Monday, October 13, 2008

Conjunction Junction, What's Your Function?

No, I'm not blogging about the grammar rules that were so effectively drilled into my generation by Schoolhouse Rock. Though I did enjoy those ditties….

No, today I'm continuing my Personality Talk series by talking about the eight cognitive functions that are the basis of the 16-type personality theory. As I said before, each type is not simply the expression of the four functions (or preferences) that the four letter code implies. So, an INTP is not simply an introverted version of an ENTP. And an ESFJ is not simply an ESTJ that uses feeling to make decisions. There is a more complex underlying interaction that the four preferences represent.

The base of the theory is that there are eight cognitive processes (sometimes called functions) or ways of thinking. Everyone uses all eight, but we tend to prefer some over others. Think about how you first react (or your natural inclination) to a situation or when you need to make a decision. The theory says that we tend to use a few of these processes more automatically than the others.

The eight functions are:
Extraverted Sensing (Se)-- experiencing the physical world, enjoying taking action, recognizing "what is" rather than what "could be"

Introverted Sensing (Si)-- comparing the current situation to a remembered one, reviewing past experiences, recalling stored impressions

Extraverted Intuiting (Ne)-- noticing hidden meanings in the world and interpreting them

Introverted Intuiting (Ni)-- looking inward to foresee the future, conceptualizing new ways of seeing things, envisioning transformations

Extraverted Thinking (Te)-- segmenting, logically organizing people and situations, contingency planning and scheduling

Introverted Thinking (Ti)-- evaluating according to principles and whether something fits the framework or model, seeking precision through clarifying definitions

Extraverted Feeling (Fe)-- connecting, expressing appreciation for others, considering and accommodating others

Introverted Feeling (Fi)-- evaluating the importance and worth of something based on one's own values, clarifying values

Each of the 16 personality types can be defined by the hierarchical pattern of their preferred cognitive processes. For example, the dominant process of an INFJ is Ni, followed by Fe, Ti, and Se (the other four processes are weaker and called "shadow processes.") A chart of the processes used by each personality type can be found here (scroll down for the chart.)

Here is a fun example of the eight functions in action. Given the situation that you are considering building a fence, what is your first thought or reaction? (Disclaimer: this list can be found on various websites, I don't know who the author is.)

The Eight Functions and Fence-Building
Se - I want to decorate the fence and make sure that it looks stylish and appealing.
Si - I’ll take care of looking at the instructions and making sure that we follow the established guidelines.
Ne - I want to design the fence.
Ni - Why do they want to do this and what is the deal with fences anyway? Is this necessary?
Te - Is doing this cost effective? Will it be useful?
Ti - I want to analyze the structure and placement of the fence.
Fe - How will it affect the neighborhood, and what will the neighbors think?
Fi - I want it to be my own special fence that I can share with others over time.

Here is another example (from Understanding Yourself and Others by Linda V. Berens and Dario Nardi).

How do you decide what to wear?
Se - Notice what is available, try on a few things to see how they look.
Si - Remember the last time you wore an outfit and how you felt then.
Ne - Think about the meaning of an outfit, what it may communicate to others.
Ni - Envision yourself in the outfit and perhaps seeing yourself being a certain way.
Te - Sort through colors and styles, consider consequences such as "since I have to stand all day…."
Ti - Analyze options using principles such as comfort, or "red is a power color."
Fe - Consider what would be appropriate for the situation.
Fi - Evaluate whether you like an outfit or not, does it suit you and feel right?

Can you identify what your dominant function is (remember, you probably use several functions when making a decision, but what is your first thought or automatic reaction)? Does it match the dominant process of your personality type?

(on to part 6)
(back to part 4)


Sarah Hina said...

Great information, Aine! That's a marvelous site that you linked to, too.

These examples are interesting. For the fence scenario, I think my immediate reaction was the Ni one, funnily enough. To question the necessity. However, if I found it was necessary, I would go with the Fe outlook (I am an INFJ!--all right, no, I'm not ;)). To be honest, the Fi isn't as appealing to me because hey, it's just a fence.

As far as the outfit goes: I waver between the Ne and Fi. Which maybe means that my Dominant and Auxiliary functions are uniting to make sure I am satisfied in both an introverted and extraverted fashion. :)

Can't wait to see others' responses, too!

Precie said...

Ooh, a curve-ball for me.

Ni all the way. (INFJ here.) I had to LOL about the fence...I would be absolutely Ni about it...What's the reasoning behind it? What's it's purpose? How do fences function in our society? Have you read that Frost poem? blah blah blah

Yeah. That would be me.

But I also have very strong Ti inclinations.

Great stuff!! Thanks, aine!

Aine said...

Sarah~ These functions are tricky. I actually wanted to go with the Si reaction on the fence list, then I realized that I was trained to react that way by two parents who both have Si as their dominant function! And the Fe was my second pick (which fits my INFJ brain). The outfit list is pure Ni for me, though. No question there.

LOL about the Fi reaction to the fence! That does seem a bit over the top for a fence...

Precie~ What's the curve ball? Because I'm adding more layers to your understanding of the theory? (I hope...)

Ti is your(INFJ) third function, so that makes sense. Theorists talk about how our hierarchy of functions emerges at different times throughout our life. I'll post about that soon! (Interesting implications for "midlife crisis"...)

The Quoibler said...

I can't seem to decide between Se and Te. :) Called me a confused "e".



Charles Gramlich said...

Introverted thinking for me. Most times. Always introverted though.

Lana Gramlich said...

Very interesting. I agree w/some of these sentiments. :)

Precie said...

Exactly, aine. New twists on the basic personality types. Great and fascinating stuff!

JaneyV said...

I think I'm a Knight who says Ni with and underlying Se. I have to say on the 'building a fence' one I was looking for the option that said "You get started and I'll make us all a cup of tea."

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

Janey I'm a knight that says eckee eckee 000h I forgot what they changed it to after the Nis.

Alright actually I am an INTJ and I have to choose between Te and Ti on how I would dress. I think that makes sense for me but am not sure.

Jaye Wells said...

Interesting exercise, Aine. According to the chart, my dominant function is FE extroverted feeling. It's funny because in both examples the overall idea is worrying about what others think. I don't like to admit that's true, but there it is. Luckily, I've learned to temper this instinct as I've matured.

Aine said...

Angelique~ Oh no! Confusion is understandable since we all use all of the functions. What's most confusing to me is that you tested ENFP or ENTP-- Se is the eighth (or weakest) function for both of those types! Go figure...

Charles~ You're one of those Rationals, eh?

Lana~ I find it fascinating that someone figured out these 8 cognitive functions. Apparently no one can think of any others to add, so the theory has stood for decades.

Precie~ It's a fun theory to get lost in. If only I could recognize everyone's type within minutes of meeting them... what a great skill this would be for a mediator!

Janey~ Oh no! Do you want a shrubbery? Anything to stop you... :)

Sounds like you're a textbook INFJ-- Ni is your dominant function and your fourth function Se is emerging now in adulthood.

Ello~ Ha! Sounds good to me. Just... be gone! My ears are hurting....

The Te makes sense as that's your 2nd function. Do you cover these functions when you teach MBTI?

Jaye~ Fe is a wonderful strength. Coupling your consideration for others (Fe) with your Ni (2nd function) which gives you keen insights into others' characters and potential makes you a fantastic mentor.

(Is my INFJ "seer" skill accurate?)

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Aine, this is such food for thought. It is all so very interesting. I can't pretend to understand all of it, but it is fun!

I am an ISFP
Fence building - NI
Deciding what to wear - FE.

I think I have always been an introverted extrovert. I call myself a gregarious recluse.

Also, when I was younger, I used to care TOO much about what others thought. ( Or what I thought they thought) It drove me a little crazy. Now that I am older, I don't care as much what people think. It is liberating.

Chris Eldin said...

I'm also INFJ, and NI!! This is sooo much fun!

Do you do tarot cards? Palm reading? I have a mess of issues to send your way.
Just kidding! (sort of) I've had one glass of wine and feeling fine right now. hugs to you.

SzélsőFa said...

With the question of the fence, I found Ti the most appropriate. Because if I am to build one, I have to make it the best.

But with the what-to-wear issue...
I found that I am confused and Si, Ni, Te, Ti and Fe all suited me :)

What does it tell about me, I don't know...?

Interesting past, anyway...

SzélsőFa said...

I meant interesting post.

Miladysa said...

I went NI for the fence and FE for what to wear!

Aine said...

Kaye~ I'm so glad you are enjoying this! I'm still trying to understand the whole theory, too.

Chris~ :) Jason reads tarot (fyi)... But as an INFJ, you can use you introverted intuiting to "know" the future. I'll bet you've had such moments when you just know something without knowing how you know (ha!).

Hugs back to you!

Szelsofa~ We all can use all of the cognitive functions. In fact, the more we use when making a decision, the better balanced the decision is.

And, just this weekend, I read more about how parents (who are a different Type than their children) can put "stress" on children to use functions that wouldn't be the child's natural preference, so we can develop functions to quite a competent level even if they are not our natural preference. I thought of your previous comment about feeling like you finally felt "yourself" after you reached adulthood. You have probably developed skill in using more of the functions than what your "type" generally uses. (Some scholars call it maturity-- :D)

Miladysa~ Those are the top two functions for ENFJ (which you tested as once). You'd have to read several descriptions of that type to see if it fits you better than the others.

Kim said...

For some reason your last two posts just showed up on my bloglines today, so I'm sorry for being late to the party.

I'm an ISFJ, and I'd say my first two functions are Si and Ti. Not exactly what the table says, but they are two of the first three. I tend to use introverted thinking when making decisions for myself (such as what to wear or how my fence should appear).

I like these posts, Aine. They're fun and informative.