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Secretiveness by Personality Type

3 years ago 1 comment

When we talk of secret plans, the image of a scheming supervillain might come to mind. But many of us are reluctant to share our intentions with others, even if we don’t expect a superhero to come along and foil them. Of course, though some prefer to hide their ambitions, there are plenty of others eager to share.

We asked our readers whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “You keep most of your goals and plans secret,” and the results indicated a noticeable difference between many of the trait pairings we study. For the most part, these differences were minor, but informative nonetheless, as with Intuitive and Observant personalities (68% vs. 60% agreeing, respectively); however, the most striking gap was between Introverts and Extraverts (76% vs. 53%).

Which personality types tend to be most secretive about their ambitions? Let’s find out.

Agreement with “You keep most of your goals and plans secret.”


Agreement with “You keep most of your goals and plans secret.”

Analysts (72% agreeing)

Analysts were the most likely to feel that their plans and goals are best concealed from others. Many Analysts devote themselves to unusual goals, unorthodox plans, or both. These personality types may think of their ambitions as a form of intellectual property – a new invention, or a revolutionary business strategy – and believe it wise to avoid spreading their ideas, lest unscrupulous rivals steal them.

More simply, we can look to Analysts’ strident individualism and grand visions as the source of their responses, exemplified by the Assertive Logicians (INTP-A), the personality type agreeing with the statement the most (83%). Consider for a moment how different the world would be today had the famous Logician Bill Gates not guarded his plans for Microsoft with a certain degree of prudence. Other Assertive Logicians may conclude that their pursuits are simply too advanced for others to contribute to them meaningfully. They’re going to do what they do – what business is it of anyone else what they’re up to?

Diplomats and Explorers (65% and 63%)

Diplomats and Explorers responded similarly on the question of secrecy. Diplomat personality types are the ultimate dreamers and may fear that, if exposed to scrutiny, their dreams will shrivel, and their hope along with them. Ridicule is the last thing Diplomats want when it comes to sharing their goals, and this may cause them to keep silent – even if they realize that their dreams require the participation of others.

Explorer personalities may harbor some of these same concerns, as well as the Analysts’ fear that someone will snatch their ideas away prematurely. Explorers, however, tend to have more down-to-earth goals – and greater flexibility in pursuing them – than either Analysts or Diplomats. While Explorers may jealously guard “trade secrets,” they may feel less need to avoid the attention that comes with such plans.

Sentinels (59%)

More than half of Sentinels agreed with the statement, “You keep most of your goals and plans secret,” though they agreed less than any other Role. Many Sentinels keep certain information confidential – trust and loyalty are essential to these personality types – but some may feel that secrecy is counterproductive to their own goals.

Sentinels also often consider their own plans and goals as inseparable from the plans and goals of the groups and organizations to which they belong. Turbulent Consuls (ESFJ-T), the least likely to agree with the statement (42%), are especially likely to adopt this way of thinking. Consuls thrive on having the support of their community as they get out there to make things happen, as do Sentinel personality types in general.


Agreement with “You keep most of your goals and plans secret.”

Confident Individualism and Constant Improvement (77% and 76% agreeing)

The two Introverted Strategies were the most likely to keep their aspirations to themselves. While some Introverts may conceal their ambitions from others for strategic reasons, the way Analyst personalities might, another explanation is that Introverts are disinclined to make any aspect of their lives public, their goals and plans included. They just don’t need or want the attention.

Social Engagement and People Mastery (both 53%)

Roughly half of the Extraverts who define the Social Engagement and People Mastery Strategies agreed that they keep most of their goals and plans secret. This division suggests that Extraverted personality types feel no great urge to disclose their plans to others, but neither do they feel as though they have anything to hide. Social Engagers are keen to understand others’ goals and motivations, and as such, they likely come to terms with the fact that in order to do so, they’ve got to give a little to get a little. People Masters are natural leaders, and they can hardly move the group forward if nobody knows what they’re doing.


It may not be surprising that, of all the personality types surveyed, only a few had a majority of respondents disagreeing with the statement, “You keep most of your goals and plans secret.” However, even the smaller differences between traits can be revealing.

Those who tended to be more secretive, such as Analysts and Introverts, may have grander designs than others – or at least believe that they do. These personalities may prefer to keep their fantastic dreams secret and unrealized, rather than making a public attempt at them, followed by death by scrutiny. Ironically, if they were to share their dreams more widely, they might find not only a receptive ear, but also a willing hand to help them achieve their goals. But just as likely, they simply may not want the attention that comes with stating an ambition.

On the other hand, less secretive personality types like Sentinels may see their plans as so carefully constructed that few could readily dismiss them. Or in the case of Extraverts, they may feel that success hinges on others’ participation, and on spreading knowledge of their goals to as many people as possible, whether their goals are far-fetched or plain. But their reservations hold: after all, even modest goals and practicable plans can result in mockery, if delivered to the wrong audience.

What about you? Do you find yourself inclined to keep your goals and plans secret? Let us know in the comments below.

You can see the full set of data, including correlation coefficients, in the Academy. If you have a minute to help us with our research, check out our Member Surveys.

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