The 16 Myers-Briggs Personality Types
S = Sensing Types - SJ & SP N = iNtuitive Types - NF & NT
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What Do The Letters Mean?

Experiencers - SP

Sensing Perceiving


The SP Experiencers must be free; they will not be tied or bound or confined nor obligated. To do as he wishes when he wishes, that's the ideal. To wait, to save, to store, to prepare, to live for tomorrow-that is not the way. For the SP, today must be enjoyed, for tomorrow never comes.

Duty, Power, and Spirit are of secondary, if any, importance to the SP. Action's the thing, and to understand the SP it is necessary to understand the kind of action he insists upon. Action must be its own end-it cannot serve a purpose or be instrumental in achieving a goal. Although the SP does not object when his deeds contribute to ends held by others, that cannot be his reason for doing what he is doing what he does. He does things because he has the urge, the whim.

SP's are, in essence, impulsive. The want to be impulsive. To be impulsive is to be really alive. SPs covet their impulses, enjoy feeling them well up within; and they love discharging them, like setting off an explosion. SP's even feel guilty if the don't have impulses! At one time or another we all feel these sudden urges to do something, but most of us ignore them, looking instead to more distant, more patient goals. We discipline this impulse to freedom in the name of Duty, Powers, or Spirit, while the SP feels only bound and confined. SP Angel

This is not to say the SP does not acquire goals and ties just like the rest of us. He/she does, of course, only they are fewer and more tentatively held. If the ties become too numerous or too binding, then the SP is likely to become restless and perhaps experience the urge to take off for "somewhere else".

The idea of action for itself can best be understood by comparing "practice" with "compulsion". Practice, first of all, is what we do to improve our skill in preparation for performance or work. It is not for keeps, not for real, we know it doesn't count, that it is mere rehearsal. SP's however, do not wish to practice, since it is only preparation for action later on. SP's do not practice' they do. Indeed, the SP must do what he/she feels the urge to do.

More than the other four temperaments, the SJ's, the NF's, and the NT's, the SP's is subject to what Karl Buehler calls "function lust"; a hunger for action without fetter or constraint, an exploratory action without the necessity for rules nor practice. The SP thrives on situations where the outcome is not known, where there is freedom to test the limits. Of all the styles, the SP works best in crises, and the deeper the crisis, the more apt she is respond quickly and dramatically. In fact, when circumstances become too dull and routine, the SP has been known to create a crisis-just to liven things up a little.

More than action, however, the SP wants others to see him being free to act, a free spirit as it were. It is not so much that the SP takes pride in being capable, or in having the power to do something-these are the prides of another style (the NT's). Rather, the SP prides herself precisely (and only) on her freedom. She is not saving knowledge or accumulating power; she is spending life as free as she can. Action cannot be saved for tomorrow, and each new day brings a need for excitement, adventure, risk, testing one's luck. Resources are to expended; machinery is to be operated; people are to be enjoyed. The SP has a hunger for operation threading through all his behaviors, and, beneath his activity, the need to be seen as free to operate.

SP Experiencers are frequently described by friends as "exciting, optimistic, cheerful, light-hearted, and full of fun." Socially, SP's tend to be charming and witty conversationalists, often having an inexhaustible repetoire of jokes and stories. Wherever they go, SP's (especially the extraverted SP's) lend an electricity to the environment and the people in that environment. The SP brings to work and to play a sense that something exciting is about to happen. The atmosphere takes on a glow, seems brighter, more colorful-charged with adventure.

The SP's need to live more fully in the present than any other style sometimes irritates others who expect to maintain the same level of intensity. Although friends enjoy the SP's generosity and good cheer, they sometimes report that ehty felt they knew their SP friends very well at the first meeting and never any better years later. Indeed, the style is often subject to denigration. People become fascinated and charmed by the SP's way of life, then disappointed when the SP does not live up to the projections other types place on him or her.

Experiencer Communication Style
The communication of Experiencers can said to be concrete in that they are apt to talk mostly about what is going on at the moment and what is immediately at hand. Most SPs spend little time considering things that cannot be observed or handled. That means they are likely to take things literally rather than figuratively and when making comparisons, to use similies rather than metaphors. Their everyday speech is typically filled with details and devoid of planning and they are more inclined to be specific rather than to generalize.

Many of our greatest poets and orators have been Experiencers. Why? Why are not the Idealists in the forefront, instead of only a few, along with but a handful of Conceptualists? It has been conceded that the Experiencers have captured most of the top spots in this domain because of their sensitivity to harmonic coherence, or "what sounds good". The Experiencers ear for sound is incomparable. Their consciousness is sensuous, highly attuned to audible consonance, and if they wish it, dissonance.

Experiencers, more than the other types, are comfortable with their bodies, an dthey frequently use their hands to help their speech along, almost always accompanying their spoken words with distinctive hand gestures. The most common gesture is the pawing motion, with the palm down and slightly bent, the thumb loosely held next to the fingers. More aggressive gestures include the closed fist used to pound home one's point, the index finger used to jab's one's point across, and the index finger apposed mid-joint by the thumb, used to peck at an opponent.

Experiencer Occupation Choices
The SP gravitates towards jobs where action is involved. Not only the performing arts, but construction work, jobs where heavy machinery is employed; the building operations for dams and skyscrapers, for freeways and mines; for leveling against the forces of nature, such as working the oil fields and logging the giant redwoods; promoting enterprises, driving ambulances. The statesman-negotiator, the entrepreneur who enjoys and succeeds in pulling businesses out of the red, the bartender, the hair stylist, the model, the detective, the police, the rescue squads are all professions which demand action and freedom to respond to the demands of the moment.

Experiencer - The Tactical Intellect
What Experiencers do most and best is work on their immediate environs in a tactical way. Tactics is the art of making moves to better one's position in the here and now, whether these moves are are dabbing oils on canvas, flying in rough weather, dishing off the basketball on a fast-break, or skirmishing on the battlefield. Contrast this to Strategy, which is the art of making moves to better one's position in the future.

SP battle leaders are no different from SP painters, pilots, or point guards: they are always scanning for opportunities, always looking for the best angle of approach, and so are able to come up with that particular action which at the moment gives them the greatest advantage, that brings success. Robert E. Lee, George Patton, and Erwin Rommel were all brilliant SP tactical leaders, able to notice the smallest details in their immediate surroundings, the slightest changes in foreground and background, which allowed them to grasp the moment and exploit fully whatever resources were at hand.

But whether on the battlefield or the stage, in the corporate suite or the political arena, SPs are busy making maneuvers with equipment of all sorts, from paint brushes to basketballs, jet planes to tanks-even singers, dancers, and actors call their voice or their body to be their "instrument", and comedians describe their skill with an audience as "working the room". Experiencers can handle equipment in an expediting or an improvising way-or both-but they are interested first, last, and always in working with equipment.

SP "Experiencer" Mating

A number of things attract us to the SP's, their optimism, their spontaneity, their generosity, their physical confidence, and many more. But s ure the SP Experiencer's most charming trait, and that quality which most characterizes their style of mating, is the incorrigible sense of fun and excitement they bring to their relationships.

Going out with an SP is a bit like taking a ride on a roller coaster. Wherever they are, whatever they are doing, no matter who they are with, SPs have a knack for excitement and will try to turn any occassion into a party or a high speed adventure-typically they are the "fast" dates parents often warn their children about. Expressive SP's are often the life of the party the center of attraction, teasing and joking with everyone around them; but even the the more reserved, private SPs are full of fun and mischief, and seem to view mating as a game to be played or a wild ride to be taken. Never a dull moment, if an SP can help it.

In dating, as in all other things, Experiencers want to be excited in action, and this usually means trying something new or taking some sort of risk-anything out of the ordinary, just to keep things interesting. It also means not getting tied down to one person for too long, but playing the field and experiencing as much freedom and variety as possible. SPs do not often go out with others in a serious search for a life partner, but are drawn to people impulsively, for the fun of it, and seem happiest when pursuing new relationships, much as they might enjoy travelling to a new part of the world. Such spur-of-the-moment intrigues are exhilarationg for SPs, but can also ca use them interpersonal problems. Experiencers can find themselves quickly involved with another person, only to find the romance growing stale and becoming a burden-the proverbial "tie that binds"-with the SP puzzled as to how to go about getting uninvolved. Confrontation is not likely to be their way of solving this problem; on the contrary, silence and absence are more likely to be the solution of choice.

Certainly a good deal of the Experiencer's excitement is sexual. In the first place, SPs more than the other temperaments seem to care about looking sexy, and will put in more time developing their bodies and keeping in shape, working out in the gym, jogging, doing aerobics, and so on-not just be fit and healthy, but to turn heads. Adenture in all things, including sex, is likely to appeal to the SP, and whether expressive or reserved, male or female, they have an avid interest in sexual abundance and experimentation. As the bumper sticker says: "So many little time."

The Experiencer's joy for life can be infectious, delighting other types (at least for awhile) with their playfulness and sweeping them along with a rush of excitement. Soulful NF Idealists can be enchanted by the Experiencer's lack of self-consciousness, and be their sheer physical attractiveness, and will often project into the impulsive, unreflective SP their own NF image of the spiritual poet or artist, a mistake often made by the more relective NF's. The SJ Traditionalists, most of all, find in the carefree, sensual Experiencer an almost irresistable counterbalance to their own firmly set attitude of concern and responsibility. Indeed for all of the temperaments, but especially for the Traditionalists, dating an Experiencer is a little like taking a wonderful vacation; the freedom and novelty are great fun for awhile, and help lift the weight of more serious matters off their shoulders.

On the other hand, the light-hearted, let the good times roll nature of the Experiencers often becomes somewhat frustrating and disappointing to the other temperaments. Fun and games are rarely enough to keep NF Idealists, Conceptualists, and Traditionalists well-satisfied for very long in a relationship. The other types will eventually want more than a playmate for a partner, and will attempt to steer the SP into deeper waters.

Once an Experiencer does agree to a serious relationship, speed is again of the essence. Long, drawn-out courtships are not apt to hold their attention, drven as they are by their need for action, which includes acting on their impulses as they occur. When ready to settle down, SP's might actually appear to be quite decisive in their choices of mates, but this is apt to be the whim of the moment, rather than a carefully thought through decision that would, for instance, characterize an NT Conceptualist.

While SP Experiencers are extremely alert about concrete reality, their tendancy to accept whatever exists at the moment can make it hard for them to recognize true quality or compatibility in a mate. Whoever happens to be there at the right time is likely to be accepted, and in this process the SP might not be able to differentiate between a person who is capable of great loyalty and person who is just passing through. Always optimistic and risk-loving, Experiencers are not usually on the lookout for potential dangers in relationships, and this can lead them, particularly the females, into involvements which might be unwise.

SP Married Life
In married life, as on their honeymoons, SP Experiencers are easy to get along with. They can have a temper, its true, and may be quick to anger, but the anger is likely to pass as quickly as it arises. More often, SPs have uncritical, happy dispositions and take their marriages in stride, not looking for a match made in heaven, indeed, willing to put up with a great deal of imperfection. For instance, SPs can accept negative comments about thier habits with relative ease, not long bothered by the criticism. Their tolerance for nagging is remarkable-like "water off a duck's back"-though a carping spouse will usually find the SP spending less time at home. And an Experiencer is likely to be adaptable and agreeable with whatever is happening in the sexual sphere, though a hopelessly frigid or repetitive sex life can start them looking elsewhere for more stimulation.

Marriage with an Experiencer is nothing if not stimulating. They truly do rush in where angels fear to tread-sexually, socially, and, at times, economically. Financial matters, or spending-saving patterns, are a source of conflict in most marriages, but SPs typically, present their mates with major money problems. For SPs, money, like sex, is to be used and enjoyed, not saved for a rainy day. They make a bundle one day, but spend it all the next-here today, gone tomorrow-and their mates must be prepared to accept a life of feast or famine. Generally, Experiencers do not tend to attach much priority to saving their resources, either sexually or financially, as might a Traditionalist would; rather time, money, energy must be used-right away-to explore the chic restaurant, the hottest fashion, the newest tool, the latest model car or motorcycle, regardless of price.

Married life for Experiencers tends to find them satisfying their hunger for action through a number of physical activities. Male SPs spend alot of time in their garages, working on their cars, making furniture, tinkering with tools of all kinds-and readying their sports equipment. Male SPs are heavily into sports, especially time consuming sports, needing extensive gear (such as fishing, hunting, surfing, sailing, dirt-biking, and the like), so that their wives often come to feel like sports-widows. Female SPs get involved in sports as well (tennis, golf, skiing), but also use their homes for arts and crafts. Clutter is acceptable to the SP female, and her home tends to be filled with various projects in various stages of completion. She may get excited about gourmet cooking for a time, and then move on to an avid interest in weaving or throwing pots. Color is likely to be abundant and strong. Plants are apt to be set about the rooms in profusion. Drop-in guests are sure to be welcome almost any time, and the female Experiencer is not apt, as would be the SJ Traditionalist, to be put off balance by a less-than-guest-ready home. She is more likely to share cheerfully and freely whatever is there, pushing aside current projects to make room for seating or eating.

SP Experiencer Pairings
Easy going and fun to be around, Experiencers can mate successfully with all the temperaments, particularly if there exists a good degree of sexual compatibility. But each pairing has its strengths and its weaknesses as does it for all of the temperaments.

SP Experiencer to NF Idealist
Generally the Experiencers' excitement and sensuousness dovetail nicely with the enthusiasm and the romanticism of the
NF Idealists, and they can be intrigued by the NFs spirituality and sense of personal ethics, so different from their own hedonism. However, chances are that Experiencers will grow puzzled by, and slightly cynical about, the Idealist's moral delicacy, by their need for personal enlightenment, as well as by what Experiencers sometimes call the NFs' "airy fairy" soulfulness and flights of fancy.

SP Experiencer to NT Conceptualist
Experiencers can feel right at home with the Conceptualist's natural pragmatism, irreverence, and love of tools, while they can be impressed by the NTs' theoretical interests, so different from their own practical, tactical grasp of things. On the other hand, it sometimes happens that Experiencers grow impatient wiht a Conceptualists desire for extensive knowledge. And they can feel resentful and annoyed of the NT's calm, detached life of the mind, as if their own SP gift of physical pleasure is somehow inferior when viewed from the NT's abstract heights.

SP Experiencer to SP Experiencer
Experiencers have a considerable better time of it mating with other Experiencers. Two SPs live primarily in the same world, the world of external, physical reality, speaking the same language of concrete objects, and they also share each other's childlike love of fun and excitement. Two SPs have so many interests and activities in common-travel, sports, parties, shows, clothes, and so on-that they can come together as playmates in a way not possible with persons of other temperament. The only problem is, and it is a major one, that with both partners living and playing so hard-going so fast in the same direction-they can quickly exhaust each other and lose interest. This pattern of two Experiencers lighting up the sky brightly and then burning out and falling apart is a familiar one.

SP Experiencer to SJ Traditionalist
The SP Experiencer - SJ Traditionalist Marriage is the most common marriage pairing found between all the temperament types. This is for two reasons. The two temperaments complement each other well and due to sheer numbers alone, being the most commonly found of all the temperaments, (both types together comprising 85% of the general population), the odds are high that they will find each other when courting. Not only do Experiencers and
Traditionalists both make their home in the concrete world of Sensing, but their complementary natures seem to fill a void in each others temperaments. Here is the adventurous, fun loving SP, bursting with energy and yearing for excitement of new experiences, attracted to the concerned and responsible SJ, the "Rock of Gibralter" stanind watch over the established rules and traditions of society. In may ways, the match seems incongruous and difficult to account for, and yet the frequency with which SPs choose to marry SJs is compelling. Perhaps the seeking of the stability they lack, perhaps wanting some missing center of their lives, perhaps just needing someone to take care of them-whatever the reason, Experiencers choose Traditionalists by far over any other temperament.

And just as frequently these SP-SJ marriages to well over time, with Experiencers and Traditionalists often finding a comfortable balance in their opposition: the SJ able to settle the SP down a good deal, and the SP able to loosen up the SJ. Indeed, it often takes the moral weight of Traditionalists expectations to get Experiencers off of their motorcycles (surfboards, airplanes, race cars, sail-boats) long enough to get careers built or to raise families, just as it takes the high jinx of Experiencers to bring a smile to the Traditionalist's face and help them to bear up under the burdens of life. In many cases, SP-SJ marriages resemble the relationship between a mischievous child and a caretaking parent. SP husbands, in particular, tend to call their SJ wives "Mother", just as SJ wives often refer to their SP husbands as just another one of their "boys". The inherent conflicts in such a relationship may even be enjoyable up to a certain point; the Experiencer likes to have someone to tease, and the Traditionalist likes to have someone to care for. Points of conflict are there, to be sure-between impulse and deliberation, between insubordination and respect for duty, between spending and saving-but as long as these differences are taken in stride, with tolerance and good will on both sides, SP-SJ marriages go along nicely, and the Pygmalion Projects remain benign as they should be. SPs should learn to demonstrate their appreciation for the stability and protectiveness that the Traditionalist brings to the relationship and the SJ needs to allow the Experiencer freedom to play and to value the joy that the Experiencer brings to the journey of Life.

For mutual growth, the Traditionalist should be included in some of the play of the Experiencer and the Experiencer, by the same token, needs to willingly participate in some of the family, social, and civic duties that the Traditionalist values as important.

What Do The Letters Mean?