Monday, May 15, 2017

National characteristics and MBTI type

In the previous post I mentioned that Theresa May came across as an ISTJ, and that this resonated with ordinary folk. I was sufficiently interested to google the subject of national character and found this.

Obviously countries present different facets of themselves - different national stereotypes - but it isn't completely arbitrary: the stereotypes do have force, a ring of truth. The methodology one instinctively applies is to think of an individual who seems to embody the character of a country, and then personality-type him or her.

For England, ISTJ seems pretty apposite but I think we need to differentiate between the 'England profonde' - England in the large - and the metropolitan and cosmopolitan elites primarily located in London, who are effectively inhabitants of a different country (the so-called 'anywheres').

ISTJ is indeed the type of 'John Bull', the quintessential English person, but the transnational London-elites are much more like George Osborne, an INTJ, or Tony Blair, an ENTP. So in Keirsey's language, those globalist politicians dealing in economics abstractions and cool self-interested logic are Rationals.

The average English person, concrete to the core, has always distrusted intellectuals 😑. One way of understanding the recent turmoil in the Conservative party is to observe that control has passed from that faction which was the government of London (as the UK-based outpost of the global elite) to the faction which considers itself the government of England, tolerating London as a financial entrepôt.

Theresa May is often, pejoratively, called provincial.


America has numerous distinctive national stereotypes. In political terms, the coastal policy elites (as represented, say, by Hillary Clinton, an INTJ), are plainly NT-Rational. Trump, a clear ESTP, represents the disinhibited force of nature we're familiar with from Westerns; the blustering and authoritarian 'Big Man', impatient with formal authority and rules, demanding personal loyalty. In this he reflects the yearning values of his mostly working-class base, which I visualise predominantly as STJs.


The EU leadership is part of the global, neoliberal cosmopolitan elite, and so NT-Rational. Emmanuel Macron is a personification of this type, as is the French elite. Beneath the surface, European countries diverge: Germany has, in Angela Merkel's public persona, a profound embodiment of the German national character - very STJ; France en masse, like the other Latin countries, inclines more SFP.


Does any of this matter? Yes: when interests fracture in a country, national types are strongly predictive of values, which then lend direction to political movements.


For more about the Myers-Briggs personality scheme, look to the link on the upper right sidebar.

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