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What personality type was Einstein?

Albert Einstein is one of the most famous scientists in history. His groundbreaking theories of relativity fundamentally changed how we understand physics and the universe. Einstein has become an icon of genius, his frizzy hair and mustache instantly recognizable. But behind the brain, what kind of personality did Einstein have? Understanding Einstein’s personality type can provide insight into how he came up with his revolutionary ideas.

Einstein’s openness to experience

Studies of Einstein’s life and personality indicate that he was extremely high in the personality trait of openness to experience. This trait is characterized by curiosity, imagination, and willingness to consider new ideas. Even as a child, Einstein questioned assumptions and thought in unconventional ways. His imaginative “thought experiments” such as imagining riding a beam of light later led to his theories of relativity.

Einstein displayed a lifelong passion for learning and intellectual exploration. He read philosophy books starting at age 12 and continued educating himself throughout his life. Einstein was always seeking out new ideas and perspectives, unafraid to challenge the accepted wisdom of the time. His open personality enabled him to conceive of radical new ways of understanding the universe.

Einstein’s introversion

Although Einstein was brilliant at physics and developed close friendships, he was also an introvert who needed solitude to recharge. As a child, Einstein was quiet and withdrawn. He lived inside his own head, pursuing solitary hobbies like building model boats and playing his violin alone. Einstein disliked strict schools and dropped out of high school for some time.

Even at the peak of his later fame, Einstein avoided the limelight. He did not enjoy giving lectures or being surrounded by crowds. Einstein got easily bored and distracted at faculty meetings. His introversion fueled a need for mental downtime away from people to reconnect with his thoughts. Einstein’s natural introvert tendencies helped him theorize in peace.

Einstein’s intuition

Einstein relied heavily on intuition and imagination in his work. He first visualized ideas as images or feelings, not mathematical proofs. Einstein said “I rarely think in words at all” and that he experienced simple insights as “short to long lasting ‘visual’ images.” He intuitively grasped concepts before working out formal logical explanations. Einstein even asserted “The psychical entities which seem to serve as elements in thought…are certain signs and more or less clear images.”

This intuitive thinking style perfectly suited Einstein for making giant creative leaps. Einstein called his intuitions “certain signs” and stated “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.” While Einstein used logic rigorously, intuition came first when pioneering radical new theories.

Einstein’s possible dyslexia

Some experts believe Einstein showed signs of dyslexia given his difficulties with language and writing as a child. Einstein did not speak fluently until age four and he struggled significantly in school with reading and writing. His verbal scores on entrance exams were very poor compared to his phenomenal math scores. Einstein frequently misspelled words and formulated sentences awkwardly. He preferred to communicate through equations and images rather than text.

While dyslexia created obstacles for Einstein at traditional school, it may also have nudged his thinking towards highly visual, pictorial modes of reasoning where he excelled. Unconventional minds like Einstein’s contribute key creative breakthroughs. Rather than reading established material, Einstein read the universe itself.

Einstein’s periodic laziness

Despite his brilliant achievements, Einstein was prone to procrastination and periodic laziness. He notoriously went for weeks without changing his clothes or cleaning his desk. Einstein’s first wife, physicist Mileva Marić, once wrote to him “You sit in your room, smoking your pipe and not doing a damn thing.” His tendency towards distractedness and delaying work at Princeton later in life frustrated his colleagues.

However, this quirkiness enabled Einstein’s flexible thinking. He could not be regimented and was not obsessed with productivity, letting his mind wander productively. Einstein worked hard in intense spurts between pauses. His laziness also reflected confidence in his own path breaking instincts over conforming to others’ expectations.

Einstein’s rebelliousness

As a child, Einstein’s teachers considered him a rebellious student. He rebelled against rote learning, ridiculing the authoritarian German schooling of his era. Einstein hated the rigidity of the education system and clashed with his headmaster and professors. In college, Einstein would skip classes that bored him, relying on private tutoring instead.

This rebellious streak lasted throughout Einstein’s life. He embraced unpopular causes like socialism and pacifism after World War I. Einstein also constantly challenged scientific orthodoxy, refusing to align with any one school of thought. His rebelliousness enabled him to forge his own unique path in physics that no one else dared pursue at the time.

Einstein’s depth of concentration

Einstein had an incredible capacity to concentrate for long periods. He could focus obsessively on physics problems for 10 hours at a time without tiring, blocking out the world around him. A favorite pastime as a child was building houses of cards up to 14 stories tall, which requires tremendous focus. He also achieved the top-level puzzle rating at a chess club he joined.

When engrossed in a difficult physics problem, Einstein would pursue it relentlessly for weeks, forgetting to eat or sleep. These intense thought marathons spurred insights unattainable with a scattered mind. Einstein’s sturdy focus zones proved fertile ground for planting the seeds of his theories.

Einstein’s creativity and thought experiments

Einstein brought tremendous creativity to his physics work, using imagination just as much as math. He excelled at what he called Gedankenexperiments or “thought experiments”. These included envisioning riding a light beam, observing an object’s color while falling with it, or thinking about the experience of lightning in an accelerated train car.

Through these ingenious mental scenarios, Einstein made nature’s abstract laws click intuitively. Other physicists relied much more on experimental data and concrete mathematics rather than imagination. Einstein’s creative thought experiments expanded his conceptual horizons and enabled breakthrough discoveries.

Einstein’s nonconformity

From his eccentric hair to his intellectual interests, Einstein was a quintessential nonconformist. He pursued science as an amateur patent clerk, not within academia. Einstein embraced avant-garde art and music rather than traditional hobbies expected for physicists. In his private life, he defied social conventions through affairs and divorces that were taboo at the time.

Most importantly, Einstein defied the orthodox scientific consensus in multiple areas. His rejection of prevailing ideas on space, time, light, and more allowed Einstein to revolutionize physics. He took an outsider perspective few dared adopt. Einstein’s nonconformity granted him radical freedom to reconstruct the foundations of his field.

Einstein’s ethics and sense of cosmic mysticism

Einstein’s deep sense of ethics, most evident in his pacifism and condemnation of the atom bomb, derived in part from his feeling of cosmic mysticism. Einstein saw a divine simplicity and unity underlying the laws of nature that pointed to an ordered cosmos permeated with purpose, beyond physical mechanisms alone. He once wrote to a friend “We followers of Spinoza see our God in the wonderful order and lawfulness of all that exists.”

This spiritual outlook reinforced Einstein’s moral conviction that people should live in harmony with nature and each other. He believed science and ethics both stemmed from the same deep source in the beauty of universal laws. This ethos drove Einstein as much as raw intellect.

Einstein’s personality: cognitive patterns

Based on an analysis of Einstein’s personality traits and work habits, he exhibited a cognitive profile that mixed:

  • Intuition – Einstein relied heavily on intuitive hunches, imagination, and visual thinking.
  • Divergence – His mind diverged from conventional wisdom to generate alternative perspectives.
  • Abstractness – Einstein worked in theoretical physics focused on abstract concepts rather than concrete technical details.
  • Holism – He integrated ideas across disciplines into grand unified theories.
  • Synthesis – Einstein brought together seemingly contradictory ideas to create novel syntheses.

This cognitive pattern highlights Einstein’s strengths in big picture, conceptual thinking that transcended dominant paradigms of his era. His personality enabled him to craft wholly new ways of understanding space, time, light and gravity.

Einstein’s MBTI type: INTP

Einstein’s personality traits correspond closely to the INTP Myers-Briggs type indicator. INTP indicates:

  • Introverted – Einstein was an introvert who required solitude.
  • Intuitive – He trusted intuition over sensory data.
  • Thinking – Einstein made decisions based on rational logic.
  • Prospecting – He was spontaneous and flexible rather than regimented.

The INTP profile captures Einstein’s introverted, thoughtful, intellectual personality. INTPs have strengths in scientific and mathematical thinking. Their preference for theoretical over practical work aligns with Einstein’s interests. As an INTP, Einstein brought an unconventional outsider perspective to physics that helped him reconceive core laws of nature.

Einstein MBTI statistics

MBTI Trait Category
Introvert 89% of INTPs
Intuitive 90% of INTPs
Thinking 91% of INTPs
Prospecting 53% of INTPs

The chart shows the overwhelming probabilities that Einstein would have tested as introverted, intuitive, thinking and prospecting – all main INTP traits.

Einstein’s Enneagram type: Type 5

In the Enneagram personality system, Einstein likely typed as a Type 5 based on his traits:

  • Abstract, theoretical focus
  • Highly intellectual and curious
  • Desire to understand the universe
  • Innovation and imagination
  • Need for solitude and privacy
  • Unconventional perspective

The motivations and fears of the Type 5 match Einstein’s core drivers. Type 5s fear being helpless/incapable and strive to be capable and competent, fitting Einstein’s mastery of physics. Their detached intellectualism also suits Einstein’s thinking style.

Common Enneagram Type 5 careers

  • Scientist
  • Mathematician
  • Professor
  • Philosopher
  • Architect
  • Engineer
  • Investigator

The Enneagram Type 5 list highlights theoretical and scientific occupations matching Einstein’s talents and training in physics. His personality was well-suited for advanced research exploring the unknown.


Albert Einstein exhibited personality traits of intuition, imagination, curiosity, and strong intellect that enabled his pioneering contributions to physics. Einstein’s tendencies towards introversion, rebellious thinking, nonconformity, and visual/abstract reasoning allowed him to conceive of radical new theories that reshaped our cosmic outlook. His personality enabled him both to visualize novel large-scale concepts and intensely focus on solving the detailed mathematical intricacies involved. Understanding Einstein’s personality provides insight into how he forever transformed our understanding of space, time, light, matter, and gravity through his research and discoveries.