A Few Caveats
Please bear in mind that none of this has to be a stereotype that rules your life. You're a unique individual with a unique background, and this description is simply a generalization based on statistics and averages. Don't take what you read here as limitations, but as an invitation to grow outside your core strengths. And especially don't use this description as an excuse. You're better than that! :) Besides, why box yourself in? Type is a starting point, not an ending place. Enjoy it and then grow from it.
ENFJs are estimated at:
- 3.61% of the American population (sample size 9,320; Myers & McCaulley, 1985)
- 2.8% of the UK population* (sample size 1,634; Kendall & McHenry, 1998)
- 3.23% of the Australian population (sample size 3,373; Macdaid, McCaulley, & Kainz, 1986)
- 3.0% of the New Zealand population (sample size 993; Bathurst, 1995)
- 2.7% of the Singapore population (sample size 1,733; Lim, 1994)
*Be chary about comparing the UK estimate with the others. There's a long explanation.
A caveat. Isabel Myers (INFP) married a man named Chief, an ISTJ and a good man. They were happy together, but according to Isabel's own type theory they weren't predicted to be perfect for each other. Later on, Myers said that if she had known about type theory, she probably wouldn't have married Chief. Hm! There is a lesson to be learned here: type is not everything, nor should it be the decisive factor in choosing your lifemate. Take it from the founder of type herself.
Then too, the connections between type, attraction, love and marriage haven't been well studied yet. (The question is more complicated than you'd think.) You can read about this question and the various attempts to answer it here.
The Idealist Temperament and Love
Do opposites attract? Not always! Tieger and Baron-Tieger (2000) found that Idealist-Idealist pairings have an average satisfaction rate of 73%--the highest attraction rating for all the NF pairings, and almost the highest possible satisfaction for all pairings.
- Idealists were 73% satisfied with Idealists.
- Idealists were 64% satisfied with Rationals.
- Idealists were 51% satisfied with Artisans.
- Idealists were 46% satisfied with Guardians.
But satisfaction between the temperaments was not equal. Seen from a reverse perspective, here is how Idealists are viewed by the other temperaments:
- Idealists were most satisfied with Idealists (73%)
- Rationals were second most satisfied with Idealists (65%)
- Guardians were third most satisfied with Idealists (58%)
- Artisans were fourth most satisfied with Idealists (54%)
As a further note, the Rationals had a higher satisfaction with an NF mate than with any other temperament.
Isn’t this a fascinating mess of information? Let’s put it into context. Green = Guardian, Blue = Idealist, Purple = Artisan, and Teal = Rational.
- SJ x SJ 79%
- NF x NF 73%
- SP x NT 73%
- SJ x SP 71%
- NT x NF 65%
- NF x NT 64%
- SP x SJ 63%
- SJ x NT 62%
- SP x SP 59%
- NT x NT 59%
- SJ x NF 58%
- NT x SP 54%
- SP x NF 54%
- NT x SJ 52%
- NF x SP 51%
- NF x SJ 46%
Now, it is a mistake to generalize by temperament--it’s frequent that types will go counter-temperament, and temperament is not the definitive factor in explaining type-based behavior most of the time (CITE)--but since we don’t have anything better to go on... So just remember: These observations are generalizations that may or may not apply to all Idealist types.
Ever since Keirsey published Please Understand Me II in 1998, it has generally been accepted that the Rationals are the best partners for the Idealists. This appears to be true--at least from the Rational point of view. The Idealists, however, actually tend to be more satisfied with other Idealists.
But Rationals are the second favorite choice for the Idealists. Indeed, NF-NT and NT-NF satisfaction rates fell within 1 percentage point of each other--a very equal evaluation indeed.
Idealists gave the lowest ratings of all to Artisans (51%) and Guardians (46%). It seems that Idealists strongly prefer other intuitives.
One further thing that should be noted here is that the Idealists reported a broad range of satisfaction compared to other types.
- Idealists: 46% - 73% (27 percentage points of difference)
- Artisans: 52% - 73% (21 percentage points of difference)
- Guardians: 58% to 79% (21 percentage points of difference)
- Rationals: 52% - 65% (13 percentage points of difference)
Compared to other types, the Idealists appear to have the most to lose if they make a wrong choice.
What Types do ENFJs Like?
The best we can say is that one study found that female ENFJs had a very very high attraction for male ENFJs--the highest attraction found for any type pairing. Male ENFJs had a particularly high, but not over the top, attraction for female ENFJs. ENFJs in general have a reputation for intensity in their romantic relationships.
The same study found that men of any type who married a female ENFJ had a high satisfaction rate; in fact, only 13% reported being dissatisfied. Curiously however, ENFJ females are the type/gender combination most likely to be satisfied with their marriage yet have a partner who is dissatisfied. Evidently this situation occurs quite rarely, though.
For their part, ENFJs have a moderately low satisfaction with their marriage/intimate relationship. (Almost all the Intuitives were less satisfied with their marriage than almost all Sensors, but the ENFJs were on the high end of the low end.) As a bonus, ENFJs have the highest satisfaction of all types with their relationships with their friendships and family members.
Note that ENFJs need to be told--aloud--repeatedly--that they are loved. As extraverted feelers, this is the expression of affection that rings truest with them.
Keirsey has noted that ENFJs also tend to be the most tactile temperament, the true "touchy feely" people. ENFJs in particular have a repuation for giving big, loving hugs.
Do you know how to survive the Four Styles of ENFJ Death Hugs?
A study of work environment characteristics and type found that at least 80% of ENFJs sampled like "Variety of tasks," "Independence and achievement," "Teamwork," and "Clear structure." In fact, they were among the top four types to like the first three items. ENFJs were also among the top four types that liked the work characteristic "People from different backgrounds."
According to Hammer (1993), occupational trends for ENFJs include "Religion," "Arts," and "Teaching."
There are some curious findings for ENFJs and job satisfaction. On one hand, a study found that ENFJs were "Satisfied with work," "Satisfied with company," "Less satisfied with work," and "Likely to leave." Did you get that? ENFJs were the only type that frequently answered both "Satisfied with work" and "Less satisfied with work." It seems to be a love/hate relationship. However, ENFJs were among the top four types for high satisfaction with work. Despite this fact, they were also among the four types most likely to leave their job within the next year. Love it and leave it.
In addition, ENFJs gave the highest percentage of "Very Satisfied" responses for the following work aspects of any type: "Job Security," "Opportunities for learning," "Responsibility," and "People I work with." It should be noted that 60% of ENFJs gave the "Very Satisfied" response for "People I work with." This was the highest number of "Very Satisfied" responses that any type gave to any work aspect. It seems that ENFJs are the true people people.
Dissatisfiers for ENFJs included "Promotions" and "Salary." This was normal for pretty much all types.
A study found that ENFJs were one of the two types least likely to have trouble in school.
Curiously, they have a low college retention rate compared to most other types; one study even found that they had the lowest college retention of all types.
A study of medschool students found that ENFJs received lower than average scores; however, they were rated the highest--by far--in terms of both medical expertise and enthusiastic involvement.
ENFJs are slightly overrepresented in the gifted population. In terms of type, they are solid middle of the roaders when it comes to scores on aptitude and I.Q. tests. For grades, they tend to be the high end.
ENFJs are one of the less stressed out types. A study compared type and stress to see which personalities were stressed out about what. The only area of stress for which ENFJs were among the top four most stressed out types was "Balancing home and work." They were among the four least stressed out types for the areas of "Work," "Intimate relationship," and "Other." Among the Idealists, they were the type most likely to cope with stress by confronting it--placing them in the unlikely company of the ENTP, ENTJ, and ESTJ as one of the top four types to cope with stress through confrontation. They were also one of the four types most likely to cope with stress by "Get upset or angry and show it." (The INFJ and INFP were the two types least likely to use this coping mechanism.) ENFJs were also among the top four types who preferred to cope with stress by "Rely on religious beliefs," and "Develop physical symptoms."
However, the top coping mechanism chosen by ENFJs was "Exercise." They used this coping strategy significantly more than other types, and they were the only Idealist type in the top four types for this category, the rest being Rationals.
ENFJs are the leadership type of the Idealists (though the Idealists don't actually do much leadership).
On the internet there is a standing joke that ENFJs are the cult leader type. Actually, this is true. A researcher named Yeakley studied the local chapters of six different cults. He typed the cult leaders and found 3 ESFJs, 2 ESTJs, and 1 ENFJ. The question of course, is whether these are "true" cult leaders in the traditional sense or merely cult managers, i.e. like the guy in charge of a chain store who only works for the entrepeneur who started it all. It would be interesting to study "start up" cults to see if there is a different type distribution among people who start cults. I rather suspect that we might see more ENFJs in this case.
A study examined type and leisure preferences. For ENFJs, the favorite leisure pastimes were "Appreciating art," followed by "Writing," "Education/learning very important," "Listening to music," and "Reading." They were underrepresented for the pastime "Watching TV 3 hrs or more per day."
ENFJs are one of the most nicely dressed types. They tend to do a lot of different activities, and since they want to please others and be socially acceptable, they tend to have a large selection of clothes adapted for each activity. As Judgers, they tend to attend more to the care of their person and garments than Perceivers. An ENFJ's appearance is typically neat and well put together.
I won't be covering type dynamics or cognitive functions here. Type junkies may be wondering why not, since Fe, Ni, Se, and Ti are widely considered to be characteristic of ENFJs. But there is doubt over whether the cognitive functions exist. You can read about it here.
Although many of the observations that have been explained by cognitive function theory are valid, many simply are not. I believe that cognitive function theory causes more confusion than it clears up--particularly in the all-important area of figuring out one's type. I just don't see much point in pouring more time and effort into a bucket so full of holes, and have opted to leave out this part of type theory.
ENFJ forum on Personality Cafe - A forum devoted just to ENFJs!
- 16 Ways to Love Your Lover - Type, romance, and making things work after the marriage.
- Nurture by Nature: Understand Your Child's Personality Type - And Become a Better Parent - Dig up more info on parenthood and type here.
- The Art of SpeedReading People - Learn how to type people you meet within minutes.
- Mother Styles - Type and parenting. The author has made it available for free online here, so what are you waiting for? :)
- The MBTI Manual - The Big Bertha of type. Expensive, but it has everything.
- Please Understand Me II - Keirsey's classic book on type and temperament. See also the other books on this page--good stuff.
- See the Citations page.