I recently read an article on slate.com entitled “What Psychological Personality Tests Reveal about Clinton, Obama, and McCain.” According to this writer’s speculations, Clinton is an ESTJ, or a “Guardian,” someone who is “steadfast, cautious, methodical.” Obama is an ENFP, or a “Champion,” someone who can easily motivate people around them through their enthusiasm and idealism. McCain is an ESTP, or an “Artisan,” someone who needs to have a piece of the action. (Coincidentally, the current president is also an ESTP.)

This reminded me of taking the Myers-Briggs personality test while I was in graduate school. It became a way to link composition students personalities to their learning styles, of helping them identify their own strengths and weaknesses as students. We instructors also took the test to try out the linkage for ourselves.

With this in mind, I took an online version of a similar test. According to this test, I am an ISTJ. Here’s how one website describes ISTJs:

ISTJs are often called inspectors. They have a keen sense of right and wrong, especially in their area of interest and/or responsibility. They are noted for devotion to duty. Punctuality is a watchword of the ISTJ. The secretary, clerk, or business(wo)man by whom others set their clocks is likely to be an ISTJ.

As do other Introverted Thinkers, ISTJs often give the initial impression of being aloof and perhaps somewhat cold. Effusive expression of emotional warmth is not something that ISTJs do without considerable energy loss.

ISTJs are most at home with “just the facts, Ma’am.” They seem to perform at highest efficiency when employing a step-by-step approach. Once a new procedure has proven itself (i.e., has been shown “to work,”) the ISTJ can be depended upon to carry it through, even at the expense of their own health.

ISTJs are easily frustrated by the inconsistencies of others, especially when the second parties don’t keep their commitments. But they usually keep their feelings to themselves unless they are asked. And when asked, they don’t mince words. Truth wins out over tact. The grim determination of the ISTJ vindicates itself in officiation of sports events, judiciary functions, or an other situation which requires making tough calls and sticking to them.

His SJ orientation draws the ISTJ into the service of established institutions. Home, social clubs, government, schools, the military, churches — these are the bastions of the SJ. “We’ve always done it this way” is often reason enough for many ISTJs. Threats to time-honored traditions or established organizations (e.g., a “run” on the bank) are the undoing of SJs, and are to be fought at all costs.

This seems to describe me fairly well. I can certainly seem aloof at first, and I definitely have a sense of right and wrong, especially when it comes to following prescribed rules and procedures. I also have an “institutional” way of thinking.

According to another website, this makes mevery similar to Hillary Clinton. We’re both “Guardians:”

GUARDIAN SJs, being CONCRETE in communicating and COOPERATIVE in implementing goals, can become highly skilled in LOGISTICS. Thus their most practiced and developed intelligent operations are often supervising and inspecting (SJT adminstering), or supplying and protecting (SJF conserving). And they would if they could be magistrates watching over these forms of social facilitation. They are proud of themselves in the degree they are reliable in action, respect themselves in the degree they do good deeds, and feel confident of themselves in the degree they are respectable. In search of security as they are the “Security Seeking Personality” — trusting in legitimacy and hungering for membership. They are usually stoical about the present, pessimistic about the future, fatalistic about the past, and their preferred time and place is the past and the gateway. Educationally they go for commerce, avocationally for regulations, and vocationally for materiel work. They tend to be enculturating as parents, helpmates as spouses, and conformity oriented as children. There are even more Guardians than Artisans around, at least 40% and as many as 45% of the population.

I LOVE to supervise! The only criticism I received on my preschool report card, for example, was that I organized the other children’s activities during playtime and rigidly enforced their assigned activities — if I told them to play with blocks instead of in the toy kitchen, they had better play with blocks!

Here’s what one more website says about ISTJs:

ISTJs direct their energy towards the inner world of ideas and information. They try to clarify concepts and information, seeking to have as clear a knowledge as possible. They often place a lot of trust in experience, but also envisage future goals providing there is a clear pathway to that goal.

The Dominant function is the perceptive one of Sensing. Characteristics associated with this function include:

  • Likes looking at information in terms of facts and details
  • Focuses more on the here and now rather than possibilities for the future
  • Feels comfortable in areas of proven experience
  • Takes a realistic approach

The perceptive Sensing function is introverted. That is, Sensing is used primarily to govern the inner world of thoughts and emotions. The ISTJ will therefore:

  • Seek to develop a realistic understanding of the world as it is, in the light of what he/she observes
  • Be pragmatic in nature, constantly learning to adapt to the world as it is now
  • Observe in a subjective way, selecting and relating facts that others would not, and seeing those facts more in terms of impressions and significance than pure fact

The Sensing function is primarily supported by extraverted Thinking judgement, That is, Thinking judgement is used primarily to manage the outer world of actions and spoken words. This will modify the way that the Sensing is directed, by:

  • focusing the (inner world) Sensing on impersonal facts and logical options
  • tending to spot flaws and injustices
  • making decisions on the basis of logical analysis that support the ISTJ’s understanding of the world.

In a team environment, the ISTJ can contribute by:

  • working hard and efficiently to complete tasks by the deadlines set
  • sorting ideas and identifying those that are most practical
  • applying a common sense approach to problem solving
  • maintaining team focus on the objective
  • contributing practical organisational skills
  • applying procedures and methodologies
  • applying relevant and realistic logical arguments

The potential ways in which an ISTJ can irritate others include:

  • focusing too much on the current task at the expense of longer term or interpersonal issues
  • not articulating his/her understanding of the situation
  • not seeing the wood for the trees
  • being too serious
  • seeming to be inflexible
  • not encouraging others to experiment or innovate
  • not promoting his/her own ideas or achievements

I think this all explains a lot about me! Maybe I should wear a pin or something to my next faculty or committee meeting that proclaims my personality type. Maybe something like: “Don’t hate me just because I’m an ISTJ!”

I almost forgot to mention that George H. W. Bush is an ISTJ! Maybe this explains why I see Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith as a roadmap to becoming department chair! (If any of my colleagues are reading this, I officially want to proclaim that I’m just kidding!) I previously wrote that I am Hilliary Clinton. I guess I’m George W. H. Buh too!