The Four Preferences

The Four Preferences are:

  • Extraversion and Introversion
  • Sensing and Intuition
  • Thinking and Feeling
  • Judging and Perceiving

  • Extraversion and Introversion

    When we talk about "extraversion" and "introversion", we are distinguishing between the two worlds in which all of us live. There is a world inside ourselves, and a world outside ourselves. When we are dealing with the world outside of ourself, we are "extraverting". When we are inside our own minds, we are "introverting".

    We are (E)xtraverting when we:

    • Talk to other people
    • Listen to what someone is saying
    • Cook dinner, or make a cup of coffee
    • Work on a car

    We are (I)ntroverting when we:

    • Read a book
    • Think about what we want to say or do
    • Are aware of how we feel
    • Think through a problem so that we understand it

    Within the context of personality typing, the important distinction is which world we live in more often. Do we define our life's direction externally or internally? Which world gives us our energy, and which do we perhaps find draining?


    Sensing and Intuition

    The "SN" preference refers to how we gather information. We all need data on which to base our decisions. We gather data through our five senses. Jung contended that there are two distinct ways of perceiving the data that we gather. The "Sensing" preference absorbs data in a literal, concrete fashion. The "Intuitive" preference generates abstract possibilities from information that is gathered. We all use both Sensing and Intuition in our lives, but to different degrees of effectiveness and with different levels of comfort.

    We are (S)ensing when we:

    • Taste food
    • Notice a stoplight has changed
    • Memorize a speech
    • Follow steps in a plan

    We are i(N)tuiting when we:

    • Come up with a new way of doing things
    • Think about future implications for a current action
    • Perceive underlying meaning in what people say or do
    • See the big picture

    Within the context of personality typing, the important distinction is which method of gathering information do we trust the most? Do we rely on our five senses and want concrete, practical data to work with? Or do we trust our intuitions without necessarily building upon a solid foundation of facts?


    Thinking and Feeling

    When Jung studied human behavior, he noticed that people have the capability to make decisions based on two very different sets of criteria: Thinking and Feeling. When someone makes a decision that is based on logic and reason, they are operating in Thinking mode. When someone makes a decision that is based on their value system, or what they believe to be right, they are operating in Feeling mode. We all use both modes for making decisions, but we put more trust into one mode or the other. A "Thinker" makes decisions in a rational, logical, impartial manner, based on what they believe to be fair and correct by pre-defined rules of behavior. A "Feeler" makes decisions on the individual case, in a subjective manner based on what they believe to be right within their own value systems.

    We are making decisions in the (T)hinking mode when we:

    • Research a product via consumer reports, and buy the best one to meet our needs
    • Do "The Right Thing", whether or not we like it
    • Choose not to buy a blue shirt which we like, because we have two blue shirts
    • Establish guidelines to follow for performing tasks

    We are making decisions in the (F)eeling mode when we:

    • Decide to buy something because we like it
    • Refrain from telling someone something which we feel may upset them
    • Decide not to take a job because we don't like the work environment
    • Decide to move somewhere to be close to someone we care about

    Some decisions are made entirely by Thinking or Feelings processes. Most decisions involve some Thinking and some Feeling. Decisions that we find most difficult are those in which we have conflicts between our Thinking and Feeling sides. In these situations, our dominant preference will take over. Decisions which we find easy to make and feel good about are usually a result of being in sync with both our Feeling and Thinking sides.


    Judging and Perceiving

    Judging and Perceiving preferences, within the context of personality types, refers to our attitude towards the external world, and how we live our lives on a day-to-day basis. People with the Judging preference want things to be neat, orderly and established. The Perceiving preference wants things to be flexible and spontaneous. Judgers want things settled, Perceivers want thing open-ended.

    We use our (J)udging function when we:

    • Make a list of things to do
    • Schedule things in advance
    • Form and express judgments
    • Bring closure to an issue so that we can move on

    We use our (P)erceiving function when we:

    • Postpone decisions to see what other options are available
    • Act spontaneously
    • Decide what to do as we do it, rather than forming a plan ahead of time
    • Do things at the last minute

    We all use both Judging and Perceiving as we live our day-to-day life. Within the context of personality type, the important distinction is which way of life do we lean towards, and are more comfortable with.

    The differences between Judging and Perceiving are probably the most marked differences of all the four preferences. People with strong Judging preferences might have a hard time accepting people with strong Perceiving preferences, and vice-versa. On the other hand, a "mixed" couple (one Perceiving and one Judging) can complement each other very well, if they have developed themselves enough to be able to accept each other's differences.

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