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Interim Research Report (3/31/05)


Personality Type and Outdoor Recreation

By Ross Reinhold, intj

Index of links to all 16 research reports

INFP -Table 1.

ISFP - Table 2.

Favorite Outdoor Activities of
INFP Types



% #1

or #2

Day Hiking



Overnight Backpacking



Overnight Canoe Tripping



Day Canoe Tripping






None of the Above



*Total N was 54, but 4 people responded NA to all questions.



I would have guessed "Day Hiking" as the #1 pursuit of INFPs. This activity allows the flexibility to dawdle along, commune in harmony with nature, reflect while walking, and engage in an environmentally friendly and healthful activity without the stress of deadlines, goals, etc. The comments of one writer captured what I would have expected: ". . . like biking, walking, team sports for fun not too competitive - camraderie, sunset watching, exploring, picnics, bonfires, boating, tubing, canoeing - short day trips, star-gazing . . . " Another commenting on other enjoyable activities mentioned "Like being outside, away from people and noise. Enjoy nature's beauty. Like to try new things, tend toward individual sports."

However a large percentage of INFPs also chose two much more rigorous and goal-oriented activities: overnight backpacking and overnight canoe tripping. Together these actually toped "Day Hiking." These are activities that can involve lots of sweat, adventure, discomfort, physical risk and pushing oneself to achieve a goal. True you are out in nature and you can, during the right moments, experience a zen like retreat in paradise - but frequently these pleasures have to be earned through enduring misery on other occasions!

One overnight backpacker explained how long multi-day hikes were necessary in order to lose ". . . all external reference of time and goals and obligations." She experienced a ". . . transition into a whole different (zen-like?) state of being for weeks at a time" that is difficult to attain on a shorter day hike. Another long distance hiker echoed similar sentiments: "My preference is long (multi-week) hikes--a shift occurs in my mindset to a more comfortable way of being--though now that I have experience that shift, I can achieve it somewhat in shorter (overnight or several night) hikes." So overnight backpacking can be quite non-goal oriented and as much about inner states of being as it is about the outer world of the experience.

[editor comment. The leave-no-trace in the wild ethic that results in proscriptions against camping at other than designated campsites would seem to force a goal-oriented mentally to the experience unless one is traveling along lightly used routes. So if one really wants to escape the "imperatives" of time and goals, one needs to hike and canoe in places that allow lots of choice in where and when one spends the night.]

Some of the comments on other favorite activities were ones that I would have expected from a more adventuresome type like an ESTP: "white water rafting, caving" "backcountry ski touring" "diving" "whitewater canoeing" "mountaineering" "snowboarding (want to try heli-boarding and back country when I'm good enough), skydiving" "shooting, hunting, fishing" " love kayaking Lake Michigan...most often alone. . . . my favorite is when it's really rough, with big waves when it's a challenge, when it's sometimes scary and exhilarhating and I have to engage my mind as well as my entire body to ride the waves."

As we often find, while people within a given type group often share a common core, they can also be quite diverse and "look" like we might expect of quite a different type. In the case of INFP I would attribute some of this adventuresome risk taking leisure time pursuits to this type's interest in self-development. While some of their peers might be attending the more INFP typical yoga workshop to become more complete beings, others may consider the challenge of skydiving or mountaineering to be attractive and powerful means of self development. Some INFPs I've known simply like the idea of being able to master roles outside of their natural bent and thus seek out such opportunities.

So anyhow, based on this little small sample study - which may have built in biases - don't be surprised if you learn your hang-gliding or mountain climbing friend prefers INFP.

Favorite Outdoor Activities of
ISFP Types



% #1

or #2

Day Hiking



Overnight Backpacking



Overnight Canoe Tripping



Day Canoe Tripping






None of the Above



*Total N was 13, but 1 person responded NA to all questions.



A much smaller sample of ISFPs than INFPs make comparisons and generalizations exceedingly risky. But we'll plunge ahead anyhow!


In comparison to their INFP cousins, ISFPs more prefer the less rigorous day-long activities of hiking and canoeing vs the more demanding overnight versions of these two recreations. Consistent with this theme was the mention by one respondent of "gardening" which is consistent with the horticultural interests that are typical of some ISFPs.

Yet there are also much more adventuresome ISFPs: one mentioned "rock-climbing" as a favorite outdoor enjoyable activity. Another seconded this interest as well by mentioning she enjoyed a number of other quite active outdoor sports: " Long hikes, mtn climbs, canoe trips (day), mtn biking, ski, snowboard, showshoeing. " Another canoe tripper and hiker said he had "too many" other outdoor interests to list.


Return to Research Report Page

Reports By Type:

INFP and ISFP Reports

INTP and ISTP Reports

INTJ and INFJ Reports

ISTJ and ISFJ Reports

ENTP and ENFP Reports

ESFJ and ENFJ Reports

ESTJ and ENTJ Reports

ESTP and ESFP Reports

Links for More Information on Personality Type:

Myers-Briggs Test *: What's Your Myers-Briggs MBTI Personality Type?

An introduction to the Myers-Briggs Model of Personality Type

Learn about characteristics of the 16 MBTI Personality Types

Center for Applications of Psychological Type

Association for Psychological Type


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