Is Santa an Architect? A Case for a Cool, Cranial Claus
One of the fun things about understanding personality types is trying to assess other people – a challenging but engaging line of speculation. Perhaps more fun is recognizing traits in beloved fictional (and sometimes not-so-fictional) characters. In that spirit (and the holiday spirit!), we decided to take a look at none other than jolly old Saint Nick himself. For all his rosy-faced, beneficent mystery, let us consider that Santa may actually be the calculating and cerebral Architect.
It seems apparent that Santa is at the least an Introvert: he runs a secret community hidden in a remote, inhospitable land, and only ventures into public once per year. When he does travel, it’s only by piloting his own vehicle at altitudes great enough to escape even the friendly gazes of adoring children. Such a need for privacy hints at the social awkwardness often felt by Architect personalities (and the sometimes-extravagant lengths they go to in the hopes of easing that burden). His jollity may simply be a mask for his lack of social skill, offering a booming, distant, “Ho, ho, ho!” from overhead instead of truly connecting.
But beyond Santa’s social skill lie his motives. Working tirelessly all year to bring gifts to strangers is an act of generosity worthy of a saint. But in large part, what Santa offers the world is symbolic – this seems less like the sensible goal-setting of a Sentinel, and more like the starry-eyed vision of an Intuitive personality type. If he were a Sentinel, Santa might scrub your tub or get you a gift certificate for that haircut you’ve been meaning to get. However, Santa brings gaily wrapped toys and candy, inciting your kids to hyperactivity – he doesn’t offer practical help by a long shot.
Santa’s impractical goals are tough, as well. Conceiving a project as grandly improbable as delivering millions of gifts into millions of homes in a single night bespeaks incredible imagination, creative drive, and willingness to embrace the extraordinary. Santa dreams big, and despite seemingly impossible odds, annually achieves the unbelievable. But, before you snap your fingers and say “A-ha! A Diplomat! Or at least an Explorer (no strangers to brilliant creativity!),” there’s a clue that indicates Santa is a Thinking type, while also suggesting the Judging trait: the naughty or nice list.
A Diplomat might seek ways to reward a person’s intent and efforts as well as their actions, while any Explorer would be tempted to let bygones be bygones. Yet Santa has a strict policy, and you’re either in or out. Been a little naughty? No gifts for you! Don’t celebrate Christmas? No gifts for you! Santa seems to have little trouble giving a North Pole-level cold shoulder to those who fail his standards – an unforgiving certainty any Explorer would struggle to muster year after year.
We must also remember that he sees you when you’re sleeping, knows when you’re awake, and can enter houses surreptitiously at will. Endowed with all that insight and access, a Diplomat might visit throughout the year to help us stay on the good list. However, Santa simply observes and tallies year-round, comparing our actions to his strict views. Logical, dispassionate oversight is typical of Thinking-Judging personality types. Analyzing and rendering judgement rather than engaging change on a human level, transactional and detached, is just the clinical engineering an Architect might employ. Jolly he may be, but Santa’s system only benefits those who opt in and obey the rules.
One final insight to consider is Santa’s outlandish suit and hat. Architects are usually anything but outwardly colorful, expressive, warm, and fuzzy. However, his garb might be more than just compensatory camouflage: it might be his own aspirational symbol. Maybe Santa dresses in fur-trimmed red velvet to remind himself of his determination to balance the colder traits of his Architect personality type – to be softer, more vivid, and socially confident. One of the most iconic aspects of his persona, it may also be a touching indicator of his vulnerability and personal quest for growth.
In his own way, Santa might be trying to achieve balance through conscious action; to develop emotional aspects of himself by working hard to become a hallmark of warmth and kindness. Maybe, when he’s quietly delivering gifts to our homes, he takes a moment to enjoy the cozy beauty we have created with our decorations, to feel close to us even though he isn’t comfortable introducing himself. Architect personalities often seem like lone wolves, and if Santa is an Architect, then perhaps Christmas is the one time this mighty man of mystery allows himself to come in from the cold and join with humanity.
For all his flaws, Santa is a positive example of an Architect: a disciplined, rational benefactor in the utmost. He may not be fully in balance (his Introversion is extreme), and his methods may be somewhat impersonal, but he is deeply determined to make the world a happier place. He may not enjoy connecting with people personally, but he cares about them, and his vision for the world is composed of kindness, generosity, and joy. All he asks in return for his tireless benevolence is that we conform to his views – by simply being “nice”.