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What’s Your Moral Personality?

We all have a smorgasbord of personality traits, a preferred style or preference for decision-making, and a values system that governs (or at least shapes) our choices.

As I continue my series that looks at the common thread between the results of various interests, style and personality tests (validated and otherwise) that I've taken over the years, I thought it might be helpful to revisit the results from the MoralDNA™ test.


I discovered the MoralDNA™ test at the beginning of 2014. I had been assigned to teach a course in mass media ethics, which I'd never taught before. I've had many students in our major mention from time to time that they like taking personality-type tests so I went looking for an online version of the Ball-Rokeach values assessment and ended up going with the MoralDNA™ assessment instead. (I didn't want to know the students' results. I just wanted them to take the test to provide a foundation for what might be potential blindspots as we discussed ethical decision-making frameworks and ethical challenges in the workplace).

How the MoralDNA™ Test Works

Professor Roger Steare, known as The Corporate Philosopher, and Pavlos Stanboulides, Director of Psycholate, developed the MoralDNA™ test as a way to assess the relationship between decision-making styles and moral values.

The assessment covers three areas: Decision-making preferences, personal vs. work life distinctions, and moral values. Scores in these areas are used to place you into one of six archetypes or “characters” within the MoralDNA™ spectrum: Philosopher, Judge, Angel, Teacher, Enforcer or Guardian.

My MoralDNA™ Results

I look the test in January 2014 in advance of teaching the ethics course.

I was placed in the Philosopher archetype, with a caveat that my results were also closely-aligned with the Angel archetype.

The dominant moral values reflected in my results were:

  • Wisdom
  • Self-Control
  • Excellence
  • Care
  • Fairness
  • Humility

Screenshot of Results of MoralDNA(TM) Philosopher or Angel


My dominant decision-making style was identified as logic, with love running a close second.

What is a Philosopher?

In the MoralDNA™ framework, the Philosopher is someone for whom virtue is the most important consideration when making choices. This archetype would seem to be aligned with Aristotle's ethical philosophy.

According to the MoralDNA report I received, the Philosopher begins with a consideration of what is most honorable and most courageous in a given situation and then looks at how this choice would affect other people. Only then do rules and regulations come into play.

The Philosopher archetype might sometimes be described as a “maverick,” says the report, “but good to have around when really difficult decisions have to be made.” (MoralDNA™ Report for Sheree Martin, January 2014). The report estimates about 17% of Americans fall into the Philosopher archetype.

The main distinction between the Philosopher and the Judge is that the Judge consults the rules and regulations before considering how the outcome would affect others.

The Philosopher and the Judge archetypes are described as being very good at dealing with complex situations and difficult problems.

What is an Angel?

For the Angel, the most important consideration is how a choice will affect other people. They consider values like love, hope, trust and respect. The Angel is somewhat aligned with the Philosopher in that the Angel considers rules and regulations last, before making a decision.

Valid for Me?

Overall, I would say these are valid results and fairly accurately describe my dominant approach to decision-making. I certainly place personal virtue at the highest level of importance. I focus on doing what seems to be the most “right” thing to do in a given situation and not simply what I might technically be permitted to do under some rule or regulation.

This might explain some of my disgust with the current state of politics (especially in the campaign finance arena).  High-frequency trading and hedge-fund investment practices also bother me.

Just because something is legal doesn't make it right and I believe we do have a moral duty to consider how our actions affect other people. We have a right to look out for ourselves first and certainly that is the survival instinct we all have–and rightly solve. We are not expected to be martyrs for others, but pure selfishness is equally extreme.

I'm somewhat of a libertarian in my political beliefs, and very market-oriented in my economic values but I am most definitely NOT a disciple of Ayn Rand! The whole issue of government regulation is extraordinarily complex because the market is complicated by issues of corporate limited liability, imperfect information, monopolies, oligopolies, and the reality that humans are not purely rational creatures. But I digress—those issues are a subjects for a  different series of posts.

More later.



Introvert or Extrovert?

Are you an introvert or extrovert?

Do you often think that the introvert is shy and socially awkward?  I suspect that many people classify introverts that way. In reality, the difference between an introvert and an extrovert stems from where the person gets his or her energy.

I'm one of those folks who enjoy messing around with personality tests. I even have fun from time to time with BuzzFeed quizzes and I thought it would be fun to put together a post comparing the results of the various personality and strengths-assessments I've accumulated over the years. I wanted to examine the consistencies and look for contradictions. So, this weekend, I sat down to organize and analyze all my “data.”

Is it a coincidence that just as I was working on my post about personality tests that this post about How to Understand An Introvert appeared on the Huffington Post? I think not.

In any event, the first draft of my personality-tests-comparison-post was turning into War and Peace, so I decided to break the topic up into smaller chunks.  This first installment focuses on the introversion vs extroversion distinction.

This graphic illustration by Roman Jones does a great job of summarizing what makes an introvert different. You can buy the poster here.



Ambivert? Or Slightly Introverted?

I've taken the Myers-Briggs MBTI test several times. I typically score just over the mid-point into the Introversion side, but just barely. I might be an ambivert. I've written about my extroverted-introvert tendencies here.

Most recently, in September 2014 when I re-took the MBTI with students in class I'm teaching I scored this way:

I: 53% introverted

N: 60% intuitive

T: 53% Thinker

P: 93% Perceiver

I enjoy public speaking, I enjoy giving presentations, and I enjoy hanging out with other people and talking about ideas. But when it comes to too much external stimuli, like noise and constantly being “on” while meeting new people, I do have a limit and threshold. For that reason, I think I'm slightly introverted.

The more I have to be “on” in a high-energy social context, the more I want to chill-out when I get back home. For example,if I spend a day socializing and interacting at a relatively high-energy conference I prefer a quiet dinner or just an evening in with time to decompress rather than spending several more hours at the after-party.

On the other hand, I also have a need for conversation and social interaction, so I can't stay cooped up at home or in my office for too long.

One of the books on my reading list is Susan Cain's Quiet. It's on my Kindle—but I haven't gotten around to reading it yet. I've heard Cain give several interviews over the past few years and have watched her TED talk more than once and I think she makes some extraordinarily important points about the value of quiet and solitude for deep thinking and transformational creativity.

She points out that introverts can't maximize their talents if they are forced to operate in a world that's increasingly designed by and for the extroverts.

“The key is to put ourselves in the zone of stimulation that is right for us.”

Susan Cain

The Roman Jones' illustration (above) reminded me why I'm not enthusiastic about killing time at work chit-chatting with colleagues and making small talk. It's not that I'm anti-social, but after a certain point, small talk starts to drains my energy. I'm less efficient when start getting tired and a n extroverted coworker's chattiness usually means that I have to work longer to get the same amount of work done.

Similarly, nothing is more annoying to me than to enter a waiting room with a TV blaring out some inane infomercial or mindless sitcom.  I loathe the automated department store displays that talk to me when I walk by.

Not Everyone Wants (or Needs) a Pep Rally

Susan Cain begins her TED talk with an anecdote about the R-O-W-D-I-E cheer at summer camp and how the experience left her feeling perplexed by all the emphasis on rah-rah-rah.

Hearing that story reminded me of how I've often felt at leadership training workshops where the moderator or session leader insisted that everyone stand up, dance around and sing songs together as some sort of team-building exercise. Not. For Me.

Re-Charge Days

I like to have at least one day each month to be “off,” so I can simply read a book or work in the yard, without having to do any degree of socializing. Those days recharge my batteries better than anything. Unfortunately, that's one goal that I haven't managed to achieve very often year. In fact, just typing that reminds me of how much I need to make myself take time for a recharge day–soon!

The point isn't that extroversion is good (or bad) or that introversion is good (or bad). The point is that everyone has an energy sweet-spot and a stimulation threshold. We all need some degree of solitude and quiet to contemplate and discover, to tap into our creativity.

If you are a leader, how are you enabling the right environment to allow everyone to become their best self?

If you are an introvert, do you face challenges at work? If you're in extrovert, do you ever take time to be quiet?

I'd love to hear from you–leave a comment below and share your personal experiences with introversion or extroversion, especially how things have changed for you over the past 10 or so years.