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. Read more

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Personality Type Myth-Busting: Is Intuition The Same As A Gut Feeling?

I often see Intuitive types describe their experience of intuition as a “gut feeling.” It’s not something we can explain — it’s just something we know. And that is a valid way to describe a lot of what we experience from using Intuition. But if that was all there was to intuition, then we’d be able to describe a lot more than 30% of the population as Intuitive types.

When people talk about intuition, they usually mean something different than what type theorists mean when they refer to Intuition as a psychological function. Google defines intuition as “the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.” We might also use the word intuitive to mean “suited by nature for a particular purpose in life,” as when we speak of intuitive athletes or creative types who “just know” how to do something.

In her book Personality Type, Lenore Thomson points out, “Most of the people to whom we apply the word intuitive in this causal way aren’t Intuitives — at least not typologically. They’re usually Sensates and Introverted P types, whose right-brain abilities the left brain can’t explain to itself” (p. 199). I’ve also noticed that some of the things that Intuitives describe as part of their intuition are actually connected with other mental processes. For example, an INFJ might say they intuitively know how to blend in with different social groups when in reality that ability is tied to their harmony-seeking Extroverted Feeling process more than to their Introverted Intuition.

So if Intuition, in the typological sense, isn’t want people usually think of when they think of intuition, what is it? Read more

7 Fictional Characters That You’ll Relate To If You’re An INFP

What fictional characters do you relate to as an INFP?

Just as we can describe real people using the Myers-Briggs® typology system, we can also use the system to type well-written fictional characters. Some of fiction’s most iconic and intriguing characters are INFPs, and today we’re going to talk about seven of them that I think real-life INFPs will find relatable.

One great thing about looking at character personality types is that it helps us to better understand people who have different types than we do. Fictional INFPs can serve as examples for what real-life INFPs might be like, and also show how much variation can exist between individuals with the same type.

Alphonse Elric

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood was the first Anime series I watched and it’s now one of my favorite TV series of all time. One of the highlights of this series (as well as the Fullmetal Alchemist series) is the character Alphonse Elric, who I’m pretty sure is either an INFP or an ISFP. Al is a sensitive, sweet young man with great strength of character. He believes deeply in doing what’s right and has a strong bond with the people he cares about, as do many real-life IFPs.

As someone who leads with Introverted Feeling (aka “Authenticity”) Al’s preferred mental process is one that’s concerned with inner harmony. As such, he makes decisions based on what feels right to him. As I’m sure many INFPs can attest, this isn’t an easy or straightforward way of figuring things out. It involves a life-long process of checking in with oneself, figuring out who you are, and finding the right way to navigate an often confusing world. Though he’s trapped in a giant suit of armor, Al is quite a young character and though the course of his story we get to see him working through a complicated process of discovering himself that I think many INFPs can relate to from their own growing-up years. Read more

7 Fictional Characters That You’ll Relate To If You’re An INTP

What fictional characters do you relate to as an INTP?

Just as we can describe real people using the Myers-Briggs® typology system, we can also use the system to type well-written fictional characters. Some of fiction’s most iconic and intriguing characters are INTPs, and today we’re going to talk about seven of them that I think real-life INTPs will find relatable.

One great thing about looking at character personality types is that it helps us to better understand people who have different types than we do. Fictional INTPs can serve as examples for what real-life INTPs might be like, and also show how much variation can exist between individuals with the same type.

Alice

I actually typed Alice as an ENTP on my Disney Princess MBTI chart, but many people type her as an INTP. I’m fairly certain she uses Introverted Thinking and Extroverted Intuition as her two favorite functions, so both ENTPs and INTPs will probably find her a relatable character.

Extroverted Intuition is the most visible aspect of her personality. “If I had a world of my own everything would be nonsense,” seems the sort of thing a bored, curious intuitive would say as they try to explore every possibility no matter now far-fetched. As Alice goes through Wonderland, she’s constantly testing the different aspects of the world and asking questions. Read more

Why Is It So Hard For Sensing And Intuitive Types To Understand One Another?

I’ve been informally studying the Myers-Briggs® typology system for about 10 years now, but for most of that time I still felt confused about the difference between Sensing and Intuition. Though I’m usually pretty good at seeing things from other people’s perspectives as an INFJ, I’d have a hard time understanding Sensors. I had good friendships with Sensing types, and I’d protest when people in the Intuitive community spread hurtful myths about Sensors, but I got stuck explaining the exact difference between the two.

I think this is a problem that quite a few of us face. For myself and many others who I’ve talked with online, the Sensing/Intuitive dynamic is even harder to figure out than Introvert/Extrovert, Thinking/Feeling, or Judging/Perceiving. 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. Our preference for Sensing or Intuition influences us, and how we relate to others, so much that most typologists say you should only date or marry someone who matches your S/N preference.

Of course, type isn’t really a good predictor of romantic happiness and many couples (including INFP Isabel Myers and her ISTJ husband) are quite happy without matching on S/N. So maybe it’s not a good idea to just assume Sensors and Intuitive can’t understand each other. Perhaps what we really need is a better grasp of the real difference between Sensing and Intuition and a commitment to using that understanding to appreciate the strengths and differences of each type. Read more

Challenging Myths About Sensing Types and Inviting A More Balanced Dialogue In The Myers-Briggs® Community

One of the most disturbing trends I’ve noticed in the community of Myers-Briggs® enthusiasts is a bias against Sensing types. You’ll see it in comments from Intuitives about how they don’t want any Sensing friends because they couldn’t possibly understand us. It’s someone saying a fictional character is too dumb and shallow to be an INFJ so they have to be ISFJ (or insisting another character has to be INFJ because they’re relatable and imaginative). It’s assuming all SP types are dumb jocks who’d run off a cliff just for a thrill and all SJ types are conservative traditionalists who’d rather die than see the status quo change.

There was a similar issue when introverts finally started realizing they weren’t broken extroverts. In some cases, the introvert hype turned into an idea that introverts are better than extroverts, which is simply not true. It resulted in stereotypes being used to tear-down extroverts and build-up introverts. We’re still undoing that damage, but I think we’ve finally started to balance out and realize that introverts and extroverts are equally valuable.

Unfortunately, I’m not seeing a similar shift toward balance in how Intuitives view Sensing types, at least no everywhere. There are some wonderful groups out there (like Personality Hacker’s “Intuitive Awakening”) that insist on no Sensor-bashing while exploring what it means to be an Intuitive. But outside those groups it still happens. And even if we’re not staying Intuitives are better than Sensors, I wonder if the fact that there’s so much more material out there for Intuitives than for Sensors is still sending the message “you don’t matter as much as us.”

Sensing/Intuition Numbers

70% of the population are Sensing types, but when you Google individual personality types only 19% of the search results relate to Sensors (that’s if my math’s right — numbers aren’t one of my strengths). I searched each type and compared the number of results that came back. Here’s the full list:

  • INFJ – 16,100,000
  • INFP – 15,300,000
  • INTJ – 13,700,000
  • INTP – 8,090,000
  • ENFP – 5,680,000
  • ENTP – 3,510,000
  • ISTP – 3,100,000
  • ENFJ – 2,270,000
  • ISFJ – 2,230,000
  • ISTJ – 2,080,000
  • ESTP – 2,040,000
  • ENTJ – 2,020,000
  • ISFP – 1,900,000
  • ESTJ – 1,890,000
  • ESFP –  1,280,000
  • ESFJ – 1,210,000

No wonder so many people mistype themselves as an INxx — we’re the types flooding the internet with articles about what we’re like and inviting people to identify with us. That’s great for people with those types, but it’s actually one of the things contributing to the anti-sensor bias.

One of the reasons that so many people online identify as INFJs is because there is just so much more, and so much better, and more in-depth content on INFJs. If every second article you read is about INFJs, it’s only natural to come to identify more with INFJs, simply because we relate more to things that we understand more.” — Erik Thor, “Have You Ever Thought That You’re Actually Just A Smart Sensor?

If you Google “INFJ” you get back about 16,100,000 results. Search “ISTJ” and you get about 2,080,000 results. That’s almost 8 times as many results for the world’s rarest type as for the one that’s most common. We can argue that it’s because INFJs need more support online since they don’t get as much validation in-person from meeting people like them. But don’t Sensing types deserve the resources to learn about how their minds work as well? and the connection of seeing their types positively portrayed and defended by people writing about personality types? Read more