I knew I had to buy a copy as soon as I saw it on the magazine stand: the issue of Time Magazine with Presidential temperament as the front cover story.Â They even had four presidential faces on the cover, which, before examining them, made me think of previous explanations of temperament using the Four Presidents on Mt Rushmore:
Unfortunately, the cover story (though excellent) treated temperament from a Nine Characteristics perspective rather than a Four Temperaments perspective in a way similar to this Slate article or some recent blog posts regarding presidential personality type.
Yet at least the Time cover/article got me looking for and reading those posts, because the authors guessed slightly different temperaments from each other, and I found the differences illuminating.
But before discussing the blog authorsâ€™ picks, my personal predictions were SP/Spontaneous for fiery, action-oriented McCain, NF/Humanistic for idealistic and emotionally intelligent Obama, and NT+Judging/Competitive for sharp-minded and power-hungry Hillary Clinton.
So hereâ€™s how the experts typing matched up with mine:
And hereâ€™s what you can take away from the misperceptions and disagreements surrounding presidential candidate typing:
1. Myers-Briggs Preferences (and Temperaments) are just that: preferences.
People are adaptable and can develop or use weaker sides of their personalities â€“ and may even prefer to use them in a given situation.Â Introverts, for instance, all have an auxiliary personality that they use for social situations or work.Â Johnny Carson was a legendary introvert, but hardly came off as one during The Late Show.
So too could an NT politician learn to speak empathically about deep emotional issues and learn to champion inclusive policies.Â Or conversely, NFâ€™s are more than capable of adopting an NT mindset when the need for tough-minded leadership decisions arises.Â Hence the NT/NF disagreement over an emotionally savvy, but also emotionally flat â€śno dramaâ€ť Obama.
And itâ€™s also why Future Now analyzes buying behavior in terms of â€śbuying modes,â€ť rather thanÂ assuming that buying mode will line up with temperament preference.Â No one buys accounting software spontaneously, and even the most hard-headed and practical of us have been known to make spontaneous purchases on vacation.
2.Â Knowing how temperament preferences overlap – and where they differ – is important
Why would one person see an SJ/Methodical when another sees an NT/Competitive?Â Well because both temperaments have a strong preference for logical decision-making.Â And an NT with a strong Judging preference, like Hillaryâ€™s INTJ personality type, can come off as an organizer – reliable and sufficiently detail-oriented to fool you into thinking they have a methodical temperament*
So what does this mean for your Website/copy?
Rather than pushing copy or messaging styles onto visitors, itâ€™s best to cover all the temperaments persuasive needs according to the “fast up top and slow down bottom” layout method.Â That way you can let visitors self-select the copy and links that most appeals to them without worrying about improperly typing them. You can get a sense of how these temperaments interact with a page by reading Howard’s analysis of Jakob Nielson’s eyetracking study.
Conclusion: Put Copy for Fast Decision Makers Up Top and Slow Decision Makers Down Bottom
So the default copy organization for most pages will include copy, links, and calls to action intended for competitive and spontaneous temperaments (your fast decision makers who are less likely to scroll and spend the time to examine the entire page) up top, and copy more suited for methodical and humanistic temperaments (slower decision makers who will examine the entire page) below that.
For instance, if you have an NT/competitive who follows a link intended for Methodicals, the page he lands on will still have some bottom-line or big picture copy at the top of the page and a call to action appropriate for his temperament.Â And if that particular competitive keeps reading, well, he may just be in a more Methodical Buying Mode.Â No big deal â€“ as long as your pages are set up properly.
And that’s what I took away from the recent spate of articles and blog posts on Temperament and MBTI.
P.S. If this stuff interests you, I highly recommend that you check out this free audio book.
* For the record, what probably should have pushed Yoffe away from typing Hillary as an SJ, is that she is very much an ideologue.Â Her political stances were sharply radical when she adopted them and required something of a philosophical bent to arrive at.Â She didnâ€™t enter politics by being an outstanding administrator; she entered politics because of a commitment to her political theories and ideas.Â Plus, her career as a lawyer indicated an NT preference over SJ.