The Eight Functions (Typology 201)

By Dr. A.J. Drenth

In Typology 101, we provided an overview of the eight Myers-Briggs preferences (E, I, S, N, T, F, J, P). While the preferences can be helpful for determining your personality type and gaining a basic understanding of the ingredients that make up the types, they do not give us the whole story. Among other things, we also need to explore the eight functions. In this post, we will do just that, providing an introduction and overview of the eight functions.

According to Jung, Sensing, Intuition, Thinking, and Feeling can be directed inwardly (i.e., “introverted”) or outwardly (i.e., “extraverted”). When introverted, these functions are largely concealed and unobservable by others. When extraverted, they are more easily observed from without. Here is a list of the eight functions:

Introverted Sensing (Si)
Introverted Intuition (Ni)
Introverted Thinking (Ti)
Introverted Feeling (Fi)

Extraverted Sensing (Se)
Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
Extraverted Thinking (Te)
Extraverted Feeling (Fe)

Introverted (Si, Ni, Ti, Fi) & Extraverted Functions (Se, Ne, Te, Fe)

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Just as all the extraverted personality types have certain traits in common, so too with the extraverted functions. Their first and most obvious commonality is their outward direction. They are also characteristically broad in their scope compared to the introverted functions (just as extraverts are more outgoing and expansive in their dealings than introverts). The introverted functions, by contrast, are narrower in scope (just as introverts are apt to have narrower or more focused interests or activities than extraverts). Whatever the introverted functions may lack in extensiveness, however, they make up for in depth.

Extraverted Functions

  • Directed outwardly (observable by others)
  • Broad in scope; extensive

Introverted Functions

  • Directed inwardly (concealed from others)
  • Narrow in scope; deep and intensive

While we soon explore each of the eight functions in greater depth, here is a quick look at how this E-I difference manifests in the various functions:

Extraverted Sensing (Se) seeks extensive outward stimulation—new sights, sounds, tastes, experiences, etc.

Introverted Sensing (Si) draws on past personal experience, the “tried and true,” making it unnecessary to constantly seek new or broad experiences.

Extraverted Intuition (Ne) explores new ideas, patterns, and possibilities in the outside world. Since Ne springboards off existing ideas and theories, Ne types often read extensively in order to acquire a broad or diverse understanding.

Introverted Intuition (Ni) apprehends ideas, patterns, and perspectives that emerge within. INJs may feel less compelled to read extensively, since their source of N material is inwardly derived and divined.

Extraverted Thinking (Te) seeks to make external operations more rational and efficient. Its “standardized” methods can be broadly applied to make nearly any organization or enterprise more rational.

Introverted Thinking (Ti) is concerned with inner rationality and personal effectiveness. Its methods are more individualized and therefore less broadly applicable than those of Te.

Extraverted Feeling (Fe) surveys a breadth of human feeling. Its goal is to cultivate interpersonal harmony among people.

Introverted Feeling (Fi) is concerned with inner harmony. Whereas Fe focuses on interpersonal matters, Fi is intrapersonal. Its focus is on personal values, preferences, and feelings, largely independent of others.

The Judging (Ti, Te, Fi, Fe) & Perceiving Functions (Si, Se, Ni, Ne)

We can also divide the eight functions according to whether they are Judging or Perceiving functions. Namely, the Thinking (Ti, Te) and Feeling (Fi, Fe) functions are Judging functions, while the Sensing (Si, Se) and Intuition (Ni, Ne) functions are considered Perceiving functions.

The Perceiving functions are responsible for taking in or retrieving information. Observing birds, smelling flowers, reading novels, and recalling something from memory are examples of Perceiving activities. Unlike the Judging functions, the Perceiving functions are not concerned with actively shaping or controlling, but with absorbing life and information.

Perceiving functions

The Judging functions allow us to make decisions and draw conclusions based on received information. They are related to a desire to control, predict, order, or otherwise actively shape the course of things. When using our Judging process, we often close ourselves off to new information (i.e., we shut down Perceiving) in our desire to move toward an answer, decision, or objective.

Judging functions

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