I’ve recently become fascinated by personality theory, especially in terms of qualities like introversion versus extroversion. If I were a psychologist, I would churn out article after article about the Myers-Briggs type indicators. My colleagues would probably get sick of hearing about it.
Personalities develop as we age, and, of course, our experiences shape them as much as nature does. Ultimately, however, our personality is the lens through which we filter the world. It influences how we process information–through our senses versus through our intuition, for example–and how we make decisions based on that information–do we base decisions on feelings or do we rely on logic?
I rather suspect most poets fall into a narrow range of personality types–but this is not based on research; it’s just a suspicion I have. Here’s my theory: most poets are going to be INFP or INFJ. Here’s a breakdown of what these mean:
I stands for introversion. Introverts are energized by time spent alone. They are drained by social interaction–even when they enjoy that interaction. They tend to process information more slowly, but also more deeply. And they need time and solitude to really think things through. Introverts are at their most productive when they’re working alone.
The N stands for intuition. People who are more intuitive (the opposite trait is sensing) trust their impressions more than facts. They look at the big picture, and sometimes get lost in possibilities.
The F stands for feeling, and it has to do with how one makes decisions. Its opposite trait is thinking. Basically, people who make decisions based on feelings follow their heart and make decisions based on compassion, caring, and what feels right.
The P and J stand for Perceiving and Judging and they relate to a person’s outer life. A perceiving person tends to be more spontaneous and a Judging person is more task-oriented. It may be the case that more poets are INFPs than INFJs, but it’s also possible that INFJs are more productive as poets (because they tend to be better at the whole getting-things-done routine).
I am an INFP–most of the time. Each trait exists on a continuum, and my P-J score tends to fall in the middle, which means most of the time when I take the Myers-Briggs, I end up with INFP, but there have been times where I scored INFJ.
So what are you? And how do you think it has influenced you as a poet? If you have no idea, try taking this shortened version of the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator.
If you know your personality type, share it in the comments. I’d really like to test my theory.