Three Common Ways Libertarians Misuse Myers-Briggs Part 1: iNtuitive Elitism


The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (or MBTI) is a popular personality guide that describes human behavior. There are 16 types, broken down into preferences for Extroverted/Introverted, Sensor/iNtuitive, Thinker/Feeler, and Judger/Perceiver, that can be mish-mashed together into a given personality (ex: INFP, ESTJ, etc). If you’re unfamiliar with MBTI, I recommend checking out its Wikipedia page before continuing with this article. For a more in-depth look, I highly recommend Please Understand Me II or The Art of Speed-Reading People.

I consider myself very knowledgeable about MBTI and have invested a wealth of time trying to best understand individual types and the indicator as a whole. That said, I have found that libertarians are particularly attuned with MBTI, and I have had a number of enjoyable conversations about how MBTI and the liberty movement fit together.

However, I have also witnessed the three ways libertarians misuse MBTI for elitism, sexism, and cruelty. This article series aims to call out harmful use of MBTI and create more constructive ways of using the indicator.

iNtuitive Elitism

Regarding Guardians (people with Sensing and Judging preferences), Gary Gibson, an editor of The Dollar Vigilante, writes:

These people are ready-made fascists… Think about all the small-minded traditionalists and bigots making up the majority of villages, towns and suburban neighborhoods and you’ll see how this could be true. At best they may be conservatives in the paleo sense, but are most ready to jump into neocon uniform at the first false flag event.

He goes on to prioritize Rationalists (people with Intuitive and Thinking preferences) when he writes, “While your typical Idealist may get bogged down worrying about what will happen to the poor without the welfare state, the Rational can puzzle out that there would be a lot less poverty without the state to begin with.”

I read and hear this rhetoric all the time and it’s damaging to the movement.

Is it true that Guardians want authoritarianism and Artisans can’t understand economic modeling? Absolutely not. Guardians seek security, which means that they prefer to have order. That order does not have to come from big government, and Guardians are plenty intelligent enough to understand that.

There aren’t many Guardian libertarians solely because of messaging. Saying, “the market will eventually fix it” is not going to convince Guardians to jump into classical liberalism; there is no security in that argument. Emphasizing past successes and areas where the government undermines predictability (like unintended consequences) would be the best way to reach out to our Guardian friends.

As for Artisans (people with sensing and perceiving preferences), they, again, aren’t idiots, they simply have different preferences. While Artisans can understand economics or hard sciences, they tend to prefer to seek stimulation. In other words, this econ stuff is boring. Artisans prefer to live in the here and now, making an impact in their direct, tangible world. Sure, that could lead them to determine that welfare is a good thing, but it could also lead them to decide that charity is a better alternative. They are open to both paths. So long as Artisans feel as though they are making a positive impact on the world, they will be interested in libertarian ideas.

Both Guardians and Artisans crave guarantees. Let’s work on guaranteeing them that their lives will be better, that more freedom is inherently a good thing, and that their livelihood will not be at risk because of such a change. Let’s focus on how the market already creates wealth and could only help the poor. Present fighting for liberty as a virtuous, noble pursuit (and it is!). Let’s create a safe space for sensors.

We have to stop thinking that Executives, Scientists, Protectors, Givers, Visionaries, Thinkers, Idealists, and Inspirers are somehow “better” than their sensor counterparts. People with a sensing preference make up about 75% of the population, and there is equal distribution between genders.  We must remember that in order for libertarianism to be successful, we need ArtisansPerformersDoersMechanicsDuty FulfillersGuardiansCaregivers, and Nurturers as well. Libertarians who are into MBTI tend to dismiss these people yet forget that they participate in a functioning world as well.

In my experience, particularly from libertarian Scientists and Thinkers, libertarians dismiss Guardians and Artisans. This has to stop. We need sensors in the movement, and our ideas aren’t so abstract that 75% of the population simply can’t understand. It is not their problem, it is our problem. So get off your iNtuitive high horse (if you have one) and think about better ways to include the sensor community.

See Part 2 here and Part 3 here!