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Aversion to Fiction by Personality Type

5 years ago 9 comments

“Just the facts, ma’am.”

For some, the hours spent traversing the mythical roads and wilds of Narnia, Middle Earth, and Westeros is time well spent; others greet tales of dragons and elves with little more than a yawn and an eye roll. If you find yourself in the latter category, fear not! Our research shows that you are far from alone.

As part of our ongoing effort to explore personality preferences, we asked people completing our personality test whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement “You are not too interested in works of fiction.” While a majority of respondents of every personality type and trait answered negatively, there was a tendency for some personalities to be less interested in fiction than others.

In particular, Extraverts seemed to be slightly more likely than Introverts to be dismissive of works of fiction (31.28% vs. 23.33%); however, the clearest difference could be found in the second trait, which determines how we see the world and process information.

Observant individuals – those who pride themselves on their practical, realist approach to life – were unsurprisingly less attracted to fiction than their Intuitive (open-minded and visionary) counterparts. Only 19.81% of Intuitive types were disinterested in works of fiction, while nearly twice as many Observant types (37.97%) shared the same view.

These differences can clearly be seen below, in the graphs representing type roles and strategies. Among the roles, Diplomats had the most fiction fans, while types falling under Constant Improvement (Introverted and Turbulent traits) took the lead in the strategy graph, with only 21.14% of them reporting disinterest in fiction.

Agreement with “You are not too interested in works of fiction.”

Agreement with “You are not too interested in works of fiction.”

Let us now take a better look at some of these examples.

Observant Types – Sentinels and Explorers

Realistic and pragmatic in philosophy, Explorers and Sentinels are effectively tied for first place (38.06% and 37.92%, respectively) in their mutual lack of interest in fiction. Both roles cover Observant types, differentiated by the Explorers’ spontaneity and the Sentinels’ need for careful planning – it is not surprising that they are less likely to be swept away by a story, no matter how well crafted.

However, it is important to note that overall, even the realist Explorers and Sentinels are not prepared to dismiss fiction entirely. Even in an age of 24-hour news channels, virtually unlimited documentary films available on Netflix, and reality television (okay, that last one may skirt the line of “non-fiction” a bit...), the majority of Explorers and Sentinels still find value in fictional works.

Of course, even in fiction, they may have more of a preference for verisimilitude: for them, the gritty, well-observed details of True Detective’s second season may be more of an attention-grabber than the surrealistic tone and quasi-magical happenings of the first.

There are also major differences between types within these groups. For instance, Assertive ESTJs (“Executives”) took the crown among skeptics, with 46.81% of them stating they were not interested in fiction. In contrast, only 33.03% of Turbulent ISTJs (“Logisticians”) shared the same view. Interestingly, ISTJs also showed the most prominent split between Assertive and Turbulent camps, with scores of 40.33% and 33.03% respectively.

Intuitive Types – Analysts and Diplomats

These two role groups unite big picture, visionary types, but while the difference between the Observant Explorers and Sentinels was negligible, there was a small but nonetheless interesting difference between Analysts and Diplomats (23.08% vs. 18.31%). As we have noted, the data seem to indicate that the Energy scale (Intuitive vs. Observant) is the most important factor when it comes to a relative aversion to fictional works. What might explain the differing responses from Analysts and Diplomats though?

Just as the primary difference between Explorers and Sentinels is whether one prefers to embrace flexibility or certainty, what distinguishes Analysts from Diplomats is that the former are Thinkers, while the latter are Feelers. In other words, Analysts, though embodying the curious, open-minded nature of an Intuitive, are more likely to apply rigorous, objective standards of logic to problem-solving, while Diplomats tend to emphasize a desire for harmony and collaboration.

Analysts and Diplomats exemplify the classic “head vs. heart” dichotomy, which may be why Analysts are just a bit more likely to scoff at fiction, which is all too often a reflection of how we wish things were, rather than how they actually are. Diplomats, on the other hand, may be a little more likely to seek out the aspirational or even escapist qualities of fiction than the other roles.

These differences become even more apparent when we dig deeper and look at individual types (remember to check the full table below if you are interested!). The most fantasy-friendly of all types are the Turbulent INFPs (“Mediators”) and Turbulent INFJs (“Advocates”), with only 14.20% and 14.29% of respondents agreeing with the statement. Compare that to Turbulent ENTJs (“Commanders”), who would have most Observant types standing ahead of them in line for tickets to the latest fantasy flick – 38.95% of them reported disinterest in fiction.

Type Strategies

Building from the Commander example above, it is also worth pointing out that all personality types falling under People Mastery strategy (Extraverted and Assertive traits) were less interested in works of fiction than those belonging to other groups, with 33.45% of them agreeing with the statement. Constant Improvement types (those with Introverted and Turbulent traits) were on the opposite side of the spectrum, with only 21.14% expressing disinterest.

We rarely see type strategies come into play when similar topics are discussed, but it would seem that aversion to fiction is one of the few that leave no stone unturned. There are clear differences in opinion across all five traits – and while some splits are more obvious than others, they all give us some food for thought.


According to our survey, only a minority of people would characterize themselves as “not too interested in works of fiction,” even among those who have the most skeptical personality types. Of course, “fiction” is a broad category, encompassing everything from epic fantasy to gritty police procedurals. For some personality types, suspension of disbelief may be an unpleasant but ultimately necessary obstacle to overcome for the enjoyment of fiction; for others, it may be the best part. What are your thoughts on this topic? Join (or start) the discussion below!

You can see the full set of data, including correlation coefficients, in the Academy. If you have a minute to help us with our research, check out our Member Surveys.

Also, consider subscribing to our newsletter to receive interesting and useful insights tailored for your personality type – we send them every couple of weeks, and you can unsubscribe at any time if you don’t find them useful.

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