MBTI and societal behavioral patterns

by John Stapel

I think the reason that many people have the need to spend so much money and save more than 1 million for retirement is that is that they feel that security is achieved through ownership of multi-bed/bathroom houses (castles) that are built around car garages that house full size cars or big SUVs sometimes in the form of military vehicles. This trend towards bigger and more reinforced structures has been especially strong since 9/11 and of course easy financing helped the trend along. Conversely status is demonstrated by the things (trophies?) they put in it. Big/new TVs, big/new fridges, big/new furniture, big/new kitchen, big/new patio, big/new toys. In MBTI terms, this behavior is mainly driven by those with an SJ “protector” personality.

The SP “player” personality has been sold on the desire for instant gratification. Seize the day. Live in the moment. Just do it! Carpe Diem. They need to buy whatever they want when they want it without any comparative shopping or consideration of prices. Usually they are good for a laugh, but personally I think they should stop taking the present so seriously and start living a little for tomorrow 😉

Either way both these lifestyles are expensive. Very expensive.

The SJ and SP Sensors comprise more than 70% of the population. Therefore the NT and NF iNtuitives tend to be drawn towards this lifestyle as well. Humans are sociable animals. We exhibit herd behavior to some degree.

However, many NF “pleasers” are drawn away from the herd and towards causes: Save the animals, save the planet, stop consuming. There are a lot of nut cases in this group of very nice people, but generally NF “pleasers” are the ones most in tune with the fact that the lifestyles above are causing harm as a side effect.

The NT “planners” have it all figured out. Many personal finance bloggers are “planners”. On the street, you have a 15% chance of running into an NT. On a personal finance blog the odds are almost 50%! I used to think I was an oddity by having a six figure net worth before ever making more than $45k and before turning 30. Yet for NT personal finance bloggers, this is apparently the norm. We have solved the riddle of personal finance and thus we spend time telling people how to play the current system with its ROTH IRAs, 401ks, emergency funds, college degrees, career tracks, etc. so as to maximize expenses and consumption.

NFs are like the canaries in the coal mine. Whenever they are not happy, things are bound to change. Therefore NTs should not only solve the present personal finance problems but try to predict and plan for the future that the present will transform itself into given the interhuman tension. If history is any guide things will look much different fifty years from now just like they looked quite different 50 years ago.

Those who have planned ahead will be ahead. Whereas those who have optimized according to the present standards will eventually be beached and struggle.

Thus henceforward I will also try to cover what I think the mid-term future (2030) will look like and how to prepare for it. I think the focus on 401ks,.., home ownership, and conspicuous consumption is the financial equivalent of preparing for the last war e.g. running the best and most impressive cavalry horses against the early tanks of the mid-century. Current strategies work for those who are 50+, but for those who are younger, things will be different. Perhaps much different.

Originally posted 2008-02-26 07:22:41.