If you haven’t already, please read Part 1, which introduces you to the overall subject matter and illustrates the difference between Extroversion and Introversion, which is crucial in understanding Jung’s lesser known and more complex personality type concepts.
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.
Sensing is essentially the closest to the experience of physicality itself. Intuition, as its opposite, is the most divorced from the physical and the most abstract. Feeling can be closer to physicality in terms of emotional affect/effect, and Thinking can be closer to abstraction, for it is quite mental. Feeling and Thinking are each other’s opposites, or Yin and Yang, just like Sensing and Intuition are.
You could say that Sensing is about bodies or objects, Feeling is about emotions or sentiments, Thinking is about logical thoughts and information-gathering, and Intuition is about ideas and insights.
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, you could have a certain personal feeling about what you are seeing and express it with your voice and words, you could have certain thoughts about where those shadows originate from or how they are produced, and 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.
When you apply the concept of introversion and extroversion to the four dichotomies above, they become more sophisticated and specified.
Perceiving functions/IEs, which are Sensing and Intuition, are mainly about the unfiltered experience of something.
Whereas Judging functions/IEs, which are Feeling and Thinking, are mainly about the categorization of something.
Now unto the 8 functions/IEs in more detail.
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 and influence. “How powerful is this person? How much power or influence do I need to extend? How can I viscerally influence this person in the best way?” 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 (physically) feel? 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 or ignore 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, for example inappropriately over the top at moments that do not call for such.
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. People who are strong at Introverted Feeling are constantly evaluating how something makes them personally feel on a heart-basis. Introverted Feeling can be misattributed to 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, and not so much the physical internal sensation, nor the external observable reaction. Over time, Introverted Feeling develops a 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), 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 are strong at 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 are theirs, and which emotions belong to others; especially if they do not value Extroverted Feeling. 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 weak at or ignorant of Introverted Feeling have the tendency to accidentally ”hurt other people’s feelings“; people who are strong at and value Introverted Feeling may also hurt someone’s feelings, but in their case it is intentional, rarely or never “by accident”. As a consequence, Introverted Feeling first individuals who assume other people function the same way as them (mostly if they are less mature), see it as a directed/conscious attack if someone else hurts their feelings, which can result in a strong internal emotional reaction on their part.
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 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 work? What is the reasoning behind this statement? Why does this person act this way?” 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. 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 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?” 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 carry a personal or deeper meaning for Introverted Intuitives. The subjective idea cannot be divorced from the person who saw and recognized it. That is how it can be difficult for Introverted Intuitives to make others “see” what they are seeing. It is as if the Introverted Intuitive sees the world through a special kind of glasses, and only if the other person wears a similar pair, do they see the world in a similar or compatible way. 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 or the link is too weak (which is typically dependent on their other Ego 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, and it becomes even more powerful as time moves on, as does every skill or talent does with repeated practice and use. 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 overcome them by surprise. 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.
I hope you enjoyed this 2 Part Series! Feel free to ask me questions down below. 🙂
Last update: 29-10-20
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