By James Fisher
A bit about my background: I’ve been practicing typology for 10 years. I have attended several of the major conferences and interacted with many of the top names in the field first-hand. Based on my experience, I’d definitely say that CelebrityTypes is better and more knowledgeable when it comes to typology than 90% of the field. They also have some pervasive shortcomings though, which I’ll attempt to set straight in this article.
Before I go on to criticize them, I’ll list a few of the things which they’ve generally done right.
- CelebrityTypes understands the functions (and how to apply them) better than almost everyone else. When you see or hear someone ranting about how bad CelebrityTypes is, you can generally be sure that it’s a newbie hobbyist with a weak grasp of function-based typology. A lot of the work they do is well-researched and demonstrates a good understanding of how to apply the functions in a way that is appropriate (whereas a lot of the “function-based” typology you see online is just awful).
- CelebrityTypes understands that sensors are numerous in the world, and that they can be just as creative and smart as intuitors. With CelebrityTypes, you also often see and hear people whining because someone they look up to is an S. They think that someone creative or smart couldn’t possibly be an S type. Now actually, a lot of type professionals, such as e.g. Linda Berens, also defend Ss in similar ways, but too often it’s all just lip service. CelebrityTypes means it, and they understand how there’s no contradiction involved in someone like Steve Jobs being an STP (though I think ESTP and they think ISTP), or Bob Dylan being an ISFP (I agree with them there).
Now that I have noted some of the good things about CelebrityTypes, let’s get on with my criticisms of the things that they do wrong in my opinion.
1: CelebrityTypes Use E/I in Ways that Defy Reality
Basing itself on the classic (predominantly European) works on typology, CelebrityTypes often construes E/I as a matter of consciousness, and not as the quality of being outgoing or naturally social. I have no doubt that this consciousness-focused way of determining E/I was the one advocated by Jung, von Franz, and van der Hoop, but as a matter of pure simplicity, I think it’s fairly obvious that the more modern (and predominantly American) way of determining E/I is both more scientifically defensible and more in line with what’s actually there. Now, I know that CelebrityTypes uses a function-based approach which (taken in isolation) means that someone who seems introverted can still lead with Ne, Se, Te, or Fe. But the thing is, I use a function-based approach too – I just don’t believe that an extroverted function can somehow be introverted or vice versa. It just doesn’t make sense.
As an example, take Bill Gates. Now CelebrityTypes has correctly identified him as an NTJ (even while lots of other type professionals labor under the mistaken view that he is INTP). That’s really the difference between understanding the functions and understanding stereotypes pegged to the functions. People seem to see the squeaky voice and nerdy demeanor and then peg that to inferior Fe or whatever. But if you follow his cognitive processes, there’s just no Ti-Ne there.
Gates: “How do you make [a philanthropic foundation] work? You come up with objectives! 10 million children die each year from diseases they shouldn’t die of. So you say, ‘Ok, 15 years from now, that number should be 2 million.’ And we’ll measure ourselves according to whether that takes place.”
Gates: “Some people argue that standardized tests distort the learning experience – that teachers will ‘just teach to the test’ – and that tests don’t measure creativity. … But it seems to me that well-designed tests in science and math are useful in determining proficiency. Teaching students to pass such tests is a good thing. Creativity is important too, but in fields such as, say, economics or nursing, first you need to be able to do the math. No one is so creative that the person is a good nurse although unable to do the division needed to figure the right dosage of medication to give a patient.”
I can understand why CelebrityTypes might think that Te comes first, if you only listen to the things Gates is saying and try to peg that to the functions in a vacuum. But you have to factor in the demeanor and speed of response as well. If you do, Gates is plainly an INTJ, and not an ENTJ as CelebrityTypes has said.
CelebrityTypes doesn’t always get E/I wrong. It’s mostly when an overly scholastic approach to the functions collide with what is obviously there in terms of social gregariousness or reserve. But overall, I’d say that’s bad enough. They must factor in more of reality.
2: CelebrityTypes Is Too Eager to Branch out into Other Psychological Theories
Often when CelebrityTypes is wrong it’s not because their expertise is wrong, but because they don’t stick with typology but try to branch out into other psychological territories like “personality styles” and so on (though thankfully not the Enneagram!). Their argument is that there are different areas of the personality that are better explained by different theories, or that the different theories describe different areas of the personality. But in my 10 years of typing people, I have never really needed supplementary theories like that. The theory of types is so comprehensive that it can easily encompass things like “narcissistic traits”, “avoidant traits” or whatever. There is no need to use two different models to explain the same person when you can use typology to make sense of it all. Often I find that when CelebrityTypes is wrong is wrong about someone, it’s because they are using all these other models, instead of just focusing on type. For example, Kanye West is not really an Fe type with “narcissistic traits”, but an ISFP who gets angry when his Fi is violated. The world isn’t always as complex as people think.
3: CelebrityTypes Makes Extraordinary Claims with Abandon
If you just go to CelebrityTypes and check out their list of celebrities, you’d get the impression that men and women were innocuously distributed among all the types. However, this is not the case in reality. In 10 years of practicing typology, I’ve seen men of every type, but I have never seen an NTP or NTJ woman with my own eyes. Yet CelebrityTypes seems to think it’s pretty common. I’ve even researched some of their alleged NTP or NTJ women, but every time I did it turned out that the person in question was not one of those types. By this point, I seriously believe that if someone wants to argue that a woman is one of these types, then extraordinary proof is required. And I don’t think I’ve seen any, not even from CelebrityTypes.
In general, I think there are a lot of fake NTs in circulation. Both online and in the offline typology world. Now, males are too eager to claim the NT status too, but it is especially the question of NT women that is vexed. I think it’s a sweet little politically correct daydream that these nice entertainer girls from Hollywood could be NT too, because they’re your idols and if they can, so can you. But feeling good about yourself in that way has little to do with reality. And extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Why would someone who is genuinely an NT seek out something as vapid as Hollywood? In general, if they are to be found, I’d say they are probably to be found in technology and science.
So to sum up, to be a better typing site, CelebrityTypes should:
- Don’t use consciousness-based E/I, but use a demeanor-based approach instead.
- Don’t try to explain the type with other psychological theories. Stick to typology and find the best-fit type based on what you see.
- Don’t make politically correct claims like “Hollywood entertainer X is an NT woman” without extraordinary supporting evidence.
I truly believe that if CelebrityTypes corrected these three things about itself, it’d be a better site.