The ESTP Personality Type: Key Traits, Strengths, Weaknesses & More
According to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), each of us falls under one of 16 personalities. And in the case of the ESTP, this is one Myers-Briggs type that's pretty easy to spot because of its highly social and risk-taking characteristics.
The ESTP personality type.
ESTP stands for Extroverted, Sensing, Thinking, and Perceiving. This personality type makes up roughly 4% of the population, with ESTPs twice as likely to be men than women.
According to licensed therapist De-Andrea Blaylock-Solar, MSW, LCSW-S, CST, this type is sometimes referred to as "the Entrepreneur," and they're known to be very active, social, and even impulsive.
"They're risk takers. Even though they can be observant, they kind of just dive right into the situation—they are very passionate folks," she explains.
ESTP famous characters and people:
- Anna Wintour
- Malcolm X
- Angelina Jolie
- John F. Kennedy
- Donald Trump
- Bart Simpson, The Simpsons
- Gimli, Lord of the Rings
- Bandit Keith, Yu-Gi-Oh!
- Sirius Black, Harry Potter
5 key traits:
According to Blaylock-Solar, ESTP people are known for having somewhat of a "live fast, die young" attitude that wants to keep busy, experience a lot of things, and always be in the middle of something.
That aforementioned fast-paced attitude often looks like impulsivity and impatience, with Blaylock-Solar noting that ESTPs tend to rush into things without much forethought because they enjoy risk and drama. This includes the things they say out loud, as well.
Being a Sensing type, ESTPs are known to be logical, practical, and keen observers of their environment. "They can be a bit insensitive, living more in the intellectual space than being in touch with their emotions and feelings," Blaylock-Solar tells mbg, adding, "They're not as emotionally charged, but very practical, and they can reason very well."
The ESTP tends to be "very bold," according to Blaylock-Solar, and quite passionate in their expression. Rule-averse and highly original, the ESTP's passion often ends up presenting as defiance, she adds, noting that ESTPs want the autonomy to do their own thing as much as possible.
Lastly, the ESTP is known for their directness, which could be viewed as a strength or weakness, depending who you ask. As Blaylock-Solar explains, they can come off as insensitive, though "directness can be very helpful, and it's a skill that a lot of people don't have—this type of personality is able to say exactly what they mean and mean what they say."
- Risk seeking
- Rule breakers
- Attention to detail can lead to "tunnel vision"
When it comes to relationships, romantic and otherwise, ESTPs are going to attract people who enjoy their sociable, bold, and direct spirit. On the other hand, folks who are more sensitive and introverted might find ESTPs to be overwhelming and even harsh.
As Blaylock-Solar explains, they do have a way of loving without inhibition, but their adventurous attitude doesn't always translate to a desire for romance. These people want to keep things interesting, and their logical mind can be quick to let a relationship go if they get bored.
When they do commit, however, the relationship is sure to be fun, exciting, and full of action. "Having a partner who is more adventurous—who can go toe-to-toe with them—that would be helpful as opposed to someone who's not," Blaylock-Solar explains.
Board-certified clinical psychologist Kristina Hallett, Ph.D., ABPP, has previously echoed a similar point, writing for mbg that "Differences in extroversion/introversion may cause the most conflict in long-term relationships. Opposites in this dimension may really enjoy each other in the beginning, but over the long haul, the stay-home-vs.-go-out debate can result in repeated friction."
A few examples:
ESTP and INFJ
An INFJ has all the opposite traits of an ESTP, and say what you want about opposites attracting, but according to both Blaylock-Johnson and Hallett, these two may have difficulty connecting. INFJs are highly intuitive, sensitive, introverted, and structured, while ESTPs are not, and so there's not a lot of middle ground between these two personalities. (Here's more on INFJ compatibility.)
ESTP and INFP
Another particularly sensitive and intuitive personality type, the INFP is another type that may not click well with an ESTP romantically. As Dario Nardi, Ph.D., a personality expert and author of Neuroscience of Personality previously told mbg, INFPs' sensitive and idealistic nature can also make dating and intimacy a challenge to begin with, and with ESTPs being known for their brash and bold attitude, there could definitely be some tension here.
ESTP in the workplace.
According to Blaylock-Solar, ESTPs as colleagues in the workplace are going to have a "work hard, play hard" mentality, and they expect everybody to do what they're supposed to be doing. "If they are in a position where they feel like they have to carry the weight, then it's a problem—but if everybody is contributing in an equitable manner, these folks can be actually fun to work around."
Their impulsive and somewhat unstructured propensities can cause some difficulty, as they don't love following rules, which is why Blaylock-Solar adds this type also likes careers where they can work with people on their own terms. Think something like sales: The ESTP still interacts with clients, but they won't necessarily be micromanaged by a superior while they're working.
These people are perceptive, original, and great networkers, so they will often thrive in client-facing roles, as well as roles in which they can be their own boss. (Hence the title "Entrepreneur.")
Common ESTP careers:
- Military or law enforcement
- Real estate
How to thrive as an ESTP:
Get in touch with your emotions.
Being a highly logical personality, an ESTP can benefit from getting in touch with their emotions and, further, learning how to feel safe to express those emotions to others in a healthy, compassionate way.
"If you know that it's very challenging for you to get in touch with your emotions, instead of just leaning on that [as a defense mechanism], challenge yourself to grow in those areas, and figure out what ways to express and experience my emotions," Blaylock-Solar suggests.
Tune in to your body.
Blaylock-Solar also suggests ESTPs do some work to tune in to their bodies, especially when they're feeling particularly activated, impulsive, or passionate. Noticing what's going on in their bodies before they make rash decisions, she says, is beneficial "because sometimes our bodies tell us what we're feeling before our intellect."
And lastly, Blaylock-Solar says ESTPs would benefit from "taking a beat," as it were. This is an impulsive and risk-taking personality type, and that doesn't always serve them. Whether it's finding more structure in your everyday life, taking a pause before jumping into something, or just thinking before you speak, she says.
What is the ESTP personality type?
ESTP stands for Extroverted, Sensing, Thinking, and Perceiving, and they're known for being highly social and even a bit reckless. Some common traits exhibited by people with this personality type include bold, passionate, impulsive, social, practical, logical, defiant, and original.
Are ESTP types narcissists?
ESTP types have a certain defiant and self-centered attitude that can sometimes translate to narcissism. That's not to say every ESTP is a narcissist, but when unbalanced, this type does have the potential for displaying narcissistic qualities.
Who should an ESTP marry?
There is no one type that's a guaranteed match for any of the Myers-Briggs types, but given what we know about MBTI compatibility, an ESTP will thrive with a partner who is equally adventurous but perhaps offers some much-needed structure (like J types).
ESTPs, while sometimes a bit brash, are fun-loving, passionate people who love socializing, observing, and taking action. As long as you can keep up with their fast pace—and aren't easily offended—these folks can be exciting and energizing co-workers, friends, or lovers.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.