Friday, February 19, 2010

Fragrances for Myers Briggs Personality types!

In a most interesting experiment conducted by David Pybus, historian and head of Scents of Time, 150 executive women worldwide were questioned on their use of fragrance and their Myers Briggs personality type to determine any potential correspondence between the two.
Fundamentally there was some pairing between 16 Myers Briggs personality types matched to 16 fragrance types (the basic families divided in sub-sections) The 16th one bring absence of fragrance altogether (i.e. not wearing perfume); one has to account for that option too!
For each personality type some tendencies arised, in order of preference. Here they are:

NT (rational thinker)
Soft Florals
Woody Orientals
ST (practical)
Soft Floral
Woody Orientals
SF (feeling, sensing)
Soft Florals
Soft Orientals

NF (idealist)
Soft Florals
Woody Orientals
Soft Orientals/Orientals

SJ (traditional)
Soft Florals
Mossy Woods-

Intriguing, eh? David Pybus analyses the results on his site but he concludes nevertheless with a very thought-provoking question that leads to discussion: "Intuitive thought may lead us to believe that an introvert would use quiet, discrete perfumes, such as soft florals, whilst an extrovert would employ more strident aromatic brands if the use of perfumes was directed at self- enjoyment and character” stamping”. However, perhaps the reverse may be true? That extroverts use softer fragrances to damp down their personality, whilst introverts use the more strident brands to better project their presence. Indeed, is the use of perfume for a person’s outer (influencing others) or inner (influencing themselves) world?"

Read the whole article on this link.

And what do YOU think? Do you know your Myers Briggs type and does it fit the above choices? (If you don't you can take the test here).

thanks to Basenotes for drawing my attention to the article on Scents of Time.


  1. I'm an INFP - I do like SOME florals, adore orientals esp heavier ones, and really love moss...

    Maybe my self is trying to be harder, more traditional and rational through my perfume choices!

  2. Oh, now that's mighty interesting!

    I always thought the MB classification was very accurate (taking into account your % for each letter, E vs I, S vs N, etc), so matching it with scent preferences is delightful.

    Although, from what I understand reading the whole thing, I'd say the conclusion to his empiric test is that MB types can't really be matched up with scents: don't all charts go "floral - soft floral - oriental"?

    The brand preferences were very interesting as well. I'll just add that, well, I'm the poster child for INFPs, and I'm part of the remaining 2/3 that don't belong to Chanel ;)

    Actually, considering the reduced panel size he was working on, it would be mighty interesting to have a wider-scale study. Your readership alone could provide that, and boy, would I like to see the results!

    Thank you for an intriguing food for thought!

  3. Mystic Knot06:50

    Excellent nad interesting piece. I did the test and I am an INFJ- counselor. Seems pretty accurate.

  4. I also took the test because I didn't know what I was (INFJ) which translated into counselor. I read the desription of counselor and find it quite accurate, but what is listed as preferences goes the opposite way for me - I'd start with orientals and end with florals.

  5. I'd love to see his actual data, because it sounds to me like he didn't actually have statistically significant results of any sort.

    But that aside, the ideas involved are interesting.

    My degree is in psychology, so I've worked with the Myers-Briggs a lot, and I've taken the proper test several times. Over time I have changed (thank goodness) from an INTJ to an INTP, but my percentages on the T and F (thinking/feeling) are close. I also know that I'm most frequently percieved as an ENFP, INFP, or an ENTJ by the people closest to me. (And what you're percieved as compared to what you actually are is a very interesting avenue of exploration.)

    I actually think people who score I over E would be more likely to use fragrances directed at self-enjoyment than the more extroverted people, who I imagine would use fragrance more to draw others to them.
    I wouldn't go so far as to say that extroverts liking softer fragrances is to 'damp down their personality'.
    Though obviously reading intent into any findings is tenuous territory.

    I think it can be helpful to think of the Meyers Briggs types as 'where you focus your attention and energy' instead of 'who you fundamentally are' (even if these things are obviously inextricably linked). And if you think about what your focus and desired result from wearing perfume is, then the idea that introverts would wear perfume for self-enjoyment and that extroverts would wear perfume to appeal to and engage others does make sense.

    I would love to see a division along each aspect .. for example I noticed that the N (intuitive) people seem to like woody orientals, whereas people in the S (sensing) category tend to like soft orientals. Woody scents are considered 'meditative' by many - that fits in with someone who primarily intuits information rather than a sensing observer.

    It seems to suggest that Thinkers also prefer woody orientals - a more structured, individual construction while Feelers prefer soft orientals - a romantic sensual construction ... this would also fit with the types.
    And so forth.

    But ... mostly it seems like he's just found which fragrance groups are most popular. And overall trends and preferences in fragrance will always be difficult to separate from preferences by Myers-Briggs type in a study like this.

    OK, that was quite long. Sorry about that!

  6. I ended up as INTP. Architect. I must say that it quite fits, I'm a notorious nitpicker, grammar nazi and if I got a drilled cowrie shell every time I had told them they were totally wrong and proved right, I'd be a millionaire because them peoples just refuse to use their brains to think. Tee hee.

    But.... but florals! Soft florals, even! But for a handful of rosy thingies and an occasional oddity (Blue Rose being one of my loves), it's woods and vetiver for me... or is vetiver considered a flower, too? Should anyone care, I'm wearing a mixture of Encre Noire and Bois de Santal now.

    I checked the article - there are a few interesting thoughts but I'd say that at a certain point, it stops giving any sense. The perfume preferences for extroverts and introverts are practically the same - and yet for me, there's a huge distance between the heavy white florals like Mahora or Fracas that should better be used only in open spaces on windy days and some neat rose soliflor.
    Also, the last sentence, promising matching perfumes to signs of Zodiac says basically We're doing this for fun, the heck, science may be damned.

  7. BF,

    could be!! The study I believe concludes with the theory we try to project characteristics through our perfume choices, after all!

    Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Six,

    glad you enjoyed!

    There is some degree of simplification obviously and I'd wager that not all women are the executive type which was interviewed for this study, but it's a fun read.
    From what I notice there are a LOT of INF types (with J and P variables) so is that some signal on the part of perfume enthusiasts that we should take into account? I would be interested to hear more from our readers, although I fully understand that it would take them a lot of time to compile the test and then submit the results etc etc. Maybe one day....

    It IS a fascinating subject. I find anything codifiable fascinating really -contrary to common perception that champions individuality; individuality is great of course, who am I to deny it, but I find we're more alike than we care to admit. ;-)

  9. MK,

    as I said to Six above, it seems that lots of us fall into the INF group. It's quite interesting in and of itself, don't you think??

    I would be interested in hearing whether you agree with the choices made for you scentwise!

  10. Ines,

    thanks for playing along!! So, another INFJ here. Do I see a pattern? :-)
    I suppose it's what he says at the end that we tend to project a different image with our perfume choices, perhaps someone choosing orientals wants a more mysterious/exotic aura or someone who chooses florals wants to feel more feminine/romantic. Or something along those lines...Beyond the science, it's a bit of fun too!

  11. Proximity,

    I agree with you that the statistical sample was very small. Imagine if this were made into a full-scale study! I would pay good bucks to see this unfold.

    It's great that you're actually most equipped than any of us to judge this objectively and by all means, I ENJOYED your being long!! Bring it on, I say! You make several good points.

    To my mind the percentages of each "category" do play a role, as you point out in your own T&F footnote. Also life experience, as you so wisely say one can transcend from one category to another based on where they focus their energy on.
    It's interesting to note that most people reading perfume blogs and fora are of the Introvert type: I suppose there is a certain degree of introversion needed in order to focus so much on something like one's personal fragrance and to devote time and energy on finding out about it in a way that does not necessarily involve socializing (it does, but on a secondary level). Therefore to me the many introverts make perfect sense and it's no wonder so many of us first and foremost wear fragrance for ourselves. The fascinating aspect is probably how this intermingles with projecting an image too! Now there's an aspect I'd like to see studied. The boundaties, the interlappings, the manipulation of scent if you will in order to satisfy both goals.

    I've been reading a couple of philosophical style books lately that insist on finding your very own identity and projecting it like there' no tomorrow; and it seems to me, hey, this is the most difficult (but rewarding) thing to do!! It's all an adventure, don't you think?

  12. L,

    LOL, yes, it fits! Sometimes I do think people refuse to hear someone else tell them what's up because they defy the admission. They're just not ready for it, if you please.

    Vetiver is considered a woody note, so I would suggest reading Promixity's excellent and informative comment above. However rose is most definitely a soft floral, so you're not as hardened as you think ;-) It all fits too because rose and woods make a terrific blend as well!

    To be perfectly honest with you, I think despite the objective being interesting (nay fascinating!), there is a basic fault with the study in that the sample group is limited and of specific work circumstances. If there were farmers, nurses, university professors and stay at home wives mingled I would give more credence.

    Zodiac signs, bah, that's the most scientific, haven't you heard? :-)

  13. Anonymous01:19

    Hi- I don't know how old this post is, but I just stumbled upon it; and I believe I am the first extrovert to do so. So, HEEEEEEEEEYYYYYYY PEOPLE I'M HERE!!!! Anyhow, I am an ENTP and just adore a good woodsy oriental. The deeper and darker the fragrance the better..In fact, you can have your top notes. I like a couple of good base notes. I love scents like Prada and Narciso Rodriguez and Tom Ford's Black Orchid. I love Angel on other people, but it's absolutely repulsive on me. That's life I guess. I'm going to agree with whoever stated that intuitives probably like those deep notes better We are, by nature, more introspective, and those scents lead to conjuring thoughts and memories..at least they do for me.


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