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.

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 what naturally come to you when you were younger (as a teenager or young adult) and 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”, “ should” adaptive behaviors.

Introversion – Extroversion (I – E)

  1. Learn about the fundamentals through the video above.
  2. Are you able to decide on your preference based on the video?
    If you are still undecided or 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.

INtuition – Sensing (N – S)

  1. Learn about the fundamentals through the video above.
  2. Are you able to decide on your preference based on the video?
    If you are still undecided or want 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.

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 are still undecided or 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.

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?
    If you are still undecided or want better clarity, go to step 3 below.
  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 exercise has been helpful and educational for you. How is your result? Do you have any feedback on its accuracy? Leave a comment below!

Jung’s 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!

Quick Crash Course on MBTI Cognitive Functions & Function Stacks

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: Function Stack of Each MBTI Type

The 8 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)

Are You A Thinker Or Feeler?

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

How To Motivate An Introverted Employee

Do you have an employee who gave the first impression that they are a very thoughtful, creative, and smart person?  Even though this person can produce high-quality work from time to time, they seem a bit distant and uncommunicative or even arrogant…

The chances are your new employee is an introvert!  You wish there was a way to motivate them and make that employee more productive and communicative.  The solution is first to understand how and why they are different, to realize that their minds are made-up differently from the mind of an extrovert.  

Introversion versus extroversion:

The basic definition of introversion versus extroversion is that extroverts are more comfortable with and prefer to direct their mental energy toward the outside world, other people, or objects.  In contrast, introverts tend to prefer living in the world of their minds and their thoughts.  When introverts are forced into a team or a very crowded environment for too long, the situation will deplete their energy, and they will become very drained. 

Introverts gain energy from the comfort of their inner thoughts and feelings

Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung (1875 – 1961) was the first to distinguish extroversion and introversion, the two major orientations of personality.  We continue to learn from Jung’s findings and ongoing psychoanalytical research leads to greater understanding of personality types to help managers in the workplace.

Cognitive sciences have discovered two main ways that introverted minds are different:

1.    Introverts process incoming information more slowly because they filter information thoroughly before considering the input. Their neural pathway to process information is longer than that of extroverts.  This is because they use the parasympathetic side of the brain, and the pathways are much longer, meaning they need more time for the information to be processed.  Hence introverts can easily become over-stimulated with too much external information from the environment. 

Scientists can detect the differences between introvert and extrovert babies as early as four months old. Extroverts easily take stimulation because the two parts of the brain they use have a much smaller pathway than introverts. This neurological difference explains why extroverts tend to be active and action-oriented, actively seeking out stimulating experiences. While, in contrast, introverts tend to be more idiosyncratic in their preference for a slower and manageable pace.

Scientists can detect introverted babies as early as 4-month old!

2. The second difference is that because the part of the brain used to process information and the part of the brain connected to communication and processing verbal input are quite separated in introverts.  Hence, they can go on for long periods of time without talking or communicating with other people.   Conversely, an extrovert will get the juices flowing, think, and speak at the same time.  They will enjoy brainstorming with other people, thinking and talking simultaneously.  

So, when you know these differences, you can begin to understand why there are behavioral differences between introvert and extrovert team members.  You see, it’s not that your introverted employee is having an attitude or trying to be distant on purpose; it’s just how their brain works.

How to spot an introverted employee

They tend to be

  1. Calm: He or she exudes a calming presence.
  2. Listeners: They tend to listen more than they talk.  This is especially noticeable in a team meeting when they appear more reflective.
  3. Having subdued Dress Style: Introverts tend to dress subtly.  Their clothing is usually understated, preferring dark colors.  They don’t want to stand out too much.  Compare this with extroverted employees who dress in more vibrant, outstanding colors and styles.

In fact, a lot of people think that introverts are a minority in the population.  However, many surveys have shown that introverts and extroverts are actually about 50/50 in a population.

The reason they seem to be the minority is that they don’t compete with the extroverts for attention.  They don’t speak up that much, preferring to think through the information before voicing an opinion.  They’re the silent half of the population! Another possible explanation is that many introverts would put on an “extrovert mask” on social settings to blend in better (even if it’s pretty draining), giving the impression that there are ways more extroverts to the untrained eyes.

Introverts bring unique strengths to the team

Now you know the differences between introverts and extroverts, you can appreciate the unique strengths of the introverted employee:

  • Because they spend more time reflecting and coming up with something that is truly unique, you can expect their work to be more creative and original.
  • You can also expect them to be thorough and meticulous because they think things through and process a lot of information inside their head before they talk about and show the result.   
  • Lastly, introverts have high moral principles.  Most of the time, introverts value their integrity and authenticity very highly.  It’s a useful attribute to balance the team in the workplace, especially against the fast-paced and cut-throat cultures of many workplaces nowadays.

How to motivate the introverted employee

So, how do you as a manager nurture and encourage better productivity and motivation from an introverted employee?  There are four ways you can do it:

1. When you assign them some work or a task, give them a lot of upfront information so they can process it, but then give them space.  There is this golden rule of two to forty-eight hours, depending on the complexity of the task, that works very well with introverts.  Give your introverted employee the time to think through all the input and process the information. In return, they will give you very thorough and very considered work results. 

2.  The second way you can help them is to complement their weaknesses.  Since they are a more reflective and somewhat individualistic employee, you can support them with your own strengths or that of another team member:

For example, you can provide them with social connections to others in the team.  Because it’s usual that introverts find it challenging to initiate social contact themselves, you can quickly introduce them to other team members.  By introducing them to other stakeholders that are relevant o the project, you help them to be able to touch base and integrate into the team.

You can assist an introverted employee by introducing him or her to other stakeholders/coworkers

3. You can assist them by giving clear deadlines and KPI expectations.  Because introverts are so reflective and usually perfectionistic, they are not good with deadlines.  So, you need to be clear regarding when you need the result.   When you have clear KPIs, they are certain of your expectations, and you can best optimize their thought process and creativity.

4.   Lastly, keep your introverted employee motivated.  Once they have finished their work, it’s important to praise the work, but moderately, because they can easily detect unnecessary and superfluous compliments.   So give them the praise that they deserve for their originality and creativity.  Praise them for their hard work and their meticulousness.  This valid, genuine praise will be a sure way to make sure you keep your introverted employee happy and motivated.


When you are aware of introverted characteristics you are better able to manage introverted team members.  Doing so is a case of considering how the different personality types function.  Introverted employees are motivated by receiving information in advance of meetings, enabling them to think about the content prior to the meeting.  Introverts will also think about ideas and get back to you later with their contributions.  A manager who considers personality types of the whole team are rewarded with wider contributions and a happier team.  


Intuition vs Sensing: Two Distinct Ways Our Mind Takes In Information

The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality test and framework have popularized the concepts of extroversion, introversions and the cognitive processes that you probably have heard of: Thinking vs Feeling, Intuition vs Sensing. However, these concepts were first introduced in the early 20th century by Carl Gustav Jung (1875 – 1961), a famous Swiss psychiatrist who founded analytical psychology.

Understand the fundamentals of these processes is crucial for any further learning and reading of MBTI-related theories and Jungian psychology. At the very least, you will be able to decipher the various functions that make up your personality type and how they interact together to form your unique cognitive patterns.

So let’s dive in to the first pairs of two opposite processes: Intuition and Sensing! If you prefer to watch instead of reading, below is a detailed video explanation I have made on the same topic:

The Definitions

This dichotomy is how we perceive and make sense of information, either in a dominantly concrete or abstract manner.

Concrete information is tangible sensory information, something that you can feel, see, taste, hear. With regards to time, it’s also related to what is here and now, what’s currently going on in society and most immediate environment. Jung termed this process of accessing concrete information: sensing and those with this preference are called sensors

Abstract information is intangible conceptual information, such as reading between the lines, metaphors, meaning behind things, future possibilities … The person likes to think far ahead, using past data to foresee future outcomes and behaviors. The process of using abstract perception is termed Intuition and the people who prefer it over sensing are called intuitives.

We both can use sensing and intuition at will, we have preference to prioritize one over the other. Our preferred side is more dominant, natural, and more developed like the left and right hand. Sensors are generally better at noticing and remembering details of a discussion while intuitives often only remember the key points or vibe. 

 Intuition dominantSensing dominant
How an intuitive and sensor notice a book in bookshop differently (in order
of what the person see first)
Essence of what’s it about
Relevance to me
Seem a bit worn out
Eww one corner is torn off!
The cover design is corny
What is it about?
Example of how an intuitive and sensing person would notice an object differently

According to statistical studies, Sensors significantly outnumber Intuitives in the general population.(70-75% of the population are sensors). It is a big advantage if you are aware of the sensing-intuitive difference because this dichotomy is often a common source of misunderstanding in work and personal relationships.

Sensors look for concrete facts and details and take things as they are and work with them. Intuitives look for abstract patterns and connections because they prefer to deal with the potential of objects, believing that reality can be different or changed, with a hopeful lens for the future. Sensors are more realistic and grounded while intuitives are more idealistic.

When Sensors intuit for too long, they feel impatient with too much theory and abstract thoughts. Meanwhile, intuitives can easily be put off by feeling forced to explain or sequence “every little detail” and would rather get back to entertaining new or interesting possibilities to restore equilibrium to their personality.

Evolutionary and social roles

Many would think that Intuition – the ability for more abstract thinking should exist only in humans or modern humans but the truth is both Intuition and Sensing exist in animals too. A lot of animals are known for their gut feeling or ability to memorise patterns (like salmon or birds that migrate thousands of miles to the places they are born). Of course, abstract thinking is more pronounced in humans because we have developed tools like languages and the concept of time, which significantly boosts our capacity for abstract thinking.

Any MBTI types are capable of both, as mentioned above. The average humans, regardless of types, are capable of comprehending and using way more abstraction than any other species on planet earth. I suspect that the part of Intuition and Sensing in our brains are pretty distinctive and mutually exclusive. However, why don’t we all evolve to become abstract thinkers? 

Because both ways of thinking are important to get any society or any project to function. It is a matter of spectrum. For example, Einstein came up with the E=MC2 formula, which is an example of highly abstract work! But society don’t just exist out of a formula! We need to further “concretize” the abstraction into practical and applicable tasks – the realm of Sensing. We further apply it to build space craft, atomic bomb… then we need people who like to take specific instruction on how to make that part of the space craft, what color is the craft, what materials is it made of… down to the smallest details!

What does it mean for you?

I hope the overview above gives you a more accurate and objective view of the two primary modes of information perception in the population. Keep it in mind when you interact next with other people and see if you can tell if they are sensors or intuitives. Two people of the same types will have an easier time communicating while you should be a bit more mindful of people who do not share the same preference. In essence, intuitive people love abstract and somewhat theoretical discussion while sensing-dominant people want to know the details and concrete steps.

No preference is better than the others. We have our respective social roles and strengths and weaknesses. In particular, if you are an intuitive, you might be the minority but with great potential for big-pictured thoughts and acquisition of abstract and innovative information. If you ever feel misunderstood or broken in some ways cause you are not in tune or don’t care about the latest social trends or norms, it’s ok. There are other people like you and there are exciting discovery ahead when things start to make sense and you will finally discover your true identity and purpose, even if it takes slightly longer than usual.