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"Head people" and "heart people"

June 21, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
The metaphors we use may say something about our personalities, according to a new study by Adam K. Fetterman, a recent doctoral graduate in psychology, and Michael D. Robinson, professor of psychology at North Dakota State University.

The men conducted a study asking participants whether they believe "the self" has more to do with the heart or the brain. About half of the participants chose the heart and the other half chose the brain. Fetterman and Robinson found that people who chose "heart" also rated themselves as more emotional and more feminine and warm. People who chose the "head" said they are more logical and rational and less friendly.

The two men published the study, called "Do you use your head or follow your heart?" in the "Journal of Personality and Social Psychology," according to a press release issued by NDSU.

"When we say that our self is located in the head or that someone 'uses their head,' it is not just a figure of speech. We do so to convey the information to ourselves and others in an understandable way," Fetterman said in the press release.

Robinson added in the release that the findings indicate that "there are two very different types of people ā€“ head people and heart people, exactly as prominent metaphors suggest."

While the results of the study seem a bit obvious, they also offer some food for thought. The last metaphor I used ā€“ a "head metaphor" ā€“probably suggests what I already know, that I am more inclined to lead with my head than with my heart. I start off more of my sentences with "I think" than "I feel" and enjoy thinking about issues from a variety of angles. Others look at the world from a more emotional standpoint.

Robinson and Fetterman suggest that these findings may help people choose career paths that are suited to their particular temperament. Maybe they will also help us understand each other a little better. After all, the world needs both thinkers and feelers to be well balanced.

What about you? Are you a "head" or a "heart" person or both? Do you think it is reflected in the metaphors you use?


Article Comments



Jun-24-13 8:33 AM

I am a "heart person" but at my age, I find myself rationalizing with my head before I react. It's something that comes with practice and I find myself in need of more practice.


Jun-23-13 5:06 PM

I'm more inclined to lead with my "head" now, especially when relating to my husband. His tolerance for "heart" things (emotions, feelings, randomness) is low, but has probably improved after being married to me.

Perhaps we make a good combo - head and heart. (smile)


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