Hello personality type nerds. I’m here to clear up a misunderstanding that has festered its way into the MBTI community.
It began when we took cognitive functions out of the mix.
When the MBTI “Dichotomies” forced their way into pop culture (because they are simpler to understand than cognitive functions), we began to see ‘Thinking’ and ‘Feeling’ as opposing constructs. We began perceiving ‘Thinkers’ as cut-throat logicians, who never felt a tinge of emotion. We began to perceive ‘Feelers’ to be whiny cry-babies who couldn’t make a logical choice to save their life.
We decided that we could only access one or the other comfortably – our heads or our hearts. We decided that the presence of one must mean the absence of the other.
And this view is, quite frankly, both ill-informed and inaccurate.
Let’s take a step back in time.
When type psychology was first introduced (by Carl Jung, in 1921), he theorized a set of ‘Cognitive Functions’ that each of us possessed, in varying order.
We all use two main functions to perceive the world around us (one sensing function and one intuition function), as well as two main functions to make decisions (one feeling function and one thinking function). Our perceptive functions work together to help us form holistic insights. Our decision-making functions work together to help us reach effective decisions.
But what we forgot, when we started separating people into “F” or “T” categories is that nobody uses their thinking or feeling function exclusively (save, perhaps, for people who suffer from severe mental illnesses).
In any healthy, functioning human being, these functions are used together. If we’re suppressing one or the other, we’re making unbalanced, illogical decisions.
Let’s take a look at each decision-making function axis and how each one reaches conclusions.
The Ti/Fe Axis
Ti: Considers what is verifiably true.
Fe: Considers how that information can be universally applied.
Ti: Identifies the inevitable (or most likely) outcome of a set of actions.
Fe: Evaluates the emotional reaction that outcome will elicit.
The Fe/Ti Axis:
Fe: Picks up on the emotional experiences of others.
Ti: Identifies the objective, root causes of these emotions.
Fe: Identifies which actions will lead to harmony.
Ti: Pinpoints which underlying principles govern the maintenance of that harmony.
The Te/Fi Axis
Te: Sets external goals/objectives.
Fi: Internalizes the positive experience of goals and objectives being met or the negative experience of them not being met.
Te: Determines and pursues the most logical course of action, across a variety of situations.
Fi: Subjectively evaluates the outcome of each course of action and provides feedback as to which actions ought to be repeated in the future.
The Fi/Te Axis
Fi: Pinpoints what its user wants.
Te: Executes a course of action that will achieve that desire.
Fi: Identifies the present and past emotional experiences of the user.
Te: Categorizes which actions lead to which feelings and which actions might lead to different feelings in the future.
In the case of each decision-making axis, logic and emotion are factored in, in order to reach the best possible decision.
Failing to qualitatively evaluate a decision (using Fe or Fi) means failing to understand whether your goals are being been met in a meaningful way.
Failing to objectively evaluate a decision (using Te or Ti) means failing to understand whether the actions being taken are productive and effective.
Trying to suppress logic in order to give your emotions free reign will, ironically, cause you to repeatedly experience undesirable emotions, because you’re failing to understand what’s bringing them about.
Trying to suppress emotion in order to focus on what’s logical will, ironically, cause you to lose sight of what’s important as you gun towards your goals, to the point where you may fail to see the point in setting them anymore.
In order to function healthily – to set and achieve meaningful goals, to express ourselves authentically, to keep the peace, or to find the truth, we need to weigh in on both our logical and our emotional functions.
Ti users cannot understand which of their theories are universalizable without accessing Fe.
Te users cannot understand which of their goals are meaningful and worth pursuing without accessing Fi.
Fe users cannot understand what’s driving the emotional experiences of those around them without accessing Ti.
Fi users cannot see their passions come to life without accessing Te.
Attempting to only access the logical or the emotional side of ourselves means deliberately placing limits on our potential.
Of course, T-dominant or auxiliary types will naturally consider the logical course of action before they consider how that course of action makes themselves (or others) feel.
Of course, F-dominant or auxiliary types will naturally consider the emotional impact of a decision before considering how to logically implement or support it.
But at the end of the day, every T-type needs to access their feeling function in order to make the most powerful possible decision. And every F-type needs to access their thinking function in order to make the biggest possible positive impact on the world around them.
In a healthy individual, feeling and thinking functions work together in order to make the most authentic and impactful choices possible.
Choosing to deliberately engage only your thinking or only your feeling function means choosing to deliberately stunt your cognitive growth.
That decision is both illogical and undesirable in nature.