Myers Musings: Typing 102


I have covered Myers-Briggs typing before. I will assume that most are familiar with it. In short, it breaks human behaviors into four groupings of dichotomous traits. These traits are Extraversion or Introversion (E or I), Sensing or intuition (S or N), Thinking or Feeling (T or F), and Perceiving or Judging (P or J). Adding your preference letters together reveals your type (e.g., ESTJ).

Myers and Briggs based their work on the ideas of Carl Jung. While their typing made his work easier to understand, it also hid some of the subtleties. In this post, I will attempt to explain the deeper meanings behind the letters and perhaps help resolve some typing confusion.

Eight Cognitive Processes.

Jung’s original work described various cognitive processes. As with Myers-Briggs these divided between Perceiving (observing or gathering information) and Judging (making decisions or bringing order). He too named these processes Sensing/intuition and Thinking/Feeling. Where he differed is that he also described a choice attitude (Introverted or Extraverted) for each process. There was not just thinking, but extraverted thinking and introverted Thinking; there was not just intuition, but extraverted intuition and introverted intuition. The result was four different functions, each with 2 attitudinal choices, giving eight cognitive processes. It was the preference order of these processes that led to type.

The Eight Cognitive Processes.

Extraverted Sensing (Se) [First or second choice of xSxP]
This is about experiencing the moment. It concerns itself fully with the immediate environment. It notices concrete sensory data in the form of textures, colors, sounds, tastes, and smells. It is driven to act in the now responding to immediate simulation. Its basic need is to experience.

Introverted Sensing (Si) [First or second choice of xSxJ]
This is about recalling previously remembered things. It concerns itself with factual and concrete experience of the past. It is about comparing present experience to past remembrance. It is about using past experience to make current choices.

Extraverted Intuition (Ne) [First or second choice of xNxP]
This is about seeing possibilities. It concerns itself with what-if questions. It focuses on the future. It seeks to link different ideas and concepts together to make something new. It wants to brainstorm free of limitations of existing structure. Its basic need is to imagine.

Introverted Intuition (Ni) [First or second choice of xNxJ]
This is about internals vision. It seeks to tie seeming paradox into a coherent and unified whole. It is about generating Aha! moments of deep understanding.

Extraverted Thinking (Te) [First or second choice of xxTJ]
This is about organizing and structuring the world. It wants to bring order and efficiency to the world. It seeks objective data. Its basic need is to organize.

Introverted Thinking (Ti) [First or second choice of xxTP]
This is about finding clarity. It is about placing things and concepts into categories. It wants to find general principals from which to understand the world. Its basic need is to understand or clarify.

Extraverted Feeling (Fe) [First or second choice of xxFJ]
This is about recognizing the needs of others, either as individuals or a group. It is about finding ways to connect with others. It wants to bring cheer and good feelings. It is concerned with the social graces. Its basic need is to find harmony.

Introverted Feeling (Fi) [First or second choice of xxFP]
This is about recognizing our own internal values. It concerns itself with right or wrong, as judged by our own internal compass. Its basic need is to find authenticity.

As you can see one of the problems is that these descriptions are less clear than the simpler Myersian ones. In trying to describe such processes, we cannot help but bring or own experience of them. I provide a link to other sites with descriptions but they may not help either. The fact that is that describing such internal processes will always be difficult.

Myers versus Jung.

Most people when talking of M-B type take the letters from left to right, adding them together. For example: an INTJ would be an Introvert that preferred intuition and Thinking and operated more in Judging mode. In reality, the last letter merely means that they prefer using their Judging function in an extraverted manner. By theory, that means they use their perceiving function in an introverted manner. If the function they use in an introverted manner (in this case intuition – Ni) is their most favored, then they are considered introverted. Had extraverted thinking (Te) been their most preferred function than they would be considered extravert. In this case it is the function preference that defines I or E. The I or E is derived from the function preference, it does not drive it. I hope I can make it clearer with an example (using an INTJ).

Most preferred function is introverted intuition (Ni), so second letter is N.
Supporting (second) function is extraverted thinking (Te), so third letter is T.
Their judging function (Te) is used in an extraverted manner, so forth letter is J.
Their preferred function is used in introverted form, so first letter is I.

This is where some people may feel their given type is not them. While a person may prefer using an introverted function, it does not mean they live their life as an introvert. For instance, my own preference probably matches closer to ENTP. I favor extraverted intuition (Ne), strongly supported with introverted thinking (Ti). However, by classical definition, I am most certainly an introvert.

Another vital point is that while we favor certain processes, we by necessity use all of them. It is just that we are less comfortable using those lower on our preference. There are type theories on the subsequent order of preference. Simply put: the third function tends to be undeveloped but may appear more consciously in latter (mid) life. The fourth function is very undeveloped, barely conscious, and may be the source of pain or growth. Some theories (John Beebe) place the anima/animus in this fourth, or inferior, function. The fifth and below are considered the shadow. They are likely to be mostly unconscious. As with the inferior, they may be the source of great anguish or personal growth.

In Game or Romance?

A point to consider is the aforementioned placing of the anima/animus in the fourth function. This fourth function is one where we indulge in most projection to/from. If it also held the anima/animus it might explain the idealization (or not) of the opposite sex. Under this theory, we would project onto the opposite sex the best hopes and worst fears of this (to us) hidden function. In other words those who favor your fourth function, may be those you have strongest feelings (good or bad) towards.

I also suspect that third function plays a strong role shaping your tastes in those that attract and repel you. That is you may admire or despise those whose stronger functions (1 or 2) match your weaker ones (3 or 4).


The 16 type patterns: Describes the functions according to their position. It also lists the preference order for each type (scroll down). You can also find details for each individual type, and descriptions of each process.

Personality Pathways also describes types and their preferences.

You can try a test of your cognitive preference order and see if it matches your accepted type. This is different from other tests in that it seeks to see which processes you use instead of what behavior you partake in. As such, it may be a more direct measure of type compared to the what-would-you-do type. The questions may seem strange or confusing, that is (they say) by design. The idea is that certain phrasing will be better understood by those using certain functions, so those that readily agree with some statements will be using the related function more fully.


13 Responses to “Myers Musings: Typing 102”

  1. Vincent Ignatius Says:

    ENTJ by MBTI, but cognitive preference gives me ESTP. It makes sense though. I’ve spent a lot of time the past 2 years learning how to promote myself and events.

  2. brightstormyday Says:

    Cognitive Process Level of Development (Preference, Skill and Frequency of Use)
    extraverted Sensing (Se) *************************** (27.9)
    average use
    introverted Sensing (Si) ********************** (22)
    limited use
    extraverted Intuiting (Ne) ********************************************** (46.4)
    excellent use
    introverted Intuiting (Ni) ****************************** (30.4)
    good use
    extraverted Thinking (Te) ***************************** (29.3)
    average use
    introverted Thinking (Ti) ************************* (25.2)
    average use
    extraverted Feeling (Fe) *********************** (23.1)
    limited use
    introverted Feeling (Fi) ************************************ (36.1)
    excellent use
    Summary Analysis of Profile
    By focusing on the strongest configuration of cognitive processes, your pattern of responses most closely matches individuals of this type: ENFP

    Lead (Dominant) Process
    Extraverted Intuiting (Ne): Exploring the emerging patterns. Wondering about patterns of interaction across various situations. Checking what hypotheses and meanings fit best. Trusting what emerges as you shift a situation’s dynamics.

    Support (Auxilliary) Process
    Introverted Feeling (Fi): Staying true to who you really are. Paying close attention to your personal identity, values and beliefs. Checking with your conscience. Choosing behavior congruent with what is important to you.


    I thought I was an INFJ.

  3. brightstormyday Says:

    Hey for temperaments I got catalyst followed by theorist. That’s cool.

  4. Default User Says:

    @Vincent Ignatius
    This may sound gay but if I had my choice, I would be one of those two types. Probably ESTP followed by ENTJ. I guess that makes you my hero.

    I is interesting in that they are both quite different. While they are both driven to influence, their motives and methods are quite different. It is like comparing Madonna (ESTP) to Margaret Thatcher (ENTJ). For males it would be Donald Trump (ESTP) and Al Gore (ENTJ)
    [I have no idea of their actual type, they merely express the archetypal characteristics. Al Gore shows the potential downside to ENTJ personalities – although forceful and directive, the can appear dull]

    Which type to you really believe best represents you. That is: are you driven to manage and control (ENTJ) or experience and create noise?

    Extraverted Sensing (Se – ESTP) would be driven to pick up chicks just to experience them. Extraverted Thinking (Te – ENTJ) would be driven to pick up chicks to prove he could. While real life is unlikely to be so cut ‘n’ dried, one motivation may be stronger.

    Nice to see you back. I always thought of you as INFJ. From what I know of you you seem much more INFJ than ENFP. ENFP just does not seem as correct. What do you think? You certainly seem, at least somewhat, Fe/Ni; you appear to want to be nice to others but wonder of their motives and are somewhat guarded in revelaing your own feelings. The mixture of NE/Fi would be more flighty and flakey; a desire to explore possibilities but not always follow through on them.
    [Vincent Ignatius: ExFP women are probably the most likely to be flakey. They will be honestly enthusiastic at first but may just as soon move onto another bright shiny thing. The reason for the flake may because you shocked their sensibilities (Fi) in some way. Chick logic is very much an ExFP thing (even if shared by all females).]

    @You Pesky Kids (Vincent Ignatius, brightstormyday)
    Most theory claims that type only really settles down by late teens or early twenties. Theory generally assumes that your lead function (position 1) should be well established the others are less clear. So it is not quite as strange as it may seem that you swap types.

    In my case, I was probably always Ti (xxTP) with an introverted (reserved) lifestyle. Indeed, until my teens I might have been more ISTP. I presume I developed (Ne) during my teens (INTP). That Ne grew to eclipse my Ti, so that now I am Ne/Ti or ENTP (although a very reserved one).

    I suspect that nurture was a major reason for the fall of Se. I was a late developer and small. As such, I found it easier to avoid Se activities where bigger boys would dominate me. Small successes on the sports field could well have moved me to ISTP or even ESTP.

    I suspect that introverted versus extraverted habits are more set but introverted versus extraverted cognitive processes are more changeable.

    @David Collard
    Your new position means you need to exercise extraverted thinking (Te). Answering “yes” to such activities will cause you to flip to TJ. I wonder, though, if your basic preference has changed. That is, are you really happier and more comfortable making a plan (Te – xxTJ) versus understanding a system (Ti – xxTP). While I can perform such Te activities, I find it awkward and draining.

  5. namae nanka Says:

  6. Vincent Ignatius Says:

    ENTJ is definitely more me, and my career goals reflect it. I think I got ESTP because my introverted intuition isn’t as strongly developed, but my extroverted sensing is. My strongest was extroverted thinking, but my introverted thinking was also strongly developed.

  7. Default User Says:

    @Vincent Ignatius
    I think the type theory is that the preferences balance themselves out in a nice neat manner between judging and perceiving and introverted and extraverted attitudes. This would mean that an extraverted judging function in first (e.g., Te), would be balanced by an introverted perceiving function in second (e.g., Ni), itself balanced by an extraverted judging function in third, and so on.

    I suspect that in reality preference development is not so neat. I also suspect that more extroverted (in the classical sense) types are those that lean towards extraverted forms, while the more classically introverted types lean towards introverted forms. So the wild, flirty and flighty, party girl might be Se/Fe (as compared to expected Se/Fi), the cautious accountant might be Ti/Si instead of Ti/Se. I believe Jung acknowledged the possibility of more than 16 types based on such preferences. However, the 16 types and simpler dichotomies of Myers-Briggs make the theory understandable for many more people.

    The “proper” hierarchy for an ENTJ is Te, Ni, Se, Fi, so your second position for Se is not so strange. I imagine that in your studies you use Ni quite comfortably.
    [ ]

    I also think that many will be stronger in the oposite attitude version of prefered functions than theory admits. For example: many Ne or Te people will be comfortable with Ni or Ti. Many Fe types will also show Fi traits.

  8. Myers Musings: Heroes and Villains « Default User Says:

    […] my earlier post, I discussed how the preference order for the various cognitive processes affected type. In this […]

  9. Vincent Ignatius Says:

    Here’s the breakdown. I took it again, thinking I was putting the same answers but it gave me ESTJ this time.

    Cognitive Process Level of Development (Preference, Skill and Frequency of Use)
    extraverted Sensing (Se) ************************************** (38.4)
    excellent use
    introverted Sensing (Si) ******************************************** (44)
    excellent use
    extraverted Intuiting (Ne) ************************ (24.2)
    average use
    introverted Intuiting (Ni) ************************* (25.4)
    average use
    extraverted Thinking (Te) *************************************************** (51.2)
    excellent use
    introverted Thinking (Ti) ****************************************** (42.7)
    excellent use
    extraverted Feeling (Fe) ********** (10.2)
    introverted Feeling (Fi) *** (3.9)

    If it helps in typing, the fictional character I’ve been compared to and after researching I found really reflected the way I interact with my friends is Barney Stinson.

  10. Default User Says:

    @Vincent Ignatius

    extraverted Feeling (Fe) ********** (10.2) unused
    introverted Feeling (Fi) *** (3.9) unused

    Perfect for running aloof asshole game. :/

    I have not taking the test recently but I did try it a few times (to measure how my score might change). It did change (enough to move type – perhaps from ENTP to INFP/ENFP, I am not certain). What was interesting is that it matched my mood and preoccupation at the time. I was in a more melancholic frame and Fi/Ni rose higher.

    I think knowledge can undermine such tests as you derive a sense of what each question wants. I found the questions on the cognitive functions “difficult.” For the majority it was “maybe.”

    On thing with typing is that there is an extraverted and introverted part to each. In the case of ExTJ your second letter is hidden (because the function is introverted) from others. It is possible to mistake an ENTJ for an ESTJ because what people see (objective, decisive) is your extraverted function (Te). What people cannot see (directly anyway) is your introverted function (Ni/Si). People see Te (ExTJ) in your decision making but cannot directly how you came to making that decision (Ni or Si).

    I have not watched the show, but from the Wikipedia character description he sounds more ENTJ. No ESTJ “likes to create crazy situations and then sit back and watch it all go down.” An ESTJ would probably avoid such situations altogether.

  11. brightstormyday Says:

    Yeah, I feel as though I am INFJ. Maybe I just change around others a bit. To be more social. All the networking I do with alumni here in college. idk.

  12. Default User Says:

    Don’t worry about it. While interesting to consider, type is not you.

  13. Myers Musings: Not All Women Are Like That « Default User Says:

    […] I based the section on Drive/Needs on the preference order of cognitive processes for each type (first two). I discussed this in an earlier post. […]

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