Rethinking Judging & Perceiving in IPs & IJs

By Dr. A.J. Drenth

There is no shortage of INFPs who think they are INFJs, nor of INTPs who think they are INTJs. While these types may seem quite similar at first glance, sharing three of four preferences, they actually share NONE of the same functions. Take a look for yourself:

INFP (Fi-Ne-Si-Te) vs. INFJ (Ni-Fe-Ti-Se)

INTP (Ti-Ne-Si-Fe) vs. INTJ (Ni-Te-Fi-Se)

The fact that INFPs and INFJs (as well as INTPs and INTJs) have no functions in common means that they don’t merely differ in degree (e.g., “He is a bit more “J” than I am.”) but in kind; they are qualitatively distinct. So while INFPs and INFJs may display some similarities as “Idealists,” or INTPs and INTJs as “Rationals,” they are really more different than folks like David Keirsey are willing to admit. As we will see, in many ways, IPs are more like Judgers and IJs are more like Perceivers. IPs’ inner world mirrors how EJs present outwardly, while IJs’ inner world resembles the outer presentation of EPs.

Judging-Perceiving Confusion in IPs & IJs

My True Type BookAs discussed in my recent eBook, My True Type, the Judging and Perceiving dimension is probably the most confusing and misunderstood of the Myers-Briggs dichotomies. Jung himself did not use a J-P indicator for describing the types. The J-P indicator (i.e., the last letter of the four-letter type designation) was added by Myers and Briggs as a sort of short-hand way of labeling the types. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of this and take the J-P label to mean something it does not. In actuality, the J-P label merely describes whether the first extraverted function in a given type’s functional stack is a Judging function (either Te or Fe) or a Perceiving function (either Ne or Se).

The J-P labeling system actually works fine for Extraverts, since their first extraverted function is also their dominant function. Hence, there is no confusion, for instance, in calling an ENFP a Perceiver or an ENTJ a Judger. This very accurately describes the dominant mode of operation for these types.

For introverted types, however, the J-P label can be a source of great confusion and misunderstanding. This is due to the fact that introverts’ first extraverted function is their auxiliary rather than their dominant function. Because of this, the J-P designation of IPs and IJs fails to describe their dominant mode of functioning. Namely, IPs’ preferred and dominant mode of functioning is Judging (Fi or Ti) and IJs’ is Perceiving (Si or Ni). This is why IPs commonly mistype themselves as IJs and vice-versa. To summarize:

Extraverts:  Since their first extraverted function is also their dominant function, the J-P label aptly describes their dominant mode of functioning.

Introverts:  Since their first extraverted function is their auxiliary function, the J-P label belies their dominant mode of functioning.

To better understand these Judging-Perceiving issues, consider the following discussion of the J-P characteristics of the various types:

EPs: EPs might be considered the “purest” Perceivers of all the Myers-Briggs types. Not only do they display Perceiving in their outer behavior and demeanor (e.g., open, adaptable, receptive), but their dominant function (Ne or Se) is also a Perceiving function.

EJs: EJs might be considered the “purest” Judging types. Not only do they display Judging in their outer behavior and demeanor (e.g., assertive, intentional, directive, opinionated), but their dominant function (Te or Fe) is also a Judging function.

IPs: IPs are a mix of J-P characteristics. Since their dominant function is a Judging function (Ti or Fi), they are inner Judgers. IPs are far more serious inwardly than they appear outwardly. Rather than remaining open to new information like healthy EPs, they feel driven to move toward closure and to have things settled in their minds like EJs. They want to hammer down what they believe in order to have a platform from which to make important decisions about their lives. When their beliefs shaken into state of uncertainty, IPs tend to feel unsettled, aimless, and anxious. This anxiety prompts them to avidly locate answers so they can return to a point of comfortable closure and intentional action.

IPs are also like EJs in that they tend to think in terms of what they should be doing. They like to set goals for themselves (especially INPs), even if they rarely end up sticking to them. They tend to approach life with an agenda or a certain set of expectations. Upon waking, they consciously work to determine what they want to/should do and then initiate the process. At least when it comes to initiating tasks, IPs are as disciplined as any EJ.

It is only after starting a task that IPs can get sidetracked and start looking more like EPs. This is understandable when we examine IPs’ functional stack. They start off with a judgment (Fi or Ti), which impels them to begin work on a task. Once started, however, the next function in their stack is a Perceiving function (Ne or Se), which may lead them to get distracted or sidetracked, even to the point of losing sight of their original purpose (this is why IPs are sometimes said to lack follow-through or staying power.). This can be frustrating for IPs, since the endpoint or “goal” of their functional stack (i.e., their inferior function) is to reach a state of judgment or closure (Fe or Te). This helps to explain why IPs may at times be sloppy or careless in their work, since they are driven by a desire for closure. It also explains why IPs may resist being interrupted in the middle of a project, fearing this could hinder them from reaching a conclusion or endpoint. And since IPs like to be in control of both starting and finishing what their projects, they cannot rightly be considered spontaneous in the way that EPs are, at least not with respect to responding to other people. Just as EJs are sometimes viewed as outer control freaks, IPs have their own inner control freak.

We might summarize IPs’ process in the following way:

J Starting point: Ti or Fi (“I should or want to do…”)

Move into auxiliary (P): Ne or Se (may get sidetracked or distracted here)

Desired J Endpoint: Fe or Te closure

Visually, this process resembles a diamond. IPs start with a specific objective (Ti or Fi), diverge outwardly (Se or Ne), then work to reign in this expansion and bring it toward a point of closure (Fe or Te). A similar process would be seen among EJ types. Also note that the above process is the optimal way for IPs to function. In many cases, they can be in such a hurry to reach closure that they essentially forgo the P process between their two J endpoints. Elaine Schallock has dubbed this “jumping the (functional) stack.”

Like EJs, IPs can also be prone to labeling many Perceiving activities “a waste of time.” This may lead them to consider IJs or EPs as lazy and unproductive. But at some level, IPs, especially when faced with an overwhelming mental “to-do” list, may envy IJs’ and EPs’ ability to just relax and Perceive. Some IPs simply don’t know how to relax or “do nothing.” Their minds are constantly thinking ahead to what they could do next.

In sum, IPs prefer inner closure because it allows them to act with a sense of conviction and intentionality. At times, however, this can lead them to prematurely truncate Perceiving, which can lead to errors in judgment; they are willing to risk some degree of accuracy for the sake of swift closure. This is consistent with the notion of Judging types “jumping to conclusions.”

IJs: IJs are also a mix of J-P characteristics. Outwardly, they look like Judgers. They can be assertive and opinionated, even resembling EJ types. But since their dominant function is a Perceiving function (Ni or Si), they are inner Perceivers. Indeed, they are dominant Perceivers. So in reality, IJs are far less serious, closed, or judgmental than they may appear outwardly.

While IPs are inwardly controlling, IJs inner world is characterized by openness and allowing. Assuming they are not coerced by outside obligations, IJs are not inclined to impose rules or agendas on themselves. Unlike IPs, who start the day with a Judging mindset (Ti or Fi), IJs prefer a more leisurely and perceptive approach (Ni or Si), allowing their Judging process (Fe or Te) emerge organically or spontaneously rather than intentionally. Therefore, when it comes to initiating the Judging process, IJs may procrastinate as long as EPs.

Once their Judging process is initiated, however, IJs begin to look more like Judging types. They may, for instance, suddenly feel compelled to write a blog post, compose a song, or solve a problem. While IPs’ transition from their dominant to auxiliary function is one of increasing divergence, IJs’ more toward greater convergence (Te or Fe). But unlike IPs, who prefer to finish with closure, IJs hope to end in a state of openness (Se or Ne). Visually, IJs’ process resembles an hourglass moving from openness (P) to closure (J) and back to openness (P):

P Starting point: Ni or Si

Move into J auxiliary: Te or Fe

Desired P Endpoint: Se or Ne

Like EPs, IJs may struggle when it comes to starting tasks or projects. Just as it is difficult for IPs and EJs to artificially initiate Perceiving, it can be hard for IJs and EPs to intentionally jumpstart their Judging process. IJs and EPs commonly experience “dry spells,” periods where they lack the motivation or inspiration to start work on a creative project. For this reason, they may at times envy IPs’ and EJs’ ability to actively initiate their work. While IJs and EPs love to Perceive, there are times when they would love to get something done but end up feeling frustrated because of insufficient motivation to engage their Judging process.

One of the strengths of the IJ approach, however, is its concern for accuracy. Since they don’t experience the same need for closure as IPs do, they are less apt to inwardly jump to conclusions. They prioritize accuracy more than promptness, quality over quantity. In fact, their penchant for accuracy is a chief contributor to their propensity for perfectionism. Perfectionism can compromise IJs’ ability to finish their work in a timely fashion; this is especially true when engaging in creative work. Since IJs can struggle with both starting and finishing projects, it can be all too easy for them to cling to a state of perpetual Perceiving, even if envying types who seem to be “accomplishing” more.

For a comprehensive look at J-P dynamics, be sure to check out my newest book, My True Type: Clarifying Your Personality Type, Preferences, & Functions:

My True Type Book


Related Posts:

Rethinking Judging & Perceiving Part II: Convergence & Closure

The Functional Stack & Type Theory

Personality Junkie Home


  1. Leslie says

    I love the fact you wrote a book about this. This is perhaps one of the most common misconceptions about the MBTI in itself. Most of the tests, as I’m sure you know, are set up to give you a J or P based on being extroverted. I have actually tested this theory by changing some of the answers so they were extroverted instead of introverted and it doesn’t register in the change in the P/J at all. I am an INFJ and my mother is an INFP.

  2. says

    rear camera + (Personal Computers) So, you’re thkining of buying an iPad however, you’re not so sure of what it can do and how it works. So, here is the Dummies Guide to the iPad to help you make that decision. I promise to keep the jargon down to a bare minimum )To begin with the iPad must be paired to an existing Laptop or Desktop PC. These can be normal Microsoft Windows or Mac PC’s. Once paired you can use the iPad by itself. It only has to be paired once. Although, there is a rumour that the next generation will work straight out of the box.You will be able to:-Touch and pinch the screen to type words and move things around-Send and Receive Emails-Browse the Internet including Online Banking, Internet Shopping and more -Listen to Music, including the Radio when there is a Wireless (Wi-Fi) connection-Watch Videos and Movies-Write and Print Letters (see the section on Printing’ further down)-Download and Play Games-Become a Smarter Person (more on this later)-Display Pictures it is an electronic Picture Frame too!-Take Pictures and Movies, if it has the onboard camera (iPad2 and newer)-Have a chat with the relatives abroad using Video Conferencing technology-Download THOUSANDS of books into a snazzy Book Reader that you can actually turn pages on the screen with-There are loads more I’ll leave them as a surprise if you decide to buy one You will NOT be able to:-Watch a special type of animation or movie using a technology known as Flash’ don’t worry about this though, you’ll hear lots of people complaining about it. It really is no big deal and you’ll learn to live without it. Over time, many of the popular web sites will move away from using Flash and use a newer technology that DOES work on iPads.-Insert a CD (there is no slot and you don’t actually need one)-In fact, there is not much else you can’t do with an iPad )THE WIZARDSNo, not the ones’ from Oz! Wizards are helpful programs that magically pop up and automatically configure things like the Internet and Email connections for you. The iPad has more Wizards than you can wave a wand at! When you first switch it on and whenever you need to set something up it will automatically present you with a Wizard. Therefore setting things up is as easy as 1-2-3.The iPad is also an iPod!! Loading music is done in one of two ways.1 install the free version of iTunes onto your normal PC and follow the Wizards instructions to download your music from the iTunes Store’ or transfer your music from your favourite CD collection. Then, connect the iPad to your computer using the supplied cable and it will automatically Synchronise’ your music to the iPad. Yup, you guessed it using yet another Wizard!2 iTunes is a built in application (or App) on the iPad itself. Tap this App to search for and download your music directly to the iPad. You could even download a movie or your favourite episode of 24 too!Once the music is on there just tap the iPod App to listen to it. Easy-Peasy!APPSThe iPad extensively uses Apps. Apps are downloaded, using Wi-Fi. This is why you don’t need a CD drive. These are the icons that are displayed on the screen.Apps are downloaded from the Internet using yet another App called: The App Store . Tap this icon to search for or see a list of the most popular Apps available, some are paid for and some are free! Tap the Install’ button next to the one you’d like, follow the Wizards instructions and the App will automatically download and appear as a new icon on the screen.LOADING PICTURESThese can be loaded onto the iPad using iTunes, Email or the Camera Connection Kit’ this is a separate adaptor (a325) that plugs into the bottom of the iPad. Just insert the memory card from your camera into the adaptor and it will automatically load the pictures into the built in Photo App.THE PICTURE FRAMEWhen the iPad is locked (by pressing the button on the top-right side) and then back on again, you’ll see a little icon in the lower right side corner of the display. Tap this and the Photo App will automatically display your pictures in full screen mode, converting the iPad into a digital Photo frame! It is a great feature. This means that you can leave the ipad on the shelf, literally as part of your rooms decor! You may want to purchase a Dock (a325)’ to have the iPad tilted and supported at just the right angle.Tip: if you need a reason to justify buying an iPad to your wife use the Picture Frame one!!PRINTINGPrinting is done wirelessly, however you MUST use one of the wireless printers detailed on the website. Typically, it will not print to anything other than one of those printers. There is one

  3. Josephine says

    This is the best description of P/J that I’ve ever read. Thanks for posting. I’ve been learning about / ruminating upon cognitive functions for about five years now and I have always been frustrated by my lack of understanding of the Myers-Briggs P/J dimension. It seems like it might be time to drop the old Myers-Briggs terminology. From a function stack perspective, the E/I and P/J dimensions are unnecessary and confusing. – Josephine (ENFP)

  4. Katy says

    “IPs are far more serious inwardly than they appear outwardly. Rather than remaining open to new information like healthy EPs, they feel driven to move toward closure and to have things settled in their minds like EJs. They want to hammer down what they believe in order to have a platform from which to make important decisions about their lives. When their beliefs shaken into state of uncertainty, IPs tend to feel unsettled, aimless, and anxious.”

    Aha! That resonates with me entirely. It’s just as you say: on the interior, I’m a J type, firm and resolved in what I believe. My mind is “strict”. People don’t often pick up on that. I’m an INFP, and my biggest MBTI pet peeve, perhaps, is the plethora of INFP stereotypes that just aren’t true of me or many of my fellow INFPs.

    Just the other day I was in an MBTI group on Facebook. A girl I’d never before encountered said, “There’s no way you’re an INFP! I think there’s a serious mistype here.” She was apparently an ENFP and sold on the idea that all FiNes are fluffy little flower children, essentially the NeFis’ shy, kawaii cousins. She said she didn’t get a warm Fi vibe from me, that I came off as “insensitive”. I rolled my eyes, of course, and attempted to explain to her the nuanced effects of lead Ji. My best friend is an INTP, so she knows how it is. When we’re in public together, we can always tell the kind of internal judgment the other is making; often, we’ve both arrived at the same judgment, so we both roll our eyes, smirk or giggle to ourselves. We must seem so condescending or, for lack of better word, judgmental to others, but it’s rarely anything personal. We’re two perceivers, but we operate like judgers.

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