Today’s character archetype is one of the twelve Jungian archetypes but also a common archetype if you have explored the Myers-Briggs or Enneagram personality types.
The explorer can be found in many of us, and makes for an interesting fictional character.
“Don’t fence me in” ~ Motto: The Explorer
Unless talking about adventure and action heroes, the explorer archetype can sometimes be forgotten about. But as an archetype, the explorer speaks to all characters who want to venture or explore and to the 9-10% (according to MBTI stats) of our population who spend time exploring new learnings, and creating new insights for our world. The explorer isn’t solely about exploring an external world, it’s also very internally based: exploring ourselves and sense of identity.
Signs of the Explorer
- investigative, inquisitive and methodological at tasks
- social, sharing, can work in (non-conformist) teams when necessary, but may be a misfit
- friendly, supportive, understanding and patient with friends and loved ones
- observant, intelligent, analytical, however may not collect or organize materials
- spend time creating new insights, dealing with abstracts and expressing new ideas
- if not finding a new place, will be finding themself
- will always choose the road less travelled, a non-linear life
- self-sufficient, independent, often single or without a family to tie them down
- driven by a need for freedom and fulfilling their true self
- fear – of being trapped or being forced to conform, grows bored easily of repetitive or highly structured tasks
- weaknesses (shadow)– wandering aimlessly, becoming a thrill-seeker only, commitment phobia, eschew leadership roles due to propensity towards abstract ideas, indecisive, unachievable goals lead to disappointment
Examples of Explorers
Real life – Amelia Earhart, Columbus, Marco Polo, David Livingstone, Sir Edmund Hillary
Fictional – Lara Croft, Hiccup (How to Train a Dragon), Star Lord (Guardians of the Galaxy), several Disney princesses, Indiana Jones, Captain James T Kirk (Star Trek), James of James and the Giant Peach, Penny Lane from Almost Famous, Tommy (Rugrats), Erin Brokovich, The Goonies, Maria (Sound of Music).
Other Names and Associates
- Other names: seeker, iconoclast, wanderer, individualist, pilgrim, adventurer (Jung and Brand Archetypes)
- MBTI: ENTP – explorer, inventor, visionary, debater, originator (logical explorer)
- MBTI: ENFP – campaigner, champion (compassionate explorer)
- MBTI: ISFP – adventurer, artist, composer
- 16 Personalities: Explorer category, ISFP
- Enneagram: Type 7 – enthusiasts or epicures, with 6 wing – entertainer, with 8 wing – realist
- Enneagram: Type 6 – loyalist or loyal skeptic
- Enneagram: Type 8 – challenger or champion, with 7 wing – maverick
- Shadow: escapist, anarchist, commitment -phobe, prisoner. Basic fear of being deprived or trapped.
–Additional Reading for the Explorer–
Sources for the Explorer Archetype
Jung’s 12 Archetypes
Jung introduces the explorer within the soul category. Soul types are defined by goals related to personal development, or agendas that serve to improve their spiritual, mental, or physical standing with the world.
The Explorer in Jung’s 12 Common Archetypes is also known as the seeker, the iconclast (as non-conformist), wanderer, individualist or pilgrim.
In Jung’s terms, the Explorer can be summed up with a motto: “Don’t fence me in.”
The explorer’s biggest fear is being trapped, conformity and having an inner emptiness. They can have a weakness of wandering aimlessly (both in the world, and intellectually with new ideas), and being called a commitment-phobe.
Note that the explorer, unlike the hero, does not need an inciting incident to go on their own fulfillment journey.
The Character Therapist and Alex Hurst both have a good series of posts on Jung Archetypes. You will find the links to the explorer posts below.
Myers-Briggs, 16P’s and Enneagrams: ENTP, ENFP or ISFP
There are a lot of different role names applied to the 16 personality types found in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator system, so the archetype can be applied to several types which fit MBTIs as personalities.
ENTP: Sometimes the name explorer, inventor or visionary is applied to the ENTP type. However, this personality type can also be found as “the debater, inventor or originator.” This Myers-Briggs profile is the Logical Explorer.
“Logical Explorers balance their approach of innovation and initiation with an internal focus on logic and analysis. They like to create a complex system of patterns and models by evaluating and critiquing new information” Via
ENFP: Sometimes named as “the campaigner, the champion”. This personality type again is enthusiastic, social, and a free spirit. This Myers-Briggs profile is the Compassionate Explorer.
‘’Compassionate Explorers balance their approach of innovation and initiation with an internal focus on values. They rely on their personal sense of responsibility and integrity to help them identify opportunities to help others and develop human potential” Via
ISFP: This Myers-Briggs type is an introvert, also named “the adventurer, the artist, or the composer.” This type is friendly, loyal and dislikes arguments (almost the opposing force to an ENTP) but regarding the adventure side, this is the Explorer when spending a lot of time in intellectual pursuits. The ISFP is always willing to explore and pursue new experiences.
There are hundreds of websites which provide Myers-Briggs information on various personality types. One popular one is 16 Personalities. 16P has broken the 16 types out into 4 categories based on the 4 temperament quadrants of David Keirsey– the guardians, idealists, rational/intellectuals or the artisans.
Famous ISFPs: Kevin Costner, Michael Jackson, Thea Queen from Arrow.
Enneagram: Type 6, 7 or 8, Loyalist, Enthusiast, Challenger
The Enneagram Type 7s closely match with ENFP and ENTP. Type 7’s are Enthusiasts or Epicures. Type 7’s have the same motto or fear as the Jungian explorer – of being trapped.
The ISFP matches with a Type 6 Enneagram personality (perhaps with a 7 wing). Type 6’s are Loyalists or The Loyal Skeptic. Whilst slightly intellectual adventurers, this type would make a good sidekick for an adventuring hero.
With Enneagrams you can also have a combination of types as main enneagram types can have wings to those on either side.
Worth exploring (pun unintended) for additional traits for the explorer archetype –
- Type 7’s with a 6 wing are called The Entertainer
- Type 7’s with an 8 wing are the logical or realistic explorers known as The Realist
- Type 8’s are the Challengers or Protectors, which again, sit well with the ENFP. Type 8’s with a strong 7 wing even more suit the wanderlust adventurer, as they are named The Maverick.
Archetype.com: Adult and Teen Archetypes
The Explorer archetype is detailed both for adults, and as a special teen archetype at archetype.com. For the teen archetype, here. Both are categorised into the “Discovering” Archetype family (another name for Soul types per Jung).
Other names for this archetype: traveller, adventurer, trailblazer.
Brands using the Explorer: Virgin, Travelocity, Contiki, Jeep, but also The Discovery Channel, Oprah.
Image via Melissa Bolton
Resources to Explore the Explorer Archetype
There are hundreds of websites dedicated to myers-briggs and enneagram personality types. Do a simple search on the MBTI types, and go from there.
- 16 Personalities
- Myers Briggs Foundation
- For Enneagrams: 9 Types or The Enneagram Institute
- Archetypes.com is a good source for explorers.
- Jung Archetypes – The Explorer –
Part of 2016’s Character Archetype Series (A-Z) @ Hunter is Writing.