Why Barack Obama is ENTP

We admit this one is tricky. We understand that many of you believe that Obama is an NF type, but nonetheless we believe that he is an ENTP (and thus, contrary to popular opinion, not a Feeling type).

Apart from some Keirsians, who believe that Obama is an INTJ, the majority opinion seems to be that Obama is some sort of ENF. So why have we typed him as ENTP? ENFs seek to soothe, while ENTPs play the devil’s advocate and try to stir things up, right? At any rate, the reason Obama certainly isn’t an introvert is that he in no way seeks to insert a buffer between his own psyche and reality as it objectively exists, which is the prime Jungian criterion for introversion.

Certainly, if we look at Obama’s 2008 campaign platform and his message of “Hope” and “A More Perfect Union”, these messages are clearly in accordance with an ENF mindset. But that does not mean that the man himself has ENF preferences. In fact, looking beyond the surface, Obama has some classical ENTP traits, like an elitist, biting humor and an uncompromising disagreeableness in private negotiations. And though he has written two biographical books, central areas of his life (for example, how he came to attend Harvard) are still shrouded in secrecy – Obama, then, is exactly the kind of man who (in the words of Machiavelli) “wears one face in public and another in private.”

To gain some orientation we could ask ourselves: Does Obama introvert Feeling (Fi) or extrovert Feeling (Fe)?

Introverted Feeling (Fi) is subjective and ego-based: It flows from the inner world of the subject’s psyche and is largely independent of the external situation. As such, Fi can seem child-like, self-indulgent, awkward and inappropriate. But to make up for all of this, Fi is sincere.

Extroverted Feeling (Fe) is objective and feeds off the external situation. Fe infuses the subject with the mood of any given situation, enabling the subject to articulate just the right words and sentiments in a given situation, just what people want to hear. The price to pay, however, is that, as Fe is fed off of the external situation (rather than off of the subject’s inner psyche), Fe can be shallow, vague, vapid and insincere – “a means to an end.”

Barack Obama is clearly an person who extroverts Feeling.

Introverted Feeling (Fi) appears in ENFPs.

Extroverted Feeling (Fe) appears in both ENFJs and ENTPs.

So Obama is either an ENFJ or an ENTP.

Which means we should ask ourselves: Is Obama primarily an externally-observing pattern-recognizer (Ne) or an externally-judging mood-articulator (Fe)? We admit that the answer is difficult, yet we firmly believe that Obama is an ENTP who has learned to suppress his Ne to an unusual degree.

In reply to those who insist that Obama’s use of Extroverted Feeling is beyond the range of an ENTP we posit that his use of Introverted Thinking would be equally beyond the range of an ENFJ, even the best of whom, unlike Obama, have to mind a tendency to fall into sloppy logic (because Thinking is their repressed function). The corresponding ENTP shortcoming is their tragicomical trouble with Sensing attention to detail – a case in point being Obama’s notorious inability to hold on to a piece of paper he will be needing shortly, causing his personal assistant never to give it to him until the last possible moment. His ESTJ wife also teases him about his deficiency of Sensing (her own auxiliary function) such as his inability to put together goodie bags for a kid’s birthday party, whereas there is no evidence that she finds his Thinking wanting – and Thinking dominants tend to find all Feelers’ Thinking wanting at some time or another!

Finally, Obama is known for being argumentative and sardonic in private, challenging his associates on the clarity and consistency of their meaning even in smalltalk and enjoying a spirited ribbing. This is the preferred aloof socializing of an ENTP, whereas there are no reports of Obama privately engaging in the emotionally laden bonding that is the preferred intimate behavior of the ENFJ. (See our ENFJ typings for examples of such politicians’ preoccupation with tuning into and mirroring other people’s feelings.)

Update November 2012: When this blog post was first posted, popular knowledge of the cognitive functions was not as widespread as it is today. Therefore we tried to avoid delving too much into function theory when writing this post. Since then, more people have jumped on the bandwagon, and so the need for a “version 2” of this post, relying more explicitly on the cognitive functions, has grown increasingly pertinent. Until we get around to that, however, we would like to add the following remarks to what we said above:

Our typing of Obama as an ENTP is controversial. It is perhaps the single most controversial typing on our site. Reasonable people can disagree over his type.

It is a shame that Jungian typology is out of fashion with the academic establishment, for while the public at large seems very keen on pegging Obama as an (e)NF type, the academic psychologists who have given their guesses with regards to the “Big Five” model tend to score him very low on the trait of Agreeableness: They tend to regard him as a “cold fish”; a cynical (and logical) operator.

The thing that is deceiving about Obama is that he is extremely subdued and thus very much NOT what most people would expect of an Ne-dominant type. However, we still maintain that Ne-Ti-Fe-Si are the functions that make the most sense for him, cognitively.

Behaviorally, though, Obama behaves “like a J”, which again is also something that academic psychologists will attest to. But alas – what we have here then is one of those relatively rare cases where tendencies of cognition and tendencies of behavior diverge. (In a recent interview Obama himself hints at an explanation for this divergence when he says that living a structured life is “not my natural state. … But at some point in my life I overcompensated.”)

As we explain in our Bill Gates video (from ca. 10:00 and onwards), Jungian typology is really not about behavior, which is pretty much the no. 1 reason for mistypings: People tend to look at the person’s behavior, not at the cognition. Indeed, if people would take the time to read Psychological Types, they’d see that cognition is about 90% of the type portraits. Predictions of actual behavior are added to those portraits almost as afterthoughts.

Ok. So far, so good, but what about Obama’s type?

To get closer to the mark, we would like to argue against a counter-claim. Incidentally, many people have criticized our Bill Gates video for doing more to falsify the “Bill Gates is an INTP”-claim than to argue the “Bill Gates is an ENTJ”-claim. This criticism seems to indicate some misunderstanding about how science is supposed to work, since one should actually aim to falsify all claims and then go with the one that resists falsification the best rather than trying to prove the claims that one has already settled on in advance.

Thus, we pick a counter-claim. At this time, the most popular typing of Obama appears to be that of (e)NFJ. Noting that NTPs and NFJs each use Fe-Ti, the central question then becomes: Is Obama an Ni-Se type, or is he an Ne-Si type?

As the people who have read Psychological Types will know, NTPs have objective observations and subjective judgments, that is to say, their observations and information are easy to follow, but their judgments are more ‘internal’ and harder for people who do not themselves prefer Ne-Ti to follow. (Which is all very ironic since NTPs, for the life of them, try to construct judgments that are universally valid, as something that can live on outside themselves [e.g. Kant].)

So Ne-Ti is predominantly external observations and internal judgments. With Ni-Fe it is the other way around. Using an early example of Obama in 1995 as a data point, we note that while his behavior and manner of speaking would, in Big Five terms, point to high Conscientiousness (what could loosely and erroneously be called “J” in terms of Jungian type), his underlying cognition does not point to a preference for judgments that are outwardly directed.

For example, Obama speaks for a very long time about his plight growing up, his lack of proper role models and so on. The length at which he speaks and his dignified seriousness make him appear to be speaking profoundly, but he consistently fails to bottom line his observations (or what an extroverted judger refers to as ‘getting to the point’). He himself does not naturally make it a priority to define what we should be feeling about all this or to formulate any kind of call to action. It is only when the interviewer summarizes his points (05:55) that we start seeing actual extroverted judgment in action. This pattern is repeated throughout the video.

Another point to note is that Obama seems to reject the interviewer’s consistent pitches for Obama to offer his own value judgments or his own subjective observations on the matter. Instead he keeps steering things back onto a track of objective observation, backed by a minimum of analytical information processing. In other words, he is quick to bring the ball back onto the NTP court. Now, the reader may object that Obama simply doesn’t want to talk about “personal stuff”, but this claim is in itself not sufficient to explain his seemingly painless ability to shift into Ne mode and just stay there. For example, at around 7:30 in the Obama in 1995 video Obama launches into a prolonged analysis where he continually stresses a multitude of observations, including non-central ones.

As Myers says, Ne users subject their inner understanding to the outer situation, while Ni users subject the outer situation to their inner understanding. Thus we believe that the observations that we have offered above attest to Obama having a preference for Ne over Ni.


  1. I completely agree. B.O. is no NF.

    Pattern of speech is the dead give away. Most all politicians are T’s.

  2. I understand and see the logic behind this article however, after examining Obama’s work so far, I strongly believe Obama was an INTP who worked to bring out his extrovert, sensing sides. His J side is very strong as well. Why? He relies more on data than the past.

  3. As a native ability of an INTP personality type, this might explain why Obama is a native INTP and NOT an ENTP:

    “INTPs tend to be rather mistrusting of people and are rather sceptical. However, a lot of their trust is based on what the Ne function tells them about somebody. This can lead to a naivity and sometimes to prejudices based on intuitive perceptions of appearence and style. People can be a problem for INTPs: on the one hand they are fascinated by some types of people, especially more extraverted individuals, but a fear of irrational behaviour in others usually leads to caution. Friendship with INTPs develops at a pace which depends considerably on the temperament of the other person. INTPs dislike making the first move and tend to mirror the emotional content of the other person. A jolly person will quickly bring the INTP out of his shell, as much as that is possible, while a serious person will find a serious INTP looking back at him. In this sense, INTPs preference for intuitive perception (rather than action) with respect to people results in them resembling a chameleon. The INTP can fit into many different modes of behaviour, even contradictory ones, in order to get into the mindset of the other person. The goal is to gain enough intuitive data to analyse and assess the person. In doing this, the INTP remains somewhat reserved, never wholly identifying himself with his surroundings. As chameleons, INTPs are therefore approachable and open, unless the Ne tells the INTP that the other person is a type he doesn’t like, in which case the reserved attitude may become too obvious. The chameleon behaviour can be particularly strong when discussing something. The INTP may even argue something that he doesn’t really believe himself. Sometimes it is for the intellectual stimulation that comes with the challenge of arguing from a variety of standpoints. Otherwise, it may be to avoid early conflict before the situation has been fully assessed. Chameleons hide their true selves. INTPs do not do this cynically, or indeed all the time, but it is a result of the strong desire to remain detached and observe.”

    Hiding is in our nature. This is what lets us truly flourish our abilities. Choice to USE the information we gather towards a better solution that does not quite harm others is also an innate ability of ours. Obama has to be a native INTP whose personality forced itself to develop and display the characteristics of ENTP and INTJ.

  4. Only very few people seem to think Obama has SP-preferences, i.e. speaking in Keirsey’s language that would put him in the Artisan Temperament category. I’ve been convinced of this for quite some time and nothing I’ve seen or heard from Obama since he took office has convinced me of anything else. Let me explain.

    Shortly after Barack Obama won the elections I received an e-mail from one of my American trainees who had been in one of my type workshops in March 2008, when in both the Republican and Democratic party the pre-elections were gaining momentum for the final race. My trainee had remembered very well how at some point during the workshop I had explained Temperament Theory and we had discussed David Keirsey’s book “Presidential Temperament” for quite some time. The main topic of Mark’s e-mail was not at all related to type but to process optimization but at the very end he wrote this PS, which I then responded to.

    “P.S. Marc, are you certain that Obama is a Rational? Rationals have never beaten Artisans! I suspect that Obama is an Idealist.”

    “Now let’s talk about Barack Obama’s temperament type for a minute. Am I sure that he is a Rational? Absolutely not, in the same way I’m not at all convinced that McCain is Artisan. Let me explain what I mean but first – at the danger of creating the perception I’m being defensive – I want to say that at the time we had the session in Richmond (March 2008) both McCain and Obama were pretty much unknown quantities to me. What I mean is that I hadn’t really studied and observed either of them until they won their respective pre-elections. This was not the case with Hillary Clinton whom I “knew” a lot better of course. When I said at the time that McCain was Artisan and both Clinton and Obama were Rational, I had taken that information literally and at face-value from the websites of David Keirsey (www.keirsey.com & http://www.personalityzone.com); he is after all the inventor of Temperament Theory.

    I’m certainly not claiming to know more or better than Dr. Keirsey but in actual fact when the real campaigns got on their way I very quickly started having doubts about Obama and McCain; Clinton being Rational was clear to me though. So I started checking some more fora and expert websites and could see that I wasn’t the only one with doubts, particularly about Obama. The thing that makes it awfully difficult to determine politicians’ temperament – which Keirsey repeats time and again – is of course the fact that the large majority of times we see and hear them when they are in a role, when they’re acting and even though they appear to be spontaneous very often they’re not.

    When going to Keirsey’s website you’ll find that even until this day he maintains that Obama is an Inventor Rational, which corresponds to the MBTI type-code ENTP and I’ll admit he does behave like one on many occasions, particularly during his speeches. But on the other hand I read during the final month of Obama’s campaign that his speeches were written by … a 24-year-old Belgian public relations graduate who had joined the campaign team as a volunteer to go canvassing for votes. At some stage Obama’s professional speechwriter was taken seriously ill at a crucial moment in the campaign and many poeple were starting to panic, but this guy from Belgium put his hand up and asked if he could have a go at it. He could and besides having done a great job Obama also liked communicating with this youngster, i.e. the chemistry was optimal, so the kid stayed on as the newly appointed chief speechwriter.

    The interesting thing this fellow said in the newspaper article is that whenever Obama would not be happy with the draft, invariably it would be due to some phrases he found “too idealistic and intangible, too abstract, too far into the future and not down-to-earth enough”. What I find odd about Obama’s reasons for not liking the lines is that I believe Rationals or Idealists would give the same ones, but for LIKING them – not disliking!

    Besides all this there have been a few occasions however, where Obama definitely has been spontaneous and where I believe his true preferences became visible. One was when he was on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno, where he described his bowling style as resembling the Paralympics. Do you really believe an Idealist would make that kind of comment? I didn’t think so either; this was a 100% impulsive answer you would only expect an Artisan to give (and regret it a nano-second later).

    Another example was his conference during his trip to Nicaragua just after he had met Chavez. A reporter asked him to comment on the criticism the perception this visit had created was in conflict with the US-interests. Obama responded by asking anyone to explain “how it can be that a handshake with Mr. Chavez and a brief but positive conversation could jeopardize the USA’s interests in Central America”. That’s not what I would expect a Rational to say. Challenge a Rational about strategy and he’ll be happy to explain why this can’t and won’t not have the negative effects people fear. Rationals eat and breathe strategy but Obama chose a different way asking “show me cold, hard facts and the logic why you think this might backfire against us”. That has “Artisan” written all over!

    Something else that supports my view is the action speed Obama has demonstrated since he took office, starting with the reversal or nullification of 800 decrees his predecessor had issued. Can you in fact recall any other president who in his first 3 months of tenure executed as many specific decisions as Obama has? This quick action-mindedness is also typical for the Artisan, while Rationals usually think a bit longer before acting, and Idealists would first make sure everyone agrees with the plan. Guardians, on the other hand, would first of all try to stabilize organisation, i.e. the country by safeguarding what works and by improving what doesn’t. They would probably not facilitate the momentum for the magnitude of change the country needs, or that people think it needs.

    So in my opinion Barack Obama is an ESTP-Artisan, which is really not very different from the ENTP-Rational that David Keirsey thinks he is.

    Before I finish, a quick word about John McCain, who’s believed to be Artisan but whose behaviour I see fit the Guardian temperament type much better. I’ve heard a lot more traditionalism and conservatism in his statements than I’d expect from an Artisan. How he’s persisted holding up the image that he’s a war-hero is symptomatic of this. And what to think of his speech to acknowledge Obama’s victory. At the end McCain stated that from that moment on he was going to support the new president and called all his voters to do the same. Although this seemed like a noble act by a man standing tall in defeat; the fact is that his own party almost lynched him for saying that. Only one temperament is known to effortlessly demonstrate compliance to the establishment, sense of duty, obedience to a higher authority and respect for rules and regulations and that’s the Guardian.

    Ready for my bottom-line conclusion? Assuming it’s correct that McCain has a Guardian and Obama an Artisan temperament type this would give an interesting twist to history and restore a tradition. According to extensive research the tradition that began in 1900 would go on – that never in the history of the USA, anyone has ever defeated an Artisan presidential candidate.

    Wouldn’t that be very funny?”

  5. Mark: Where do you see Keirsey claiming Obama to be ENTP? Last time we checked, he said INTJ(!) If we can find a link, we’ll update.

  6. “Obama has some classical ENTP traits, like an elitist, biting humor and an uncompromising disagreeableness in private negotiations. And though he has written two biographical books, central areas of his life (for example, how he came to attend Harvard) are still shrouded in secrecy – Obama, then, is exactly the kind of man who ‘wears one face in public and another in private'”

    LOL, which personality types are most easily duped by conspiracy theories that conform to their own personal politics? You might want to zip up; your INTJ is showing!

  7. Process of elimination for me!

    Obama is clearly not an SJ.

    I don’t believe he is an SP either. He is cautious, his improvised speech is often halting, hesitant, and measured, he seems to emphasize intellectual merit over physical prowess, he is an abstract, global, big-picture thinker, and he exhibits none of the ostentatious machismo that many male SPs (especially high powered ones) tend to exhibit.

    Therefore Intuition is one of the top two functions. But does Thinking or Feeling accompany that?

    INFJ/P – As for INFP, I don’t think Obama is Fi dominant. But he seems averse to conflict, seems self-contained and sometimes introverted, seems careful with others’ feelings, seems able to connect with an audience at a visceral level, and seems – or seemed during his first presidential campaign – to hold clearly defined values paramount. Superficially, some of these qualities could be interpreted as a Ni/Fe or Ne/Fi combination. But I would guess those qualities are probably more the product of a public persona and campaign image, or even the influence of an NF mother, than his own personality.

    ENFP – He may be Ne dominant, but Obama shows an emotional restraint and coolness that I think is uncharacteristic of ENFPs. He doesn’t seem to be as verbally fluid in unscripted situations. His approach to political issues isn’t so much to champion or advocate for causes as is typical of ENFPs. He seems more interested in legalistic and policy approaches to addressing issues. I’d say that suggests a Thinking function auxiliary. And a law professor? More likely Ti.
    ENFJ – Doesn’t exhibit Fe dominant.

    NT –
    E/INTJ, I don’t think so. Obama is adaptable, and doesn’t seem rigid in personal or professional matters. His decision-making process is relatively deliberative and egalitarian, he is not a field marshal or introverted systems architect. His leadership style isn’t very decisive. He is socially comfortable, and fluent, if not fluid, in social situations.

    I think it comes down to E/INTP. I think of INTPs as mostly living in their heads, unlike the more externally focused Obama. I believe Obama is more of an intellectual dilettante than we might expect of an INTP.

    So to translate:

    SP: More macho, impulsive, and visceral than Obama.
    NF: More emotive and cause- or value-oriented than Obama.
    ENTJ: More decisive, autocratic, and commanding than Obama.
    INTJ: More intellectual, introverted, and decisive than Obama.
    INTP: More socially awkward, aloof, and abstract than Obama.
    ENTP: Yeah. Much as he sometimes seems have a Feeling function as an auxiliary, I don’t think that’s the case. I think ENTPs can mimic that pretty effectively with their Ne dominant. And much as he seems introverted and self-contained, that may be a well developed Ti auxiliary showing itself.

  8. It is certain that the guy has “Fe” seeking that connection with people as strongly evident. However the problem is that he is not a dominant Fe type, he just lacks the dominant use of it. The guy lets everything walk over him without being able to stand ground with what ever the majority may deem acceptable. This might be my bias viewpoint but its hard to justify the guy as a compete “Fe” user. He lakes “Te”, doesn’t seem to have that orientation towards logic that its out there; It can be clearly be argued otherwise since Dawkins is out there with logic but the thing is that dawkins’ logic has a vibe to it which isn’t “objective” in the whole Jungian sense. Barry just lacks a lead or aux Te for sure; but the even though the Fi argument is weak since the Feeling is somewhat more “objective” out there with out the vibe that Fi has.

    And the question as to whether he is introverted or extroverted is a bit of a simpler one, the guy doesn’t have the subjective lens of any kind oozing in him. He is some kind of extrovert. I would argue that with regards to intuition he definitely has “Ne” lead since he is a procrastinator, he waits there hoping for potential that the GOP can put on a smiley face but that just doesn’t happen. He just kept dreaming and wasting time. Thus somekind of unhealthy ENTP, with a strange Ennegram 2 type.

    This typing was negative but that is the best argument I’ve come up with.

  9. My guess is ESTP. I had a whole post written out on why I think this, but when I registered with Disqus to post it, the whole box went blank. So here is a five point summary

    1. ENTP and ESTP are very similiar. The last quote on David Cameron’s box shows ESTP can be elitist.

    2. Surpressed Ne? How about no Ne? Still keep Ti and Fe out of the inferior postion

    3. Obama like Se things, Basketball, Cigarettes and used to smoke weed, and owns up to it. (George W used his drug use as a way to show how “lost” and far from God he had become, so he showed remorse for doing so and Clinton denied using drugs [i.e. I did not inhale])

    4. Obama moved around a lot as a child, it is possible that this can explain his “coldness”

    5.There is a post by Marc Snebbout in the “Why Barack Obama is ENTP” page that give more examples of why he might be ESTP

  10. ESTP? We’ve certainly never heard that before! :-)

    Regarding his interest in baseball, though:

    “President Obama, in a radio interview at a ballpark, was
    asked if he, as a Chicagoan, preferred the Sox or the Cubs. He claimed
    he was a Sox fan, twice mispronounced the name of Comiskey Park, twice
    referred to the umpire as “the judge,” and, asked for his favorite White
    Sox, past or present, could not come up with one name.” – David
    Mamet, The Secret Knowledge, Sentinel, Penguin, 2011, p.217

  11. es, but this can be attributed to him being a politician having to answer a question about something he does not actually care about. He can’t just say “I’m not a fan of either.” Especially in a town with two MLB teams. People in this country value sports to much, showing a lack of disinterest in something people care about isn’t something any politician would do.

    However, Obama cares about basketball, He had the outdoor tennis court in the White House turned into a basketball court. Type “Obama and basketball” into Google you will find pictures of him playing the sport. About a year ago the president had to get stitches on his lip from a pickup game he was playing one day.

    Some links to shows his love of the sport:
    1. [incomplete link removed by admin]

    He invites one of the best players the country has to play with him, and he appears to be very competitive

    2. [incomplete link removed by admin]

    Shows he has had a life long interest in this sport. Not something he did to make him more appealing to the people of Chicago.

    3. [incomplete link removed by admin]

    Some pictures of him playing the sport.

    4. [incomplete link removed by admin]

    Reference for my claim that he had to get stitches.

    5. [incomplete link removed by admin]

    Reference for my outdoor tennis court to basketball court claim. The article also claims he had “rituals” during the primaries. Most athletes have their pre-game rituals as well.

    If you think he is simply too rigid and stiff to resemble a normal ESTP, the quote at the top of the page might explain why “My wife makes fun of how routinized I’ve become. It’s not my natural state. … But at some point in my life I overcompensated.”

  12. Barack Obama is a fairly classic male INFJ. This would be more obvious if this type wasn’t so rare amongst men.

    Introversion – Those who have known him well have described him as an introvert. Furthermore, as a politician, both his allies and adversaries have criticized him for this trait. The “aloof” characteristic he if often charged with is common in INxx types.

    Intuition – Most of his focus and speeches are future and big-picture oriented. He seems to have a vision and that he’s trying to communicate that vision to anyone he can. Also, his pause before answering question is very characteristic of intuition types which are directed inwards. Can’t see too much debate on this letter.

    Feeling – Most of his decisions seem to be attributed to humanistic causes. When that’s his push for healthcare reform (wasn’t logical here) or using the term “empathy” as a requirement for someone being a member of the supreme court (he choose two women). He seem motivated by growth in people more than organizational growth.

    Judging – Obama may not have the organization when it comes to mundane things like SJ types. But he is quite orderly in terms of his ideas, visions, and future directions. While he takes his time, when he makes a decision, he sticks to it very rigidly and wants it implemented.

    When looking at cognitive functions, he certainly demonstrates: Ni-Fe-Ti-Se in that order.

    Some may say an “NF” type would not be so interested in sports. If you look at QBs in the NFL, “NF” types are definitely overrepresented compared to the general population (esp the general male population). “NF” male types appear to have more interest in sports (esp team sports) than “NT” males.

  13. When I first read this note about Obama being ENTP I was surprised for about ten seconds then it became obvious that it’s correct. All his behavior that didn’t match ENFJ came to an explanation that really fits. I’ve discussed it with a near colleague and friend (ENTP himself) and got even more convinced. Since I used MBTI for more than ten years I’m stil amazed that there are so much more to learn.

  14. I am an ENTP and it seems pretty transparent to me that Obama is an ENTP. I could explain at length, but it’s just too much work to be worth it.

  15. I have had the belief that B.O. was an ENFP for a long time, but after watching some interviews on youtube, Extraverted Feeling is clearly evident in his manner of presentation, although its not front and center as in ExFJ or IxFJ types. I think you nailed it – B.O. is an ENTP. Only dissagree with one thing, his wife is an INTJ ;)

  16. Thank you. We can also recommend our research here: /quotes/barack-obama.php

    As for Michelle, one thing is that the people who knew them in their youth speculated that he took her because he wanted an example of a “strong, black woman at his side.” I.e. not because they were two of a kind, soul/ mindmates or whatever you want to call it.

    Not to imply that that settles it, then. Just a point for consideration.

  17. Keirsey already accounted for the arguments you link to before anyone had heard of Obama. You need to do more research before you break out the cocky attitude.

  18. * Jungian extroversion is not about being warm/cold or not talking to people.
    * Even outside Jungian extroversion, several leading researchers and psychologists have ascribed above average extroversion.
    * Even by your own link, there is nothing to suggest that Obama is an F type.

  19. Totally agree with you on Obama. Great job with many details and supports provided. BrainTypes.com gives the same typing, and has for quite some time, with even more details and supports provided. (His wife, though, I believe is ENTJ. Either way, no way he lives up to his potential without her organizing influence. People forget that Obama, even by his own admission in The Audacity of Hope, was NATURALLY a fun-loving, free-wheeling, open-ended, argumentative, party type of guy, one of many supports that make any suggestion of an __FJ type absolutely ludicrous. __FJs follow and place orderly social behavior above all; they wouldn’t golf extensively while stuff like ISIS goes on, for instance.)

  20. Hello,

    I’m still having a little bit of trouble reconciling Obama’s type. Obviously the reasoning for ENTP is very well articulated here by the admin(s).

    I’m most interested in young Obama for scraping together some insight. Here are a couple of articles that I hope are of some interest (apologies if already viewed):



    “There is no doubt that what I retained in my politics is a sense that the only way I could have a sturdy sense of identity of who I was depended on digging beneath the surface differences of people,” Obama said during an interview on 10 November 2011. “The only way my life makes sense is if, regardless of culture, race, religion, tribe, there is this commonality, these essential human truths and passions and hopes and moral precepts that are universal. And that we can reach out beyond our differences. If that is not the case, then it is pretty hard for me to make sense of my life. So that is at the core of who I am.”

    Where did that leave him? “I must admit large dollops of envy for both groups,” he wrote. “Caught without a class, a structure, or tradition to support me, in a sense the choice to take a different path is made for me… The only way to assuage my feelings of isolation are to absorb all the traditions [and all the] classes; make them mine, me theirs.”

    “His warmth can be deceptive. Tho he speaks sweet words and can be open and trusting, there is also that coolness – and I begin to have an inkling of some things about him that could get to me.”

    Overall, I’m still confused on whether Obama is an Fe-dom or Ne-dom.

    Which brings me to my question: is there any reasonable chance that Obama might be another case of the dom-tert switcheroo (an ESFJ)?

  21. ”we firmly believe that Obama is an ENTP who has learned to suppress his Ne to an unusual degree.”

    Then he would be mentally ill and unable to function properly.

    He is absolutely an Fe dom. Practically everything he says is through the lens of Fe. The fact he is sarcastic and a pot-stirrer doesn’t make him an ENTP.

  22. Practically everything Obama says that is available to the public are either speeches written by professional speechwriters or highly filtered political remarks chosen with care, as a sample size it has a stastistical value of zero.

  23. barack is an obvious entp (even by vi, esp hair, eyes & ears) and michelle an isfj (nurturer, that is why she is so involved in healthy food, her dominant perception reflects this), his dual (therefore their attraction/natural pairing). funny that something so obvious does even get discussed by people who know the 16 types. he will always keep his tall boy flair and she her mommy demeanor, but beware of too simplicit thinking: his defending function is fe (charm) and hers is ti (cold logic), this can be confusing to people who stay with the simple 8 big letters (mbti) and don´t dig into the cognitive functions (cg jung, well explained through the russian system socionics) who only are able to draw a personality in detail. sorry, i am from europe and don´t know much more about him, but i am quite sure that other traits will neatly fit this categorization if one looks closer, also producing predominantly female children is a hallmark

  24. It’s not just me who thinks that the Obama we’re seeing now, the lame duck Obama who makes fun of himself on the Colbert show and has an “anger translator”, is the Obama that’s been waiting to bound out of himself all these years, surely? Certainly his latest antics make a strong case for ENTP.

  25. I think we are judging way too much via public personna. Barack is known as fairly cold and business like when engaging most naturally one on one – apart from family, etc. On fact, it often costs him the quality of relations a true E-P would seek. He is not obviously an E and adoubtful P.

  26. MM…some interesting comments here. As an ENTP myself, I watched a number of videos of BO interacting with media and kids in science fair winners, displayed at WH…I do see some thoughts AND behaviors that remind me of me. First, he is rather inpatient at times and speaks to “fill the air” somewhat. Silence isn’t necessarily golden at those times. He also got a lot more interested and engaged more with kids that had something for the future. He asked questions and made comments regarding STRATEGIES about methods of helping others, or making future money or advancements. This is a hallmark of an intuitive type. (N) He was more engaged and spoke more easily with those kids. I know this doesn’t prove anything, but its the content of his comments, and the questions he asks that tell me how he is thinking. I was a therapist and believe me, ppl talk about what they are thinking and how you interpret it tells you a lot about a person. Its the combo of mannerisms, language and comment choices, as well as that subtle “light up” effect when something is really interesting to a person. ENTPS tend to get wound up in a moment when they are learning or typing things into RELATIONSHIPS. thats why we are so good at some future strategies. We see the MODEL and we are trying to constantly build them. Again I certainly don’t claim to be an expert, but I can certainly see why someone may well think of him as an ENTP

  27. You use the argument that, “…Obama is known for being argumentative and sardonic in private, challenging his associates on the clarity and consistency of their meaning even in smalltalk and enjoying a spirited ribbing. This is the preferred aloof socializing of an ENTP, whereas there are no reports of Obama privately engaging in the emotionally laden bonding that is the preferred intimate behavior of the ENFJ. As an extrovert, have you ever considered that he is more comfortable exhibiting NF traits around larger groups of people? One of the most charismatic bosses I have ever known was incredible with groups of people but clammed up in more intimate settings when he was not “leading” a group. ENTP’s aren’t the only types who can appreciate and engage in arguing. I’m an INFP, and my parents were convinced that I should have been a lawyer. NF’s can argue passionately about their values. And we attach values to everything, including grammar and illogical fallacies. I’ve never really understood why people make NF’s out to be so “sloppy” with their thinking functions. I excelled in school and had the highest GPA of my grade school class. Many NF friends of mine are some of the smartest people I know. I posit that Obama is an ENFJ with an under-developed tertiary function, hence not being able to keep track of a piece of paper or put together treat bags for kids.

  28. Obama’s mannerisms and the way he carries himself radiate ENFJ. This is not some flighty NF statement. There have been studies that correlate mannerisms, posture, facial expressions and vocal tonality with specific Myers Briggs types. ENTP’s generally tilt their head and look off to the side, rather than straight on and generally have a closed smile that is slightly tilted, creating somewhat of an impish look, as if they are coming up with their next quip and getting ready to throw you completely for a loop. ENFJ’s look straight at the camera with a wide smile, showing as many teeth as their oral anatomy will allow. Look back at pictures of Obama as a child and teenager…this was long before he would have planned out some fake public persona. This site relies too heavily on purely functions, picking and choosing which ones are convenient for your case, and dismissing those that refute your case. You need to also consider things that are harder to pin down, but are every bit as real, such as body language, speech patterns and overall behavior. If you are not equipped to include these in your evaluations, than perhaps you shouldn’t be arguing so fervently that your answer is a definitive one, rather it is an semi-educated guess at best. If celebrities do not take the test and self-report their results, guessing is all we can do.

  29. The point is not to say that NFs can’t be argumentative but rather to address the common argument that Obama cannot be ENTP because he isn’t argumentative :)

  30. What I meant to suggest with my first comment is that ENFJ’s are natural leaders. We could be seeing more of the genuine NF traits that come naturally to him as a part of his public persona. Maybe he has to put on more of an act around his cronies, because in those settings, his NF traits would make him look too idealistic and vulnerable. Maybe he’s putting on a tough exterior around his cronies to be one of the gang and to be able to play the politics game. If you listen to what his college friends said about him, his main goal in life is to HELP the disadvantaged – a very strong case for ENFJ or INFJ. He was also extremely concerned with his own AUTHENTICITY, integrity and discerning his identity – classic ENFJ. He was also known to LECTURE his school friends about political and philosophical issues. I can’t imagine an ENTP going off on a lecture – that’s not their style. Most ENTP’s I know are much more interested in hearing what other people have to say than hearing themselves talk, nor do they seem to be on this quest of “finding one-self”. ENTP’s style of discussion is much more about putting the big questions out there, sitting back and waiting for the answers to roll in…all much to their amusement/fascination. I just don’t see the case for ENTP at all.

  31. personalitycafe.com/articles/603914-guide-becoming-awesome-mbti-edition.html

    That’s my roughly 20k word attempt to expand typology enough to give Psychology a chance of being considered a hard science alongside Biology or Physics. It is currently too vague and can’t well explain many exceptions – like a person who appears to be more than one type.

    Try reading through it if you want to expand your typology knowledge, see if all the logic makes sense, and then try to type Obama again with a far more stable foundation under your feet. His psyche development is far more complex than an average person’s, but I suppose you could say that about most celebrities.

  32. @Sam Ayars

    Your article is about as helpful to psychology as serving customers a bucket full of vomit would be helpful to a restaurant. The idea that your perspective would help make typology into a hard science is laughable!

    Name just ONE sane person (preferably a celebrity so we can look them up on YouTube) who appears to have more than one type!

    And why would most celebrities have more complex psyches than most non-celebs?

  33. Interesting article. I definitely lean toward Obama as an ENFJ for his charisma, diplomacy, and persuasiveness. He has the ENFJ knack for understanding both points of view and validating the feelings of those involved in sensitive issues Consider his speech on Trayvon Martin. First he identifies with the experiences that led to anger in black communities–but then he doubles back, also identifying with the reasons that people like Zimmerman were skeptical about Martin: “Now, this isn’t to say that the African American community is naïve about the fact that African American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system; that they’re disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence.” This looks like ENFJ diplomacy, validating the feelings of all parties around a sensitive issue. Also, think about how Obama initially handles the healthcare debates: he’s always validating the principled objections of the other side and he genuinely expects to be able to find common ground. His choice to give up trying to persuade Republicans later in his presidency could be read as the move of a jaded idealist.

    So I lean ENFJ for Obama for his diplomatic skill, and and I’m not sure the two arguments from this post for ENTP persuade me to think differently. First, the argument that Obama is too logical to be an ENFJ I think is a bit overstated. Making logical sense is as much a function of intelligence as type, and it shouldn’t be that surprising when any Intuitive (much less a faculty member at the University of Chicago) is skilled at abstract reasoning. Also, the caveat of this post that Obama is bad at remembering concrete things like speech notes could fit ENFJ as well as ENTP — with an Se child function an ENFJ does not take the external world very seriously and can seem to need assistance in such matters.

    The second argument this post advances is that Obama uses Ne rather than Ni especially in the interview about Dreams of My Father starting at 7:30. If you watch that interview again, though, you can see that interviewer is asking a logical question about the culture shock his father experienced. Obama follows up with a descriptive response, per the interviewer’s request. Although he does ramble in what follows, he does not really get off topic in his response like an Ne user might. He stumbles a bit and he doesn’t fully connect all of his intuitive leaps, but he stays with his central intuition which is an attempt to describe the African experience of culture shock his father experienced. (He notes that his grandfather also experienced culture shock, reminds his audience how unfamiliar the experience of culture shock is in the US context, and mentions East Africa’s isolation from white contact, which made culture shock more prevalent). This makes me think Ni + Ti: he could be in the grip of his inferior here, trying to articulate a single, big picture Ni intuition about the African experience of culture shock but not doing it very well. I think an Ne user here would be more fluid and articulate — Ne users may also not fill in the gaps of their intuitive leaps, but their Extroversion make their leaps sound smoother. By contrast, Obama actually grinds to a halt in his response before the interviewer jumps in to help out.

  34. I had been on the fence myself. As an ENTP, I at times wanted to see and at times didn’t want to see myself in Obama.

    Then I read this:


    Follow his lines of reasoning, his approach, how he tackles these issues, and what he values.

    This is an ENTP argument. The kind that may not make friends on either side of the political spectrum but the approach is so distinctly ENTP that I can’t see him as anything else. One thing to keep in mind with politicians is that they are typically like actors, who may distort their type to make an appeal. However, in the final two years of his presidency and especially here, I am seeing the ENTP type assert itself.

  35. I should start by saying I disagree with Obama politically and dislike him. That said, as an ENTP myself, I recognize myself in his actions, speech and mannerisms. When confronted by disagreement he turns the situation into a debate opportunity, and his tactic is to try to evicerate his oppositions argument at its core while engaging in clever and biting wit…..his humor always having others at its expense and an ulterior purpose.

    This is a tactic I utilize myself and one I immediately recognize….and very much not the tactic of an NF. In addition, he seems to take great personal slight at being outmaneuvered……again an ENTP trait.

    Those reading an NF vibe are projecting what they want…..Obama is a cold and calculating operator able to extrovert feeling to reach his end.

  36. I cringe over discussions like these..

    Using words like x type “NEVER” or “ALWAYS” makes people with such attitudes lose all credibility instantly.

    These are tendencies. Not traits carved in stone. If he’s an NTP he’s a naturally fast, adaptable, intuitive, creative, thinker with a sense of humor and he is not likely to feel incontrollable urge to explain anything to anyone. He could be an Ambivert too. I’d say that he is. I’d even go so far to say that he’s an INTP.

  37. Kris,

    I agree with your typing of Obama as an “ambivert”. I think he’s certainly quite close to the middle on Big Five Extroversion. :)

    I can also see why you type him as INTP (Ti does indeed appear to be his most developed function). :)

    I’d go with him being a weird kind of ENTP instead though. I see inferior Si, not inferior Fe.

  38. He seems to have an Se-Ni axis preference and a Te-Fi axis. He often draws from his own experience in his speech and uses his Ni to tie it to the bigger picture. And as someone said he is quite interested in sports, the way he annually makes college basketball brackets trying to predict the outcomes is indicative of Ni, and his general interest indicates Se. He often speaks of how we are all connected, another Ni trait. Since everyone communicates through Te or Fe, it’s important to try to figure out which he uses. He doesn’t have a very expressive face during his speeches in the way that an Fe user does. When he tries to act more expressively, it kind of comes across as forced. In addition, he can appear rather cold and calculating in communication. This had led some, including celebrity types to type him as a T type, but it is really how repressed extraverted thinking comes across. He seems very in the moment, alert and maintains eye contact with his interviewers. This is very uncommon for an Ne-dom, but very plausible for an Se type. There is a tendency to view Intuitives in a better light than Sensors in the MBTI community, but I honestly believe that most politicians have a sensing preference. He has an intensity not found in Ne types. All of this points to ISFP or ESFP, but he just doesn’t have that warmth an ESFP has, and one can often see him retreating into his head. ISFP seems probable to me.

  39. he is an obvious entp people… He himself says he his biggest flaw is laziness, what more do you need ?? He was a community organizer , a lawyer , not rigid jobs.
    Very creative and a bit cold in that he only associates with those he benefits from.
    Also he does not savior every moment of audulation but nothing is more important to him than carving out a piece of history with his name on it. Entp care more about their legacy than the moment. It is ridiculous for ppl to think he is a j, Those ppl are impatient, focused and difinitely not lazy … Hell no .

  40. Also, He could possibly be a enfp.. The campaigner personality. His ability to campaign is that of legend.. I did not vote for him but I will admit there is no president in history raised money and mobilized as effectively as he did, especially in 2008. I understand much of this was the result of his staff and campaign manager, but he was still the face , the actor playing the part. Obama did not fieldmarshall the campaign, but he did what typical entp or enfp do, he through out the ideas and hired good ppl to follow through while he thought up what he would stand for to win. He assessed the situation and Coming out of nowhere, He was so good at getting people motivated and more importantly getting ppl to love him. And he relished every moment of the 2008 campaign.. Almost seems like He enjoyed campaigning more than he enjoyed being a president.. Typical of an enfj and maybe entp.

  41. ENTP is spot on the money. I have entirely no clue how people could pull INTP out of this guy, Jungian analysis applied or not. One would be hard pressed to find an introverted president after Nixon; setting aside the “introverts aren’t necessarily asocial” drivel, the POTUS absolutely must be comfortable being flanked by people 24/7. I can’t think of an INTP president we’ve had since, well, maybe Lincoln. Not to mention, BO was a community organizer for some time before even making it in Chicago, as well as a lawyer. Both politics and law are stereotypical occupations for ENTPs (funny how so many politicians have JDs hmmm).

    A note here on Fs–it’s entirely true that those possessing an ability to effectively wield their F function present in their toolkit are usually very good at rallying others around a cause. So, if BO possessed a strong F function such as that in ENFJ or ENFP (extremely unlikely to the point of being laughable that BO is ENFP), why does he tend to make his case using factual information and typically straddles the fence when pressed for answers to questions he doesn’t have all the information to answer?

    Considering the (lack of) possibility that BO is an INTP, when he -does- balk at a question, he isn’t struck with the deadpan silence typical of INTPs. He fields questions ENTP style, usually unloading an arsenal of impromptu adlibbing and freestyle political gobbledygook, sometimes coherent, typically (as we’ve seen when he answers questions about US actions in the middle east and other controversial decisions made during his presidency) avoidant, but always effective to whatever agenda he may have. Nor does POTUS ramble endlessly about the finer details of policy, something an INTP would do. I’m quite happy an INTP isn’t the chief executor, really. That would be horrible for both the country and the INTP!

    The article states that Barack Obama has nullified his Ne. I absolutely do not think he has. When “off camera”, he has a creative (though incisive) sense of humor. Also, he does not seem “natural” when reading off of a teleprompter (as opposed to S_J type presidents, who tend to prefer knowing precisely what to say), and is far more at home when communicating off the cuff.

    All that being said, I enjoy the controversy surrounding typing. It’s generally both hilarious and frustrating to hear people pull mental backflips to try and justify BO (typically playing as one of their personal heroes or personal enemies) being an ENFP (wtf), INTP (more like LMAO), INTJ (projecting), or INFJ (projecting/sanctifying).

    Insightful article as usual from celebritytypes.

  42. He doesn’t write those speeches, Axelrod does.
    His wife says he can’t make simple decisions like chicken or fish for dinner or what tie to wear. (P).
    He likes playing golf and be all with others and partying (E).
    It doesn’t bother him when he’s the fly in the ointment …it thrills him. (TP)

  43. Must be an ENTP. Which other type could generate so much chaos about which type he is:) ?

  44. And what about INFJ which is also Fe…
    I really think that Obama is Introvert.
    look at him when he speaks, he always takes time before each talk.

  45. People tend to relate oratory powers to Fe but I think also Ne types have the ability to get people enthusiastic about a new idea-I am not using this as proof that he is an ENTP but I think it should be considered

  46. He’s an entp!!!!!!!!! Read Michelle’s book “Becoming” and you’ll learn more about how he really is. He’s extroverted because he loves connecting with people, he an idealist because he really believed in a change that other people thought was impossible (including Michelle, she’s ESTJ.) He’s definitely a debator (T). Throughout the book he proposes to Michelle but first debated with her haha. Last but not least he’s a “P” because Michelle talks about how he’s ALWAYS LATE and HES SUPER DISORGANIZED! Lol. Easy pie.

  47. This article is correct about the functions, but they have one thing wrong: Barack Obama is not an extrovert!

    The reason his Ne appears to be lacking is because it is
    assumed that this is his dominant function.

    But, by recognizing that he is an introvert—with a dominant Ti function as healthy as they come—one can see how seamlessly his Ne slides into the auxiliary, wanting for nothing.

    Additional food for thought—If our inferior functions are the source of our aspirations (as they’ve been claimed to be), then it makes total sense that Barack Obama’s inferior function is Fe: He wants to change the world!

  48. It will be interesting to see if anyone will ever read this. Barak Obama is an ENFJ, not an ENTP. Look at the “Beer Summit”. The Beer Summit was widely seen as silly event that got way too much emphasis and coverage because Obama waded into the fray when Skip Gates got arrested for trying to break into his own house. If Barak Obama were an ENTP, then the Beer summit would have been an entertaining performance that was created to defend himself. ENTP’s are very ISFJ-like in their aspirations, and very ESFP-like when being forced into a responsive action (which the Beer Summit was). If Barak Obama were an ENFJ, the Beer Summit would have been something that he decided to oversee as a way to persuade others to change. ENFJ’s are very ISTP-like in their aspirations, and very ESTJ-like in their actions. So, was the Beer Summit about orchestrating a defense; or overseeing a reconciliation? Rather than rely on intent to break the tie, look at what caused the beer summit. Barak Obama said that he knew Skip Gates personally, and that what the Cambridge police did was ‘stupid’. That is not an ENTP-like statement. An ENTP would have been speaking in terms of how culture and stereotyping resulted in bad decisions. The discussion would have drilled down from the very abstract to the specific. Obama was very specific about it from the git-go. He knew Gates and he knows what a stupid behavior is. Perceivers do not speak in those terms; only judgers do. He was being overtly critical (ENFJ); not musing (ENTP). So, he decided to take control of the situation by having ‘beer with the boys’ to speak in language and activity that the ‘common man’ could relate to. That is Se, not Fe. He wasn’t meeting others’ needs. He didn’t do it for Skip or the policeman. If it were Fe, then you’d have a better case for saying he was an ESFJ, instead of an ENTP. He said it was a ‘teaching moment’. He said he did it to show others a way that they could conceivably find common ground to resolve problems. That is very ENTJ-like and hardly ENTP-like, as I understand it. So, I conclude he is an ENFJ.

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