The ESFP personality type lies at the intersection of the Starter interaction style and Artisan temperament – “The Entertainer.” As Starters, their energy is channeled toward new experiences. As Artisans, their focus is on creation and self-expression. ESFPs live life enthusiastically and in the moment. While they do seek status and adoration, they are ultimately searching for the recipe of a successful life.
From an Ego standpoint, they use the following cognitive functions in order of preference: Extraverted Sensing (Se), Introverted Feeling (Fi), Extraverted Thinking (Te), and Introverted Intuition (Ni). This dynamic manifests in the following ways:
Freedom and Suppression
ESFPs must have freedom in order to be healthy and happy – freedom to express themselves, to create, to choose, and to fail. Thus, freedom allows them to learn, discover, and experiment as they journey through life. They shoulder uncertainty about the future and fear making the wrong decisions. Therefore, prior to making any decision, they first need to see and understand what everyone else is doing. In this process, they are at risk of ‘analysis paralysis” if they are unable to accept the possibility of failure. These observations also form the basis for their own decisions and provide assurance against mistakes. Given their fears, they need freedom from the judging eye of others to fail and to learn from those mistakes.
At best, ESFPs can be so consumed with their own fears that they simply take no notice of the desires or motivations of others. At worst, for those who would attempt to deny ESFPs their freedom, suppress their creativity, or otherwise control them the attempt will be futile. ESFPs will do what they want regardless, and even lie to maintain their independence. In the extreme, ESFPs will plot to destroy your future by targeting your heart and things most dear: family, reputation, and possessions.
Interaction and Solitude
ESFPs gather energy from social interaction within groups of three or more people, rather than finding it within themselves when alone. Moreover, ESFPs love to feel loved. They feel good about themselves if they believe others think highly of them. To this end, they actively seek status and regard. They are skilled at making everyone around them feel comfortable. They desire to be the center of attention and life of the party as they literally and figuratively want to take the stage. Their priority is on the sensory aspects of the experience they are giving. Content is secondary. In film, for example, lighting, sound, and costume design become more important than the plot itself. In this way, they can transform something boring and routine into something new and exciting. Doing so for the benefit of everyone around.
ESFPs become people magnets because of their focus on the experience of others, often naturally drawing them close. But that is exactly the point – ESFPs need to be surrounded with people. They strive to give everyone the right thoughts and stimulation, effectively managing the experience, in order to cause others to think highly of them and their intelligence. The degree to which they doubt their own intelligence is proportional to the degree to which they attract attention to themselves. Overcompensation can be especially evident when they are partying.
Morality and Ethics
ESFPs have a high sense of personal morals and immediately know how they feel about everything, whether good or bad. This self-awareness becomes a powerful motivator for their behavior. Effectively, if they are not in the mood they will not perform.
ESFPs also have a sense of moral superiority, holding that they are simply better people. They believe the ethics and value systems of others are flawed. This better-than-thou attitude provides them with the justification for self-serving behaviors that may harm others emotionally and physically. They can demonstrate little concern for others’ feelings, and in the process, minimize the value of their commitments. They can convince themselves that they are more deserving of the good things in life at the expense of others. Should someone disrespect them, they will remove that individual from their social circle while justifying keeping their possessions. They will even destroy the sentimental ones, if possible.
Despite their sense of superiority, they are very aware of their own failings and frailties. They worry about their childhood, personal experiences, and whether they will have lived their best life. They wonder whether they did all they could, and as a result, have doubts about how others regard them. When these feelings become too much to handle, they rely on friends and family who are loyal and supportive. They need these same people to also call them out when they are being irresponsible with their own feelings and delivering hurt to others. In other words, ESFPs respond well to guilt as a tool of self-improvement.
Intelligence and Belief
ESFPs have to deal with the stereotype of being partiers and the negative connotation that applies to their intelligence. It’s a bad rap, but it nevertheless exists and results from the fact that they can be impulsive and unreliable. This is reflective of the fact that they are easily distracted by new people, activities, and sensations which makes it difficult for them to see a project to completion. They are starters, not finishers. They need the active joint engagement of others, and their support, to stay focused.
ESFPs have the capacity to be quite intelligent in spite of their own doubts. If given the chance to study independently and at a pace that suits them, they can become quite brilliant through reading, research and experience. Their intellect can be further stimulated when surrounded with people who are themselves of high intellect.
Ultimately, their intelligence is based not on their own ability in logical thought, but in their belief in the education they receive from others, such as books, research, group discussions, etc. In this way, they focus on what others think about a situation or problem and internalize. Perception becomes realty, and decisions flow from their moral assessment of the true-false judgements of others.
Instant and Delayed Gratification
ESFPs tend to live in the moment. Maturity moderates this, but a long-term eye toward the future is not one of their characteristics. They can be impulsive and impatient, always looking for new options and sensations. They struggle to commit and life can pass them by resulting in the all-to-common mid-life crisis. They need energy to thrive and rely on others to provide not only the energy, but also the direction. When alone, they may become depressed and need a hit of dopamine to continue. This may push them into unhealthy relationships, going along with the crowd, and even substance abuse.
On the positive side, continued choices in instant gratification become a repository of past experience that they learn from. They then develop self-protection in the form of delayed gratification. They become willing to wait to see the successes and failures of others unfold. Once they master delayed gratification, they become truly responsible. They see the damage and lack of self-respect that results from instant gratification can cause. They also know the benefits of delayed gratification for themselves and those around them.
Creation and Destruction
ESFPs are pragmatic and concrete: what works in the here and now. They can look at any physical object and see all its physical attributes. They are very hands-on and create out of their physical environment, which can give them certain abilities in construction and design. More often than not, however, they find their way to entertainment.
ESFPs assess the thoughts and ideas of others, take the most personally meaningful, and transform those into new experiences to give to others. They have a clear understanding of the power of sensation and the impact or result that sensation can deliver. This is the source of their creativity, and this is what motivates many ESFPs to find their calling as performers, filmmakers, and entertainers.
Unfortunately, ESFPs can become perfectionists in their endeavors. The lower the regard they have for themselves, the more they seek others to build them up. They attempt to drive the favorable opinions of others through delivering the ultimate experience. In this way they are driven to perfectionism. And when perfection is not achieved, they can physically destroy all of their creation in a burst of painful emotion and despair. Like fire in the wild, however, this destruction brings about new possibilities for creation.
In physical relationships, ESFPs prefer to direct the theatrics, and as with everything else, do so to manage how other people regard them. Given their uncertainty about who would make their best life partner, they can be prone to promiscuity and experimentation. In fact, their desire to experience every sensation can result in multiple partners, pansexuality, fantasy, and fetish.
Fortunately for the ESFP, however, their high sense of morality tends to moderate these sexual excesses when compared to their ESTP cousins. In the absence of healthy morality, such as that caused by life trauma or substance abuse, deviance may be significant. Still, ESFPs have the capacity to be devoted and caring partners provided their partner gives them the same.
ESFPs ask only loyalty, respect, and freedom. They want people around to help with decision-making and morale boosting. They prefer to dip a toe to test the water before diving in fully, and this includes close relationships. They must feel ok with the possibility of failure and have confidence that they can learn and grow with the experience. Like all of us, they are only trying to navigate their way in the world and are looking for the formula for success in life.
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