Type Dynamics: Interpreting the code of MBTI Myers Briggs Personality Types
By Ross Reinhold, INTJ
Page 2. Understanding J and P of the MBTI Assessment
Another kind of Attitude - the fourth letter of the code of Personality Types
Had Myers and Briggs not inferred a second type of Attitude from Jung's work, there might have only been three letters to their type code. We would have seen INT, INF, ITS, EST, ETN, etc. But their independent study of people and people differences, with Jung's typology as an important tool, lead them to create the polar preferences of Judging and Perceiving - which became the fourth letter in their Personality Type Code system. This attitude is the Outer World Orientation and is related to the kind of mental function one turns to the outside world.
In the Myers-Briggs ® Personality Type four letter code, J means that our Judging Function (either Thinking or Feeling) is turned to the outside world and P means that our Perceiving Function (either Sensing or Intuition) is oriented to the outside world. So ISFJ indicates Judging Function "F" is turned to the outside world; INTJ indicates Judging Function "T" is turned to the outside world. ENFP indicates this type turns their Perceiving Function "N' to the outside world; ESTP indicates their Perceiving Function "S" is oriented externally.
For Extraverted Types, their dominant mental function determines their Outer World Orientation. Note in the above table that the types with Extraverted Intuition or Extraverted Sensing have P (for their Perceiving Function) as their last MBTI type code letter. Conversely those with Extraverted Thinking or Feeling have J (for their Judging Function) as their fourth letter. With Extraverts, what you see is what you get; they extravert their most favored mental process, their Dominant mental function.
For Introverted Types, it is an opposite flow of psychic energy. They direct their most favored mental function inward and therefore more readily show to the outside world their supportive or auxiliary function. So the four Introverted Types (I_ _ Js) whose dominant preference is a Perceiving function (which is introverted), orient their Auxiliary preference - which is Judging - to the outside world. Conversely the four Introverted Types (I_ _ Ps) whose dominant preference is a Judging function (which is introverted), orient their Auxiliary preference - which is Perceiving - to the outside world. Ergo, the 4 "I_ _J" Introverted Types are in actuality more strongly governed by their "P" (Perceiving Function) inside and the 4 "I_ _P" Introverted Types are more strongly governed by their "J" (Judging Function) inside.
The Yin Yang of J and P
In general people with a Perceiving Outer World Orientation (last letter P) have a go-with-the-flow orientation, taking things as they come, keeping their options open, and adapting to whatever comes up. Their opposite, those with a Judging Outer World Orientation, like to plan their work and work their plan. They order and anticipate what is going on in the outside world. Think about people you know; I suspect you can readily find several who fit the mold of J or P types. This characteristic is one of the four primary ways people differentiate from one another.
Now understand that everybody is both a J and a P. If they are J on the outside, they are a P on the inside. If they are P on the outside, they are J on the inside. Because they tend to hide their dominant function, Introverted Types best illustrate the befuddlement that can occur due to this Yin Yang duality: what you see is not necessarily what you get. But even extraverts can cross you up on occasion. ESTP types are among the most adaptable, go-with-the-flow, in the moment types. Yet in some situations they can be inflexible, closed minded, and set in their ways when their inner Thinking Judgment has taken over.
Another element of Yin and Yang is the natural opposite orientation of all four mental processes. If a person clearly extraverts Thinking, this is a clue that Feeling is introverted. If what you readily see is Intuition freely used in the outside world, this is a clue that Sensing is introverted. People who clearly make their stated judgments based on Feeling, typically use Thinking in their inner world. ISFJ types who are typically quite courteous, sensitive to the values & feelings of others, and present a pleasant demeanor can actually be quite firm-minded, logical thinkers on the inside. INFP types whose inner Feeling values dominate how they form judgments can be quite formidable logical debaters, sometimes to such an extent that their extraverted Thinking disguises the depth of their inner Feeling.
The Yin Yang of E and I
Picture again the Compass of the Functions. Recall that the mind cannot go both North and South simultaneously, nor East and West simultaneously. Yet if you add the dimension of the two energy consciousness realms - introversion and extraversion, it clarifies what are truly opposite. For example, the polar opposites of Thinking and Feeling would create strong competition with one another in the same energy consciousness realm; one must dominate. But it seems, this competition isn't an issue if they are in different realms: one extraverted and the other introverted. For example, a person with strong inner Feeling and well reasoned outer Thinking is a workable personality pattern; the two opposing mental functions can compliment one another. Likewise with Sensing and Intuition Functions. For example, the open, exploratory, go-with-the-flow thrust of extraverted Intuition is nicely counterbalanced by the ability to recall important details and be grounded by introverted Sensing.
As people grow and mature, this growth of opposites in the opposite realms of energy consciousness can be a natural pattern of development. People with dominant introverted Intuition may feel an urge to develop their extraverted Sensing; people with dominant extraverted Feeling may feel an urge to develop their introverted Thinking. It becomes a way of achieving some balance and expanded growth without compromising what is the person's anchor - their dominant mental function.
While the Hierarchy of Functions mentioned early in this article suggests this hierarchy forms the requisite growth or development pattern for a type, environment may alter that pattern. Occupational demands may require that a person develop skills and or a sensitivity to a mental function out of its natural order. A Feeling preference person who happens to choose accounting for a profession will certainly experience a necessity to develop and use the Thinking function. Also there are certain individuals who are simply atypical of their type (as are ambidextrous and left handed people whose brain organization is known to be atypical from what is considered the normal hemispherical organization).
This interaction of nurture with nature or the existence of atypical personality type continues to incite debate and discussion among students of Personality Type about the nature of the hierarchy of functions and whether the notion of hierarchy is even useful. What is presented here is a model of the psyche that I've found has explanatory value in my interactions with people I know and have worked with from all 16 type categories and from a variety of backgrounds.
--Ross Reinhold, MS, intj
People are like houses with several rooms and several windows. If you only look through the front room window, you may not accurately understand what is going on inside.
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*While commonly called a "test" the MBTI ® is not a test but a personality inventory in which there are no right or wrong answers.
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