ESTP is one of the 16 personality types identified by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). People with this personality type are frequently described as outgoing, action-oriented, and dramatic. ESTPs are outgoing and enjoy spending time with a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. They are interested in the here-and-now and are more likely to focus on details than taking a broader view of things.
People with this personality type are logical. When making decisions, they place a higher value on objectivity rather than personal feelings. ESTPs don’t like to be pinned down by excessive planning. Instead, they like to improvise and keep their options open.
According to psychologist David Keirsey, the creator of the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, approximately 4—10% of people exhibit an ESTP personality. It is believed to be one of the most common personality types.2
Key ESTP Characteristics
ESPTs tend to exhibit a number of characteristics centered on their tendency to be extraverted sensors. They tend to be decisive thinkers with strong people skills. ESTPs also tend to:
- Make decisions quickly: When confronted by problems, people with this personality type quickly look at the facts and devise an immediate solution. They tend to improvise rather than spend a great deal of time planning.
- Prefer the practical over the abstract: ESTPs don’t have a lot of use for abstract theories or concepts. They are more practical, preferring straightforward information that they can think about rationally and act upon immediately.
- Have strong social skills: They are very observant, often picking up on details that other people never notice. Other people sometimes describe them as “fast-talkers” who are highly persuasive. In social settings, they often seem like they are a few steps ahead of the conversation.
- Act impulsively at times: ESTPs are not planners. They react in the moment and can often be quite impulsive or even risk-taking. This ‘leap before they look’ attitude can be problematic at times and it may lead them to saying or doing things that they wish they could take back.
One common myth about ESTPs is that they are reckless. In some instances, people with this personality type can veer into reckless behavior. In most cases, however, ESTPs act quickly based on their impressions and logic.Strengths
- Gregarious, funny, and energetic
- Influential and persuasive
- Adaptable and resourceful
- Dramatic at times
- Easily bored
The MBTI suggests that personality is also composed of a number of different mental functions (sensing, thinking, intuition, and feeling) that are either directed inwardly (introverted) or outwardly (extraverted). The most prominent of these plays the largest role in personality, while the secondary function acts as a co-pilot. The tertiary and inferior functions tend to have smaller influence.
Dominant: Extraverted Sensing
Extraverts gain energy from social engagement. Because of this, they tend to be outgoing, engaging, and novelty-seeking. Because they are more outward-turning, they also tend to seek stimulation through the senses.
- Reality focused: Because they are so focused on the present world, ESTPs tend to be realists.2 They are interested in the sights, sounds, and experiences that are going on immediately around them, and they have little use for daydreams or flights of fancy.
- Sensation seeking: As sensors, people with this personality type want to touch, feel, hear, taste, and see anything and everything that might possibly draw their interest. When learning about something new, it’s not just enough to read about it in a textbook or listen to a lecture – they want to experience it for themselves.
- High energy: ESTPs also have lots of energy, so they can become bored in situations that are tedious or in learning situations that involve a great deal of theoretical information.
- Action-oriented: ESTPs are the quintessential “doers” – they get straight to work and are willing to take risks in order to get the job done. ESTPs enjoy being active, but they also like that activity to feel practical and productive. For example, they might grow bored by the same exercise routine or by running on the treadmill; they’d prefer seeking novel activities or doing something useful.
Auxiliary: Introverted Thinking
When making judgments about the world, ESTPs focus inwardly where they process information in a logical and rational way. Because this side of personality is introverted, it is something that people may not immediately notice.
- Highly disciplined: This inner sense of control gives ESTPs a great deal of self-discipline. They are skilled at working independently and can be very goal-directed when they want to achieve an objective.
- Very observant: They have excellent observational skills, noticing things that others may overlook. As they take in information, they then apply their sense of logic to look for practical and immediately applicable solutions.
Tertiary: Extraverted Feeling
This function focuses on creating social harmony and relationships with others. While emotions are not an ESTPs strongest suit, they do have a great need for social engagement.
- Outgoing: They enjoy being at the center of attention and are good at establishing a friendly rapport with other people.
- People-pleasing: While they are social, ESTPs are sometimes less comfortable sharing their opinions and judgments with others. Rather than rock the boat, they are more focused on pleasing others and maintaining harmony. They may overlook their own needs at times to ensure that other people are happy.
- Humanitarian: This aspect of personality also drives ESTPs to want to use their skills to help others and make the world a better place. They feel concerned for others and are able to see practical solutions to problems.
Inferior: Introverted Intuition
This aspect of personality focuses on looking at information in order to see patterns and develop a “gut feeling” about situations. This aspect of personality allows ESTPs to gain impressions of incoming data and develop a sense of the future.
- Seek connections: They may look for connections that will allow them to gain a sense of what to expect will happen next.
- Sometimes distrust instinctive reactions: Intuition is not an ESTPs strong suit, but they will sometimes develop strong gut reactions to a situation that may actually be completely inaccurate. Because of this, they may feel that they do not have good instincts.
Because this aspect of personality is not as strong, it can sometimes become something of a weakness. When well developed, people with strong intuition will use the ability to take what they have learned through their senses to look for patterns and make connections. When poorly developed, people may make leaps in judgment that are not backed up by evidence.
ESTPs You Might Know
- Donald Trump, businessman and U.S. President
- Madonna, singer
- Ernest Hemingway, novelist
- Thomas Edison, inventor
- Captain James T. Kirk, fictional character, Star Trek
As extroverts, ESTPs gain energy from being around other people. In social settings, people with this personality type are seen as fun, friendly, and charming.
- Strong people skills: According to Keirsey, people with this personality type are particularly skilled at influencing people. ESTPs are not only great at interacting with other people, they have a natural ability to perceive and interpret nonverbal communication.
- Difficulty with commitment: While they are great with people, ESTPs prefer to live in the moment which can sometimes make it hard for them to commit to a relationship. Because they are so focused on the present, it can be difficult to think about their long-term plans.
- Can seem insensitive: ESPTs sometimes have a hard time tuning in to what others are thinking or feeling. They can sometimes say things that might be perceived as insensitive and may need to put in extra effort to pay attention to their friends and partners.
The MBTI also suggests that certain personality types may exhibit preferences and strengths that align them with certain careers.3 People with an ESTP personality type feel energized when they interact with a wide variety of people, so they do best in jobs that involve working with others. They strongly dislike routine and monotony, so fast-paced jobs are ideal.
ESTPs have several different personality characteristics that make them well-suited for certain careers. Because of their strong people skills, ESTPs tend to do very well in careers that involve sales and marketing.
Because they are action-oriented and resourceful, they are great in first-responder positions that require fast-thinking and quick responses such as emergency medical personnel and police officers.
Popular ESTP Careers
- Computer support technician
- Police officer
- Sales agent
Tips for Interacting With ESTPs
If your friend, co-worker, loved one, or partner is an ESTP, there are some things that you can do that can improve your communication and interaction with them. Learning more about what makes this personality type tick can help you understand them better.4
ESTPs have an inexhaustible thirst for adventure. You can be a good friend by always being ready to head out for a new experience, or even by coming up with plans that offer excitement, novelty, and challenge.
ESTP children can be adventurous and independent, which is why parents need to set boundaries and ensure that fair, consistent discipline is used. Kids with this type of personality need lots of hands-on activities to keep them busy, but they may struggle in classroom settings where they quickly grow weary of routines.
ESTPs are exciting and fun-loving, but they can grow bored with routines quickly. They do not enjoy long, philosophical discussions but like to keep the conversation flowing as they talk about shared interests and passions. Be aware that your partner prefers to take things day by day, may struggle with making long-term commitments and has a hard time making plans for the future.