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SMART Personality Research
In Search Of The SMART Personality: A Pilot Study
Guy C. Lamunyon MSN, RN, CAS

Jack Trimpey, founder of Rational Recovery, hypothesized that cognitively oriented personality types would be more attracted to a rational approach to recovery and that emotionally oriented personality types would be more attracted to a spiritually oriented approach to recovery (Trimpey, 1988). The purpose of this pilot study was to test Trimpey’s hypothesis.

Previous research has failed to demonstrate any one particular ‘addictive personality.’ Personality traits of people with alcohol/substance use disorders may include nonconformity; impulsivity; sensation/thrill-seeking; emotional dysregulation, negative affect (depression and/or anxiety) and low self-esteem (Horvath, et al 2014). A previous personality study (Feifer & Strohm, 2000) found Smart Recovery participants had higher internal locus of control when compared to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) participants. The Smart Recovery participants also scored lower in spiritual measures when compared to AA participants. This pilot study uses the Keirsey scale, a Myers-Briggs type indicator, to measure cognitive styles and other personality measures.



A sample of convenience was recruited to complete the Keirsey Temperment Sorter (KTS) from participants at a SMART regional facilitators meeting. Nine (9) facilitators and SMART program participants completed the KTS.


Subjects were given a vague explanation about the research to conceal the experimental hypothesis. A public domain (online) version of the Keirsey Temperment Sorter (KTS) was completed by all subjects. Participants self scored the KTS and were provided with a summary of KTS results and online resources for more Keirsey scale information. Subjects were also queried about their length of sobriety in months and percentage of SMART program

The KTS is in the public domain and is self administered. KTS measures Extroversion (E) versus Introversion (I), Sensation (S) versus Intuition (N), Thinking (T) versus Feeling (F) and Judging (J) versus Perceiving (P). Keirsey and Bates (1984) reports Thinking (T) and Feeling (F) and Judging (J) and Perceiving (P) are equally distributed in the general population. Extroversion (E) and Sensation (S) are more common (75 percent of the general population) while Introversion (I) and Intuition (N) are less common (25 percent of the general population).


Average length of sobriety was 46 months with 6 months as the least reported length of sobriety and 228 months the longest period of sobriety reported. Six participants indicated they participated only in Smart Recovery. Others reported Smart was 50 to 90 percent of their recovery program. The mean for SMART program participation was 86 percent. By comparison, the 2104 SMART Recovery Survey found only 46 percent used SMART as a sole program for recovery (SMART, 2014).

Subjects scored highest on Intuition (N) at 78 percent. On the I/E scale scores were elevated at 60 percent for Introversion (I). The scores for T/F were slightly elevated for F (67 percent) and the P/J scale was slightly stronger for (J) at 55 percent.


The scale of interest in this pilot study was the Thinking (T)/Feeling (F) scale as a measure of cognitive orientation. The experimental hypothesis predicts a higher score on the Thinking (T) scale as a measure of cognitive style. Unfortunately, Feeling (F) was somewhat elevated failing to confirm the experimental hypothesis. Unexpected results were found in Intuition which was high at 78 percent compared to 25 percent in the general population. Introversion was also elevated at 60 percent compared to 25 percent in the general population.

The composite of all subject is INFJ which Keirsey calls THE COUNSELOR. Below is a description of THE COUNSELOR personality style from the Keirsey (2014) website:

Counselors have an exceptionally strong desire to contribute to the welfare of others, and find great personal fulfillment interacting with people, nurturing their personal development, guiding them to realize their human potential. Although they are happy working at jobs (such as writing) that require solitude and close attention, Counselors do quite well with individuals or groups of people, provided that the personal interactions are not superficial, and that they find some quiet, private time every now and then to recharge their batteries. Counselors are both kind and positive in their handling of others; they are great listeners and seem naturally interested in helping people with their personal problems. Not usually visible leaders, Counselors prefer to work intensely with those close to them, especially on a one-to-one basis, quietly exerting their influence behind the scenes.

Counselors are scarce, little more than three percent of the population, and can be hard to get to know, since they tend not to share their innermost thoughts or their powerful emotional reactions except with their loved ones. They are highly private people, with an unusually rich, complicated inner life. Friends or colleagues who have known them for years may find sides emerging which come as a surprise. Not that Counselors are flighty or scattered; they value their integrity a great deal, but they have mysterious, intricately woven personalities which sometimes puzzle even them.

Counselors tend to work effectively in organizations. They value staff harmony and make every effort to help an organization run smoothly and pleasantly. They understand and use human systems creatively, and are good at consulting and cooperating with others. As employees or employers, Counselors are concerned with people's feelings and are able to act as a barometer of the feelings within the organization.

Weaknesses of this pilot study include small sample size, use of a self report scale and possible non representative sample (primarily SMART facilitators).

Recommendations for further study include a two group method comparing SMART and AA/12 Step participants or possibly a three arm experiment with a control group. A researcher, clinician administered or online personality measurement tool is likely to be more reliable than a self administered survey.


Feifer, C and Strohm, M (2000) Addictive Behaviors (Impact Factor: 2.02). 01/2000;

25(4):633-40. DOI: 10.1016/S0306-4603(99)00052-0

Horvath, A.T, Misra, K, Epner,A., Cooper, GM & Zupanick, C.E. (Ed.) . (2014).

Addiction and Personality Disorder. Retrieved from http://www.centersite.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=48526&cn=1408

Keirsey (2014) Idealist, Portrait of the Counselor (INFJ) Retrieved from http://keirsey.com/4temps/counselor.aspx

Keirsey, D and Bates, M (1984). Please Understand Me: Character & Temperament Types. Prometheus Nemesis Book Company, Del Mar, CA 92014

SMART Recovery Membership Survey. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.smartrecovery.org

Trimpey, J. (1989) The Small Book: A Revolutionary Alternative for Overcoming Alcohol and Drug Dependence. Lotus Press, Lotus CA


Measure Norm SMART

Extroversion (E) 75 44

Introversion (I) 25 60

Sensation (S) 75 22

Intuition (N) 25 78

Thinking (T) 50 33

Feeling (F) 50 67

Judging (J) 50 55

Perceiving (P) 50 45


Guy Lamunyon has been an advocate for alternate recovery since 1990 (Rational Recovery) and has been working in addiction treatment since 1975. He is retired from VA Mental Health and the US Army. Guy is now a clinical and research instructor at Northern Arizona University. He may be contacted by email to Glamunyon@aol.com