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)