Being Analytical Doesn’t Necessarily Make You An iNtuitive – Here’s How Each Cognitive Function Analyses The World

 Ieva Urenceva
Ieva Urenceva

The amount of times I’ve seen people mistype themselves as an intuitive personality type because they self-identify as ‘analytical’ is perhaps more prevalent than the amount of times I’ve met actual intuitives. A common misconception about the MBTI is that all S-types take the world at face value – never stopping to consider how it functions, what the deeper meaning behind anything is or how various concepts are tied together. And this could not be further from the truth.

First of all, we know that everyone has an intuitive function somewhere in their stacking. But more importantly, we know that intuitive functions are not the only analytical functions. In fact, each function is analytical in some regard. Here’s a breakdown of how each cognitive function analyzes the world around it.

Introverted Sensing (Si)

Used by: ISTJs and ISFJs as a dominant function.
Also used by: ESTJs and ESFJs as an auxiliary function.

Introverted sensing is an incredibly analytical function. ISTJs and ISFJs are often dedicated intellectuals and scholars, who mistake themselves for INTJs and INFJs in high frequency – as the terms ‘intellectuals’ and ‘analytical’ are often predominantly aligned with the descriptions of INxJ types.

Introverted sensing is a function that is highly concerned with taking in high quality information. Unlike Ni users however, Si-users don’t experience ‘hunches’ or epiphanies about which information they ought to trust based on how it relates to other information – rather, they determine which information is best by concretely referencing how it has been used in the past, what has yielded the best outcome, which information others are choosing to use, and what has historically proven itself to be true.

Si-users are constantly contrasting facts and pieces of information they’ve acquired to determine which piece is reliable and can therefore be trusted to employ in relation to their future plans. They are not quick to trust just any input – they are analytical about which information they value and what ought to be put to use.

Introverted sensing can perhaps be thought of as both a storehouse and sorting area for facts. xSTJs are constantly seeking to acquire new information about the world around them, so long as the information is tangible, useful and straightforward. They may be interested in theory, but more as a means to and end than for the intrinsic love of exploring theory itself. Si is both highly linear and highly practical in its reasoning and it ultimately seeks to determine the best or most reliable course of action in any given situation.

Extroverted Sensing (Se)

Used by: ESTPs and ESFPs as a dominant function.
Also used by: ISTPs and ISFPs as an auxiliary function.

Of all the cognitive functions, extroverted sensing has the highest stimulation threshold. This function is able to take in a very wide variety and extremely high volume of experiences before becoming exhausted. For this reason, Se users are often very well informed on a number of world issues, as they are constantly conversing with the people around them, interacting with the world around them and reading up on topics that interest them. Dominant Se users are almost always soaking in their environments in one way or another – which means they have a wide plethora of experiences and viewpoints to pull their opinions from.

Extroverted sensing is a perceiving function – which means that its main job is to take in stimuli in an unbiased way, and pass that information on to either introverted thinking or introverted feeling to apply judgment to it. However, there is certainly some judgment involved in extroverted sensing. This function strives to understand how the world functions in a clear-cut and straightforward manner. And so, Se is constantly contrasting facts it has picked up in the past against the new facts it is taking in, comparing current experiences to other experiences and considering how various viewpoints stack up against one another.

Se-users are critical in the sense that they are constantly contrasting the many sensory experiences they’ve had and then deciphering which one is the most useful in a given situation. Unlike its cousin function introverted sensing, Se isn’t concerned with making the future resemble the past – it’s concerned with making the present resemble the best possible present. And the true analytical brilliance of extroverted sensing comes from its no-nonsense approach – this function has zero problem throwing the rules out the windows and pursuing the most direct possible route to what it wants.

Introverted Thinking (Ti)

Used by: ISTPs and INTPs as a dominant function.
Also used by: ESTPs and ENTPs as an auxiliary function.

It could be argued that introverted thinking is the most stereotypically analytical function – and yet, it is often paired with a sensing function, which greatly confuses iNtuitive supremacists, who assume that all analytical functions are N functions.

Introverted thinking seeks to take in as much intellectual information as it possibly can, in as unbiased a form as it possibly can, in order to uncover indisputable truths about how the world concretely functions. Ti is the ultimate lover of facts, but unlike Si, its fact loving cousin, it does not trust facts based on their utility or the extent to which they’re generally accepted – it trusts facts only after analyzing them independently and coming to its own conclusions about what can be assumed to be true and what cannot.

Ti searches for internal consistency above all else. It needs to gather as much knowledge as it possibly can and then attempt to fit those various pieces of knowledge into a greater framework for understanding how the world works. The Ti-user is not afraid to throw conventional knowledge out the window if he or she finds it does not serve their quest for truth – rather, they will use any means available to them to decipher whether or not something is consistent with the other things they can reasonably believe to be true. Ti is not particularly concerned with the utility of the truth it is searching for, so much as it is concerned with the pure accuracy of it.

This function seeks to develop a comprehensive, completely unbiased framework for how the world works in the present moment. It enjoys theory only insofar as theory is useful in helping it understand the way things work. Unlike Ni, Ti is not intrinsically delighted by theory – it uses it as a means to an end. The end, of course, being finding oneself one step closer to understanding how the world logistically functions in a concrete, verifiable way. Ti – as a stand-alone function – is ultimately concerned with deciphering what we can know for absolutely certain to be true.

Extroverted Thinking (Te)

Used by: ESTJs and ENTJs as a dominant function.
Also used by: ISTJs and INTJs as an auxiliary function.

Extroverted thinking is incredibly analytical in its ability to determine the most practical course of action in almost any situation. It effortlessly picks out the objective facts at hand and considers how to navigate them in order to achieve a specific desired result.

Extroverted thinking analyzes everything through a results-based lens. It is the master of ‘If X then necessarily Y’ type reasoning – clearly perceiving the outcomes of various courses of actions and contrasting those possible outcomes in order to determine which actions ought to be taken.

Extroverted thinking – as a standalone function – is adept at clarifying what is logical and true, without needing to delve deeply into the facts or theories behind the matter. It looks at truth through the lens of utility, and is concerned mainly with what can be achieved through applying the knowledge we have (as opposed to sitting around wondering about whether we have the best or absolute most accurate information. Te is concerned with the implementation of ideas first and foremost, and it is incredibly analytical in terms of determining which actions will yield the most beneficial outcomes.

Introverted Feeling (Fi)

Used by: ISFPs and INFPs as a dominant function.
Also used by: ESFPs and ENFPs as an auxiliary function.

Introverted feeling is highly analytical about emotions and morality. This function seeks to uncover the greater universal truths that govern our emotions, and to develop frameworks for how humans ought to behave.

Fi-users are analytical in a subjective way. They use their perceptions about how various situations make them feel in order to generalize those experiences, relate to others and ultimately form a universal understanding of or framework for how emotions in general function.

Fi is focused on the meaning behind its perceptions more so than the concrete reality of them. It is less interested in what is (believing that is self-apparent and doesn’t need to be explored) and is more interested in what certain emotions, experiences and intangible feelings represent. In a way, Fi-users may feel as though they’re intuitively channeling greater universal truths that transcend reason – ones they themselves do not completely understand, and may only be capable of properly expressing through art.

It is important to note that all Fi-users are also necessarily Te-users. While Fi is busy picking up emotional energies and deliberating which truths they represent, extroverted thinking is busy sorting through those perceptions and determining how they could be organized into moral rules or guidelines. When Fi and Te pair up, they make for a powerfully analytical team that is adept at creating moral guidelines with little to no input from the external world.

Extroverted Feeling (Fe)

Used by: ESFJs and ENFJs as a dominant function.
Also used by: ISFJs and INFJs as an auxiliary function.

Extroverted feeling is constantly thinking about how situations could be manipulated in order to achieve harmony. It intuitively understands what needs to be reconciled in order to get people on the same page and how to manipulate a given situation in order to ensure that everyone is working towards a common goal or at the least coexisting peacefully.

Fe is analytical in its ability to intuitively understand which forces are at odds with which other forces, and where the middle ground exists between them. Whereas some functions are polarizing in nature, Fe seeks to find commonalities between viewpoints and bring people together to ultimately understand the universality of each other’s perceptions.

Fe is an analytical function in its ability to look beyond what is immediately occurring and determine what could be altered in order to achieve cohesiveness either interpersonally or even between conflicting facts or pieces of information. It seeks to uncover universality and establish harmony within disjointed or polarized systems.

Extroverted iNtuition (Ne)

Used by: ENFPs and ENTPs as a dominant function.
Also used by: INFPs and INTPs as an auxiliary function.

Extroverted intuition is an analytical function in that it is constantly (often subconsciously) drawing connections between pre-existing concepts. Ne intrinsically enjoys learning, questioning and extrapolating upon theory. It delights in finding a single concept that applies across a wide variety of scenarios, and may regularly perform ‘mental gymnastics’ to try to fit a new concept into a series of different situations to see if it fits across a variety of scenarios.

Ne is all about questioning what we know to be true – but it does not do this by analyzing the facts at hand. Rather, it analyzes how we perceive those facts – can we really trust the scientific method? What other methods might work better? What is the scientific method really getting at, anyway? Can’t any ‘law of nature’ just be disproven at any point in time? We shouldn’t trust that the future will resemble the past. As far as extroverted intuition as a stand-alone function is concerned, there is absolutely nothing we can be 100% sure of. It serves to question the basis for everything we believe to be true, and to challenge the status quo at every available opportunity.

Ne is the definition of looking at things from an ‘outside the box’ perspective. It enjoys considering one thing from various different perspectives and maintains loyalty to no one perspective – rather, it is often delighted by the opportunity to throw what is known out the window and consider something from a completely unprecedented perspective – even if it makes absolutely no practical or logical sense to do so.

Introverted iNtuition (Ni)

Used by: INFJs and INTJs as a dominant function.
Also used by: ENFJs and ENTJs as an auxiliary function.

Introverted intuition is ‘an-outside-the-box’ function in that it is more interested in exploring what we don’t know than what we do know for sure. Ni searches not to pull entirely new considerations or concepts into our awareness like Ne does, but rather to find systems that can link pre-existing concepts to one another holistically and help us to understand how everything is connected to everything else in a comprehensive fashion. Unlike Ti or Si, however, Ni is less interested in confirming indisputable truths and is happy to take a few leaps of faith into the realm of intangibles in order to explain how everything seems to be connected to everything else.

Ni enjoys learning about different theories that offer possible explanations for why things happen the way they do and why humans behave the way they do. It is constantly (often subconsciously) looking for affirmations of these theories in the user’s external environment, and is pleased when a theory seems to hold true, allowing the Ni user to assume that the implications of these theories will continue to hold true in the future – which in turn allows them to predict and picture what the future might look like in as accurate a fashion as possible.

Ni is largely analytical about the future. While Si users consider what is likely to happen in the future based on what has happened in the past (and which specific actions could be taken to change specific parts of the future), Ni users consider which large-scale changes would need to happen, in intricate detail, in order to change the overall course of the future. They see not individual actions that need to be changed, but a holistic view of the world and how a single change would affect everything else in our social, physical and spiritual ecosystem. Ni users are almost incapable of focusing on individual facts one at a time, as they come to understand the world around them by analyzing which universal concepts tie the complexities of it together. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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