Willingness to Help Others by Personality Type
Most of us would like to say yes when asked for help – by a friend, a coworker, or even a stranger. The basic virtues of kindness and helpfulness are generally valued across cultures, and working together can advance us all.
When it comes to those closest to us, granting assistance can deepen bonds, while refusing it can create distance or resentment. The stakes are higher. But there may be good reason why we can’t – or don’t want to – give help when asked. Maybe we don’t have the time, money, or emotional strength, because our own lives are very taxing. Maybe we don’t feel that the person deserves help, or maybe we’re uncomfortable with the kind of help they ask for.
To learn which personality types are most likely to comply with requests for help, we asked our readers whether they agreed with the statement, “You rarely say no if someone asks you for help.” A very strong majority (84%) agreed overall, showing that most people consider themselves willing to pitch in when asked for help.
The results indicate that the Nature aspect was by far the most influential factor in our readers’ responses – personality types with the Feeling trait agreed with our statement at the highest rate and were 12% more likely to agree than those with the Thinking trait (90% vs. 78% agreeing, respectively). The Mind aspect was also a notable factor, with Extraverted personality types agreeing slightly more than Introverted types (88% vs. 85%).
Let’s review the results in greater detail below.
Diplomats (92% agreeing)
“A friend in need is a friend, indeed,” quoth the Diplomat. In fact, Diplomat personality types are known to extend their goodwill and empathy to strangers as well. They believe in people and in cooperative social power, so they are likely to give time, energy, and money to help people in need or a cause they are passionate about. Their emotional sensitivity also makes it tough for them to say no when asked directly for help. The Feeling trait has a strong positive influence on compassion and social activism, both of which Diplomats exemplify.
The Intuitive trait may also make Diplomats quick to jump into action when asked for help. Intuitive personality types tend to be eager to imagine a variety of possibilities, try out new things, and solve problems. These are valuable assets when someone needs help.
Assertive Campaigners (ENFP-A) showed the highest rate of agreement among all personality types (93%). Campaigners are more than just willing to help others when asked – they are banner-waving crusaders looking for a cause to get behind. And once they’ve found it, they can count on their Feeling trait to establish emotional connections and their Intuitive trait to inspire creative ideas and solutions. Helping other people is a real source of energy for these personalities, and they feel greatly rewarded by it.
Sentinels and Explorers (85% and 84%)
Because willingness to help others is so closely tied to the Feeling trait, Sentinels and Explorers showed some division in their responses. Feeling types, like Defenders (ISFJ) (89%) and Adventurers (ISFP) (88%), agreed at higher rates, close to those of the Diplomats. These personality types all share a tendency toward empathy and an emotionally driven desire to help others.
Executives (ESTJ) (80%), Entrepreneurs (ESTP) (77%), and other personality types with the Thinking trait agreed at lower, but still high, rates. When asked for help, these Thinking types’ initial response won’t be rooted in emotion but in logic – they’re likely to consider the practical details and ramifications first. They may also be more critical of the circumstances surrounding the request, which can in turn influence their willingness to help.
Turbulent Virtuosos (ISTP-T) agreed at the lowest rate of any personality type (72%). Virtuosos tend to get wrapped up in whatever they’re working on in any given moment. Less aware of the emotions of those around them, requests for help may take them by surprise, and, due to their logical, pragmatic approach to life, empathy may not kick in. They’re especially likely to hesitate if helping requires a long-term commitment. Still, once they’ve decided to help, their highly practical skills often prove invaluable to solving a problem.
Analysts also showed high agreement overall, yet it was the least of any Role. Their response does not mean that these personality types lack generosity or concern for others. Rather, it’s a function of their, well, analytical nature. They need a little more information before they can jump into a cause or problem, and they may be harsher in their judgments.
For instance, if a friend did something foolish and needed help to fix it, a Diplomat might respond to the need on an emotional level, worried above all else about their friend’s feelings. An Analyst personality will also be concerned for their friend’s welfare, but they might hesitate to extend help because they’re reluctant to take responsibility for the consequences of someone else’s boneheaded behavior. Analysts’ rationality, in other words, might temper their compassion, even when they are very caring people.
Social Engagement and People Mastery (89% and 87% agreeing)
The responses among the four Strategies were fairly consistent, but the Extraverted members of the Social Engagement and People Mastery Strategies agreed at slightly higher rates. Extraverted personality types tend to be bolder about engaging in exciting or dramatic experiences, so many are quick to help others. They don’t mind a bit of a shake-up in circumstances or facing the problems of people in need. Social Engagers and People Masters alike believe in the benefit of forming strong relationships with people, so goodwill and mutual support are natural responses for these types.
Social Engagers’ comfort in social situations combined with their Turbulent Identity made them the most likely to agree. As Turbulent personality types, they are more sensitive to emotional stress and turmoil, including that of others. This makes them empathetic, but it also gives them a tendency to take on others’ burdens as their own. Offering assistance that alleviates the physical or emotional distress of the person in need helps Social Engagers put themselves at ease as well.
Constant Improvement and Confident Individualism (86% and 83%)
The Introverted personalities belonging to the Constant Improvement and Confident Individualism Strategies, on the other hand, demonstrated slightly more hesitation to get involved in other people’s problems. Introverts can find social interaction to be draining or stressful, which can make it feel more difficult for them to act upon their concern for others, even when they want to help. Still, that a strong majority of Introverts agreed with our statement indicates that they are willing to push themselves outside of their comfort zone in order to help others.
Confident Individualists were the least likely to agree because of their core belief in self-reliance, driven by their Assertive Identity. Confident and capable when it comes to handling their own problems, these personality types tend to think other people should be too, or that they should at least try to help themselves first. But when they do decide to lend a hand, Confident Individualists are well prepared to provide effective assistance.
Although all personality types agreed that they rarely say no when asked for help, respondents with the Feeling and Extravert traits were the most likely to step up and offer assistance. Those types that were less willing are not necessarily selfish or uncaring, just more reserved in their decisions to help. Some of us may require more than the simple need of another person to make us feel sympathy for them; their cause must be worthy too.
For many of us, however, the needs of another feel like our own, and we empathize and help out, regardless of the situation.
What about you? Are you always ready to jump in and help, or are you more deliberate about when to say no? Share your thoughts in the comments below.