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

As discussed in my e-book, The 16 Personality Types, 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.

(This Personality Junkie Post is continued on the next page.)



  1. Jon says

    One of the best ways to understand the pure function-types is to stop using the dumb tests and their simplistic 4-letter dichotomies to determine type.

    I/E and J/P don’t correlate with functions.

    Regarding I/E, there’s absolutely nothing preventing someone with a dominant introverted function from behaving in an outgoing and social manner. Likewise for those with dom ext. functions acting reserved or withdrawn. In addition to that, Fe is really the only function that has anything directly to do with social dynamics. Being dom Se, for example, means the person will be very preferentially drawn to their physical surroundings but that says absolutely nothing about their orientation toward socializing with other people. So many ways to mistype people if we foolishy try and determine dom. function by the pop-psych definition of extroversion.

    J/P has far more to do with your occupation, lifestyle, personal mentality and habits than anything with your function order. It strongly correlates with Big5 Conscientiousness. Are those people who have a dom or aux Je (Te, Fe) function going to be more orderly and rule-abiding? Maybe yes in some cases, no in other cases. Depends on the person and their unique circumstances. In addition to that, not all of the Pi/Je functions are created equally in terms of how rule/order-oriented they are. Ni and Fe are particularly less than Te and Si. Yes, an ExTJ is probably going to be very “J” but an INFJ??? We could go 50/50 on that. Using these either/or dichotomies foolishly omits all of the nuances inherent in function dynamics.

    Casually “typing” people by outwardly-expressed traits is extremely inaccurate in terms of trying to ascertain their functions. People are very adaptable in terms of how they present a persona to a specific environmental context. It takes someone who has many years of training with understanding the functions in order to contextualize all the little nuances enough to be able to spot them in other people.

  2. E says

    I need to slow down and read this over and over. I’m sifting for the points that prove one theory over the other and then get frustrated finding not anything cumulatively convincing for my case. I leave this alone but when something provokes it, I’m poured into it.
    My problem is, with the purely CF approach to J/P differences, I can’t quite wrap my head around where J and P behavior applies. Externally and internally. So, in…social/work interaction do we find the J/P difference? Or in personal life like the work desk, the house, etc? Okay, the latter question is more focused on the traditional J/P differences.
    I visualize it as such. The interaction with other people, in whatever place/situation that may be, is where it will reveal itself. Which, honestly, this won’t be so hard if I wasn’t kinda a nut with my few select friends(more or less(I don’t rely on them emotionally whatsoever except one but we’re exactly alike)). So does that mean inner Perceiving? Have they’ve passed my serious exterior?
    …Or am I more comfortable being Perceiving but I’m still holding in my more cerebral side? With the general public, I’m cooler and indifferent. But that could be attributed to downright being an introvert, too.
    *shrug* The more I search for answers, the more anxiety. If I just relax and believe it will one day hit me (ideally, sometime within the next couple months), I feel much better. I got better things to overly J about.
    Beginning of the tunnel or the middle….*That* is the question.

    • Ariana says

      I think you have to look at the specific function in question. J and P are not preferences in themselves, but represent specific cognitive functions, such as Extraverted Thinking (a Judging preference) or Introverted Sensing (a Perceiving preference). To simplify, someone with a P at the end of their MBTI type will have either an Intuitive or Sensing preference as their 1st & dominant cognitive function. Someone with a J at the end of their MBTI type will have either a Thinking or Feeling preference as their 1st and dominant preference. These preferences don’t so much determine when a person seems J or P as much as they determine how a person thinks in general.

      Studying the cognitive functions helps to clear up a lot of J/P confusion.

    • Ariana says

      Sorry, I put some misinformation in there. When talking about Introverts, MBTI type switches the P & J. So for Introverts, a P at the end means that they have a primary J function, and a J at the end means they have a primary P function. But for extraverts, what you see is what you get.