Mastering Jungian Typology: A Deep Dive with Michael Pierce

Hello personality enthusiasts! We had the honor to be able to have Michael Pierce to do a public session for the Singapore Typology Community. Michael Pierce is a Jungian researcher and well-known figure online with his substantial work published under the book “Motes and Beams”. I hope his beautiful analogies and philosophical analysis can help many beginners to move from simple personality quizzes to the beautifully nuanced world of Jungian Typology.

If you like Michael, check out his popular YouTube channel @MichaelPiercePhilosophy or purchase his book at

Video Transcript

Michael:  “You’re about to join me down the rabbit hole of this more complex, advanced system known as Cognitive Function Theory or Jungian Theory. So, we begin with Perception and Judgment. These appear in the MBTI test as a dichotomy pair. In Jung’s Theory, they serve a bit of a different role. Perception simply refers to how you perceive the world. It takes in information and it doesn’t categorize it, it doesn’t make any judgments about it. It is only interested in what the things are that are being perceived and are coming into the personality, into your mind. Judgment, as it’s been laid out here, assigns some sort of value to these things. It categorizes them, it judges them. So these two are opposites, but they’re complimentary. 
Perception has two flavors, or there are two kinds of perception, and in the same way, there are two kinds of Judgment. There are slightly different theories about precisely the correct way to justify splitting them into two flavors, but for our purposes, we’ll just take it for granted and say Perception has two flavors. One is Sensing or Sensation. That’s the perception of what is actually there, the here and now. It has to do with the present, and it also has to do with concrete objects, a lot of the time. Whereas Intuition is a perception of the future, of underlying patterns, of the possibilities of things. That’s how I often try to refer to it. So Sensation is almost like a more direct line to the object, whereas Intuition tends to go around it to things that are implied by the object. So, Sensation is generally very concrete, down to earth. Intuition is very creative but can also be very head in the clouds about things. Those are two ways of just perceiving the object.
Judgment also has two kinds: Thinking and Feeling. It’s important to note that we use the terms Thinking and Feeling in a very different way from how they are more precisely used in Jung’s Theory. But as Ching has laid it out nicely here, Thinking is judgment of the quantifiable, and Feeling is judgment of the unquantifiable. There’s a correspondence, at least in my theory, my approach to it, between Thinking and Sensation and Feeling and Intuition. Thinking has to do with judging things in terms of rigid categories and logic, whereas Feeling has more to do with values, ethics, how you and other people are feeling. So that’s sort of the distinction.
Okay, so now we have four functions, and note we’ve just sort of built them beginning from Perception and Judgment, and we’ve built our way up to Sensation, Intuition, Thinking, and Feeling, which again you would recognize those from the MBTI, the Myers-Briggs test, and other tests online.”

The Dichotomy of Extraversion and Introversion

Michael:So now we’re going to do the division game again. We’re going to introduce a new dichotomy, Introversion and Extraversion, and by doing that, we will multiply the four functions into eight cognitive functions. 
Extroversion is an attitude. It’s a focus on what we call ‘the object’. So I perhaps should have started with this, but just so you understand the terminology, the object is anything that is not you. It is the thing that you are focusing on, in order for anything to happen in psychology, you have to have an object and you have to have a subject. The subject is the mind, the subject is the person or the being that has the psychology going on inside them, as it were. And for every subject, there needs to be objects that that subject can think about and can focus on. For Extroversion, there is this, as it were, outward turning and outward focus towards the objects that are out there in the world. And Introversion is a turning inwards to the way that your own subject is. So in some sense, Introversion, you could say, is making an object of your own subject. But I don’t want to start getting into loops of language and so forth. The more important thing is the outward motion versus this inward motion.
And so we can split up Sensation and Thinking, and Feeling and Intuition via Extroversion and Introversion. So we would get extroverted sensation, introverted sensation, extroverted thinking, introverted thinking, so forth. 

You’ll notice in the little chart up here, they are abbreviations. So Fi would be Introverted Feeling. So the F is for Feeling, the T is for thinking, the S is for Sensation, and the N is for Intuition. Even though intuition starts with an I, it’s abbreviated with an N so it doesn’t get mixed up with Introversion. And then each of those has a little I for Introversion after it or a little E for Extraversion after it. So that’s the notation and how that works. It’s a lot faster to just write, say, Fe rather than Extroverted Feeling because that would get a lot of letters on the page.
So finally, we have eight cognitive functions. And now what we’re going to do is we’re going to arrange these functions in order to get 16 different personality types. Let’s just run over what these cognitive functions are and how they work.”

What is “Sensation”?

Michael:There are two kinds of Sensation: Introverted and Extroverted. I’ll start with Extroverted Sensation. Going by our definitions, Extroverted Sensation would be sensation but directed outward, as it were. It is directed to objects in the here and now. Somebody who is using Extroverted Sensation is someone for whom that is the dominant function they prefer to use. There tends to be a very, as it were, carpe diem, YOLO, living in the moment, thriving on uncertainty. People who are Extroverted Sensing types in my experience thrive in situations where there’s a bit of chaos, and it can stress them out as well, but they’re often much better than introverted types at dealing with that because they’re just going moment by moment. They see what concretely is happening around them, and they just keep track of everything and flow in order to adapt to what is happening in the moment. So, you know, emergency workers, firefighters, police, a lot of people who have to deal with emergency situations. It doesn’t just have to be that. You can still find them in more academic disciplines at times, though that is usually through focus on other functions. So that’s Extroverted Sensation, very in the moment.
Introverted Sensation reverses that in an interesting way, because the sensation is directed inwards. So Introverted Sensation people, not in a political sense at all, per se, but there’s a kind of conservatism, they’re much slower and more removed from the outside world, as compared to the extroverted sensor. It is perception of the here and now but brought inwards. 

My mother, for example, is a dominant Introverted Sensation type, and she has a very sensitive palate. She usually does a lot of the cooking. She prefers to do the cooking because she can cook the things right. And every time we sit down to dinner, she will eat the food and she will be comparing what she is tasting here and now with these sort of ideal sensations that she has in her own mind. And she compares those sensations to that ideal sensation, and it’s that ideal sensation which is more real for her than the sensations in the here and now. And so she will taste and say, “This tastes like it has too much salt. This shouldn’t have as much salt as it does at the moment,” whereas I’m sitting there, and I’m like, “Oh, this is a salty dish“. But for her, it’s like, “No, it’s more salty than the way it should have salt”. And if you’re clever, you might notice there’s some relation with judgment, which I don’t really have time to get into that right now, but it’s a valid observation. So anyway, you get a conservatism there. It’s not “live-in-the-moment”. 
One of the other things my mother would do is when something flashy or wild or very quick would happen, she would take a moment and she would just say, “I’m just processing what just happened”. And she’s processing the sensory aspect of it. So they all also will often be very good journal keepers, very meticulous, able to remember all of the details and repeat those back.

What is “Intuition”?

Michael:So now we move on to Intuition. We have Extroverted Intuition, which is a perception of implications and possibilities brought outwards. It is a focus on ideas and possibilities. Almost like they’re juggling a lot of different ideas at one time. But more importantly, it’s the fact that those ideas are out there. A better way of putting it is it’s almost like ideas are actual objects for them that exist outside of themselves and exist on their own. So the result of this is that ideas tend to diverge for them. From one observation, you can derive ten new and distinct ideas from it. So there’s this branching out, and it very quickly can turn into a kind of chaos for them. But it’s very, very fruitful because they will see all of the ways you can split up one topic into different topics. 

Introverted Intuition does sort of the opposite. Introverted intuition, because it turns inwards, has a tendency to see similarities between things to a certain extent and to say, “This idea is really just this idea if you put them next to each other.” You can sort of collapse things into each other. From 10 observations, you derive one sort of vision or one underlying principle. 
Extroverted Intuition is almost like, you have one point, and then you draw an infinite number of lines through that one point to show all of the different ways you can diverge from that one point. Whereas intuition or introverted intuition, you have say 10 points, and then you try to draw a line of best fit, if you know that from algebra, you try to draw a single line that sort of averages out all of those individual observations, and that is the single idea which is then kept in Introverted Intuition. 
So kind of like with Introverted Sensation where I mentioned this notion of having ideal sensations that you kind of use to organize the sensations in the outside world, similar idea with Introverted Intuition, but with ideas, you have sort of a single idea that you are relating things back to. So Extroverted Intuition is stereotypically… it doesn’t necessarily look like this, but stereotypically, lots of different ideas. Very kind of scattered brains, running all over the place, whereas introverted intuition is like, “I have the eyes that stare into your soul,” you know, kind of like the chess grandmaster or something like that.”

What is “Thinking”?

Michael: “Thinking is judgment that is based on logic and facts, and it’s broader than that, but that’s the quickest way to explain it. So Extroverted Thinking is very goal-oriented. It’s very, “I want to accomplish things out there in the world. I want to organize the actual materials or people or resources that I see outside of me. I want to work with the external facts of a situation. Here’s where we should go with something. Here’s how we make things more efficient.’”
Ching: “Everyone always has this mindset that Extraversion means party animal, you know? So when I meet someone and I say, ‘Oh, I think you have a very strong Extraverted Thinking,’ they often say, ‘Oh, I’m not an extrovert. I’m just doing all the work in the background,’ but it is precisely the fact that they are doing all the work that is the Extroversion, and that is the Jungian definition of Extroversion that is that we don’t really use nowadays.”
Michael: Thank you, Ching. Yes, that’s a very good point. It’s important to leave aside some of your preconceptions about what Extroversion and Introversion mean in order to properly understand these. You can get people who will seem very introverted in a colloquial sense, in an everyday sense, but the way that their mind actually functions would be described better by one of the extroverted functions. Perhaps, and as we shall see soon, everybody has extroverted sides and introverted sides. It’s just a matter of how they are arranged in relation to each other. So it’s never as simple as whether  you’re a party animal or you want to stay home and read books. 

So that’s Extroverted thinking, very pragmatic. Introverted Thinking, again, we have this idea where it’s almost the thinking idea inside of one’s own subject which takes precedence over the facts out there. So there’s a focus on refining logical ideas, refining and making those ideas perfectly precise, pure mathematics almost all the time. That’s where you’re going to find more Introverted Thinking types. But they’re much more interested in the theory and in making things logical and consistent, and then taking that theory and then after the fact applying it to what’s going on out there. 
They’re always much more interested in making the definitions and ideas more precise. Rene Descartes, a French philosopher, he’s famous for saying, “I think, therefore, I am”. That is very introverted thinking because what he literally did was said, “I can’t trust any of my external knowledge of the outside world because, you know, it’s possible that I am deceived or I’m hallucinating or I’m dreaming or something. All I can trust, and what is more real for me, is my own thoughts, my own principles that I’ve developed.” This is very introverted thinking. So that’s how those two go. You kind of have this difference between theory and practice, which would be a very general way of differentiating them.”

What is “Feeling”?

Michael: “Finally, we have Feeling. Extroverted Feeling is a feeling which is sort of directed outwards. It is objectified. Extroverted Feeling will generally be much more naturally outwardly expressive. It will be in tune with what expressions are the most socially acceptable or most harmonious to the needs of the group. 
Ching wrote a nice little thing, actually, a very nice little description here: “Each individual is one Mosaic of a beautiful group dance, and everyone needs to play their part.” That’s great. The dance especially is a great way of putting it because you have this notion of the need to not focus on how you’re feeling or your own feelings, but to harmonize with the group and to try to promote the feelings of the group as a whole. So you see there’s this movement outwards in terms of one’s ethics. When someone has dominated Extroverted Feeling, there will often be this sort of blurring of the line where they will be literally feeling what they think should be felt. And if they’re not feeling what should be felt, then they’re like, “Something’s wrong. If I’m not crying at a funeral, something’s probably wrong. This isn’t how you’re supposed to feel objectively in this situation”. They also don’t say certain things to certain people because they think they’re just going to screw everything up. 

Introverted Feeling is where the feeling is directed inwards. You have to get past some of the connotations of the language because when I say they’re much more focused on how they are feeling, it sounds as though they’re self-absorbed and selfish. And from the Extroverted Feeling perspective, they are. From that perspective, that’s what’s going on. But then that gets challenged when you find that some of the most empathetic and self-sacrificing people I’ve met have been Introverted Feeling types. And that’s because it sort of messes with the selfishness-selflessness division. 
Introverted feeling is that feeling which is internal or individual to you. If you’re crying at a funeral because you knew the person and you had a personal connection with them and you are genuinely, like, this is how I feel regardless of how everybody else is feeling, that’s good because that indicates that you are more in alignment with your own feelings and your own soul. But if you’re just crying at the funeral because that’s what you’re supposed to do, then that’s like, who are you? You’re like an empty shell. I once had an argument with a friend of mine who wasn’t a dominant Introverted Feeling, but they had that in there as one of their major functions, and they were always asking me, like, “So, how do you feel about this or that controversial issue?” And I, being more Extroverted Feeling, was always like, “I don’t really want to answer that .. What’s more important is how are you going to react to how I feel about such and such”. As far as my feelings go, those just seem so ephemeral and so kind of unrelated to the topic… and it would turn into just us arguing over whose feelings are right, and that wasn’t useful. But that wasn’t how she thought about the things. So, that’s your crash course in the eight functions.“

How are cognitive functions organized to form personality types?

Michael: “The way that the functions are organized in a personality is that you have four function slots. You have the dominant function, you have the auxiliary function, the tertiary function, and the primitive or inferior function. We’ll start with the dominant. 

The dominant function is the one that most defines you and the way that you tend to think. It’s the one that you use the most. Nicely compared with walking here, which I know is drawn from the book. Thank you, Ching. Yes, it’s the most easy and natural thing for you to do. In some cases, it can be so natural that the person will not even notice that that is definitely their mode of thinking, and that can actually sometimes be a bit of a challenge in typing people or at least in self-typing. But in any case, that’s sort of the easiest one to understand in a lot of ways.
But in order to function as a person in general, you can’t just have one function, because you need multiple ways to see and to situate yourself in reality. So you have to start off with the auxiliary function, which compensates for your dominant function. So there’s always a bit of opposition there. The auxiliary function nicely compares to swimming; it requires more effort to do it, but you can do it, and it’s very useful for you to orient yourself in society. 
For example, I believe my dominant function is introverted intuition, so that’s what I sort of just do in the background all the time naturally. My auxiliary function is Extroverted Feeling. That is what helps compensate for my Introverted Intuition so that I’m not just sitting in my room, staring, and reading a text and trying to understand the secrets of the universe. I can actually go out and buy food and act like a normal human being. That’s a silly way of putting it, but more importantly, I associate it with my ability to situate myself in relation to other people and also a concern with social harmony.”
Ching: “The Fe auxiliary really helps you in a teaching role because you’re always focused on translating that vision to something that’s palatable to the people we are speaking to, or tailoring it specifically to the people you are talking to.”
Michael:Exactly, yes. It’s not the thing that you’re naturally doing; it’s something that assists your dominant function with what it wants to do.
Then you get the tertiary function. The tertiary function is something that you are very interested in, but you may not realize that you’re not actually the best there ever was at it. There can often be a bit of overestimation of one’s abilities with the tertiary function. It’s like the term here, the action metaphor, is lusting. Though you might associate it more with infatuation or fascination, you’re attracted to it, and yet it’s one-dimensional in your understanding of it, which sometimes can be a benefit. But you’re not actually, if you go up against somebody who is dominant in that function, it often becomes clear where the weaknesses lie or where the naivete lies, where the lack of cultivation there lies. 
So my tertiary function is Introverted Thinking, and you can see this, say, in my book where I’m creating these strict structures that are very Introverted Thinking, very logical, and they build one thing after the other. So my natural tendency would be to say, “Wow, it’s like I’m an Introverted Thinking type. I’m the master at ‘logic’ and figuring things out.” And then you compare it with my father, who is an Introverted Thinking dominant type, and he is an actual mathematician, and he can manipulate concepts and logical concepts in a way that is just completely out of my league. But in a way, he’s much more… he would not make some of the bold leaps that I make in Introverted Thinking precisely because he’s more of a veteran with it. So there’s a trade-off there. So that’s sort of scratching the surface of auxiliary and tertiary. I hope that maybe helps to differentiate them a bit.”
Ching: “Oh, maybe just one point I can add to that. So, in Chinese, there is a phrase that goes “showing off in front of a master”. I use this phrase to help people differentiate between dominant and tertiary because basically when the first person, you know, who uses the tertiary function meets someone who is using it in a dominant way, they would be exactly that phrase where you are showing off in front of this master.”
Michael:Yeah, I really like that because that’s exactly what happens, that’s actually a very good phrase.”
Ching:And also, I can think of some examples. For instance, there’s a friend of mine who is an ENFJ, and she said her boyfriend is an ESTP. The ESTP’s tertiary function is extroverted feeling, making him a super party animal and a social butterfly. He’s always friendly, saying “Hey, what’s up?” to everyone and making everyone laugh. My ENFJ friend feels that he doesn’t need to be that friendly to everyone. In fact, she believes he may encourage inappropriate behaviors or enable the wrong people to become popular by focusing on only one aspect of the tertiary function.” 
Michael:Yes, that’s very good, and in some sense, there is a descending order of maturity to the functions, is another way of characterizing it. The dominant function is your most mature function, the auxiliary function is pretty mature, but it’s almost like the assistant to the hero. The tertiary is much younger, much less experienced, and finally, you get the inferior function, which is the least experienced and often the most… all-or-nothing, in a lot of ways. You compared it to tiptoeing, which is very nice, difficult, and low payoff. One may get away with suppressing and ignoring it altogether. It can be a worthwhile challenge if one wishes to turn all weaknesses and blind spots into strengths and also a source of unusual elegance. 
So all of the functions have a function, which is the most directly opposite to it. The dominant function represses its opposite function, and its opposite function thereby becomes the inferior function. So introverted intuition is opposed to extroverted sensation, because extroverted sensation has to do with the actual objects outside of me, whereas introverted intuition has to do with the ideas inside of me. So you have this repression between the two of them, and yet it’s sort of a yin-yang, complementary association between them because you can’t have one without the other. 
You get a similar opposition between the auxiliary and the tertiary, where you’ll have somebody who, say, with the ESTP example that Ching gave, the ESTP is much better with Introverted Thinking, and they’ll use that in order to organize their life and give themselves principles of action. But especially as they get older, they’ll become more infatuated with Extroverted Feeling and almost think that is more important and want to associate more with that than with the introverted thinking, which they’re much better at. So, there’s this element of natural ability, self-awareness, engagement. 
That’s sort of the organization for the different types. So you get 16 types, in which each type has four functions, and these different slots. The reason that there are only 16 types built from eight functions is because of the natural oppositions I mentioned, where if you have Ni as your dominant function, you must have Se as your inferior function. That’s just they always go together in that way. And you can… if you have a perceiving function as your dominant, then you have to have a judging function as your auxiliary. So you get these natural oppositions, and in this almost very geometrical, mathematical way, it works out, so you only end up getting 16 distinct types.”

INFJ and INFP – Relationship Compatibility

Have you ever met someone who seemed to just “get” you from the very beginning? For INFPs and INFJs, that connection can feel almost magical. Both types are deeply empathetic, introspective, and committed to personal growth. It’s easy to imagine that these two personalities would be the perfect match. However, like any other pairing, there are several differences between them, leading to unique challenges that they have to navigate. How do these similarities and differences play out in real-life relationships? Let’s take a closer look.

But first, let’s have a quick overview of INFJs’ and INFPs’ cognitive functions, which will serve as a reference throughout the article. Cognitive functions are the mental processes- the bricks that build the house which is your personality! Even though they have only one letter different, INFJ and INFP actually share zero common cognitive functions (in the top 4)! There are a total of eight cognitive functions with each MBTI personality type having a unique sequence  of the functions. Simply put, the top or dominant function has the strongest influence on our thoughts and behaviors followed by auxiliary, tertiary…. The top-four cognitive functions of INFJs and INFPs are:

DominantIntroverted Intuition (Ni) – relies on abstract connections, speculates about potential and potential implications. Introverted Feeling (Fi) – relies on value judgment – a deep understanding of personal values and beliefs, and a desire to live in congruence with them.
AuxiliaryExtraverted Feeling (Fe) – relies on sensitivity to the emotional states of others  and feelings of harmony with the world. Extraverted Intuition (Ne) – relies on abstract possibilities, generates novel ideas about what things can be.
TertiaryIntroverted Thinking (Ti) – uses personal framework of technical knowledge and skill to prevent/avoid/solve problemsIntroverted Sensing (Si) – relies on sensory details, processes concrete details via comparing/contrasting with past experiences.
InferiorExtraverted Sensing (Se) – maintains direct relationship to the world via physical sensations. Extraverted Thinking (Te) – relies on knowledge of external systems, uses empirical data to make effective decisions

For a more detailed explanation and examples for each cognitive function, click here

Now that we have a better understanding of their cognitive functions, we can examine how these functions interact to create the foundation of great INFJ-INFP relationships. 

What draws INFJ and INFP to each other?

INFJs and INFPs share a lot of similarities, which is why they are often considered to be highly compatible. Some of them include:

  1. Emotional compatibility

INFJs and INFPs are highly compatible due to their shared capacity for experiencing emotions on a deep and meaningful level. Both types possess a strong sense of empathy and prioritize emotional connection in their relationships. INFJs utilize their Extraverted Feeling (Fe) function to intuitively understand the emotions and needs of their partner. They often place their partner’s feelings above their own, striving to maintain peace and harmony in the relationship.

Meanwhile, INFPs use their dominant Introverted Feeling (Fi) function to remain true to their own emotions while simultaneously empathizing with their partner by understanding their emotions. Since INFJs’ Feeling function is directed outwards, they can quickly realize how others are feeling but often have trouble identifying their own emotions. INFPs help them explore their feelings by mirroring them, and provide them a safe space to express themselves without any fear of judgment. 

  1. Intuitive connection

Both INFJs and INFPs share a deep connection through their intuitive nature. INFJs have dominant Introverted Intuition (Ni), which provides them with sudden flashes of insight into the meaning of things, sometimes in the form of images, words, or even symbols. This can be perceived as strange or confusing by other personality types, but INFPs can easily understand and appreciate their thought process, and don’t ask for logical justifications for their insights. INFPs’ auxiliary function, Extraverted Intuition (Ne), allows them to make connections between different ideas and things in their environment and make predictions. Although their Intuition is directed outwards, they can still relate to the unexplainable sense of just “knowing” about something.

This mutual understanding of intuition creates a profound level of communication and empathy between INFJs and INFPs. They are able to pick up on subtle cues and unspoken feelings, allowing them to connect on a deeper level than many other personality types. This makes them highly compatible in both friendships and romantic relationships.

  1. A shared disdain for shallow relationships

INFJs and INFPs share a strong aversion to shallow relationships. They prioritize deep and meaningful connections and are often dissatisfied with superficial interactions. As intuitive feelers, they crave authenticity and are drawn to others who share their values. This shared disdain for superficial relationships creates a strong bond between these two personality types, allowing them to build a relationship based on trust, emotional depth, and a mutual desire for genuine connection.

  1. Balanced planning and exploration:

INFJs and INFPs complement each other’s tendencies towards action and contemplation. INFPs inspire INFJs to take a more relaxed approach to their day-to-day life and enjoy the journey rather than focusing solely on the destination. On the other hand, INFJs motivate INFPs to come up with concrete plans and take action towards achieving their ideas. Together, they can strike a balance between dreaming and doing, creating a harmonious partnership.

INFJs, being a “J” type, are naturally inclined towards closure, planning, and getting things done. They tend to be perfectionists, always striving for the best solution to a problem, and often stressing about getting everything done on time. In contrast, INFPs, being a “P” type, are more focused on exploration and trying out different options. They enjoy seeing where the plan takes them, and are not as worried about sticking to a strict schedule. This is where they balance each other out. INFJs help INFPs pare down their ideas and options to the most suitable ones (using their Ni), and INFPs prevent INFJs from getting caught up in planning and overlooking opportunities for exploration (using their Ne).

  1. Respect for boundaries

INFJs and INFPs both have introverted personalities, and they understand the value of space and alone time. They understand that personal space is not a sign of disinterest or dislike, but a necessary part of recharging and reflecting. They appreciate each other’s need for solitude and respect it, without feeling neglected or hurt. They can match each other’s energy and wavelength, creating a harmonious balance in the relationship. Being introverts, they also prefer meaningful conversations over small talk, which deepens their emotional connection. 

  1. Shared interests and preferences

INFJs and INFPs share a lot of common interests and values, which makes them compatible partners. They both tend to have hobbies that involve creativity and introspection, such as reading, writing, painting, or playing music. They also share a preference for people who are thoughtful and empathetic, and both tend to value deep and meaningful connections with others over superficial ones. In terms of their social lives, both INFJs and INFPs tend to prefer a small circle of close friends rather than a large group of acquaintances, and they generally prefer quieter, more low-key activities over loud, crowded events. 

Additionally, both types have deep appreciation for art and the meaning it brings to life. Last but not least, they both tend to be non-materialistic, valuing meaning and depth over material possessions and superficial glamor. These shared values and interests create a strong bond between INFJs and INFPs, making them a natural match for one another.

Potential conflicts in INFJ-INFP relationships

While INFJs and INFPs share many similarities that make them compatible, their different approaches to processing and expressing emotions can create potential areas of conflict, such as below.

  1. Prioritization of values

While both INFJs and INFPs prioritize values, they differ in their focus. INFJs tend to prioritize social values and harmony (Fe) while INFPs prioritize their individual values and feelings (Fi). This difference in focus can lead to conflicts, especially when it comes to decision-making as a couple. Conflict can also arise when it comes to issues that affect the broader society. INFJs may be more willing to compromise their individual values in the interest of social harmony, while INFPs may get defensive and feel more strongly about sticking to their personal values, even if it means going against the norm. These differences in prioritization can lead to misunderstandings and disagreements between the two types. 

  1. Communication challenges

Both INFJs and INFPs struggle with expressing their own needs and emotions in a clear and direct manner. INFJs may expect their partners to anticipate their emotions as they do for their partners, leading to unrealistic expectations and potential conflict. On the other hand, INFPs may become defensive and withdraw from conflict, leading to unresolved resentment. These communication challenges can put a strain on the relationship and make it difficult to maintain a healthy and fulfilling partnership.

  1. Pursuit of knowledge

Another potential area of conflict between INFJs and INFPs stems from their different approaches to seeking knowledge. While both types are idealistic and passionate about their beliefs, INFPs tend to have a more free-form approach to intellectual exploration, following their hunches (Ne) without worrying too much about confirmation. In contrast, INFJs are highly focused on testing and confirming their ideas and theories (due to their Ni). This divergence in approach can lead to misunderstandings, with INFPs potentially seeing INFJs as rigid and unyielding, and INFJs seeing INFPs as impractical or lost in a dream world.

  1. Stress Responses

Both INFJs and INFPs have different stress responses, which can cause conflict in their relationship. INFJs tend to resort to their inferior function Extraverted Sensing (Se) under stress, leading to self-indulgence in sensory pleasures like binge-eating, smoking, drinking, or watching TV for hours, while ignoring their responsibilities. On the other hand, INFPs under stress tend to resort to their inferior function, Extraverted Thinking (Te), overwhelmed by an urge to organize their surroundings and frantically “fix” things. 

This can cause conflict between them when INFJs give in to their desires and engage in sensory activities. As a result, INFPs may perceive them as irresponsible or selfish, which could lead to resentment. In the same way, when INFPs become critical, extremely focused, and tend to blame others, INFJs may view them as overpowering or harsh, which can cause tension and disagreements in their relationship.

Keeping the spark alive: Tips for a healthy INFJ-INFP relationship

To improve your relationship, it’s important for both INFPs and INFJs to remember that the other person is sensitive and has their own unique needs. INFPs should be willing to open up about their thoughts and feelings, which will help INFJs feel that the relationship is healthy and intimate. INFJs should be mindful of INFPs’ strong values and avoid pressuring them to conform to their own beliefs. Instead, they should approach inquiries with a non-judgmental tone.

When problems arise, it’s important for both INFJs and INFPs to communicate openly and calmly, focusing on the behavior or action rather than attacking the person. They should avoid letting problems fester and seek to resolve them together, with empathy and understanding.

Finally, it’s important to have interests outside of the relationship, to avoid becoming overly focused or dependent on each other.


In conclusion, the INFJ-INFP pairing is a truly fascinating and harmonious relationship dynamic. The combination of the INFJ’s deep intuition and insight with the INFP’s profound empathy and authenticity creates a deep connection that is both rare and beautiful. These two personality types have the ability to understand and appreciate each other on a level that few others can reach. While there may be challenges along the way, these two personality types have a lot to offer each other, and can create a deep and fulfilling connection if they’re willing to communicate openly and work together. 

However, the journey doesn’t end here. To enhance their connection and better understand themselves and each other, INFJs and INFPs in a relationship should continue to explore their personality type in more depth. You can check out the detailed INFJ and INFP type descriptions on our website, and additional valuable insights into your own and your partner’s personality traits, strengths, and weaknesses. Armed with this understanding, INFJ and INFP partners can learn how to support each other in more customized ways and navigate the intricacies of their relationship more effectively.

The 4 Most Common Subtypes of INFJs (Based on Enneagram)

INFJs are often stereotyped as shy, introverted idealists who are deeply philosophical and detached from the outside world. This simplistic label fails to capture the diversity that exists within this type, and can sometimes even lead INFJs who are new to the MBTI world to question whether they truly belong to this personality type. The truth is, INFJs come in all shades and forms, with varying levels of extraversion, thinking styles, interests, and behaviors. This article explores various subtypes of INFJs that you may identify with. You may find that you relate strongly to one particular subtype, or perhaps resemble a mix of all three. Regardless of which subtype you identify with, remember that all INFJs share the same core values and functions, even if they are expressed differently. 

Before exploring the different subtypes that may exist within the INFJ personality type, let’s take a quick overview of their cognitive functions, which will serve as a reference throughout the article. Cognitive functions are the mental processes used by individuals to gather information and make decisions. Each MBTI personality type has a stack of 4 cognitive functions. The higher a cognitive function is in our stack, the more it guides our thoughts and behavior, and the lower we go down the stack, the less conscious control we have over the functions. The cognitive functions of INFJs are:

DominantIntroverted Intuition (Ni) – relies on abstract connections, speculates about potential and implications. 
AuxiliaryExtraverted Feeling (Fe) – relies on sensitivity to the emotional states of others  and feelings of harmony with the world. 
TertiaryIntroverted Thinking (Ti) – uses personal framework of technical knowledge and skill to prevent/avoid/solve problems
InferiorExtraverted Sensing (Se) – maintains direct relationship to the world via physical sensations. 

These cognitive functions can manifest themselves in different combinations to form the following main subtypes of INFJs. We have also explained the subtypes in reference to Enneagram to provide a more comprehensive understanding. The Enneagram is a personality typing system that identifies nine core motivations and fears, providing insights into individuals’ deep-seated drives and behaviors. It goes beyond cognitive functions and explores the underlying motivations behind our thoughts and actions.

Combining Enneagram with MBTI, we gain a deeper understanding of how INFJs’ core motivations and fears interact with their cognitive functions, shedding light on the nuances and variations within this personality type.

  1. The Principled Idealist

The Principled Idealists are INFJs who often relate to the Type 1 enneagram especially with a Type 9 wing. People with 1w9 enneatype are nicknamed as the idealists, and have principles, dedication, and loyalty of Type 1 (the perfectionists), as well as the desire for harmony from wing 9 (the peacemakers). Such INFJs mostly appear to others as ambiverts, and have a good balance of intuition (Ni), empathy (Fe), and logical thinking (Ti). They are passionate visionaries who aim to organize their ideals and insights into practical frameworks that make sense to them and can benefit others. However, they can be very perfectionistic and become too rigid or critical in pursuing their lofty standards and vision of creating a better world. 

INFJs of this type are wise, noble, conscientious, and care deeply about maintaining justice and harmony in their social environment. They feel a strong sense of fairness and responsibility towards others and strive to improve their lives through diplomacy, compassion and reasoned action. Their tendency to value the shared experiences of the group and their vision of how society “ought to be” often leads them to become social activists, advocates or be elected as leaders in their communities, even if they don’t actively seek positions of authority. 

  1. The Social Chameleon / Empathetic Helper

When people call INFJs social chameleons, they refer to this subtype specifically. While they still primarily rely on their Ni for processing information internally, they are more comfortable outwardly expressing their Fe, which makes them appear more social, outgoing, or even extraverted. They are closely associated with enneagram Type 2 – the caregiver, especially with Type 3 wing (type 2w3 – nicknamed as the host/hostess), as both INFJs and Type 2w3 have the superpower of gauging the emotional atmosphere of the group and adjusting their behavior accordingly to meet the needs of others.

At their best, these INFJs are sage counselors, providing empathy, wisdom and advice to those in need. As confidants, they offer unconditional positive regard and help guide people through difficulties. These INFJs often make excellent therapists, social workers, helplines counselors or spiritual advisors. 

However, this tendency can also turn unhealthy if they indulge too much in their Fe and lose touch with their vision (Ni). The unhealthy ones can be so focused on others’ emotions that they might not even recognize what their own true feelings are! They often wear different masks for different situations and say things they think others want to hear. Their behavior is often motivated by the desire to fit in, be liked or appreciated by others. This subtype is also most likely to exhaust themselves and neglect their own needs while trying to make sure everyone around them is happy, pleased, and satisfied.

  1. The Contemplative Creator

The third type of INFJs can be referred to as the contemplative creators. These individuals are highly introspective and tend to immerse themselves in creative expression and intellectual pursuits. Although Type 4 enneagram – the individualist – is mostly associated with dominant Introverted Feelers (those who put their own values and beliefs first and foremost), this subtype of INFJs also correlates strongly to it. However, they mostly have a Type 5 wing (the investigator), which adds the element of intellectual curiosity to their personality and the resulting Type 4w5 is nicknamed “the Bohemian”. 

Type 4 enneatypes are concerned with being unique, and are quite creative, emotional, and introspective. This category of INFJs also possess this unconscious desire to convince themselves and others that they’re different and distinctive in terms of their emotional, creative, and intellectual styles. They claim the flashes of insight and gut-feelings (from their Ni) as their unique gifts, and embrace creativity that sees beyond surface realities, perceiving hidden metaphors and symbolic meanings. They tend to live in their heads more than the other two subtypes, spending much of their time thinking, analyzing, and fantasizing (using their wing 5, or tertiary Introverted Thinking function-Ti). Although private, they’re still very attuned to people’s behaviors and motivations, picking up on subtle cues (using their Fe), even if less outwardly expressing. With their intuition, creativity, and intellectual curiosity, these INFJs produce original work that evokes emotions and stimulates the mind.

  1. The Insightful Guardian/ The Skeptical Strategist

This particular group of INFJs can be identified as insightful sentinel, and are extremely thoughtful but troubled souls. Their insightful minds are plagued by doubts and their caring nature is hampered by distrust in others. They are often associated with the enneagram 6 with wing 5 (6w5), known as “the guardians”. Enneagram type 6 individuals, known as Loyalists, crave security, stability and order. They are hardworking, responsible and value integrity but their skepticism and anxiety can lead to worst-case scenario thinking. With a 5 wing, such INFJs gain an intellectual bent and thirst for knowledge to attain certainty in an uncertain world. 

This subtype of INFJs is highly thoughtful, cautious, and analytical. They are very risk-averse which often leads them to miss out on exciting opportunities and adventures. Their dominant Introverted Intuition (Ni) helps them visualize the future and foresee potential problems or risks that they may encounter, and prepare accordingly. However, it also feeds their fear and anxiety by showing them all the way things could go wrong. Hence, they naturally gravitate towards others in an attempt to build their security network of friends and family. 

Their auxiliary Extraverted Feeling (Fe) helps these INFJs to look to others for support and validation due to their fear of criticism and rejection. They want to connect with groups but their natural cautiousness and distrust in others makes it hard to build new friendships. They take time to gather information about new people (using their wing 5 or tertiary Introverted Thinking-Ti) to determine if they seem “safe” before opening up. Such INFJs constantly seek knowledge and certainty, making them excellent troubleshooters and information sponges. While this makes them extremely self-aware and humble, it can also feed into their anxieties and paranoia. Moreover, due to their inferior Extraverted Sensing (Se), harsh sensory input easily stresses them out as it forces them into the present moment, which they tend to avoid in favor of envisioning the future or analyzing the past.  


The INFJ subtypes described here merely scratch the surface of the rich diversity found within this personality type. You may find that you relate to some aspects of multiple subtypes, after all, they are all INFJs. This just goes to show that INFJs, like all people, are multifaceted beings. 

Ultimately, personality types are just an attempt to make it easier for us to understand ourselves and connect with others who may share similar traits. There are pros and cons for being in each of the INFJ subtypes listed above and one type can always learn from the opposite types to become a more balanced and mature individual. For a more detailed description of INFJs, you can visit INFJ Type Description.

Are you an INFJ or INFP? Decoding Your True Personality Type

Do you live with one foot in the physical world and one in the realm of imagination? Are you an empathetic and introspective person but struggle with explaining to others the rich inner landscape of ideas and emotions within you? If so, you may find yourself caught in the INFJ/INFP tug-of-war – two of the most idealistic personality types under the Myer Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) system.

As sensitive souls and visionaries, INFJs and INFPs share some similarities in both letters and outward behaviors, and may appear nearly interchangeable on the surface. However, as we delve deeper into the analysis of their cognitive functions, we find that they have significant yet subtle differences, from how they process information and make decisions to how they handle their own and others’ emotions. Gaining insight into these differences can be a profoundly rewarding experience and help you embrace the gifts of your unique personality.

What are Cognitive Functions?

When it comes to differentiating between such similar personality types, understanding their cognitive functions is the key as they provide a more nuanced and precise understanding of the inner minds of each type.Cognitive functions are the mental processes used by individuals to gather information and make decisions. There are 4 cognitive processes: Feeling, Thinking, Intuition and Sensing, and they can be either introverted (directed inwards) or extraverted (directed outwards), resulting in 8 cognitive functions. 

In the MBTI framework, each type is characterized predominantly by the relative dominance of 4 functions: a dominant, auxiliary, tertiary, and inferior function. Much like our dominant hand versus non-dominant hand, we have a greater level of confidence and comfort using our dominant function compared to the ones lower in our functional stack. The further we move down the stack towards our auxiliary, tertiary and then inferior function, the less control and awareness we have over its influence on us. To understand better how the cognitive function stack is determined for a particular type, you can read the detailed guide here.

Understanding the cognitive functions of INFJs and INFPs is like uncovering the hidden gears that drive their unique personalities. Each type has a unique stack of cognitive functions, which are explained below.

DominantIntroverted Intuition (Ni) – relies on abstract connections, speculates about potential and potential implications. Introverted Feeling (Fi) – relies on a deep understanding of personal values and beliefs, and a desire to live in congruence with them.
AuxiliaryExtraverted Feeling (Fe) – relies on sensitivity to the emotional states of others  and feelings of harmony with the world. Extraverted Intuition (Ne) – relies on abstract possibilities, generates novel ideas about what things can be.
TertiaryIntroverted Thinking (Ti) – uses personal framework of technical knowledge and skill to prevent/avoid/solve problemsIntroverted Sensing (Si) – relies on sensory details, processes concrete details via comparing/contrasting with past experiences.
InferiorExtraverted Sensing (Se) – maintains direct relationship to the world via physical sensations. Extraverted Thinking (Te) – relies on knowledge of external systems, uses empirical data to make effective decisions

For a more detailed explanation and examples for each cognitive function, click here.

Distinguishing Between INFJ and INFP

Now that we have a better understanding of the cognitive functions that INFJs and INFPs use, we can examine how these functions shape their personalities and lead to the following differences in their behavior and preferences. 

  1. Analytical vs Artistic Thinking

One of the primary differences between INFJ and INFP is how they approach the world and process information. INFJs take a more analytical approach, using their dominant Introverted Intuition (Ni) to understand the purpose and meaning of things, narrowing down possibilities to the most suitable ones. They look outside in, searching for the underlying patterns and themes and observing how different parts work together to form a cohesive whole. 

On the other hand, INFPs lean more towards artistic and creative thinking. Guided by their values and emotions (due to their Fi), they look inside out, focusing on how they feel about things rather than their intended purpose or meaning. Furthermore, their Ne, which is exploratory in nature, also helps them generate multiple possibilities and ideas, allowing them to approach problems from a creative and imaginative standpoint. 

  1. Decisive vs Exploratory Decision Making

Another difference between INFJ and INFP is their approach to decision-making. INFJs tend to be decisive and efficient in reaching a decision. They meticulously analyze, and pare down all the available options to reach their desired goals (using their Ni, often supported by their Ti) without any perceived waste of time or resources. This makes them strategic, thoughtful, and observant in their decision-making approach.

On the other hand, INFPs have an authentic love and appreciation for exploring new experiences, and aren’t necessarily fixated on finding the one “perfect” solution. They tend to generate a plethora of ideas using their Ne, often throwing every possible option at the wall to see what sticks. Their satisfaction comes from the process of uncovering possibilities that extend beyond the present reality, rather than the decision itself. This approach to decision-making is marked by an open-minded and exploratory mindset that values creativity and imagination.

  1. Absorbing vs Mirroring Emotions

INFJs are highly attuned to the emotions of others due to their Fe, which makes them expert social chameleons. They have a remarkable ability to read the room quickly thanks to the input from their Extraverted Sensing (Se), discerning subtle changes in others’ tone, body language, and behavior, and adapt their own behavior to promote social harmony. However, this ability to absorb others’ emotions can be overwhelming and often leaves INFJs struggling to differentiate their own feelings from those of others.

On the other hand, INFPs’ Introverted Feeling (Fi) is more focused on their own values, morals, and emotions. They are not likely to alter their behavior to please others, as they prioritize their own feelings and authenticity. INFPs can still very well understand what others are going through by putting themselves in their shoes, but they only mirror the emotions of others rather than absorbing them. This makes it easier for them to maintain a healthy emotional distance and not get overwhelmed by the emotions of others. This emotional clarity also allows them to remain true to themselves and their values, often leading them to pursue creative outlets where they can express themselves freely.

  1. Community-Oriented vs Individualistic Relationship Orientation

INFJs and INFPs approach their relationships with others in very distinct ways. INFJs, due to their Fe, are community-oriented people, guided by a vision of how relationships and society ‘ought to be’. They tend to take on a more active and assertive role in relationships, seeking to build connections and harmony, and facilitate communication. This, combined with their ability to value shared experiences of the group, often also leads them to be chosen for positions of authority and leadership roles by others, even if they do not actively seek them.  

While INFJs have a stronger desire to build community, INFPs prefer more intimate connections. INFPs lead with their hearts, following their personal values and beliefs (due to their Fi). INFPs approach relationships with an idealistic and personalized focus. They prefer intimate one-on-one connections, built on profound emotional understanding and shared values. However, they may struggle with setting clear boundaries and asserting themselves, which can lead to difficulties in expressing their needs and built-up resentment.

  1. Developing a “Sensor’s Eye” vs a “Thinker’s Mind”

Personal growth and development are important to both INFJs and INFPs, but their paths to achieving it can be quite different. Due to their inferior functions, they may struggle in certain areas and experience unique challenges. Inferior functions represent an aspirational but weak or “tip toeing” part of one’s personality. People rarely notice their inferior functions under normal conditions. However, when stressed or fatigued, these weaker functions emerge in unintended and disruptive ways. People are said to “be in the grip” of the inferior functions in this situation. Healthy INFJs and INFPs see their inferior functions not as weaknesses but opportunities to grow. Through conscious dedication, what was once a liability can be transformed into a source of strength and depth. 

INFJs pursue growth through cultivating their inferior Extraverted Sensing (Se) function. In the grip, the dark side of Se takes hold, inducing escapism through overindulgence in sensory pleasures. INFJs may binge watch TV, overeat, or become shortsighted in pleasure-seeking, which they regret later when the stress subsides. To strengthen Se, INFJs must gain awareness of this unconscious tendency and learn control. Moreover, INFJs prioritize their personal insights and “gut feelings” over concrete details. Healthy INFJs aspire to strengthen Se by cultivating awareness of the external world, and being more present and responsive to external sensory stimuli. What seemed abstract must become visceral. Through practice and patience, INFJs can develop a “sensor’s eye” able to see beyond concepts to practical realities. 

In contrast, INFPs nurture their Extraverted Thinking (Te) to develop mastery. When in the grip of Te, INFPs tend to get hyper-critical of themselves and others, frantically solving problems or nitpicking processes. They must tame their urge to organize or “fix” everything when stressed through hypercriticism or forced efficiency. Healthy INFPs aspire to strengthen Te through developing a pragmatic “thinker’s mind.” Te demands analyzing information objectively, stepping away from personal values to evaluate options rationally and decisively. For INFPs, it means moving away from imagination to implementation by formulating feasible strategies and evaluating resources effectively.


Now that you know the key differences between INFJs and INFPs, where do you stand? Take some time to reflect on which tendencies feel most natural and authentic to you. Remember, self-discovery is a lifelong journey and determining your personality type is just the beginning. It can be a powerful tool to help you embrace your strengths and chart your own path in life. For INFPs, recognizing your idealism and depth of caring can help you set boundaries when needed and express your authentic feelings. Similarly, if you are an INFJ, understanding your empathy and desire for harmony can guide you towards finding balance and connecting with your own needs.

If you still feel conflicted, take the next step and read the detailed descriptions of both the INFJ and INFP personality types. It will provide you with a framework to explore the depths of who you are – and who you want to become. Use this knowledge as a springboard to continue your growth, follow your purpose, and build authentic relationships where your gifts are truly appreciated.

Advocate (INFJ) – Type Description

INFJ is one of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types, characterized by introversion, intuition, feeling, and judging. People with this type are known for their creativity, insight, and idealism, and are often described as “the Counselor” or “the advocate”. INFJs make up approximately 1-2% of the population. INFJs are sensitive, compassionate, and highly attuned to the emotions of others, making them excellent counselors and confidantes. They are often seen as the “mystical” types, who are deeply in tune with the spiritual and metaphysical aspects of life.

INFJs are deep thinkers, and are often seen as wise beyond their years. They are also known for their ability to see the big picture and to develop meaningful long-term plans and goals. Despite their introverted nature, they are highly skilled at reading people and situations, and they are able to use this insight to bring about positive change. INFJs are idealistic individuals and are able to see potential in situations that others may not be able to see. 

Cognitive Functions of INFJs:

To gain insight into the characteristics of INFJ personalities, it is helpful to understand the dominant and auxiliary cognitive functions that drive them. According to the MBTI system, each personality type has a set of cognitive functions that they use most frequently, which leads to consistent patterns and characteristics. For INFJs, 

Dominant Ni: People with a dominant Introverted Intuition (Ni) tend to be highly intuitive and imaginative. They are known for their ability to see patterns and connections that others may not, and they often have a strong sense of the future and the potential outcomes of different actions. They may also have a tendency to get lost in their own thoughts and ideas and may need time alone to reflect and process information. 

Their dominant Ni is the source of many of INFJs’ greatest gifts. This function allows them to delve into psychological areas that others may avoid. It gives them flashes of inspiration, imagination, originality, access to their unconscious mind, ingenuity, and visions of what could be. 

Auxiliary Fe: People with an auxiliary Extraverted Feeling (Fe) function tend to be empathetic and sensitive to the needs and emotions of others. They are skilled at interpreting and responding to social cues, but may struggle with confrontation or expressing their own needs. They pay attention to the impact their actions and words have on others and may seek to create a sense of connection and community.

This function makes INFJs deeply concerned with the well-being and feelings of others, which can make them appear extraverted.

INFJs’ dominant Ni provides them insight to see reality as subjective and relative, giving them the ability to acknowledge someone’s viewpoint as valid without requiring logical justification or factual accuracy. This, paired with their Fe makes INFJs highly receptive listeners and gives them the ability to connect with others on a deep emotional level.

However, due to these dominant functions, INFJs may have less conscious energy to develop their weaker functions in Thinking and Sensing. This can lead to certain challenges in areas such as logical analysis, objective decision making (Thinking), staying in the present moment or picking up & adapting to sensory information in their environment (Sensing). 


Like all personality types, INFJs have a combination of strengths and weaknesses. Some of strengths of INFJs include: 

  • Idealism: INFJs are often very idealistic and have a strong sense of purpose. They are deeply committed to living in accordance with their values and are highly motivated to work towards a greater cause to make the world a better place. 
  • Empathy: Their auxiliary Fe allows them to be empathetic and sensitive to the feelings and emotions of others. They are great at understanding others’ needs and motivations, which makes them good team players and helps them build strong relationships with colleagues. 
  • Conflict resolution: INFJs are skilled at facilitating harmony and consensus in groups and excel at resolving conflicts, owing to their auxiliary Fe. They are also excellent negotiators, and are great at finding common ground with different parties. 
  • Problem-solving: INFJs have the ability to see the big picture, develop long-term goals, and anticipate potential challenges or limitations in their plans, thanks to their dominant Ni. This intuitive insight into situations makes them skilled at identifying and solving complex problems.


Some weaknesses of INFJs include:

  • Sensitivity and struggle with confrontation: INFJs’ sensitivity to the emotions of others and desire to maintain harmony, due to their auxiliary Fe, can make them easily overwhelmed by negative emotions, unable to confront others or express their own needs and boundaries, affecting their relationships and work performance. 
  • Perfectionism: INFJs may struggle with perfectionism due to their tendency to hold themselves and others to high standards. This can lead to overthinking and being overly critical, as they ruminate on ways to improve perceived flaws. Their dominant Ni may cause them to get lost in thought patterns and grand visions, rather than taking a realistic approach. 
  • Struggle with expressing themselves: INFJs may have difficulty expressing themselves in a straightforward way, which makes it difficult for them to assert themselves in group situations. This may be due to their dominant Ni, which encourages them to process information internally and can make it difficult for them to communicate their insights in a way that others can easily understand.
  • Knowing others but not themselves: INFJs excel at understanding others but may struggle with understanding and expressing their own emotions. This can lead them to prioritize the needs of others over their own and to sometimes say or do things that others want to hear, even if they do not align with their true emotions.

Career choice

INFJs excel in abstract and symbolic concepts and can pursue careers in research-driven fields, but they seek work with both intellectual challenge and meaning. They are drawn to careers that have a positive impact on the world, such as:

  • Counselor or therapist: INFJs excel as therapists or psychologists, as their Fe gives them the unique ability to connect with their patients’ inner lives and they can use their personal warmth, insight, and interpretive skills to help their patients. 
  • Writer or journalist: INFJs’ creativity and ability to see the deeper meaning or purpose behind events and experiences may make them well-suited to careers in writing or journalism. They may excel in roles where they can express their ideas and insights through the written word.
  • Educator: INFJs may also enjoy careers in education, where they can inspire and guide others to reach their full potential. They excel in roles where they can connect with their students and help them understand complex concepts.
  • Nonprofit or humanitarian work: INFJs’ idealism and desire to make a positive impact on the world may lead them to careers in the nonprofit or humanitarian sector. 
  • Artist: INFJs make great artists, as their creativity and originality allow them to express themselves and share their vision with others. This is often due to their dominant Ni which allows them to see patterns, visions, and symbolism in things. INFJs may struggle to communicate these ideas verbally, and instead resort to expressing themselves through abstract artwork that holds deeper symbolic meaning.

INFJs are not suited for careers in politics, sales, or marketing due to their introverted nature and unwillingness to compromise on their beliefs, which conflicts with the need for social interaction and stretching the truth in such careers. 


INFJs have a natural ability to work well with others. They enjoy helping people with their problems in the workplace, value staff harmony and strive to create a pleasant work environment. 

INFJs’ need for innovation and alternative perspectives (due to their dominant Ni) combined with their ability to form strong connections with people (due to their auxiliary Fe), may also often lead them to positions of authority. They are appreciated for their ability to listen and consider the feelings and values of the group, and as a result, they may be elected to serve on boards and committees by others, even if they do not actively seek out leadership roles.

INFJs are known for their strong commitment to integrity in their work. Their inner vision and conviction for what is best for the greater good earns them respect and honor from others. Due to their natural inclination towards harmony, they often try to persuade others of the validity of their points to avoid conflict. However, when subjected to hostile working conditions or constant criticism, INFJs expend a lot of energy trying to bring everyone on the same page. As a result, INFJs may become exhausted, and struggle to maintain their effectiveness in the workplace.

INFJs, being perfectionists, may struggle to balance their career demands with the needs of their families. If their jobs involve working closely with others in personal development, such as teaching or counseling, they can become so wrapped up in the needs of their students or clients that they neglect the needs of their loved ones. They may need to learn how to prioritize and set boundaries in order to ensure that their loved ones are given the time and attention they need.


INFJs seek more than just a life partner in their relationships – they want a “soul partner” with whom they can connect on a deep, spiritual level. They value intimacy and honesty in their relationships and want to be able to share their complex inner lives and communicate openly about their feelings, causes, fantasies, and ethical dilemmas. Their auxiliary Fe makes them the master of intimacy. It gives them a strong ability to understand and relate to the thoughts and feelings of others, which allows them to completely take on another person’s mental state. This makes their partners feel completely understood and accepted, and allows INFJs to build close, loving relationships naturally. 

However, INFJs may often struggle with emotional dependence in their relationships. While they are often sensitive and caring, they may become resentful if their partners become too reliant on them for emotional support and validation. They may feel pressure to provide their partners with the ideal love, understanding, and acceptance that they desire. This can be a challenge for INFJs, as they struggle to balance their own emotional needs with those of their loved ones

In conclusion, INFJs are deeply introspective and empathetic individuals who strive to find harmony in their environment. They are natural nurturers and have a strong sense of purpose in their lives. They are creative, sensitive, and complex individuals who can struggle with self-doubt and feeling misunderstood. However, when they are able to tap into their strengths and use their intuition and empathy to make meaningful connections with others, they can achieve great success and make the world a better place. 

Quick Exercise to Find Your MBTI Type

By following through each of the 4 sections below, you will be able to clarify your MBTI type as well as gain a quick overview of the 4 dichotomies. This is not meant to be a definitive MBTI test, but rather to accelerate your understanding so you can arrive at that aha moment to acknowledge your own type faster as you journey through the learning of the MBTI and Jungian functions.

The recorded bite-size lessons are made by trainer Tuan Le, founder of Our Huan Minds and a long-term learner and trainer of personality psychology frameworks such as MBTI and Enneagram

Tips to achieve the best results:

As we tend to strive to become more balanced with age, we often “stretch” our cognitive preference under the situational stress of work and social demands. To identify what is “natural”, it’s best to contemplate about 1) what naturally come to you when you were younger (as a teenager or young adult) or 2) when you feel truly at home & being yourself. Also, think about it in term of your consistent behaviors across time and not the “ought to” or “ should” adaptive behaviors.

Section 1 of 4:
Introversion – Extroversion (I – E)

  1. Learn about the fundamentals through the video above.
  2. Based on your understanding, do you think you are more Introverted or Extroverted?
    Want better clarity? Go to step 3 below.
  3. Go through the clarification table (you might need a pen and paper)
  4. Give one tick either on the left or right of each pair of statements.
  5. Give two ticks if you strongly believe with the statement.
  6. If it’s too difficult for you to decide , you may leave it blank.
Tick if applies to your more Tick if applies to you more
Regarding your overall attitude towards society or socially endorsed values and systems
 Have a general dislike and often question popular ideas, standards, or tastesSeek to achieve socially approved concepts and objectives, prioritizing the needs of the group 
Quantity vs quality (hobbies, jobs, social circle…)
 Prefer quality, being picky (job, relationship…)Want to experience it all, the more the merrier 
Generalist versus specialist
 Often take pride in being a specialist and expert in a niche fieldOften prefer working in more generalist position with variety of tasks like management and people-facing roles 
How you gain energy
 Energized by thinking and contemplating about a single topic alone or working one-on-oneEnergized by interacting with and managing several on-going activities and people 
Your approach to sharing and communicating
 Reserved and private, thoughtful,  contemplative, share only if necessary, you find people share too muchMore ready to share personal info and enjoy brainstorming and responding quickly to others 

7. Tabulating results:

The total number of ticks on the left is your score on Introversion.

The total number of ticks on the right is your score on Extroversion.

Whichever side has more ticks represents your degree of preference.

Section 2 of 4:
INtuition – Sensing (N – S)

  1. Learn about the fundamentals through the video above (From 07:49 to 16:50)
  2. Based on your understanding, where do you put yourself?
    Want even better clarity? go to step 3 below.
  3. Go through the clarification table:
Tick if applies to your more  Tick if applies to you more
When given a new task, how would you want to receive the information?
 Prefer maximum details, specifics, step-by-step instruction to ensure clarityPrefer to know the big picture and end goals first and as little details or instruction if possible 
The type of information you tend to notice first
 Notice what is apparent through the 5 senses or concrete, factual detailsNotice patterns, concepts, ideas, metaphors, implications, possibilities, hidden meaning 
Are you more pragmatic or visionary?
 You tend to notice and trust what is tangible and measurable and your past experience  You are more energized by imagining what could be and possibilities in the future 
Your problem-solving approach and strengths
 Better at identifying the most efficient common-sense approach & focus on optimizing existing processesTaking pride in generating many ideas or unconventional method to understand and solve problems 

4. Tabulating results:

The total number of ticks on the left is your score on Sensing

The total number of ticks on the right is your score on iNtuition

Whichever side has more ticks represents your degree of preference.

Section 3 of 4:
Feeling – Thinking (F-T)

  1. Learn about the fundamentals via the video above.
  2. Are you able to decide on your preference based on the video?
    If you want better clarity, go to step 3 below.
  3. Type clarification table:
Tick if applies to your more  Tick if applies to you more
What approach should often be given a higher priority for the most satisfactory outcome?
 First step back & analyze the situation impersonallyFirst consider how it impacts each person involved or your own value system 
The thought processes that come to you naturally
 Critique, evaluate & identify flaws for improvementNotice & mention what is working well to build on it or offer moral support 
In problem solving, what do you think naturally is the best way to work with others
 Primarily focused on achieving set goals/outcomesPrimarily focused on developing & preserving connections with others 
In presented with differing points of viewers and opinions
 Comfortable asking probing questions to understand and generally comfortable with argumentsAvoid disagreements to preserve the relationship and harmonious atmosphere unless necessary to argue or fight back 

4. Tabulating results:

Total number of ticks on the left is your score on Thinking

Total number of ticks on the right is your score on Feeling

Whichever side has more ticks represents your degree of preference.

Section 4 of 4:
Judging – Perceiving (J-P)

  1. Learn about the fundamentals through the video above.
  2. Are you able to decide on your preference based on the video?
    Go to step 3 below for even better clarity
  3. Go through the clarification table below:
Tick if applies to your more  Tick if applies to you more
Your overall philosophy and approach to life
 Value order, predictability, structure, and milestonesValue going with the flow, see how things go, adaptability and flexibility 
When plan for a trip or project
 More comfortable when schedules are set and fix, milestones and deadlines are adhered to with minimal unexpected changesPrefer loose deadlines with plenty of room for improvisation and last-minute adaptation and energy bust 
Inclination for multi-tasking
 Rather focused work on a single topic or project until finishLike juggling and multi-tasking with short bursts of inspirations 
Preference on starting and finishing projects
 Prefer more measured and steadier pace from start to finish, especially with an emphasis on early start and timely finishExcited by starting a new project but perform best with deadline and last-minute motivation to finish 

4. Tabulating results:

Total number of ticks on the left is your score on Judging

Total number of ticks on the right is your score on Perceiving

Whichever side has more ticks represents your degree of preference.

I hope this typing exercise has been both helpful and educational. You might be more sure about some pairs of letters than the others. If you happen to feel 50/50 towards a certain pairing, for example between INFP versus ISFP, you can always read the type description of each of these two MBTI types to see which overall profile resonate better with you.

P.S. What’s next after knowing your MBTI type? Have some doubts and need help with clarifying your identity? Join us to discover the transformative power of our flagship Cognitive Diversity Mastery programme and boost your self-awareness with the two most comprehensive frameworks!

The MBTI Cognitive Functions Handbook

Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, developed a theory of personality that included eight cognitive functions that he believed influenced the way individuals perceive and process information. According to Jung’s theory, each individual has a dominant function that strongly shapes the personality.

His theory on cognitive functions are closely related to the personality types described in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The MBTI is a psychological assessment tool that is based on Jung’s theory of personality and is used to identify an individual’s personality type based on their preferences for certain cognitive functions.

According to the MBTI, each individual has a dominant function, followed by a an auxiliary function, which work together to form their personality. The eight cognitive functions identified by Jung are:

  • Introverted Sensing (Si)
  • Extraverted Sensing (Se)
  • Introverted Intuition (Ni)
  • Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
  • Introverted Thinking (Ti)
  • Extraverted Thinking (Te)
  • Introverted Feeling (Fi)
  • Extraverted Feeling (Fe)

Here is a brief overview of how the MBTI personality types correspond to Jung’s cognitive functions:

  • ISTJ (Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging): Dominant function is Introverted Sensing (Si), auxiliary function is Extraverted Thinking (Te)
  • ISFJ (Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging): Dominant function is Introverted Sensing (Si), auxiliary function is Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
  • INFJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging): Dominant function is Introverted Intuition (Ni), auxiliary function is Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
  • INTJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging): Dominant function is Introverted Intuition (Ni), auxiliary function is Extraverted Thinking (Te)
  • ISTP (Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving): Dominant function is Introverted Thinking (Ti), auxiliary function is Extraverted Sensing (Se)
  • ISFP (Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving): Dominant function is Introverted Feeling (Fi), auxiliary function is Extraverted Sensing (Se)
  • INFP (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving): Dominant function is Introverted Feeling (Fi), auxiliary function is Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
  • INTP (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving): Dominant function is Introverted Thinking (Ti), auxiliary function is Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
  • ESTJ (Extraverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging): Dominant function is Extraverted Thinking (Te), auxiliary function is Introverted Sensing (Si)
  • ESFJ (Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging): Dominant function is Extraverted Feeling (Fe), auxiliary function is Introverted Sensing (Si)
  • ENFJ (Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging): Dominant function is Extraverted Feeling (Fe), auxiliary function is Introverted Intuition (Ni)
  • ENTJ (Extraverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging): Dominant function is Extraverted Thinking (Te), auxiliary function is Introverted Intuition (Ni)
  • ESTP (Extraverted, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving): Dominant function is Extraverted Sensing (Se), auxiliary function is Introverted Thinking (Ti)
  • ESFP (Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving): Dominant function is Extraverted Sensing (Se), auxiliary function is Introverted Feeling (Fi)
  • ENFP (Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving): Dominant function is Extraverted Intuition (Ne), auxiliary function is Introverted Feeling (Fi)
  • ENTP (Extraverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving): Dominant function is Extraverted Intuition (Ne), auxiliary function is Introverted Thinking (Ti)

Definitions & Examples of the Functions

  1. Extraverted Sensing (Se) – This function involves the use of the five senses to gather and process information about the physical world. People who are strong in this function are practical, detail-oriented, and focused on the present.

Example: A person who is strong in sensing might be a skilled craftsman who is able to accurately measure and cut wood using a ruler and saw.

Or a person who is strong in sensing might be a successful farmer who is able to observe and understand the needs of their crops and animals, and use their practical skills to care for them.

  1. Extraverted Intuition (Ne) – This function involves the ability to process information through pattern recognition and the interpretation of symbolic meaning. People who are strong in this function are imaginative, open-minded, and focused on the future.

Example: A person who is strong in intuition might be a successful entrepreneur who is able to see the potential in a new business idea and take risks to bring it to fruition.

Another example is, a person who is strong in intuition might be a successful writer who is able to generate new ideas and explore multiple possibilities in their writing, and use their imagination to create compelling and engaging stories.

  1. Extraverted Thinking (Te) is a cognitive function that involves the ability to organize and implement ideas in a practical way. People who are strong in this function are organized, efficient, and action-oriented. They tend to focus outwardly on the practical implementation of their ideas, and they are skilled at getting things done.

Example: A person who is strong in extraverted thinking might be a successful project manager who is able to develop and implement plans to complete projects on time and within budget. They might be adept at organizing tasks and resources, and at communicating effectively with team members to ensure that projects are completed successfully.

  1. Introverted Feeling (Fi) is a cognitive function that involves the ability to understand and process one’s own emotions, values, and beliefs. People who are strong in this function are self-aware, independent, and true to their own values and beliefs. They tend to focus inwardly on their own emotions and values, and they are skilled at understanding their own feelings and motivations.

Example: A person who is strong in introverted feeling might be a successful poet who is able to express their own emotions and values through their writing. They might be adept at understanding and exploring their own feelings, and at using their writing to express those emotions in a deeply personal and authentic way.

  1. Introverted Sensing (Si) – This function involves the ability to recall and compare past experiences to inform present actions. People who are strong in this function are reliable, grounded, and detail-oriented.

Example: A person who is strong in introverted sensing might be a successful chef who is able to recall the flavors and textures of various ingredients and use that knowledge to create new dishes.

  1. Introverted Intuition (Ni) – This function involves the ability to foresee and predict the most likely outcome and scenarios, using the whole brain to unconsciously see the hidden patterns and to see the aha moment.

Example: A person with strong Ni can be a visionary business man who foresees potential shift in the market and invest in the right market and products way ahead of his competitors.

  1. Introverted Thinking (Ti) – This function involves the ability to analyze and understand complex systems and concepts. People who are strong in this function are independent, analytical, and logical.

Example: A person who is strong in introverted thinking might be a successful scientist who is able to conduct experiments, analyze data, and develop theories to explain natural phenomena.

  1. Extraverted Feeling (Fe) – This function involves the ability to understand and respond to the emotions of others. People who are strong in this function are outgoing, empathetic, and sensitive to the feelings of others.

Example: A person who is strong in extraverted feeling might be a successful teacher who is able to connect with and understand the emotional needs of their students, and use that understanding to create a positive and supportive learning environment.

I hope the above has shed more light on the various cognitive functions in Jungian psychology & MBTI. Have questions? Feel free to comment below and I will answer promptly!

A Crash Course on MBTI Cognitive Functions

The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is one of the most popular personality tests and frameworks since the 1950s, created by the mother-daughter duo Isabel Myers and Catherine Briggs. Officially licensed under the Myers Briggs Company, the MBTI becomes even more popular due to the proliferation of (questionable) free online tests and generic type descriptions, often known as 16P or 16-personality test.

Why You Should Go Beyond Tests and Type Descriptions

sample results from of an MBTI type
A typical result chart from

As a result, there are generally two levels of understanding that we have seen. In the first group are those who came across the popular 16P personality quiz, or similar sites like These sites peddle a type of personality assessment that simply asks “are you Extroverted or Introverted”, “are you an Intuitive or a Sensor”, “are you a Thinker or a Feeler”, “are you a Judger or a Perceiver” with percentage scores and give you your “MBTI type” based on those results.

It is a dichotomy (“strictly one or the other”) method that leaves much to be desired, because in a dichotomy system, you cannot have balance in your capability for sensing/intuition, or thinking/feeling. The end result is that many test-takers feel like they do not fit the extreme definitions of “introvert” / “extrovert” / “thinker” / “feeler”, because naturally every person is a bit introverted at times, a bit extroverted at times, and uses logic and inner values depending on the situation at hand.

Picture of Carl Jung
Portrait of Carl Jung

In the second group are those who look further back to the origins of the modern MBTI, to the original theory introduced by Carl Jung in his 1921 book “Psychological Types” and expanded by Jungian analysts like John Beebe. Based on this theory, all our psychological thought processes can be categorized into 8 different cognitive functions.

This group also recognizes sixteen different types, but organizes each of the sixteen types by a unique combination of these 8 cognitive functions. It is a more holistic and nuanced understanding of personality types that accounts for the fact that everyone has a bit of everything, and the difference between types lies in the different order of strengths and weaknesses.

Here’s where the confusion arises: both groups have 16 types with the same 16 names, but a very different and incompatible understanding of what defines each of those 16 personality types.

Funny memes: seeing the cognitive functions as savior light in the distince
Have you seen the light of the cognitive-function perspective?

We are firmly in the second group, and we have seen that generally, people in the first group who start to learn about cognitive functions will almost always “see the light” and join the second group, seeing the types through the lens of cognitive functions rather than the simple dichotomies.

Once a person sees the more robust and comprehensive system, they will naturally accept it over the simplistic dichotomies. In writing this post, I hope to bring you from the shallow pools of the 16P and to the real nuts and bolts of Jung’s theory of personality!

What are Jungian/MBTI cognitive functions?

Perception can be done in two ways; it can be in the present, the “here and now” (Sensing) and it can be looking beyond into the future and inferring patterns beneath the surface (Intuition)

Sensing means looking more in to the here-and-now and concrete details instead of abstract patterns

On the other hand, judgement can be also done in two ways; it can be done for quantifiable things, judging value between two black-and-white comparisons (Thinking). It can be also be done for unquantifiable things, judging value in aspects like love or personal values (“do I love Alice or Bob more?”) (Feeling)

So as a result, we have 4 functions (Sensing, Intuition, Thinking, Feeling) and for each of these four functions , there is an introverted and an extroverted version.

Picture of a swimming person to illustrate the idea of introversion vs extroversion
Think of introversion and extroversion like water and land, for introverts, the inner mind is the relaxing land while it takes effort to “swim” in the outer word

The extroverted functions are oriented outwards towards the external world, they are:

  • Extroverted Sensing (Se): Enjoying the finer aspects of life in food, fashion. Being physically in tune with the world
  • Extroverted Intuition (Ne): From one observation, deriving ten different ideas and possibilities
  • Extroverted Thinking (Te): Real-world practicality, results-driven, things that can be written down on a resume
  • Extroverted Feeling (Fe): Being able to “read the room”, attuned to the social atmosphere, tailoring your words to your audience

The introverted functions are oriented inwards towards the subjective personal world

  • Introverted Sensing (Si): Seeing and remembering things as they were in the past, taking things step by step
  • Introverted Intuition (Ni): From ten observations, deriving one single theory that explains everything. Projecting the one future path that most likely will happen
  • Introverted Thinking (Ti): Logical and consistent, having various categories to ensure that everything has its own place in a water-tight system
  • Introverted Feeling (Fi): Having a clear idea of individual desires, values, tastes. Living life authentically without being affected by what the rest of the world does

A more detailed explanation of each of the functions can be found here.

Flow chart of how Jungian psychology branched into the 8 mbti functions
A flow chart that summarizes how Jung theorized the existence of 8 cognitive functions

How to determine the Function Stack of an MBTI Type?

  1. A person’s combination of functions (i.e. the function stack) can’t simply be randomly picked from the list of 8 functions (otherwise we would have 8^8 = 16,777,216 types! There are commonly accepted rules for the positions and pairings of the functions developed by readers of Jung such as Myers Briggs and John Beebe.
  2. Each function has a partner: its “opposite” within the same Judging/Perceiving category.
    • Perceiving function pairs
      • Introverted Intuition (Ni) + Extroverted Sensing (Se) Contextual
      • Extroverted Intuition (Ne) + Introverted Sensing (Si) Universal
    • Judging Function Pairs
      • Introverted Feeling (Fi) + Extroverted Thinking (Te) Contextual
      • Extroverted Feeling (Fe) + Introverted Thinking (Ti) Universal
  3. Every person’s first four function slots are comprised of one Perceiving function pair and one Judging function pair
    • Thus four possible combinations; there are four different ways to pair one Perceiving function pair with one Judging function pair
Ne/Si + Fi/TeNi/Se + Fe/Ti
Ne/Si + Fe/TiNi/Se + Fi/Te
  1. Within a person’s first four function slots, one function pair will occupy the 1st (“Dominant”) and 4th (“Inferior”/”Primitive”) slots. The other function pair will occupy the 2nd (“Auxiliary”) and 3rd (“Tertiary”) slots
  2. Between the Dominant and Auxiliary Functions,
    • There is one extroverted and one introverted
    • There is one perceiving (N/S) and one judging (T/F)

To put everything together, here is an example of how we determine the functions of the ENFP type:

Step 1: Determine the orientation of the dominant function:

First letter tells you the orientation of the dominant function

The first letter “E” means Dominant function is Extroverted






(Intuition or Sensing or Thinking or Feeling)


(Introverted or Extroverted) 

(Intuition or Sensing or Thinking or Feeling

because the dominant function is Extroverted, the Auxiliary function must be Introverted






(Intuition or Sensing or Thinking or Feeling)



(Intuition or Sensing or Thinking or Feeling

Step 2: Use the fourth letter narrows down the extroverted function

Fourth letter “P” means the Extroverted function is a Perceiving function (either N or S)






(Intuition or Sensing)



(Intuition or Sensing or Thinking or Feeling)

because the Extroverted function is a Perceiving function, the Introverted function must be a Judging function (T or F)






(Intuition or Sensing)



(Thinking or Feeling)

 Step 3: Use the second letter to decide whether the person is “Intuition” or “Sensing”

ENFP: “N” stands for Intuition rather than Sensing









(Thinking or Feeling)

 Step 4:  Use the third letter to decide whether the person is “Thinking” or “Feeling”

ENFP: Letter F stands for Feeling rather than Thinking










 Step 5: Determine the tertiary function

Each function has a partner: its “opposite” within the same Judging/Perceiving category.

The Tertiary is simply the function pair of the Auxiliary













 Step 6: Determine the inferior function

The Inferior/Primitive is simply the function pair of the Dominant













Inferior / Primitive



Do you get it? Why not try to apply the same process above to determine the top four cognitive functions of your MBTI function stack? For a quick cheat sheet to look up different types’ stacks, click here.

So I hope you have had a better understanding of the other “deeper” aspect of MBTI and the commonly accepted model of the function stack in each type. This will unlock a more in-depth level of self-understanding for yourself based on your type.

The next step is to relook at your specific function stack and familiarize yourself with the definition and usage of each of these functions. Then, you can reflect on how these functions manifest in your life, then learn the theory further, and repeat. It will be a fulfilling and amazing journey of self-discovery with the aid of MBTI and Jungian functions!


  1. Myers, Isabel Briggs, and Peter B. Myers. Gifts differing: Understanding personality type. Consulting Psychologists Press, 1980.
  2. Beebe, John. Energies and patterns in psychological type: The reservoir of consciousness. Routledge, 2016.
  3. Jung, Carl. Psychological types. Routledge, 2016.

This was a guest article written by CS Ng. For more content from the author, check out here.

A more detailed explanation by him on the function stack can be found here

Cheat Sheet: The Function Stack of Each MBTI Type

The eight cognitive functions

The four extroverted functions are oriented outwards towards the external world, they are:

  • Extroverted Sensing (Se): Enjoying the finer aspects of life in food, fashion. Being physically in tune with the world
  • Extroverted Intuition (Ne): From one observation, deriving ten different ideas and possibilities
  • Extroverted Thinking (Te): Real-world practicality, results-driven, things that can be written down on a resume
  • Extroverted Feeling (Fe): Being able to “read the room”, attuned to the social atmosphere, tailoring your words to your audience

The four introverted functions are oriented inwards towards the subjective personal world

  • Introverted Sensing (Si): Seeing and remembering things as they were in the past, taking things step by step
  • Introverted Intuition (Ni): From ten observations, deriving one single theory that explains everything. Projecting the one future path that most likely will happen
  • Introverted Thinking (Ti): Logical and consistent, having various categories to ensure that everything has its own place in a water-tight system
  • Introverted Feeling (Fi): Having a clear idea of individual desires, values, tastes. Living life authentically without being affected by what the rest of the world does

Cheat sheet: Use this table for quick reference to see which functions are in each type

DominantAuxiliaryTertiaryInferior / Primitive
ISFJIntroverted Sensing (Si)Extroverted Feeling (Fe)Introverted Thinking (Ti)Extroverted Intuition (Ne)
ESFJExtroverted Feeling (Fe)Introverted Sensing (Si)Extroverted Intuition (Ne)Introverted Thinking (Ti)
INTPIntroverted Thinking (Ti)Extroverted Intuition (Ne)Introverted Sensing (Si)Extroverted Feeling (Fe)
ENTPExtroverted Intuition (Ne)Introverted Thinking (Ti)Extroverted Feeling (Fe)Introverted Sensing (Si)
ISTJIntroverted Sensing (Si)Extroverted Thinking (Te)Introverted Feeling (Fi)Extroverted Intuition (Ne)
ESTJExtroverted Thinking (Te)Introverted Sensing (Si)Extroverted Intuition (Ne)Introverted Feeling (Fi)
INFPIntroverted Feeling (Fi)Extroverted Intuition (Ne)Introverted Sensing (Si)Extroverted Thinking (Te)
ENFPExtroverted Intuition (Ne)Introverted Feeling (Fi)Extroverted Thinking (Te)Introverted Sensing (Si)
INFJIntroverted Intuition (Ni)Extroverted Feeling (Fe)Introverted Thinking (Ti)Extroverted Sensing (Se)
ENFJExtroverted Feeling (Fe)Introverted Intuition (Ni)Extroverted Sensing (Se)Introverted Thinking (Ti)
ISTPIntroverted Thinking (Ti)Extroverted Sensing (Se)Introverted Intuition (Ni)Extroverted Feeling (Fe)
ESTPExtroverted Sensing (Se)Introverted Thinking (Ti)Extroverted Feeling (Fe)Introverted Intuition (Ni)
INTJIntroverted Intuition (Ni)Extroverted Thinking (Te)Introverted Feeling (Fi)Extroverted Sensing (Se)
ENTJExtroverted Thinking (Te)Introverted Intuition (Ni)Extroverted Sensing (Se)Introverted Feeling (Fi)
ISFPIntroverted Feeling (Fi)Extroverted Sensing (Se)Introverted Intuition (Ni)Extroverted Thinking (Te)
ESFPExtroverted Sensing (Se)Introverted Feeling (Fi)Extroverted Thinking (Te)Introverted Intuition (Ni)

Thinking and Feeling: Two Distinct Ways of How Our Minds Judge Information Differently

Can I ask if you are left-handed or right-handed? The chance is you are a right-handed person, because it is the majority of our population. How do you know that you are right-handed? It is a very obvious question almost without a need to explain. If we need to break down the reasons, there are three ways you know that your type is a right-handed: 1) The frequency of you using your right hand in a day is higher than your left and 2) Your right hand feels a lot more natural and real and 3) Your right hand will objectively be better at handling heavier objects or more complex tasks. 

That is how you should think about your opposing function of Thinking and Feeling as well. Do keep the above ideas of left and right hand in mind as we further learn about the true definition of Thinking and Feeling in Jungian psychology.

If you are a visual learner, you can also follow this video below:

The definitions

Carl Jung

Besides Introversion and Extroversion, Thinking and Feeling are the second dimension in analytical psychology (the third dimension is Intuition versus Sensing). These concepts were first introduced in the early 20th century by Carl Gustav Jung (1875 – 1961), a famous Swiss psychiatrist who developed the idea of Psychological Types, the precursor to the extremely popular Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test and framework.

My philosophy for Our Human Minds have always been to adhere as much as possible to the original understanding and work of Carl Jung to help readers understand accurately the cognitive functions. It is a longer path, but trust me, it is more rewarding and surer way to achieve more accurate self-understanding than purely taking the online test and read the descriptions of the 16 MBTI personalities!

Unlike left and right hand, Thinking and Feeling preferences in analytical psychology are more distinct, serving very different purposes. Your two hands do not oppose each other, but Thinking and Feeling do by definition. Hence, being aware of them and knowing how to develop your weaker function and learn to make them synchronize holds the potential for not only more productivity but also psychological maturity and wholeness.

The definition of  “Thinking” and “Feeling” in Jungian psychology are easily confused with the more layman definitions that we use in our daily languages. They should not be confused with logic versus emotion. You need to understand them in a more fundamental way, that they are evaluative & rational processes to judge incoming information, whether something is right or wrong, good and bad…

Thinking and Feeling aim to clearly distinguish between the two distinct preferences for decision-making: impersonal versus personal/interpersonal respectively. The easiest way to visualize this difference is in the common stereotype between men versus women in our society. Men are known to prefer to “solve problems” and break down problems “logically” while on the other hand, women simply want to be listened to, to be empathized and understood. 

Thinkers (both men and women) prefer to solve problems objectively

While this is a stereotype, indeed, some of the surveys  have shown that there is a slight preference (55%) among men for Thinking and a strong preference (75%) of women who have a Feeling preference. How much of this is the surveyed individuals’ true preferences and how much is a result of social expectation & conditioning, is for another debate. However, I would like to add that based on this survey, thinking that all men are or have to be super logical or women have to be relationship-oriented is a gross simplification and unfair treatment to both sexes.

To break it down further, thinking manifests itself as preference for using objective and measurable frameworks for clear-cut decision making. It is about using objective criteria, conceptual frameworks, pros and cons, structures, logical systems… People with Thinking preference value and take pride in being efficient, precise, goal and task-oriented. Something is good if it is placed in the right category, gives better measurable results, more efficient etc.

On the other hand, Feeling places stronger emphasis on human’s welfare, values and preferences. As an introverted function, it’s about knowing a strong moral sense of right and wrong, of feeling an urge to help the less fortunate, to be humanitarian, to overcome unfairness and restore equality. Extroverted version is about about maintaining a harmonious atmosphere (when hosting a house party for example), making sure common pleasantries and “civilized” etiquettes are adhered to, while making sure everyone has a good time.

DefinitionImpersonal evaluationInterpersonal and value-based decision-making
Related conceptsobjective criteria, pros and cons, measurable results, conceptual frameworks, logical systemsvalues, morality, harmony, personal preferences, gut feels of right and wrong

Quick Exercise : What is your true preference based on the above definition?
You might need to think about when you are younger or in a more comfortable place at home without any stress of work or “have to” pressure. Social expectation and work stresses might force us to over-compensate to the point of losing sight of who we truly are, like Feeling men are often expected to appear logical and tough, or your jobs have required you to develop your weaker function, even if in your younger years you are the opposite.

Develop Thinking

This section is more relevant for Feeler who has a natural strength in making decisions based on personal values or harmony, but as a result, devoting less consciousness energy in using systemic/impersonal perspectives. We will look at concrete steps that you can take to gradually build up confidence in using the skills and become more holistic in decision making.

Playing a big part of your ego, Feeling – the preference for using value and personal-preference based approach, is part of your identity. The cause that you care about, friends and family, the social connection and status that represent your deepest conviction and meaning of life, are valid. As much as it’s important to acknowledge the other side of the equation, in the end, Thinking should serve in a supporting role and not to dominate your preference for  personal values or interpersonal harmony.

Just like this two-people bike, you should let your dominant function to take the lead and guide the other function, not the other way round!

The development of your weaker functions and achieving wholeness is a life-long quest, so the instruction below serves as a general direction and examples of the kind of steps you can take to develop Thinking.

Remember that the basic definition of Thinking is the use of impersonal systems, framework and measurable results and data. Hence, you can:

  1. Learn from someone close to you who is strong in Thinking like your family members or colleagues. Talk to them more or reflect on the time you guys spend time together. Learn about how they conduct themselves differently, understand why they do it and see if you can learn and integrate some of their techniques or philosophy.
  2. Develop interests in activities that require strong impersonal reasoning and decision making such as chess, finance, computer games…
  3. Integrate productivity tools such as planner, calendar, deadlines and KPIs clearly for both personal work and managing others.
  4. Take courses, read books, watch videos… on productivity, time and project management.
  5. Learn to say No. It’s very natural for Feeler to go with the flow and say yes to keep harmony. Saying No doesn’t mean being harsh or rude if you can explain yourself clearly. It doesn’t have to be black and white either, you can also negotiate what you’d like to do and what you cannot do or you feel is not fair. It’s hard at first, but it’s an essential skill that will go a long way!

Knowing other ways to develop your Thinking side that can help other readers? Feel free to comment below!

Develop Feeling

This is more relevant to Thinking dominant type. Again, it’s important that you acknowledge and embrace your identity as a Thinker and develop Feeling as a support for a more holistic decision making process. Your Thinking function should still be in the driver seat!

  1. Find friends, family or colleagues who you know well and you are fairly certain they are stronger in Feeling. Get to know them more and reflect on how they conduct things differently and see whether you can integrate some of their physiology and methods to your daily life.
  2. Engage in reflective activities like meditation, arts, writing… to reflect on your values and what’s important to you. Remember, it’s a gradual process that requires patience and regular practices.
  3. Engage in social activities and roles that you have to interact more with people. Recognise some of your biases and see it from a more positive light when it comes to social relationships. 
  4. Immerse yourself in nature, away from distraction of work and technology, to hear and embrace your inner voices, values and feelings.

Are you a Thinker that has other ways that work? Feel free to share below.

I hope you now have a clearer understanding of the distinction between these rational dimensions of Thinking versus Feeling. In reality, these two preferences never exist as standalone in a healthy person’s psyche but work in tandem. But since they are mutually exclusive/cancelling out, it’s natural to prioritize and put your conscious energy into one while “send to exile” the other, giving little conscious energy to nourish and maintain it.

If possible, you should learn further about how Introversion and Extroversion are combined with Thinking and Feeling to give rise to 4 distinct Cognitive Processes/Functions: Introverted Thinking, Extroverted Thinking, Introverted Feeling and Extroverted Feeling. This breakdown will bring in a whole new level of depth and opportunities for self-understanding and development. Good luck!


Type Fundamentals Guide @mbti-notes

Psychological types by CG. Jung