Believable Characters, Part 18

Two more personality types to go. I found most of this information in Jeff Gerke’s Plot vs. Character and David Keirsey’s Please Understand Me II

Today I’m covering the ESFP (extrovert, sensory, feeling, perceiving) or who Keirsey calls THE PERFORMER. He’s fun, friendly, outgoing, adaptable, and can’t resist putting on a good show. He wants to stimulate everyone around him, arousing their senses, offering pleasure, and creating a feeling of well-being. With his contagious good humor and irrepressible joy of living, everyone wants to be around this guy. When he walks into the room, everyone gathers.

These guys are plentiful, making up more than ten percent of the population, which is a great thing, because they bring joy to so many. They love excitement and crave an audience, so they try to generate a sense of showtime wherever they are. “All the world’s a stage” applies brilliantly to them. They love the fast life, good food, fancy cars, bling, fantasy, and merriment. Life is a party to these people. They are inclined to be impulsive and self-indulgent, making them give in easily to others. Pleasure is an end in itself, and they are open to trying almost anything that promises a good time. They rarely consider the consequences. 

They don’t like confrontation or sticky situations. Their tolerance for anxiety is the lowest of all the personality types, and they will avoid it by simply ignoring it for as long as possible. “Always look on the bright side” is their motto, and if forced to endure a tense situation (at work, in a relationship) they won’t make waves or put up a show of resistance. They’ll simply walk away. This personality trait is ultra fun to play with in fiction because of their intense dislike of anxiety or confrontation of any kind. 

ESFP’s are the most generous of all the personality types, lavishing friends and loved ones with gifts. They don’t have a stingy bone in their bodies, and have no concept of savings or investing their cash. Life is to be lived right now. They are emotionally expressive and affectionate, completely unable to hide their true feelings or hold their tongue. They tend to fall in love easily, and every time is like the first time. Intent on pleasing everyone, ESFP’s can appear fickle, even promiscuous, to others, when they’re simply and innocently sharing themselves with others. 

Performers make exciting and entertaining mates, but cause a good deal of anxiety in these relationships. They love to spend money on fun things and will impulsively max out credit cards. They make warm, generous, loving friends to their spouse and their children, but should not be expected to take these relationships much more seriously than that. When tension arises, the Performer will quietly leave–and may not come back.

The best careers for the Performer are (duh) the performing arts, but they also find success in fundraising and retail sales. Flight attendant, photographer, teacher, and receptionist are also good fits, as they deal with people on a daily basis. They avoid solitary technical occupations in science and engineering, and couldn’t stick to a schedule if their life depended on it. Famous ESFP’s include Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Elvis Presley, Bob Hope, and Marilyn Monroe. Fictional ESFP’s include Homer Simpson, Tim “The Toolman” Taylor from Home Improvement, and Kelly Bundy from Married with Children.


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