological distress – and feelers (who I uniformly admire) are more likely to deal largely in how they feel about an issue. Again, there are strengths and weaknesses.

Finally, we have the judging versus perceiving. A layman’s summary of this is that judgers tend to structure their time well, tend to be punctual or early, and need to see a problem through to its conclusion. Perceivers, on the other had, are more likely to be more flexible, less rigid, and not worry too much about their input, providing that they help. Again, that’s a really great quality.

It’s a well-known fact that INTJs don’t tend to do well in public office, or when seeking election. A classic example of this is the 2016 Presidential election, in which Hillary, an INTJ, could not effectively fight off the poisonous venom espoused by now President Trump. It was the US Presidential elections that taught me a new trick for electoral predictions: Take one poll a week before the election, one on the eve, and trust your gut; do not endlessly obsess over polling information which, as we know, can be dreadfully inaccurate. I will test this theory when I next dare to predict the outcome of an election or referendum.

My personal view of our current and dearly departed world leaders are as follows:

  • Prime Minister May is most likely an ISTJ. This is because I think that she has an overall goal – Brexit, and allegedly fixing our broken public services – in mind, and views it as her duty to deliver it. I’m quite relaxed about that, but not relaxed about the amount of stress that she is quite visibly under, as we all, perhaps wrongly, giggled about when displaying a symptom of stress in the Chamber – the now infamous laugh.
  • Former Prime Minister, David Cameron, is an ENTP. This is the ultimately relaxed politician. He was accused by many people of “chillaxing”. I’d prefer a relaxed Prime Minister, ready to face the day after having meditated or do whatever it is he did, than the alternative.
  • Former Chancellor, George Osborne, is probably also an INTJ. This is because, like all of us, we can have our difficulties with first impressions – and his infamous death stare, now deliberately removed, is a give-away. INTJs have the ability to create a large amount of good or evil, depending on how we choose to use our personalities. My personal view, is, as always, he was a force for good – and he’ll continue to be. He was, of course, the mastermind behind Project Cameron and the election campaigns.
  • Our current Chancellor, Philip Hammond MP, is most likely an ISTJ. This is because he clearly views what he is doing as a moral cause, as opposed to one which is necessary. He’s a pragmatist. I admire that.
  • Former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is most likely an ENTJ. This is the absolute definition of a politician: confident, suave, able to handle a room, sometimes manipulative, and, let’s be honest, deceptive.
  • I am not going to comment on Donald Trump, because I genuinely do not believe that this guy could be pigeon-holed in this fashion. I believe there something to be deeply wrong with his personality; and, accordingly, MBTI would not be the correct test for him.

The inspiration for this post came from listening to the first chapter of All Out War: The Full Story of How Brexit Sank The Political Class by Tim Shipman. In the first chapter, he talks about the politicians’ personalities at the centre of the debate. I thoroughly recommend the book to anyone interested in politics and who is, like me, making sense of the situation in which we have found ourselves.

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