Everybody Wants to Rule the World?

“All for freedom and for pleasure, nothing ever lasts forever. Everybody wants to rule the world.” – Tears for Fears

Whether we would use our newfound power to remedy the ills of society or merely to fulfill our own long-deferred desires, many of us harbor a secret dream of ruling the world. Ridiculous as the notion may be, it can serve as a comforting consolation when we are faced with circumstances beyond our control, from such mundane inconveniences as unpleasant coworkers and uncooperative machinery to the more profound problems plaguing humanity: war, famine, poverty, and so on.

But the concept of being absolute overlord may not appeal to everyone, as we discovered when we asked our readers whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “Sometimes you fantasize about ruling the world.” Only a minority (44%) agreed overall, and we found our readers to be quite divided on the topic, particularly when it came to the Energy and Nature aspects – how we see the world and how we make decisions. Individuals with the Intuitive trait were 25% more likely to agree than those with the Observant trait (55% vs. 30% agreeing, respectively) and those with the Thinking trait were 23% more likely than those with the Feeling trait (60% vs. 37%).

Which personality types most want to rule the world? Let’s break down the data in more detail below.

Roles

Analysts (69% agreeing)

Of the four Roles, Analysts were the only one in which a clear majority agreed that they dream of ruling the world, a result influenced by their core combination of Intuitive and Thinking traits. As a group that tends to believe that for every problem, there is one optimum solution – and that, being the dispassionate creatures of logic that these personality types are, they are uniquely qualified to implement those solutions – Analysts may find the idea of being a benevolent dictator a hard one to resist. Of course, their definition of “benevolence” may differ quite a bit from others’, but Analysts rarely concern themselves overmuch with the opinions of others, making their dreams of ultimate power that much more tempting.

One might have expected the ambitious Architects (INTJ) (63%) or strong-willed Commanders (ENTJ) (72%) to have been the most likely to dream of ruling the world. Architects always have a plan and a strategy for everything, and their need for control often motivates them to act alone to realize their visions. Just think how many fictional, would-be-world-dominating antagonists are Architect personality types: Littlefinger from Game of Thrones, Walter White from Breaking Bad, The Architect from The Matrix. But as Introverts, Architects are actually more comfortable out of the spotlight, where they feel they can more effectively execute their plans without other people getting in the way; they may wish for complete control over their own particular domain, but not over the whole world. And Commanders, though natural leaders who are often willing to do just about anything to achieve their goals, are also slightly more apt to prefer predictability and structure than some other Analyst personalities, due to their Judging trait.

It was, in fact, Turbulent Debaters (ENTP-T) (77%) who were the personality type most likely to agree that they fantasize about ruling the world. This might seem ironic at first. After all, if a Debater held absolute power and everyone in the world bent to their will, who would be left for them to debate with? What would be the fun in that? Then again, imagining all sorts of possibilities – many of which they don’t necessarily believe should become realities – is what Debater personalities do best. Furthermore, Debaters are idea people who love to think big but loathe to be bogged down in mundane, day-to-day tasks, so the notion of having the power to make others deal with the details while they enjoy complete freedom to let their intellect roam may be particularly appealing to them. (And as a sidenote, anyone interested in seeing how this very fantasy might play out in the mind of this personality type should read Debater Mark Twain’s superbly satirical novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.)

Diplomats (47%)

Diplomat personality types were more neutral in their responses, but still the Role second-most likely to agree. Diplomats’ shared Intuitive trait, like the Analysts, makes them more prone to fantasizing in general. Unlike Analysts, however, the inexhaustibly idealistic Diplomats would want to rule not to satisfy their need for control, but to make the world a better place. These personalities feel an intense need for harmony, which may sometimes make them wish that the petty disputes that they spend so much energy resolving, often on a daily basis, could be permanently swept aside. However, since a strong belief in cooperation and community is also woven into the very fiber of their beings, the majority of Diplomats would, in reality, be averse to the concept of a sole ruler, preferring more democratic and inclusive forms of government.

Explorers and Sentinels (32% and 29%)

Overall, only a small minority of Explorers and Sentinels agreed with the statement. It’s important to note, however, that there were significant gaps in agreement between Thinking and Feeling personality types. Among Explorers, for example, Entrepreneurs (ESTP) were 32% more likely to say that they dream about running the world than Adventurers (ISFP) (53% vs. 21% agreeing, respectively).

Despite this division, Explorers and Sentinels are both more practical and down-to-earth types than Analysts and Diplomats, so it might be expected that, on the whole, fantasizing about global domination is just not something these personalities would spend their time doing. For Explorers, their immediate, moment-to-moment approach to life may be incompatible with such idle fancies. Why waste time fantasizing about something that’s never going to happen when they could be out getting their kicks right now?

Sentinels, too, probably feel that such daydreams are an unproductive waste of time. Moreover, as protectors of the status quo, they might fear that they would find themselves robbed of purpose by becoming ruler of the world – quintessential administrators, Sentinels typically prefer to carry out plans rather than set the agenda. Of all the personality types, Assertive Defenders (ISFJ-A) (16%) were the least likely to crave global omnipotence. Warm and caring individuals, Defenders would much rather nurture and support their friends and family members than dictate what they (never mind everyone else on the planet) should be doing.

Strategies

Social Engagement and People Mastery (51% and 46% agreeing)

There was less variation among the Strategies than we saw among the Roles on the question of world domination, and what difference there was fell more on the Extravert–Introvert axis than on the Turbulent–Assertive axis. Specifically, the Social Engagement and People Mastery Strategies agreed at the highest rates, although these personality types were rather neutral in their overall responses. Leadership roles naturally hold a greater attraction for Extraverts. From student council president to supreme emperor of the entire globe, Social Engagers and People Masters may simply be more comfortable with the idea of being in the spotlight than their Introverted counterparts.

Constant Improvement and Confident Individualism (41% and 39%)

Bearing this thought in mind, it should come as little surprise that the prospect of ruling the world was less appealing to the Constant Improvement and Confident Individualism Strategies. Although a number of Introverted personalities may entertain fantasies of supreme power, the mere thought of such a public role may exhaust their energy. Turbulent Constant Improvers would likely second-guess every decision and move they’d make as ruler of the world, and Assertive Confident Individualists would generally rather be by themselves than in a seat of power.

Conclusions

“We can do noble acts without ruling the earth and sea.” – Aristotle

Although on the face of it, ruling the world might appear to have few downsides, the majority of our readers seemed to be plenty content with living their own lives, without having to concern themselves with the problems of countless others. And even those personalities who might enjoy the trappings of power perhaps find little incentive in speculating about a scenario that will never come to fruition.

For others, though, the fantasy of ruling the world may be a means of venting the frustrations of day-to-day life, or even a useful thought experiment. After all, answering the hypothetical question, “What would I do with absolute power?” may be of aid when answering the more quotidian question, “What should I do with the power that I now possess?”

Do you ever dream of world domination? How do you think your personality type would fare in such a role? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

You can see the full set of data, including correlation coefficients, here. Please also consider participating in our Member Surveys!

1 year ago
I've never thought of outright ruling the world, but I have on occasion contemplated having access to the latest technology and funds to do massive research and development, which would give me near unlimited potential to explore my biggest technological ideas.
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