What’s Wrong with Ferris Bueller? Rule Bending by Personality Type

Have you ever imagined living like Ferris Bueller from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off ? For one day, Ferris throws caution to the wind, skips class, flouts every rule he can – and gets away with it. That’s the dream, right? Or is it? Should we celebrate Ferris for defying the rules, or should we condemn him for lying, disrespecting authority, and pursuing his own self-interest?

To dig into this issue, we went to our readers and asked whether they agreed with the statement, “When it comes to pursuit of personal success, you would bend the rules if you knew you could get away with it.”

Which members of our community were most likely to channel their inner Ferris? Here are the results by personality type:

Roles

One of the first things we noticed is the huge gap between Analyst and Sentinel personality types – a whopping 33-point difference. While those two Roles were on opposite sides of the spectrum, Diplomats and Explorers found a home in the middle. Let’s take a look.

Sentinels (43% Agreeing)

Sentinels were the only Role more likely to uphold rules than break them – which doesn’t come as a great surprise. Lovers of order and stability, Sentinels need a darn good reason before they’ll challenge the status quo. They happily place their trust in systems and authority, so even the prospect of personal success rarely lures these personalities from the straight and narrow path.

According to Sentinels, there’s a reason why rules exist. People with this Role cringe at the idea of inconveniencing others, and they see even a minor infraction as a kink in the chain of life – in other words, an obstacle that keeps things from running smoothly. Sentinels probably think that Ferris Bueller is an inconsiderate jerk, and given a pen and a piece of paper, they could draw up a detailed list of reasons why.

Defenders were the least likely personality type to bend the rules (with only 34% agreeing). Thoughtful and conscientious, they are wary of testing the limits. In their opinion, there is little distinction between rule-bending and rule-breaking. Always eager to serve their communities, Defenders work best when rules and protocols are followed rather than challenged.

Explorers and Diplomats (57% and 58% agreeing)

Explorers and Diplomats were nearly tied in their attitude toward bending rules. People with these Roles may not seek out opportunities to defy the rules, but they will take advantage if the right opportunity presents itself. Explorer personalities may be tempted to go against the grain in the pursuit of adventure. Their trademark spontaneity can lead them to try this crazy awesome thing that might be a little illegal, but hey, you only live once.

Diplomat personality types, conversely, may prioritize their relationships and their personal sense of mission over the letter of the law. If their internal moral compass clashes with conventional wisdom, they’ll go with their gut.

Analysts (76% Agreeing)

Oh, Analysts. They would bend a rule even if they knew they’d be caught. This Role is full of unconventional thinkers who aren’t afraid to question societal norms like laws. Highly individualistic, Analysts are relatively resistant to the pressures of social conformity, and they prioritize their own thoughts and values over conventional wisdom. These personalities will happily break a rule if it seems illogical or if it goes against their understanding or experience.

Analysts are rarely deterred in their quest for knowledge and understanding. That’s why you’ll often find the mad scientists of the world in this group. Remember Doc Brown from Back to the Future? Not even the laws of the universe could stop him from building a time machine, so it’s not as if a “Do Not Enter” sign would faze him.

Of this group, the most radical personality type was the Debaters, with 81% agreeing. Debaters love few things more than challenging and questioning the status quo. If they see a better way to do things, they are often willing to sidestep rules or restrictions that get in their way.

Strategies

You might expect that people with the Assertive Identity would be most likely to bend the rules in their favor. Alas, you would be wrong. It turns out that Turbulent personality types were more likely to agree that they’d bend the rules if they could get away with it.

But why? It could be that Turbulent types’ perfectionism compels them to stack the decks in their favor, or perhaps their awareness of others’ opinions makes them more sensitive to rules in the first place.

Let’s investigate these surprising results further:

Confident Individualism (51% agreeing)

Confident Individualists were the least likely to bend the rules in order to get ahead. As Introverts, they might not want to deal with the attention or unforeseen consequences that can result from defying norms and standards. In addition, their Assertive Identity makes these personality types less hungry for personal success, leaving them less inclined to pursue their own interests at all costs.

People Mastery (54% agreeing)

Thanks to their Assertive Identity, many People Masters are self-assured enough to not bend the rules, even when doing so would work in their favor. That said, they are slightly more likely to break from convention than not. This might be because they don’t mind drawing attention to themselves, or it might be because they often find themselves in social settings where they experience peer pressure and the temptation to go along with the crowd.

Constant Improvement (57% agreeing)

Introverts with a Turbulent Identity, Constant Improvers are eternally aware of others’ eyes on them. You might think they would be less likely than Confident Individualists to bend the rules to get ahead, but the reverse is true. Why? Constant Improvers tend to crave success and validation to bolster their confidence, so they may find themselves tempted to bend a rule if it will make them look good. As a result, these personality types probably sympathize with Ferris Bueller for hacking into the system to change his bad grades. That said, Constant Improvers usually have high expectations for themselves in the moral arena as well, which makes them uneasy about breaking ethical imperatives.

Social Engagement (64% agreeing)

Social Engagers, like Constant Improvers, are success-driven – and sometimes that means bending a few rules here and there. As Extraverts, these personalities often find themselves in social settings where they can pick up on others’ opinions of them, and they care intensely about coming across well. If Social Engagers bend the rules, chances are they are aiming to save face, climb the corporate ladder, or elevate their social status.

Conclusions

Particularly among the four Roles, we found a pronounced difference between people most likely to bend the rules and those who wouldn’t. At one extreme we have the Sentinels, with their high regard for social order. Sentinels believe that by upholding rules, they can help hold their communities together. At the other extreme are the Analysts, who love finding loopholes and explaining just how illogical some laws are. Analyst personality types value rationality and exploration, and they’ll choose their own reasoning over a rule book any day. And in the middle of the spectrum are the Explorers and Diplomats. These two Roles won’t particularly go out of their way to honor the rules – or to defy them either.

How do you feel about bending the rules? Are you willing to test the limits, or do you feel compelled to follow the rules no matter who is looking? Let’s talk about it in the comments section!

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

4 days ago
As an INFP-T, I'd only do it if I knew I wouldn't get caught.
4 days ago
I was one of the people who agreed with the statement but never in a way like Ferris! Not changing grades or anything like that... That's low. If I could break the rules, I would... ehm... Wait, I don't know what I'd do. What rules are there to break? None come to mind atm. Anyway, only if it's still moral by my definition and not something just for the fun of being a rebel. If it has an actual purpose, then I'd do it (however, I would still be pretty scared).
1 week ago
Assuming I'd get to "Success" either way, there is no reason to break the rule. However, if bending/breaking the rule would either significantly increase my odds of success, or make it significantly sooner or easier, then as an INTP-A I would not hesitate. But again, if its not necessary, I won't do it just cause.
2 weeks ago
INTJ - T. I haven't seen the film, love the article. Very recently, I have violated a cardinal rule and got caught. I now need to try to clear the mess I made. At the time, I felt justified breaking a particular rule. I got called "unethical" for my efforts.
1 month ago
ENTP-A(2% away from ENTP-T) and I've always adored Bueller, with his spontaneous, witty, and cunning nature. As an ENTP I admire people who are able to manipulate and use mind tricks as well as use charisma and cunning to achieve what the want. Like the fictional Ferris Bueller and the real Frank Abagnale Jr.
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