Easy Ways Differentiate Between MBTI Functions

So you’re new to the Meyers-Briggs theory. You’re totally clueless and looking everywhere for an extremely simplified explanation of the Jungian cognitive functions.

Guess what, you came to the right place!

Welcome to the watered down method for telling the difference between MBTI functions. Keep in mind that it’s not a method you want to rely on long-term, as it’s always best to learn as much as you can about the MBTI theory. However, this does happen to be a great way to get started on identifying the cognitive functions, so here we go.

Thinking Function

Introverted Thinking (Ti):

  • Logic based on whatever makes sense to you.
  • Interested in information primarily to analyze it.
  • Efficiency in theory more than in practice.

Extraverted Thinking (Te):

  • Logic usually derived based on facts and empirical evidence.
  • Interested in information primarily for how it can be used to accomplish something
  • Efficiency in practice more than in theory.

Feeling function

Introverted Feeling (Fi):

  • Morality derived from within, based on what feels authentically right to the individual.
  • Motivated primarily to be true to the self.
  • More in tune with your own emotions than other people’s.

Extraverted Feeling (Fe):

  • Morality derived from without, based on convention and what you’ve been taught.
  • Motivated primarily to stay true to the group.
  • More in tune with other people’s emotions than your own.

Sensing function

Introverted Sensing (Si):

  • Experience life as a series of memories, constantly comparing the present to the past.
  • Has a traditional approach and relies on experience for decision-making.
  • In tune with how physical environments affect the memory (“this smell reminds me of my childhood”)

Extraverted Sensing (Se):

  • Experiences life in the moment.
  • Takes action without referring to past experience for counsel.
  • In tune with the physical environment as a new experience.

Intuitive function

Introverted Intuition (Ni):

  • Narrows the focus to a few ideas and sees them through to completion.
  • Isolates potential problems.
  • Focuses on long-term goals as realities.

Extraverted Intuition (Ne):

  • Jumps between lots of ideas quickly, often coming across to outsiders as a “random” thought process.
  • Generates new possibilities.
  • Focuses on distant dreams as possibilities.

12 thoughts on “Easy Ways Differentiate Between MBTI Functions

  1. The problem that I have with typing myself is that I seem to fit into certain aspects of several conflicting functions. I have narrowed myself down to either INTP or INTJ, but am having a hard time figuring out which of the two I fit better into. At first I was satisfied with saying I was INTx, but after learning about the functions, this does not seem possible, since the dominance hierarchy of INTP and INTJ is totally different.
    Tests do not seem to help me at all. When I first took the test I received an INTP result, but my preference for P over J was only slight. After that I realized that I had misunderstood some of the questions, and had been a bit depressed while taking it, and on the subsequent retake and upon some other tests I took I received INTJ (with my J preference being only slight). However, this was after I had read up on MBTI a bit, and discovered that many people I admire and look up to are INTJs. This has me worried that while I tried being objective while taking the test, that I may be subconsciously still guilty of INTJ fetishization, and the test result may be incorrect. Since then I’ve taken more tests, and my result is always either INTP or INTJ, with the J/P preference always slight.
    Since then, I have been reading up on the descriptions of both types and their functions, and can relate certain aspects of each to myself. For example, at home, my room is a mess, but at the same time I keep my notes, homework, and school books/binders extremely organized. Around certain people and in certain situations and moods I act more like an INTP, while at other times I act more like an INTJ. When working on a group project, I am extremely organized, and follow many of what, according to what I’ve read, are very INTJ type behaviors. However, when working alone, although I organize what order I want to do homework or various other projects (primarily writing) in and have a plan for when I want to get it done, I have bad habit of procrastination and putting it off until later. Upon reading through your list, I find that I am subject to certain aspects of an introverted function at times, and aspects of the extroverted equivalent at other times.
    This has me rather confused, and I would like to figure out how to gain clarity about what my type is.
    Perhaps this query belongs under your ‘Ask an INTJ anything’ feature, but given that this article was related to my problem, I thought perhaps this comment section was the correct place.

    Great site by the way. I find your articles about writing to be an especially useful resource.


    • Upon rereading this, I realized it sounds as if I’m asking for you to type me, which I am not. Apologies.

      My question is this: What should one do when they seem to fit conflicting types at different times? Is there a way to find a definitive conclusion?


    • I understand what you mean. When I was younger and clinically depressed, I always typed as INTP on the tests. After I became emotionally stable, I retook the test multiple times and always typed as INTJ. The shift in personality types drew me into the Myers-Briggs theory; the fact that 2 seemingly similar personalities like INTJ and INTP were structurally different by the functions was fascinating.

      But when it came down to it, I chose INTJ as my type because of Fi. I was on the fence about all the other functions and their vague definitions (Si means SO much more than having a good memory, for example), but I knew I had Fi. I thought about possibly being an xFxP, but after reading how a dominant/auxiliary feeling function appears in those types, along with their personal experiences with it on the forums, it didn’t fit me at all.

      It wasn’t until I began researching INTJs that the type fit me much better than any of the others. And I was determined not to fetishize them: it makes no sense to learn about yourself by trying to be something you’re not. With this in mind, I discovered something that really struck me with tertiary Fi. Generally speaking, INTJs can be extremely sensitive yet emotionally unintelligent, as can be ISTJs, theoretically. It pretty much summed up my relationship to emotions, whereas an INTP’s relationship with their Fe is comparatively distant like an ENTJ and their lower Fi.

      Maybe connecting with one function and exploring its position in your function hierarchy will help you discover your type. Good luck, whatever you are!


      • That sounds like really good advice. I think this may be what I needed in order to figure out my type. Thank you immensely!


    • Clear thought/action does not mean the same thing as efficiency in theory, but thanks for the suggestion.

      The more I study the linguistic development of English, the more I discover how utterly historically arbitrary grammar is. That is, we’re taught in school that English is (and has always been) how it is now. However, English basically had the same grammatical structure as German back when it was Anglo-Saxon. Then the Romans invaded Britany, and the Jutes, and the Normans, and all the people. You get the idea. Anglo-Saxon became Anglo-Norman, meshed together Celtic, Germanic and Latin based grammar/syntax and created…no, not English. Not yet. Middle-English comes first (what we associate with Shakespeare). Then, gradually over time, it has evolved into modern day “English,” which, despite grammar lessons in elementary and primary schools, is still evolving.

      Yours sincerly, INTJ.


      • The purpose of grammar is to help us understand each other but if we all understand each other when we have “bad grammar” you no longer need that grammar. Most of us get that y=Why and that u=You and technically (according to rules based off of a system that has a really hard time changing) it’s incorrect.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Pay attention to how prominent each function is and how it manifests. Upper Se (as in an xSxP) is going to show up completely different than lower Se (as in an xNxJ).

      Usually, a lower function is going to present itself as somewhat of a weakness until it is fully and completely developed, while an upper function is usually going to be you strength. The exceptions to this rule would be if none of your functions are well developed and you’re just an all around unhealthy person.

      Examples: An upper Ne user is most succinctly described as someone who regularly has a lot of ideas that they work through very quickly, while a lower Ne user is someone who catastrophises (thinks through all the possible bad things that could happen in a negative situation).

      An upper Se user is a very tactile person who enjoys being rooted in the physical world, while a lower Se user is someone who is often overwhelmed by the physical world.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The “what you’ve been taught” part of Fe description.Does it apply anyone who use Fe or dom-Fe’s ? Because I’m an ENTP and I don’t really care about my parents way.I don’t feel any remorse doing something which is amoral to my parents when adapting to different social clique.


    • There’s a fine line between accepting “what you’ve been taught” and adopting moral views that are used by others. I find that upper Fe users are frequently prone to the former, whilst lower Fe users tend to take on the latter. This leads to a large amount of confusion among lower Fe users simply because they look at the “radical” side of themselves and don’t see it fitting with the standard commentary on Fe.

      Lower Fe users often talk to the people around them to bounce ideas off of (especially the Ne using Fe users) and then adopt whichever beliefs seem to work the best. xNTPs particularly seem to pull from other people’s moral codes, accepting the moral standards that hold the best Ti arguments to support said beliefs.

      How is this different from Fi? Fi users have to figure out what’s right completely within themselves. When I’m trying to figure out what’s right in a given situation, I don’t usually ask other people what they believe is right. I work it out totally in my head.

      In short, the statement “accepts what you’ve been taught” applies most directly to xSFJs, the reason being upper Fe, coupled with the fact that Si likes to rely on beliefs and practices that have worked in the past.



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