By Dr. A.J. Drenth
One of the most difficult, even confusing, elements of Myers-Briggs typology is the Judging-Perceiving dimension. Many people struggle to determine their designation as a Judging (J) versus Perceiving (P) type.
Thus, the purpose of this post is to bring clarity to this personality dimension by exploring its theoretical basis in INFJ, INTJ, INFP and INTP types. Doing so will also help us do a better job typing individuals falling into one of these four personality types.
According to type theory, the J-P dimension primarily references outward (i.e., extraverted) behavior / demeanor. But contrary to the opinion of some, it is not a measure of tidiness or orderliness, especially for Introverts. While this may hold true for Extraverted types (most EJs I have encountered are fairly tidy and organized), I have found a great deal of inconsistency among Introverts in this regard.
In concert with many typologists, my preferred method of typing involves a direct assessment of an individual’s Jungian functions (e.g., Ni, Ne) rather than a mere consideration of his or her Myers-Briggs preferences (e.g., E, I, S, N). And due to the fact that the J-P element largely references outer behavior and is thus readily observed from without, the lowest hanging fruit involves identifying which extraverted functions are being employed by the individual. What follows is a quick overview of the extraverted functions:
Extraverted Sensing (Se)
- Used as the dominant or auxiliary function by “SP” types
- Quick to notice and express their observations of the immediate environment, especially specific details
- Often concerned with appearances or aesthetics
Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
- Used as the dominant or auxiliary function by “NP” types
- Readily express curiosities, questions, or options
- May appear scattered, distracted, absent-minded, and random in their ideation
- Can appear outwardly restless and keen on exploring new possibilities, whether physically or mentally
Extraverted Thinking (Te)
- Used as the dominant or auxiliary function by “TJ” types
- Firmly, even bluntly, state opinions
- May lack tact or social grace (most apparent in STJ types)
- At times may seem harsh, dogmatic, closed-minded, or insensitive
Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
- Used as the dominant or auxiliary function by “FJ” types
- Work to maintain external harmony, ensuring that people are comfortable and cared for
- Generally warm and inviting
- Can also be quick to express strong opinions
Since INTP, INFP, INTJ and INFJ types are Introverts, however, none of the above extraverted functions are dominant for them, but fall into the auxiliary and inferior positions of their functional stack:
Because introverts’ dominant function is introverted, it can be tricky to discern their personality type based on the dominant function alone. For instance, if an INFP is introspecting, she may appear more like a Judging type, as she would be less open to perceiving the external environment. Once she’s out of her shell and engaging with the outside world, however, we can consider which functions she’s extraverting (i.e., Ne & Te) to get a clearer picture of her type. This constitutes a key strategy in accurate type diagnosis.