What Advantage Is There To Using Sensing Or Intuition In Myers-Briggs® Theory?

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.What Advantage Is There To Using Sensing Or Intuition In Myers-Briggs® Theory? | LikeAnAnchor.com

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.

Sensing Strengths

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 Advantages

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

What Advantage Is There To Using Sensing Or Intuition In Myers-Briggs® Theory? | LikeAnAnchor.com
Photo credit: Michaela Kliková via Pixabay

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

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8 thoughts on “What Advantage Is There To Using Sensing Or Intuition In Myers-Briggs® Theory?

  • I’m pretty sure I’m an ENTJ, based on cognitive functions. I read somewhere that for ENTJs, since the function stack is Te, Ni, Se, Fi, it’s fairly easy to ‘flip’ back and forth between intuition and sensing.
    I’ve noticed this interaction does seem to be true as I am now writing my PhD dissertation. Even though I can envision the ‘big picture’ of what I’m arguing and can predict what my conclusion will be even before I’m done all the research, I am also extremely focused on making a careful, detailed case based on evidence that supports my larger vision and will be convincing to others (as well as confirming to myself that my suspicions are indeed correct). I find this combination has worked very well so far in my studies.
    I’m curious if this experience lines up with your understanding of MBTI Sensing and Intuition?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do suspect that we use our tertiary function far more than it’s often given credit for. Even though it’s not as reliable as our two more developed functions, it can be really useful in the right circumstances. Sounds like you’ve discovered a way to make that work really well for you!

      Your description of flipping between your Intuition and Sensing reminds me of when I do any sort of research work. I tend to rely heavily on my tertiary Ti to make sure what I’m writing comes together in a way that makes sense, and then balance that out with Fe to help me present it in a way that people will (hopefully) respond to the way I want them to.

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      • Thanks. Yes, if the tertiary is more useful than often portrayed, then it makes sense why I could identify with many of both the intuition and sensing traits in your above article.

        I am interested in learning more about how I use Se, since often the tertiary function is sometimes described as fairly weak. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s weak for me, but maybe it’s just not as high up in my order of priorities.

        It’s very interesting how you talk about which functions you use when writing. It’s neat to see that the same task can be done using very different functions. I wonder if there’s a signature style of writing or making arguments that can be tied back to each type? (Probably difficult to say for sure, but it would be cool.)

        Liked by 1 person

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