Personality Type can explain political differences
There are so many studies that have quantified political party based on every minute factor imaginable. Personality type is no exception. Some have gone so far as to use brain imaging technology to predict what party you likely support.
I want to take a look at political affiliation through the lens of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, but dive down into the cognitive functions and use them as archetypes for the parties. My sincere belief is that personality type is a key factors in understanding the differences between party ideologies, and has been sorely under-recognized for decades.
Within typology, there exists what is known as cognitive functions, of which there are eight. They are:
• Ni – Introverted iNtuition (Vision)
• Ne – Extraverted iNtuition (Exploration)
• Ti – Introverted Thinking (Accuracy)
• Te – Extraverted Thinking (Action)
• Fi – Introverted Feeling (Values)
• Fe – Extraverted Feeling (Harmony)
• Si- Introverted Sensing (Memory)
• Se- Extraverted Sensing (Sensation)
Each of these cognitive functions represents a certain cognitive ability, along with distinguishable traits that are associated. With the help of Personality Hacker, I have added their labels to help characterize each of these cognitive functions in a way that makes it easily accessible to us.
The two I want to focus on for this article are Extraverted Feeling (Fe) and Extraverted Thinking (Te). The Feeling (F) and Thinking (T) functions within the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator world are known as our judging functions. Think of these as the way we make decisions.
Very simply put, Extraverted Thinking (Te) is making decisions based on efficiency, allocation of resources, and return on investment (ROI). Extraverted Feeling (Fe) is making decisions based on the impact it will have on people, always considering the larger group.
Using Jung’s model, these two decision making processes are opposed to each other, as you would not be able to use them both at the same time. Consider that Fe is using subjective criteria, while Te is using objective criteria. It’s not possible to use them both equally at the same time.
The Political Parties
I want to make the point that the Democratic party is a party of Extraverted Feeling (Fe), while the Republican party is a party of Extraverted Thinking (Te). Of course, there is no right or wrong way to make a decision, but it helps to classify the political divide from a Jungian-Briggs point of view.
When we speak of reaching “across the aisle,” what I think we should frame our mindset around is recognizing as much of the other side’s cognitive processes in our own decision making as possible. The common criticism of the “other side” is that they are either too soft or too callous. To me, these critiques scream of Extraverted Feeling being in opposition with Extraverted Thinking.
In healthy Type Development, we first have to identify our blind spots, and be completely transparent with where we are underdeveloped. Only then, can we begin the process of taking any action. Once we define them, we can take action to develop ourselves.The point is to recognize our blind spots and work on having awareness when they pop up into our consciousness. When I work with clients, I lay out 30/60/90 day plans that include easy goals and stretch goals.
In the same way that I would write out a plan for a client, I would write out a plan for the political parties to bridge the gap in understanding and decision-making.
The point I always make to groups or individuals is this: other Types are not stupid or purposely malicious when they misunderstand or have a different perspective than you do. They fundamentally view the world around them in a different way. As you learn more about your Type in relation to others, you acquire more patience and empathy for them.
This is the starting point for reducing political strife.
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