Experiencing Different Function-Attitudes
We can define the function attitudes all we like, but to really know what it's like to mentally represent your world in each way, you've got to experience them first-hand. Here are some specific exercises you can do to induce each state of mind.
For any one that you do, try sustaining it for at least fifteen minutes, to drown out the echoes of your normal state of mind (and some exercises require longer than that). It's possible to do any of these exercises in your normal state of mind, by going against the spirit of the exercise. The object is to just let the exercise naturally pull you into a different state of mind.
Note, of course, that such pure, intense forms of the function attitudes as these exercises induce are somewhat artificial and don't give a perfect picture of what daily experience is like for people for whom the attitude is dominant. But it probably does give a pretty good rough idea. For our purposes of exegesis, though, the experiences that you have doing these exercises might provide crucial shared reference points to solve the Definition Problem once and for all (assuming this page is really in sync with Lenore).
If you find that some of these exercises strike you as "not you", or even as immoral (even though they're all pretty harmless except for the "brave" one), then you're having the kind of experience that is what Lenore's theory is about
: the way the ego attaches itself to one or two of these and views their opposites as anathema. Actually doing one of these exercises (not just thinking about it) pulls you into a different ego-state. You may feel a sort of ego-vertigo, as if your self is slipping away and you're no longer you. That means it's working.
Doing these exercises might be a very quick route to the kind of ego-liberation that Personality Type: An Owner's Manual is all about. Maybe you can differentiate function attitudes really fast by doing them on purpose. By letting yourself fully experience each state of mind, you see them as different ways of tapping into the full spectrum of your talents, and no longer as "you" or "not you" or "moral" or "immoral".
Note: This web site is just a wiki--a web site for brainstorming and collaborative writing. There has been no "scientific" validation of these exercises or indeed any claim made here.
To experience Introverted Intuition:
• As you come across any sign (e.g. an advertisement, a sentence, a logo, a choice of color for a restaurant's decor, even a non-man-made sign like a cloud), say to yourself, "So I'm supposed to think ______ but really this is just ______" and fill in the blanks. This creates conscious awareness of the assumed interpretations of things, and distances you from them. For example, if you see a restaurant sign with very ornate, curly characters in thin white strokes on a black background, say, "So I'm supposed to think this is a posh place for high-class people, but what I really see is just a slab of plastic with black paint on it, minus some curlicues where the white shows through." If you see a sign on a door inside the restaurant, that says "MEN", say, "So I'm supposed to think there's a bathroom behind that door, and it's only socially appropriate for men to use it, but really it's just a piece of wood with some marks on it." You must name the thing you're supposed to think in words, and describe the object in words; no mere pointing or saying "like that" is allowed. A feeling of smugness may set in at first. Keep going, until it becomes a feeling of freedom.
To experience Introverted Feeling:
• As you come across the action of any mammal engaged in any activity (including humans), say to yourself, "He/she is feeling ______ because he is needing ______" and fill in the blanks. Guess the mammal's emotion as accurately as you can, by paying close attention to every detail of its behavior and trying to imagine what emotion that you might feel if you were that kind of mammal and acting that way. Guess the need by intuiting the inner calling of the animal that is emerging in the way it's responding to its environment, by recalling a similar need of your own. For example, if you see a Scotty dog sniffing around at a new suitcase, you might guess, "He is feeling apprehensive because he has a need to know he's safe." Or you might guess, "He is feeling curious because he has a need to learn all about the world around him." It depends unpredictably on exactly what you really observe. Key is to watch the mammal extremely closely, so your guess emerges spontaneously from empathizing, and not, say, by consciously reasoning on the basis of something you've read. Your guess must come from the fact that you yourself genuinely feel it. It must come from the heart.
• Try the same exercise on yourself at odd moments: self-empathy. Simply monitor how much you like or dislike something, and what in your nature is being fulfilled or frustrated to cause that feeling of like or dislike. Note that attending to your emotion alone is not enough; you must trace the emotion back to a need that is being fulfilled or frustrated. However, if you're having trouble with this, you might try just consciously noting your emotion for a while, as a starter exercise.
To experience Extraverted Feeling:
• Make a list of people you have some culturally recognized relationship with: different relatives, your spouse or boy/girlfriend, your boss/employees/co-workers, etc., and identify your ritual obligations to them that derive from (or define) these relationships. For example, whose birthday must you remember? Who must you send a Christmas card to? How must you dress at different occasions to indicate your relationship to your co-workers? Whom do you call by their first name and whom by an honorific (even "Mom")? How is it made obvious to all that you have this relationship? How would you feel or how would they feel if someone did not perform their ritual obligations?
• As you come across the action of any person engaged in any activity, say to yourself, "he did ______ because he wants to show ______ relationship." For example, if a man tips his hat to a lady, say to yourself, "He tipped his hat to her because he wants to show that he is loyal to her." If a woman quotes Proust in a conversation, say to yourself, "She quoted Proust to show that she wants to be seen as the expert and she wants others to defer to her authority." This can get very complex and tricky. For example, what does it mean if someone doesn't show up at your baby shower? Does that show that they don't consider you an important person in their life? If a friend you haven't seen in a long time addresses you as "Mr. Tibbs" (assuming your last name is Tibbs), what does that show about your friend's understanding of your friendship? That's an awfully formal way for friends to speak, so it seems like a cold gesture, aimed at showing that he wants to keep you at a distance. See any Seinfeld episode for lots more analysis of this kind.
• Try to get someone to treat you a certain way that defines a role for you. For example, try to get someone to treat you like royalty, or like a disposable slave, or like an expert authority, or like an eager student who wants to learn from them. You will have to, in some way, define a complementary role for them at the same time, through your actions. You can't ask explicitly that they treat you that way, except as a very last resort. You have to get the mutual roles going by, in effect, painting them in the complementary role first so they find themselves naturally playing along and painting you in the role you want. You may find that it's tricky to get painted in a positive role, but it can be done if you give the other person a complementary role that they really like. In effect, an implicit contract is created: you paint them in a role they like, and they paint you in a role you like.
To experience Extraverted Thinking:
• While engaging in some activity, define criteria of successful completion for each stage as you go. Make no move until you have stated clearly defined criteria--in words, out loud. For example, if you are washing the dishes, mentally divide the process into stages before you begin. If the first stage is to run water and get some suds going, then state how much water you're going to pour into the sink (perhaps point to the level in the sink at which you will turn off the water, but stating a numerical measurement is better), whether the water will be hot, warm, or cold, and where would be the best place to squirt the soap. If the second stage is to put the dirty dishes into the water, then say, before you begin, where you will put them to begin with and what sequence you will put them in. And so on. Do nothing until you have deliberately decided to do it and said out loud what you are about to do.
To experience Extraverted Intuition:
• "The Caption Game." Get a pile of drawings, but not intentionally funny cartoons. A large deck of Tarot cards is ideal. Put the pile face down and turn up one drawing. Think of a caption for the drawing by imagining something outside the picture, which changes the meaning of what's inside. Say the caption aloud, and move on to the next drawing. For example, if it's really a picture of a Scotty dog sniffing at a suitcase, your caption might be "Sorry, ma'am, I'll have to open the suitcase before I can let you on the plane." See how many completely different captions for each cartoon you can come up with. Try to think of at least three. "Pack your bags, Laika, you're going to test new satellite!" (in Russian accent). "Toto, we're going back to Kansas!" Some of your captions might be funny, but don't try to be funny. Non-funny captions are just fine.
• "The Drawing Game." For this, you need at least two people. One person draws something small on a large piece of paper--something quick, which you can draw in a few seconds. The next person draws something in the remaining space, which somehow relates to it, so both objects make sense as a picture. You can add lines to what's already there, but you can never erase a line once it's drawn. Back and forth you go, filling in more and more of the picture, letting it develop into something that neither of you envisioned when you started. At some point, you give the picture an appropriate title, and you're done. If you can't draw well, it's OK to say out loud what you intended your drawing to depict. For example, person A draws the face of a clock. Person B draws a grandfather clock shape around it. A draws an old-fashioned teller cage nearby. B draws a man with a bandanna over his face, holding a gun. It's a bank robbery!
To experience Introverted Sensation:
• Pick a category of object and practice spotting it in a crowded room. Not something easy like a color, something you have to learn how to identify. For example, learn how to recognize cotton and distinguish it from other fabrics, and then try to spot all the cotton garments in a room full of people (or in your closet, if you don't want to embarrass yourself). Alternatively, learn how to identify several species of tree that live in your area, and spend an hour or so walking around identifying each kind of tree that you come across. Other possibilities: models of cars, breeds of dog, categories of differential equation. In other words, through deliberate practice, become an accurate recognizer of specific types of object, so they "jump out at you" in the midst of other things.
• While driving on a long trip (in the U.S.), note all the out-of-state license plates you see. Stay focused. Carefully check every car as it goes by. Notice everything you can about each state's plates: state mottos, colors, placement of text, pictures, any other special differences. For the full effect, write these things down in a log book.
• Do a Where's @Waldo? book. (Might be too difficult to really work as an exercise.)
To experience Extraverted Sensation:
• Walk around downtown in a city during the day, when lots of people are around (even a small town will do). Note what gets your attention, and what kind of attention it gets. Just walk around and let things grab your attention. Don't be deliberate. See what's exciting and what's boring. If a place looks exciting, go inside. The second you feel bored, leave and look around for something new. Don't think about this, don't reflect on it as you're doing it, and don't think ahead. Just go with your immediate gut reaction moment by moment--enter or exit the store before you have a chance to entertain a second thought.
• Walk again, and this time note what's grabbing other people's attention. Where's the crowd?
• (An exercise for brave people.) At a party or a bar or some other gathering of people, attract as much attention as you can to yourself. Anything that works is acceptable: feigning a heart attack, dressing better than everyone else there, dressing in a different color than everyone else there, putting a lampshade over your head--whatever works (it doesn't have to be dramatic, though, especially if you're just testing this out). Keep one eye on how much attention you're getting, and what kind of attention. As you try this at different gatherings, practice getting specific kinds of attention: intrigue, fear, disgust, sexual, laughing at you, laughing with you, etc. Cultivate some techniques for gaining specific positive kinds of attention. You will notice that you need to adjust your approach to fit your audience. As you practice, you'll develop a sense for what "plays" and what doesn't.
To experience Introverted Thinking:
• This is a multi-stage exercise. Give yourself at least half an hour, alone and in a quiet place where no one will disturb you.
1. Stare at this picture a while, without talking or verbalizing:
2. Draw an additional three rows and columns of lines around the ones already drawn, continuing the pattern. (You'll probably want to print out the picture.) Don't verbally reason out where the lines should go, just draw them to fit the pattern that you see. Use your hand, not your voice (even your internal voice).
3. Understand the pattern. Now it's OK to reason about it. Describe the pattern in the simplest way you can, without sacrificing any aspect of the pattern. Your description must capture everything that is going on inside the picture. It's OK to start with a vague description and/or a description that doesn't imply everything in the pattern (or, for that matter, a description that's wrong). Keep hammering away at your description to make it simpler and simpler, until it seems that you have captured in a single tiny nugget everything there is to say about the pattern. Your ultimate nugget of description should imply: all the lines that are actually there, where the lines would have to go in additional rows and columns outside the ones shown, and where the lines would have to go if you drew more rows and columns in between the ones shown.
A possible misinterpretation
It would be a mistake, based on these exercises, to turn to all other forms of human activity and attempt to categorize them as one or another function attitude. With the vast majority of activities, you have a lot of flexibility in how you engage in them. Typically, during any activity, people find a way to orient themselves in a way consonant with a favored attitude. That's why it was necessary to specify that when doing these exercises, you need to let them carry you away--away from your usual manner of orienting yourself.
Examples of function-attitudes taken from Linda Berens “Dynamics of Personality Type: Understanding and Applying Jung’s Cognitive Processes”
The first example is how each function-attitude may react to encountering an apple tree:
Se - You might look at the apple tree and notice the contrast of the ruby red apples and the deep green leaves, the rich brown-gray of the trunk and branches, and how the sunlight plays across the yard. You go to the tree and pick an apple, and bite into it with a crunch, savoring the tree ripened sweetness and the aroma of a really fresh apple. Sitting down on the ground you feel the coolness under you and the warmth of the sun.
Si – You look at the apple tree and immediately recall an image of an apple tree you’ve seen before and you were then become aware of the feel of autumn in the air and remember being in an apple orchard picking apples.
Ne – You might wonder why the former owner of your house planted an apple tree and why this kind of apple tree. Then you might consider why this kind of apple tree grows well in this climate but not in others. Or maybe it occurs to you that your life is like this apple tree in so many ways. Then you might be curious if apples represent the same ideas in other cultures and so on. Or you may even wonder, “What if the apple tree did not exist?”
Ni – If you did not even notice the apple tree this there, but instead go a sense that the orchards around will soon be cut down and replaced with a housing development, you have experienced Ni.
Te – You notice the fruit was starting to fall off the tree and make a mental note to get several containers to put the apples in. You would have a trashcan handy for the rotten ones and a basket for the ripe ones to wash and put on the table. You would also have a plastic pan for the ones that are bruised, but not rotten, to cut up for applesauce.
Ti – You might notice that the leaves are falling off early. You would analyze the situation and try to figure out what is wrong with the tree. You might use the principles of good gardening, or you might reference the scientific principles of plant disease
Fe – You might think about removing the tree because of the mess the apples make on the ground, but then remember that your family really likes having that old apple tree around. So you decide not to remove it. Besides you might think, Aunt Mary really likes apple pie made with those apples and make a mental note to bake an apple pie for her. In deciding what to do with the tree, the likes and dislikes of others are considered and adjusted to.
Fi – You might reflect on how much you really like that tree and the apples it yields. You might even consider the importance of having a fruit tree for the children to learn from.
The second example is a little different since it actually allows us to the differing function- attitudes used in the same person looking for a dog:
Se - Lenore was beside herself with joy as she played with the puppies in the pet store. She seemed to enjoy just being with them, petting them, making them jump.
Si - Lenore’s sister kept saying how much the standard poodle looked like the one they had as children. She said it reminded her of being at home and being young again.
Ne - During their conversation, Lenore suddenly recognized that the real reason her sister wanted a dog was because she was trying to replace the affection from her late husband.
Ni - Lenore was thinking about the dog she and her sister were going to get when she got a flash of a dog barking and crying. The she “knew” they needed to get a dog that didn’t mind being alone.
Te - Lenore listed criteria she and her sister needed to match in selecting a dog. She wanted to be sure the dog didn’t need a lot of attention since they were not home during the day. They lived in an apartment, so it was only logical it should be a small dog that didn’t bark much.
Ti - On the way home, Lenore went into the pet store with her checklist. She looked at a cocker spaniel and a standard poodle and found out how big each one grew and if it barked a lot. She decided the standard poodle didn’t meet her criteria but wasn’t sure about the cocker spaniel, she thought maybe she should consider a dachshund.
Fe - Lenore thought about what kind of dog her sister would want. She knew her sister would be disappointed if they couldn’t get a standard poodle, so she decided to not even mention that one in the pet store was still there.
Fi - Lenore’s sister came home with a stranded poodle. When Lenore asked her why, her sister said, “We’ve always wanted a standard poodle like we used to have. This one was so cute and was going to be sent to the pound, so I just had to bring it home.”