Each of the MBTI personality types is known for specific characteristics, some of them not very flattering, and the ESFP personality type is no different. Unfortunately, this type is usually portrayed as a hedonistic partier, with little interest or capacity for intellectual thought or pursuits. And as with any stereotype, this idea is usually wrong. The ESFP has a unique connection to the world around them, and to life, that can sometimes lead to hedonism. But more typically, it leads to an in-depth study of the physical world, and an understanding of it that few other personality types can match. Because of the stereotypes about ESFPs, they’re not often thought of in connection with academia. They’re most often portrayed as artists or athletes, with little interest in formal learning. This may have some truth to it, but isn’t always the case. For all those ESFPs out there who think they don’t have the capacity for structured learning, or who want some ideas to make the process easier, we’ve created this easy guide to the ESFP in academia.
The ESFP Learning Style
The ESFP personality type is present focused, concrete and learns through interacting with people and the world around them. This is due to their dominant function 1, Extroverted Sensing, which understands the external world to a near genius level. It also makes most ESFPs kinesthetic learners, which means that they learn by doing. This function allows them to understand many hands-on subjects to amazing degrees, which is the reason why so many of them are amazing artists, actors, or musicians. This is also why ESFPs are often found in fields that involve practical physical skills such as nursing, massage therapy, and other medical fields. When an ESFP can see a practical use for skills or information, they’re voracious learners, and many of them have a wide variety of skills that they’ve picked up along their path to understanding the world. But most of all, ESFPs need to enjoy what they’re doing to learn it. Their auxiliary or secondary function is introverted feeling 2, which means that they make decisions based on how they feel. So if they don’t enjoy a subject, or like learning a skill, they’re likely to be very frustrating and restless students.
The ESFPs Learning Challenges
The ESFP uses their senses to interact with the external world and this can often be a drawback when it comes to formal learning. The idea of sitting in a chair and learning abstract facts with no apparent connection to the real world can seem ridiculous and incomprehensible to this personality type. This is partly because their inferior function is introverted intuition, a function which thrives on this type of information 3. But for ESFPs, this function is a weakness, which often causes them to outright dislike abstract ideas. And once their emotions disengage from a project or subject, they usually find it incredibly difficult to learn. Another learning challenge for ESFPs is their desire to experience the world in all its variety and beauty. Unfortunately, this means they often prefer novelty over the familiar, which can make it difficult for this type to focus on learning for long periods without getting distracted. This novelty preference combined with the ESFP tendency to live in the present often makes them reluctant to set and commit to long term goals of any type. And it can make achieving those goals extremely problematic.
High School and the ESFP
ESFPs often thoroughly enjoy high school, but not because of the classes. Sitting at a desk for eight hours usually bores and frustrates ESFPs, and learning isolated and abstract facts in a bland classroom makes everything worse. This means that they’re easily bored by the typical classroom setting, and will sometimes set themselves up as clowns to entertain their classmates as well as themselves. This can set them at odds with authority figures and even negatively affect their learning. Unfortunately, because schools and teachers today don’t usually cater for the unique needs of this personality type, ESFPs often struggle in high school. But it’s a different story for the ESFPs when it comes to their social life in high school. Surrounded by their peers, encouraged to learn and explore, this is where their boundless energy and enthusiasm shine. In fact, they’re often the center of any social group with their adaptable and easy-going personalities and willingness to try anything once. The teen years is also when their dominant function tends to develop, which drives this exploration that serves them so well socially, but can be a barrier when it comes to their schooling.
ESFPs and Higher Education
When it comes to college and higher learning, ESFPs usually do best when they focus on subjects that have a practical application. This often leads them to trade schools rather than colleges, where they can use their amazing physical skills to master pretty much any skill they’re interested in. But they also do well in professions that require a college degree as long as they can see a practical use for it, and are really interested in it. So as an ESFP, avoid choosing a degree because of external pressures, and choose something you really want to do instead. This will help you to stay with it until you can reap the rewards. Another issue that often comes up for ESFPs at college is their focus on the present moment. This personality type aren’t natural long term planners, and the idea of planning for the future, or committing to a degree for an extended period of time, is extremely difficult for them. Once in the college environment, with its freedoms and choices, ESFPs may flounder when it comes to this type of long term thinking. Though ESFPs may struggle with focusing on college, they’ll usually love the social aspects of it. College is a time for exploration and freedom, and this is what ESFPs love the most. They often become known as the life of the party, the person who’s up for anything and is always guaranteed to have fun. This means that their social calendars will always be full, but it can be very detrimental to their schooling. This is the major challenge for ESFPs at this age when they’re still developing and learning about the world. They need to find a way to balance their learning with their social needs and their need to experience everything if they want success at this level.
Most of the stereotypes that spring up around Myer Briggs Types are wrong. The idea that one personality type, ESFPs for instance, are always party animals with little intellectual interest or skills, is a gross misunderstanding of this personality type and of the Myer Briggs system. Always curious and eager to learn new skills, ESFPs have their own unique form of intelligence that doesn’t always fit with established learning systems, but is no less valid for that. And like with all the other personality types, when they find what they’re really interested in and passionate about, their intelligence clearly shows through.
- “Podcast – Episode 0094 – ESFP Personality Type Advice“. (Retrieved Dec 2017).
- “The inferior function“. (Retrieved Dec 2017).
- “This ESFP personality type’s strengths and weaknesses“. (Retrieved Dec 2017).
- “ESFP – The Performer“.
- The dominant cognitive function is the way the individual interacts with and experiences the world. This dominant function means that the ESFPs have senses that are heightened compared to other types as well as an excellent awareness of their body, which makes them physically graceful and adept at any activity that requires physical skills.
- The secondary or auxiliary function is the decision making function. This is what determines the criteria an individual uses to make choices. This type usually makes decisions based on how the choices make them feel.
- The inferior function is basically the blind spot. It’s the individual’s weakness and can unconsciously affect many of their decision and voices. It can also appear when the individual is under stress, causing chaos or destructive behaviors.