There are two ways of conceiving Judging and Perceiving within the Myers-Briggs framework. One is the preference approach, which essentially indicates whether we outwardly display (i.e., extravert) Judging (J) or Perceiving (P) attitudes and behaviors.
The second approach is to think in terms of Judging and Perceiving functions. Type theory classifies Thinking (Ti, Te) and Feeling (Fi, Fe) as Judging functions, while Intuition (Ni, Ne) and Sensing (Si, Se) are considered Perceiving functions.
As discussed in my book, My True Type, we must also take note of the structure and ordering of the J and P functions within the function stack. We find two primary J-P function architectures among the 16 personality types:
As the figure indicates, IP types (INFP, INTP, ISFP, ISTP) and EJ types (ENFJ, ENTJ, ESFJ, ESTJ) exhibit a “J-P-J” function structure, while IJ types (INFJ, INTJ, ISFJ, ISTJ) along with EP types (ENFP, ENTP, ESFP, ESTP) show a “P-J-P” pattern.
Implications for Type Development
Myers and Briggs viewed the auxiliary function as a key to growth and type development. Not only does it balance and complement its dominant counterpart in an E-I sense, but also with respect to J-P. Let’s look at an example.
INFJs’ dominant function is Introverted Intuition (Ni) which as we’ve seen is a P function. Their auxiliary function is Extraverted Feeling (Fe)—a J function. From this we can see how INFJs’ Introverted Perceiving (Ni) is nicely counterbalanced by its Extraverted Judging (Fe) sidekick.
Whatever its merits, the auxiliary function isn’t our only option for typological growth and diversification. As discussed in my post, 2 Paths to Type Development, the psyche also strives for growth and integration by way of the inferior function.
The inferior plays a special role in the psyche for a couple of reasons. First, after being essentially cut-off (i.e., repressed) when the dominant ascended to its seat of power, it represents a long-lost part of our personality that, wittingly or not, we are seeking to bring back into the fold. Moreover, because the inferior straddles our conscious and unconscious mind, it can also be seen as a sort of gateway to the unconscious—a land rich with resources for growth and renewal.
Unfortunately, trying to develop the inferior function directly is no easy feat, at times creating more problems than it solves. There’s a sense in which the dominant and inferior are competing in a zero-sum game, where a gain for one means a commensurate loss for the other. So instead of effectively integrating them, we end up swinging from one functional extreme to the other, like binge eating one day and fasting the next. Problems may also stem from the dominant and inferior having the same J-P nature, with both being J functions or both being P functions. This stands in contrast to dominant-auxiliary pairings where there is always J-P complementarity.
In light of the above, it’s reasonable to suggest that growth hinges largely on developing the “middle functions” of the stack (i.e., auxiliary & tertiary), which can be envisioned as forming a “bridge” between our dominant and inferior bookends:
Type Development for “J-P-J” & “P-J-P” Types
One of the most salient and longstanding dichotomies in human culture is the distinction between work and leisure. Work is often associated with the obligations of adulthood and attended by an attitude of seriousness, while leisure is seen as the domain of children or something adults attempt to squeeze in between periods of work. Granted, there seems to be some shifting of attitudes toward work and leisure since COVID struck planet earth, but we’ll reserve that discussion for another day.
In many respects, what constitutes work and play is subjective, dependent on the proverbial eye of the beholder. But here we will associate with work with an attitude of seriousness as well as dedicated effort toward a desired outcome. Leisure, by contrast, involves a more open or playful mindset, including openness to surprises and unforeseen experiences. We’ll also take the liberty to associate work with the J functions and leisure with the P functions.
The complicating effects of gender, birth order, and circumstantial factors notwithstanding, I’d like to highlight the importance of openness (i.e., the bridging P functions) in the type development of J-P-J types (IPs & EJs) and committed investment (i.e., the bridging J functions) for P-J-P types (IJs & EPs). This growth can help balance and complement the proclivities of the dominant function while also making way to integration of the inferior.
Before proceeding further, it’s worth underscoring that taking steps toward growth requires both openness and commitment. Openness is required to willingly experiment with new ways of being and living, while commitment provides the focus and dedication to make them stick. In other words, both J and P processes are necessary for any sort of type development to occur.
With regard to J-P-J development, we find a great example in Jung’s seminal work, Psychological Types, in his discussion of the poet-philosopher Friedrich Schiller. Jung casts Schiller as what we would now call an INTP—a Ti dominant type. Writing over a century before Jung, Schiller reflected on his predominantly serious attitude and, after painstaking self-observation and experimentation, concluded that the key to his integration involved more “playing” and use of an “aesthetic” attitude. Notably, Schiller seemed to have stumbled onto the importance of embracing and developing his auxiliary function, Extraverted Intuition (Ne).
Most P-J-P types, as P dominants, already know how to play (even if inwardly in the case of IJs) or find value in the beauty or experience of things. Jung touches on this in his description of the Ni type, essentially suggesting that INJs function as aesthetes or passive observers until they incorporate more Judging. Only through the bridging J functions will they start approaching life with greater seriousness and intentionality.
The challenge for P-J-P types is doing something with their myriad perceptions—giving form, direction, or expression to them. For EPs, this often means achieving more consistency and follow-through. For IJs (especially INJs) initiation can be the biggest hurdle—finding a way to switch off Perceiving and transition into Judging mode. Finishing projects can also be an issue for INJs due to their pesky perfectionism. In effect, perfectionism involves an inability to reach or accept J closure.
The Value of Creativity for J & P Types
Is creating stuff a J or P activity? Hard to say isn’t it. On the one hand, the creative process involves some measure of will, intentionality, and persistence (J); otherwise, nothing would ever done. On the other hand, any creator worth her salt knows that creative work relies on openness and engagement with new intuitions bubbling up throughout the process. Hence, the importance of Perceiving.
If it’s true that creative work draws equally on our J and P faculties, it’s not surprising that so many people find it deeply rewarding. When engrossed in a state of creative flow, we’re essentially experiencing psychological integration, a state in which P is balanced with J, N with S, and so on. Presumably this is why NPs and NJs seem to flock to creative work in similar numbers. Wittingly or not, we create because we like how it feels when our perceptions are seamlessly merged with J intentionality and accomplishment.
Learn more about “J-P-J” and “P-J-P” dynamics in Personality Junkie’s bestselling book, My True Type: Clarifying Your Personality Type, Preferences & Functions.