MBTI: A Closer Examination of Feeling & Thinking
Jung's Feeling as Rational Function
“What I mean by feeling in contrast to thinking is a judgment of value; agreeable or disagreeable, good or bad, and so on. Feeling so defined is not an emotion or affect, which is, as the words convey, an involuntary manifestation. Feeling as I mean it is a judgment without any of the obvious bodily reactions that characterize an emotion. Like thinking, it is a rational function. (p. 219)”
-Carl Jung, Psychological Types
Jung gives a good explanation of the validity of feeling as a cognitive function that I would like to touch upon. And I want to explain why feelers may have a lot of difficulty in explaining the nature of their understanding of things.
Many associate the feeling types with irrationality, which is untrue in terms of the manner of which feeling serves as a judging function (this is without the association of emotions). Feeling as a function is not so much emotional subjectivity (or emotions at all), but the ability to feel the essence of something, and quite objectively, as it is a manner of gathering information, and as Jung states, ”Like thinking, it is a rational function. (p. 219)”
The point of conflict with thinking vs feeling usually resides in emotional justifications, or the lack of ability to provide rational explanations and thereby attempting to translate with emotions. When emotional expression is misused or insufficient, the idea is lost in translation. The state of emotional subjectivity in which blindly passionate support or opposition clouds one’s view of the truth may also be a problem; however, becoming passionate about something is not always an indicator of close-mindedness or frivolous devotion. Some people are used to emotional expression and may simply relay their ideas in this manner.
The greater issue arises when emotions come to serve as a basis for irrational decision (by irrational I don't mean unjustified, but not emotionally detached). To the thinkers (referring to all thinking types, not just NTs specifically), a spectacle of rampant emotions in the face of an argument is absurd, and rightfully so. But the actual function of feeling, although a precursor for emotions, is explained by Jung as a completely rational manner of observing and understanding (as a judging function) the essence or manifestation of an object or idea. This method may often bring the person to an understanding about something that is completely unanimous with a rational understanding derived from a thinking perspective; however it is a different manifestation, rather, intangible and sometimes difficult to explain. It is described differently, and almost felt, but without the subjectivity of the person's feelings. That comes into existence later on, when the person forms opinions and emotional attachments around the many things they know.
In this way, feeling as a method of judgment is no more flawed or unreliable than thinking, but a lack of a strong 'thinking' ability may cause a person much difficulty in translating this understanding in their head to another person, and thus cause confusion and frustration in the face of an argument or debate. How does one justify the validity of their understanding when that understanding manifests itself as an intangible essence, that when compared is very much the same as a solidly rational explanation, but difficult to communicate? This is quite possibly where some tend to substitute emotions when faced with difficulty explaining themselves, and most definitely where some go wrong, as no explanation or translation of thought is often achieved.
Consider this hypothetical situation:
Person A (a thinker) and Person B (a feeler) are having a debate about the type of laptop that would best accommodate the needs of a first-year college student.
Person A: “I would personally prefer a Mac, but I know that a Dell or Toshiba with a Windows operating system would be more useful for a college freshman.”
Person B: “I like Macs better. They’re definitely better. I can do so much more on a Mac than I can on a PC. The software is much better too.”
Person A: “Yes, but almost all professors require Microsoft Office formats for electronically submitted assignments, and school security software and web pages often service Windows computers. I know I would probably have a hard time formatting everything for a Mac, so it would probably be easier having a PC. And it doesn’t matter what you like, or what cool features you have. The point is that you’ll be getting homework done and passing your classes because it didn’t take more effort to format your paper for submission than it did to open Photo Booth and snap 230 pictures of yourself in 30 different filters.”
Person B: “Oh, so I’m going to fail because I have a Mac? I have a 4.0 GPA asshole.”
What Person B probably meant was: “Macs actually have good software compatibility and can run Windows program software, such as Microsoft Office, and support internet systems such as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. Also, they’re extremely user friendly, which would probably work well for a college student, and they have exceptional security systems, which would help prevent hackers and viruses on the unprotected school Wi-Fi, especially when you have a paper due the next day that you can’t risk losing. Windows computers have a history of diminished reliability in the field of security and anti-virus protection. Macs are also optimal for an art student because of the multitude of art-based software and programs available.”
The problem is that person B knows all of this, but can’t seem to explain it clearly, or even recall it in the moment because of the pressure of urgency to respond to the argument made by person A. All of this usually comes to person B about 20 minutes after the argument has ended and after they have already taken Person A’s remarks personally. This is why there’s nothing wrong with taking a moment to reply, because you might have an easier time saying what you really meant to say.
Person B wants to justify their opinion because they know it’s completely valid, but becomes angry when Person A does not see their point. Well, that is likely to happen if Person B forgets that they didn’t explain their point at all. Person B probably does not feel the need to explain, as the idea is already clearly known to them through much they have already learned or observed and they may not care to explain it all to Person A. Person A might not feel the need to explain themselves past a factual justification, and probably won’t understand the lack of desire to provide such and thus justify your point. Person B can then forget that Person A needs an explanation of facts before they believe it or acknowledge their point.
As a result of the above situation, we are left with one person making an argument and looking for evidence whilst pointing out discrepancies, and another trying to translate their ideas in the same manner, but saying all the wrong things, becoming frustrated, and lashing out emotionally. Person A is most likely confused, baffled and annoyed at the lack of argumentative tact displayed, and by no means sees any credibility in Person B’s argument whatsoever. And person B is now emotionally spent, frustrated with the other’s carnivorous questioning, and annoyed at his/her own inability to translate ideas. This only one of many ways in which a situation can turn sour.
From a personal point of view, this explains how often I have such a strong understanding of many things in an intangible manner, but must find concrete explanations for them through the words of others. It is also why I do not translate my own true thoughts, as the complexity and indistinct nature of these thoughts is very difficult to explain. Unfortunately, it is almost habit for me to resort to black and white logic in attempt to explain my point, but I am learning to encompass ration, reason, and clarity, as each serves a very useful and practical purpose. In order to avoid a bad argument, I have to remind myself not to think of how the person is saying something, but rather, what they are actually saying. I used to be extremely sensitive to how things were said, and arguments would end much in the same way that the above scenario did. It is much more refreshing to actually accomplish something by explaining myself, or by taking the time to explain myself, or even by explaining how I can’t explain myself. At least the other person understands something productive this way.
Also, when in the face of an argument, I have the most difficult time explaining the complexity of my point of view or how I am quite certain of its validity because there are so many points of truth I could provide the other person with as facts, but never know which to begin with. Often, I don’t expect the other person to actually want to know how I came to a conclusion, as I am not expecting them to agree with me; I am simply stating my opinion in the most simplified manner, and probably enjoying conversing with them more than the debating itself. The frustration of being pressured to quickly answer, especially in the face of false assumptions and ad hominem attacks (which distract me from the main point, and ultimately serve no purpose in advancing or assisting the argument or problem at hand) can often cause a pressured response, usually then affected by personal emotions and no longer clear, logical, rational, or even what I really wanted to say in the first place.
Overall, trying to format your ideas into explanations that fit a rational model of discussion causes many problems, and often the idea is lost in translation. Instead, it may be preferable to find a way to translate your ideas not necessarily to fit the rational model of argument, but to complement it and still remain true to your original, genuine train of thought. Although, it makes more sense to explain something in that manner, as it is a formula for concise clarity.
The point is that it should not be a struggle for you to explain yourself all the time; however, it may be inevitable if you simply don’t try. It is probably best to determine a manner of explaining yourself that works for you, and to improve upon it so that others can understand you. You will not be taken seriously if you can’t explain yourself, as I have become quite used to intellectual dismissal from others and have most definitely been considered an illogical, unintelligent, irrational, and invalid debater (and person) in terms of my beliefs/knowledge. I cannot object to those previous opinions, as I only presented myself in the worst of ways, and emotionally as well. However, the misunderstandings resulting from my inability to communicate properly are not something that I wish to decide my credibility as a person. This is why I attempted to explain the validity of feeling as a rational function to separate it from the generalized idea of feeling = emotions.
This only begins to touch the surface of feeling vs thinking, but I hope it provides some clarity in that regard. And please remember that feeling does not translate to irrationality, it is hyper-emotionalism, close-mindedness, hyper-sensitivity, immaturity and ignorance that translates to such. And although it is likely to be derived from emotions and feeling (feeling types), this irrationality can be found in many people (if not most), regardless of type.
Explaining Ti to Fi types
-by simulatedworld, type ENTP
I've recently come to a bit better understanding of the relationship between Ti and Fi, and I think I may be able to use it to help Ti-valuers make a little more sense to Fi-valuers. So here we go:
As we already know, Fe/Ti (used by xxTP and xxFJ) and Te/Fi (used by xxFP and xxTJ) represent two opposing (but equally valid!) ways of conceptualizing the nature of logic and ethics:
Fe/Ti prompts us to deal with ethics and morality collectively, according to a more generalized standard that we can all agree to be bound by, while dealing with logic and impersonal ideas in a more individualized and subjective way, seeking only to find what makes sense logically to the individual.
Te/Fi prompts us to deal with logic and impersonal ideas collectively, according to a more generalized objective standard which we can all agree to use to quantify and measure impersonal ideas by the same method, while dealing with ethics according to an internalized and subjective standard, seeking only to find what feels right to the individual.
It's important to remember that Ti and Fi are both subjective, because they deal with an internal model as understood individually by the subject. Te and Fe are both objective, as they deal with external models as understood collectively by the larger group.
I've found that many disagreements I've had with Te/Fi types tend to come down to this:
1) I state an idea, theory or proposed framework for describing the logical relationships that make up a system, simply because it makes sense to me subjectively,
2) The Te/Fi type insists that I provide objective evidence and empirical backing for this idea before it can be taken seriously,
3) I get pissed because my ideas are being attacked.
I know that I am especially bad about #3, but it's only just recently occurred to me why: Ti types are attached to their logical frameworks in exactly the same way Fi types are attached to their personal values: When you attack them, you attack the user's very sense of identity.
What both sides need to recognize is that Fe/Ti-ers constantly judge Fi ideas in Fe terms, and Te/Fi-ers constantly judge Ti ideas in Te terms, so each is fundamentally missing the point of the other's perspective.
This is the exchange I see again and again regarding F ideas:
1) An Fi type states his/her personal feelings regarding some sort of moral or ethical ideal because it makes sense to him/her subjectively,
2) An Fe type insists that this idea cannot be taken seriously until shown to be accurate according to popular opinion/objective consensus on ethics,
3) The Fi type gets pissed because his/her values are being attacked.
What we all need to recognize is that Ji (Fi and Ti, that is) is not looking for externalized or objective evidence, but seeks only to find a line of reasoning that makes sense internally for the individual in question.
Reread the first bolded section about the competing value systems. This is really where the vast majority of these disagreements come from.
If, right now, you're asking yourself: "But wait--how could it ever be reasonable to take collective logic/individualized ethics seriously? Logic is obviously something that should be understood personally, while ethics are obviously something that should be understood and agreed upon collectively!"
"But wait--how could it ever be reasonable to take collective ethics/individualized logic seriously? Ethics are obviously something that should be understood personally, while logic is obviously something that should be understood and agreed upon collectively!"
then you have just stumbled upon the fundamental difference between Te/Fi and Fe/Ti.
Now, the real challenge is to begin accepting that neither of these approaches is fundamentally more correct than the other.
And that's incredibly hard to do, but it's the only place to start if we are ever to begin truly appreciating the value in each other's perspectives.
So if you are an Fe/Ti type, recognize that even though considering ethics through a collective/communal perspective seems obviously rational to you, you are attacking an Fi user's sense of identity when you insist that he provide objective evidence for his Feeling ideas. As an Fi user, his Feeling is focused purely on finding what feels subjectively right to him--appeasing external consensus or providing objective evidence for it is completely beside the point.
Likewise, if you are a Te/Fi type, recognize that even though considering logic through a collective/communal perspective seems obviously, you are attacking a Ti user's sense of identity when you insist that he provide objective evidence for his Thinking ideas. As a Ti user, his Thinking is focused purely on finding what seems subjectively consistent to him--appeasing external consensus or providing objective evidence for it is completely beside the point.
There are many of those who have not even begun to consider that their preferred judgment outlook (Te/Fi or Fe/Ti) is anything other than 100% Objectively Correct. Most people have no idea that there might be any validity in the opposing perspective, because most people are (naturally) very threatened by any challenge to their concepts of logic and ethics.
And this is okay! It's natural for the opposing perspective to turn our stomachs. It's impossible to avoid this gut reaction--but the central idea of typology is to allow us to recognize these biases in ourselves and begin to understand that what seems obviously rational to us is not any better (or worse) than what seems obviously rational to others.
Unfortunately I find that some people use typology as further justification for their own deluded arrogance rather than admitting, "Okay, now I see that my values are ultimately relative. Other people can look at the world differently and there's nothing wrong with that", it becomes: "Oh, now I see why everyone who doesn't think like me is a total moron! Good thing I now know that [insert my type here] is the best!!!"
And I would really like it if we could start to undo that counterproductive mentality.
If you find yourself thinking, "Well that's stupid, anyone who sees logic as individualized and ethics as collective [or the other way around] is simply an idiot who doesn't understand how the real world works", then perhaps it's time to reevaluate your understanding.
Ti vs Fi - A Closer Look
- by Psilo, type INFP
I'm unsatisfied by the descriptions of Ti and Fi that I see around in books or online. While generally the end result is somewhat correct, I know that each function goes deeper than it's external manifestation. I also want to assert that they are much more similar than they appear.
I'm not Ti, so I'm basing this on my interpretations of other people's introspection. Please correct me or elaborate. The more personal observations the better. Also, please correct me on any N bias I may be adding.
Ti is an abstract deductive reasoning process. Would it be correct to say that Ti focuses on stripping away at the superficial side of any given object/situation to find the inner and pure objective information? Ti then goes to define and ultimately fit the piece of information into an internal model of all objective information collected thus far. All done unconsciously for the most part until a particularly complex bit of information cannot fit in which case both the information and the internal construct are called into question until all inconsistencies are worked out and the puzzle is solved. The larger problems require varying amounts of time, energy, and logical processing until everything fits once again. This is how Ti can pinpoint inconsistencies from miles away, the information they received is not the proper shape or not even from the same puzzle as they understand the world to function.
Fi would then be an abstract integration process taking into account pure subjective information or 'feelings'. The internal world model is constructed less of logical systems as Ti. Fi focuses less on defining new information and more on simply understanding and then integrating it to the basic framework already in place. Like conducting and building a song one instrumental piece at a time. Fi is focused on how things work together, and dissonance is readily apparent. A distinction from the inconsistency targeting of Ti where things must fit, Fi can work with small inconsistencies as long as the bigger picture can still function as whole.
Objectivity and subjectivity are a large separation in the functions. Fi types are very close to their inner feelings, understand them, yet the objectivity of language prevents them from expressing this portion of their being. Fi then needs to take subjective viewpoints into account in their internal world model because that is the part world they best understand and they see it to affect their worldview greatly. This is not to say they ignore objectivity, yet a danger zone for Fi (DomFi especially) is to ignore objective truth that doesn't harmonize with their subjective truth resulting in either an overly-emotional or a self-centered person (or both, depending on your perspective). Ti, on the other hand, is either does not understand it like Fi can (much like Fi has a harder time with deductive reasoning of objective qualities), or deems it irrelevant. An unbalanced Ti would be entirely disconnected with the human element leaving their world model incomplete and too rigid for that sort of information. (ironically becoming too subjective in their objectivity)
I view the two functions as then starting from the same point when given piece of information and going opposite directions (not necessarily to opposing conclusions, however). Fi preferring to work outward only going inward when harmony is not achieved, and Ti working inward venturing outward when the pieces do not fit. Thus, they are almost mirror processes, neither being more or less rational than the other; only as rational as the information going in.
Ti attempts to be objective in that it seeks to be impersonal. To naturally exclude 'irrational' human element from its calculations, for lack of a better term. However, it has also been referred to as subjective (by Jung himself, no less) in the sense that it is subject-oriented. That is, oriented around oneself rather than some necessarily external factor(s). It operates on the assumption that past truths were and continue to be true until they prove to be otherwise. Constantly endeavoring to build a sort of empirical house of cards. Immature INTPs and ISTPs (Ti-primary) have a great deal of trouble with not simply disregarding foreign manners of thinking, as well as the ideas resulting from such, as being inherently stupid, nonsensical, and, above all else, illogical.
Thinker & Feeler Differences
In the spirit of John Gray's book, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus (which I have not read, the title says it all), I am offering some insights on the differences between MBTI Thinkers and Feelers, which I have observed over the years. This is not about men and women, because many of the men I meet are Feelers or Feeler-wannabes; and I suspect there are a comparable number of Thinker women, although I don't meet very many of them.
Although item 6 quotes from a humorous list, this analysis is not intended to be understood as a joke.
1. The labels "Thinker" and "Feeler" are not descriptive of what those people do. Thinkers are not smarter than Feelers, nor are Feelers more sensitive. Thinkers have feelings, and Feelers are able to reason logically. The fundamental difference is the values they hold in highest esteem: Thinkers give priority to Truth and Justice; Feelers give priority to Relationships and affirmation. That's the only difference, and it only applies when truth and affirmation are at odds, which tends to be more often than some people would like to admit. I would consider the labels unfortunate, except that any labels would soon develop the same or similar problems (see #5 below).
2. Thinkers are able to honestly recognize Feeler values in other people and adjust their actions accordingly. Given sufficient motivation (such as preserving a relationship that depends on it, or keeping one's job), Feelers are willing to put aside their distaste for disaffirmation to deal with uncomfortable truths. In neither case is that their respective preference.
3. Science and technology require an absolutely honest understanding of nature and physics, for which Thinker values work best. Educational institutions and the arts are more successful using Feeler values. Competitive activities like sports are more successful with an honest assessment of the competition and the factors that lead to excellence, which again favors Thinker values. Modern business is highly competitive, which dominates any relationship issues they might have with their employees and customers. Some customers will favor good business relationships (Feeler values), but most of them favor quality and price (driven by Thinker values). Democratic governments are sustained by good relationships with other politicians and voters; while the election process is often highly competitive, the relationship issues (Feeler values) tend to dominate political activity. This may not be the case in autocratic regimes, but I don't live under one, so I can't tell.
4. The global and American economy is driven by science and technology and modern business methods -- in other words, by Thinker values. Political and artistic considerations are not as significant as financial and technological issues for achieving wealth and power. This tends to give Thinkers a higher prestige status than Feelers in the public perception.
5. To describe a Thinker as a Thinker is both honest and affirming (because of #4 above), but to describe a Feeler as a Feeler is often felt to be disaffirming or demeaning, for the same reason. Feelers therefore wish to imagine themselves Thinkers, regardless of the facts. Just as there is only one answer to the question, "Are you lying?" (No), regardless of whether the respondent is telling the truth or lying, so also everybody wants to tell you they are a Thinker: the actual Thinkers follow their own values by telling the truth, and the Feelers also affirm their own values in lying about it -- but in doing so they violate the values they falsely claim of themselves.
6. Feelers tend to see an insult in every remark except those that are clearly complimentary -- and in some of those too. Thinkers tend to find truth in every remark except those that are clearly lies -- and in some of those too. There is a half-serious anonymous list of "The Guy's Rules" going around, one of which reads: "If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of them makes you sad or angry, then we meant the other one." This is a good insight.
7. The American church (including the churches under its influence worldwide) is run by and for the exclusive benefit of Feelers. Thinkers are invited, but only if they agree to pretend to be Feelers. Some Thinkers succeed at the charade, most just stay away. Truth is, after all, their highest value. The Bible is more balanced, giving a slight preference to Thinker values, but an overwhelming preference to Truth over "relationship". The church power structure mostly ignores the Bible when promoting their Feeler values as "Christian".
8. Feelers believe it is important to say they love you, and to hear you say it to them, because that is affirming; Thinkers prefer to do loving things, and to see correspondence between the words and the deeds, because correspondence to reality is the test of truth.