Jung identified and defined eight distinct cognitive personality functions, which correlate with the eight Jungian personality types and form a superset of the sixteen types in the MBTI model. These functions have a massive impact on how we see the world, make decisions, and interact with others. They influence how we handle challenges, what gets us excited and energized, and even why we click with some people more than others. They are the building blocks of personality.
We can think of our personality functions as our own personal crew that each have their own skills and flair that they bring to Team You. We each have four functions that make up the bulk of our personality—our dominant, secondary, tertiary and shadow functions.
The dominant function is the hero who takes the spotlight, showcaseing your primary powers and go-to abilities that define your personality. The secondary function is the trusty sidekick, always ready to back up the hero. Together, they form the dynamic duo that guide you through most of your days.
The tertiary function is that quirky character who pops in occasionally, like a special guest star on the crew. They don't usually get as much of the spotlight as the dominant and secondary functions, but they bring special skills to the table when needed. The shadow function is the skeleton in the personality closet—you know it's there, its presence influences how to behave and react, but it's hidden somewhere in the dark where you can't see it clearly.
Jung named his personality types after the dominant functions, but the functions themselves are different from the personality types they represent. The functions team up in different combinations to shape a personality type. For anyone interested in delving into type theory, the functions are worth understanding on their own—a feat that historically has been rather tricky as it involved reading and absorbing Carl Jung's writings, which are generally known to be somewhat stream-of-consciousness—often notes to himself rather than something he expected the general population to be reading. Even his more formal writings can be quite convoluted. As a few others have done before me, I've attempted to distill this information into everyday language, working directly with Carl Jung's writings and my own understanding to develop these descriptions of the cognitive functions of personality.
Learn more about the personality functions