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Mind Games and the Gender Gap
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In this article I present evidence from the field of Industrial psychology to account for the gender gap in mind games, defined as bridge, chess and poker. Those unfamiliar with Analytical (Jungian) psychology may wish to read a description and take a simplified test. Organizations worldwide including the United States military academies screen applicants with MBTI; in Russia one can earn a PhD in the field.

My interest in MBTI was sparked a decade ago after a less than satisfactory experience as a patient of clinical psychology which led me to seek alternative solutions in more applied branches. While I have no formal training in MBTI nor in the scientific method (hope I did OK!) I have spent hundreds of hours researching and incorporating the concepts as a tool for introspection and personal growth. A Facebook app developed by the University of Pennsylvania provided some assistance in typing my fellow bridge players.  I typed only those players for whom I estimated  >85%  chance of success. My goal was to see which types were heavily represented in bridge and then to look at the demographic data by gender. In addition I sought supporting evidence from chess and poker.

INTJ:  Justin Lall, Joe Grue, Brad Moss, Marty Fleisher, Sabine Auken, Roy Welland, Ron Smith, Adam Wildavsky, Alan Sontag, Steve Weinstein, Debbie Rosenberg, Mike Becker, Eric Rodwell, Billy Cohen, Joel Wooldridge, Chris Willenken, Geoff Hampson, Peter Fredin, Ish Delmonte, Gabrielle Sherman (yes I know I'm not a peer before adjusting for gender, but I knew my type!)

INTP:  David Berkowitz, Bart Bramley, JoAnna Stansby, Lou Stansby, Michael Rosenberg, Chip Martel

ISTJ: Jeff Meckstroth, Michael Kamil, Thomas Bessis

ENTJ: Zia, Gary Cohler

Of the sixteen types only four were represented, the vast majority INTJ or INTP. Not surprisingly, good bridge players tend to be introverted, abstract thinkers. It was a bit of a shocker to see INTJ so heavily represented compared to its less judgmental peers who are generally thought of as the best pure thinkers (Albert Einstein INTP). Unfortunately our greatest gifts sometimes confound us as in the case of INTP who tends to overthink, occasionally missing the forest for the trees. INTJs are more pragmatic and generally have greater competitive drive, better intuition and do well thinking "outside the box."






INTJ, INTP (total): 10.7% total population

INTJ, INTP (men): 8.1%

INTJ, INTP (women): 2.6%

While 10.7% of the population has a temperament highly conducive to bridge, only 24.3% of the group of talented players is female. While not surprising this does much to explain the gender gap. 

If a temperament-based explanation could be found for bridge, could the same be said for other mind games like poker and chess? I decided to find out by scouring mind game message boards for threads about MBTI type. The results were overwhelming with the vast majority of pro poker and top chess players, like bridge players, self-reporting as INTJ and INTP.

Although not entirely germane, and wholly unscientific, I was curious as to the INTJ, INTP breakdown in each game:

INTJ, INTP (Bridge): 77%,  23%

INTJ, INTP (Poker): 91%, 9%

INTJ, INTP (chess): 12%, 88%

It is fascinating, yet not surprising, to see that chess, which requires the most pure thought, is highly-dominated by INTPs, bridge being somewhere in the middle, followed by poker which rewards those with highly developed intuition.


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