Can You Change Your Personality?

[adsense float=’right’]There is a new study from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine that seems to indicate that one area of your personality can be changed by the drug psilocybin, which is found in “magic mushrooms.”

This could be interesting for us in marketing and selling if it is true. For one thing, it would upset marketing strategies based on personality traits, which I’ve found to be the most powerful tool in modern times to get people to buy your products. But on the other hand, if you can change a person’s personality by inducing drugs into their system, it could make other forms of merchandising more effective. For example, we know that gambling casinos pump in certain aromas into the casino, which they believe gets their gaming clients to wager more money.

So I was interested in reading this new study. Unfortunately, it has a lot of holes in it.

First of all, the study only used people with the NF personality temperament. If you recall, from the Myers Briggs Personality Test, the “N” stands for intuition, and the letter “F” stands for feeling. When the two letters are in the same personality profile, they create a unique type of personality that is easily distinguishable.

In the Personality Marketing Manual, I use the metaphor of “Morale Officer in the Human Army” to describe the people with the NF letter combination.

The Morale Officers have this underlying concerned with making sure everyone around them is happy (including themselves). Why? Because I believe that the human race is optimized to fight and survive wars. Basically, we’re an Army. And an army cannot be an effective fighting force if its members are demoralized or hurting. It needs a group of people to look after their health and welfare, including their mental health. This is why the “Morale Officers” are here on earth with the rest of us.

In this new study, the only people that were studied where NF’s. How do we know this? I picked this up from one article about the study at It quotes the study:

The current research involved 52 adult volunteers, whose self-described motivations were generally “curiosity about the effects of psilocybin and the opportunity for extensive self-reflection.”

We know from the Personality Marketing Manual, that the only personality temperament that is interested in extensive self-reflection are the Morale Officers. They are consumed by it.

Basically, the study didn’t get anyone else from the other three personality types to participate in the study. And that is a shame. So we don’t have a complete picture of the effects of the drug on the rest of the Army (humanity).

The participants were given a personality test prior to being given the drug. It was similar to the Myers Briggs Personality Test, but is the more “scholarly” version called the NEO Personality Inventory, which measures what is called the Big Five Personality Traits.

As a point of reference, here is how I’d cross-reference the NEO personality Inventory with the Myers Briggs Type Indicator as:

Myers Briggs Type Indicator
Pretty much identical to MBTI
E vs. I
Openness to Experience
This trait distinguishes imaginative people from down-to-earth, conventional people.
S vs. N
This trait reflects individual differences in general concern for social harmony. Agreeable individuals value getting along with others — in other words, they are Feelers.
T vs. F
This is the tendency to show self-discipline, act dutifully, and aim for achievement against measures or outside expectations.
P vs. J
This fifth trait isn’t in the MBTI. It measures the tendency to experience negative emotions, such as anger, anxiety, or depression.

In the study, after the drug psilocybin was administered to the participants, they were given the personality test again. And they were followed up and given the test a few times during the next year.

What the study found was that the participants scored higher values on only one of the personality traits: “Openness to Experience.” As the chart above shows, this would be equivelant to making their “N” score higher in the MBTI.

The other personality traits measured in the study had no significant change in scores.

Here are some of the “Openness to Experience” questions that are typically used to tell if the person is either an Intuitive (N) or Sensation (S) person:

  • I have a rich vocabulary.
  • I have a vivid imagination.
  • I have excellent ideas.
  • I am quick to understand things.
  • I use difficult words.
  • I spend time reflecting on things.
  • I am full of ideas.
  • I am not interested in abstractions.
  • I do not have a good imagination.
  • I have difficulty understanding abstract ideas.

The question proposed in the study is this: does Psilocybin (which we know acts at the serotonin 5-HT2A receptor in the brain and induces what is called “mind-expanding” hallucinatory experiences) actually push the person even higher on the N scale? And is it a long-term change as the study suggests?

My question is different…

First of all, we know that the only people they tested are NF’s (the morale officers). And we know that NF are always doing soul-searching and are in a constant quest to “improve themselves.” Could it be that the study was done at a point in their life when they felt they were “improved” because of other events going on in their life? For example, such as being around more people that are also NF’s? I ask this, because NF’s will often self-report that they are getting “openness improvement” even when they aren’t taking hallucinatory drugs.

Based on other research that say that personality is genetically based, and that you can’t change your temperament (only your character can change), I really can’t say that I agree with the conclusions of this new study. I think this study is inconclusive at best.

The only thing this study does is to open the door for more studies with hallucinatory drugs.

How Does This Relate To Selling?

Lets assume that your N-S personality characteristic could change, and that you make it a higher value on the “N” side of the teeter-totter. What would that mean?

There would be more Morale Officers (NF’s) and Strategists (NT’s) as customers. That’s all.

Nothing else really changes!

And we already know how to sell to the Morale Officers and the Battle Strategists from the information in the Personality Marketing Manual. That is good news, right?


This study doesn’t really tell us much, unfortunately. Why? Because it doesn’t address all personality temperament types.

But I do find it offensive in one way. It seems to indicate that becoming a higher intuitive person is a good thing.

“Is it?” I ask.

[adsense float=’left’]Do we want fewer of the “Sensation” folks running around in the world, who take in information through the five physical senses? These S-type people are some of the best artists, best mechanics, and the best troubleshooters in chaotic situations. We might have a greater number of people that appreciate art more, but less people that are creating it. Does that make sense to you?

We were designed for a purpose. We can only screw things up if we try to change what we were meant to be. Let’s just be the best at what we are, and adapt to other people in a manner that they are. Right?

Now go out and “Be Fruitful.”

This entry was posted in NF Personality, Personality Research Studies, Typing Prospects. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Can You Change Your Personality?

  1. Kevin Bettencourt says:

    One of the hardest parts of typing prospects is the fact they aren’t 100% one type. That’s the point of personality research studies.

    Las Vegas Air Conditioning Service & Repairs

    • Tim Van Milligan says:

      The good news is that there are only 4 personality types. DVD #15 in the Personality Marketing Manual gives you all the clues to look for in order to tell them apart. With a bit of practice, you can type a person in less than 20 seconds.

  2. Lisa McLellan says:

    Why would they do a research study with only one personality type? Strange. I think I might be an NF.

    Lisa McLellan
    Babysitting Services, Nanny Services, and Nanny agencies

    • Tim Van Milligan says:

      They probably picked NF’s because that is the only type that showed up for their casting call.

      BTW, you’re a “Strategist” in the human army (an NT, not an NF). When you go to your web site at, you can see it in your video on how to pick a sitter. An NF would talk about how a sitter would care for the emotional well-being of the children. You don’t do that. You talk about the strategy on picking a sitter. – Tim Van Milligan

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