Since the beginning of mankind, people have packed up and moved to avoid famine, warfare, religious persecution or (these days anyway) tanking housing markets. But when considering places to relocate, most people don’t think beyond the borders of their own country. When looking for a retirement destination, for instance, most people think “Florida” and rarely do they ever consider “Lithuainia”. But perhaps they’d be better suited to life in Lithuania and just don’t realize it. Because according to Brent Massey, author of Where in the World Do I Belong? Which Country’s Culture Fits Your Myers Briggs Personality Type?, Lithuania (as well as Serbia and Afghanistan) is brimming with creative, innovative and outspoken nonconformists. In fact, he offers up the theory that every country’s culture has a predominant personality type which coincides with one of the 16 personalities first outlined in the famous Myers-Briggs personality assessment model. According to his findings, Americans are hard-working and boisterous extroverts, for example, and Germans are serious, dependable introverts. These are, of course, sweeping generalizations, and the author is first to admit it. Most of the “proof” he offers is based on his personal observations and the opinions of friends and local university exchange students. He profiles 115 different countries but only interviews 400 people, which is hardly a large enough sample size to draw any concrete conclusions from it.
But it’s still an interesting theory. I’ve always felt like a bit of an outsider in my home country and have wondered if perhaps the United States just isn’t a good cultural fit for me. According to Massey, it isn’t. I’m an INFP (a thoughtful, creative introvert who’s flexible and laid-back but easily bored by routine) whereas the predominant personality type in the United States (or at least the one that’s favored by society) is ESTJ (extroverted, detail-oriented and practical). The United States, according to Massey, is my polar opposite and his work would suggest that perhaps I’d be happier in Nepal or Burma. While I won’t be be mail-order-brideing myself to a Burmese rice farmer anytime soon, it’s certainly something to think about.
The following are descriptions of some of the 16 personality types, along with the countries Massey felt best corresponded with them.
If you’re unsure of your pesonality type, you can take a shortened version of the personality test on the this website. You’ll then receive a four-letter code that summarizes the way you interact with people, process information and perceive the world (E = Extrovert, I = Introvert, N = iNtuition, F = Feeling, T = Thinking and J = Judging). If you don’t see your personality type listed below, it’s because Massey wasn’t able to find a country that matched it (it looks like some people are destined to feel like outsiders no matter where they live!)
What do you think? Are some personality types more dominant in certain cultures than in others?
ESFP -The Entertainer
Personality Description: ESFP’s are spontaneous, optimistic and enjoy being the center of attention. They are also out-going, social and crave excitement. An ESFP is a true ‘people-person’ and dislikes being alone. Although ESFP’s prefer to avoid activities that require analytical or theoretical thinking, they have a practical side that make them skilled problem-solvers.
Country Matches: Mexico, Guatemala, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Portugal, Romania, Greece, Malta, Turkey, Tibet, Australia, Bangladesh, Thailand, New Zealand, The Dominican Republic, South Africa, Melanesia Soloman Islands, Cyprus, Sri Lanka, American Samoa, Tanzania
ESTJ – The Overseer
Personality Description: Practical, straight-forward, honest and task-focused, ESTJ’s are natural-born leaders. They love to take charge and are skilled at planning and implementing new ideas. They’re fondness for rules and procedures, however, can sometimes lead people to see them as insensitive, especially because they tend to apply logic and reason to situations where other people’s feelings are involved. They’re self-confident and aggressive and have strong convictions and beliefs about the world, which, if they aren’t careful, can sometimes lead them to becoming too critical, rigid and narrow-minded. Outgoing and outspoken, they’re friendly and fun to be around and strive to create a secure and tradition-based environment for themselves and their families. Some psychologists have speculated that George W. Bush is an ESTJ.
Country Matches: USA, England, Austria, Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia, the Netherlands
ENFP – The Advocate
Personality Description: You could say that ENFP’s are in love with life. They’re enthusiastic, optimistic idealistic risk-takers who possess a zest and excitement for all of the possibilities life has to offer. They’re easily bored by routine and tasks that require attention to detail and have trouble with task-completion. They prefer the planning-stages of projects. While they’re warm and personable and talented at motivating and inspiring people to action, they can also fall into the trap of idolizing others, which can lead to disappointment when that person or situation doesn’t live up to their expectations. They’re skilled at seeing multiple possibilities and this, combined with their need for excitement and change, can make it difficult for ENFP’s to remain in relationships. They often have numerous careers in their lifetimes, which can sometimes cause people to see ENFP’s as aimless or scattered. But they’re very values-driven and are on a constant quest to find meaning in their lives as well as inner peace. ENFP’s are excellent verbal communicators and in the hands of a manipulative ENFP, this skill can be used to con or deceive people. But due to ENFP’s highly-evolved value systems, this is a rare occurrence.
Country Matches: Ireland, Italy, Denmark, Brazil, Bulgaria, Belize, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Georgia, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan and India
ENFJ – The Mentor
Personality Description: ENFJ’s are charming, self-confident, honest and sensitive and have a knack for being able to ‘read’ people. They tend to place the needs of others before their own and feel happiest when helping or nurturing people. They’re generous, extremely social and place a high value on their personal relationships. They can also be sensitive to criticism and because they tend to see everything from a human angle, are not good at working strictly with facts and figures. Former president of the French Republic, François Mitterrand, was thought to have been an ENFJ.
Country Matches: Greenland, Ghana, French-Speaking Canada, French-Speaking Belgium
ENTP – The Visionary
Personality Description: ENTP’s are quick-thinkers and love to debate. They love to analyze ideas and are constantly in search of ways to improve the world they live in. They’re resourceful, extremely clever, innovative and curious which makes them great entrepreneurs, inventors or lawyers. They’re quick to assess a situation, recognize a pattern and then come up with a solution. But sometimes this logical approach to decision-making can cause ENTPs to overlook the human-side of the equation and hurt people’s feelings.
Country Matches: Lithuania, Serbia, Afghanistan
ISTJ – The Duty Fulfiller
Personality Description: According to research referenced in his book, Massey claims that this personality type often suffers the most from the effects of culture shock and have trouble adjusting to life abroad.
ISTJ’s possess a strong understanding of the differences between right and wrong. They are extremely thorough and once they’ve begun a project, they won’t feel satisfied until they’ve successfully completed it. They are serious, quiet, goal-oriented and extremely focused. They can concentrate for long periods of time and are generally successful at anything they put their mind to.
Although very responsible and dependable, among friends, ISTJ’s have been known to have an an odd sense of humor. They are loyal friends and believe above all else, in organization and in upholding traditions. George Washington is thought to have been an ISTJ.
Country Matches: Germany, Finland, Estonia, Switzerland
INFP – The Dreamer
Personality Description: INFP’s easily adapt to new situations and are flexible and laid-back. That is, until a value they hold dear is challenged, then they can become quite aggressive. They’re loyal, reflective, idealistic and creative with a highly-developed skill for the written language. They never lose their sense of wonder and are curious and keen observers, with an intense desire to understand and help others. They don’t place high importance in the mundane details of every day life and are at their best when allowed to devote themselves fully to a cause or activity that they feel passionate about. INFP’s are perfectionists and this can make it difficult for them to see the value in their own accomplishments. William Shakespeare has been labeled an INFP as has Jacqueline Kennedy and Helen Keller.
Country Matches: Nepal and Burma
ISFP – The Artist
Pesonality Description: Extremely creative and with highly-developed senses, ISFP’s make great artists. Independent, quiet and often private people, ISFP’s can be difficult to get to know. But ISFP’s are caring, sensitive individuals and very loyal friends.
Country Matches: Dutch-Speaking Belgium, China, Cambodia, Micronesia, Lichtenstein, Slovakia
ESFJ – The Caregiver
Personality Description: ESFJ take things quite literally and base decisions on concrete facts. They’re warm-hearted, conscientious and responsible. They frequently place the needs of others before their own. They excel at activities that require an eye for detail and thrive in structured, controlled environments. They dislike uncertainty and prefer to live a life steeped in the traditions upheld by their communities. They desire acceptance and praise from others and although ESFJ’s can be generous, they give with an expectation of receiving acknowledgement in return. They are sensitive and tend to get their feelings hurt quite easily, but this sensitivity is also what makes them exceptionally good at bringing the best out in people.
Country Matches: English-Speaking Canada, Costa Rica, Ukraine, Namibia, Uganda, Taiwan and South Korea
ISFJ – The Defender
Personality Description: ISFJ’s are traditional and kind-hearted and place emphasis on maintaining a harmonious and cooperative living environment. Their loyalty, observational skills, sensitivity and hyper-vigilance is what has earned this personality type the title of “Defender”.
ISFJ’s have rich inner worlds but tend to shy away from expressing their feelings. This can lead to frustration or depression if they don’t have an outlet for their intense emotions. They’re very sensitive to criticism and can be very hard on themselves when they make mistakes. They also have a difficult time saying ‘no’ to people.
ISFJ’s take their responsibilities very seriously and for this reason are very dependable. They have excellent memories and are detail-oriented. But perhaps their best trait is their sensitivity to the feelings of others and ability to always see the best in people. Mother Theresa was said to have been an ISFJ.
Country Matches: Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Laos, Latvia and Sweden
ENTJ – The Executive
Personality Description: ENTJ’s are confident, opinionated, competitive, ambitious and analytical, which is what makes them ideal personalities for leadership roles. They have a natural ability to absorb and analyze large amounts of information and then make quick, often accurate assessments. They have a low tolerance for inefficiency or for people who don’t share their same perspective. Sometimes they can come across as overbearing or aggressive but they genuinely love people, are excellent conversationalists and can be quite sentimental at times.
Country Matches: France, Jordan