After my last two posts – Mob Deprogramming and MBTI and Pair Programming – I felt I needed more data on MBTI types in software development. Most of the latter post was after all based on just the one study.

I looked around for more data and read up on what others were saying about personality types in software development.

I made a table of MBTI types based on four different sources*, and it turned out slightly different than the first one.

SW DevsTypeGeneral PopDiff
18%ISTJ12%50%
17%ESTJ9%89%
8%INTP3%166%
8%INTJ2%300%
7%ESTP4%75%
6%ISTP5%20%
6%ENTP3%100%
6%ISFJ14%−57%
5%ENTJ2%150%
4%ISFP9%−55%
4%ENFP8%−50%
4%ESFP9%−56%
3%ESFJ12%−75%
3%INFP4%−25%
2%INFJ2%0%
2%ENFJ3%−33%

On various forums a lot of people claiming INTP to be the most common personality type among software developers. I found this strange, as none of my sources indicated this. But when I calculated the difference between software developers and the general US public I understood why.

There is a clear over representation of INTP among software developers – almost 170% more. However, INTJ was even more over represented at three times more than the general population. However, in actual numbers, ISTJ and ESTJ appear to be the most common type.

Another one that sticks out is ENTJ, which is not surprising when thinking about all the strong willed, confident, driven but also arrogant and impatient tech entrepreneurs – or entreprenerds as some might call them.

The numbers also, once again, disprove the old notion that programmers are introverts. There is a slight over representation in the data (54% in developers vs. 51% in the general population). A difference so small it can’t be called a significant personality trait in developers.

T (Thinking) on the other hand can easily be said to be a significant trait in developers. The least likely type to work in software development appears to be ESFJ. In fact, all the F (Feeling) types are under represented, which is very interesting.

It shines some light on the often occurring problem when developers struggle to understand users and users are unable to express their needs in a way developers can understand. The user-base might be predominantly F-types, and in my experience F and T-types have very different perspectives on things and ways of expression.

Being an F-type myself I might have to look further into this.

Another interesting aspect I found, is the US-centric approach we often take in methods and practices of software teams.

While the data I have collected is too small to draw any certain conclusions, it hints at a different make up of types depending on country. Different personality types are drawn to software development in India than in the US. National and corporate culture both play a big role in how work is valued and organised, making different types drawn to “the same job” in different cultures.


* Sources:
https://oro.open.ac.uk/24433/7/EBAA5796.pdf
https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=1005&context=electricalpub
https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1511/1511.04411.pdf
http://www.wiete.com.au/journals/GJEE/Publish/vol13no2/02J-Capretz-L-F.pdf