Although the only way to formally validate a person’s true Myers-Briggs type is by taking the official MBTI test, we’ve broken down the type of each presidential hopeful using a detailed analysis of their cognitive functions. Using this intel, it's helpful to see how each operates in the world. (Haven’t learned about the eight Myers-Briggs cognitive functions yet? You’re in luck: Here’s a full guide.)
So, curious how a President Joe Biden, for instance, might compare to a President Trump? Let’s detail their similarities and differences below, according to their cognitive function stacks (a.k.a. the order in which each person uses their personal functions). The answers may just surprise you.
Biden, Sanders, Trump MBTI breakdown: Find out how each potential 2020 presidential election winner stacks up.
Joe Biden: ESFP
Se: Former Vice President Biden’s history in politics is marked by resourcefulness and personableness, which are both key traits of extroverted sensors (Se). During his long tenure as an elected official, he's been able to work across party lines and win support across a diverse electorate, most recently in the 2018 midterm elections for Democratic nominees. He has the charisma common to Se-dominant types, and is often the first to speak up on behalf of specific issues.
Fi: No matter what you think of his policies, Biden’s introverted feeling lends him a sense of clearly defined values, like that of increased gun control and extensive criminal justice reform. He’s not afraid to disagree with other candidates, and he’s a fierce defender of those he loves (like his family).
Te: Biden exhibits less consistency and cohesiveness when it comes to his framework for governing compared to other leaders who have extroverted thinking higher up in their cognitive stack. (He may, for example, fumble his words a bit, and is regularly accused of verbal gaffes.) But, he still prefers to execute and explain in a way that feels efficient and logical.
Ni: Long-term, big-picture planning is not Biden’s favorite mode of operation, with introverted intuition as his inferior function. He doesn’t always look before he leaps, or see the long-term repercussions of his actions until after those consequences bubble up to the surface.
Biden exhibits less consistency and cohesiveness when it comes to his framework for governing compared to other leaders who have extroverted thinking higher up in their cognitive stack.
What it means: Biden is a resourceful candidate who could bring opposite sides of the Democratic party together for change—and perhaps even some people who don't identify as Democrat.
Bernie Sanders: ENFP
Ne: Extroverted intuition is all about seeing possibility, which is why Sanders has big ideas about universal health care, free college, and preserving the environment. Sanders’ platform is by far the most ambitious among possible presidents, which is super-indicative of an Ne-dominant person. If they accomplish just one or two of their big ideas, massive change would follow.
Fi: What powers Sanders’ ideas? His values. Introverted feeling is all about authenticity, and a unique, highly individualized belief system. The democratic socialist has a well-defined idea of what he believes, and he has no problem vocally differing from the rest of his party.
Sanders prefers direct answers, but he has trouble compromising, which is apparent in the way he defends his arguments.
Te: Extroverted thinking is a means of conveying or implementing ideas to make the world a more efficient, logical place. Te people often speak in a direct, straightforward manner and don’t mince words. Given this function is lower in Sanders’ cognitive stack, it means that while he prefers direct answers, he has trouble compromising, which is apparent in the way he defends his arguments. That is, if he thinks one idea is logically right and there is one right way to get it done, he will not deviate.
Si: Inferior functions illuminate what a person works to hide, or what we don't trust about ourselves, and Sanders’ inferior function is introverted sensing. Si has to do with honoring past precedent, upholding tradition or maintaining the status quo, so it should come as no surprise Sanders wants to rewrite the rules.
What it means: Sanders is a passionate champion for under-recognized problems, and a staunch defender of his unique worldview. He is the candidate who can most imagine what could be, not necessarily what realistically will be.
Se: Extroverted sensing types prefer to be out in the world, lead with the five senses, and tend to make instinctual, in-the-moment decisions. President Trump works best when he has space to operate on his own terms, and typically won’t tolerate following rules for very long. He's obviously not afraid to make bold moves, whether that’s meeting a controversial world leader or mixing business with politics, and that makes sense because Se types are highly adaptable and feel they can quickly recover if needed.
Ti: Trump’s logic has often been called into question, but it’s possible his introverted thinking made sense of a given situation before it ever transpired. Since Ti is such an intimate, private system of logic, he may even struggle to explain how he came to some of his conclusions. But agree with them or not, his moves likely do make complete sense in the scope of his own personal reasoning.
Fe: Extroverted feeling is all about harmonizing and empathizing with others to bring people together, which is apparent in the way Trump often talks up other world leaders, his own staff, or his own voter base. Fe people know how to compliment and “schmooze”—sometimes, as a means to implement and maintain support. Of course, Fe falls lower in Trump's function stack, so he has less command of it than his higher-up functions, so if he perceives someone is not trying to get along with him, he may lash out instead of talk it up.
Introverted intuition users always have a plan—and since this is Trump’s inferior function, it means he struggles with it the most.
Ni: Introverted intuition users always have a plan—and since this is Trump’s inferior function, it means he struggles with it the most. He does not like creating plans in advance, and prefers to do what feels right in the moment. An Ni force can easily be seen in Trump’s impulsive commentary, whether verbal or in late-night tweets.
What it means: Love him or hate him, Trump has a bold personality that allows him to command a narrative and redirect after perceived mistakes.
While Elizabeth Warren won't be our next president, here's why we desperately need a woman in office—like, now. And to brush up on where the remaining Democratic candidates stand, here’s what to know about their health-care policies.
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