Temperament Type and Into the Wild

Temperament Type and Into the Wild Notes

Directions:  After completing the assignments about temperament type and as you read Into the Wild, look for evidence of the different preferences in the character of Chris McCandless (Alexander Supertramp).  When you see him or hear about him engaging in a behavior that supports one of the preferences, document it in the third column next to that preference and list the page number in the fourth column.  You will be using this information to construct your argument paper later on in this unit.


Characteristics of Preference

Evidence to Support Preference from Into the Wild


Extroverte d


Gains energy from being around others

Enjoys working in larger groups

May have lots of friends but relationship are casual 

“He had a good time when he was around people, a real good time. At the swap meet he’d talk and talk and talk to everybody who came by. He must have met six or seven dozen people in Niland, and he was friendly with every one of them. He needed his solitude at times, but he wasn’t a hermit. He did a lot of socializing. Sometimes I think it was like he was storing up company for the times when he knew nobody would be around.”


Introverte d


Gains energy from reflecting on internal thoughts and ideas.

Enjoys working individually or in small groups May have fewer friends but deeper relationships.

   “He could do the job—he cooked in the back—but he always worked at the same slow pace, even during the lunch rush, no matter how much you’d get on him to hurry it up. Customers would be stacked ten-deep at the counter, and he wouldn’t understand why I was on his case. He just didn’t make the connection. It was

like he was off in his own universe.”

   “Nice guy, yeah, a pretty nice guy,” Charlie reports.

“Didn’t like to be around too many people, though. Temperamental. He meant good, but I think he had a lot of complexes—know what I’m saying? Liked to read books by that Alaska guy, Jack London. Never said much. He’d get moody, wouldn’t like to be bothered. Seemed like a kid who was looking for something, looking for something, just didn’t know what it was.

   McCandless was thrilled to be on his way north, and he was relieved as well—relieved that he had again evaded the impending threat of human intimacy, of friendship, and all the messy emotional baggage that comes with it. He had fled the claustrophobic confines of his family.”

S Sensing


Prefers practical and factual details

Attends to events in the present moment.

Prefers step-by-step approach to learning 

“As a young man, I was unlike McCandless in many important regards; most notably, I possessed neither his intellect nor his lofty ideals. But I believe we were similarly affected by the skewed relationships we had with our fathers. And I suspect we had a similar intensity, a similar heedlessness, a similar agitation of the soul.”

N iNtuitive


Prefers patterns and meanings

Attends to future possibilities.

Prefers an intuitive or “big picture” approach to learning 

So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, Ron, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty.

Many who knew him have commented, unbidden, that he seemed to have great difficulty seeing the trees, as it were, for the forest. “Alex wasn’t a total space cadet or anything,” says Westerberg; “don’t get me wrong. But there was gaps in his thinking

T Thinking


Uses logical analysis to make decisions.

Appreciates objective and impersonal criteria

Sometimes considered “tough minded”

   “I mean the very first thing. Kind of like a statement, to let us know we didn’t own him, I guess. But he was a nice kid and a good worker.

Real dependable.”

   “Chris had so much natural talent,” Walt continues, “but if you tried to coach him, to polish his skill, to bring out that final ten percent, a wall went up. He resisted instruction of any kind.”

   “He was really into pushing himself,” explains

Gordy Cucullu, a younger member of the team.

“Chris invented this workout he called Road Warriors: He would lead us on long, killer runs through places like farmers’ fields and

construction sites, places we weren’t supposed to be, and intentionally try to get us lost.”

   "After a bad race or even a bad time trial during practice, he could be really hard on himself. And he wouldn’t want to talk about it. If I tried to console him, he’d act annoyed and brush me off. He internalized the disappointment. He’d go off alone somewhere and beat himself up.”

F Feeling


Uses subjective criteria to make decisions Appreciates human values, principles, and subjective perspectives

Sometimes considered “soft hearted” 

       “Not infrequently during their visits, Franz recalls, McCandless’s face would darken with anger and he’d fulminate about his parents or politicians or the endemic idiocy of mainstream

American life. Worried about alienating the boy, Franz said little during such outbursts and let him rant.”

       "McCandless would wander the seedier quarters of Washington, chatting with prostitutes and homeless people, buying them meals, earnestly suggesting ways they might improve their lives.”

       “He got real emotional. He was almost crying, fighting back the tears, telling Dad that even though they’d had their differences over the years, he was grateful for all the things Dad had done for him. Chris said how much he respected Dad for starting from nothing, working his way through college, busting his ass to support eight kids. It was a moving speech. Everybody there was all choked up. “

J Judging


Prefers organization and structure in external world

Prefers issues to be settled

Prefers to plan activities

  “Chris had lived off campus in a monkish room furnished with little more than a thin mattress on the floor, milk crates, and a table”

  “Once Alex made up his mind about something, there was no changing it,”

  “Chris seemed thrilled to be at Emory. He shaved, trimmed his hair, and readopted the clean-cut look he’d had in high school. His grades were nearly perfect. He started writing for the school newspaper. He even talked enthusiastically about going on to get a law degree when he graduated."

P Perceiving


Prefers flexibility in external world

Resists closure and prefers remaining open to obtain additional information

Prefers activities that are less structured

    McCandless was candid with Stuckey about his intent to spend the summer alone in the bush, living off the land. “He said it was something he’d wanted to do since he was little,” says Stuckey. “Said he didn’t want to see a single person, no airplanes, no sign of civilization. He wanted to prove to himself that he could make it on his own, without anybody else’s help.









“Ironically, the wilderness surrounding the bus—the patch of overgrown country where McCandless was determined “to become lost in the wild”— scarcely qualifies as wilderness by Alaska standards. “

“McCandless, on the other hand, went too far in the opposite direction. He tried to live entirely off the country—and he tried to do it without bothering to master beforehand the full repertoire of crucial skills. “