Where the Heart Is
Heart – it’s a word with many meanings, constantly shifting. We may associate the heart with love and passion, with sincerity and empathy, and even with higher ideals like truth, morals, and a kind of inner wisdom that’s entirely separate from that which comes from formal education and intellectual knowledge. How many times have you heard the advice, “Listen to your heart” or “Be true to your heart”?
For some, the heart is the hub of our emotions, desires, values, and ultimately, our personality. For others, the heart is only a blood-pumping organ, and the explanation for how our personalities form is far more complex.
To find out more about this, we asked our readers whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “You believe that the core of your personality resides in your heart.” The results indicate that this is a popular idea – 74% of readers agreed with the statement.
The most striking difference in responses occurred within the Nature personality aspect – Feeling types were 31% more likely than Thinking types to believe that the heart is the core of one’s personality (87% versus 56% agreeing, respectively). Extraverts and Turbulent types were also slightly more likely to agree.
Why might this be? Let’s get to the heart of the matter below.
Diplomats (89% agreeing)
It’s not surprising to find the open-hearted Diplomats completely overshadowing the other Roles on this topic. Feeling personalities like Diplomats filter everything – their experiences, thoughts, ideas, decisions, and interactions with others – through their emotions. Sensitivity, empathy, and the heart are truly at the center of what they’re all about.
Diplomats, as highly interpretive types, may see the heart as a symbol that represents the goodness of humanity, or they may think of it as a poetic way to try to explain the unexplainable. Diplomats are motivated by their morals and principles, so it makes sense that they would tie their heart to their personality.
Turbulent Campaigners (ENFP-T) agreed with our statement more than any other personality type, at 92%. Campaigners are very open, empathic people, in touch with their feelings and able to freely express them. Turbulent Campaigners are all the more emotionally sensitive. As creative free spirits, Campaigners are comfortable with intuitive and even mystical ideas, including the belief that the heart is (metaphorically speaking) the center of a person.
Sentinels and Explorers (74% and 73%)
At its simplest, we often think of the Feeling–Thinking trait pairing as a “heart versus head” dichotomy, and we certainly saw that division play out in the responses of Sentinels and Explorers. For both Roles, Feeling types were significantly more likely than Thinking types to posit that their personality lies within their heart, resulting in average agreement rates that, although high, fell between Diplomats and Analysts.
Entertainers (ESFP) (85%), for instance, were very likely to agree with our statement. This personality type is known for wearing their heart on their sleeve. Entertainers are also attracted to that which is aesthetically pleasing, including the idea that the heart is the center of authenticity and passion. Explorers as a group may be open to this idea because of their sense of adventure, as their heart constantly leads them from one new experience or passion to the next.
Logisticians (ISTJ) (49%), on the other hand, demonstrated much more skepticism about personality residing in the heart. Logisticians are practical, serious types who are all about concrete facts, and when you’re all about the facts, there’s not much room for symbolism, poetry, or abstract fancies. Many Sentinels, however, were not just open to our statement but actually believed in it, perhaps because of this Role’s heartfelt devotion to the well-being of their family, friends, and communities.
Analysts are known to be highly rational and logical, and they often turn to science to answer their questions. So it’s not surprising that they would be more apt to take a scientific view of the function of the heart. As Thinking types, Analysts prefer to rely on their head rather than their heart – logic and rational decisions outweigh emotions as well as poetic, romantic notions about the relationship between personality and the heart.
That said, a modest majority of Analysts still agreed. There was also a notable gap between personality types within this Role, based on the Mind aspect – Extraversion and Introversion – which we’ll discuss in more detail in the Strategies section below.
Assertive Architects (INTJ-A) agreed the least of all personality types (41%). Architects are strategic about everything they do. It’s not enough to rely on the instincts or desires of the heart – every belief or decision must be evaluated logically from all angles. Assertive Architects are especially averse to acting on emotion. When it comes to a concept as complex as personality, the heart is just not going to be an adequate explanation for most Architects.
Social Engagement (83% agreeing)
Among the Strategies, Social Engagers were the most likely to agree that the core of their personality resides in their heart. As Extraverted, Turbulent types, Social Engagers place a great deal of importance on their social relationships and simultaneously feel more sensitive to how those relationships affect their emotions and their sense of self, positively or negatively. They may interpret the heart as the place where social connections and meaningful personal relationships are made, thus playing a key role in shaping their personality.
People Mastery and Constant Improvement (77% and 76%)
People Masters and Constant Improvers fell in the middle of the results because of how their Mind and Identity personality traits offset each other. People Masters, like Social Engagers, are guided by their Extraversion, gathering energy from the world around them and their connections with other people. But as Assertive types, they are somewhat less introspective and less likely to reflect on how the heart or the mind shapes their personality.
Turbulent Constant Improvers, on the other hand, are much more likely to spend time reflecting on core questions about personality, like who they are and where their lives are going. But as Introverts, they spend so much time in their inner world that they may feel that personality involves not just the heart but also imagination, instincts, and reason. Even so, most Constant Improvers seem to believe that answers about their true selves lie deep within their hearts.
Confident Individualism (66%)
Although a majority of Confident Individualists agreed with our statement, they were the least interested in the idea that their personality resides in their heart. Steady and self-assured, these Assertive types don’t worry too much about letting their brains or their hearts drive their lives – things will work out either way. Their Introversion gives Confident Individualists a greater need for independence and alone time that makes them more comfortable relying on the strength of their personality, wherever it comes from.
According to this study, more often than not, people believe that the core of our personality resides in our heart. The notion that our heart is the center of our body, our soul, and our personality – indeed, that it represents our truest, most authentic self – goes back centuries and is easily apparent in such everyday advice as, “Follow your heart.”
Personality types who are in tune with their emotions, receptive to the world around them, and generally introspective are the most likely to believe in this idea. Those who tend to rely on logic, their inner world, and their own abilities are more skeptical, perhaps not necessarily rejecting the idea outright, but preferring to acknowledge the incredibly complex nature of personality and individuality.
What about you? Do you believe that the core of your personality can be found in your heart, or somewhere else? Let us know in the comments below!