Page 2 - Understanding the MBTI test * - the Mental Processes of the MBTI Personality Type
DESCRIPTIONS OF THE JUNG-MYERS-BRIGGS MENTAL FUNCTIONS OR PROCESSES
Understanding the nature of the mental functions that underlie the MBTI code letters of S,N,T & F can help a person verify the accuracy of his or her MBTI test score* or the assignment to one of the 16 personality types. Read the following basic description of each of the 4 functions plus how they are experienced when used in either the external or internal world to see which seem to fit you best. Then check the four letter MBTI type codes that are aligned with each description you find best fits you to see if it validates your MBTI test report*.
Another use of these descriptions is to understand how your own mental process preferences that make up your particular personality type pattern may differ from friends, relatives, and those you associate with or with whom you need to communicate. Whatever is a person's leading function in dealing with the outside world (represented by the small "e" attached to the MBTI type letter) affects how their communication style, how they are perceived by others, and the nature of this interaction. For example Personality Types whose leading mental function is extraverted thinking (Te) will approach people and situations with quite a different perspective than Personality Types whose leading mental function is extraverted feeling (Fe). In order to effectively work together each will have to stretch outside their "box" to access parts of themselves that often are poorly developed and unconsciously exercised. As difficult as this may be, a starting point is to recognize that these differences are not one of which leading mental function or perspective is better but understanding that they are opposite sides of a coin that in one case is turned "heads up" and another is turned "tails up" presenting a quite different face to the world.
* While sometimes referred to as the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, the Briggs Myers personality test, Myers Briggs Test or the MBTI test, the MBTI ® is not a personality test but a personality inventory or instrument in which there are no right or wrong answers.
How does Thinking work; how is it experienced?
Thinking is about order and organization, being objective, detached, able to discriminate, and using logic. Thinking preference people naturally seek to understand cause and effect - using an orderly chain of reasoning to establish the relationships. The Thinking mind seeks the truth, getting to the heart of the matter in an objective way. We experience being in our Thinking function when we are being dispassionate, able to make decisions at arms-length from whatever emotional turmoil may surround a situation. Thinking is about principles and well organized foundations for beliefs. It is the engine that devises strategies and creates organized, conceptual structures.
Te - How is Thinking expressed when it is turned outward?
Extraverted Thinking's focus is order. It is organizing and ordering the outside world; organizing both people and things to achieve a purpose. It is using logic and reasoning in dialogue with others. It is directing action, calling plays, and making decisions. It is purposeful sorting out; discriminating among alternatives. Extraverted Thinking asks questions, collects information in an orderly way, and solves problems in a systematic manner.
Extraverted Thinking (Te) is dominant in ESTJ & ENTJ and supportive in ISTJ & INTJ personality types.
Ti - How is Thinking experienced when it is turned inward?
The Introverted Thinking mind presumes logical order rules the Universe; illogic is dismissed as just so much mental clutter that needs to be swept out of the mind. Beliefs, understandings, and information is taken in and logically organized in clusters of thought, with principles at the foundation. It strives to fit new pieces of information into clusters of thought where it most logically fits. It sorts out and discriminates that which makes logical sense from that which does not. Like a detective, the Introverted Thinking mind is drawn to mysteries - seeking clues and root causes - to solve a problem or a riddle.
Introverted Thinking (Ti) is dominant in ISTP & INTP and supportive in ESTP and ENTP personality types.
How does Feeling work; how is it experienced?
Feeling is about values, beliefs, moral foundations, and the human condition. It is about being open to emotions, sensations, needs, and thoughts. It is about being subjective, valuing the conclusions that arise from within. The Feeling mind desires harmony, values being attached rather than being detached, and is sensitive to one’s inner self as well as sensitive to others and their needs. This attachment to people, ideas, and moral foundations direct action and decisions. The Feeling function is an internalized moral and spiritual compass that provides direction and guidance - without the need to consciously analyze or understand why.
Fe - How is Feeling expressed when it is turned outward?
Extraverted Feeling reaches out to attach and interact with other living things . . . nurturing relationships. It is about validating and valuing others, encouraging, coaching, educating and motivating. It is protecting, helping, and caretaking. The Extraverted Feeling mind organizes action consistent with values, beliefs, spiritual foundations, and sense of humanity - how people (and other living things) ought to be treated. Extraverted Feeling promotes collaboration, a shared sense of community, and harmony in interpersonal relationships.
Extraverted Feeling (Fe) is dominant in ESFJ & ENFJ and supportive in ISFJ & INFJ personality types.
Fi - How is Feeling experienced when it is turned inward?
Introverted Feeling is being aware of and cherishing one’s own mental framework of values, beliefs and sense of self. It is being open to emotions and inner sensations. It is also being sensitive to others in an empathetic way. It is knowing what is right and wrong according to one’s personal moral and spiritual compass. It is being authentic. As a gatekeeper of the mind; it admits what is consistent with one’s value and belief framework and rejects what is repulsive or draining. Introverted Feeling seeks harmony with others and harmony within.
Introverted Feeling (Fi) is dominant in ISFP & INFP and supportive in ESFP & ENFP personality types.
How does Sensing work; how is it experienced?
Sensing is about experiencing the world as it “is” - through using the five senses. It is about attending to the here and now, being aware of the tangible sensory impressions of the moment. It is about trusting most one's direct experiences as a guideline for future action. Sensing is about being literal, concrete and practical, noticing “what is” as opposed to what “could be.” It is about remembering, cataloging and recalling, often with great detail, a wide variety of experiences and information.
Se - How is Sensing experienced when it is turned outward?
Extraverted Sensing is about seizing the moment, becoming immersed in the here and now, pleasurably and spontaneously interacting with people, things, and situations of interest. It is being aware of, fully tuned into, and energized by the options and impulses of the moment. It is making “work” into play, learning by doing, and enjoying the creative process. It is being attuned to the variety, quality, and esthetic appeal of sensory experiences. Extraverted Sensing notices tangible realities and relates to them in a pragmatic fashion.
Extraverted Sensing (Se) is dominant in ESTP & ESFP and supportive in ISTP & ISFP personality types.
Si - How is Sensing experienced when it is turned inward?
The Introverted Sensing mind attends to, enjoys acquiring, and relying upon an internal library of detailed personal knowledge, facts, feelings, sensations, and information gleaned from experiences. Information and impressions from present experiences are archived in an orderly way into memory - which is typically a vast internal storehouse of data, details and impressions. The Introverted Sensing mind seeks rhythm, reliability, and order in its internal library and in its relationships with people and the outside world.
Introverted Sensing (Si) is dominant in ISFJ & ISTJ and supportive in ESFJ & ESTJ personality types.
How does Intuition work; how is it experienced?
Intuition is about understanding, exploring, creating patterns, noticing relationships, and imagining new possibilities. It is a sixth sense that involves an unconscious awareness of facts, events, happenings, and the whole of experience to produce insights about complex relationships, concepts, future possibilities, and trends. The Intuitive mind automatically links the past and present to forecast the future, speculates about possibilities, looks at the “big picture,” and seeks to grasp the general context of an idea, concept, or a situation. It learns to trust its hunches.
Ne - How is Intuition experienced when it is turned outward?
Extraverted Intuition scans the external world to explore new ideas, new people, and emergent possibilities. The Extraverted Intuitive mind is imaginative, inventive, and innovative - seeing and describing ways things can be reshaped, altered, or improved. It naturally energizes people and engages action towards a vision of what could be . . . of future possibilities.
Extraverted Intuition (Ne) is dominant in ENFP & ENTP and supportive in INFP & INTP personality types.
Ni - How is Intuition experienced when it is turned inward?
Introverted Intuition reflects on patterns, relationships, symbols, meanings, and perspectives on matters from complex phenomena to magical connections to practical problems. The Introverted Intuitive mind typically creates a unique vision and arrives at unique insights about things, phenomena, or people. It strives to discover the essence of things and fill in the missing pieces of a puzzle. Introverted Intuitive types frequently will have complex visions or perspectives that they are unable to explain with clarity to others.
Introverted Intuition (Ni) is dominant in INFJ & INTJ and supportive in ENFJ & ENTJ personality types.
USING THE MBTI CHARACTERISTICS OF THE 16 PERSONALITY TYPES
TO CHOOSE AMONG EQUALLY ATTRACTIVE MBTI TYPE IDENTIFICATIONS
The above descriptions of characteristics focus on the four dominant mental functions in their two orientations, either extraverted or introveted, resulting in a total of 8 different leading personality patterns, each of which is shared by two MBTI Personality Types. So how would one distinguish between the two Personality Types that share a common dominant mental function? One way is to look at the descriptions of what is the Type’s auxiliary or supporting mental function. The auxiliary function is always the “other” middle letter in the MBTI ® Type code and is expressed in the “opposite” attitude (I or E) to the dominant.
Example. ISFJ Personality Type is a dominant Introverted Sensing Type. Its auxiliary or supportive function is Feeling and it is Extraverted (opposite of the dominant, which is Introverted). So to best understand ISFJ read the description for Introverted Sensing bearing in mind it is the “captain” of the ISFJ ship. Then read the description for Extraverted Feeling bearing in mind it is the “first mate” who acts in support of the captain and at times as a collaborator in providing direction. If you blend the two together - with emphasis on the dominant function characteristics - you get a whole that is different from its ISTJ cousin - whose supporting mental function is Extraverted Thinking.
Second Example. ESTJ is a dominant Extraverted Thinking Type. Its auxiliary or supportive function is Sensing and is Introverted (opposite of the dominant, which is Extraverted). So to best understand ESTJ read the description for Extraverted Thinking bearing in mind it is the “captain” of the ESTJ ship. Then read the description of Introverted Sensing bearing in mind it is the “first mate” who acts in support of the captain and at times as a collaborator in providing direction. If you blend the two together - with emphasis on the dominant function characteristics - you get a whole that is different from its ENTJ cousin - whose supporting mental function is Introverted Intuition.
A Caveat or two. The above suggestions for better understanding individual Personality Types is by necessity a generalization that ignores the interaction of the mental functions. An INFJ type has some characteristics that can’t be explained by a simple addition of Introverted Intuition supported by Extraverted Feeling. In addition to the interaction effects, some characteristics of this type are also due to the influence of two functions not represented by its MBTI Type letters. In the case of INFJ, it would be how this type uses Extraverted Sensing (S) and Introverted Thinking (T). The impact of these hidden functions help explain why an INFJ therapist of my acquaintance in mid-life leaves her profession as a therapist and becomes a sculptor and pottery artist (activities more logically related to an expression of the Se function).
The characteristics presented as correlating with the four mental functions and the eight functions in their attitudes ring most true for individuals whose Personality Type has that function as the dominant or core function. The characteristics may be slightly less accurate when the function in question is the auxiliary or supportive function of an individual's Personality Type. And when the function is further down a Personality Type’s hierarchy of functions (go here to see a table of this hierarchy), the operation of the function in a person of that Type can be substantially muted from what is described here.
Recommended References and Sources
Hartzler, Margaret and Hartzler, Gary. (2004) Facets of Type: Activities to Develop the Type Preferences. Telos Publications, Huntington Beach, CA.
Lawrence, Gordon (1993). People Types & Tiger Stripes. Center for Applications of Psychological Type. Gainesville, Florida.
Myers, Isabel and Myers, Peter (1993). Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type. CPP Books. Palo Alto, CA.
Myers, Katharine and Kirby, Linda (1994) Introduction to Type: Dynamics and Development. Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc. Palo Alto, CA.
Nardi, Dario. (2005) 8 Keys to Self Leadership: From Awareness to Action. Unite Business Press. Huntington Beach, CA.
Newman, James (1990) A Cognitive Perspective on Jungian Psychology. Center for Applications of Psychological Type. Gainesville, Florida.
Poirier, Danielle (2006) The Magnificent 16: A DVD. Rebel Eagle Productions. Montreal, Canada.
® MBTI, Myers-Briggs, Meyers Briggs, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Trust in the United States and other countries (aka meyer briggs or myers briggs).
Go Here to Learn more about the MBTI or Myers Briggs Test *
*While commonly called a "test" the MBTI ® is not a test but a personality inventory in which there are no right or wrong answers