Democratic peoples from around the world have embraced the principle of equality. The UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “[a]ll human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights,” and the foundational documents of numerous countries contain similar language. However, what exactly constitutes “equality” is the subject of much debate, and some might even argue that the central premise – that all people are equal – is flawed.
We asked our readers whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement “You believe that all people are equal,” and while the majority of all personality types tended to concur, the response was far from unanimous.
In some cases, such as on the Turbulent and Assertive axis, the difference was negligible (74% and 72% agreeing, respectively); the same could be said of the Introverted-Extraverted axis (74% and 73%), and by extension, the Strategies that are governed by these dimensions.
The aspect that most seemed to govern the belief in equality was Nature, with a more than twenty point gap between the Feeling (80%) and Thinking (59%) traits. We examine how this aspect plays out in each Role below:
Diplomats (83% agreeing)
As a personality type that prizes cooperation, empathy, and a belief in the human spirit, Diplomats are the role most likely to accept as a given that people are equal, although how they define equality might differ. Some Diplomats, for example, might believe that certain apparent physical, mental, social, or other inequalities are acceptable, as long as people have a fundamental equality of personhood that remains inviolable. On the other hand, there are Diplomats who champion causes that seek to create equality where it did not exist before, as they perceive it. In any case, the notion of equality is one that probably occupies the thoughts of Diplomats more than any other personality type.
Sentinels and Explorers (71% and 71%)
These two Roles were virtually tied in their response, falling almost exactly between Diplomats and Analysts on the scale. Where Diplomats might idealize the concept of equality, and Analysts might scoff at anything outside a meritocracy, Sentinels and Explorers take a more pragmatic view. The administrative, legalistic minds of Sentinels tend to look at notions of equality not as grand statements on the human condition, but rather as how those perceptions might affect their communities and beliefs in a day-to-day sense. While clearly not averse to equality, Sentinels usually prefer to uphold their community’s or nation’s finest traditions instead of fighting the revolution.
Explorers might also take a more micro- instead of macro- approach to equality, albeit with a decidedly different intent. Where Sentinels might concern themselves with how the equality of every person affects their community, Explorers might look instead at equality in a more practical, immediate sense, judging situations – and people – on a case-by-case basis. For all that, the simplest explanation is that both Sentinels and Explorers have a combination of personality types with the Thinking and Feeling traits, the real differentiator, while Diplomats and Analysts have all of one or the other.
Although more than half of Analysts agreed “all people are equal,” this Role was nonetheless the least likely to answer in the affirmative. Analysts, who prioritize dispassionate logic over other modes of thought, and who believe that intelligence and knowledge trump all, may think that “equality” is too nebulous a term to lionize in the abstract. While Analysts may agree with particular policies that others might deem as measures of equality – such as guaranteed suffrage for women or minority ethnic or religious groups – they might be dismissive of a generalized equality for all, believing this to rob people of the right to differentiate themselves through effort and intellect.
There’s little to see among the Strategies, showing that no other aspect seems to have as much pull on this fundamental question of the human condition as Nature.
Equality is one of those ideals – like liberty, or justice, or democracy – that can have wildly disparate definitions from person to person, yet can nevertheless serve as a cornerstone of any number of people’s belief systems. Because equality has no one, definitive meaning, the tendency to believe in equality may reside more in our hearts than in our heads – or in terms of personality typology, in our Feeling trait rather than our Thinking trait.
Thinking types may be more inclined to look at a word like “equality” with a critical disposition, attempting first to parse out what the term means in a particular context before committing themselves in a general sense. Personalities with the Feeling trait, on the other hand, may not concern themselves with how others might question their belief in equality; instead, they might take such a statement as “You believe that all people are equal” at face value.
In this way, two people – one Thinking, one Feeling – may arrive at the same conclusions in a particular instance without ever agreeing, in a general sense, on whether “equality” can – or should – exist for all in its most basic form. Do you have thoughts or feelings to share on the matter? Let your voice be heard in the comments below.