Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)

Larry Holzwarth - July 30, 2021

Katherine Briggs began developing her theories regarding personality types in the early 20th century. After the publication in English of the work in the area by Carl Jung, Briggs noted similarities in his research and expanded her own. In the late 1920s her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers, joined her in her work, and eventually took over the project. Their program of identifying distinct personality types emerged publicly during the Second World War. In 1944 they published the Briggs Myers Type Indicator Handbook. In 1956 it changed to Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and in 1962 the first MBTI self-testing manual appeared. They purported to have identified 16 individual personality types, and the means of individuals identifying which they possessed through self-assessment. The MBTI is based on how people arrive at decisions, as well as their perception of others and themselves.

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
Myers-Briggs incorporates the theories of Carl Jung. Wikimedia

Because of questions over the MBTI regarding its reliability, as well as its disregard of some psychological factors, it has not been widely accepted by psychological researchers. Some have attacked it as pseudoscience. But the general public has been enthralled with it from time to time. The ability to self-test for one’s type exploded with the internet, and multiple sites exist for self-analysis and entertainment. Among them are sites which purport to assign famous people MBTI types, which this site now joins. Bearing in mind the MBTI is based on self-assessment, in which none of these personages have participated, here are the personality types of some of history’s most famous. But first, a basic description of the types and how they are measured.

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
Carl Jung is usually credited as the Father of Analytical Psychology. Wikimedia

1. Much of the MBTI has its basis in the theories of Carl Jung

The Swiss theorist and researcher Carl Jung, himself a former student of Sigmund Freud, proposes two pairs of cognitive functions. The pairs are rational and irrational or judging and perceiving. Judging is based on feeling and thinking while perceiving arrives from a sensation or intuition. In Jungian thought, each of these four functions is expressed in either an introverted or extraverted form. Both terms refer to gratification. Extraverts receive gratification primarily from external sources while introverts are more concerned with themselves than the reaction of others. Jung used his theory to identify 32 personality types. Myers-Briggs reduces the number of types to 16, based on a combination of four opposite pairs of traits, called dichotomies. Each is identified by a combination of four letters; the letters symbolize traits dominant in the personality.

For example, the type INFP defines a personality dominated by the traits of; Introversion (I); Intuition (N); Feeling (F); and Perception (P). All sixteen types share the same letter designations. Each type also has a group name, such as Supervisor, Provider, or Teacher. The names differ from site to site. The designations are based on Jung’s concept that people use four cognitive functions, and personality derives from the respective dominance of the functions. Since their first appearance, subsequent researchers have split the sixteen types into four groups. Still, others have questioned their validity at all. And others have applied them to individuals who have never performed the self-assessment test upon which the types are based. That’s what we’ll do here, on individuals no longer around, and thus unable to defend themselves. All in fun, of course.

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
Several MBTIs are attributed to George Washington, as well as the other American Presidents. Wikimedia

2. The MBTI of American Presidents is debatable

It’s probably safe to say that all politicians are dominated by Extraversion since their primary goal is to achieve public approval, expressed in the form of votes. Otherwise, their success as a politician would be fleeting. But numerous websites and articles list several presidents, including the first, as introverts. George Washington has been described as possessing MBTI of ISTJ (Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging). Such personalities are described as being reserved, focused on details, and devoted to logical decisions rather than those based on emotion. They also use past experiences to judge the present situation. All of these traits seem to have been present in the personality of America’s first President, according to biographers. But his personality also seems to have been more complex than summed up in the ISTJ type.

George was also legendary for his cordial hospitality, in his Executive Mansions and his Mount Vernon home. He also represented an innovative and active entrepreneurial streak. Washington introduced crop rotation, developed a new type of seed drill, and built a brewery, a distillery, and flour mills. All were done with profit in mind. He also showed a healthy respect for social hierarchy. With these traits in mind, Washington could easily be evaluated as an ESFJ (Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging). Some say Washington didn’t “run” for President, making him less of a politician and more of a leader. Yet he did run for office on several occasions. He was enough of a politician to recognize the need to provide alcohol for voters at the polls, after previously losing to another candidate who lubricated the voters on election day.

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
Winston Churchill demonstrated some unpleasant aspects in his personality over the course of his career. Wikimedia

3. Washington could easily be assigned other types as well

Another consideration for Washington’s personality type could be ENTJ (Extravert, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging), also called the Commander. Such types are people of decision and quick action once a decision has been made. Such people are natural leaders, charismatic, confident. They can and do easily overwhelm others with their sheer presence. All of these traits have been assigned to Washington. But commanders also often possess a ruthless streak, a determination to achieve one’s goals even if doing so requires putting scruples aside. Such a description would not apply to Washington as easily as it would say, Sir Winston Churchill. Churchill eagerly sought approval and readily expressed resentment when he did not get it. Undeniably charismatic, he made the Latin phrase Carpe Diem (Seize the day) his personal motto. And throughout his career, he could be quite ruthless with anything or anyone who blocked his path.

Churchill ordered the British Fleet to attack the French Navy in North Africa, leading to the deaths of numerous French sailors and civilian personnel. He was an unapologetic imperialist, staunchly supportive of the British Empire, which he sought to retain after the Second World War. His political writings and even many of the memoranda he wrote while in various offices were invariably self-serving. He used many of them as sources in his later books, including his six-volume The Second World War. Churchill believed British rule to be better for the people than self-rule throughout the empire. He described it as “our responsibility to the native races”, echoing Rudyard Kipling’s White Man’s Burden. A complex, often confusing, and controversial man, Churchill certainly exhibited the traits of the Commander, even in those periods in which he was not in command.

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
Publicity photograph of Katherine Hepburn from 1940. MGM

4. ENTJ is often shared by kings, queens, artists, actors, and businessmen

The indicator ENTJ is one generally assigned to dictators, (Napoleon Bonaparte, Josef Stalin), businessmen (Steven Jobs, Oskar Schindler, Henry Ford), and scientists (Aristotle, Carl Sagan). But some may be surprised to learn that Katharine Hepburn, actress on screen and stage, also earns the designation in some quarters. Though not universally, some claim other types for the actress. Always frank, often to the point of being blunt, Hepburn had a career path which resembled a roller coaster. Born to wealth and privilege and well-educated (Bryn Mawr College) she was a passionate athlete. As a child, she swam from an early age. She later excelled at golf and tennis, attributes she exhibited in the film Pat and Mike, in which she portrayed a skilled athlete. She became noted in Hollywood for negotiating her own contracts, and for her refusal to sign autographs.

Early film success led to a loss of popularity in the early 1930s, followed by a comeback later in the decade. A second decline led to her selection of the play The Philadelphia Story for her next film. She refused to allow anyone else to control either her career or her choice of films, remaining very much in command of her own destiny. Later in her career, she depicted prim, staid, ladies in films such as The African Queen, with Humphrey Bogart, and The Rainmaker with Burt Lancaster. Still later she returned to the form, so to speak, with John Wayne in Rooster Cogburn. Though as with everyone in this list other MBTI types are assigned to her, she seemed to have fit in with Churchill and others listed as ENTJ very well. In life she refused to accept categorization, so one wonders what would be her reaction to being so described.

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
Thomas Jefferson’s official Presidential portrait, by Rembrandt Peale. Wikimedia

5. Thomas Jefferson – INTP or INTJ

There are some sites which claim Jefferson possessed an INTP (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving) MBTI. Others assign him to the INTJ (J meaning Judging) and others INFJ (F refers to Feeling). There are several other types ascribed to Jefferson and in truth, an argument could be made for all sixteen. The man was a mass of contradictions. A polymath largely self-educated (outside of classics and law), he advocated for public education throughout his life. He built regal estates for himself, though as President he was known to greet official guests in a dressing gown and slippers. He detested most preachers and priests, though he wrote his own version of the New Testament. Jefferson championed individual rights and liberties while enslaving hundreds.

He denounced slavery in his writings, and in the Declaration of Independence, he blamed the institution on the King of England. That document indicates another aspect of his personality often overlooked, or rather its editing does. Jefferson winced at every alteration of his work, indicating he strongly sought approval from his colleagues. Such desire for approval is indicative of an Extravert, rather than an Introvert. He was a scientist, musician, inventor, politician, farmer, botanist, collector of fine wines, connoisseur, avid horseman, and loved leisure activities. Yet he scheduled his day rigidly and recorded his activities in several record books. In his farm books, he recorded the first blossoms of plants in the spring, a strict adherence to detail. If any one person disproves the categorization described by Myers-Briggs, it would be Thomas Jefferson.

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
Al Capone in 1930, in a photo taken at the Chicago Police Department. Wikimedia

6. Al Capone and other notable criminals – ESTP

Most agree that Al Capone, one of America’s most notorious criminals, exhibited an ESTP type (Extravert, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving). Capone certainly demonstrated Extraverted behavior. During his run as the most powerful man in Chicago, he flaunted his wealth through extravagant cars, expensive suits and a coterie of supporting figures. He also gave money away, supported soup kitchens and rooming houses, and schools in poorer neighborhoods. When Capone attended baseball games, usually at Chicago’s Comiskey Park, he received rousing ovations from fans. Capone cultivated the press and radio broadcasters, always ready with a snappy quote for them to use. He also cultivated political allies, which allowed him to expand his considerable criminal enterprises.

His transportation networks for illegal alcohol during Prohibition stretched from Florida to Canada. He operated breweries in Chicago and other sites. His reach extended into the Black neighborhoods in Chicago’s South Side, and he courted Black jazz musicians. He openly displayed expensive jewelry; rings, bracelets, tie pins, and hat embellishments. Yet he also displayed a ruthlessness unrivaled before his reign as The Boss. Eventually, Capone fell from power, not by conviction for the many murders he ordered, or for his bootlegging operations, illegal gambling, and prostitution rings. Instead, he went to prison for income tax evasion. Capone’s MBTI is shared with other criminals according to some, but as with the rest on this list, disagreement exists.

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
The flamboyant George S. Patton in 1945 wearing riding pants and boots. US Army

7. General George S. Patton – ISTP

Throughout his military career, but especially as a general officer, George S. Patton displayed a flamboyance which often irritated his fellow officers. He carried a pair of ivory-handled revolvers rather than the standard issue .45 automatic used by the US Army as a sidearm. He also affected a riding crop carried as a swagger stick, which he used to emphasize points when in animated discussions. A highly polished helmet crowned his head when in modified dress uniform. He used what can gently be termed colorful language in speeches and when addressing reporters and troops. Patton enjoyed appearing in public wearing high riding boots as well as riding pants. He ensured his image went out to the public via the press, as one of the first officers to employ a full-time press secretary on his staff.

Nonetheless, Patton is frequently identified as having an ISTP (Introvert, Sensing, Thinking, Perceptive) personality type. Such types often lack interpersonal skills or are indifferent to them. They also exhibit a disregard for organizational hierarchies, except for what it takes to circumvent them. That is certainly the public image Patton presented when it served him to do so. But it also served to get him into considerable trouble with his superiors, both during World War II and in its immediate aftermath. Still, it’s difficult to regard George Patton as an introvert, and many sites instead assign him the MBTI of ESTP, listing him as an Extrovert. It’s fitting. Patton generated controversy in the army, in the press, and in the public eye in life. He’d probably prefer to do so in posterity as well.

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
Then Senator Joseph Biden with President Jimmy Carter in 1979. Wikimedia

8. Mother Teresa – ISFJ

According to mbtionline.com, the least common MBTI is INFJ (Introvert, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging), at least in the United States. This type is commonly called the advocate. Supposedly, such personalities are thoughtful, idealistic, and versatile. Advocates are altruistic, demanding fairness in matters such as social justice. They are, frequently, also effective orators, presenting their beliefs with passion. As such many become leaders. According to some, Adolf Hitler was one such personality. Another was Mahatma Gandhi. Carl Jung himself is described as having an INFJ personality, joined by Florence Nightingale, former American President Jimmy Carter, Eleanor Roosevelt, Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Martin Luther King. Certainly, an eclectic group. Yet all in the group were writers of note, though on widely diverse subjects.

In contrast, the most common MBTI is ISFJ (Introvert, Sensing, Thinking, Judging). More than twice as many women as men exhibit this type. Among them was Mother Teresa, whose charitable works during her lifetime led the Catholic Church to canonize her as Saint Teresa of Calcutta. Rosa Parks, who worked with civil rights leaders in Montgomery during the bus boycott in 1955, is said to have been an ISFJ. Clara Barton, a self-taught nurse, provided care to wounded and sick troops during the American Civil War. After being exposed to the Red Cross during an 1869 trip to Switzerland, she returned to the United States. There she helped found the American Red Cross, serving as its first president. She too is described as an ISFJ personality. Barton also advocated for professional training and certification for nurses, both something she never attained for herself.

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
President Lyndon Johnson greeting American troops in Vietnam in 1966. Wikimedia

9. President Lyndon B. Johnson – ESTP

ESTP (Extravert, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving) is described by some as the most likely MBTI to be found in a psychopath. Interestingly, at least four US Presidents (some sites claim more) have been described as exhibiting the personality traits of an ESTP. The first is James Buchanan, who served one term as President just before the Civil War. He sat in the White House when the first states seceded from the Union in 1860-61. He routinely ranks near the bottom of lists grading the American Presidents, and he is chiefly remembered as the only US President to never have married. The other three Presidents said to have had ESTP personalities are considerably more modern, the first being Lyndon Johnson. Johnson ascended to the Presidency and later won it outright in one of the largest landslides in American history.

Johnson is remembered for his civil rights legislation, a bill initiated by his predecessor, and for his expansion of American troops in Southeast Asia. He justified that expansion following a now disputed incident in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964, leading the United States into a quagmire which well outlived his Presidency. Interestingly, George W. Bush has been identified as an ESTP type. As President, Bush led the nation into two wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq, the former eventually becoming the longest in American history. To be fair, not all sites purporting to judge such things lists either LBJ or Bush as ESTP types, and as far as is known, neither President took the test. At least they never published the results if they did. The last former President assigned the ESTP type is too recent to discuss within the confines of this article.

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
Edgar Allan Poe appears almost overcome with melancholy in this circa 1849 portrait. Wikimedia

10. Edgar Allen Poe is assigned multiple MBTI types

The innovative and dark writer and poet Edgar Allen Poe continues to be enigmatic over a century and a half after his mysterious death. Poe, a well-known and successful writer and editor, invented the modern detective story, wrote short stories still read for their ability to shock, and was a poet of renown. Many of his works dealt in the macabre, and his poetry often reflected the author’s own somber state of mind. He drank, heavily at times, including absinthe, and may have used opium. Among his lesser-known works is an essay, Eureka: A Prose Poem, in which he proposed a theory of the universe that first predicted the Big Bang Theory. He died in Baltimore, found incoherent and in someone else’s clothes, in October 1849. The cause of his death remains unknown, with speculation including alcohol poisoning, rabies, syphilis, and heart disease, among others.

A complex, talented, entrepreneurial, and tragic man, Poe is assigned several different MBTI types, depending on the source. Some have him as an INTP (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving). Others assign him as an INFP (F meaning Feeling). Still, others claim different types for him. Maybe that’s best when considering the man and his life. He enjoyed many creative heights during his career and many personal tragedies in his life. He often poured his personal grief over the loss of loved ones, particularly women, into his work. Read Annabel Lee or The Raven and it’s impossible not to sense his personal pain. Perhaps the INFP designation is the correct one, as he was obviously a man who felt loss deeply and expressed it in his work.

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
President Nixon, Delbert Sonny West, Jerry Schilling, and Elvis Presley in the Oval Office in December, 1970. Wikimedia

11. Elvis Presley – ESFP

Elvis Presley rocketed to stardom in records and film in the late 1950s. He was the biggest star, in terms of the adulation of his fans, to appear since Frank Sinatra and his bobbysoxers years earlier. Presley surrounded himself with a coterie of supporters, eventually known as the Memphis Mafia. His desire to avoid conflict led to him being easily manipulated, especially by his longtime manager Colonel Tom Parker. Elvis made his Memphis home a giant game room for his guests and friends. He enjoyed meeting people of all sorts, from fans to Presidents and loved recognition and attention. He often displayed an impulsive streak, ordering up his jet to fly somewhere for cheeseburgers, giving away new Cadillacs, usually convertibles, and hosting impromptu parties.

Elvis was almost certainly an ESFP (Extravert, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving) personality, a type known, appropriately in this case, as the Entertainer. Such personalities are always onstage, and love the spotlight as well as being the center of attention. They are also sometimes known for extravagant outfits, which Elvis certainly demonstrated during the latter stage of his career. They are also somewhat incurious regarding details in the areas of finances, and work responsibilities, traits Elvis exhibited throughout his career. He relied on others to watch his money, plan his tours, and contract his films, and in general run his career. Elvis shared his MBTI with another, mostly contemporaneous entertainer, the beautiful and talented actress and singer Marilyn Monroe.

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
Publicity photo for the young Johnny Carson, taken in 1957. Wikimedia

12. Johnny Carson – ISTJ

Probably no talk show host ever appeared more comfortable before an audience than Johnny Carson, the acclaimed “King of Late Night” for decades. But Carson away from the stage was far less comfortable, at least when dealing with people. Famously, almost painfully shy, Carson guarded his privacy jealously. He didn’t enjoy giving interviews and did so rarely, avoiding discussing his personal life. The ease with which he conducted conversations during his show eluded him in private circles. Over time he attended fewer and fewer Hollywood get togethers, limiting them to smaller gatherings with close friends. Even at home, he had difficulty in relationships, and he often remained aloof to his children. He discussed his divorces in public only as of the basis for jokes, and his children he seldom mentioned at all.

Carson has several different MBTI types attributed to him by various sites and articles. Probably the most common are ISTJ (Introvert, Sensing, Thinking, Judging), followed by ISFP (Feeling, Perceiving). Others call him an Extravert, basing the assumption on his public persona, as he appeared on The Tonight Show as well as his appearances as the emcee at awards shows and roasts. Dick Cavett once encountered Johnny engaged with some fans backstage following a show. “He was just having an awful time making small talk with them”, Cavett told Closer Weekly in 2015. Even his head writer on The Tonight Show from 1988-1992 called Carson “…a classic introvert”. Whichever type fit him best depends on the relationship he had with the individual making the assessment. Evidently, no two such relationships were the same.

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor with President Nixon in 1970. Wikimedia

13. King Edward VIII of Great Britain – ESTP

The eldest son of the Duke and Duchess of York, the man who later became King Edward VIII of Great Britain presented troubling behavior in his youth and early adulthood. Troubling, that is, to members of Parliament and the cabinet. Edward, as Prince of Wales, demonstrated a predilection for sexual affairs and little concern over their public knowledge. One such affair, with a still-married woman seeking her second divorce, blossomed into a full-fledged national crisis after Edward ascended to the throne. He proposed marriage to Wallis Simpson, though she was not yet divorced. After informing the Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, of his intention to marry, Baldwin threatened to resign, which would throw the government into a constitutional crisis. When it became evident to the King he had to choose between marriage or the throne, he chose marriage. Edward VIII married the then divorced Simpson after his abdication.

Since then, he has remained controversial. Some consider his story a romance, others believe him foolhardy, as both he and Simpson engaged in extramarital affairs. They remained married until his death in 1972. Edward has been labeled an ESTP, sometimes called the Entrepreneur. Such types are prone to risky behavior. They can be impatient, particularly with rules, and often ignore them to achieve their immediate goals. The damage can be fixed later. They can also be defiant, casting conventions aside. Several other MBTI types have been assigned to Edward, usually, judgments based on his behavior both during his short reign as King, (326 days) and his subsequent life as the Duke of Windsor. As with the rest of the personages on this list, the MBTI for Edward VIII depends on the perceptions of the analyst, rather than the persons themselves.

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
Charles Lindbergh in an undated photograph, possibly taken before his transatlantic flight. Wikimedia

14. Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart – ISTP

It shouldn’t be too big of a surprise to learn that in the opinion of some, Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart share the same MBTI, that of ISTP (Introvert, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving). But the opinion is far from universal, both pioneering aviators are assigned different MBTI types by others. And other than their shared passion for aviation, Earhart and Lindbergh had few similar qualities. Earhart supported women’s equality programs, developed clothing and luggage product lines, and lived in an “open” marriage with her husband, publisher George Putnam. Lindbergh’s most famous flight, solo across the Atlantic in 1927, was taken as part of a contest. Earhart’s flights were pre-arranged affairs, with her goals announced by public relations professionals. Earhart openly created publicity, while the more reserved Lindbergh shunned it.

In the 1930s Lindbergh became an ardent supporter of the America First movement, arguing against involvement in European affairs. Famous and influential, he earned a public rebuke from President Franklin Roosevelt over his views. Earhart used her fame and influence to promote aviation, herself, and her expanding business interests. She also supported women’s rights movements and became a close friend of Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of Franklin. As late as September 1941, Lindbergh argued against Roosevelt’s support of Great Britain. He told the crowd at an America First rally that three groups were “…pressing this country toward war: the British, the Jewish, and the Roosevelt Administration”. Earhart never publicly expressed her political views. Instead, she focused on her own celebrity, raising the public view toward women. She is still regarded as a feminist icon.

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
Leonard Nimoy as the fictional Mr. Spock circa 1967. NBC Television

15. Star Trek’s Spock – ISTJ

For those who swear by MBTI and its unerring accuracy, fictional characters to are assigned MBTI, based on their fictional behavior. And as with those of historical basis, there is little consensus as regards the type. Star Trek’s Mr. Spock is described by some as possessing an ISTJ personality (Introvert, Sensing, Thinking, Judgement). One assumes the designation is arrived at logically. He shares the type, according to some, with Sherlock Holmes, though others designate Holmes as an INTP (Introvert, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving). Different portrayals of Holmes earn different MBTIs, though, which makes him more difficult to categorize. Robert Downing Jr’s rendition of Holmes is listed as an ENTP (Extrovert, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving) for example. Since Holmes is fictional, one doubts he would mind the differing opinions.

Star Trek’s Lieutenant-Commander Data, an android, is considered by some to possess a personality type of ISTJ, similar to Spock and Sherlock. Surprisingly, the highly emotional Dr. McCoy, from the original series of Star Trek also shares the ISTJ designation, according to some sites. Perhaps the similarities in personality are one reason McCoy and Spock were frequently at odds with one another. Or should that read will be at odds with one another, as we’re a long way from the 23rd century. One may also assume that since Vulcans are trained in logic and the elimination of emotions that all of them share the same MBTI type. But that may be racist thinking. Fortunately, all Vulcans are fictional, at least to most people. There are deeper mysteries to ponder than their personality types.

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
John Farrow, John Wayne, and Lana Turner take a break while filming The Sea Chase in 1955. Wikimedia

16. John Wayne’s MBTI type is debated as well

One can only imagine what John Wayne would say regarding MBTI and personality types. For a younger generation who don’t know Wayne, he became Hollywood’s first macho man. He went from being a singing cowboy in western short films to filmdom’s biggest draw in the 1940s and 1950s. He often portrayed military heroes, though he did not serve in the military during the Second World War. It was not for lack of trying on his part, his studio refused to release him from his contract. Later in his life, he generated considerable controversy over his views regarding the Vietnam War, racism, and the civil rights movement in the United States. He drank heavily, smoked almost continuously, healed and damned his way through interviews, and remained wholly unapologetic throughout his life. Undoubtedly, he would have regarded MBTI types with a suspicious eye.

Some assign John Wayne, who was born as Marion Morrison, as an ESTJ. Others claim Wayne exhibited an ISTP personality. Others claim ISFJ, ESTP, and other types. One can assign virtually any personality to Wayne, based on internet search results. Wayne himself claimed his public persona was unlike his true personality. He called it a character of his own creation, which had become so big he had to live up to it at all times. Interestingly, a historical character Wayne once portrayed said the same thing about himself. Davy Crockett, a legendary frontiersman whose public image was created largely by David Crockett, considered his reputation as a trap of his own making. Crockett fled Tennessee for Texas in part to escape the image he had created, and in so doing created an even larger legend. Crockett too is assigned multiple MBTIs.

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
Neil Armstrong, shortly after completion of his first walk on the moon, July 20. 1969. NASA

17. Neil Armstrong – Possibly ESTP

Neil Armstrong became the first human being to stand on lunar soil in July, 1969. In doing so he became an instant international celebrity and an American hero. Yet he was an intensely private man, shunning the limelight. His considerable earlier achievements were largely forgotten, dwarfed by his steps on the moon. Armstrong flew in combat in Korea, where he once had to bail out of a damaged aircraft. He flew the experimental X-15 aircraft in seven separate missions. Even among his fellow test pilots and astronauts, all justly proud of their skills, Armstrong’s achievements as a pilot were legendary. As a trained aeronautical engineer, Armstrong applied sound engineering principles to his flying and to the rest of his life. After his lunar mission, Armstrong never again flew in space. He retired and later taught aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati.

As with virtually everyone on this list, Armstrong’s MBTI is debatable. Though some describe him as an extravert, there is a much stronger argument he possessed introvert characteristics. Armstrong guarded his privacy so closely that few know he once participated in an expedition to the North Pole. The expedition included Edmund Hillary, the first man to ascend to the summit of Mount Everest. Armstrong refused to allow the media to be informed of the trip, both before and after it was completed. Yet he also hosted a television series, First Flights with Neil Armstrong, and served as a spokesperson for the Chrysler Corporation. Yet at least one luminary assigns Armstrong the MBTI type of ESTP, making him an extrovert. One of his fellow astronauts on Apollo 11 said of him when he bought a farm in Ohio, “he retreated to his castle and pulled up the drawbridge”. Hardly extraverted behavior.

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
Lee Harvey Oswald mugshot, taken on November 23, 1963. Hulton Archive / Getty Images / Time.

18. Lee Harvey Oswald – INFJ

Of the four presidential assassins in American history, two are arguably the most famous. Few Americans recognize the names of Charles Guiteau and Leon Czolgosz, who murdered Presidents Garfield and McKinley, respectively. But nearly all know the names of Lee Harvey Oswald and John Wilkes Booth. The latter, an actor by profession, shot Abraham Lincoln in a theater. Though he too is assigned differing MBTIs, nearly all agree that Booth was an Extravert, deeply concerned with what the world thought of him. He spent most of his time on the run after shooting the President justifying his actions to posterity, in the form of a diary. He considered himself ill-used by the world, which should have recognized him as a hero and martyr, in his own estimation. The world did not agree, even in the South, which he believed he had served.

Lee Harvey Oswald, on the other hand, is usually considered an introvert, and often receives the type of INFJ (Introvert, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging). As noted, the type is the rarest of all. Oswald had several psychiatric evaluations in his lifetime, including as a teen. They all noted his isolation, withdrawal from relationships, and lack of friendships. He also denied killing John Kennedy, declaring he was a patsy. Unlike the extravert Booth, Oswald did not desire a judgment from the world. Instead, he wanted to be invisible. By the way, there are those who argue Oswald’s victim shared the personality type of his assassin. While most describe Kennedy as an Extravert, others argue he was in truth an Introvert, completely uncomfortable with the extraverted aspects of politicking. Once again, the image is in the eye of the beholder.

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness by James Tissot. Wikimedia

19. Yes, people try to type Jesus of Nazareth – INFP

It would seem at first glance that Jesus of Nazareth, regardless of one’s religious beliefs, exhibited outgoing and sociable personality traits. He gathered followers, attracted crowds, and participated in events such as formal dinners and weddings. All of these activities can be assigned to an Extravert personality. But Jesus demonstrated notable introvert tendencies as well. He frequently went off alone, for the purpose of meditation and prayer, if the gospels are correct. And he did not seek the approval of others, and frequently remonstrated with those who expressed disapproval of his views and actions. Though we know little of his private conversations, his public utterances were fully formed and reasoned. Those tendencies, and others, lead some to assign Jesus an introvert type, often INFP.

Jesus often taught in the form of parables. These featured people and events familiar to his audience. Jesus taught using characters such as farmers, fishermen, and families, all of which his audience readily understood. Feeling led Jesus to state, regarding the execution of woman, “…He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7 KJV). A judgmental personality would be more likely to agree with the law, rather than offer compassion and forgiveness. There are those that disagree, others ascribe other MBTI personality types to Jesus of Nazareth. Again, they are based on judgments of his activities and sayings as described in the Bible. Some assign the INFJ type to Jesus, as noted before, the rarest of all types.

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
Carl Jung sits to the left of Sigmund Freud (center front), with whom he later broke during his research. Wikimedia

20. Assigning MBTI to others is technically an invalid exercise

The whole purpose of MBTI is to allow for self-assessment of one’s personality based on a series of questions. Even when one assesses oneself the test provides different results at different times. Evaluating historical figures for their MBTI requires the evaluator to presume to answer the questions as he or she believes the historical figure would. Such a presumption alone renders the results invalid. Other than as an exercise in fun, or argument, evaluating past lives for MBTI has no basis in reality. Yet it remains a popular exercise, as the links in this article prove. No evaluator, no matter how familiar with George Washington’s life and career, cannot, so to speak, put words in his mouth. Evaluating Washington’s personality based on his own writings, as well as those of his contemporaries and historians, cannot reveal his true MBTI.

MBTI exists to allow the theories of Carl Jung to be applied by individuals in their daily lives. Yet it remains controversial. It has often been criticized as unscientific. Psychology Today published an article in 2013 titled, “Goodbye to MBTI, the Fad That Won’t Die”. The article reports that more than 2.5 million people take the test each year. It also reports wildly differing results received by the author on different occasions of taking the test. If one individual can receive different results at different times, how accurate can applying MBTI to other people possibly be? Especially those from times when society and behaviors were markedly different from today. It may be fun to assign MBTI to persons of the past, but it is entirely subjective. For every MBTI found online for a historical figure, a contradicting one can also be found.

Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“Measuring the MBTI…And Coming Up Short”. David J. Pittenger, Journal of Career Planning and Employment. November 1993

“The Myers-Briggs Personality Test is Pretty Much Meaningless”. Rose Eveleth, Smithsonian Magazine. March 26, 2013

“The Ten Greatest Controversies of Winston Churchill’s Career”. Tom Heyden, BBC News Magazine. January 26, 2015. Online

“Me: Stories of My Life”. Katharine Hepburn. 1996

“American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson”. Joseph J. Ellis. 1998

“Al Capone”. Entry, Famous cases and criminals. FBI.gov. Online

“Eisenhower: Soldier and President”. Stephen E. Ambrose. 2007

“Lyndon B. Johnson”, Essay Excerpt, Character Above All, Robert Dallek. PBS.org. Online

“The Machinery of the Universe”. Max Nelson, The Paris Review. July 1, 2015

“Who Was Edgar Allan Poe?” Article, The Poe Museum. Online

“Elvis: What Happened”. Red West, Sonny West, and Dave Hebler, as told to Steve Dunleavy. 1977

“Johnny Carson’s Loved Ones Reveal the Shy Loner Only They Knew”. Staff, Closer Weekly. April 18, 2015

“What ‘The Crown’ Got Wrong: The Duke of Windsor’s (Not So) Secret Nazi History”. Tim Sommer, The Observer. 2017. Online

“The Earhart Brand”. Katie E. Martin, Flight Paths. Purdue University. Online

“The MBTI of Star Trek: The Original Series Characters”. Stephanie Marceau, Screen Rant. February 15, 2019. Online

“Three ways staying silent about mental illness is hurting you: What Would John Wayne Say?” Dr. Margaret Rutherford. June 11, 2016. Online

“Arctic encounter: how the ice man Neil Armstrong finally melted”. Catherine Armitage, Sydney Morning Herald. August 28, 2012

“If Jesus Took a Personality Test, This Would Be His Myers-Briggs Personality Type”. Paul Sohn. December 23, 2016. Online

“Nothing Personal: The questionable Myers-Briggs test”. Dean Burnett, The Guardian. March 19, 2013