One of the more recent developments in type theory, spearheaded by my typology sidekick Elaine Schallock, involves the importance of considering “function pairs.” This stemmed from Elaine’s knack for understanding everything according to a framework of opposites (Jung displayed similar proclivities in this respect). She rightly observed that the functions are always paired with a complementary or “opposing” function in the function stack, resulting in four function pairs: Ti-Fe, Te-Fi, Ne-Si, Ni-Se (or, if you prefer: Fe-Ti, Fi-Te, Si-Ne, Se-Ni).
In our view, understanding function pairs is important for at least three reasons. First, they allow us to better understand the nature of the individual functions in the contrasting light of its complement. Exploring function pairs also help us better understand the motivations, interests, similarities, and differences of the various types. Last, exploring function pairs is a helpful segueway to understanding the dynamics of the dominant and inferior function, which as we will see, is critical to understanding the types, as well as their respective paths to healthy functioning and personal growth.
Each personality type naturally prefers and understands the mode of operation of its own function pairs. With that said, we tend to have more of a love-hate relationship with the functions in the lower half of the function stack (i.e., the tertiary or inferior). As I have discussed elsewhere, when it comes to the inferior function, in particular, we often oscillate between indulging it and ignoring / repressing it.
The T-F Function Pairs
According to type theory, Extraverted Thinking (Te) is always paired with its functional opposite, Introverted Feeling (Fi) in the function stack, while Extraverted Feeling (Fe) is always coupled with Introverted Thinking (Ti). FPs and TJs sport the Fi-Te pairing, while FJs and TPs utilize the Fe-Ti pair.
Since they share the Te-Fi function pair, TJs and FPs are generally more sympathetic to Te and Fi methods and assumptions, while taking issue with those of Fe and Ti. More specifically, TJs and FPs prefer a collective and standardized approaches to “things” and non-human systems (Te), along with a more individualized approach to people (Fi).
In sharing the same function pair, FJs and TPs are alike in their sympathies toward Ti and Fe, while being slower to accept Te or Fi approaches. They prefer a more collective or communal approach to people (Fe) in combination with a more subjective or individualized use of reason (Ti). We will now explore these issues in greater depth.
The Thinking Functions
TJ types use Te as either their dominant (ETJs) or auxiliary function (ITJs). Consequently, they have good conscious control over its workings. For FPs, whose Te is either tertiary (EFPs) or inferior (IFPs), it tends to function more unconsciously. Because it falls into the lower half of their function stack, FPs tend to have mixed feelings toward Te.
As an extraverted function, Te can be seen as sacrificing some level of depth and accuracy in favor of speed, extensivity, and collectivity. Te seeks to ensure that the world’s systems and operations are well-ordered, controlled, and rational. Toward this end, they utilize standardized methods for discovering truth and developing operational plans, rules, policies, and protocols. Te can be applied for the sake of scientific research, technology, administration, legislation, etc. Bureaucratic “red tape” is typically an offspring of Te attempts to ensure that operations are logical, controlled, and predictable.
TP types use Ti as either their dominant (ITPs) or auxiliary function (ETPs). They exhibit good conscious control over its workings. For FJs, whose Ti is either tertiary (IFJs) or inferior (EFJs), it tends to function more unconsciously. Because it falls into the lower half of their function stack, FJs tend to have mixed feelings toward Ti.
TPs use Ti as either their dominant (ITPs) or auxiliary function (ETPs). As an introverted function, Ti is more intensive and penetrating than Te is. Since their rationality is directed inwardly, toward themselves and their own ideas (Ti), TPs are generally less inclined toward standardized methods and procedures (Te). This is why TPs, as well as FJs, often feel out of place in the modern academic, scientific, and working world, all of which can seem overrun with Te red tape.
Because of these Ti-Te differences, TJs are often met with resistance from TPs and FJs, and less often from FPs. TPs generally focus on identifying hidden assumptions in Te approaches, assumptions they feel may bias or call into question certain TJ conclusions or practices. While FJs may feel a similar aversion to Te methods, the extraverted nature of their Feeling often leads them to assume constructive rather than critical roles. FPs, for whom Te is less conscious than it is for TJs, are more apt to display a “love-hate”relationship with Te methods and systems. They typically go through phases of detesting and rebelling against Te systems, but eventually come full circle and make peace with them, and in doing so, with themselves.
Similarly, TPs may encounter resistance from TJs and FPs, and less often from FJs. Since Ti is unconcerned with formalized or standardized methods or measurements, TJs tend to criticize TPs’ for their informal methods and lack of “hard evidence.” FPs, as well as some TJs, may protest against what they see as Ti-Fe attempts to “pigeonhole” them in human classification systems like typology. FJs tend to have more of a love-hate relationship with Ti. They may struggle with what they see as TPs’ intractable skepticism, as well as their seeming inability or unwillingness to assert anything with confidence or certainty.
The Feeling Functions
FJs use Fe as either their dominant (EFJs) or auxiliary function (IFJs). They exhibit good conscious control over its workings. For TPs, whose Fe is either tertiary (ETPs) or inferior (ITPs), it tends to function more unconsciously. Because it falls into the lower half of their function stack, TPs often have mixed sentiments toward Fe.
As an extraverted function, Fe is inclined toward the direct expression of emotions, particularly those which are culturally-sanctioned (e.g., “positive” emotions). It works to cultivate “good feeling” in the social environment, striving for consensus, harmony, community, and mutual understanding.
While Te takes a systematic approach to “things” and impersonal systems, Fe focuses on human dynamics and human systems. Typology is a good example of an Fe approach, one which has the overall goal of improving human relations. Fe types are attuned to declining morale, loss of interpersonal trust, and lack of community than they are to economic or technologic issues. They may long for the days when deals were made over a handshake and one could contact a company and engage with a person rather than a Te machine.
FP types use Fi as either their dominant (IFPs) or auxiliary function (EFPs). They generally exhibit good conscious control over its workings. For TJs, whose Fi is either tertiary (ITJs) or inferior (ETJs), it tends to function more unconsciously. Because it falls into the lower half of their function stack, TJs may have mixed feelings toward Fi.
Fi is directed inward, toward one’s personal feelings and values. FPs, especially IFPs, are typically less concerned with going out of their way to ensure that good feelings are cultivated in the environment. They are disturbed, however, by situations of Fe conflict, which often leave them feel paralyzed and compelled to retreat. Their Fi is affected in a more productive way when they encounter those who seem to be victims of unfortunate Te circumstances. Rather than retreating, such experiences spur FPs into action. They may work to help individuals, such as working at a homeless shelter. Or, they may advocate for causes that have affected them personally, such as fundraising for research of a rare disease. In short, Fi is focused on rallying for specific causes or helping specific individuals, especially children, animals, and the underserved. Fe, contrast, is more concerned with a general fostering of consensus, harmony, and community.
Since Fi judgments are formed on an independent rather than collective basis, FPs tend to be wary of Fe judgments and expressions. To FPs, Fe expressions can seem generic, predictable, shallow, fake, or contrived. And because of their focus on their own personal feelings and values, they may also resist what they see as attempts to “pigeonhole” them in systems like typology (comparable to TPs’ aversion to what they see as the blanket methods of Te). TJs also may resist such Fe-Ti approaches, protesting them on either Fi or Te grounds.
FJs and TPs may struggle with the seeming reluctance of both FPs and TJs to readily disclose personal information. Despite being a Feeling function, Fi can be outwardly aloof and impersonal. Hence, FJs and TPs may find it hard to interpersonally relate to TJs and FPs, feeling like their attempts to establish Fe rapport are falling flat.
For an in-depth look at each of the 8 functions and preferences, be sure to explore our latest book, My True Type: Clarifying Your Personality Type, Preferences & Functions: