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Barack Obama: Our Seventh Rationalist (NT) US President, according to Psychological Type Theory

By JD Meyer
Posted Oct 19, 2010 in Politics
Barack Obama: Our Seventh Rational (NT) President, by J.D. Meyer
As a fan of Psychological Type Theory and Barack Obama, I wrote an article for in 2008 that tried to show that Obama would be our first Idealist (NF) president. My observations were close to accurate by noting the future President’s Intuitive information-gathering style, but I saw Feeling instead of the more likely Thinking side in his decision-making. One commenter agreed with my assessment of his Intuitive side as well and thought that he may have been an Idealist in his younger community organizer days or before. But she leaned toward Obama being a Rationalist nowadays. Then I got an email a little over a year later from an official Psychological Type Theory website confirming Obama’s Rationalist temperament--together with his greater popularity among Idealists and Rationals--but unpopularity among Guardians (SJ) primarily and Artisans (SP) to a lesser extent Nevertheless, my 2008 Associated Content article gained a lot of blogs, perhaps because I admitted in a “woops note” in a comment to my own article about the official diagnosis of a Rational temperament for Obama. I must note that there has never been an Idealist president in the US, and there still isn’t one. Why there hasn’t been an Idealist president is beyond the scope of this article. The Intuitive information gathering scale is rare (roughly 25%) to begin with.
Let’s start with a listing of the other six Rational (NT) presidents because of the profundity of their pattern in time and most famous achievements. We had a streak of three NT’s in a row in the early days of the democracy: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe. Then there was a gap until Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses Grant. Finally, Dwight Eisenhower was the only Rationalist in the entire 20th Century! Those statistics say a great deal to anyone with at least a rudimentary knowledge of US history without psychological analysis. I give this paragraph as the short version of the story for my associates.
Note that all of the "early three" presidents wrote visionary documents: The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and the Monroe Doctrine. Later Lincoln guided the US through the Civil War; two presidents later was Grant, the leading general of the Union during the Civil War. Finally, some eighty years later, we had Eisenhower--the top US general of World War II.
True Colors shows Psychological Type Theory at its highest accessibility for those of all ages. The NT/Rationalist is known as Green in True Colors lingo. Throughout the description of the Green Temperament, the love of knowledge, new ideas, invention, and competence shows strongly.But the far more common SJ/Guardians or Gold value conformity, tradition, stability, and rules. It's logical to see where there could be a collision between the values of our NT/Rationalist Green President and his close advisors versus a giant group of SJ/Guardian Golds among the Republicans in congress and the Tea Party.
To narrow Barack Obama's personality from temperament to profile, I'd lean toward extroverted (E) and judging (J)--the Fieldmarshall: ENTJ. describes the ENTJ as driven "by a need to analyze and bring into logical order the outer world..natural leaders who build conceptual models that serve as models for strategic action...and prefer a world that is structured and organized."
No wonder President Obama devised models such as Race for the Top--a contest in which the federal department of education rewards the state with the best education plans. Tennessee won the first round, and there were more winners in the second round. On the other hand, Texas was one of the few states not to enter the competition, fearing that the Race to the Top would lead to federal control. Some right-wing politicians even favor dismantling the federal department of education.Could we have a collision of NT vision versus SJ tradition here--not just Democrat versus Republican?
How could the US have had a streak of three NT presidents in a row during the early days of the republic? The need for vision more than business as usual looms likely. Yet a higher respect for education must be considered too. Who could forget that classic Sarah Palin statement concerning President Obama about how the American people don't want to be lectured by a professor? This Idealist writing this article asks, "Why not?" One of Barack Obama's previous professions was senior lecturer of law for the prestigious University of Chicago. The NT/Rationalist temperament is the most likely of the four to obtain advanced degrees and go toward technical fields, such as science and engineering.
Unfortunately for the President, the modern anti-intellectual spirit is highest among young African-Americans, some of his most likely defenders. Richard Thompson Ford analyzes Stuart Buck's book Acting White in "How to Understand 'Acting White':" Could desegregation have caused the culture of academic underperformance?" . Desegregation led to the closing and dispersal of black teachers and administrators. Suddenly doing well academically looked bad to Black youth. Then previously closed fields opened to African Americans further reducing their presence as role models in schools. So policy analysis and defense of the President may be a statistically unlikely event from young African-Americans.
Yet it's no secret that to win the presidency, Barack Obama put together a broad coalition well beyond the 13% African-American population in the US. Yahoo employees donated lots of money and time, and Obama's grassroots campaigning through the Internet was never seen previously. Certainly, these groups are bound to be integrated, though probably predominantly white. These are two categories of supporting groups that Obama will need for defense of his policies--perhaps with attention to the NT/Rationalist/Green temperament.