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Which Myers-Briggs® Type is the Office Politician?


We've all seen those people at work who seem to be masters at getting to know everyone, figuring out what they like, and learning how to get them on their side. Sometimes these people are known as office politicians. Is there a certain type that tends to be the office politician? Do others trust them?

Researchers asked members of the Association for Psychological Type to describe those people they felt fit the image of the office politician. The researchers then compared the results to the psychological types of the respondents. There was little influence from the gender or type of the respondent. The results seem to show the same thing, regardless of who answered the survey.

Who is the "typical" office politician? According to this study, two types dominated the responses: ESTJs and ENTJs. Third place went to ISTJs. For those of you who are familiar with type theory, you'll notice the first two are Dominant Extraverted Thinkers, while the third is an Auxiliary Extraverted Thinker. The opposite of this, Dominant Introverted Feeling (ISFP or INFP), was not rated by anyone as an office politician. Extraverts and Judgers received 56% of the votes, while Introverts and Perceivers received only 3%.

In general, the office politician appears to be a Thinker and a Judger. You might know that TJs are frequently office managers, so it's not much of a leap to see office politician as an answer. However, in this study, the politician was seen as far more Extraverted than the manager type. Interestingly, gender played no role in this view of the office politician: women were as likely as men to be seen in this role. The TJ aspect is far more important.

What are some of the characteristics of the office politician? Descriptors include socially adept, logical, assertive, ambitious, and needing power. These characteristics have been associated with Extraversion, Thinking, and Judging.

Note that many types were seen as potential office politicians. Only Introverted Feelers had virtually no votes (except two votes for ISFJs). INFJs, INFPs, and ISFPs received no votes.

What about trustworthiness in office politicians? Dominant Extraverted Feelers (ESFJ and ENFJ) were seen as far more trustworthy than Dominant Extraverted Thinkers (ESTJ & ENTJ) in this study. Extraverts and Feelers were described as strongly valuing harmony in interpersonal relationships and actively attempting to satisfy others' needs to ensure harmony. They are said to reflect benevolence, show cooperation and concern for others. Thinker Judger types are said to be more impersonal, critical, and focused on task-related issues. Those who put tasks before people are viewed as less trustworthy.

It's important to remember that this study asked about the PERCEPTIONS of who the office politician might be. The participants were not asked to point to the office politician so he or she could be assessed. We should also consider the possibility of type bias. While the participants in the study were APT members, that group is heavily weighted with Intuitive Feelers, a group that is much different from the perceived office politician. It's possible that bias influenced the results of this study.


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