Posted to the Personality Blog on January 18, 2013
The interview with Oprah seems to highlight Lance Armstrong’s INTJ type, the scientific, non-relational nature of his statements, the way he drills deep and the way he constructs his reality. Oprah begins with three short, binary, convergent questions which elicit similar responses:
Q. Did you ever take banned substances to enhance cycling performance? A. Yes Q. Was one of those substances EPO? A. Yes. Q. Did you use any other banned substances? A. Yes
She then asks a more penetrating, divergent question:
OW: Was it possible to win without doping?
Lance Armstrong is almost surprised by such a question coming up so early, yet his answer has a hard-edged honesty which is focused in an ‘N’ like way, far more broadly placing him in the context of the sport and the time.
LA: Wow ...wow...wow. What a show-stopping start. Not in that generation. I didn't invent the culture, but I didn't try to stop the culture.
OW: Were you afraid of getting caught?
LA: No. Testing has evolved. Back then they didn't come to your house and there was no testing out of competition and for most of my career there wasn't that much out-of-competition testing so you're not going to get caught because you clean up for the races. It's a question of scheduling.
LA: I viewed it as very simple. There were things that were oxygen-supplying drugs that were beneficial for cycling. My cocktail was EPO, but not a lot, transfusions and testosterone. There's no true justification.
We can see Lance Armstrong’s answers demonstrate a well-thought-through analysis of the whole situation, introducing a global perspective to provide context for his individual actions. However he uses the same, scientific and non-emotional responses when asked personal questions:
OW: Were you a bully?
LA: Yes. I was a bully. I tried to control the narrative. If I didn't like what somebody said, I tried to control that. I've been like that my entire life.
Lance Armstrong does not duck the questions, but places them all in a global context rather than focusing on individual actions. This means the interview takes on a scientific sense, almost that it could be about an experiment or explaining a complex issue. Distilling his answers he clearly does appear to regret his actions, but at all times he places these in the context of the sport, the time, the culture, which is devoid of emotion. And we suspect that what was expected was an emotional apology and an explanation of how he was feeling; the INTJ does not really operate in that way.
Photo credit: Angus Kingston
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