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Intro to Function Theory + More Detailed Descriptions of Each Function

The function descriptions in the stickies here are okay, but don't seem
to go into a lot of depth or give many examples. I will attempt to
improve them here. Sorry if any of this is repeated from stuff that's
been posted before; I just tried to cover everything.

Jung observed two types of general cognition: Perception (taking in

information) and Judgment (making decisions/evaluating it.)

He said that there are two styles of Perception: Sensing (which deals
with immediate, concrete, tangible sensory impressions) and iNtuition
(which deals with abstract patterns and relationships between things or
ideas, and other non-tangible information.)

There are also two styles of Judgment: Thinking (which deals with
impersonal logic and structure) and Feeling (which deals with
personal/interpersonal ethics and morality.)

Furthermore, each of these four processes can be directed inwardly

(introverted), which means it's conceptualized subjectively in terms of
the self, or externally (extroverted), which means it's conceptualized
objectively in terms of not-self.

Introverted attitudes view the outer world in terms of the self's

subjective ideal, so they attempt to make the outer world more like the
inner self. Their focus is deeper but less expansive--they can see all the
implications of one idea at a time.

Extroverted attitudes view the inner world in terms of the non-self's

objective ideal, so they attempt to make the inner self more like the
outer world. Their focus is broader but more shallow--they can see a
wide range of different information at once, but in less detail.

(For example, Ne can see the next few steps down many different
paths at once, but Ni sees all the way to the end of one path at a time.)

So, we can derive two kinds of extroverted perception (Pe): Ne and Se

(extroverted iNtuition/extroverted Sensing)

And two kinds of introverted perception (Pi): Ni and Si (introverted

iNtuition/introverted Sensing)

And two kinds of extroverted judgment (Je): Te and Fe (extroverted

Thinking/extroverted Feeling)

And two kinds of introverted judgment (Ji): Ti and Fi (introverted

Thinking/introverted Feeling)

Each of these eight functions represents a complete worldview or

attitude about life, the self, the outer world the relationship between
them. As you learn you will start to see these value systems at work
everywhere in everyone all the time, influencing all of their behaviors
and ideas so profoundly that most people are entirely unaware of their
own biases. As I said, think of them as lenses that color your
perceptions/judgments to a far greater extent than you may even

The E/I and P/J letters in Myers-Briggs types are not actually cognitive
functions; they simply tell us which directions our functions (S/N and
T/F) are oriented and which ones are dominant.

P/J tells us which of our two primary attitudes is extroverted, so if you

are xxxP then you prefer Ne/Se with Ti/Fi; if you are xxxJ then you
prefer Ni/Si with Te/Fe.

I/E tells us which of those two attitudes is dominant. If you are IxxP
your Ti/Fi is dominant and your Ne/Se is secondary (ExxP is the
reverse.) If you are IxxJ, your Ni/Si is dominant and Te/Fe is secondary
(ExxJ is the reverse.)

So, for dominant/secondary attitudes:

Ne = xNxP
Se = xSxP
Ni = xNxJ
Si = xSxJ

Te = xxTJ
Fe = xxFJ
Ti = xxTP
Fi = xxFP


Now, on to the functional attitudes...first, the extroverted Perception

(Pe) attitudes. These are dominant for ExxP types, secondary for IxxP,
tertiary for ExxJ and inferior for IxxJ:

Ne, or extroverted iNtuition, is dominant for ENxP, secondary for INxP,

tertiary for ESxJ and inferior for ISxJ. It is an outwardly exploratory
attitude that encourages us to change, reinvent and experiment with
the external world in order to find new and interesting combinations
and patterns. Ne looks for novel outcomes and imagines how the
things around you could be changed into other, more interesting
things. Ne sees new information as part of a larger, emerging, as of yet
unseen pattern that extends far beyond the self, and whose meaning
will continue to change as the context grows and we discover more of
the all-encompassing pattern. Rather than directly confront an issue,
Ne will often broaden the context until the issue seems insignificant by
comparison to the much bigger and more expansive ideas it imagines.

As with all extroverted functions, Ne needs to be validated by

external/objective information to have meaning. So Ne users will often
have many ideas very quickly but not know if they're good until they
hear other people's reactions to them, or have a chance to experiment
and see what happens. Ne wants very badly to be understood and
appreciated by others. Note that Ne songwriters (e.g. Brandon Boyd,
ENFP) will typically write enough context clues and such into their work
that you can put the pieces together and infer what they were thinking
when they wrote it. They want others to put the pieces together and
get it.

Se, or extroverted Sensing, is dominant for ESxP, secondary for ISxP,

tertiary for ENxJ and inferior for INxJ. It is the attitude that what is
directly apparent in our immediate physical surroundings is the most
important thing to go by. Se leads you to follow your gut instincts, pay
very close attention to what's going on around you, and respond to
things in the moment in whatever way will make the strongest and
most immediate guttural, sensory impact on others. Se users are so
present-focused that they're often on the cutting edge of new trends
because they place so much emphasis on what is current and new.
They like to learn things via a hands-on, figure-it-out-by-experimenting-

as-you-go, direct experiential approach (in this way they are similar to
Ne) but they are more focused on what is immediately tangible than on
what their surroundings might be changed into. They usually pay a lot
of attention to their physical appearance and are very good with
reading body language and using it to immediately size up a person or
a situation and respond instinctively. They can be quite impulsive and
prone to overindulgence in sensory pleasures, but they also know how
to work a crowd and they tend to make themselves into reflections of
current popular trends--whatever will make an impact.

Se is the opposite of Ni because it intentionally focuses on the literal

surface meaning of exactly what is going on right in front of you right
now, whereas Ni tries to ignore that and see the hidden meaning in
what is not directly apparent.


Next, the introverted Perception (Pi) attitudes. These are dominant for
IxxJ types, secondary for ExxJ, tertiary for IxxP and inferior for ExxP:

Ni, or introverted iNtuition, is dominant for INxJ, secondary for ENxJ,

tertiary for ISxP and inferior for ESxP. It is an inward sense of abstract
perceptual shift. Rather than imagine different ways we could change
the outside world, Ni acknowledges many different ways we could
change the subjective meaning of things to ourselves by looking at
them from different angles. Rather than directly confront an issue, Ni
will often solve problems by simply looking at them from a different
angle. Doing a bunch of community service sucks? Just think of it as an
opportunity to get lots of exercise! Note that Ni doesn't think about
how to change the outer world the way Ne does; it only thinks about
how to change *the way we interpret* the outer world. Ni leads you to
try and see "through the smoke and mirrors" to what is REALLY going
on below the surface, that other people are not perceptive enough to
pick up in its unhealthy form, it turns into conspiracy theories, a
la Dale Gribble from King of the Hill.

Strong Ni users like being the person behind the scenes who pulls all
the strings (even better if most people don't even realize it) and
understands the dynamics of everything on a deeper level than
everyone else. They are threatened by the idea that there might be
any perspective or angle they cannot see, and as such they sometimes
overestimate their own ability to fully grasp and work around the
attitudes of others.

As with all introverted functions, Ni doesn't pay attention to external

conditions outside the self so it doesn't care if anyone else grasps the
ideas the same way the Ni user does. To Ni, I get the significance and
that's all that matters. Ni songwriters (e.g. Thom Yorke, INFJ) will often
write lyrics that could not possibly make any sense to other people
without a direct explanation from the writer, but they don't really care
because Ni considers intuition such a personal thing that it can't make
its perspective/ideas clear to others very easily at all, and frequently
doesn't even bother trying.

For another example, Isaac Newton (INTJ) invented calculus and didn't
bother telling anyone about it for 20 years. Ne would have been out
showing the idea to others and changing it based on their reactions-but not Ni!

As a result Ne is typically much better at putting its abstract ideas into

terms that others will understand than Ni.

On a side note: Ni appreciates definitional freedom (and thus is often

annoyed by Ti) in the same way Ne appreciates freedom to change its
plan of action abruptly (and thus is often annoyed by Te.) Ti users will
tend to frame debates by first assigning precise definitions to terms,
but Ni often objects to this by wondering: "How are we unconsciously
limiting our understanding by assigning such rigid definitions in the
first place?" Ni always seeks to escape the unconscious assumptions

that limit its understanding of as many different conceptual viewpoints

as possible.

Si, or introverted Sensing, is dominant for ISxJ, secondary for ESxJ,

tertiary for INxP and inferior for ENxP. It's related to Se in that it deals
with sensory experience, but rather than constantly scan for
everything about what's going on now, it relies on internalizing those
experiences into an extremely detailed internal map of highly vivid
*memories* of those past sensory experiences. This dependence on
reliving past experience and using it as a guide for the present leads to
an extremely good memory for detail, and a general attitude that
going with what we know for sure from having experienced it before is
usually best.

Si is the opposite of Ne because rather than relate new information to

some larger external, constantly changing pattern, it tries to relate all
new information to something it already knows, some sensory data
that it's absorbed from its past experiences. This leads to the classic
Ne vs. Si battle: Ne wants to try something new just for the sake of
doing something different and finding something interesting; Si wants
to stick to what we've done before because its vivid memories of direct
experience allow us to relate the new information to that past
information we've already absorbed.

It's a common misconception that Si users are traditionalists on

principle. In my experience, many older Si users (xSxJ types have Si as
dom/secondary) are traditionalists because the only source of
information they had was their parents and the traditions they were
raised with, but these days many younger SJs are much less
traditionalist in nature because information is so much more freely
available than it was just a few generations ago. Si is not into tradition
just for the sake of tradition; it just likes to relate new information to
something it already knows. Rules and traditions can be a convenient
way to do this, but it's a mistake to believe that Si always leads to
traditionalism for its own sake.

Si also does some really cool stuff like perfect pitch...I have one ISFJ
friend (Si dominant) who can tap into his past sensations of what a
particular note sounded like and use it to identify some note he hears
now as a G#. That's amazing to an Ne dom I only understand
notes in terms of their relationship to other notes in a larger pattern;
Josh just taps right into his detailed sensory memory and can identify
the note by remembering what it sounded like before, on its own.

Si doms like to collect objects and facts that evoke pleasurable

memories from the past. An Si who's into history will collect books,
photos, stamps, Si who's into music will collect instruments,
sheet music, photos of concerts, and so on. Many Si types love
scrapbooking because looking back at those old photos evokes those
powerful, highly detailed sensory experiences from the past.

On a more morbid note, Dexter (from the TV series "Dexter") is

probably ISTJ. He collects blood slides because they evoke the detailed
memories of his most enjoyable murder experiences from the past. =/


Next, the extroverted Judgment (Je) attitudes. These are dominant for
ExxJ types, secondary for IxxJ, tertiary for ExxP and inferior for IxxP:

Te, or extroverted Thinking, is dominant for ExTJ, secondary for IxTJ,

tertiary for ExFP and inferior for IxFP.

It's an attitude that encourages an external, objective standard when

dealing with logic, impersonal facts and ideas. Te, when arguing, will
tend to cite appeals to authority and other widely accepted, externally
focused evidence; i.e., citing books or prominent authors/studies, or

any widely accepted consensus among the external world of people

who study the topic in question. "The experts all agree that this is the
case" is a very Te-oriented argument, because it relies on external
standards and context for its evaluation of logical decisions.

For this reason Te people will usually insist on seeing quantifiable,

repeatedly demonstrable, empirical evidence before accepting
anything. If you can't put it in a test tube, measure it and repeat these
results any time for all to see, it's not valid. The scientific method is
extremely Te-oriented. From the Te perspective, there is no such thing
as logic without this sort of externalized validity, because impersonal
ideas are to be shared and agreed upon by large groups instead of
individuals (the same way Fe treats ethics) and determined by
objective consensus. Te users tend to find Ti selfish and unyielding in
its insistence on fitting things into its own personal logical framework
before accepting them, rather than taking widely accepted external
evidence or consensus seriously.

Strong Te users are efficiency experts. They are typically very good at
translating a theoretical idea into a fluid, external process that gets
effective, measurable results that can be repeated and verified on
schedule. They usually do very well in management positions that
allow them to focus on process over theory in order to maximize
efficiency and bring about the desired goal while expending the
smallest possible amount of resources (especially time.)

Fe, or extroverted Feeling is dominant for ExFJ, secondary for IxFJ,

tertiary for ExTP and inferior for IxTP. It is an attitude that encourages
adherence to the ethics of the cultural/social/familial groups we feel
emotionally connected to. Fe leads you to derive your moral viewpoints
from some sort of externalized consensus. This doesn't mean you
automatically fall in line with whatever moral viewpoints happen to
surround you, just that (unlike the accompanying Ti view on logic as
something you don't need external input to understand) you don't see
how ethics can be decided reasonably without some sort of external

context. (Fe views ethics as dependent upon collective consensus in

the same way Te views logic/impersonal ideas.)

Fe leads people to adjust, hide or set aside entirely their own emotions
in favor of fitting the emotional needs of the broader groups that are
important to them. This leads to a certain respect for the common
consensus among those important groups regarding interpersonal
behavior and treatment of others. If you were to criticize someone's
behavior from an Fe standpoint, it would be from the standpoint of,
"Your behavior is inconsistent with the group's standards--most people
would consider it wrong or inappropriate." Fe appeals to the collective
morality of the whole; the fact that "most people would agree" serves
as externally objective evidence to support Fe's moral standpoints.

People with strong Fe are typically good at saying just the right thing
that fits in with the moral expectations of the audience. For this reason
Fe tends to make great politicans because strong Fe users often make
outstanding, charismatic public speakers who can play off the
emotions of others to rally groups toward the desired cause. They are
excellent at organizing, leading and delegating tasks to others with an
interpersonal style that gets the job done while still appearing socially
appropriate and respecting the emotional needs of others (so long as
those needs are reasonable within the group's objective framework of
ethics.) They understand how to perform the social/cultural
responsibilities expected of them and they expect others to do the
same, and if you're not fulfilling these responsibilities they're very good
at appealing to the crowd to deliberately make you look like an asshole
in front of everyone. ("Look everyone, this guy doesn't fit with our
collective moral ideals!")

Fe considers it paramount to show overt displays of loyalty to the

people in the groups it feels connected to, which includes helping out
friends/family whenever possible and receiving similar displays of
loyalty in return. (If these displays are not reciprocated Fe may take
this as a sign that the other person is not loyal.) Fe tends to see Fi
users as selfish for refusing to adapt their feelings to the feelings of

others in service of the good of the larger group, and for ignoring
objective standards on ethics in favor of purely personal ones.

The whole idea behind Ms. Manners is very Fe--Fi would wonder why
anyone cares about any external consensus on ethics, because to Fi
ethics are purely subjective. Fe is concerned with adjusting to the
ethical standards as established objectively by the groups it feels are


And finally, the introverted Judgment (Ji) attitudes. These are dominant
for IxxP types, secondary for ExxP, tertiary for IxxJ and inferior for ExxJ:

Ti, or introverted Thinking, is dominant for IxTP, secondary for ExTP,

tertiary for IxFJ and inferior for ExFJ.

It's an attitude that encourages subjective logical decision-making

based on our personal and directly experiential ideas of what fits into
an impersonal logic framework and what doesn't. When it comes to
logic/impersonal ideas, Ti reasons, external consensus can go to hell
because it might very well be wrong, no matter how many people
believe it or how many experts claim to know the truth. Ti seeks truth
for its own sake; it wants to understand the relationships that force
frameworks of information to fit together into cohesive wholes. Ti is
focused on the blueprint, the design, the idea--while Te is focused on
the application of that idea into an objectively measurable process.
Externally measurable application is not nearly as important to Ti as
internal structural integrity and logical consistency with itself.

Ti appreciates structural symmetry, balance, and the beauty of

symmetrical models that elegantly explain and organize real world

phenomena (perceived by Ne or Se) into neatly arranged categories. Ti

people are usually very good with pure logic in a vacuum, as Ti simply
"knows" inherently what is logical and what is not, and will defend this
sense of logic to the death just to prove a point. Te people, on the other
hand, are more concerned with what tangible USE can come from an
argument--which is often none. This is why INTPs will argue
hypotheticals all day but INTJs will rarely bother trying to convince you.
For the INTJ, Te simply doesn't see what useful goal would be served by
trying to change your opinion.

Ti: What logical relationships necessitate this system working the way
it does, and how can I make them make sense to me?

Te: What externally verifiable, quantifiable evidence can we show that

this is logical, and what tangible goal can be served by spending our
time on it?

Another good example is music theory...when I learned chord theory I

naturally wanted to learn the rules of how chords fit together so that I'd
understand the entire system holistically and could theoretically figure
out any chord. Ti likes to figure out entire systems just for the sake of
getting a glimpse of complete truth ("I want to play guitar, so I will
learn the system of rules for how chords are built so I understand the
whole thing at once"), whereas Te is much more goal-oriented and
always wants to know how this system can be applied to something
externally useful or used to accomplish our predetermined Te
would be more inclined to first figure out what the goal is ("What do I
plan to use my guitar playing for?") and then learn only what's
necessary to complete that goal. ("I want to learn 'Freebird', so I will
learn the chords and techniques necessary to play that song.")

Te takes a step by step, sequential and linear approach based on which

steps are needed to complete its goals, while Ti tries to understand the
entire system as one big unit simply because it's interesting and

I borrowed the following baseball analogy from Lenore Thomson,

because it works so well:

So let's say you're playing baseball. Te would tell us that if the runner
doesn't reach the base before the ball gets there, he's out--period.
That's objectively verifiable and can be shown logically, through
external empirical evidence/consensus of experts that it is always the
case, and it can be quantified and measured precisely without any
personal emotions getting involved. (You can see why so many TJs are
research scientists, especially NTJs.)

But Te won't do us any good when we're the runner trying to decide
whether to steal 2nd base or wait for another hit. The situational logic
in this case is subjective Ti because it requires us to reason out what
makes sense at the moment according to our direct experience--the
logic at play here cannot be precisely quantified in an externally
verifiable manner.

Fi, or introverted Feeling, is dominant for IxFP, secondary for ExFP,

tertiary for IxTJ and inferior for ExTJ. Unlike Fe, Fi leads you to draw
ethics purely from an internal, subjective source and finds Fe's
collective approach to morality shallow and fake. Since ethics are
purely a personal ideal in Fi's view, all personal feelings are sacred and
allowing any outside views to affect them is patently unethical. Fi
treats ethics in the same way Ti treats logic, in that it's something that
requires no external context to understand and that should not be
influenced or changed by any outside forces.

The ability to express one's personal feelings and inner self freely and
maintain a strong sense of personal uniqueness and individuality is of
utmost importance to Fi. (It's also important to Ti, but for different
reasons and in different contexts.) I have found that many Fi users

dislike typology in general because they feel that "putting people into
boxes" suppresses their sense of personal identity, and that people are
too unique to be categorized so easily.

Fi people are typically very good at picking up emotional vibes in the

tone of voice and word choice of others. They often know what you're
feeling even better than you do because they're aware of the subtle
effects that different emotional states have on our behaviors and can
pick up cues about how you're feeling that you didn't even intend to
give off. For this reason strong Fi users are profoundly empathetic and
tend to understand and identify with basic human needs on a profound
level. If you were to criticize someone's behavior from an Fi standpoint,
it would be in the form of, "What you are doing is hurting my
feelings/violating my ethics/preventing me from fulfilling my basic
human needs." Strong Fi users often feel a certain connection to the
beauty of nature, animals, and life itself, simply "knowing" deep inside
themselves that life is sacred and all individuals possess inherent

A mature Fi user is extremely in tune with the emotional needs of

others and very supportive of and responsive to them. An immature Fi
user is overly preoccupied with his own emotional needs and will act
passive aggressively toward people who don't bend over backwards to
cater to how he feels. Note that both Fe and Fi users often feel a strong
sense of moral obligation to their loved ones; the difference is simply
the source of this obligation. If it comes from an external/objective
cultural standard, it's probably Fe--if it comes from a personal sense of
moral responsibility that deliberately blocks out external influence, it's
probably Fi.

Fi doms are ethical perfectionists in the same way Ti doms are logical
perfectionists. They seek a sense of internal balance and harmony with
their surroundings that feels right in their own individual way. Note that
introverted judgment (Ti/Fi) seeks depth and specificity while
extroverted judgment (Te/Fe) seeks broad applicability. Ti wants to
define exactly what is logically correct under an extremely specific set

of circumstances that may never happen in the real world, while Te

seeks widely applicable objective consensus that can apply in many
different situations. Fi seeks to determine precisely what the user feels
is morally right regardless of external application, while Fe seeks
widely applicable, generalized ethical rules that can serve to govern
entire groups. Ti/Fe = I think/We feel; Fi/Te = I feel/We think.