Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)

Larry Holzwarth - July 30, 2021

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
Publicity photo for the young Johnny Carson, taken in 1957. Wikimedia

12. Johnny Carson – ISTJ

Probably no talk show host ever appeared more comfortable before an audience than Johnny Carson, the acclaimed “King of Late Night” for decades. But Carson away from the stage was far less comfortable, at least when dealing with people. Famously, almost painfully shy, Carson guarded his privacy jealously. He didn’t enjoy giving interviews and did so rarely, avoiding discussing his personal life. The ease with which he conducted conversations during his show eluded him in private circles. Over time he attended fewer and fewer Hollywood get togethers, limiting them to smaller gatherings with close friends. Even at home, he had difficulty in relationships, and he often remained aloof to his children. He discussed his divorces in public only as of the basis for jokes, and his children he seldom mentioned at all.

Carson has several different MBTI types attributed to him by various sites and articles. Probably the most common are ISTJ (Introvert, Sensing, Thinking, Judging), followed by ISFP (Feeling, Perceiving). Others call him an Extravert, basing the assumption on his public persona, as he appeared on The Tonight Show as well as his appearances as the emcee at awards shows and roasts. Dick Cavett once encountered Johnny engaged with some fans backstage following a show. “He was just having an awful time making small talk with them”, Cavett told Closer Weekly in 2015. Even his head writer on The Tonight Show from 1988-1992 called Carson “…a classic introvert”. Whichever type fit him best depends on the relationship he had with the individual making the assessment. Evidently, no two such relationships were the same.

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor with President Nixon in 1970. Wikimedia

13. King Edward VIII of Great Britain – ESTP

The eldest son of the Duke and Duchess of York, the man who later became King Edward VIII of Great Britain presented troubling behavior in his youth and early adulthood. Troubling, that is, to members of Parliament and the cabinet. Edward, as Prince of Wales, demonstrated a predilection for sexual affairs and little concern over their public knowledge. One such affair, with a still-married woman seeking her second divorce, blossomed into a full-fledged national crisis after Edward ascended to the throne. He proposed marriage to Wallis Simpson, though she was not yet divorced. After informing the Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, of his intention to marry, Baldwin threatened to resign, which would throw the government into a constitutional crisis. When it became evident to the King he had to choose between marriage or the throne, he chose marriage. Edward VIII married the then divorced Simpson after his abdication.

Since then, he has remained controversial. Some consider his story a romance, others believe him foolhardy, as both he and Simpson engaged in extramarital affairs. They remained married until his death in 1972. Edward has been labeled an ESTP, sometimes called the Entrepreneur. Such types are prone to risky behavior. They can be impatient, particularly with rules, and often ignore them to achieve their immediate goals. The damage can be fixed later. They can also be defiant, casting conventions aside. Several other MBTI types have been assigned to Edward, usually, judgments based on his behavior both during his short reign as King, (326 days) and his subsequent life as the Duke of Windsor. As with the rest of the personages on this list, the MBTI for Edward VIII depends on the perceptions of the analyst, rather than the persons themselves.

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
Charles Lindbergh in an undated photograph, possibly taken before his transatlantic flight. Wikimedia

14. Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart – ISTP

It shouldn’t be too big of a surprise to learn that in the opinion of some, Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart share the same MBTI, that of ISTP (Introvert, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving). But the opinion is far from universal, both pioneering aviators are assigned different MBTI types by others. And other than their shared passion for aviation, Earhart and Lindbergh had few similar qualities. Earhart supported women’s equality programs, developed clothing and luggage product lines, and lived in an “open” marriage with her husband, publisher George Putnam. Lindbergh’s most famous flight, solo across the Atlantic in 1927, was taken as part of a contest. Earhart’s flights were pre-arranged affairs, with her goals announced by public relations professionals. Earhart openly created publicity, while the more reserved Lindbergh shunned it.

In the 1930s Lindbergh became an ardent supporter of the America First movement, arguing against involvement in European affairs. Famous and influential, he earned a public rebuke from President Franklin Roosevelt over his views. Earhart used her fame and influence to promote aviation, herself, and her expanding business interests. She also supported women’s rights movements and became a close friend of Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of Franklin. As late as September 1941, Lindbergh argued against Roosevelt’s support of Great Britain. He told the crowd at an America First rally that three groups were “…pressing this country toward war: the British, the Jewish, and the Roosevelt Administration”. Earhart never publicly expressed her political views. Instead, she focused on her own celebrity, raising the public view toward women. She is still regarded as a feminist icon.

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
Leonard Nimoy as the fictional Mr. Spock circa 1967. NBC Television

15. Star Trek’s Spock – ISTJ

For those who swear by MBTI and its unerring accuracy, fictional characters to are assigned MBTI, based on their fictional behavior. And as with those of historical basis, there is little consensus as regards the type. Star Trek’s Mr. Spock is described by some as possessing an ISTJ personality (Introvert, Sensing, Thinking, Judgement). One assumes the designation is arrived at logically. He shares the type, according to some, with Sherlock Holmes, though others designate Holmes as an INTP (Introvert, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving). Different portrayals of Holmes earn different MBTIs, though, which makes him more difficult to categorize. Robert Downing Jr’s rendition of Holmes is listed as an ENTP (Extrovert, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving) for example. Since Holmes is fictional, one doubts he would mind the differing opinions.

Star Trek’s Lieutenant-Commander Data, an android, is considered by some to possess a personality type of ISTJ, similar to Spock and Sherlock. Surprisingly, the highly emotional Dr. McCoy, from the original series of Star Trek also shares the ISTJ designation, according to some sites. Perhaps the similarities in personality are one reason McCoy and Spock were frequently at odds with one another. Or should that read will be at odds with one another, as we’re a long way from the 23rd century. One may also assume that since Vulcans are trained in logic and the elimination of emotions that all of them share the same MBTI type. But that may be racist thinking. Fortunately, all Vulcans are fictional, at least to most people. There are deeper mysteries to ponder than their personality types.

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
John Farrow, John Wayne, and Lana Turner take a break while filming The Sea Chase in 1955. Wikimedia

16. John Wayne’s MBTI type is debated as well

One can only imagine what John Wayne would say regarding MBTI and personality types. For a younger generation who don’t know Wayne, he became Hollywood’s first macho man. He went from being a singing cowboy in western short films to filmdom’s biggest draw in the 1940s and 1950s. He often portrayed military heroes, though he did not serve in the military during the Second World War. It was not for lack of trying on his part, his studio refused to release him from his contract. Later in his life, he generated considerable controversy over his views regarding the Vietnam War, racism, and the civil rights movement in the United States. He drank heavily, smoked almost continuously, healed and damned his way through interviews, and remained wholly unapologetic throughout his life. Undoubtedly, he would have regarded MBTI types with a suspicious eye.

Some assign John Wayne, who was born as Marion Morrison, as an ESTJ. Others claim Wayne exhibited an ISTP personality. Others claim ISFJ, ESTP, and other types. One can assign virtually any personality to Wayne, based on internet search results. Wayne himself claimed his public persona was unlike his true personality. He called it a character of his own creation, which had become so big he had to live up to it at all times. Interestingly, a historical character Wayne once portrayed said the same thing about himself. Davy Crockett, a legendary frontiersman whose public image was created largely by David Crockett, considered his reputation as a trap of his own making. Crockett fled Tennessee for Texas in part to escape the image he had created, and in so doing created an even larger legend. Crockett too is assigned multiple MBTIs.

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
Neil Armstrong, shortly after completion of his first walk on the moon, July 20. 1969. NASA

17. Neil Armstrong – Possibly ESTP

Neil Armstrong became the first human being to stand on lunar soil in July, 1969. In doing so he became an instant international celebrity and an American hero. Yet he was an intensely private man, shunning the limelight. His considerable earlier achievements were largely forgotten, dwarfed by his steps on the moon. Armstrong flew in combat in Korea, where he once had to bail out of a damaged aircraft. He flew the experimental X-15 aircraft in seven separate missions. Even among his fellow test pilots and astronauts, all justly proud of their skills, Armstrong’s achievements as a pilot were legendary. As a trained aeronautical engineer, Armstrong applied sound engineering principles to his flying and to the rest of his life. After his lunar mission, Armstrong never again flew in space. He retired and later taught aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati.

As with virtually everyone on this list, Armstrong’s MBTI is debatable. Though some describe him as an extravert, there is a much stronger argument he possessed introvert characteristics. Armstrong guarded his privacy so closely that few know he once participated in an expedition to the North Pole. The expedition included Edmund Hillary, the first man to ascend to the summit of Mount Everest. Armstrong refused to allow the media to be informed of the trip, both before and after it was completed. Yet he also hosted a television series, First Flights with Neil Armstrong, and served as a spokesperson for the Chrysler Corporation. Yet at least one luminary assigns Armstrong the MBTI type of ESTP, making him an extrovert. One of his fellow astronauts on Apollo 11 said of him when he bought a farm in Ohio, “he retreated to his castle and pulled up the drawbridge”. Hardly extraverted behavior.

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
Lee Harvey Oswald mugshot, taken on November 23, 1963. Hulton Archive / Getty Images / Time.

18. Lee Harvey Oswald – INFJ

Of the four presidential assassins in American history, two are arguably the most famous. Few Americans recognize the names of Charles Guiteau and Leon Czolgosz, who murdered Presidents Garfield and McKinley, respectively. But nearly all know the names of Lee Harvey Oswald and John Wilkes Booth. The latter, an actor by profession, shot Abraham Lincoln in a theater. Though he too is assigned differing MBTIs, nearly all agree that Booth was an Extravert, deeply concerned with what the world thought of him. He spent most of his time on the run after shooting the President justifying his actions to posterity, in the form of a diary. He considered himself ill-used by the world, which should have recognized him as a hero and martyr, in his own estimation. The world did not agree, even in the South, which he believed he had served.

Lee Harvey Oswald, on the other hand, is usually considered an introvert, and often receives the type of INFJ (Introvert, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging). As noted, the type is the rarest of all. Oswald had several psychiatric evaluations in his lifetime, including as a teen. They all noted his isolation, withdrawal from relationships, and lack of friendships. He also denied killing John Kennedy, declaring he was a patsy. Unlike the extravert Booth, Oswald did not desire a judgment from the world. Instead, he wanted to be invisible. By the way, there are those who argue Oswald’s victim shared the personality type of his assassin. While most describe Kennedy as an Extravert, others argue he was in truth an Introvert, completely uncomfortable with the extraverted aspects of politicking. Once again, the image is in the eye of the beholder.

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness by James Tissot. Wikimedia

19. Yes, people try to type Jesus of Nazareth – INFP

It would seem at first glance that Jesus of Nazareth, regardless of one’s religious beliefs, exhibited outgoing and sociable personality traits. He gathered followers, attracted crowds, and participated in events such as formal dinners and weddings. All of these activities can be assigned to an Extravert personality. But Jesus demonstrated notable introvert tendencies as well. He frequently went off alone, for the purpose of meditation and prayer, if the gospels are correct. And he did not seek the approval of others, and frequently remonstrated with those who expressed disapproval of his views and actions. Though we know little of his private conversations, his public utterances were fully formed and reasoned. Those tendencies, and others, lead some to assign Jesus an introvert type, often INFP.

Jesus often taught in the form of parables. These featured people and events familiar to his audience. Jesus taught using characters such as farmers, fishermen, and families, all of which his audience readily understood. Feeling led Jesus to state, regarding the execution of woman, “…He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7 KJV). A judgmental personality would be more likely to agree with the law, rather than offer compassion and forgiveness. There are those that disagree, others ascribe other MBTI personality types to Jesus of Nazareth. Again, they are based on judgments of his activities and sayings as described in the Bible. Some assign the INFJ type to Jesus, as noted before, the rarest of all types.

Historical People Ranked by their Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI)
Carl Jung sits to the left of Sigmund Freud (center front), with whom he later broke during his research. Wikimedia

20. Assigning MBTI to others is technically an invalid exercise

The whole purpose of MBTI is to allow for self-assessment of one’s personality based on a series of questions. Even when one assesses oneself the test provides different results at different times. Evaluating historical figures for their MBTI requires the evaluator to presume to answer the questions as he or she believes the historical figure would. Such a presumption alone renders the results invalid. Other than as an exercise in fun, or argument, evaluating past lives for MBTI has no basis in reality. Yet it remains a popular exercise, as the links in this article prove. No evaluator, no matter how familiar with George Washington’s life and career, cannot, so to speak, put words in his mouth. Evaluating Washington’s personality based on his own writings, as well as those of his contemporaries and historians, cannot reveal his true MBTI.

MBTI exists to allow the theories of Carl Jung to be applied by individuals in their daily lives. Yet it remains controversial. It has often been criticized as unscientific. Psychology Today published an article in 2013 titled, “Goodbye to MBTI, the Fad That Won’t Die”. The article reports that more than 2.5 million people take the test each year. It also reports wildly differing results received by the author on different occasions of taking the test. If one individual can receive different results at different times, how accurate can applying MBTI to other people possibly be? Especially those from times when society and behaviors were markedly different from today. It may be fun to assign MBTI to persons of the past, but it is entirely subjective. For every MBTI found online for a historical figure, a contradicting one can also be found.

Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“Measuring the MBTI…And Coming Up Short”. David J. Pittenger, Journal of Career Planning and Employment. November 1993

“The Myers-Briggs Personality Test is Pretty Much Meaningless”. Rose Eveleth, Smithsonian Magazine. March 26, 2013

“The Ten Greatest Controversies of Winston Churchill’s Career”. Tom Heyden, BBC News Magazine. January 26, 2015. Online

“Me: Stories of My Life”. Katharine Hepburn. 1996

“American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson”. Joseph J. Ellis. 1998

“Al Capone”. Entry, Famous cases and criminals. FBI.gov. Online

“Eisenhower: Soldier and President”. Stephen E. Ambrose. 2007

“Lyndon B. Johnson”, Essay Excerpt, Character Above All, Robert Dallek. PBS.org. Online

“The Machinery of the Universe”. Max Nelson, The Paris Review. July 1, 2015

“Who Was Edgar Allan Poe?” Article, The Poe Museum. Online

“Elvis: What Happened”. Red West, Sonny West, and Dave Hebler, as told to Steve Dunleavy. 1977

“Johnny Carson’s Loved Ones Reveal the Shy Loner Only They Knew”. Staff, Closer Weekly. April 18, 2015

“What ‘The Crown’ Got Wrong: The Duke of Windsor’s (Not So) Secret Nazi History”. Tim Sommer, The Observer. 2017. Online

“The Earhart Brand”. Katie E. Martin, Flight Paths. Purdue University. Online

“The MBTI of Star Trek: The Original Series Characters”. Stephanie Marceau, Screen Rant. February 15, 2019. Online

“Three ways staying silent about mental illness is hurting you: What Would John Wayne Say?” Dr. Margaret Rutherford. June 11, 2016. Online

“Arctic encounter: how the ice man Neil Armstrong finally melted”. Catherine Armitage, Sydney Morning Herald. August 28, 2012

“If Jesus Took a Personality Test, This Would Be His Myers-Briggs Personality Type”. Paul Sohn. December 23, 2016. Online

“Nothing Personal: The questionable Myers-Briggs test”. Dean Burnett, The Guardian. March 19, 2013