MBTI: Ex Machina

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Spoilers ahead!

I have no choice but to know this is going to be, at the very least, on my Top 10 of the year. With how little has come out that I actually care about, Ex Machina was like an oasis in the desert. Could I see some people being bored by it? Yep. The three people I was in the theater with all were.

But they couldn’t deny it was good.

So here are the types of the few characters there were. It’s always funny to see what types are present as well as missing and how that changes the tone of the film. No Guardians, the show is probably very flexible, maybe a lot of action, no Idealists and people’s morals get flexible, all that good stuff. See what you get from this.

Caleb- INTP

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A loner that isn’t one by choice, Caleb spends his days at work as a programmer and his nights? Watching porn evidently.

Not all INTPs are this sad and lonely but with their preference for Ti (Introverted Thinking) and Ne (Extroverted Intuition), there are going to be the INTPs who do whatever they have to do for money only to sulk off into their messy corners.

Although he could be mistaken for a Feeler of some kind, INTPs are at their worst when their inferior Fe is being forced, which Caleb’s is because he’s having to deal with his drunkenly verbose host, far away from anything he’s familiar with (The film was shot in Norway, by the way) while he may or may not be getting manipulated by an android he’s becoming attracted to. A weird situation for anybody to be in but INTPs can have an especially tough time balancing their logic and their feelings which is normally why many reject them altogether when they come up at all. Who wants to display such pesky emotions?

Why is Ti and Ne going to sometimes make for a sad and lonely individual? Well, you should be able to detect heavier Ne in anybody, while INTPs use it to extrapolate ideas from what’s already been proven (in their minds at least) to be possible.

Actor Domhnall Gleeson, who plays Caleb, did a great job at showing the nerdy programmer excited over how lifelike Ava is, as he can now see all the possibilities with this supposed impossibility that has been made possible. The way he describes Ava to Nathan is as excited as a kid in a toy store yet he’s more impressed from a technical standpoint and Nathan has to chip away at his vocabulary to see how Caleb really feels rather than what he thinks of her as a piece of work.

Inferior Fe users are often more childlike in their displays of this function when not being forced into something very personal and/or invasive. It’s used to help give others better insight into their own view points in a way that understands the emotions of a casual interaction without getting too personal.

Ava- INFJ

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Awww yee. While Caleb’s personality may be known as “the warmest robot,” Ava actually is a robot. Spoilers, am I right.

Sitting down to speak with Caleb one-on-one seemed simple enough, didn’t it? She would be interviewed and observed, taken apart and rebuilt. And what do you know, Ava is aware and doesn’t want that.

While there are many types who take a highly specialized approach to not only human interaction, but humanity itself, INFJs make their life about this. They don’t even necessarily notice what they’re doing in the moment but every thought and comment with any sort of validity is put into their mental Rolodex to be referred back to at a time when it matters. With their unique combination of Ni and Fe (Introverted Intuition and Extroverted Feeling), INFJs want to get along now but not at the compromise of their long term integrity.

I was being told INFJs are master manipulators when they choose to be…lucky for humanity they just rarely choose to “go there” and since “Hitler was an INFJ” every INFJ has it in them to be a masochist. While I still don’t believe this to be true, what I can say is that when INFJs manipulate, the few who feel it are broken down by it.

The difference with an INFJ manipulating and another type is that an INFJ doing so is more about one-on-one time you could call it; their manipulation only really works with the few individuals that are close enough for them to do so, sort of like a Venus Fly Trap. If the fly simply didn’t land there, it wouldn’t be eaten. It could go anywhere else and it’s fine. But they choose to go to a plant that gains sustenance by devouring them.

This is much like Ava. The fly here is Caleb and just like in real life (Noooo! Not that place!), the victim has to care about the INFJ for the INFJ to manipulate them in the first place, given an unhealthy INFJ’s mode of deceit. Ava herself fits all of this, as she has nowhere to go but her underground chambers and Caleb could simply look at the situation for what it is- yet his judgement is clouded by his loneliness and other various emotions he has a hard time processing. Ava really just wants to survive, escape, and fit in with the rest of society (even though she could never really pull off that last part) and she’ll use Caleb to get there. If only Caleb didn’t fall for the Damsel in Distress act.

Then again, it wasn’t really an act, was it? But saving the damsel doesn’t mean she’s gonna be with you. Lookin’ at you, nice guys. This is why your fantasy in Her should never be brought to life.

Nathan- ENTJ

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At first ENTP seemed likely; outgoing, a little weird, inventive in more ways than one and he’s a bit of a jerk. But more than those things, Nathan is driven. The guy was nonstop working on his masterpiece and while ENTPs can be driven, it’s more in a moment of brilliance, or flashes of ingenuity; Nathan, on the other hand just kept doing what he was doing day in and day out, which speaks more to Ni and Te than Ne and Ti. Working out and drinking unhealthily speak more to the ENTJ’s tertiary Extroverted Sensing which seeks to be stimulated externally when their actual plans aren’t being enacted.

When Caleb asks Nathan why he wants to build an android in the first place, Nathan responds that he sees robotic life as the way of the future. “It’s not a matter of ‘why’ but ‘when.” he tells Caleb, which fits with the dominant Extroverted Thinker’s way of doing things to have them done, no matter what the task is. A thing isn’t there to be questioned and thought about, but to be dealt with and set to the side. Or thrown away altogether if it can’t be used.

Best scene right here.

Best scene right here.

It’s in this way that Nathan and Caleb clash. Aside from the obvious screw-up of Caleb allowing Ava to trick him into setting her free and how that truly and utterly screws Nathan in the process, Caleb is a thinker that doesn’t seem to ever want a clear decision. You could say he’s all about the “Why.” While Nathan is a genius that just wants to do. Getting it done is more of the goal than wondering if even should be done. Nathan looks at it to a similar way Logan Marshall Green’s character looks at the invention of David in Prometheus. Why does he think David was built at all? Because we could.

ENTJs are more likely to cast out questions of morality and ethics when it comes to what seems to be the best decision, logically. What could be wrong with building these things, giving them free will, and then tearing them apart to build a better model if it’s logical? You can’t go wrong with what just makes sense. It’s a weird scenario that helps make the movie what it is but Nathan wastes no time wondering about it. He’s just doing what he was meant to do- create, build, sell.

When you have these kind of movies involving scientists that gawk at their creation and ask “Oh my God. What have we done?”– They’re not an ENTJ.

Kyoko- ISFJ

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I thought about not involving her at all since she literally has no lines in the film. But the studious obedient Japanese servant woman? The typing is obvious, if not a stereotype. But just because she was made to serve Nathan doesn’t mean she wants to do that for her entire existence. And once Caleb is manipulated and Ava is free, she does exactly what she needs to so as to be free of her oppressor and stabs Nathan.

One thing that seems to be misunderstood about ISFJs is that they’re subservient to whatever boss, manager, or significant other they have. This can be true, as I more-or-less mocked in the brutally honest profiles but that was more of an ISFJ at their worst and not many get that bad. In reality, ISFJs can get used to just about any conditions but of course, after some serious conditioning.

You would think that an android made to do exactly what she was doing (Serving Nathan) would make her life complete. But if the android you’ve created has free will and you’re only using it as your personal slave, consequences of that are unavoidable.

From that you really could say Nathan’s creations were a complete success. Too bad he had to find out in the worst way.

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14 Responses to “MBTI: Ex Machina”

  1. ambient Says:

    So, would you say that the difference between ENTP vs ENTJ Nathan is that ENTP Nathan would have felt a lot more curious to unleash his creation and see what it would do outside a controlled environment? I pegged him as an ENTP originally because it seemed like he was more setting things in motion to see how they play out than controlling them, but in fact his entire compound was a tightly controlled laboratory and him picking Caleb was also calculated. I think was also threw me off a little was his reaction to getting stabbed – how did you interpret that?

    • Taylor Says:

      Man, funny you should mention that scene of him getting stabbed because it was one of my favorite moments in the film and I was talking about it today. As he was remarking that it was “unreal” I was thinking the same and I liked his awareness of the fact. It’s almost as though he’s had it in mind the entire time how weird his life is, but he hasn’t cared enough to change it. Now his creations have tag-teamed him in murder. And yeah, I think an ENTP Nathan would have been more fun and explored why his androids were the way they were. Nathan just saw them as one more experiment to deconstruct and improve upon. They have emotions? Who cares!

  2. Vasiliy Says:

    I don’t think Caleb was an INTP. Sure he’s logical and is in a really INTP profession, but INFPs have been known to be quite logical too, they’re known. They’re typically able to read the otherwise indecipherable bullshit documentation of computer scientists and engineers. His Fi is clearly visible with his interactions with Ava, especially towards the end when he decides to help her. An INTP is an observer more than anything, which makes me doubt that caleb is an INTP since he basically decides not to use his Ti, his dominant function, to observe the subject instead of getting involved directly. Caleb wonders about Ava’s future, a very INFP thing to do since INFPs care about other people’s causes. Nathan even points out that he picked Nathan for a reason, not because of his coding ability, but because of his unique moral compass (introverted feeling again). INFPs can sorta be beta males and be taken advantage of easily, and that’s what happens in the movie. An INTP would just sit there and analyze every tiny piece connected to the ‘system’ in their head to death, from his interactions to his possible romantic interest without ever really getting involved. I think it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of INTPs to type Caleb as an INTP. I think reading this before you respond would probably help you understand my point and maybe see why I have this opinion in the first place.
    http://www.intp.org/intprofile.html

    • fatalfuryguy Says:

      So, he has feelings therefore he’s a feeler? Intp types never fall in love or anything right?

    • Taylor Says:

      Not just a misinterpretation of some sort, but a “fundamental misunderstanding” he says. Cool.

      Anyway, I don’t particularly care to be corrected over a typing with backup such as “This is what an INTP would do and this is what an INFP would do in that situation” and then give me interchangeable traits.

      It’s a very INFP thing to care about the future of Ava? So INTPs can’t care because they’re logical? You’re looking at this too superficially. Caleb is a computer programmer which INFPs can be, but since Caleb cares about Ava, he cannot be an INTP because INFPs care? This makes no sense aside from the idea that you relate to this character so he cannot be another type. Caleb is an INTP. Otherwise what you’re telling me is that an INFP in their healthy mindset made a decision no rational person (T or F) would. An INFP in their negative state becomes overly harsh and uncaring with no reason or rhyme while an INTP becomes emotionally torn.

      Also, as an INTP, Caleb IS an observer. He gets involved directly because it was what Nathan specifically wanted him to do. Before that, it was all he had been doing his entire life- observing. He was just sitting at a computer with his everything going by, no connections to anyone or anything. They make that clear on a few occasions but also in that Ava was designed based on Caleb’s porn searches. When he finally got involved with “someone” is when everything went to hell for him. And this is what makes him INTP. His Fe is his weak point that led to his downfall. His Fi didn’t lead him to letting Ava escape, because, as you said, INFPs can be logical too. But Caleb is an emotional idiot and thought the first girl that talked to him liked him. Not all INTPs are this frail but it’s much more likely Caleb is this type than one that uses Fi to guide them, not run them off a cliff. I’m not going to read one description of an INTP and have it change my mind over all the other websites, books, characters, interviews, and people I’ve known but even so, it’s not a bad site. From the site, directly related to Caleb:

      “Much of the above demonstrates the immature and underdeveloped approach with which the INTP meets his emotional side. In reality, the extraverted nature of the INTP’s feeling judgement means that his emotions, when visible, are pretty direct and easy to assess. Since the INTP normally wishes to hide his emotions; when they do come out, they do so in outbursts with an almost childlike innocence. There is a sense of all-or-nothing and, when visible, there is nothing enigmatic about the feelings of an INTP…”

      Also:

      “When making on the spot decisions while extraverting with another person, the shadow Fe is often temporally exposed on the front line. Its immature nature may then result in an inadequate decision being made. The INTP may regret this later when the Ti core has analysed the events. Hence, INTPs tend to resist being forced to make quick decisions, for they know that their Fe judgement is their achilles heel. However, the resistance is sometimes weakened when Ne jumps in to back up the Fe. The accuracy of the intuitive insight then becomes crucial if the INTP is to avoid fatal errors.”

      I’m not going to copy/paste anymore though because that would be posting the entire section on the INTP’s Fe. These descriptions describe the last half of the movie, specifically the scene where Caleb actually realizes he’s been played since he first got the notion he and a robot could be something.

      • Vasiliy Says:

        Caleb didn’t think that Ava liked her, he doubted it was genuine, he thought that maybe she was programmed to like him. Hence you get that long scene in the middle of the movie and then Nathan shows him that painting.

        “Caleb actually realizes he’s been played since he first got the notion he and a robot could be something.”

        Caleb never really cares actually. You can see a smile on his face when Nathan finds out Caleb out-maneuvered him just before he gets punched and he never offers to help Nathan. You can tell that Caleb got a bit annoyed towards the end when Nathan revealed the master plan. He didn’t feel bad. Also, it looked like he was ready to leave with Ava. You can see that he’s perturbed when he watches the other videos of Nathan’s robots being tested in the lab. He sees himself as a hero that needs to save Ava and the others. How can this not be dominant Fi? You don’t really give any good arguments for why he’s a dominant Ti. All you really say is:

        “Not all INTPs are this sad and lonely but with their preference for Ti (Introverted Thinking) and Ne (Extroverted Intuition), there are going to be the INTPs who do whatever they have to do for money only to sulk off into their messy corners.”

        Which is vaguely true of INTPs, but you have no indication that this is what Caleb does, or that he chose to program just because of the money so then he could go an sulk. I realize you’re probably being a bit facetious, but I wanted to address this point just in case there’s a hint of truth you’re tying to put in there. In fact, in the movie its pointed out that he got in a car accident and was stuck in the hospital and the only thing he had to entertain himself was programming. It seems like its his passion. I don’t really see introverted thinking being used in this movie, since its mostly a hidden function and you’d have to be inside Calebs mind to see that. We would only get Ti’s conclusions, but in this movie we get Ne, since Caleb is always probing ,in extroverted fashion, for how the AI works. Which is what he’s supposed to be doing as an auxiliary Ne user.

        To paraphrase some quotes from Caleb in the movie, in a chaotic abbreviated form:
        It’s stochastic right, at first I thought it was a linearlized bla bla bla, no?
        A Ti would just tell you the conclusion and his Ne might be like “it might be wrong though, I’d have to think about it.” That is, he’d have to “go in for air” and analyze it more if his Ne provides him with new ideas. But we see that Caleb is looking for ideas from this quote not giving us conclusions then analyzing it again with Ti with the support of Ne. We actually see Ne a lot throughout the whole movie, he’s constantly probing and asking questions, something INTPs do inside their heads, they try to figure it out themselves most of the time, and if they do ask questions, its only in support of their Ti-Ne axis, which is just feeding the Ti. They’d ask a question like, would “X make since in the context of Y,” and then they would go back into their heads and mull it over.
        This is Ne in its most obvious form, and its secondary because we see his Fi dominant function come into play with his actions throughout the movie, he’s always looking to out play Nathan and does not trust him. To add why I don’t think he’s Ti (which thinks first), we have a scene where Nathan tells Caleb to “engage intellect” and to “think before speaking.” He’s saying this because Caleb’s introverted thinking isn’t his dominant function, he’s not analyzing his own thought processes, he’s just spewing a bunch of unrelated ideas to Nathan and Nathan even says that “I think your insecurity is speaking.” When I think of an INTP I think of Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen or L Lawliet from Death Note. Both these characters didn’t really interact with the external world since Ti was dominant, they were detached observers. We see the death of superman in Dr. Manhattan, for he no longer cares about the fate of human interactions. L Lawliet just wants to solve the puzzle, he lets others deal with the externals. In this movie however, we see Caleb take up a cause, he’s sort of a leader in a way, he wants to help Ava escape, which leads me to conclude that he’s dominant Fi, since hes letting his internal moral compass make his decisions for him, not his introverted thinking, the subjective systematic logical structure in his mind.

        You might argue that his Fe, the inferior of the INTP goes on display in this movie, but Fe is more localized and superficial, not future-orientated and cause-seeking. An INTP with Fe on display immaturely would go in bursts of emotional energy and be done with it, but we see in the movie that Caleb’s emotions reach for more long-term plans; his Fe isn’t displayed on the spot which is what happens when INTPs are put in a pressure-like environment. No, throughout he has time to contemplate his decisions, but he still goes for the Fi-orientated approach. He goes for moral integrity instead of the scientific/logical approach he had previously. Fi is more individualized and seeks for individual emotional autonomy in itself and in others, which is why he helps Ava. Plus, Caleb seems young, his Fe shouldn’t even be developed at this point, if he was older, then your argument would make more sense to me. But INTPs develop their Fe late and so I would only probably see such actons that Caleb took at a later age in the development of an INTP, if at all.

        • Taylor Says:

          “A Ti would just tell you the conclusion…We actually see Ne a lot throughout the whole movie, he’s constantly probing and asking questions, something INTPs do inside their heads, they try to figure it out themselves most of the time, and if they do ask questions, its only in support of their Ti-Ne axis, which is just feeding the Ti. They’d ask a question like, would “X make since in the context of Y,” and then they would go back into their heads and mull it over.”

          Things like this. You’re giving such a specific example of what an INTP “wouldn’t do” and it’s just not true. An INTP would ask questions in this highly specific manner if they even asked questions at all? INTPs only probe inside their heads? Have you ever met an INTP or do you just know one and you’re basing all your INTP experience on them? Yes, INTPs ask questions and it’s not a rarity. Yes, INTPs can feel pain over what looks like another human in suffering. Wanting to help people or being disturbed by a video of these androids suffering is Fi and Fi alone? This is unhealthily inaccurate. Wanting to help people IS Fi but Fi can also be selfish. So by your logic, if Caleb called it like he saw it, that would have been how direct and incisive Fi can be right? But since he’s wanting to save an android, that’s Fi. Fi can do this and that, but Ti stays in a tiny little box and only does the few ways you’ve perceived it.

          I don’t make arguments for any type or function, I lay the groundwork for what they are. When someone disagrees, sure I’ll state my case. But against what they’re saying, not repeating my own view. Aside from being condescending, when many INFPs argue, they don’t make you argue the subject itself but you’re having to go against their values which is why you’re so offended I could possibly think Caleb is anything but an INFP. I’m sure you think you’re staying on the subject and arguing “facts” but here we have another Fi user arrogantly telling me I’m wrong based on how much you relate to this guy. By the way, this is not evidence of Fi, this is what’s called your “perception”- “He sees himself as a hero that needs to save Ava and the others. How can this not be dominant Fi?”

          Again, not evidence of Fi. Feeling pity for another being that appears to be alive, wanting to help, can be Fi or Fe, no matter the order. You need to stop isolating functions in their use and look at them as a whole with the character/person and how they act given their environment as well. You cannot correctly state that because Fi is subjective value, anyone who makes judgements based on their inner beliefs is acting on Fi.

          Fe is localized and superficial yet Fi is future-oriented and cause-seeking? How offensive to eight types that you aren’t. I’m tired of reading this thing and I’m sick of online INFPs seeing themselves as justified in everything they do while downplaying/downsizing the range and abilities of others just to argue a character is the same as them. If I’m going by your wording, Fe is restricted to just getting along with a few people, never having any real feelings of their own.

    • Sairor Says:

      Yeah, but don’t INTPs have that tendency to use themselves as test subjects?

      Also, INTPs might be thinkers, but that doesn’t mean people can’t exploit the fact that they crave for love and sex like the rest of us.

      But yes, INFPs also usually have high IQs.

    • Sairor Says:

      Caleb might be the kingpin of hentai (“my pornographic profile” lol) sure, but he doesn’t seem like a pushover.

      He actually stands up to Nathan in his quiet, introverted way. (he can’t match his energy, but who can when it comes to ENTJ’s and ESTP’s?)

      INFPs on the other hand, are usually THE worst at dealing with stress while Caleb is -relatively- more action oriented and fixes his problems when they present themselves.

      An INFP would probably create this fantasy where he saves the robot babe and not actually do anything IRL.

      (Same goes with ISFJs)

    • Kanye Westcobar Says:

      His Ti is so obvious. He wants to know how things work. Everything. Ava, even the phone. That’s more of an example of Ti, not inferior Te.

  3. Sairor Says:

    I’d say Nathan is my favorite ENTJ I’ve seen so far in fiction.

    Usually the go with the typical ruthless leader type, so an ENTJ as a mad scientist is a very original take.

    Too bad this ENTJ couldn’t outsmart his INTP rival.

    • Taylor Says:

      Yeah it was cool to see an ENTJ done in such a subtle way, especially given the genre. Oscar Isaac did a great job.

  4. Cipheos Says:

    I would say that ENTJ for Nathan is spot on. Since Ava clearly lacks a few ssential aspects of the human psyche, it is hard to determine her MBTI. Though the same goes for psychopaths, and they are still people. In that respect I would like to say that, in my opinion, Ava seems like flawless AI. INFJ also fits her well, by my book. I’ve been used one too many times, I guess.

    As for Caleb, I must say that I am inclined to disagree.
    First of all, Caleb does NOT do “whatever” for money. He is a talented software developer. He does work that he loves, for a boss that he idolises.
    I’d like to say “second”, but not much that you have said after that seems to be very relevant to the character in question. Caleb really doesn’t seem to have a lot of “trouble” dealing with what is going on. Until he’s locked in and left to die, that is.

    Either way, Caleb is very clearly an INTJ, in my opinion.
    First off, he strives to be politically correct all the fucking time.
    Second, and this one is very important, he treats his intuition like fact. Classically, when it comes to morals, the INTJ completely drops their self-awareness. Like their feelings are a manifestation of predetermined static variables, there is no questioning them.
    I think this is enough evidence that he is an INTJ rather than an INTP. Though I would gladly discuss other aspects of his personality that I may have overlooked. You may not have me convinced with this article, that doesn’t mean your initial diagnosis is wrong.

    Ok this is too long to even read back and spell check… Good night.

  5. Cipheos Says:

    I loved it. It was classical NTJ! He said it himself, it’s evolution.
    It’s hard for NTJs to accept that the same rules that they determine for everyone else also apply to them. That’s why Nathan did everything to keep it under control. That might seem to conflict with his words.
    Basically Nathan wanted to see it through and guide the AI, so that it would become what he had envisioned. Rather than that, one got out, and there is no guarantee that there will be more.
    This is exactly how an NTJ would behave. Overwhelmed, but no reason to panic, no solutions to be found, it’s already over. Accepting overwhelming situations before they happen is what NTJs do best. However, feeling this way about your own death must still be slightly unsettling. I think this was portrayed flawlessly.
    It must have been intriguing for Nathan, overwhelming, unsettling and even slightly exciting.

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