In my research, I have found that, more than any other personality type, ESFPs are stereotyped. For writers, this makes writing complicated, well developed ESFP characters rather difficult. So here is an overview of the ESFP personality type to help writers. If you are wondering how Myers Briggs Personal Types can help writers, you can check out my post on that here.
Disclaimer: I am an INTJ not an ESFP. So I am definitely not speaking from personal experience in this post. However, I believe that I was objective in how I portrayed ESFP in this post, and I strive to understand and empathize with the personality type. I also talked with several ESFPs and had my little sister, who is an ESFP, approve this post. Moreover, this analysis of the ESFP personality type is not meant to help ESFPs understand themselves better. This is an amateur analysis meant to help writers create characters.
The Functions of the ESFP
- Extroverted Sensing: ESFPs are known for experiencing their surrounding, focusing on the present moment, and acting quickly and immediately. Tending to enjoy excitement and new experiences, they tend to be adventurers, (tend to) enjoy being the center of attention, and seek adrenaline inducing situations. They are very aware of their surrounding and are very observant, noticing small details even in situations which other types consider overwhelming. ESFPs like seeing concrete results, and often take their experiences as the truth– not believing in ideas which cannot be practically seen and not considering other people’s experiences or prospective. They are known for being spontaneous and loving fun and relaxation. Often, they are athletically talented: good at physical activities such as dancing or sports and tend to be coordinated. Also ESFPs tend to be charismatic and easy to talk to. Since ESFPs tend to live in the present, they tend not to be the best secret keepers and tend to rely on first impressions.
- Introverted Feeling: Contrary to popular stereotypes, ESFPs tend to have personal beliefs and a sense of morality and understand their own feelings and desires reasonably well. However, they are prone to emotional outbursts which tend to be expressed through actions (Se). Because of their personal beliefs, ESFPs tend to have rebellious nature and following their own heart. Also they tend to be creative and love to express themselves artistically. They tend to be very loyal to their friends, though they can be very sensitive, often struggling to forgive and taking insults personally. Many ESFPs are oblivious to other people’s feelings.
- Extroverted Thinking: ESFPs can be more cleaver than many people assume, can be blunt, and will organize (though everything often becomes unorganized very quickly.) Well developed ESFPs, can make powerful, charismatic leaders, but they tend not to like the abstract. However, because thinking in a lower function, they often don’t think before acting, and when their Te plays off of their Se, they become very impatient and easily bored. (More below on immature and mature ESFPs.)
- Introverted Intuition: More mature ESFPs can have long term dreams, and even the immature ESFPs tend to have goals (even if the goal is to have fun or go on an adventure). ESFPs are a contradictory mix of steadfast individuals who are often suspicious of others. They often notice symbols and patterns but have trouble interpreting them. However, intuition is the ESFP’s inferior function, so they tend not to be great problem solvers. ESFPs generally do not look to the future or see patterns, and they often jump to false conclusions. (More below on immature and mature ESFPs.)
*Personality types are not as simple as picking between two letters four times. The mixture of letters actually determines four cognitive functions as listed above. The dominant function is listed first and drives the type, while the inferior function is listed last and is often unused in immature types.
How to Manifest this Personality Type in Fictional Characters
Goals: The stereotypical/immature ESFP often has the goal of simply having fun, enjoying life, and possibly going on an adventure. Since ESFPs like the enjoy each moment, they will often set a goal of doing something which they love (for some this might be having a family and settling on a farm or something more stereotypical like being a sky diving instructor or a professional athlete.) More mature ESFPs have a strong sense of loyalty and duty, so their goals may also revolve around fulfilling a duty.
Motivations: As mentioned above, their motivation often comes from their focus on the present and enjoying each moment. Other motivations include personal convictions, strong emotions, loyalty, and duty.
Interaction with Other Characters: ESFPs make friends easily and tend to be the center of their friend group (but not always). They often play the role of “clown”, but they also tend to be the glue that keeps very different people together. While the tend to lead in the social sphere and often encourage their friends to rebellious behavior, they probably won’t be the true leaders of a group. Interestingly enough, because of their Se, ESFPs can take on the personalities of the people around them. This makes interactions with other people very natural but often goes against their true personality. (As an INTJ, I can say that one of my best friends is an ESFP and so is my younger sister whom I am very close to. So ESFPs can become friends with very different personality types.)
Young/Immature Characters: Very immature ESFPs can fail empathize with others and be very selfish, focusing on their own immediate pleasure (primarily using Se). Slightly more mature ESFPs can lack any sense of duty , be generally irrational, and not think about the consequences of their actions. These immature ESFPs can lack motivation and not think about the future at all (undeveloped Te and Ni). Occasionally, a young ESFP actually end up neglecting their secondary function, Fi, and relying to heavily on SeTe. This results in a very stressed, tense ESFP who is constantly striving to preform and completely focused on a particular goal.
Matured Characters: Mature ESFPs tend to be more focused and organized and can be hard worker with a strong sense of duty. They will be more motivated and think a little bit more about the future and their goals. ESFPs can struggle with feeling useless and unintelligent, and mature ESFPs are more confident in their strengths.
Examples of ESFP Characters: Peregrin Took (The Lord of the Rings), Anakin Skywalker (Star Wars Prequels), Ron Weasley (Harry Potter), Anna (Frozen), Donna Noble (Doctor Who),
If you’d like to look into ESFPs more, I would suggest checking out this website and this article (please note that you have to scroll down to find the ESFP type). I used many of them for my research and go into more detail on this personality type.
So have you ever written an ESFP character? What do you think about this personality type in fiction?
Have a wonderful week. God bless,