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Personal Quote: Be careful what you pray for; you'll probably get it
INFPs frequently mistype as INTPs. ENFJs are often just as ambitious as ENTJs. ESFPs are just as fun loving and carefree as ESTPs, and can also be just as clever and witty. ISFJs and ISTJs are both stubbornly traditional and fiercely protective. So what makes Feelers and Thinkers look so much alike? And in typing them, how can one tell the difference?
Online Myers-Briggs quizzes evaluate users according to a sliding scale of four letters: E vs. I, N vs. S, T vs. F and J vs. P. The result is that many users are told they are a certain percentage of one of each letter. This is where ambiverts come from; people who are told that they are 50% introverted and 50% extroverted (the truth is that no such person exists, anymore than does anyone who is 100% introverted or extroverted). They are also told that they may be 67% Judging and 33% Perceiving, or 40/60 iNtuitive and Sensing, etc. Many people, especially Feelers, are told that they straddle the line between Thinking and Feeling. So how do you really determine the difference?
You start by learning about the cognitive functions. For instance, it is impossible to be anywhere near half Perceiving and half Judging, as any two types that have two common middle letters, but different last letters have no functions in common. Because we use two classes of function–Perceiving functions (iNtuition and Sensing) and Judging functions (Thinking and Feeling)–everyone has characteristics of Judging and Perceiving types. But you are either one or the other, depending on whether your most developed extroverted function is a Perceiving or Judging function. And since each function can be introverted or extroverted, the total number of cognitive functions available to us to use is eight: Ni, Ne, Si, Se, Fi, Fe, Ti, Te. Each function has different distinguishing characteristics, and if you can identify which two functions a person uses most, you can determine their personality type. As each person uses as their top two both an introverted function and extroverted function in turn, as well as a Perceiving function and Judging function in turn, once you figure out one function (say, Se), you know you only have to guess between two other functions in order to pin down the individual’s type (e.g. Ti or Fi, creating xSTP or xSFP). The direction of the dominant function’s focus (inward or outward) determines whether that person is an E or an I (e.g. a person who uses Ti first and Se second is an ISTP).
Knowing the functions and how they work is the best and easiest way to estimate an individual’s type, as well as the best way to understand your own type. Perceiving functions are often easier to identify than Judging functions. Perceiving functions focus on different points in time. So if your friend is very focused on the future and lives in a world of possibilities, it’s likely that they are iNtuitive. If they focus on the past or present much more often, they are probably Sensing.
So if that MBTI quiz tells you that you are half Thinking and half Feeling, no big deal, right? You just have to figure out which Judging function you use more. Couldn’t be any harder than figuring out which Perceiving function is your favorite.
Turns out this is easier said than done. The trouble with the Judging functions is that they often look alike, despite bearing more stereotypes than the Perceiving functions.
So what is the real difference between Thinkers and Feelers? In a word, motive. The job of the Judging functions is to process and apply information in a manner that is meaningful to the user. They also act as support to the Perceiving functions, which compare and make sense of information, figuring out how to archive it. Thinkers and Feelers often have a very similar approach to a situation, especially if the Judging function–be it introverted or extroverted–is the dominant function. But their reasons for dealing with information at all are very different.
Thinkers believe in objective truth. They want to know what reality is and how they can use it. They generally do not believe reality can be changed, at least not easily and not by their individual effort. Feelers believe in subjective truth. They want to know what reality is and how they can change it. If it’s a favorable reality, Feelers are unlikely to change it and more likely to cling desperately to it, even if it changes on its own. Whereas Thinkers see that reality has changed of its own accord, shrug their shoulders and move on. When Thinkers encounter an obstacle, they find a way over or around it, or even find a way to use it to their advantage. When Feelers encounter an obstacle, they attempt to change it to something favorable to them.
Imagine a very powerful wizard on a journey. He comes to an impassible mountain. If he is a Thinker, he might use his magic to fly over or tunnel through the mountain. If he is a Feeler, he may turn the mountain into chocolate and eat his way through (Feeling types love chocolate; this is a simple fact of life).
So Thinkers are objective and Feelers are idealistic. But that doesn’t necessarily make them easy to tell apart at first glance.
Introverted Thinkers and Feelers both love analysis and fact finding. They can memorize lots of useless trivia and mentally dissect great amounts of information. They are also both witty, and can inflict some pretty impressive verbal burns. But the difference lies in the why. WHY do Ti and Fi users memorize useless trivia? WHY do they dissect and analyze concepts? Put simply, to the Ti user, useless trivia is just that; useless trivia, which they may use to sound smart and thus impress you. But to the Fi user, it is anything but useless. The Ti user analyzes things for the sheer pleasure of analysis, seeking to find exactly what makes an object, person or idea tick. The Fi user analyzes things to find their purpose. The Fi user is interested in the core of an object or person’s being. They want to know what makes the object, person or idea important. A Ti user and an Fi user can be equally analytical and equally emotional. To tell the difference between them, you must think like the Fi user and find the deeper purpose behind their actions.
Extroverted Thinkers and Feelers are both practical and ambitious, and often excel in leadership. They are both able to inspire masses to follow them, and are very commonly found in high positions in business or politics. They are also both very protective of those under their command or care, and may have very similar reasons for being protective of a person or thing. Finally, they both make formidable opponents in almost any competitive endeavor. But as with their introverted counterparts, the key differences between them lie in the why. There are also some differences in their respective approaches, as they, unlike their introverted counterparts, feed on energy from their environments. They require external factors to fuel them. Te users wish to accomplish an objective goal. They want to make others see reality for what it really is. Their approach will generally be very straight forward, powering through obstacles without slowing. They are energized by efficiency in the world around them, and will work to keep that efficiency. Fe users wish to accomplish a personal goal. They want others to see reality the way they see it, because they believe that reality can be changed if enough people will it to be so. Their approach will be more diplomatic, or even emotionally manipulative, though may appear to be just as blunt as the Te user. They are energized by the responses of people around them, and want to keep people responding in a manner that is positive or favorable to them. A Te user and an Fe user can be equally stoic and equally passionate. To tell the difference between them, you must be able to identify their true motives.