Overview of Jungian Dichotomies
After the iconic distinction of introversion and extroversion come the 4 Jungian Dichotomies:
- Sensing is about bodies, objects or physical energy. Sensing is essentially the closest to the experience of physicality itself.
- Intuition is about ideas and insights. As Sensing’s opposite, Intuition is the most divorced from the physical and the most abstract.
- Thinking is about logical structuring of data and systems. It can be closer to abstraction, for it is quite mental.
- Feeling is about ethical standards or sentiments. It has to be said that everyone feels emotions, hence Jungian Feeling is rather about ethical judgments, which are somewhat abstract.
Overall, Feeling <> Thinking and Sensing <> Intuition are each other’s opposites, but can be complementary like Yin and Yang.
Let’s look at one of the most famous analogies in Philosophy to illustrate the differences between the Jungian dichotomies.
Plato’s Cave and the Jungian Dichotomies
If you were in Plato’s cave:
- …you could sense the shadows on the wall and gauge the size (and other physical traits) of the objects they are cast from and how it makes you feel physically…
- …you could have an intuitive idea of what those shadows mean in the context of this place – for example, why you are only being shown shadows in the first place – or you could see forms in those shadows that remind you of other similar objects or ideas…
- …you could have a certain personal judgment about what you are seeing and express it with your voice and words…
- … you could have certain logical thoughts about where those shadows originate from or how they are produced…
Introversion vs Extroversion
In a previous article I delved deeper into this concept. For now, simply think of it as different focal and starting points.
The introverted functions start from an internal and subjective angle, tied to the individual.
The extroverted functions start from an external and objective angle, removed from the individual.
Overall, Introversion <> Extroversion are each other’s opposites, but can be complementary like Yin and Yang.
Perceiving vs Judging
Perceiving functions, which are Sensing and Intuition, are mainly about the unfiltered experience of something.
Whereas Judging functions, which are Feeling and Thinking, are mainly about the categorization of something.
Here’s the exception, where the Yin and Yang exists within Perceiving (Sensing <> Intuition) and Judging (Feeling <> Thinking).
Now unto the 8 cognitive functions/Information elements in more detail.
8 Cognitive Functions in Detail
- Extroverted Sensing (Se)
- Introverted Sensing (Si)
- Extroverted Feeling (Fe)
- Introverted Feeling (Fi)
- Extroverted Thinking (Te)
- Introverted Thinking (Ti)
- Extroverted Intuition (Ne)
- Introverted Intuition (Ni)
List of Jungian Types
- Se + Ti = ESTP / SLE
- Se + Fi = ESFP / SEE
- Fe + Si = ESFJ / ESE
- Fe + Ni = ENFJ / EIE
- Te + Si = ESTJ / LSE
- Te + Ni = ENTJ / LIE
- Ne + Fi = ENFP / IEE
- Ne + Ti = ENTP / ILE
- Ti + Se = ISTP / LSI
- Ti + Ne = INTP / LII
- Fi + Se = ISFP / ESI
- Fi + Ne = INFP / EII
- Si + Fe = ISFJ / SEI
- Si + Te = ISTJ / SLI
Extroverted Sensing (Se)
… is about the experience of the externality of objects, their properties, their observable qualities.
“This apple is red. This road is curved. This person is physically or psychologically strong.”
People who are good at Extroverted Sensing have a good grasp on the physical world and how to apply themselves in it. As they grow up, they gather more and more information on objects’ “pressure points”, including those of people, who can be perceived by them as “special” objects in the grand scheme of things. That is how Extroverted Sensing is the most ”objectifying“.
However, physicality is not only tangible, it also exists in the mind as some kind of idea: Extroverted Sensing has its psychological abstraction in the perception of power, influence, psychological pressure.
“How powerful is this person? How much power and influence do I need to extend? What kind of power do I need to reach my target? How can I influence or pressure this person’s being to get what I want?”
Those questions will be asked and well-answered by people who are strong at Extroverted Sensing.
People who are good at Extroverted Sensing can be good at pushing people or resisting outside pressures. They are strong inhibitants of their own external energy and space. If their Extroverted Sensing is quite strong, they are well capable at influencing and moulding the energy of others. In that sense, they can appear to be overbearing, especially to people who do not value Extroverted Sensing.
People who are weak at and/or ignorant of Extroverted Sensing struggle with all the aforementioned. They tend to feel powerless when it comes to pushing other people or themselves, or on the other hand when it comes to resisting outside pressure.
Introverted Sensing (Si)
… is about the internal experience of objects. Here, the focus is much less on what the objects are externally made of and how it has an impact on the outside world, but rather on how the subject(s) experience(s) said object.
“This apple is sweet. This person’s hug makes me feel cozy. The bumps in this road are uncomfortable.”
People who are good at Introverted Sensing are intimately attuned to their physical reactions. They can also be adept at monitoring and improving the internal physical experience of others. That’s why physicians are typically good at Introverted Sensing.
In MBTI, Introverted Sensing is often attributed to a focus on the past. This is because we humans gather information about how objects affect us internally over time, and our body’s internal memory will recall said experiences for us when necessary, mostly unconsciously, though someone who is strong at Introverted Sensing can be more aware of this.
For instance, unless you have personally tasted milk chocolate in the past, you would never know how it tastes in your mouth and whether you like the taste or not. Though someone who is good at Introverted Sensing may be able to anticipate the personal experience of that milk chocolate, likely in comparison to other past experiences with objects that are similar to milk chocolate. On the other hand, if you saw a food that you had a negative experience in the past with, you’d automatically start feeling icky inside.
“How is this physical experience going to make me (or others) feel (physically)? What kind of internal effect does this have on others?”
The same applies to smells; memories and smells are closely interlinked in the brain. Introverted Sensing people can be strongly attached to certain smells that evoke certain memories in their minds and feelings in their bodies. People who value Introverted Sensing are concerned with inhabiting a body that is in physical equilibrium, without any aches or pains, or any feelings of discomfort. They can be overly concerned about their health status and can easily become depressed if their health is suboptimal to their standards. That is also why they can be quite particular about certain foods, smells, sounds, and similar.
People who are weak at or ignorant of Introverted Sensing often misread the signs of their body and fail to nurture the physicality of their own or that of others.
Extroverted Feeling (Fe)
… is about the categorization and employment of external, observable feelings and moods of people.
Just like people who are strong at Extroverted Sensing observe the energy or power of people, so does strong Extroverted Feeling pick up on the emotional tone in human interactions; whether it is somber, or upbeat; and people who are strong at Extroverted Feeling are adept at changing or influencing that tone or mood to a desired outcome, or moulding their own expression to the most appropriate one in the particular situation.
“Is this person sad or happy? Are those people more receptive to dark humour or slapstick? Which emotional tone or expression is expected of me here?”
People who value Extroverted Feeling enjoy strong and clear emotional expression, which can be easily observed from the outside, like bright smiles and hearty laughter. This makes it easier for them and others to assess and judge the mood of the situation, all of which is of lower priority for people who value Introverted Feeling.
People whose first function is Extroverted Feeling may sometimes be accused of being similarly overbearing to Extroverted Sensing people, but not in the physical, but rather emotional sense. They may be too concerned with making the other person fit into the emotional atmosphere or adopt a certain mood.
If that other person values Introverted Feeling, they might be offended by this. Because, differently to Extroverted Feeling, Introverted Feeling valuers are possessive of the properties of their own emotional state, and react negatively to anyone who tries to teach them ”how they should feel or emotionally express themselves“ in a given situation.
Extroverted Feelers tend to be mirrors, reflecting emotional states back to others, or conversely mould other’s emotional states to their own will. Whereas Introverted Feeling is more concerned with their own personal feelings or sentiments about a situation, and less about their emotional impact on other people or the moods of others.
As the window example illustrated, a person who is strong at Extroverted Feeling and who values it can be unaware of their own personal feelings in a particular situation. The feelings of the external world are of higher significance.
People who are weak(er) at Extroverted Feeling are disconnected from the observable emotional expression of others, and from the skill of influencing and categorizing them appropriately and automatically. Their own emotional expression is either subdued or poorly monitored.
Introverted Feeling (Fi)
… is about the personal assessment, internal sentiments, personal value judgments about things, especially people. Its focus is less on the observable emotional tone of others around them and forming it to a specific outcome, but rather on the emotional effect the outside produces in the individual(s), and the judgment of such.
Introverted Feeling can be mistaken for Introverted Sensing, because internal emotions often are accompanied by physical responses; for instance, a sense of indignation can be accompanied by the flushing of the cheeks.
However, the focus here is on the abstract idea of emotion, an emotional judgment based on internal standards, and not so much the physical internal sensation, nor the external observable reaction.
Introverted Feelers carry certain set of personal values, by which its user judges and measures every experience and person.
“Do I like this person(’s character)? How much do those people like each other? How do I feel about this situation? Do they treat me like I want to be treated? How does this make me feel (abstractly)?”
There are types who are both high in Introverted Feeling and Introverted Sensing (aka ISFx, which I call The Aesthete and Bonvivant), and as a consequence ”feel the most“ internally on a regular basis. The boundaries between internal feeling and internal sensation can blur in their case.
People who prefer Introverted Feeling can be ignorant of the emotional tone or mood within a certain interaction. If something bothers them greatly, someone who values Introverted Feeling or who is both weak and uninterested in Extroverted Feeling might be inclined to ”spoil the mood” or be careless about it.
People who are strong at Introverted Feeling are aware of Extroverted Feeling conventions, and may conform to them as long as they serve them and their personal agenda well. But they do not have any invested interest in the emotional atmosphere or facial expressions of others following certain objective standards. Their own judgment of situations can set them apart from the situation itself, making them separate from the experience of the emotional tone around them.
People who are strong at Introverted Feeling have a clear sense of which emotions and judgments are theirs, and which emotions and judgments belong to others; especially if they do not value Extroverted Feeling. Whereas people who are Extroverted Feeling first often cannot see the distinction between their mood and that of others, because the two are so intimately intertwined for them.
People who are very weak at Introverted Feeling often don’t know what their true morals or personal sentiments and preferences are. If they value Introverted Feeling, they like to explore this side of themselves more and arrive at clearer emotional judgments. If they do not value it, they will find such matters superfluous and taxing.
Extroverted Thinking (Te)
… is about the categorization and employment of external, (abstractly) observable logical information. Whenever someone employs Extroverted Thinking, their logic is assessing the objective reality of available information, and uses it to the best effect or desired outcome.
A classic example of ”objective logical information” is facts. Facts cannot be logically refuted, they are ”objectively true”.
“This tower is 100 meter high. This sea is 50 feet deep. This person weighs 60 kg. The capital of Germany is Berlin. Water is also called H20.”
A person who is strong at Extroverted Thinking has a natural talent at assessing and collecting a lot of facts and logical information of a practical nature, by which they can deal with the world in an effective manner.
For example, if you know the weight of someone, you can calculate their BMI, which in turn can give you more information about their level of health or mass distribution.
In that way, Extroverted Thinking can overlap with Extroverted Sensing, for both are dealing with the objective realities of primarily objects. However, Extroverted Thinking is ultimately much more abstract and ”mental” than Extroverted Sensing. It has no direct connection to the physical experience of power or energy or tangible objects.
For example, the fact that Berlin is the capital of Germany does not require for the person to actually be physically present in Germany to ”experience” or know that piece of information.
Furthermore, Extroverted Thinking requires a logical framework that is typically preset by a consensus, like it is the case with measurement tools. Extroverted Sensing is way less bound to logical constructs.
People who are strong at Extroverted Thinking are typically good at acquiring all the information necessary to deal with situations in the outside world which require logical application (opposed to physical, emotional, or intuitive).
Additionally, people who value Extroverted Thinking are quite critical of any information that does not adhere to objective standards of logical truth, for instance any theory that is not backed up by proper research and proof, or at least first hand experience of cause and effect.
Whereas people who are weak at or ignorant of Extroverted Thinking often lack practical know-how or do not use it as effectively, nor are they concerned with logical information fitting into an external standard of measurable traits.
Introverted Thinking (Ti)
… is about the subjective categorization of logical information. Someone who is strong at and values Introverted Thinking can be aware of the standards set by Extroverted Thinking, but they are much more attached to their own subjective assessment of logic.
They favour models (like Socionics) which make sense of the world, especially in a way that connects facts (or even merely pseudo-facts) in an overarching framework and puts them into (ideally symmetrical) relation to each other, opposed to just knowing about the facts themselves separately. The focus is on the inner logical working of things and not so much their external properties and applications.
“Does this sentence make logical sense? How does this machinery or concept work? What is the logical reasoning behind this statement? Is this person/situation/concept logically consistent?”
People who are both strong at Introverted Thinking and Intuition often times lack the desire or ability to put any logical information or findings into ”work”.
Differently from Extroverted Thinking, Introverted Thinking itself has no need for the practical application of logical information. The main focus is the logical understanding of the world.
Introverted Thinking is even more abstract than Extroverted Thinking, for its connection with factual reality can be more loose; or rather, it is even more about models and constructs than Extroverted Thinking is.
Here, it can seem to overlap with Extroverted Intuition in terms of the conceptual quality. However, Extroverted Intuition itself is devoid of judgment or logic, whereas Introverted Thinking is always tied to logical judgment, principles and the order or ranking of such.
People who are strong at Introverted Thinking have a logical model or blueprint of the world in their minds, which needs to be continually updated as new information is being processed.
Similarly to Introverted Feelers, Introverted Thinkers have developed a subset of personal standards over time, which however are not based on feeling or ethics or people, but logic.
An Introverted Thinker is constantly evaluating whether something makes logical sense according to their personal standards, and how the information fits into their blueprint of the world.
If the particular piece of information does not fit into the blueprint and seems ”illogical”, it is quick to be rejected by someone who is strong at and values Introverted Thinking, even if some outside source suggests it to be factually true.
In such situations, someone who values Extroverted Thinking will deem the Introverted Thinking valuer to be ”pig headed“ and ”unreasonable“. They cannot understand how someone could reject information that is ”true“ by objective measures.
Extroverted Thinking valuers are more inclined to ”fact-check”, whereas Introverted Thinking valuers are more inclined to ”logic-check”, as in, whether this statement ”makes logical sense“ or not.
“If A is red, and B is blue, and C is the mix of A and B, then C must be purple.”
People who are weak at Introverted Thinking have a poor assessment of logical connections between things, and no to few standards that are succinct at divulging the ”logical falsity” of statements. Those people are often times quite contradictory in their views and assessments of things, especially when it comes to logic; people who are stronger at Introverted Thinking can easily point out those logical contradictions.
If the person who is weak at Introverted Thinking additionally does not value it, they won’t be concerned with those discrepancies, and instead emphasize the higher value of their Introverted Feeling judgments.
Extroverted Intuition (Ne)
… is about the experience of ideas which can be found (abstractly) in the external world.
For someone who is strong at Extroverted Intuition, the world is a big playground of concepts and ideas that are constantly floating around them.
Being one side of Intuition, Extroverted Intuition is one of the most abstract ways of processing the world. It can be difficult to grasp, for it combines two seemingly incompatible things: external objects and abstract ideas.
With Extroverted Intuition, ideas can have objective properties and connections which can be acknowledged by others.
In Socionics, Extroverted Intuition is tied to potential. And indeed, Extroverted Intuitives are quite good at ”seeing” potential (ideas) in objects and people.
For someone who is strong at Extroverted Intuition and who values it, the potential (aka specific idea) of an object or person is part of its objective properties, hence (somewhat) tangible – potentially or abstractly tangible.
“This table could be used as a nightstand, as a seat, as a place to leave all your papers on, as a place to put another table on top, or it could be deconstructed and reassembled to an abstract figurine that could resemble a human, for example if you use the four table legs as arms and legs, and so on…”
Extroverted Intuition likes to concern themselves with questions like:
“What idea does this object or person resemble? What is the potential (idea or invention) of this person or object? How are these seemingly separate things connected? How else could this particular thing or person manifest or express itself? What are all the ways this idea or concept or theory can be looked at, all the different angles of it? What idea or concept or mental world can be invented here?”
For someone who values Extroverted Sensing, an object does not have certain objective qualities unless they are fully realized and observable. That person may acknowledge the potential, but unless it is realized, it has no special meaning.
For someone who values Extroverted Intuition, the potential of the object itself is enough to be enticing and of value. Extroverted Intuitives are ”ideas people“ and like to bounce off any novel concept against each other, and around others, for their and other’s entertainment. This tendency makes them typically come across as “random” and “childlike”.
Extroverted Intuitives like to draw their ideas from many different sources. They can see how things resemble each other and overlap (abstractly), easily. They are also the kinds of people who are the most likely going to invent a new concept or idea or object or mode of living.
People who are weak at Extroverted Intuition tend to fail at seeing the myriad potential possibilities of how people and objects are, could be, or turn out as. They also tend to be rather stuck in their ways and have difficulties with creating new or improved concepts or ideas or philosophies.
Introverted intuition (Ni)
… is about the subjective experience of insightful ideation. Just like Extroverted Intuition, it deals with the abstract ideas of things, however differently from Extroverted Intuition, the ideas are being delved into, to arrive at their ultimate or universal meaning.
For Plato, within every object was the deeper idea of it, its purpose or meaning, the essence of what makes the object what it is. This is quite an Introverted Intuition way of seeing the world.
“What is at the core or the essence of this issue/person/situation? How will this situation develop in the future/what are the temporal risks? What meaning or lesson can be extracted from this experience? How does this situation/person/object fit into the grand scheme of the world and/or my own journey in life? How does this event lead or result in the other/this situation?”
Introverted Intuition being a personal interpretation of deeper meaning, it is tied to the subject. Just like an Introverted Sensing person has their own way of experiencing a certain food; an experience which might coincide with others’ experience, but at the end is entirely unique to their body – so does the Introverted Intuitive experience a certain idea or meaning all on their own.
At its best, someone with strong Introverted Intuition can distill and ”see” the essence of something, its ”core”, and make that insight known to others.
At its worst, strong Introverted Intuition loses themselves in a never-ending rabbit hole of endless navel-gazing ideation and ”soul interpretations”, with a poor connection to the tangible reality around them and an inability to put the perception of meaningful symbols and imagery into coherent words. Jung’s insights into personality types is a prime example of strong Introverted Intuition and high intelligence.
In Socionics, Introverted Intuition is also tied to the observance of time, particularly temporal and causal progressions and developments. Like a mental flowchart, Introverted Intuition can be an intuitive ability of seeing how one event leads to another or seeing the ultimate outcome of several separate elements, puzzle pieces forming one coherent picture.
Someone with strong Introverted Intuitive might be able to quickly extrapolate the future or path of that novel someone or object, however if the essence has not been fully ”seen” yet, as in they could not obtain enough necessary information or the link is too weak (which is typically dependent on their other function; for instance, Introverted Intuitives with Extroverted Feeling are much better at predicting people’s behaviors than those of objects or impersonal situations), errors may come up.
Similarly to how sometimes the exact reactions of a body might be unpredictable, so is the experience of essences and ideas difficult to grasp at will.
It is not unusual for an Introverted Intuitive to have the clearest and best insights in a state of mental ”flow” or meditation, where there is no particular focus on constructing a thought or idea. Instead, it is like a tiny voice suddenly whispering wisdoms and words of guidance into your ear, or they see a “vision”, a mental snapshot of what is going to happen in the future, seemingly out of nowhere.
People who are strong at Introverted Intuition typically inhabit this inner voice of wisdom from an early age, making them wiser than their peers at the same age or even older. (Though any insightful wisdom that has been required primarily through hands-on experience is most likely related to Extroverted Sensing, more on that below.)
People who are weak at Introverted Intuition tend to struggle with recognizing the deeper meaning, significance, symbolism, or essence of objects, people, and occurrences. They typically fail to accurately foresee how their present actions or happenings around them paint their future, which usually results in a “trial and error” lifestyle, often fraught with many (physical or emotional) hardships, losses, and challenges that require strong resilience.
In contrast, people with strong Introverted Intuition typically circumvent such situations, which results in a “wait and see” attitude that is more deliberate and cognizant of which challenges they are willing and capable of taking on or not.
Whereas people with weak Introverted Intuition do not “choose” the hardships, they often meet them by surprise and then overcome them. At last, people with weak Introverted Intuition tend to feel directionless and lost in the web and flow of life. They tend to find their direction and purpose (much) later in life.
How To Type Yourself
The 16 Jungian Types are based on the combination of two Cognitive Functions, one is Introverted and the other Extroverted, one is Perceiving and the other is Judging.
In that sense, every Jungian type is “ambiverted” in terms of outlook and judgment/perception, but classifying as either Extrovert or Introvert, based on the direction of the first function.
- For your first function, determine which function you…
- use most naturally & automatically (without outside pressure to do so)*
- value (aka you prefer using or experiencing)*
- are naturally good at (since a young age)
- For your second function:
- If the first was an introverted function, determine which extroverted function describes the most natural/automatic way you make contact with the external world.
- If the first was an extroverted function, determine which introverted function describes the primary way your inner world looks like.
Keep in mind that every person uses all cognitive functions, but to differing levels of proficiency and personal preference.
*It boils down to determining which functions you value and are naturally good at, not the functions you “work(ed) on” or felt forced by outside circumstance or other people to develop more – those tend to be our weak and/or unvalued functions.
- Let’s say you read all the above and determined that you related most to Introverted Feeling (Fi).
Because this function is Introverted and Judging, you now need to determine the opposite for your second function.
A function that is Extroverted and Perceiving, which is either Extroverted Sensing (Se) or Extroverted Intuition (Ne).
2. You choose Extroverted Sensing (Se) as your second.
Type: That means your first two functions are Fi and Se, which classifies you as ISFP in MBTI and ESI in Socionics.
In MBTI, the J or P is determined by the extroverted function; in Socionics, the j or p is determined by the first function, more on that here.
- You think you relate most to Introverted Intuition (Ni), it is something that inspires you and that you are focusing on.
- However, you cannot relate to Extroverted Feeling (Fe) nor Extroverted Thinking (Te) being your second extroverted function.
Type: In that case, you are most likely an Extroverted Sensing (Se) type that values Ni. This is common for ISxP whose other valued introverted function is Ni (“tertiary” in MBTI, “mobilising” in Socionics). (This issue is usually caused by an introverted subtype, which has stronger Ni and can create some neglect of extroverted functions OR by “introversion loops“).
- If you prefer Introverted Thinking and Extroverted Feeling (but you are weak at it), you are most likely ISTP in MBTI and LSI-Ti in Socionics.
- If you prefer Introverted Feeling and Extroverted Thinking (but you are weak at it), you are most likely ISFP in MBTI and ESI-Fi in Socionics.
- You relate to having and using strong Extroverted Feeling (Fe), but you don’t relate to valuing it.
- For your introverted function, you relate mostly to Introverted Feeling (Fi), but technically you cannot choose two Judging functions.
Type: In that case, you are most likely an ExFP type, who is strong at Extroverted Feeling, but doesn’t value it, hence it is not the first function. (This is common for the Fi Subtype.)
- If you prefer Extroverted Intuition (Ne) and Introverted Sensing (Si) (but you are weak at it), you are most likely ENFP in MBTI and IEE-Fi in Socionics.
- If you prefer Extroverted Sensing (Se) and Introverted Intuition (Ni) (but you are weak at it), you are most likely ESFP in MBTI and SEE-Fi in Socionics.
If you are still unsure about your cognitive functions and their order, you can book a Get•Typed session with me.
- Jung, Carl Gustav. Psychological types. Routledge, 2014.
- Thomson, Lenore. Personality Type: An Owner’s Manual. Shambhala, 1998.
- … various MBTI sites
Warning: This is my interpretation of the Jungian Cognitive Functions, based on MBTI, Socionics, and Jung’s work. I do not claim to have come up with the original concepts by myself. Nevertheless, this continuously updated post (keep coming back!) is my attempt at presenting one of the most accurate descriptions of the Jungian Cognitive functions possible.
Last update: 30-11-20
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