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. It is not your destiny, your fate, or anything like that. 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.
ESFPs are estimated at:
- 9.37% of the American population (sample size 9,320; Myers & McCaulley, 1985)
- 8.7% of the UK population* (sample size 1,634; Kendall & McHenry, 1998)
- 9.04% of the Australian population (sample size 3,373; Macdaid, McCaulley, & Kainz, 1986)
- 3.9% of the New Zealand population (sample size 993; Bathurst, 1995)
- 3.3% 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.
- A study found that ESFPs have average satisfaction with their marriage when compared to other Sensors (Intuitives generally had lower satisfaction than Sensors).
- Keirsey believed that the best partners for the ESFP were the ISTJs.
- (On a relational side note, ESFPs rated themselves as having the most satisfying friendships of all Sensors.)
ESFPs were the type that most liked the work environment characteristics "Makes jobs simple" and "Does not expect extra hours." Over 80% of ESFPs also liked the characteristics "Variety of tasks," "Clear structure," "Independence and achievement," "Loyalty/security," and "Teamwork." They were also among the top four types that liked "Toe the line expectations," though in reality no type really liked this choice. (The ones who liked it most were the ESFJs, and only 43% of them liked it.)
According to Hammer (1993), occupational trends for ESFPs include health care, teaching, coaching, childcare work, and skilled trades.
ESFPs also hold the unique position of being the type least likely to become a librarian. They tend to prefer hands on tasks, i.e. construction, maintenance, outdoor work, etc. where they work with real objects using their Artisan skills to deftly manipulate tools and machinery (Myers, McCaulley, Quenk & Hammer, 1998).
The number one organizational values for ESFPs was "Happy family." They rated the value "Achievement within system" (i.e. corporate ladder climbing) as particularly low.
A study of type and job satisfaction found that ESFPs were among the four types mostly likely to quit within the next year. Dissatisfiers for ESFPs included "Promotions," "Job security," "Stress," "Salary," and "Accomplishment." Their only satisfier was "People I work with." ESFPs tied with INTPs for listing the most dissatisfiers of all types.
The MBTI manual notes that "Perceiving types liked tactile learning and loud noise and approaches to learning that are random and holistic." HAHA, like that's ever going to happen. Grades 0-12 are run by Judgers, who like "learning settings with clear structure, motivation, drill, teaching games, and independent study." Then in college, things are run by the Intuitives, who have their own set of preferences.
ESFPs (like all Artisans) tend to prefer immediate, concrete gains over long term promises. For this reason they have a hard time swallowing the idea that school will make their lives better at some point in the remote future. Hence why the Artisans tend to start dropping out around high school, and why they tend to get low grades.
In fact, ESFPs tend to score in the low end of aptitude tests, and they were last for grades. This probably has more to do with lack of motivation than lack of talent. For instance, a study of students participating in the Academic Decathalon, a national scholastic competition, found that ST and SP types were overrepresented (though still very much in the minority). The competitive atmosphere of the contest apparently brought out the best in these SPs. If it were possible to win tests rather than to just pass them, ESFPs would probably receive much better grades.
Since school feels so boring--and pointless--to ESFPs--they escape by chatting with classmates, goofing off, getting up and walking around, and wriggling in their seats. Keirsey, who was a school psychologist as well as a type practitioner and a WWII fighter pilot, believed that ESFPs tended to be misdiagnosed with ADHD in school. The MBTI manual also notes that normal ESP behaviors which can be explained by type are misdiagnosed by parents as symptoms of ADHD. One study found that ADHD-diagnosed students tended to be more E, S, F, and P than their teachers.
Keirsey didn't deny that some ESFP behaviors were problematic and made even the ESFP unhappy, but he didn't believe that nagging, scolding, or Ritalin (particularly not Ritalin) was the solution. He noted about the use of Ritalin, "But there's a problem: even though the child has been drugged into submission he is still friendless, unhappy, has stopped growing, and is not learning. So neither he nor his parents are content. But if narcotherapy is discontinued he will resume his disruptive behavior." Keirsey had a different answer--he used psychology.
You can read Keisey's essays on what he considered the hoax of ADHD--and descriptions of his solutions to the problems--at the bottom of his articles page.
In terms of college retention, one study found that ESFPs were one of the most likely types to persist.
A study ESFPs revealed that they reported more sources of stress in their lives than any other type. They were stressed out about children, intimate relationships, school, finances, health, care for aging parents, and "other." The list of things that didn't stress them out is smaller: work and balancing home and work. It would seem that job stress is the least of the ESFP's worries.
ESFPs coped with their stress by using the methods "Talk to someone close," "Try to avoid stressful situations," "Get upset or angry and show it," "Watch television," and "Sleep." They tended not to use the strategies, "Try to think of options," and "Exercise."
A study found that the only leisure pastime for which ESFPs were overrepresented was "Watching TV 3 hrs or more per day." They were underrepresented for the pastimes of "Reading," and "Working out/exercising." (No, there is no correlation betwen type and body mass.)
ESFP dress tends to be casual and comfortable. However, this goal may be at odds with the goal of looking "hot" or "cute," which matters to Artisans more than to other temperaments, and to the ESFPs in particular. ESFPs are also one of the four types that most values "Prestige" and as such may dress with a certain flash. (Note--no type attached a high value to prestige. The ES types, however, were on the high end of low.)
I won't be covering type dynamics or cognitive functions here. Type junkies may be wondering why not, since Se, Fi, Te, and Ni are widely considered to be characteristic of ESFPs. 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.
Does your type have what it takes to survive the end of the world, or will you be eaten by monsters? Read on and find your fate...or don't, and die in unimaginable agony. The choice is up to you.
- Dolley Madison - As wife of President James Madison (INTP), Dolley is still recognized as one of the most charming and influential First Ladies in US history. She was known in her time as Queen Dolley and was, without a doubt, the most popular woman in the United States. Kind, generous, and lively, she was loved by almost everyone who knew her. Her parties and social events were the scene in Washington D.C.
- Porthos - The second Musketeer
- Donald Duck - A laid back comic book duck with a penchant for avoiding work in fun, clever ways.
- Aladdin - An Arab street boy from the Walt Disney film of the same name.
- ESFP forum at Personality Cafe - A place where ESFPs gather to talk.
- 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.
- 16 Ways to Love Your Lover - Type, romance, and making things work after the marriage.
- See the Citations page.