By Dr. A.J. Drenth
Feeling types use their Feeling function to weigh, evaluate, and analyze their affective responses to the world. They generally experience greater saliency, variability, and diversity of emotion than Thinking types do. For Thinking types, the Feeling function is less conscious and less differentiated, making them less equipped to notice emotional fluctuations or subtleties. For every emotion in a Thinking type’s arsenal, a Feeler distinguishes numerous different feelings or feeling tones. Because Feelers discern such a breadth of emotional variations and nuances, they may feel that words are often inadequate to capture and convey their experiences. This is why many turn to poetry, music, or the arts, searching for alternate ways of understanding and expressing their affective life.
The Feeling functions also relate to the development of various tastes. Tastes are qualitative preferences—likes and dislikes. This is another reason Feeling types are drawn to exploring arts and culture, providing them with plenty of raw material to engage their Feeling function. Working with people and animals can be stimulating for similar reasons.
Extraverted Feeling (Fe) is the dominant function of the ENFJ and ESFJ types and is considered an extraverted Judging function. Whereas the extraverted Perceiving functions (e.g., Ne) express things in an open-ended fashion (e.g., “What do you think about…?” or “I wonder if …”), the extraverted Judging functions typically utilize declarative statements (e.g., “I feel…” or “I don’t like…”). Such differences are also conveyed through expressional tone. When J-types (especially EJs) ask questions, their tone may cause one to question their sincerity, since J-types are less comfortable with and typically do not display an attitude of outer receptiveness. The same is true for P-types (especially IPs) making declarative statements.
Extraverted Feeling (Fe) vs. Extraverted Thinking (Te)
While the content of an Extraverted Feeling expression need not be emotional, there is a discernible difference in its packaging compared to that of Extraverted Thinking (Te). Te comes across as rather dry, lifeless, and monotonal. It is often devoid of significant fluctuations in volume or expressions of feeling. Te is unconcerned with connecting on a feeling level with others. Its purpose is to relay information in a literal and explicit fashion. Because of Te’s relative lack of expressiveness, it can be more difficult to read the emotions of non-Fe types.
In contrast to Te, Extraverted Feelers (i.e., FJ types), wear their emotions, as well as their opinions, on their sleeves; one typically need not guess about what an FJ is feeling. Even if they don’t come out and say it right away, their feelings can be discerned via their facial expressions (For this reason, I typically advise against FJs taking up poker as their primary occupation:)).
When Fe types engage with others, they are looking to create a bond of shared feeling, especially “good” feeling. This requires they not only extravert feeling, but also perceive it. They are hoping their feelings will be understood and reciprocated in a way that allows both parties to get on the same emotional page. The satisfaction of creating rapport and emotional harmony also leads FJs to enjoy supporting and counseling others with emotional or relational difficulties. For similar reasons, friendships are generally of great importance to FJs.
Is Fe More “Superficial” than Introverted Feeling (Fi)?
Extraverted Feeling is sometimes described as more “superficial” than Introverted Feeling (Fi). This is partly because, as an extraverted function, Fe tends to work broadly and extensively rather than deeply and intensively. This ostensible superficiality is most clearly exemplified in TP types, most of whom are males. In some regards, TPs are your stereotypical politicians, appearing sincere and affable on the outside (Fe), while concealing their inner T-based agenda (Ti). The same might be said of certain TP salesmen or businessmen. Such individuals may use their Fe in duplicitous or superficial ways to advance their agendas. Higher rates of male infidelity may also relate to the relatively weak or superficial nature of their Feeling function.
While FJs are certainly not immune to infidelity or Machiavellianism, it would be a mistake to consider their Feeling function somehow inferior or less developed than Fi. In contrast to TPs, FJ types show strong differentiation of their Fe due to its higher position in the functional stack. By “differentiated” I mean their capacity to discern various feeling tones, tastes, and values is well developed. FJs are constantly refining their Feeling evaluations of things like art, music, morality, and human emotions. Because their Fe is extraverted, this process of differentiation occurs largely through surveying the world around them. In this respect, they differ from FPs, who focus primarily on their own feelings and subjective responses (i.e., Introverted Feeling) rather than those of others.
In short, the Feeling function is equally developed and differentiated in FPs and FJs, invalidating notions that Fe is somehow inferior to Fi. The primary difference between Fe and Fi is the type of data used for making and refining Feeling judgments. This ties into my post, Fe-Ti vs. Fi-Te Function Pairs, where I explain how FJs and TPs focus on Fe and Ti methods and data, while FPs and TJs emphasize those of Fi and Te.