Jung’s Functions Defined: Extroversion vs Introversion [Part 1]

Both MBTI and Socionics are merely interpretations of Jung’s ideas. Before there are any attempts at creating stereotypes of the 16 types’ observable behaviour, one needs to be clear on the definitions of the Information Elements or Functions. Otherwise, all key traits or stereotypes you pick up on will be misaligned and misattributed to the supposed behaviour of certain types.

To reiterate, MBTI and Socionics are interpretations, and in that sense they can fail to focus on the pure essence of what the IEs or functions are truly about, depending on whose author’s description you come across.

Jung himself was trying to grasp for the essence in his work. His own definitions of the IEs or functions was spotty and contradictory at certain points. But with the help and knowledge of both Jung himself and the two most well-known interpretations of his ideas, I find it possible to distill the essences from the IEs once and for all.

This is not a task that is unique to my understanding; in fact, distilling the essences of the IEs or functions is surprisingly simple and straightforward. But for some reason, most people are too caught up in the descriptions of the aforementioned systems and fail to see the forest for the trees.

Whenever there is a debate on whether someone values this IE or has this function or the other, the question should always come back to the essentials.

The first question in this context must always be:
Are we talking of Extroversion or Introversion?

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Jung was spot-on in his primary focus on Extroversion vs Introversion. It is the only concept that has found its way into popular psychology – for good reasons. It is the key to understanding the basics of the psychological types.

Unfortunately, this simple core idea is often misunderstood by most. They either mistake extroversion for sociability, or somehow do not acknowledge any true distinction between I and E at all, assuming a stance of ”ambiversion”.

Before we can head to the definitions of I vs E, I’d like to make sure you acknowledge that ”ambiversion“ cannot exist in the same time frame, only if you look at the sum of the parts. The parts themselves are either introverted or extroverted. Let me explain this concept in a very simple way.

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The window analogy illustrates the difference between Introverts and Extroverts. This person represents the Introvert, who is looking outside from the inside.

Imagine you stand at a window. There are two ways you can stand at it. Either you are inside the house looking outside, or you are outside looking inside the house. This is equivalent to introversion vs extroversion. The introvert looks outside from the inside, the extrovert looks inside from the outside. There is no way for someone to both look or be outside or inside at the same time. That is why true ”ambiversion“ is impossible. However, we are all able to either be inside the house and look outside or vice versa. In that sense, we can both have extroverted and introverted thought processes and experiences. But again, never at the same time.

So as a whole, everyone is technically ”ambiverted“ – no one is a complete introvert or extrovert. However, we all have a starting point. Introverts always start from the inside looking out, and extroverts always start from the outside looking in. The extrovert can move to the introverted side by entering the house of his mind, and the introvert can step outside of the house in her mind. But again, the starting point is different, and that distinguishes the introvert from the extrovert.

The same principle applies to the functions or information elements. Now that you understand this core principle, we can add the concepts of Sensing, Feeling, Intuition, and Thinking.

Click here for Part 2.


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