One of the hardest personality dynamics to navigate is Sensing/Intuition. Part of this is due to the fact that Intuitive only make up about 25-30% of the population. That can lead to Intuitives feeling misunderstood and marginalized. On top of that, because our Sensing/Intuitive preference influences so much of how we conceptualize reality, someone who doesn’t share our S/N preference seems even less “like us” than those who don’t match on the E/I, T/F, or J/P preferences.
An unfortunate side-effect of the challenges involved in navigating Sensing/Intuitive relationships is that there’s now a bias against Sensing types in many parts of the personality type community. The myth that Intuitives are intellectually superior to Sensors and that Sensors will never understand them is now widespread among both Sensors and Intuitives.
However, it’s simply not the case that Intuition is better than Sensing. Both preferences grant advantages in certain areas and disadvantages in others. Myers-Briggs® theory is designed to explain how our minds work. It doesn’t say one way of processing is better than another or invite us to make that judgement. So with that being the case, lets take a closer look at the advantages of using Sensing or Intuition.
Comparing Sensing and Intuition
Sensing and Intuition are both Perceiving functions, which means they govern how we learn new information and experience life (click here for an overview of functions in Myers-Briggs® theory). The two processes determine how we experience reality and they so so in very different ways. To illustrate this, here’s a list of bullet points from Lenore Thomson’s book Personality Types (p.35-36). In this chart, she outlines what Sensing (which she calls Sensation) and Intuition each do for us.
Every person uses both Sensing and Intuition, but we each have one that we prefer and which we use more comfortably. If we use Intuition (or Sensing) as our preferred function, then Sensing (or Intuition) will be the inferior function that we have trouble accessing and using in a healthy way. If we use Sensing (or Intuition) as our co-pilot, then Intuition (or Sensing) will be our less-developed tertiary function.
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Sensing types usually have an advantage over Intuitives for any tasks that deal with direct sensory reality, experiencing the here-and-now, and dealing with information that’s historically tested as reliable. Their strengths tend to lie in the real of concrete reality.
While each individual person is unique in how their personality type plays-out, we can make some general observations about Sensing types. In general, advantages to being a Sensing type include:
- Better able to enjoy the present and live-in-the moment
- More practical and pragmatic
- Top-notch powers of observation
- A better appreciation of objective facts and circumstances they can perceive with their senses
- Careful attention to collecting all the facts before making a decision
- Ability to take quick, reliable action if they have past experience with something similar
- Better able to learn through experiences and in hands-on situations
Intuitive types usually have an advantage over Sensors for any tasks that deal with big-picture ideas, underlying patterns, alternative perspectives, and future predictions. Their strengths tend to lie in the realm of abstract, imaginative reality.
While each individual person is unique in how their personality type plays-out, we can make some general observations about Intuitive types. In general, advantages to being an Intuitive type include:
- Better able to appreciate the larger picture
- More imaginative and out-of-the-box in their thinking
- Ability to get outside their own perspective and see things from another point of view
- Increased appreciation of theory, possibility, and “what if?” questions
- Can jump to a conclusion/decision with just a few pertinent facts
- Ability to come up with new and innovative solutions to problems
- Better able to learn through theory and in situations when instruction is written or oral
I hope that outlining the advantages that come with a preference for Sensing or Intuition helps highlight why neither type of processing is better than the other. Sensors tend to be better than Intuitives in certain areas, just as Intuitives tend to be better than Sensors in other areas. The two types don’t belong in conflict. In fact, if Intuitives and Sensors can learn to appreciate each others’ strengths, we’ll find that those strengths complement each other well.
Featured image credit: Peter Kraayvanger via Pixabay