The son of two heroes of the Rebellion, Poe Dameron followed in his mother’s footsteps by becoming a pilot in the New Republic Defense Fleet. He rose to the rank of commander before he became frustrated with the Republic’s unwillingness to take action against the First Order and, at General Organa’s invitation, joined the Resistance. He soon become one of Leia’s most trusted operatives, which is why we first meet him on-screen in the midst of a vital mission to retrieve Lor San Tekka’s piece of the Luke Skywalker map.
In terms of Poe’s personality, we quickly see that he has charm and physical skills typical of STP types. And, unlike many action heroes, he’s more of an Extrovert than an Introvert. He’s pretty much your standard lovable hotshot in The Force Awakens, and typing him as an ESTP after that film relies mostly on stereotypes. With The Last Jedi, however, he’s pushed into becoming something more and his character development in this film stays consistent with an ESTP type.
Always Ready To Act
The opening crawl for TFA describes Poe as the “most daring pilot” at Leia’s command. xSTPs are stereotyped (in fiction, at least) as the perfect action hero. The combination of Extroverted Sensing (Se) and Introverted Thinking (Ti) functions gives them a decided advantage in the world of quick decisions, daring exploits, and wacky plans that somehow seem to work out for the best in the end.
That’s pretty much Poe’s role in TFA. He acts quickly and decisively, relying on the real-time kinetic intelligence provided by his Se function to pull himself out of any scrape. When Dario Nardi (a neuroscientist) scanned SP types’ brains he found that they fire in a “tennis hop” pattern more consistently than other types..
Like a tennis player who gently hops back-and-forth to maintain momentum, these types save their mental energy and stay alert to spring into action in times of crisis. – “Dario Nardi on Neuroscience of Personality“
Se-users are always ready for the world to throw something at them. This skill serves Poe well in the film where we first meet his character, as well as the prequel short-story in Before The Awakening. In this story, we learn Leia hand-picked him for the resistance, as well as for the mission that takes him to Jakku. Though she called him rash and occasionally foolish, she likes and trusts him (possibly because he reminds her of a young Han Solo, who’s an ISTP).
Decisive and Stubborn
ESTPs support their primary Se process with co-pilot Introverted Thinking (Ti). This process relies on impersonal criteria to make decisions, but it’s also highly subjective because the information is processed inside. It’s more about “What makes sense to me?” than an accurate evaluation of all the variables. Someone using this process can fact-check themselves, but it takes time. And because Poe leads with an extroverted process that’s constantly pushing him to take action, he doesn’t spend a whole lot of time running his decisions through his Thinking side.
We see this pattern every time Poe goes into action. He comes up with a plan that makes sense to him (usually very quickly) and then acts on that plan no matter what stands in his way. In Before The Awakening, he disobeys orders to go on a secret mission and stubbornly insists it’s the right thing to do. He even plans how he’ll continue to argue his point if they court martial him. In this case, the mission goes well and Leia recruits him.
In The Force Awakens, Poe sums-up the resistance’s suggestions for taking out Starkiller base in a simple plan: “We disable the shields, we blow up the oscillator, we take out their big gun.” The plan makes sense to him and it works. I imagine this has been a pretty consistent pattern for him. He commits to an idea and won’t admit he’s wrong, but things usually work out okay so why shouldn’t he keep thinking like that?
Charming and Persuasive
An ESTP’s tertiary function is Extroverted Feeling (Fe). This mental process is focused on maintaining harmony with and among other people. For types with Fe as their tertiary process, it typically shows up as a charming, people-pleasing side that knows what’s needed to keep moral up.
Poe is really good at relating to and reading other people. He sees right through FN-2187’s claim that he’s breaking him out “Because it’s the right thing to do,” accurately supplying the real reason: “You need a pilot.” Poe doesn’t hold that against him, though. He names his rescuer Finn, acknowledging his person-hood and identity, and they quickly bond so much that he calls Finn “buddy” when they next meet after being separated on Jakku.
The book Before the Awakening also highlights Poe’s love of people. He’s close with the other pilots in his squadron and they clearly respect and appreciate him. Similarly, Resistance leaders in TFA are eager to listen to his thoughts on their missions. He’s probably used to people paying attention when he talks, and so talking is an easy default-mode for him. He even tries to chat with Kylo Ren in the opening scenes of TFA. Poe also has a fun-loving side and a dead-pan sense of humor that I think is a result of his Se-Fe working together. And since Fe types can read people well they’re good at pushing people’s buttons, as we see when Poe taunts Hux in TLJ.
How a character responds under stress provides vital clues in figuring out their personality type. When stressed, people tend to “loop” between their dominant and tertiary function (Se-Fe for an ESTP) and/or get stuck in their inferior function. For ESTPs, the inferior function is Introverted Intuition (Ni).
In her book Was That Really Me? How Everyday Stress Brings Out Our Hidden Personalities, Naomi Quenk lists three things that ESTPs do when stress throws them into their inferior function. They experience internal confusion, attribute meanings inappropriately, and develop a grandiose vision. Stressed by having Leia chew him out and demote him for his actions in TLJ’s opening scene, the recent First Order attack that seriously injured Leia, and the eminent threat of running out of fuel Poe confronts Admiral Amilyn Holdo. When Holdo refuses to tell him her plan, Poe panics and does exactly what Quenk talked about in her book.
Poe interprets Holdo’s decision to keep him out of the loop incorrectly, attributing motives to her that aren’t there. Trying to cope with his internal confusion, he grasps at the first plan that appeals to his Se-Fe sides. ESTPs and ENTPs find thinking about the future particularly stressful, so Poe wants a quick answer that will take that concern away. The plan that Finn and Rose (both ISFJs) come up with offers a chance for action that may save lives, and that appeals strongly to Poe’s favorite ways of approaching the world.
More Than A Hero
One of the things I admire about Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi is that he didn’t let Poe get away with staying in the role of hot-shot hero that always saves the day. He demanded something more from the character, something that starts turning him into a leader. In Myers-Briggs terms, Poe had to start growing his co-pilot process.
Even ESxP types can’t anticipate everything life’s going to throw at them. At some point Poe philosophy of, “You start an attack, you follow through” isn’t going to be worth the cost. After he won’t listen as Leia tries to teach him this lesson, she demotes him and says, “Poe, get your head out of your cockpit.” She knows he needs to grow as a person and a leader before she can continue trusting him with the level of responsibility he holds. But Poe doesn’t understand this until the plan he hatched with Finn and Roes backfires and he realizes he really should have trusted Admiral Holdo.
Personality Hacker describes our co-pilot processes as the best thing we can focus on for personal growth. Unless forced to develop this function, all types are naturally inclined to skip-over doing the work to really develop this side of their personalities. For ESTPs, developing Ti helps them shoulder responsibility instead of running away, stay true to their principles, and stabilize their lives.
One way for ESTPs to tap into their Ti-side is to stop and take a moment to think through things, forcing themselves not to act instinctively. We actually see Poe doing this in the caves on Crait (I swear, between this and his portrayal of Luke it’s almost like Rian Johnson studied their Myers-Briggs types). It’s this moment of thought that lets Poe realize Luke is buying them time and then come up with a plan for what to do with that time. He even stops Finn (an ISFJ) from acting rashly. Poe is finally becoming the sort of leader that Leia can point to and say, “Follow him.”
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