Smart Kids, Personality Types and How They Adapt — or Not — to School

Deborah Ruf, PhD
15 min readFeb 29, 2020

Deborah L. Ruf, PhD ©2008, 2011

Personality typing has been used for years in various personal and career counseling situations because it helps people to understand their own motivations and needs compared to those of others with whom they live and work. An excellent paper by Piirto (1998) summarizes personality type studies of gifted children and teachers. She points out that various authors have discovered and interpreted school behavior differences that are correlated with personality type preferences (e.g., Jones and Sherman (1979); Murphy, 1992; Myers and McCaulley, 1985; Myers and Myers, 1980), as well as studies of teacher types and interests (Betkouski and Hoffman, 1981; Piirto, 1998). For example, we know that the majority classroom teacher type preference is ESFJ (Betkouski and Hoffman (1981), while that of talented students is ENFP with a higher than the population average being introverted among this group (Piirto, 1998). Here briefly is an informal summary of what each letter means:

E-Extroversion — Energized by being with people, interacting with others. Does not mean talkative; an E can be quiet, even shy.

I-Introversion — Gains energy by being alone; down time generally means “alone time.” Introverts can be talkative and good in groups, but they need “alone time” to recharge.

S-Sensing — Gather information through their five senses; detail-oriented; don’t like theories as much as facts. Like lists, clear directions, time tables. Often very literal, miss nuance, have difficulty generalizing.

N-Intuition — Use intuition and hunches; analytical and theoretical; see the “big picture” and not as interested in the details. Like to create their own plan after they understand a situation; bored by routine; comfortable with some uncertainty.

F-Feeling — Feelings matter, are important; like win-win solutions; generous with praise and affirmations. Sometimes make less than ideal choices in order to please everyone; often hurt when not appreciated; can be quite sensitive to others.

T-Thinking — Practical, direct, expedient. Logic rather than emotion. Other people’s feelings may be an afterthought; may seem insensitive.

Deborah Ruf, PhD

High Intelligence Specialist & Writer, Dr. Ruf writes about highly intelligent people from birth to very old age.