Today, I’m introducing a #Q&AwithJay segment in response to an email I received from a reader. She gave me permission to reply to her email via a post. Gwynn R. from Montreal, Quebec wrote:
I really enjoy your posts and had a question that I thought you’d be able to answer. Are certain personality types more likely to cheat than others? If so which ones and why? I dated an ESTP, and later an ENFP and both cheated. Is it something about Extraverted Perceiving types that makes them cheat?"
Thanks for reaching out. While personality may play a small part in promiscuity, infidelity is mostly caused by emotional issues such as low self-esteem, immaturity, and selfishness. Situational issues such as a lack of similar interests, emotional and physical needs not being met, and revenge also play a part. People of all personality types cheat and the reasons vary across a wide spectrum. An emotionally healthy person of any type is capable of having a committed, monogamous relationship. But for the sake of analysis, let’s see if there is any credence to your question.
Does Perceiving Play a Part in Infidelity?
While people of all types are capable of cheating, there are certain types theoretically (and I emphasize theoretically) more likely to cheat than others. I think that to answer this question, we need to first look at Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P). People who prefer Judging like to come to decisions quickly. Once they make a decision, they typically prefer to stick with it. People who prefer Perceiving on the other hand prefer to put off decisions, and stay open to possibilities. So theoretically speaking, Perceiving is the function that appears to be more closely correlated with infidelity. Once again, I’m not saying that all Perceivers will cheat, but when you look at the functions in a purely theoretical sense, P would be more likely than J to cause someone to cheat.
How About Extroversion?
People who prefer extroversion recharge by being around others while people with Introversion recharge by being alone. Extroverts often have a wide variety of interests, while Introverts have fewer interests but at greater depth. Theoretically, which preference is more likely to predispose someone toward cheating? Hypothetically speaking, Extroversion is probably more likely to predispose someone to infidelity than Introversion. But why?
Since Extroverts recharge by being around others, they are more likely to seek out more social situations than Introverts. Its simple arithmetic, more social situations equals more opportunities to cheat. Also Introverts are less likely to feel lonely than Extroverts, and loneliness is a well-established risk factor for infidelity, especially in women. These two factors theoretically make Extroversion the more likely function associated with infidelity. So theoretically speaking Gwynn, the combination of Extroversion and Perceiving can create a predisposition to cheating.
What about Intuition vs. Sensing & Thinking vs. Feeling?
I think that it’s especially important to also look at Intuition (N) vs. Sensing (S) and Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F) to get a complete picture of how personality can theoretically influence infidelity. First let’s look at Intuition vs. Sensing. Sensors prefer information that they can experience with their five senses. They prefer information that is tried, true, and proven, and do not like to experiment. People with an Intuitive preference favor information that is abstract and theoretical. They like to read in between the lines and draw connections between unrelated things. In my opinion, neither one of these preferences on their own appear to make someone more likely to cheat. However, what about if we pair them with Perceiving? The pairing of Intuition and Perceiving creates the Extraverted Intuition cognitive function (Ne). People who use Ne as a primary or secondary function (ENFP, ENTP, INFP, INTP) explore the world seeking to see everything as one whole. They search for understanding and love to explore ideas. In theory, Ne makes someone prone to intellectual infidelity, more so than sexual infidelity. However, Sensing paired with Perceiving creates the Extraverted Sensing cognitive function (Se). People who use Se as their primary function or secondary function (ESTP, ESFP, ISTP, ISFP) enjoy seeking excitement and physical stimulation in the external world. Se is also the function that orients us to the present moment. Based on this definition, Se is hypothetically the function that would be most associated with infidelity as it causes us to seek physical sensation and excitement and orients us toward living in the moment. Lastly, those who use Se as their dominant function (ESTP and ESFP) would theoretically be more predisposed than those who use it as a secondary function (ISTP, ISFP). So, if I had to rank cheating probability based on personality type alone, my order would be as followed:
2nd: ESFP & ISTP
3rd: ENTP, INTP, ENFP
4th: INFP, ISFP
Historical Note: The last two U.S. presidents to have very public affairs were John F. Kennedy (believed to be ESTP) and Bill Clinton (believed to be ESFP).
Again, I must stress that personality type plays a small factor in cheating when compared to overall emotional health and situational factors, but based purely on personality type those are my impressions. Hope that answers your question Gwynn! If anyone else has a question about personality, personal development, or professional development, feel free to reach out!