Personality Type and Intense Emotional Reactions (Part Two)

I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.” – Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

In our previous article, “Personality Type and Intense Emotional Reactions (Part One),” we explored why some of us tend to have stronger emotional reactions than others, as well as the extent to which we believe that other people consider our emotional reactions to be intense. Now, we’d like to look at the other side of that coin: How do we feel about our own intense reactions? 

When we have an intense reaction or lose control of our feelings, we experience a rising tide of emotion (positive or negative) that we are unable to suppress. However common or rare this may be, how do different personality types generally feel about it afterward? Some may feel regretful, guilty, embarrassed, or even angry over an outburst, but others may feel totally unperturbed.

To continue our study of intense emotional reactions, we asked our community to agree or disagree with the statement, “You get angry at yourself when you lose control of your emotions.” Compared to our survey in Part One, a much stronger majority agreed overall (77%), indicating that most of us are more troubled by our own feelings after an outburst than we are by what other people might think of us. The chart that follows shows the responses by individual personality type: 

Let’s dig deeper to find out how our personality influences how we respond to our own intense emotional reactions.

Roles

Diplomats and Analysts (82% and 81% agreeing)

Consistent with our earlier survey, the Intuitive personality trait played an important role, with Intuitive types agreeing at a higher rate than Observant types that they get angry with themselves when they lose control of their emotions (82% versus 73% agreeing, respectively). 

Personality types with the Intuitive trait tend to have active imaginations, and they often run through vivid mental scenarios when considering events. After mentally replaying an emotional outburst over and over again, it can begin to seem even worse than it really was, making it harder for Diplomats and Analysts to let go of their missteps and move on.

Because these personalities are so focused on future possibilities, they’re also keenly aware of the potential consequences of an intense emotional reaction. Conflict-averse Diplomats may worry about repercussions like hurt feelings and strained relationships. Logical Analysts may be more concerned about jeopardizing their plans, goals, or even their very reputation for putting objectivity first. In both cases, Diplomats and Analysts are likely to feel angry with themselves because losing control of their emotions doesn’t reflect the values and principles that they stand for.

Turbulent Advocates, the personality type most likely to agree with our statement (90%), are an excellent example. Because they’re so dedicated to helping others achieve personal or social change, Advocates tend to present themselves as the picture of idealistic, inspirational perfection. That’s a lot to live up to, and it’s understandable that Advocates, especially Turbulent ones, sometimes crack under all that self-imposed pressure. But Advocates won’t see it that way: they’re highly likely to feel deeply upset about an emotional outburst, regarding it as a personal failure.

We should also point out that, as with our previous survey, the Nature personality aspect had virtually no bearing on the likelihood of respondents to agree. Feeling types and Thinking types each agreed with our statement at an average rate of 78%.

Sentinels and Explorers (74% and 71%)

Sentinels and Explorers also agreed at high rates, but as Observant personalities, they’re able to take a more pragmatic, down-to-earth view of emotionally charged episodes. They recognize that everyone loses control of their emotions now and then, and while it might feel upsetting at first, the only thing to do is move forward – there’s little use in obsessing over incidents that are in the past.

Sentinels were slightly more likely than Explorers to get angry with themselves, probably because they’re more concerned with social mores. Losing emotional control may feel unseemly to Sentinels, out of character with their usual proper behavior and dedication to good social order. Still, practical and productive as they are, these personalities will want to get back on track quickly and focus on accomplishing goals.

Explorers are generally more relaxed than Sentinels and may have a slightly easier time forgiving themselves for losing control of their emotions because they are open to dynamic experiences. Emotional intensity is a natural part of their preferred style of living in the moment. 

Assertive Entertainers (ESFP-A) exemplify this attitude and were the least likely of all personality types to agree with our statement (58%). Entertainers are open with their emotions, adopting a “take-me-as-I-am” approach that keeps life interesting. Assertive Entertainers in particular are confident enough in their likeable personality and people skills to believe that they can repair any damage that an emotional blowout may have caused.

It’s interesting to note that while the first part of this study revealed that Prospecting types were more likely than Judging types to have intense emotional reactions in the first place, in this survey, there was no gap between the Prospecting and Judging traits (78% each). Perhaps that’s because the Tactics personality aspect determines how we approach planning and decision-making, but it doesn’t really deal with how we respond to things (especially intangible emotional reactions) after they’ve happened.

Strategies

Constant Improvement and Social Engagement (86% and 84% agreeing)

The Turbulent Strategies showed higher rates of agreement than the Assertive Strategies (85% versus 69%), which isn’t surprising given what we learned in Part One about the role of the Turbulent Identity in emotional intensity and reactivity. 

Constant Improvers and Social Engagers alike hold themselves to high standards and will feel upset if they think that they’ve failed their own expectations. After an emotional outburst, these personalities will probably worry about two questions: What will people think of me now? And what can I do better next time so that this doesn’t happen again?

Interestingly, the role that the Mind personality aspect played in this survey was opposite of that in our previous study. In other words, Extraverts may be more aware of it when other people view them as emotionally intense, but Introverts are harder on themselves after an emotional blowout. Introverts like Constant Improvers may be more private about their emotions to begin with, making it feel harder to cope when they lose control (especially in a public way). They’re also more likely than Extraverts to direct their anger inward.

Confident Individualism (72%)

As Introverted, Assertive personalities, Confident Individualists feel a strong need to be able to rely on themselves and may view emotional instability as a liability. A lapse in emotional control is therefore likely to upset a Confident Individualist, despite their usually self-assured approach to life. Still, they generally won’t feel as much pressure or worry as much about negative outcomes as their Turbulent counterparts would.

People Mastery (67%)

Agreeing with our statement the least, People Masters are bolstered by Extraversion and an Assertive Identity. Less concerned with the opinions of others and more easygoing in general, People Masters tend to believe that things will work out, which makes it easier for them to get over an emotional outburst. Rather than directing their anger inward, like Constant Improvers do, People Masters rely more on external sources for comfort, like the support of their family and friends. 

Conclusions

Our two studies confirm that when it comes to intense emotional reactions – who is prone to having them, who thinks about how they’re perceived by others, and who gets angry after they’ve happened – personality types with the Intuitive and Turbulent traits consistently top the results.

Oscar Wilde was perhaps foreshadowing the concept of emotional intelligence when he wrote the quote featured at the beginning of this article. Emotional intelligence is learning to harness your emotional energy while taking into consideration the feelings of others for effective results. Everyone can cultivate a greater degree of emotional intelligence. It doesn’t matter whether you have Intuitive or Observant, Assertive or Turbulent, or Extraverted or Introverted personality traits.

If you feel that your emotional reactions are in any way keeping you from your goals or impairing your life, you can still get them to work for you rather than against you. In fact, you can even transform your sensitivities so that they work in your favor, once you acknowledge and harness them. For more ideas on this, check out the resources on personal growth in our Academy, or consider consulting with a qualified professional offline to help guide you.

What about you? Do you get angry at yourself when you lose control of your emotions? Or do you take a more balanced approach to your emotional reactions? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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

4 days ago
To sum it up, my emotional outburst can't hurt anything more badly than it hurts my ego.
1 week ago
I personally am not troubled by emotional outbursts. They're usually very private and nobody really knows about them. But even when I get angry at someone and make that very public, I don't really care afterward. Sometimes I regret what I said, but then I tell myself that mostly this can be resolved or forgotten and then forget the incident. My anger is never focused on myself and always on something or someone else. Same with sadness. I don't have pity parties, tears are anger in liquid form.
4 days ago
This is extremely relatable to me. I will take responsibility where needed, but I do not blame myself for the mistakes or actions of other people.
Ice
3 weeks ago
Thats exactly why I've never drunk alcohol. I'm too scared loosing control of my emotions. The risk of getting emotional or making bad decisions is higher. I already struggle as I am now. There's hasn't been a time where I was not being angry at myself for feeling down. I'm always striving for this almost perfect me as, like the article said, the ideal personality. Me getting emotional doesn't help others, in contrary, it'll negatively affect them. That's what I believe at least. The only thing I want is for others to be happy, as cheesy as it sounds, it's very true. As long as someone else is good, I'm good too.
3 weeks ago
It didn't surprise me that INFJ-Ts like me were the most likely to agree... My intense emotional reactions can make me feel uncomfortable. I always try to keep a composture, but it's hard to do so with such emotional reactions.
3 weeks ago
As an INTP-T, any significant emotional reaction can feel extreme to me. I always beat myself up about it, even when, in further retrospection, it wasn't that much of a big deal.
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