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Elon Musk Personality Type – FFM

What personality type is Elon Musk, using the Big Five Personality Traits, or Five Factor Model (FFM), plus other relevant psychology. Elon Musk is an interesting character, somewhat eccentric, perhaps slightly socially awkward but obviously very intelligent, and a highly gifted engineer.

Elon Must Personality Type

Many people seem to love speculating about his personality, why he is the way he is? Here is my take on it, mostly using the Five Factor Model of personality.

Elon Musk Personality (FFM)

Openness

Elon is very high in trait openness, very imaginative, intelligent, clearly has a preference for thinking abstractly. Almost everything about him seems unconventional and unique. As well as his passion for engineering, he is also strongly involved in the aesthetics design of his developments. He clearly has a great interest in ideas, aesthetics and adventure, which are strongly associated with the openness trait.

His desire and interest in space travel could also be an outward manifestation of the openness trait, space is about as open as you can get. He is also a supporter of free speech, not wanting to be restricted in such ways, and to restrict speech is perhaps also to restrict thinking. Those high in trait openness hate limitations of all kinds. Optimism of ideas, and a willingness to try different things is also associated with being high in trait openness.

Conscientiousness

Again he is very high in conscientiousness, particularly industriousness and orderliness. As reported he works something like 16 hour days across his businesses, in which he plays a major role. This is a natural drive to achieve, to get things done. During an interview he mentions being obsessively compulsive(OCD), this is connected to the trait orderliness and is associated with perfectionism, a desire for symmetry and generally more likely to become obsessed with certain projects or goals.

Trait orderliness is also associated with efficiency and the emotion of disgust; both of these are linked to an interest in environmental issues. So people high in the emotion of disgust like things clean, and they don’t like waste or being wasteful, which comes from the efficiency aspect. This can naturally lead to a passion for making the planet cleaner, and generally better.  

Extroversion

Definitely low in extroversion (introverted), from an early age he was learning to program, it’s an ideal activity for the introvert that enjoys their alone time. This also in-part explains his slightly socially awkward demeanour. I believe only an introvert could have his level of passion and obsession for what he does, and achieve the things he has.   

Agreeableness

High achievers are often low in agreeableness, because they are usually more competitive, and a desire to beat others can often be a strong motivating drive. I think this is mostly true with Elon, however, he seems high in the morality and modesty aspects. He also seems compassionate, however his compassion is likely more focused on bigger picture issues, like humanity as a hole, rather than compassion for individuals. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t have compassion for individuals, but rather just a focus on the bigger broader picture. Being low in agreeableness is also connected to having an interest in things over people, this often makes for talented engineers.  

Neuroticism

One must have chaos in oneself. Nietzsche

Based on some of his interviews, he does seem to react strongly to some of the more critical or personal attacks, which indicates high negative emotion, with some trouble regulating emotions. Another indicator is a need for alcohol before really becoming comfortable and loosening up. Those high in neuroticism are sensitive to anxiety, stress and self-consciousness, and alcohol can be very effective at suppressing these emotions, therefore helping people to relax. Neuroticism is the negative emotion trait, and alcohol mostly increases positive emotion which naturally makes people more sociable.

Psychological Interests

One big psychological difference that people can have is a tilting towards an interest in people, and an interest in things. Elon has a strong tilt to an interest in things. This is what makes him a great engineer, because he has a passion for what he does. This also likely contributes to him sometimes seeming somewhat uncomfortable with people.

Quick Summary

Very high in openness and conscientiousness, moderate to low in agreeableness, highly introverted, high in neuroticism and a very strong psychological interest in things over people.