MBTI Personality Type Theory


With only a superficial understanding of MBTI theory, the differences between two similar-seeming types may seem very simple. This stems from over-simplistic belief that the type 4-letter name designations indicate how the types function.

For instance, someone might believe that the difference between INFP and INFJ was slight – and focused around whether the person was a ‘judger’ or ‘perceiver’. Actually those two types are nothing alike in cognitive preferences, and INFJ are perceiver-dominants, whereas INFP are actually judging-function dominants.

The same is true for Extroversion-Introversion polarities. I regularly encounter people who might consider two types like ENTP and INTP very alike, and only differentiated by whether the person was an ‘introvert’ or ‘extrovert’.

Sadly (or gladly!), MBTI personality type theory is nowhere near that simplistic. To appreciate the differences, and unique manifestations of type traits, one has to understand and compare the actual system of cognitive function preferences.

Ti Ne
Ne Ti
Si Fe
Fe Si

  • Ti = Introverted Thinking
  • Ne = Extroverted iNtuition
  • Si = Introverted Sensing
  • Fe = Extroverted Feeling

These two MBTI types have the same functions, but the specific order of preference influences a very different cognitive outcome.

INTP is more akin to an “Einstein”, wheras ENTP is like “Steve Jobs”.

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INTP likes detailed solutions to complex theoretical problems, whereas ENTP favors big picture solutions or innovation with less focus on small details.

With INTP the function is introverted. People can’t see it happening. A quiet, internalized thinker. But with ENTP, the function is extroverted – meaning people will see it happen. You’ll express your intuitions openly.

The FIRST function (Ti or Ne) is where you’re most happiest and natural operating. Do you arrive at conclusions via a steady process of logic, or do ideas ‘spring into mind’? Do you trust gut instinct, or do you rationalize facts to make decisions?

The SECOND function is supportive (Ne vs Ti). An INTP uses intuition as a back up to their thinking process. It helps them ‘brainstorm’ new ideas and concepts to think about using their primary Ti.

On the other hand, an ENTP uses their auxiliary Ti to support their intuitive process. They have bright ideas, then rationalize and explore them using Ti.

The THIRD function (Fe vs Si) is mostly unconscious and often doesn’t develop fully until the late 20s or early 30s – once you’ve fully realized use of your primary and auxilliary functions.

You can recognize a tertiary function through how you’ve evolved or grown in mid-life.

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An ENTP expanding their tertiary Fe will become more harmonic in how they operate. They’ll care more about other people, and become more interested in developing them. They’ll get better at building and operating in teams etc.

An INTP, will expand tertiary Si. They’ll become more astute in using past observations and recalling relevant information that contributes to solving problems. They may also become more body-aware (learn to take better care of themselves) and develop a fondness for tradition or sense of nostalgia.

The inferior function (Fe vs Si) are almost entirely unconscious. It tends to only manifest in negative ways, when the person is stressed (search: Grip Stress).

You can identify your inferior function by how you might behave when stressed, tired or sick.

An INTP under Grip Stress from inferior Fe is liable to become more solitary or isolated – wanting to be left alone. They’ll become more critical, blunt and rudely direct to others – and may pride themselves on that at the time. They’ll shut down on ‘caring’ for others, or what others think.

An ENTP under Grip Stress from inferior Si may become concerned of their health, even hypochondriac. They can become more “introverted”: quiet, reserved or even anti-social. They can become over-fixated on small details, closed-minded and/or over-analytical. In extreme stress, the ENTP can become melancholic, depressed and lose all enthusiasm.

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Originally posted 2019-07-23 21:35:48.

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