I once managed a resort that provided courses in Myers-Briggs studies to better understand employees and guests. I loved that and learned a lot about people. (I’m an INFP) 🙂
If you have taken a Myers-Briggs personality test, you know that there are dominant personality traits all people have, while other traits are more subdued.
The Myers-Briggs type indicator has four personality dichotomies that comprise one’s personality. Your personality type is often reflected as a series of four letters.
The four dichotomies include:
Your favorite world: Do you tend to focus on the outer world or more on your own inner world? This is called Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I).
Information Gathering: Do you focus on the basic information you take in with your senses, or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning? This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition (N).
Decision-Making: When making decisions, do you prefer to first use logic and consistency or first consider people and special circumstances? This is called Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).
Structure Preference: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options? This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).
The letters for these four dichotomies can combine in 16 different ways, depending on your personality type. For example, I’m an INFJ (introvert, intuitive, feeling, judging).
In this post, I’m going to focus on Sensing vs. Intuition — whether you prefer to collect and process new information either through your five senses or in more, imaginative and abstract ways.
Personality Traits: Sensing Vs. Intuition
Everyone uses Sensing and Intuition to process information. One of them is likely more natural for you, and you are more comfortable using it, while the other may be a bit more uncomfortable, but you still it on a daily basis.
It is more common to have a Sensing personality trait than an Intuitive one, as almost 75% of people identify themselves as being Sensors. When it comes to Sensing vs. Intuition, do you know which preference you have?
Carl Jung was the first to develop a theory that everyone has a psychological type. The two different functions he believed humans use in their lives were how people perceive information and how they make decisions.
He believed that there were two opposite ways of functioning within these boundaries. According to Jung, each psychological trait is on a spectrum, meaning that everyone uses these function at varying amounts, and each person develops an order of preference for the functions.
Jung believed one’s dominant function was so powerful that it took over any other personality types that person had.
There are eight sensing personality types and 8 intuitive types.
The sensing personality types include:
ISTJ- Introversion, Sensing, Thinking, Judging (the assessor)
These people are quiet and serious. They often become successful because they are thorough, responsible, and dependable.
ISTJs are also practical, matter-of-fact, and realistic with their ideas. They use logic to make decisions and work toward their goals without becoming easily distracted.
ISTJs appreciate organization and value loyalty and traditions.
ISFJ– Introversion, Sensing, Feeling, Judging (the guardian)
ISFJ’s are quiet, cordial, responsible, and dedicated. They consistently meet their deadlines and produce accurate and thorough work.
They are loyal people who are able to remember specific details about people who they find to be important. They thrive in a neat and harmonious environment.
ISTP– Introversion, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving (the expert)
ISTPs are logical, tolerant, and flexible. They love to be efficient in their work and get through all of the unnecessary information to find exactly what they need.
They do not like to waste time or deal with things that will not help them reach their ultimate goal.
They are quiet observers but act quickly to find solutions to problems that may come up. They love to figure out how things work, especially when it comes to cause and effect.
ISFP– Introversion, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving (the creator)
ISFPs are quiet, nice, and sensitive. They tend to live in the moment and only pay attention to what is going on around them.
ISFPs prefer to work in their own space and at their own pace. They are committed to their values and their loved ones.
ISFPs are uncomfortable with disagreements and conflicts and do their best to avoid these situations.
ESTP– Extraversion, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving (the convincer)
ESTPs are flexible and tolerant and take a sensible approach to achieve immediate results.
They are not interested in theories or concepts, rather they prefer to use facts to be proactive in solving problems.
ESTFs tend to live in the here and now and may act spontaneously to enjoy the moments they have with other people.
In fact, people with this personality type often try to get other people to be spontaneous along with them.
ESFP– Extraversion, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving (the entertainer)
ESFPs are outgoing and accepting of other people. They do not discriminate and they see everyone as an equal.
They easily adapt to new people and environments. ESFPs have a great love for life and material comforts.
They love to have fun while working in teams or groups and they often bring a realistic approach to any project. ESFPs learn best by trying new things with other people.
ESFJ– Extraversion, Sensing, Feeling, Judging (the advocate)
This person is warm-hearted, diligent, and cooperative. They appreciate living in harmony and work very hard to establish this environment.
They also believe that all people are equal and do not discriminate against people who are different from them in any way.
ESFJs prefer to work in groups and get multiple perspectives in order to finish tasks accurately and efficiently.
They follow through with all of their promises and want to be appreciated for their contributions. ESFJs are also attuned to the needs of other people and try to meet those needs.
ESTJ– Extraversion, Sensing, Thinking, Judging (the supervisor)
ESTJs are practical, realistic, and tell it like it is. They can make decisions quickly, implement their plans, and achieve results efficiently.
They can clearly define their logical standards and expect others to systematically follow them. They are great leaders and are often in supervisor or captain positions in their careers.
The intuition personality types include:
INFJ– Introversion, Intuition, Feeling, Judging (the best friend)
INFJ personality types look for the meaning and connection in their ideas, relationships, and even their material possessions.
They want to be able to understand what motivates people. They are very committed to their values and create a clear vision for working toward the common good.
INFJs are great people to confide in because they will listen and try to help others find solutions to their problems.
INTJ– Introversion, Intuition, Thinking, Judging (the planner)
INTJs are able to come up with innovative ideas and they love to figure out how they can implement these ideas.
They are able to easily pick up on patterns with external events and come up with long-range explanations.
INTJs are skeptical and independent and maintain high standards of competence and performance.
INFP- Introversion, Intuition, Feeling, Perceiving (the idealist)
INFPs are strategic and loyal to what they believe in. They want to live their lives parallel with their values and are accepting of other people unless their values are being threatened.
They have a sense of curiosity and they can come up with possibilities of solutions to problems quickly. They want to understand people and to help others fulfill their potential.
INTP– Introversion, Intuition, Thinking, Perceiving (the engineer)
INTPs look for logical explanations for problems and analyze the things that they are interested in.
They think in a theoretical way, which makes them more interested in ideas than in socializing.
INTPs are quiet and contained, but they are flexible and adapt easily to new situations. They are able to pay strict attention to the problem at hand if it piques their interest.
ENFP– Extraversion, Intuition, Feeling, Perceiving (the supporter)
ENFPs are enthusiastic and imaginative and they love to improvise. They enjoy exploring the different possibilities in life and they are able to connect events and information very quickly.
While they do enjoy receiving affirmation from others, ENFPs are confident in their work and they often give appreciation and support to other people when they see a job well done.
ENTP– Extraversion, Intuition, Thinking, Perceiving (the inventor)
ENTPs are able to think on their feet and they’re very smart, vigilant, and outspoken. They are quick to use their resources to solve new and difficult problems.
They think about new possibilities and are then able to analyze their ideas in a strategic way. ENTPs are good at reading other people and are quick to jump from one task to another.
ENTJ– Extraversion, Intuition, Thinking, Judging (the chief)
These decisive leaders tell it how it is. They are quick to point out illogical or inefficient procedures and policies and develop new comprehensive systems to solve problems within an organization.
ENTJs enjoy long-term planning, goal setting, and the consistent pursuit of knowledge. They are both well-informed and well-read and love passing their knowledge onto other people.
ENFJ– Extraversion, Intuition, Feeling, Judging (the instructor)
ENFJs are warm, sociable, empathetic people who hold a high level of responsibility. They are often mentors and easily pick up on the needs and motivations of other people.
They are able to see the potential in everyone. This group often initiates individual and group growth, which makes them great group facilitators.
ENFJs are responsive to both praise and criticism.
Why do you need to know your personality type?
There are several reasons why it is important to know and understand your personality type. First, it will help you realize that other people are not necessarily wrong, they are just different.
If you are the sensing type and someone you work with is more intuitive, you may be interested in only the facts of a case, while your partner is more interested in the patterns and possibilities. If you know this, you will be more equipped to work with this person.
Knowing your personality type will also help you manage your daily routine better. When you understand what you need in order to do your best work, you can structure your days in a specific way to maximize your success.
You will also be able to manage your energy better. If you can recognize what makes you thrive and what exhausts you, you can plan ahead of time so your energy is available to you when you really need it.
This can certainly impact your life because you can make sure that you have the energy that you need when you are at work and you can set aside some quiet time after work to recharge if that is what your mind and body want.
When it comes to Sensing vs. Intuition, these criteria represent the method by which people perceive information. Knowing this about yourself will help you pinpoint your most effective learning style.
If you favor intuition, it means you pay the most attention to the meaning and patterns of messages that you receive.
Intuitive people prefer to learn by working a problem through in their head instead of engaging in a hands-on experience.
Intuitive people are always interested in learning new things and looking for possibilities that have not yet been uncovered. These people think more about the future than the past and they like to work with abstract theories.
People who are intuitive remember past events as a general idea of what something was like rather than the facts and details of the event.
- Mainly believes information he/she receives from the imaginative world
- Visionary and future-oriented
- Perceives things based on their understanding of the world
- Focused on meanings
- Often more interested in the future than the present
- Described as being “creative”
According to the Myers Briggs test, you may lean more toward the Sensing personality if you often pay attention to physical reality — what you see, hear, touch, taste, and smell.
People in this category are more concerned with things that are authentic, present, current, and true.
Sensing people often notice facts and recall details that they think are important. They like to use practical ideas, and they are able to learn the best when they can see how to use what they are learning.
This means that hands-on experiences make a larger impact than words or lectures.
- Relies on concrete, true information
- Focused on the present and past
- Mainly believes information that he/she receives from the external world
- Hands-on learners
- Often described as “practical” and “literal”
Neither the Sensing nor the Intuitive preference is better than the other. Both types have strengths and weakness, and both are necessary for society to function optimally.
We need the visionaries and idealists, and we need those whose feet are firmly planted on the ground.
Understanding whether or not you lean more toward a sensing or intuitive preference will help you better understand yourself and make decisions and choices that support your natural type.
Do you think you are more of a sensing person or do you lean more toward intuition? You can find out more by visiting the Myers-Briggs site and taking a personality assessment:
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