Do Jigsaw Puzzle Tactics Reveal Your Personality?

Do jigsaw puzzle tactics reveal your personality? The University of Bath says so, as its 2004 study determined clear strategies linked with personality types: border obsessives, opportunists, and even hoarders.

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We All Fall into Different Jigsaw Puzzle Personalities. 

The researchers in Bath tested participants on individual and group puzzles and discovered that many of us are either border obsessives or opportunists. The tactics used by those in each category say a lot about our personality traits, such as the way we sort pieces and work through the build. These traits can also determine how well we work with others. 

We are hard-wired to behave a certain way when a new set of puzzle pieces is placed before us. So, what kind of person likes to do jigsaw puzzles, and how do they prefer to complete them? Also, can you identify yourself here? 

Border Obsessives. 

Let's start from the beginning with that mess of new pieces in the box. Are you the sort of person that has to put the border together first? The term "has to" is deliberate there. It is often non-negotiable when working collaboratively on a puzzle. You put the border together to create a nice frame to hold everything together and work from there. Other jigsaw enthusiasts will feel that this is pointless and want to start with one of the factors mentioned below. 


Opportunists that enjoy jigsaws tend to take a different approach. They will sort puzzle pieces into piles based on different criteria. For example, if they are working on something a landscape with a sunset, they may separate the buildings and other landmarks away from the sky. Or, they may be inclined to sort the sky by color and seek out areas of green. Or, if there is an animal theme, it might make sense to not just find anything with obvious fur but to seek out all the facial features. Here, the framing of the border isn't important. 

Are You a Detail-Oriented Opportunist or A Color-Oriented Opportunist?

From there, you can separate opportunist jigsaw lovers into different camps. On one side, some lean towards organization and appreciate focusing on the details. These are the puzzle-builders that look for the details in the image and want to lay them out first. For example, you might have an image that has some text on a storefront or billboard. These detail-oriented opportunists may choose to tackle that first. Detail-oriented people may also be more inclined to choose puzzles with complex designs and scenes when they can pick out the fun details than something with large areas of the same color. 

On the other side, some like to work by color more than anything else. Some people are drawn to color as a descriptor and see it as a major influence in their life. For example, if you were to describe someone in the street, a detail-oriented person may look at physical features like the type of clothing and hair length while color-oriented people may focus on the hue of the shirt and if they are blonde or brunette. Color-oriented people may sort by color and favor puzzles with graphic prints and bold blocks of color to satisfy this urge. 

Unsurprisingly, the ones that sort and build by color more than form are right-brained creative. The phrase thinking outside of the box is often thrown around by these people. That is apt with jigsaw puzzles as there is that desire to move away from obvious forms - especially if they are a true opportunist with no interest in borders. 

Both Personality Types Can Thrive When Working Alone. 

The way we tackle jigsaw puzzles can also have an impact on how we work with other people on jigsaws. You might be reading this wondering why you would willingly work on a jigsaw with someone. That's fair, especially if jigsaws are a means of relaxation and me-time. Both border obsessives and opportunists can prefer the act of solo jigsaw puzzle building, and for different reasons. 

Border obsessives are often found to be less likely to cooperate in a team-building exercise, or will insist on managing their section rather than jumping between areas and sharing pieces. It makes more sense for them to work systematically to their own plan than accommodate someone else. 

Meanwhile, Opportunists are quite likely to enjoy the challenge of working on a complex jigsaw themselves and completing it in good time. There is a desire to achieve where additional "help" doesn't really help at all. Detail-oriented opportunists can also appreciate logic puzzles and problem solving where they have great satisfaction from creating the image from start to finish. 

Like-minded Opportunists Can Work Together. 

Of course, there will opportunists who love working with others on these projects. Typically, these people are more sociable anyway and gain joy from spending leisure time with group activities and competitive games. A jigsaw puzzle with family and friends can provide this outlet too. However, it helps if the venture is with people of the same personality type. If not, you could end up with some problems. You don't want an argument from the outset on how to start or sort the pieces. This also leads to one final category of puzzle solver - one you don't want to work with at all. 


Hoarders are someone that gets possessive over pieces and sabotages the work of other participants. Some killjoys would rather hoard pieces to stop others from achieving too much than get the puzzle finished. This was witnessed often in the University of Bath study when participants had to work together on their puzzles. 

There were even examples of people hiding the image from other people to gain an advantage. At this point in questioning what kind of person likes to do jigsaw puzzles, you have to wonder how much hoarders get out of the situation. It certainly seems more fun to be a relaxed opportunist or a systematic border obsessive with a clear goal.

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