We'd like to think the American Dream holds room for everyone to make big bucks, regardless of innate qualities like personality. But some new data from Truity Psychometrics suggests the contrary: Your Myers-Briggs personality type correlates with how much money you earn. Specifically, traits of extroversion, sensing, thinking, and judging all predict higher incomes. And the difference is remarkable: Introverted, sensing, and perceiving individuals (ISPs) make an average of $32,000/year, while those with an extroverted, sensing, thinking, judging (ESTJ) personality type come out on top with a whopping $77,000/year.
The authors of the study suggest that these differences may be largely due to different likelihoods of holding managerial roles. Extroverts, sensors, thinkers, and judgers managed more people on average and also made more money than introverts, intuitives, feelers, and perceivers, respectively.
However, if you're an introvert, your prospects of holding managerial roles are not hopeless. A study currently in progress in the U.K. has found so far that introverts in high positions at a marketing firm received equal performance reviews to extroverts and did not feel drained because their workplace has implemented "restorative resources" — quiet places to relax after giving presentations or participating in meetings. So, if you're an introvert struggling through your weekly all-hands updates, the problem may be with your office rather than you.
The authors of the study also theorize that since about two-thirds of ESTJs — the highest-earning group — are men, who earn more on average than women, gender may be causing this gap in addition to personality. However, gender cannot be held entirely accountable because similar correlations existed when men and women were considered separately. Interestingly, these separate sets of results showed larger variation among men, with an average of $30,000/year for INTPs versus $95,000/year for ESTJs, than women, whose average salaries ranged from $39,000/year for INFPs to $80,000/year for ENTJs.
What the authors don't explore is how gender, personality type, and wage are intertwined. Asking whether differences in income are due to personality or gender overlooks how personality is gendered. We as a culture cultivate more extrovert-like qualities, such as assertiveness and competitiveness, in men than women and then privilege these "masculine" traits when we seek people to fill leadership roles. Other research has shown that women are more timid about asking for raises, which may be symptomatic of introverted qualities we conversely encourage in women. It would be interesting to see future studies that, rather than trying to tease apart gender and personality as two separate factors determining income, explore how we may disadvantage women through cultural limitations on what personality traits they can demonstrate, as well as how we may disadvantage both men and women with "feminine" traits by associating "masculine" ones with leadership.
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