We’ll all grieve at some point in our lives. But how we all grieve won’t be the same. Our personalities influence the way we cope, mourn, and heal in the face of a loss.
You might have heard of the popular Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI). It’s a test built around the idea that personalities are shaped by four psychological functions that humans use to experience the world. They are sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking.
The MBTI test was first published in 1943. Since then, the test has been used to help with careers, education, lifestyle choices, and can be helpful when it comes to understanding how we grieve.
The personalities are based on the following main traits and scored on a spectrum. The traits are:
- Extraversion/Introversion (EN, IN)
- Sensing/Intuition (S, I)
- Thinking/Feeling (T, F)
- Judging/Perceiving (J, P)
Take this free personality quiz to see where you fit on the MBTI test. Below are examples of how these personalities influence the way we grieve.
Studying Grieving and Personality Types
A recent study conducted by the psychologist Dr. Lisa Prosser-Dodds focused on the relationship between grief and personality. The study looked at 271 different grieving participants across different parts of the U.S. The participants were asked to complete an online survey, including an MBTI test and four grief level measures.
The study’s goal was to “discover if a relationship exists between personality and grief response, as many theorists and clinicians have suggested, and with strong, robust effects, the conclusion is yes.”
The study found that the biggest differences in grieving and personality were among NT, ST, NF, and SF personality types.
The NT personality types include the INTJ, INTP, ENTP, and ENTJ. NT personalities are logical and critical thinkers. Below are each one’s dominant traits.
- INTJ: Logical, critical, determined, and open-minded
- INTP: Analytical, honest and straightforward, quiet, and introverted
- ENTP: Adaptable, inventive, ingenious, charismatic, and complex
- ENTJ: Efficient, confident, inspiring, and strong-willed
NT personalities are very logical and intelligent thinkers. The way they approach grief will be different than other personalities. Sometimes they will need time and space to process a loss. Their first response to grieving might be to try and ignore the emotions involved, but that only complicates things. NT personalities should try to invest their time in healthy coping techniques. For example, keeping a journal can help them better process their emotions during bereavement.
Next, we have the NF personalities. They are creative and insightful. This category includes the INFJ, INFP, ENFJ, and ENFP personalities.
- INFJ: Decisive, passionate, determined, and persevering
- INFP: Idealistic, empathetic, creative, and optimistic
- ENFJ: Reliable, natural leaders, spontaneous, and imaginative
- ENFP: Sociable, caring, communicators, and expressive
NF personalities are great at expressing emotions. However, when it comes to grieving, they will feel grief and sorrow immensely. But their expression of emotions is healthy, and shouldn’t be stifled. Allowing to fully express and feel is what allows them to heal. NF personalities should look to connect and share their thoughts and feelings with close friends and family. They should also look for creative outlets to release feelings of grief, such as listening to their favorite music, reading their favorite books, or another creative activity.
SF personalities are sympathetic and friendly. The group includes the ISFJ, ISFP, ESFP, and ESFJ personalities.
- ISFJ: Practical, supportive, conservative, and caring
- ISFP: Passionate, imaginative, sensitive, and artistic
- ESFP: Outgoing, relatable, observant, and communicative
- ESFJ: Sensitive, warm-hearted, cooperative, and responsible
SF personalities naturally value relationships. They don’t want to come off as a burden, and so they might try to mask their grief from others. However, that can lead to the development of complicated grief. An SF personality will process grief best by surrounding themselves with their closest loved ones. Even if they don’t necessarily feel like sharing or talking about their loss, just being around a loved one helps them immensely.
Finally, there’s the ST personality group. These personalities are practical and straightforward. This group includes ISTJ, ISTP, ESTP, and ESTJ.
- ISTJ: Quiet, practical, efficient, and decisive
- ISTP: Calm, independent, adventurous, and realistic
- ESTP: Easy-going, active, problem-solver, and bold
- ESTJ: Responsible, organized, honest, and patient
ST personalities are direct and honest with themselves. While each person will cope and grieve differently, ST personalities are well-equipped for handling loss. Healthy coping for an ST personality might mean diving into a special project or focusing on practical things like work. On the contrary, for others, it might mean having deep conversations with those closest to them. One thing ST personalities are good at is taking loss and turning it into a chance for personal growth.
For an in-depth look at the study click here.
Do these findings match your personality type? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!