Wild and Free: Which Personality Types Are Most Drawn to Nature?
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Most of us – even if we’re not ready or willing to abandon civilization and rough it in the woods for two years like the famed transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau – enjoy being in nature, at least occasionally. Pure nature, free from man-made structures and modern conveniences, can be beautiful, serene, humbling, and dangerous. We find that it can soothe and refresh us, help us clear our minds, inspire our creative impulses, and challenge us with physical adventures.
Some of us feel exceptionally fulfilled in nature. Something about the sights, sounds, and scents calls to us, and we like to be outdoors as much as possible. To learn more about which personality types might be the bigger nature nuts, we asked our readers whether they agreed with the statement, “You like spending a lot of time in nature.” A strong majority – 73% – agreed overall, and the Intuitive and Feeling traits proved to be particularly influential in how inclined we are to seek out nature.
Which personality types are most likely to feel, as writer and environmentalist Edward Abbey did, that, “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread”? Let’s explore the results below.
Diplomats (80% agreeing)
Diplomats, with their core combination of Intuitive and Feeling traits, agreed more than any other Role that they like to spend a lot of time in nature. The appeal of nature often strikes us on a primitive level, and those with higher emotional attunement might let themselves feel this connection more keenly. The soft breeze of a summer night, the delicate perfume of a wildflower meadow, and the colorful beauty of a sunrise are not things we usually enjoy on a rational level.
Escaping into nature can also be a great way to tune out the everyday noise in our lives, to be alone with our thoughts or let our imaginations roam free – a prospect that’s very attractive to Intuitive personality types.
Protagonists (82%) were the personality type most likely to spend significant amounts of time in nature. We often think of Protagonists in terms of their social connections and leadership, but their emotional sensitivity and openness also disposes them to appreciate nature without needing to rationalize it. Indeed, Protagonists may seek to commune with nature just as intimately as they do with people, so they can return to their real-world responsibilities feeling rejuvenated and inspired.
Analysts agreed at a lower rate than Diplomats because of their Thinking trait – overall, Thinking personality types (68%) were 9% less likely to agree than Feeling types (77%). But since Analysts also possess the Intuitive trait, their agreement was still high.
The opportunities that nature presents for discovery, knowledge, and intellectual understanding of scientific intricacies appeals to many Analyst personalities. Take a hike with an Analyst and you will likely hear facts or questions about things like species diversity or geological formations. Alternatively, Analysts may simply find that a retreat to nature affords them the time, space, and solitude to think through logical problems and explore creative solutions.
Sentinels and Explorers (70% and 68%)
The slightly lower agreement of Sentinels and Explorers is a reflection of their Observant trait. Observant personality types (69%) were 8% less likely than Intuitive types (77%) to agree that they spend a lot of time in nature. Whereas the curious and divergent minds of Intuitive types are easily stimulated by complex natural environments, Observant types tend to be more practical and grounded, and it stands to reason that they might be a little less awed by nature.
Sentinels and Explorers may very well relish experiencing nature through their senses, and these personalities probably also enjoy it from more utilitarian perspectives, like collecting resources or learning about wilderness survival. But they’re much less likely than Diplomats and Analysts to spend hour after hour off in the woods, marveling at the many mysteries of nature or engaging in deep inner reflection. This is especially true of the Thinking types within these Roles.
Take, for example, Virtuosos (56%), the personality type that agreed with our statement the least. Although very curious, Virtuosos tend to express themselves by experimenting, building, and creating rather than passively absorbing wonderment. Nature might be a fascinating and complex system, but it is already there, and doesn’t need to be designed!
As Introverts, Virtuosos may prefer to focus on their own creative impulses rather than seeking inspiration from outside sources of energy, such as nature. And since it’s important to these personalities to have the flexibility to move from one project to the next, they don’t like to spend too much time tied down to any given place, whether it’s a mountainous landscape or a machine shop.
People Mastery, Social Engagement, Confident Individualism, and Constant Improvement (76%, 74%, 73%, and 72% agreeing)
Interestingly, the results of this survey suggest that the Strategy we follow has little influence on how much time we like to spend in nature. Extraverts (75% agreeing) were slightly more likely to agree with our statement than Introverted personality types (72%), perhaps because Extraverted people are generally more comfortable leaving their personal environments and exploring wider arenas, such as the wilderness. Extraverts are apt to turn outdoor adventures into social activities, whereas Introverts seek out solitude in nature.
Similarly, Assertive types (75%) were slightly more likely to agree than Turbulent types (73%). It may be that among certain personality types, the more secure that individuals are in their own abilities and feelings, the more they can step away from themselves and enjoy what nature has to offer.
“We need the tonic of wilderness… We can never have enough of nature.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden
While almost everyone can find some way to enjoy nature, those of us who wish to make nature a serious priority in our lives, spending as much time in the wild as we possibly can, may be rarer. As our study shows, such dedicated outdoorsmen (and women) are more likely to have the Intuitive and Feeling traits, although any personality type can certainly be a true lover of nature. We can probably all agree with Thoreau that – at least once in a while – spending time in nature can be like a dose of good medicine, fortifying and revitalizing.
What role does nature play in your life? How does that fit with your personality type? Share your thoughts in the comments below.