Drama and the Personality Types Who Embrace It

Kyle’s avatar

Drama can be exciting, and there’s a little part of us that can’t help getting a thrill from participating in it or just watching it go down. We may use drama to gain attention as a remnant of childhood survival instinct, and even being around drama releases endorphins, blah blah blah. Let’s get to the juicy stuff: talking about which personality types like drama the most. I’ve looked at the research and, hon, I have some stats to dish.

But is drama bad? I think it depends on its nature and effect. Comfort with controversy and a desire for social stimulation aren’t necessarily negative. Case in point: my father has the personality highest on the list of drama-loving types (which you’ll see in a minute). He loves provocative debate and can get pretty worked up but doesn’t like to foster rancor or disrespect – just spirited interaction.

It’s important to understand that when it comes to our “Need for Drama” survey and its results, there’s no implied criticism (though the types most likely to enjoy drama could probably handle it). Drama doesn’t necessarily mean that people express themselves in unhealthy ways, though that’s always a possibility. (You know who you are.) It might be best to approach this whole thing with a sense of humor. Yeah, let’s go with that.

Is Dramaphilia Even a Word? It Is Now

Check out the responses to these research questions.

Okay, right away you can see what the top type is (again, no shade). Do Debaters (ENTPs) carry a bag of popcorn around just in case an argument breaks out? This personality type certainly stands out among all others, but why? Well, for one thing, the overall agreement rate of Thinking personalities is about 31% higher than that of Feeling types. Perhaps Debaters and their Thinking kin find it easier to distance themselves from the feelings that arguing can give rise to and focus on the argument itself.

There’s also an 11% difference in agreement between Extraverts and Introverts. That’s likely because the former tends to seek out dynamic external interactions, finding them energizing. And the agreement rate of Prospecting personalities is about 12% higher than that of Judging types. Prospecting personalities are more comfortable amid chaos, often excited to see “what will happen next?!” An argument may offer the lure of the unexpected. Debaters have all three of those traits and are likely to enjoy watching people argue. Next!

One major difference between this question and the previous one is that watching an argument is passive, while deliberately annoying people is active. I think it’s very interesting that while Debaters are still on top here, overall agreement rates are higher among other personality types too. So, wait a minute, people find it more fun to actively annoy others purely for personal enjoyment than to merely watch them argue? Even Advocates (INFJs), known for their empathy and desire for harmony, agreed at roughly double the rate of the previous question.

Folks, I am raising my eyebrows, not because I doubt the research stats, but because I didn’t realize that so many of you like to start drama! I am especially shocked that half of you sweethearted Mediators (INFPs) apparently go around trying to get under people’s skin just for fun. I mean, I’m hardly surprised by you Campaigners (ENFPs), because everyone knows how you are, but I never thought I’d see Mediators starting drama. How dare you! What, are you saying that I’m starting drama now? No, not me, of course, I’d never do that…

But seriously, I do wonder if the underlying neuroscience isn’t rearing its head here regarding the difference in overall agreement between those two questions. If a need for drama partly stems from ingrained attention-seeking behavior and rewarding brain chemicals, then I suppose it’s possible that participation in drama better satisfies those impulses than just observing it does. But taking an active role doesn’t always mean representing yourself.

Playing devil’s advocate is a great way to start drama because it allows you to provoke others from nearly any angle, even if you don’t necessarily disagree with them. It’s the essence of argument for the sake of argument. Oh, hi! Sorry, I was just reading from the Debater’s Mischief Manual there for a second. Seems like they’ve got this thing down, and as a perfection-obsessed Architect (INTJ), I’m trying to up my drama game.

Humor aside for a sec, let’s consider some reasons for playing devil’s advocate other than drama. For one thing, taking a critical stance can be a great way to evaluate a claim or opinion, whether it appeals to you or not (or when you’re still deciding). If something can stand up to harsh scrutiny, it may be an indicator of merit. Cannons used to be proof-tested by firing them with an overload of powder to see if they’d break. It wasn’t intended to destroy them but rather to affirm their reliability and solidity. Similarly, Debaters may enjoy a little intellectual proof-testing. Of course, it can be fun to watch a faulty cannon – or someone’s viewpoint – explode too.

Another far from evil reason to play devil’s advocate is to gain a better understanding of something unfamiliar. Seeing it from different angles, including critical perspectives, can create a more complete image. Debaters (and many other personalities) may enjoy circling something to get a better view of it, poking at it harshly, and learning from the reaction that they get. Sometimes you have to throw a few rocks to see how deep the well is, eh? The point is, perhaps drama isn’t the only reason that people play devil’s advocate.

Conclusion: Debaters Gonna Debate

The Debater personality stands out, but let’s not lose sight of all the other personality types who agreed with the above questions, including those with minority agreement rates. Debaters might be more forward about expressing (or admitting) their embrace of drama, but it’s a pretty common human behavior overall. And there’s something to be said for taking a frontal approach to conflict rather than letting it fester unseen in the shadows. Sometimes a little drama may be necessary on the path to resolution.

Further Reading