What Is a Turbulent Personality?

A Turbulent Personality is one of the personality traits as defined by an extended version of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Test.

In the traditional test, results came in the form of four letters that corresponded to four aspects of your personality. Now, the results can include a hyphenated fifth letter, either a T or an A. These refer to either the turbulent personality trait or its counterpart, the assertive personality.

Those with a turbulent personality tend to be more highly strung than others and could be described as being more “Type-A”. They are more sensitive to criticism and more anxious about their impression on other people. They value career success and are often perfectionists.

Signs You Have a Turbulent Personality

1. You’re Always Striving for Better

Perfectionism and a turbulent personality often come hand in hand. People with a turbulent personality struggle to feel satisfied with the work they produce and sometimes even with activities in their personal life, such as relationships and material possessions.

They feel that everything they do could be improved or made better in some way, but always falls short of perfection. In order to reach what they perceive to be perfection, they push themselves well beyond their limits, often to the point of physical exhaustion.

2. You’re Driven by Success

For those with a turbulent personality, being successful often feels like the only way that others could perceive you as worthy of their praise, affection, or friendship. They measure their lives in their achievements and they’re driven by reaching milestones.

These milestones are usually career-based, such as landing an account, getting a promotion, or producing an immaculate piece of work that your boss praises. In some cases, they might also be driven by goals in their personal life, such as buying a bigger home, having a happy marriage, or more money.

3. You’re Sensitive to Your Surroundings

People with turbulent personalities often suffer from the spotlight effect. This psychological sensation often causes the sufferer to feel as though all eyes are on them.

Those with turbulent personalities are particularly self-conscious people who feel that they are being judged by complete strangers whenever they’re out in public, for any number of reasons.

They may have something they are particularly self-conscious about that they think everyone around them has noticed, or perhaps feel that others might be noticing a whole range of things that they might have never thought of before.

4. You’re Detail Oriented

Having a turbulent personality makes someone naturally detail-oriented. In order to make something the very best it can be, you have to work on every finite detail until it is perfect. Once the details are perfect, the big picture will be too. This is an excellent way to work and makes someone with a turbulent personality a really great colleague to have.

However, for the individual, this can make life stressful. They can become obsessive over small, insignificant details in the pursuit of perfection, at the cost of their mental wellbeing. If every detail has to be perfect before you can finish a job, then you’re likely to be working for a very long time.

5. You’re Often Sensitive and Over-Anxious

The constant desire to achieve perfection can make a person feel stressed and overwhelmed. As success is usually the way a person with a turbulent personality determines their self-worth, they’re likely to never feel worthy. The parameters will keep moving further and further away so they can’t keep up.

Typically, people with turbulent personalities are full of self-doubt caused by constantly comparing themselves to others. They take criticism badly as if a critique of their work is a personal attack. They are also always hyper-aware of problems that others don’t see, making their overall view of the world quite negative.

6. You Suffer from Imposter Syndrome

A person with a turbulent personality rarely ever thinks of themselves as deserving of the position they have in work and in life, especially if they have some level of seniority. They often downplay their accomplishments, feeling as though they aren’t worth being proud of and don’t want to share them with others.

People with imposter syndrome are usually terrified that one day someone will discover that they don’t belong in, or deserve, the position they’re in and they’ll be humiliated or heartbroken when it is all taken away from them.

7. You Often Forget Self-Care

Being successful is the priority of any person with a turbulent personality, and this often comes at an expensive price. While many of us struggle at times to balance our work and social lives, as well as finding time to take care of ourselves, a person with a turbulent personality struggles to find balance at all.

In order to produce their very best work, the personal needs of someone with a turbulent personality are pushed aside. Instead of eating meals, washing, or getting a good night’s sleep, they’ll choose to work until they feel that what they have made is the best it can be.

They typically see no choice when it comes to self-care versus working, only one of those things feeling worthy of their time and they can’t risk wasting time on the other.

8. People Say You Lack Empathy

People with a turbulent personality do not innately lack empathy, but they might find that friends and family often accuse them of not being empathetic towards them when they are in need of support. This is because instinctively they approach the world with such a logical, problem-solving view.

When loved ones seek help, they are looking for a shoulder to cry on. They want an ear to listen and sympathise. However, if they seek that support from someone with a turbulent personality, they’re likely to get suggestions and solutions that will help to fix the problem they’re in, instead of a sounding board to vent to.

While they might have pure intentions and genuinely want to help, this can come across as cold and unempathetic.

9. You’re Optimistic

Having a turbulent personality is not the terrible thing it’s often depicted as. As well as being great hard workers, someone with a turbulent personality is usually relentlessly optimistic. Their work ethic is so strong that they believe everything can be solved with dedicated work and consideration.

In their eyes, everything can be improved. They make confident leaders and are able to guide teams to produce the best quality work because of their determination and commitment to what they do.

Turbulent personalities are often wrongfully given the role of “neurotic fun-sponge”. They are shown to be controlling and work-obsessed, but this is far from the truth.

A person with a turbulent personality has deep introspective feelings and suffers from their self-confidence and self-doubt. They are vital parts of every working team though and won’t quit until they are proud of what they have achieved. This is a sought-after trait to have.

They are very caring when it comes to their loved ones and want to use their skills, primarily in problem-solving, to fix the problems that are plaguing them. Their optimism means they feel confident that they could solve any problem they, or someone they love, faced.


  1. https://www.16personalities.com
  2. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2013-29682-000

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