By Boye Akinwande
Taylor Swift is among a number of people featured on CelebrityTypes.com whose type is disputed because of a conception of the Fe function as a rigidly defined adherence to social conventions and expression of common sentiments. Going by this conception, the suggestion that people like Carl Jung, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Kanye West are Fe types (as CelebrityTypes has suggested) has been dismissed, whereas Taylor Swift, who does have that persona, is considered one. It is my contention that some of what people attribute to a more conscious Fe function than the tertiary one of ESTPs is really a result of her dominant Se, particularly when it comes to the interpersonal warmth and expression of shared sentiments we see from her. Before discussing Swift’s personality any further, I would like to briefly but clearly differentiate between the two functions.
Fe types are no doubt harmonizers inclined to extend their warmth to others, but the aim of the Fe function is not to just throw themselves at, and automatically adopt, the sentiments of others, as it sometimes gets portrayed. As an extroverted judgment function it seeks an ideal in which the people and cultures that the person cares about are aligned on the basis of sentiment. They desire mutual adherence to a consistent set of principles in order to truly attain the ideal and ultimately want to situate themselves and others as part of the common bond required for an ontologically harmonious order.
Se, by contrast, is an extroverted perception function that doesn’t seek to shape the current object, but to be aware of it in the most direct way possible and to magnify it. By engaging themselves with the relevant and essential objects perceived by everyone else, one could say Se types more naturally inhabit the collective mind than Fe types. As said, establishing themselves or others as part of a more cohesive and ordered collective mind is often the goal of Fe types, but their introverted perceptions that give them a blueprint for how the world should be may leave them far from it. Seeing as how they can keep up with the most current and prevailing sentiments, Se types may even surpass Fe types in the warmth they extend to others. Many of the presidents and prime ministers of the world have been ESPs, as they are able to appeal to a large demographic and flexibly make the most out of the current situation. Se types are often very singular and direct in pursuit of their goals, making them appear as extroverted judgment types, but through examining the history of their ideas it becomes clear that they are less consistent, more freely adapting themselves to the unordered ever-changing object.
So where does that leave us with Taylor Swift?
Placing Taylor Swift in the context of the background I’ve provided, it seems that her interpersonal warmth and connection with people need not be attributed to her Fe only. In fact, we can even attribute it to dominant Se. Taylor Swift is less interested in cementing herself as part of a community in accordance with a constant set of ideals and more interested in the current unordered object, freely pursuing what’s popular at the moment and magnifying it for the world to see.
I think one of the more salient examples of this is in that, compared to other celebrities, her inter-celebrity network is far more expansive, and she seems to be quite public about it. As the Rolling Stone magazine has put it, “Taylor Swift collects cool friends like Pokémon,” and as Vanity Fair has said, “there is nary a female celebrity who hasn’t made an appearance in a Taylor Swift Instagram” (emphasis in the original).
I also believe the trajectory of her music is quite indicative of a strong cultural empiricism likely linked to her Se and Fe (in that order). She entered the music industry as a country artist and increasingly has become more of a pop artist, finally declaring her most recent album, 1989, as pure pop in what appears to be an effort to appeal to a larger audience. Also connected in her attempts, Swift announced publicly that she knew every word of Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Backstreet Freestyle’ – Lamar being not so coincidentally one of the most critically acclaimed lyricists in Hip Hop today. She ended up featuring him and her many celebrity friends in the video for the 4th single off of 1989, “Bad Blood”.
The following are some of Swift’s remarks regarding the process of making 1989 and following the tour for 1989:
“Well the first thing we started with was everything I’ve done, every decision I’ve ever made I wanted to flip it and do the opposite for this tour.” – Swift: A Relationship? No One’s Going to Sign up For This
”I like to switch up what people are seeing. You have to switch it up because people get bored, more easily in 2015 than ever before.” – Swift: A Relationship? No One’s Going to Sign up For This
“People realized songs didn’t have to be this standard drums-guitar-bass-whatever. We can make a song with synths and a drum pad. We can do group vocals the entire song. We can do so many different things. And I think what you saw happening with music was also happening in our culture, where people were just wearing whatever crazy colors they wanted to, because why not? There just seemed to be this energy about endless opportunities, endless possibilities, endless ways you could live your life. And so with this record, I thought, ‘There are no rules to this. I don’t need to use the same musicians I’ve used, or the same band, or the same producers, or the same formula. I can make whatever record I want.'” – Eells: Taylor Swift Reveals Five Things to Expect on ‘1989’
To those who think Swift is some stripe of SFJ type, I counter that it would be quite unlikely to show the same level of excitement in trying out something completely new.
1989 has been praised for its inclusion of feminist themes when in prior years she has been criticized for being “boy-crazy.” There are some who may think this recent embrace of feminism should necessarily somehow point to Fe, but it’s important to realize she only embraced feminism when it was already quite popular in the mainstream. It is also worth noting that the feminist themes she does embrace revolve more around personal freedom, which tends to fall more in line with SP values.
 So the typical goal for Fe types is to situate themselves and others as part of a collective mind, even though their corresponding introverted perceptions that give them a blueprint for how the world should be may leave them far from it. This tends to be more so the case with NFJ types. Many believe that their intellectual bent and esoteric ideas necessitate that Ti must be higher among their functions. They are nonetheless NFJs because, more so than NTP types, they make more of an effort to invite people to share in their ideas and present more of a definitive message. NTPs tend to be more caught up in searching for precise truths, holding hands with others to see their ideas enacted less frequently. Even though SFJs tend to fall more in line with public opinion, someone like Kanye West still fits the bill for reasons similar to that mentioned above. There is a strong effort to teach and get others on the same page as him.
- CelebrityTypes: Taylor Swift ESTP Type Assessment CelebrityTypes 2012
- CelebrityTypes: Jung, Myers, Keirsey, etc. on Jung’s Type CelebrityTypes 2013
- Duboff: The Illustrated Guide to Taylor Swift’s BFFs Vanity Fair 2014
- Eells: Taylor Swift Reveals Five Things to Expect on ‘1989’ Rolling Stone 2014
- Moss: Taylor Swift’s Inner Circle Rolling Stone 2014
- Pierce: Jung’s Basic Categories of the Functions CelebrityTypes 2014
- Swift: A Relationship? No One’s Going to Sign up For This Mbc News 2015