Why Are They the Way They Are? 'The Office' MBTI Types (Main Characters)
This might help answer that question about some of the main 'Office' (U.S.) characters, typing them according to MBTI Personality Type theory!
Michael Scott—ENFJ 'The Protagonist'
How can we define Michael Scott? Excellent with people and terrible with them at the same time? Hero complex which makes him somewhat giving and noble, yet always despairing that he's not enough? A need for attention and a positive social life, yet too much arrogance to admit he's afraid of being rejected? These are all common attributes of an ENFJ, particularly a turbulent and insecure one.
ENFJ's can make incredible leaders. Believe it or not, Michael Scott is often proven to be a necessary evil in uniting the many underachieving and overachieving office employees who, as a majority, really do not enjoy their work. Michael Scott is a leader. He longs to deeply empathize with each employee like a best friend and yet be the cool, inspiring manager who everyone wants to follow. Trouble is, as we see throughout many seasons, he has the maturity and social ineptitude of a seven-year-old child (that may be generous...).
The most emotional of all personality types, in my experience, are the NF's, and the ENF's verbalize it far more frequently. A world of emotions and thoughts are constantly swirling in Michael Scott's head. Every day of his life is him wading through a storm of doubts, questions, concerns, and insecurities about how to be a better protagonist. For ENFJ's are, indeed, the protagonist and see themselves as such throughout their daily lives. Michael Scott struggles through his 'Fe' (Extroverted Feeling), desiring social harmony, while also having the mind of a child and wanting the playmates he never had. He wants to be liked, like he never has been; he wants to be loved and, in turn, make everyone else feel loved. But he's too immature to even realize that is his aspiration.
Any ENFJ who has learned to suppress, ignore, self-criticize, or offer total control to his/her emotions has taken an unhealthy turn. ENFJ's are beautifully designed with complex emotions that actually help them empathize with other people and guide them as a moral and self-assured hero of the story. However, being naught but a blob of swirling emotions is the wrong answer; NF's are designed to harness their emotions as a source of untold strength, not as all there is to them.
That's all Michael really wants to be: the hero of his own story.
He needs praise, attention, applause... Unfortunately, he is often the comic relief, and that only makes him more insecure!
Jim Halpert—ENTP 'The Debater'
Oh, Jim... the charming, underachieving, unmotivated, and mischievous hero. Jim flirts with the line of introverted and extroverted, but I had to land on ENTP for him.
ENTP's are very mischievous and easily bored. Their 'Ne' (Extroverted Intuiting) mind goes a mile per minute with random thoughts, like a hyperactive pixie giggling in five-times speed as it flits around the woodland in search of entertainment.
Given that Jim works at the office and hates most of his life... he has to make his own entertainment, like stuffing his rival's stapler into a giant bowl of jello! It helps that the receptionist he's in love with enjoys his pranks as well!
Like most ENTP's in a social situation, Jim is a catalyst. He challenges the norm that most of the characters either find boring or a comfortable routine. The very word "routine" probably makes an ENTP feel sick.
In discussions and debates, Jim just tosses in unhelpful suggestions to entertain himself, and maybe get a few laughs. His quote, "Guys, the Afghanistananis," is a fine example of his mischievous commenting in the midst of an argument!
The reason most people consider Jim so likable is that he is easy to relate to, self-aware, and doesn't think too highly of himself—a stark contrast to the irritating and arrogant persona Michael Scott wears daily.
Interestingly enough, throughout the show Michael and Jim bond because they're actually both somewhat insecure men just trying to find a happy, meaningful life. Michael motivates Jim to pursue Pam in the episode "Booze Cruise" for that very reason. Jim needs to be motivated to do more than cruise lackadaisically through life, and Michael needs someone to motivate, as the "hero of the story."
Jim Halpert is the charmingly mischievous and lazy ENTP of this story—an irreplaceable character!
Dwight Schrute—ENTJ 'The Commander'
Yay! My favorite character! Dwight was also difficult to type. He actually seems to fluctuate between a couple of personality types throughout the show. However, between INTJ, ESTJ, and ENTJ, I found the last choice to be the most common denominator amid his motivations and actions. Just look at how he behaves for the one day he gets to be the manager!
With that being said, Dwight is competent in many areas of strength for the ENTJ while sustaining the same weaknesses of this type. Though he is decisive and commanding—primary function 'Te' (Extroverted Thinking), cold and calculating, secondary function 'Ni' (Introverted Intuiting), and actually impressive in endurance—standing on a sheet of hot coals just to be made manager. For example, he is far too straightforward and heartless to serve as an empathetic leader to the other office workers. He is an excellent salesman and businessman, but his understanding of people is essentially at level zero. As many ENTJ's seem to be better with people than he is, I considered that he might be an INTJ, but I suppose being an ENTJ doesn't mean you're automatically amazing in social situations!
I also debated Dwight being an INTJ because he is a trove of accurate knowledge about anything of interest to him (for example, Star Wars lore), and he is disinclined to befriend almost anyone. However, his pursuit of power and minimal friendliness applied only for business purposes seem to tip him over the edge into the ENTJ realm.
Essentially, Dwight is trustworthy in certain areas, but—as with any ENTJ—only give him the power of management or any other control, if you dare!
Pam Beesly—ISFP 'The Artist'
This personality type is somewhat difficult for me to understand, but I believe Pam falls within the ISFP realm, so I'm going to give it a shot!
Pam is kind when her conscience suggests it and self-aware when it comes to her feelings and motivations. However, it is her own insecurity and fears that keep her with Roy for so long—a man who doesn't even remotely understand her needs and feelings.
Pam wants to be cherished and appreciated in a relationship, but she especially wants a soulmate and best friend. Jim meets that criteria for so long that it takes him leaving for Pam to realize it wasn't her fiancé who was filling that void.
Pam has little faith in herself and her capabilities. She is practical and pretty darn honest unless there's a benefit to being anything else. She'll flatter Michael Scott if it gets her what she wants, but she'll otherwise tell him how it is whether or not he'll like it.
This direct and practical nature of hers also makes her more inclined to do what makes sense instead of following rules and protocol that don't. She enjoys the mischief of Jim's pranks simply because they're amusing, and so much of her life is boring. She won't do extra work that isn't necessary, because she's there to earn a steady paycheck, not to be an overachiever. SP's are good about living life with a short and to-the-point outlook, and Pam represents this often throughout the show.
However, Pam is primarily driven by her 'Fi' (Introverted Feeling) function, which guides her with an inner voice of emotional guidance and conscientious motivation. She wants to be a good person whom people generally have no problem with and maybe even like. However, she is also an SP type, who are commonly known for desiring freedom and living life to its fullest (Billy Joel's song, "Only the Good Die Young" is a classic SP perspective!). Therefore, she isn't going to do things out of obligation or loyalty. She will do what she knows to be right for her and her loved ones.
If she has anything to spare for other people after that, such as Michael Scott, then she'll extend a hand of kindness. ISFP's are genuine artists; they feel so deeply and desire to live life so richly. Which is exactly why Pam should absolutely have followed her dream of being an artist, even if it led nowhere, and absolutely why she should have married the man who encouraged that dream and provided for her the best friend and soulmate she always dreamed of.
Ryan Howard—ESTP 'The Entrepreneur'
As I think any ESTP would appreciate, I'll make this brief. Ryan wants to be successful and rich; he's socially charming and charms his way into luxurious situations. Being young and inexperienced for such a situation, having made shortcuts through life, he makes irresponsible decisions and ends up crashing and burning early. But he then picks himself right back up and starts anew with different vibrant ideas for how to get rich quick. Ryan is the charming entrepreneur: the ESTP.
Andy Bernard—ESFP 'The Entertainer'
I'm going to cut these shorter since we've got a lot of basically side characters!
Andy's a great example of an ESFP. He loves to entertain and be entertained, he loves people, and he lovesdrama!
ESFP's are excellent with other people who actually enjoy socializing. With most introverts and some extroverts who still have a bubble they don't want to be invaded. ESFP's can come on a little strong with friendliness. In my experience, an ESFP views the world as a big party, and everyone should be cheering with them! After all, life is short, and we're in it to have some fun!
Angela Martin—ISTJ 'The Logistician'
Angela is traditional and pragmatic. She's strict and rigid about rules. She is excellent with organization and making things happen. She is an effective, albeit emotionally unhealthy, ISTJ. She has her issues with discussing and figuring out her feelings all the time, but when it comes to rules and getting things done, she is right at home!
Angela makes the office parties happen by stressing herself out to do things perfectly and criticizing her allies who fail to meet her high standards. Michael Scott's ridiculous and irrational requests for the party budget put her at war with herself. On one side, she wants to meet the expectations of her employer, but she knows that she can't practically achieve that.
Her high standards also get her in trouble with her hypocritical actions throughout the show. She judges the actions of others constantly but secretly wants to be just as rebellious. This leaves her constantly conflicted, as any ISTJ would be trying to decide between happiness and tradition.
Well, I looked on at the enormity of the cast for this show and elected to leave it here for now. I may yet discuss the many other characters, as they are all certainly unique.
But, for now, thanks so much for reading, everyone!