Lone Wolf or Down with the Pack?: Feeling Connected to Others by Personality Type
In a modern world of interactive cooperation, the ability to thrive in a group environment can be an asset. Many workplaces are more likely to reward socially connected personality types, and feeling connected to other people can be satisfying in our personal lives. Yet despite the many cultural messages and incentives that favor active social engagement, feeling a true connection with another person isn’t easy or comfortable for everyone, and many people are quite happy on their own much of the time – perhaps you know someone like this.
To find out which personalities are more or less likely to feel bonded with those around them, we asked our community whether they agreed with the statement, “You do not feel strongly connected to other people.” Overall, 45% agreed, which may seem pretty modest, but as we see from the chart below, that figure is an average of some more interesting, varied results.
Why did some personality types indicate much stronger agreement than others, even within the same Role? Let’s take a closer look at the data.
Diplomats (35% agreeing)
Lowest in overall agreement, Diplomats generally feel connected to other people. With the empathy of their Feeling personality trait, they can connect to others more easily than most. For Diplomats, it’s almost unconscious to sense the moods, motivations, and needs of others, and they tend to be generous with their own thoughts and feelings in return, building strong connections.
Diplomats reach out with their hearts, but some are less social than others, thanks to the Introverted personality trait. Note that Advocates (INFJ) and Mediators (INFP) agreed at higher rates (44% and 49%, respectively) than the Extraverted Protagonists (ENFJ) and Campaigners (ENFP) (21% and 23%).
Overall, Feeling personality types (33%) were 27% less likely than Thinking types (60%) to agree that they don’t feel strongly connected to others, a division that is certainly apparent within the Sentinel Role.
Sentinels value and share a sense of concern for the structure and function of society, but different personalities express it in different ways. Consuls (ESFJ), for instance, care about keeping their communities strong by supporting other people, agreeing with our statement at a very low rate of just 16%. Logisticians (ISTJ), on the other hand, seek to keep society running smoothly with logical, practical processes more than with personal relationships and thus were dramatically more likely to agree, at 72%.
Explorers were divided very similarly to Sentinels. Explorer personalities are all experimenters, but some are more oriented toward utilitarian discoveries and others toward emotional fulfillment.
For example, Entertainers (ESFP) (20%) enjoy sharing their ups and downs and enthusiasm for life with other people, feeding off the emotional connections. But Virtuosos (ISTP) (75%) prefer hands-on tinkering and invention, appreciating the freedom to follow their own path more than they do being intertwined with others.
Analysts, guided by their core Thinking trait, were the most likely to agree. Analyst personalities tend to approach people and social situations as rational observers, seeking facts and truth rather than delving in on an emotional level, so they may not connect with people as easily - and many of them are probably just fine with that.
We did see that Architects (INTJ) and Logicians (INTP) (75% and 77%), as Introverts, were more likely to agree than the more social Extraverts, Commanders (ENTJ) and Debaters (ENTP) (44% and 50%).
People Mastery (25% agreeing)
Slightly larger than the Feeling–Thinking divide was the gap corresponding to the Mind personality aspect: Extraverts (28%) were 28% less likely than Introverts (56%) to agree that they don’t feel strongly connected to other people. The fact that just one-quarter of People Masters agreed is probably not surprising – their very name implies just how essential interpersonal connections are to these personalities.
People Masters’ Extraversion drives them to connect with people, and their Assertive trait gives them confidence in their methods and ability to do so. These personalities thrive on the stimulation of meeting new people, expressing themselves, and forming active social or intellectual bonds. For People Masters, it’s not only more rewarding but also easier to develop personal relationships than it is for many other types.
Notably, Assertive Consuls (ESFJ-A) agreed the least of any personality type (13%). An Assertive Consul is the ultimate people person. Consuls devote much of their energy to understanding what’s going on in the heads of other people – and they genuinely care. Being connected to those around them, in everything they do, is one of the key joys in life for Consuls, and they often make themselves a sort of hub for others to come together and connect.
Social Engagement (31%)
Social Engagers are also Extraverted personalities and are defined by their drive to engage with others. Even Turbulent Debaters (ENTP-T) (55%), the most likely Social Engagers to agree with our statement, were barely above neutral – many are open to some kind of connection with others, especially intellectually, whether it’s harmonious or not.
Still, Social Engagers’ Turbulent Identity can make them feel unsure of where they stand socially and doubt the strength of their relationships with others, which accounts for their higher rate of agreement compared to People Masters.
Confident Individualism and Constant Improvement (55% and 56%)
The Identity personality aspect seemed to be less of a factor for the Confident Individualism and Constant Improvement Strategies – Introversion is truly the strongest influence here. Introverts tend not to seek as much social interaction as Extraverts do, as they often find it tiring and generally less rewarding. Their first impulse is usually to look inward, rather than to other people, for emotional resolve or validation for their thoughts and ideas.
As Assertive personalities, Confident Individualists are somewhat more confident in their social preferences. It may be the case that they struggle to connect with others, but it’s just as likely that they’re perfectly capable of doing so but choose not to. Assertive Architects (INTJ-A) were the most likely among this Strategy to agree (77%), a good example of a type that often prefers personal independence and privacy over connections with others.
Constant Improvers are more sensitive in social situations, regardless of how well they connect with others. These Turbulent personalities strive to present themselves as best – and even as perfectly – as they can, but can struggle socially, either for lack of confidence or because they simply feel more pressure and less reward when interacting with people.
Turbulent Virtuosos (ISTP-T) were the most likely of all personality types to agree (80%). Virtuosos are known for being restless in their social independence, distancing themselves emotionally, and sometimes having trouble fitting in, tendencies that are heightened by a Turbulent Identity. Even if they do work well with team members or have a reliable group of friends, Virtuosos are simply less likely than other types to place a great deal of importance on how they connect with others or to take those relationships to heart.
It’s tempting to assign our own values and beliefs onto the results of this survey. It’s certainly easy to see low agreement here as positive – connecting with others can strengthen ourselves and our society. And yet, being apart from the crowd can have its advantages too, like inspiring new and revolutionary concepts, or simply a feeling of exhilarating personal freedom. Some of the most creative minds have been people who reached immense heights by developing themselves internally because they could not connect with others.
In truth, we could all benefit from both approaches, whether or not we can comfortably practice them on their own. Independent solitude and interpersonal connection can both be wonderful, depending on what we do with them. Perhaps the better part of wisdom is learning from both approaches and understanding when one or the other is more beneficial to our needs or goals.
What about you? Do you feel strongly connected to other people? Let us know in the comments below.