THE JUNG-MYERS-BRIGGS MENTAL FUNCTIONS OR PROCESSES
Which Ones best fit you?
What is the center of your Mental Universe?
Understanding the nature of the mental functions or process that underlie the Myers Briggs 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. These processes are a cornerstone of Myers theme of "Gifts Differing" as the pattern of relative influence of each of these factors are to a large degree what differentiates the personality types.
To begin to understand the pattern of your own personality make-up, read the descriptions of each of the 4 personality mental processes and how each is typically experienced when used in either the external or internal world. Which seem to resonate most strongly with you? 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*.
If one of the Myers Briggs MBTI type indicated in the description of what you believe to be your most favored mental process doesn't line up with your "test score" or your MBTI assessment report named as our 4 letter type, you could again review the overall myers briggs personality type profile descriptions by Danielle Poirier to review your conclusions.
Further down this page we'll also provide a link to more discussion on further verifying what is your "best fit" Myers Briggs Personality Type.
*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?
Ti - How is Thinking experienced when it is turned inward?
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?
Fi - How is Feeling experienced when it is turned inward?
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?
Si - How is Sensing experienced when it is turned inward?
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?
Ni - How is Intuition experienced when it is turned inward?
A caveat. The above characteristics describing the four mental processes (and how they differ in the two attitudes of Introversion and Extraversion) ring most true for individuals whose Personality Type has that function as the dominant or core mental process. The descriptions of 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 mental processes or functions (go here to see a table of this hierarchy), the operation of the function in a person can be substantially muted from what is described here.
Using my own case as an example. As an INTJ Myers Type, my most favored power is Introverted Intuition. Its polar opposite process is Introverted Sensing. My Introverted Sensing process is so hidden in my unconscious I can barely tell you what it is like. So the above description for Introverted Sensing is something I can only "imagine" has some resemblance to how that operates in me. The curtin covering that process as it operates in me is almost opaque. And that is also why I know quite confidently that I am an INTJ vs being an ISTJ (which some personality assessments have actually typed me as).
More on why your most favored Mental Processes Make a Difference
Some authors have referred to a person's most favored mental process as akin to a "Super Power." Whatever name we call it, it is that mental perspective that is the centerpiece of a person's personality constellation, your mental universe. And while these "powers" or processes can contribute to the "best" a person has to offer in whatever setting, they can also be the source of potential communication and relationship problems.
As you reviewed the above descriptions of the powers or processes, can you envision how whatever are your most favored ones can be quite different from friends, relatives, and those you associate with or with whom you need to communicate?
In communication and interpersonal relationships frequently whatever is a person's leading mental process in dealing with the outside world (represented by the small "e" attached to the MBTI type letter in the above descriptions) is often a most significant factor governing these relationships.
For example Personality Types whose leading mental process is extraverted thinking (Te) will approach people and situations with quite a different perspective than Personality Types whose leading mental process 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.
A more subtle example, because the "super powers" in this case are somewhat hidden is the interaction of Personality Types whose leading mental process is introverted intuition (Ni) with those whose leading mental process is introverted sensing (Si). They may even be talking in a similar "language" (both favoring extraverted thinking for example) but their oft hidden mental foundation is quite different. The Introverted Intuitive's mind is filled with patterns, relationships, ideas, etc. and often future-oriented while the Introverted Sensing person's mind is filled with an extensive library of facts, impressions, truths, etc. gleaned from his or her past experience. Heads can butt over issues that may not be clearly expressed because of these internal foundational differences.
As difficult as this may be, a starting point is to recognize that these differences are not one of which personality type is better or right or more effective . . . but understanding that for each most favored process or power there is an opposite side of the coin. For one person "heads up" is the normal and comfortable style and is for them an effective part of their success. For another "tails up" is most natural and comfortable and key to their own success. Conversely to the flip the coin over and perform confidentally drawing on what is one's least comfortable and natural "powers" is indeed a difficult challenge. But with practice and an appreciation that using these undeveloped processes is worthwhile, skill can grow.
Building Blocks of Personality Type: A Guide to Discovering the Hidden Secrets of the Personality Type Code
For more on this book and further information on the Eight Mental processes of Type, see my review and summary of Haas and Hunziker's Building Blocks of Personality Type.
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).
*While commonly called a "test" the MBTI ® is not a test but a personality inventory in which there are no right or wrong answers
Sandra Hirsch and Jane Kise have developed an introduction to MBTI ®Personality Types that is integrated with a spiritual message and applications especially relevant to the Christian and faith-based Communities.
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LifeKeys Leadership Resource Notebook: Discovering Who You Are, Why You're Here, and What You Do Best (Lifekeys). A Companion Leader's Guide for Christian and Faith-based Study Groups. [Ordering Info Here]
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