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Close Encounters of the Media Kind

3 years ago 1 comment

In a world consumed by Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, and Snapchat, following the news has become a blurry concept. Many individuals may be well informed when it comes to their Facebook News Feed, but decidedly fewer people are as informed on current events. What makes some individuals more interested in keeping up with world news, as opposed to keeping up with, say, the Kardashians?

To determine which personality types we’d want on our Trivial Pursuit team, we asked our readers to agree or disagree with the statement, “You follow news closely.”

The data indicated that following the news was a regular habit for Thinking personality types, with 52% of these individuals agreeing, versus only 43% of Feeling types. Judging and Observant types liked to be informed as well, with more than half (51% each) indicating that they follow the news closely, as opposed to only 42% of Prospecting types and 43% of Intuitive types. We will discuss these results in greater detail below.

Agreement with “You follow news closely.”

Roles

Agreement with “You follow news closely.”

Sentinels (53% agreeing)

Rules, regulations, and cooperation are of utmost importance to Sentinel personality types, and they often believe that they are the best people for the job when it comes to enforcing and upholding these ideals. As their name implies, Sentinels view themselves as the guardians of society’s values and traditions. In order to effectively carry out their self-imposed duties, Sentinels need to be as informed as possible. Following the news closely provides them with the information (and sometimes the ammunition) necessary to be effective and efficient citizens.

Executives (ESTJ) (61%) were the personality type most inclined to follow the news closely. Confident and organized, Executives are natural leaders in their careers as well as in the community. Information is necessary to ensure that they remain competent in their authoritative roles. Often promoting traditional values, Executives are also likely to be concerned with what they may view as the “unraveling morality” of modern-day society. Keeping abreast of the topics that they are passionate about not only provides them with information, but it may also give them the support necessary to justify their deeply held convictions. Executives do not shy away from expressing their opinions, and they will often seek out relevant material to cite during potential debates.

While they may be equally as interested (and competent) in guarding society from potential moral destruction, Defenders (ISFJ) (46%) are more concerned with protecting society on an intimate level. The least likely Sentinels to check the news feed regularly, Defenders prefer to spend their time meeting the needs of their loved ones. Their Observant trait makes them aware of, and interested in, events that are currently taking place. As Feeling types, however, Defenders can become overwhelmed by stressful events because they view them through a more emotional lens. Constantly receiving negative or disturbing information – which news media are famous for touting – can quickly drain the energy of this Introverted and Feeling personality, making them more prone to anxiety and depression. Their number-one concern will always be caring for their immediate family and friends, making them less likely to tune into the news, unless it directly impacts those they care about.

Analysts and Explorers (49% and 46%)

The Thinking trait plays the most prominent role in determining whether a personality type regularly consumes news media, and Thinking is what Analysts do best. In order to maintain their intellectual dominance, Analysts make a point of gathering as much information as possible. Accumulating information is only part of the equation, though – the Analyst’s main focus is to actually analyze the data. Synthesizing new material with what they already know, observing patterns, and making sense of what they have heard, read, and observed happens instinctively for Analysts, due to the intense combination of their Intuitive and Thinking traits. Realistically, Analysts spend more time processing information than actually procuring it.

Extraverted personality types, by nature, desire more stimulation from their external environment. It makes sense, then, that Commanders (ENTJ) (58%) would spend more energy following the news closely than their fellow Introverted Analysts. Commanders fully utilize their wit and analytical skills to inform, inspire, and even intimidate those around them. What better way to rile the troops than to be thoroughly informed on current events?

Logicians (INTP) (42%) are less interested in what is going on around them and, instead, choose to focus on their internal world of thoughts and ideas. Introverted and Intuitive, Logicians are so immersed in their internal thought processes that they may go out of their way to avoid new information, if they feel it will only interfere with what they already know. Albert Einstein, one of the world’s most prolific Logicians, summed up his beliefs about obtaining knowledge this way: “The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.” Information is a relatively minor component in overall intelligence for most Analyst personalities. It’s how they utilize information that counts.

Due to a dominant Observant trait, Explorers are incredibly in tune with what is going on around them. They are much more interested in what is happening right now than in what has happened in the past or what may take place in the future. Staying in touch with current events comes naturally to those with an Explorer personality type. Explorers, however, may also have a profound distrust for news sources and be skeptical of the quality of information that they provide. Not ones to obey the rules, these types may be more averse to following the news because they just don’t trust it.

More than half (55%) of Entrepreneurs (ESTP) said they follow the news closely, a much higher percentage than the remaining Explorer personality types. The combination of Extraverted and Observant traits causes Entrepreneurs to desire constant stimulation. This type is not content to sit around and think about the news; rather, they thrive on accumulating entertaining information, the more dramatic and/or scandalous the better. Excitement is their number-one priority, and they often lack the patience to spend a lot of time on any one topic. This need for constant stimulation and even drama may drive Entrepreneurs to seek out salacious news for entertainment purposes.

Adventurers (ISFP) (36%), on the other hand, were much less interested in keeping up to date with the news. Their Introverted and Feeling traits merge to create a very sensitive, emotional, and easily overwhelmed personality. Adventurers are already more sensitive to environmental stimulation, due to their Introverted trait, and that is only enhanced by the hyperawareness that results from their Observant trait. Add in a strong Feeling trait and you end up with individuals who are prone to anxiety and stress when overwhelmed by too much information (especially if it’s negative – which tends to be the case with the news).

Diplomats (41%)

Intuitive and Feeling, Diplomats are most interested in the world of ideals and beliefs. They would rather be working on a cause than reading about it. Diplomats are led by emotions rather than logic, making them both highly empathic and vulnerable to burnout. They were the least likely personality types to follow the news closely, preferring to focus their attention on news related to specific causes that interest them and topics that resonate with them idealistically.

Less than half (48%) of Protagonists (ENFJ) reported that they follow the news closely, but they were the most likely Diplomat personalities to do so. Protagonists are both idealistic and altruistic, with the ability to use their Intuitive trait to influence and inspire all those with whom they come into contact. As with other Extraverted types, they seek external stimulation, but their Intuitive and Feeling traits make them more prone to becoming overwhelmed and stressed. Diplomats attempt to avoid conflict at all costs, and Protagonists are no exception to this tendency. Following the news regularly, especially negative or traumatic stories, can have adverse effects on this type.

The personality type least likely to be avid news followers were Mediators (INFP), with only 36% claiming to follow the news closely. Possibly the most empathic personality type, Mediators absorb a tremendous amount of information with their Intuitive trait and, as a result of their powerful Feeling trait, process that information using their emotions. While this is a wonderful set of skills for communicating with others, receiving an excessive amount of negative information can open Mediators up to a significant amount of stress and anxiety. They will go out of their way to avoid conflict, which includes following news stories that are particularly disturbing or divisive.

Strategies

Agreement with “You follow news closely.”

People Mastery (52% agreeing)

Confidence is a hallmark attribute of both Extraverted and Assertive personality types, and those belonging to the People Mastery Strategy have both of these traits. These types are not only confident in their abilities, but they are also less affected by external sources, such as negative information and the opinions of other people. People Masters were the most apt to follow the news closely because they are the least affected by its content. Unlike the more emotionally influenced Turbulent types, these Assertive personalities are not prone to stress and anxiety, and as such are less likely to shy away from hot-button news.

Rarely swayed by emotions, Assertive Executives (ESTJ-A) (62%) are unlikely to find a regular deluge of information to be overwhelming. Pairing their confidence with a strong will and less empathy than their Feeling counterparts, Assertive Executives thrive on the information that they obtain from news sources, especially if, as previously mentioned, it reinforces their beliefs or opinions.

Assertive Campaigners (ENFP-A) (41%) were decidedly less enthused about receiving consistent input from the media. Conflict-opposed Diplomats, individuals with this personality type are very compassionate and emotional, which can result in a great deal of stress when they are exposed to negative or unnerving information.

Social Engagement and Confident Individualism (47% and 46%)

Less than half of respondents in the Social Engagement Strategy (Extraverted, Turbulent types) and the Confident Individualism Strategy (Introverted, Assertive types) reported that they follow the news closely. For Social Engagers, this is because of the effect that constant exposure to volatile topics can have on their emotionally sensitive personalities. Confident Individualists, in contrast, are less emotionally impacted, but they don’t appreciate the feeling of overstimulation that can result from excessive attention to the media.

Turbulent Commanders (ENTJ-T) (61%) were one of the few personality types that were actually more likely to follow the news closely than their Assertive counterparts. This is likely due to their desire to impress others with their intellectual dominance. Unlike Assertive Commanders, Turbulent Commanders are Social Engagers who place a lot of value on their social status. As Thinking types, they attempt to impress and win others over using their wit and intelligence. They may believe that being knowledgeable and informed about current events makes them appear even more brilliant to their target audience.

The Confident Individualists most likely to tune into the news regularly were Assertive Logisticians (ISTJ-A) (58%), while Assertive Adventurers (ISFP-A) (37%) were the least likely. Logistician personalities value facts, tradition, and moral integrity and consider upholding these concepts to be their personal responsibility. In their opinion, staying in touch with what is going on in the world and obtaining “facts” can be accomplished by closely following the news.

Assertive Adventurers have a tendency to shut down when overwhelmed by information, which may be one significant reason for their lack of interest in the news. These personalities can react poorly when exposed to stressful events, as did Marie Antoinette when she (supposedly) responded to news of famine in her country by saying, “Let them eat cake.” Both deeply sensitive and acutely aware of their surroundings, Adventurers prefer external sensations over mental stimulation, craving exciting experiences over conversation on current events.

Constant Improvement (41%)

Least interested in perpetual news updates were the Introverted and Turbulent members of the Constant Improvement Strategy. Turbulent Logisticians (ISTJ-T) (54%) were the most likely Constant Improvers to follow the news closely, just like their corresponding Assertive types in the Confident Individualism Strategy. Turbulent Mediators (INFP-T) were the least likely, with only 35% agreeing, which may be because their empathic and conflict-averse personality makes following the news almost repulsive at times. Unless there is a topic that they have a vested interest in, Mediators are unlikely to seek out news stories for informational or entertainment purposes. Utilizing their Intuitive and Feeling traits, these personality types may believe that their ideas and feelings on a particular subject provide all of the information that they need.

Conclusions

Although being an informed citizen of the world is important, with only 47% of our readers agreeing overall with our research statement, it is clear that following the news closely is not a priority for a majority of people. Those individuals most likely to keep a close eye on current events are those interested in maintaining traditional structures and rules – Sentinel personality types, especially, seek to uphold the status quo that they believe keeps our society functioning effectively. Focusing on the here-and-now and obtaining information by way of closely monitoring the news is part of achieving that goal.

Introverted and Feeling personalities, however, are more likely to be overwhelmed by the predominantly negative information that is most often portrayed on the news. They prefer to utilize the news for topics that they are interested in, rather than exposing themselves to a deluge of media noise. Intuitive types are also less interested in news, as they enjoy exercising their imagination more than obtaining information from other sources.

Certain personality types may feel as Mark Twain did when he said, “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you do read the newspaper, you’re misinformed.” They may be flat-out suspicious of the news media. If it doesn’t actually report accurate or objective information, then why waste time on it?

How closely do you follow the news, and why? Is round-the-clock exposure to the news necessary, or is it possible to stay better informed by stepping back sometimes? Let us know your thoughts in the comments 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.

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