Good news! Despite conventional wisdom, and many alarmist essays to the contrary, reading for pleasure is still a popular pastime both in the U.S. and the rest of the world. (For a taste of the “alarmist essays to the contrary”, google “death of reading” and wade through more than 1.3 million results.)
Keirsey Research recently surveyed 3,311 people who had completed the Keirsey Temperament Sorter II at Keirsey.com to first find out if “the death of reading” is in fact imminent, and to see if there are significant differences in the reading habits of the 4 Temperaments. We were specifically interested in peoples’ reading habits when it comes to books, as opposed to other media such as magazines, newspapers, websites, etc.
As noted in the opening paragraph, the answer to our first question is an emphatic “No!” Almost 80% of our respondents tell us they enjoy reading books, and almost three quarters of them like to read for the pleasure of it. Less than 20% consider book reading to be “unimportant” to them, more than 55% have read a complete book in the past month, and more than half are currently reading a book. It seems that, even with the proliferation of screens in the world, there is still a lot of book reading going on.
The second of our objectives – to see if there are significant differences between the 4 Temperaments when it comes to reading habits – found that the answer is yes. However, gender also plays a big part: women are much more avid readers as a gender than are men. Perhaps this is not a surprise – it does seem that most book clubs (Oprah’s being the most famous) are comprised predominantly of women. A guardian friend of mine, a male, pointed out to me, “They need something to do while I’m watching football / baseball / basketball / hockey / MMA / (ad infinitum) on TV.”
After the jump, we get into specifics: which Temperament reads the most? Which is the most likely to be found at a public library? Do the different Temperaments prefer different genres? Who is more likely to go to a bookstore and buy a book? Given a choice of books or TV, who would be more likely to choose books? Who would be more likely to choose TV? Make your guesses and read on.
We asked several questions to gauge who reads the most. The most indicative to us seemed to be the answer to the following: “Are you currently reading a book?” Rational (NT) and Idealist (NF) women are the most avid readers – 74% of the NT women and 70% of the NF women are currently do so. They were followed by Idealist men, Rational men, and Guardian women at 65%, 63%, and 61% respectively. The least avid book readers are Guardian men, at 48%, with Artisan men statistically tied at 49%. One artisan friend of mine (a male) expressed no surprise at these numbers, explaining to me, “I’d really rather be doing it, than reading about it!”
The question of which temperament you are most likely to run into at a public library is a bit of a trick. If you want to put money on it, the answer is “A guardian”. Of course, this is because
there are approximately as many guardians as the other 3 Temperaments combined. But, if you ask “Which temperament checks out books at the public library the most as a percentage of their population”, the answer is rationals. A third of all rational respondents had checked out a book at the public library in the past month. A quarter of idealists had done so, while less than 1 in 5 guardians or artisans used their library card in that timeframe.
To find out what the most popular genres are by temperament, we asked the following question: “If you were to be awarded a gift certificate good for a selection of a particular genre of books, what genre would you select?” (No stranded desert isle question, we figured all the rationals and artisans would answer “Practical Raft Building”). We gave people a choice of 18 genres (as categorized by Amazon.com), and allowed them to select one. In keeping with most of our results, gender played as a significant role as temperament in the responses. Literature and Fiction was the most popular choice among any of the 8 segments of our survey population, with 30% and 28% of rational and idealist women, respectively, preferring this genre. Science fiction scored with 28% of Idealist men. No other genre scored higher than 20% in any of the 8 temperament / gender segments. Overall, men of all 4 Temperaments prefer Science Fiction. Concrete women (guardians and artisans) preferred Mystery / Thriller the most, while the abstract women (Idealist and Rational) preferred Literature & Fiction. The top 3 preferences by segment were as follows:
- Guardian men: Science Fiction, Sports / Outdoors, Mystery / Thriller
- Guardian women: Mystery / Thriller, Romance, Literature & Fiction
- Artisan men: Science Fiction, Mystery / Thriller, Sport / Outdoors
- Artisan women: Mystery / Thriller, Literature and Fiction, Romance
- Idealist Men: Science Fiction, Literature & Fiction, Religious / Spiritual
- Idealist Women: Literature & Fiction, Mystery / Thriller, Science Fiction
- Rational men: Science Fiction, Literature & Fiction, Politics / Social Sciences
- Rational women: Literature & Fiction, Science Fiction, Mystery / Thriller
Looking at the data from a different angle gives a little more perspective in this area. We looked at each genre to see if it was more highly preferred by a given temperament / gender group than the other groups and found this to be so in a number of cases:
- Business and Investment: Guardian men
- Comics and Graphic novels : Rational men (The Big Bang Theory seems to be on the mark with this one)
- Computers and Technical: Artisan men
- Crafts and Hobbies: Guardian women
- Health and Fitness : Artisan women
- History: Guardian men
- Literature & Fiction: Rational and Idealist women
- Politics and Social Sciences: Rational men
- Religion and Spiritual: Idealist men and women
- Romance: Guardian and Artisan women
- Science Fiction: Idealist men
- Sports / Outdoors: Guardian and Artisan men
The final question for our panel was which they would be more willing to give up for an extended period of time – TV or books? The gratifying results – for book lovers,
anyway – is that a majority of respondents claimed they would rather give up TV. Only Guardian and Artisan men proclaimed a preference for TV, with Rational men being evenly split. Most willing to give up TV were Rational women and both Idealist genders at 60%. I think there is a good lesson to take from this ladies: if you are planning a romantic getaway to a mountain retreat, look for one without a TV – unless your sweetheart is an Idealist, that screen is going to be tough competition.
This survey was conducted between May 7-9, 2012 with 3,312 valid responses from persons who had previously completed the Keirsey Temperament Sorter-II.