Aurelius Ambrosius, now better known as Saint Ambrose, once expressed a sentiment that would later become a proverbial piece of wisdom in the English language: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” And while there are many who would readily assent to this advice, taking their cues from the people around them, others beg to differ, preferring to tread their own path regardless of the circumstances.
To see how this preference might correlate with personality type, we asked our readers whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “Your behavior is often dictated by what others around you are doing.” Only a modest majority agreed overall (61%), and while there were disparities between each of the trait pairings, the most significant gap was between Turbulent and Assertive types at 29% (75% vs. 46% agreeing, respectively).
Which personality types are quickest to “do as the Romans do”? Let’s find out.
Diplomats and Explorers (69% and 66% agreeing)
Diplomats and Explorers were closely matched in their agreement with the statement, “Your behavior is often dictated by what others around you are doing.” Diplomats’ combination of Intuitive and Feeling traits was influential in their responses. Overall, Intuitive personality types were 7% more likely than Observant types to agree, and Feeling types were 9% more likely than Thinking types to agree.
The Intuitive trait makes Diplomat personalities open-minded and interested in new possibilities, and the Feeling trait makes them sensitive and empathetic. So not only are they open to trying new things, but it’s also easier for them than it is for other Roles to put themselves in another person’s shoes and understand their perspective – especially when they’re in unfamiliar situations or cultures.
This sensitivity helps them determine when it might be best to behave as other people are, and when it’s appropriate to act more independently. Harmony is a core principle for Diplomat personality types, so they’re often willing to adjust their behavior if necessary in order to foster a cooperative, productive environment.
As for Explorer personalities, their shared Prospecting trait was important in their responses. Prospecting types were 8% more likely to agree than Judging types. The Prospecting trait makes Explorers flexible and excellent at improvising and recognizing opportunities, including when it may be to their advantage to match their behavior to those around them.
We also saw empathy and emotional sensitivity coming into play with this Role. Explorers with the Feeling trait – Adventurers (73%) and Entertainers (67%) – agreed at higher rates than Explorers with the Thinking trait – Virtuosos (59%) and Entrepreneurs (56%).
Analysts have a reputation for being independent – sometimes stubbornly so – and unafraid to deviate from norms or standards when they think they have a more effective approach for doing something. So it may seem counter-intuitive that a majority of Analysts agreed that their behavior is often dictated by what other people are doing. But it may have been with that very independence in mind that these personality types agreed with our statement, believing that it’s the ineffectual or shortsighted behavior of those around them that often forces them to rebel against norms in the first place.
Least likely of the four Roles to feel that the behavior of others influences their own were the Sentinels. This might at first seem an odd result – after all, Sentinel personality types tend to privilege the need for conformity over the need for individuality. But Sentinels generally feel this urge as coming from within rather than without.
Their Observant and Judging traits make these personality types pragmatic and decisive. Preferring structure and predictability, they often have strongly developed personal habits and can be inflexible when it comes to change. As for conformity, Sentinels seek to follow established, proven processes and rules that they can rely on, not to conform to the inconstant and often self-interested behavior of other people. In fact, Sentinels may often feel like a lone island of order in a tumultuous sea of chaos.
Social Engagement and Constant Improvement (75% agreeing each)
The Turbulent Identity was by far the most important personality trait in influencing our readers’ likelihood to agree that their behavior is often dictated by what others around them are doing. Readers belonging to the Turbulent Strategies, Social Engagement and Constant Improvement, agreed at the highest rates. Turbulent personality types often struggle with self-esteem, which can be dependent on how they perceive themselves to be performing in a given situation, as well as how they believe others perceive them.
Often placing a great deal of importance on what other people think of them, Social Engagers and Constant Improvers may second-guess their behavior, which can quickly become exhausting. They may often feel that the safest, and easiest, course of action is to simply follow the lead of everyone else. Doing so can help them fit in and garner the approval that they seek from others.
Of all the personality types, Turbulent Adventurers agreed the most that their behavior is often dictated by what others around them are doing (81%). Perhaps more flexible than any other type, Adventurers enjoy experimenting with new things and reinventing themselves. Taking cues from others around them helps these personalities find new things to try and may even inspire them to make more permanent changes in their lives.
Adventurers are, however, subject to fluctuating self-esteem, and this is amplified all the more in those with Turbulent Identity. For these personality types, insecurity more often than not may be feeding their desire to do what others are doing.
People Mastery and Confident Individualism (48% and 43%)
Less than half of readers belonging to the People Mastery and Confident Individualism Strategies agreed with our statement. Assertive personality types are more self-assured than their Turbulent counterparts, and less interested in what other people think of them. As such, they don’t generally feel compelled to do what other people are doing, and when they do allow others to dictate their behavior, it may well be in order to accomplish a specific goal, rather than to feel socially accepted. This is particularly true of Confident Individualists, who value self-reliance above all else and are the most comfortable of all the Strategies with being independent nonconformists.
Least likely of all the personality types to agree with our statement were Assertive Architects (35%), followed closely by Assertive Executives (36%). Assertive Architects tend to build their plans around what is rationally sound and strategically effective – not around what other people would prefer to do. And if others disagree with them, including authority figures, they usually remain steadfast in their independence.
Assertive Executives, on the other hand, are often the authority figures dictating what people do, not the other way around. Natural administrators and managers, Executives stand up for what they believe is right, and they keep others in line. Often strong-willed to the point of inflexibility and stubbornness, Assertive Executives are unlikely to change their own behavior based on what others are doing, especially if what they’re doing flies in the face of tradition and order.
Some personality types who carry a particular notion of “the way things ought to be” in a larger sense, such as Sentinels, may see little reason to conform to the expectations of any particular person or group, and indeed, may seek to impose their own notions of normality on others. Other types, such as Explorers, may have a “go-with-the-flow” attitude that leads them to conform to what others are doing, when it suits them to do so, while still retaining their broader sense of individuality.
Do we choose to try to change those around us to fit our interior sense of propriety, or do we temporarily change our own behavior to fit the expectations of those we find ourselves around? Some may think of the impulse to “do as the Romans do” to be born of conformity, but if it is, it may only be conformity to accomplish a specific purpose.
Do you “do as the Romans do”? How do you think your personality type motivates you to adapt your behaviors or keep them the same? Share your thoughts in the comments below.