On the Bias against Sensation


If you have studied Jungian typology to any extent, you have no doubt noticed that the field is marred by a bias in favor of the intuitive types. Sensation types are commonly denigrated and abused, and the argument is often advanced that “so-and-so can’t be an S type because he is smart/ ingenious/ academic,” and the like.

In part, this is understandable. Most people online start out by reading about sensation types on Personality Page, which is really a great resource, but which also perpetuates the bias by describing the N types based on their best, while describing the S types based on their average. Another common resource for learning about typology is Isabel Myers’s book, Gifts Differing, which  also strikes the bias bell by lauding the N types while passing over the S types with no great excitement.

A third popular culprit is David Keirsey’s Please Understand Me-series, wherein the N types are basically described as synonymous with everything exciting while the S types are described as little more than mindless worker drones. Little wonder, then, that actual ISTJs do not recognize themselves in the ISTJ description. (Compare Keirsey’s epithet for the INTJ as a “Rational Mastermind” with the ISTJ as a “Guardian Inspector” – flipping his bias around, we could also compare the INTJ “Insufferable Crackpot” with the ISTJ “Self-governed Executive” – now which one do you suppose that people would want to be the most?)

So as we have seen, most modern sources on Jungian typology perpetuate the notion that N types are cool and intelligent, while S types are stupid and boring. Yet, going back to Jung and his progeny, that is not how he conceived of Sensation. In fact, Jung repeatedly stressed that he found ST (and not NT) to be the “default” scientist type. Jung possibly also thought that Isaac Newton was an S type, and he made it clear that INTJs are not logical – so much for Keirsey’s “Rational Masterminds!”


What appears to have happened was that:

(1) “Intuition” was a misnomer from the start  – it should more properly have been called “introspection,” “reflection,” “association,” or some-such. Because of this misnomer, it has been very easy for people to think that anything having to do with creative imagination and so on pertains to the domain of intuition. As Jung’s associate, Jolande Jacobi, has reported, Jung explicitly rejected the notion that fantasy and creativity was limited to the intuitive types. Likewise, “sensation” is also a crude misnomer, reducing the mental activity of the S types to the mindless and automatic functioning of the five senses.

(2) Intuition has been re-interpreted by Myers, Keirsey, and others to overlap more with a Big Five Personality term called “Openness” than with actual Jungian sensation. To give one example of the difference, say you have a scientist with low Openness going through some remarkable scientific data. According to the Big Five Personality way of thinking, this scientist is likely to miss what is new and remarkable about this data, as he mostly looks for what is immediately and concretely obvious. Now instead say you have a scientist who is a sensation type: Because this person is a sensation type, he will actually examine the data more thoroughly and report the more data precisely than if he was busy with abstract associations and introspective musings in his own head. The sensation type has a commitment to reality, which makes him adhere more closely to the actual data, whereas the intuitive type will always be ready to leave the actual data behind in pursuit of some unfounded interpretation that is not necessarily supported by the data, jumping from possibility to possibility, always in search of that unseen sight which nobody has seen before.

(3) Finally, a third thing that appears to have happened is that intelligence (IQ) has been conflated with intuition. Thus we get the familiar arguments that since Bill Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar, he really cannot be an S type, and since Frank Ocean can speak in complete sentences, he can’t be an ISFP, because certain other ISFPs are inarticulate. But IQ has nothing to do with type. If it did, then typology would cease being typology and start being a covert intelligence test, albeit with no actual requirements for purporting to have a high IQ. If it did have actual requirements, then anybody who reached a certain level of competence and smarts would automatically become an N type, no matter what their personality was actually like. N types would basically be S types with an extra layer.

It is true that when measuring large groups of people scientists tend to find a relationship between type and IQ. But then again, when scientists measure height, they also tend to find a relationship between gender and height. Men are generally taller, and N types generally have a higher IQ. But these are merely group averages and averages do not say anything about specific individuals. For example, think of the tallest woman you know and the shortest man you know: There is a good chance that the tallest woman is taller than the shortest man.

So while there is a correlation on the group level, IQ and type are not really related on the individual level. Thus you may have an S type who is a genius, and according to Horace Gray, even the intuitive faculty of such a man is likely to be better than that of most intuitive types. Or as we like to say: “Steve Jobs’s Ni may be tertiary, but it’s better than yours.”

Sensation Again

So what happens on this site is that we attempt to avoid these biases against S types and go back to the original definitions of S and N, respectively. To give an example, if a person is a unitary personality, patiently dwelling on the facts, perfecting and paying attention to every logical outgrowth that follows directly from the facts, then that person is quite likely to be characterized by introverted sensation, and conversely, if a person has a ‘wild’ intellect that refuses to stay in harness, going ’round and ’round in pursuit of inspiration, and often contradicting himself along the way, then he is more likely to be characterized by introverted intuition. A comparison of Freud (ISTJ) with Nietzsche (INTJ) seems obvious here.

Not all readers will agree with us that this is the correct way to conceive of the S/N split:

  • Some will prefer a dimension that deals with Openness rather than with sensation and intuition. To them we would say that they should study the Big Five Personality system instead of Jung’s typology.
  • Others will want a tool that measures cognitive abilities and intelligence. To them we would recommend the study of IQ and IQ testing. The idea of multiple intelligences may also be to their taste.
  • Others still are attracted to typology, not because they want a tool that helps them understand and appreciate others, but because they want a system that confirms to them that they are superior to others. To such people, we have no good advice.

Finally, it is important to note that we do not claim that our own judgment is infallible. While we consciously set out to follow the framework above, we are not immune to what effectively amounts to 30+ years of bias and re-interpretation of the original Jungian framework. Thus, while we try to follow the guidelines above, it is possible that we, too, have internalized some of the bias and thus failed to give the S types their due.


Also of interest: George W. Bush is smarter than you.

Whatever one may think of George W. Bush in general, here we get a description of him that features a combination of traits that should not be possible according to the traditional, biased, conception of sensation:

[George W. Bush is] highly analytical and was incredibly quick to be able to discern the core question he needed to answer. It was occasionally a little embarrassing when he would jump ahead of one of his Cabinet secretaries in a policy discussion and the advisor would struggle to catch up. He would sometimes force us to accelerate through policy presentations because he so quickly grasped what we were presenting.


In addition to his analytical speed, what most impressed me were his memory and his substantive breadth. We would sometimes have to brief him on an issue that we had last discussed with him weeks or even months before. He would remember small facts and arguments from the prior briefing and get impatient with us when we were rehashing things we had told him long ago.

Think it’s a biased source? Bush and Kerry’s IQs have been estimated to be about equal. They’re equally intelligent, but John Kerry’s preference is for the abstract and theoretical. In other words, Kerry’s Openness to Experience is higher than Bush’s – which is why Kerry is an intuitive and Bush a sensation type.

What this update serves to show, then, is that given enough raw cognitive power and flexibility, sensation types can accomplish ‘intuitive’ feats and vice versa.


  1. SamMM says:

    Good post!

    The N/S split is to me the most interesting and often most illuminating aspect of Jungian typology, but also the most elusive and shadowy in trying to fully comprehend. It just captures so effectively some important psychological differences in people, for which I have come across no better descriptive language. The Big Five doesn’t capture it, IQ/MI doesn’t do it justice. Jung’s framework is the only one I know of subtle and perceptive enough to articulate it.

    Years ago I went camping with a childhood friend, when we were toward the tail end of our teenage years. We’d drifted apart and our formerly common interests had long since splintered as we grew into our own personalities. He was enthralled with gaming, mechanical things like computer hardware and engines, and outdoor sports (I believe he’s xSFP). So all day as we drove to the campsite, set up camp, and went bike riding, he would talk endlessly about these things – gaming, water sports, computers – that I had no interest in.

    I had studied some Jungian typology/MBTI at that point, adopted some of the biases, and so I sort of dismissed his talk as Sensor chatter, deeming it beneath this Intuitive type who would rather discuss philosophy, Herman Hesse, mythology, or geopolitics. This friend didn’t read books, he didn’t sit and muse on the Profound Questions. So I politely nodded along and stifled yawns.

    The sun set and we built a fire, and ever so gradually, as the stars multiplied in the sky and the world dimmed to our little flickering orange circle, our conversation inched toward more abstract topics, my friend uncharacteristically taking the discussion in that direction.

    Eventually, we delved into the meanings and natures of life and death, alternate universes/realities, the supernatural, love/romance (which for me at that point was still supernatural). My friend shared profound ideas I’d never read or heard before, and I was shocked. I don’t mean that in a condescending way, I was truly impressed with his depth of insight, not just because I had underestimated it, but because it was genuinely impressive.

    It was a humbling lesson for me, and one I try to remember when thinking about typology. S types are entirely capable of pondering the mysteries of the universe and the big questions and making leaps of insight, they’re just on average less interested in spending a lot of time on these things; perhaps in some cases this disinclination can make them slower to do so, though not necessarily inferior in their capacity to do so.

    My dominant function may be Ni, but I loves me some snowboarding in fresh powder, I am close friends with my guitar, and put me in a forest with a paintball marker and I. Will. Win. My Se works just fine, thank you, as does my friend’s Ni.

    On another note, I would dispute the assumption that Steve Jobs was a genius, and argue that his public flashes of Ni were unimpressive. :)

  2. admin says:

    Good comment! Your first, we see. We do not think that Steve Jobs was a genius but he was outstanding in his field. A first-rate intelligence eclipsing the majority of Ns and Ss in this world. But compared to say, Freud or Goethe, no, he was not a genius :)

  3. snappyshort says:

    Very good post!

    But i’ve got a question for you guys:

    I read Jung. And he made a point by saying that Introverts have something of an extra layer between themselves and the object (they favor the subjective idea of something), because they fear the influence of the object etc.

    Isn’t there a direct relation between Jungs Intuition and Introversion and his Sensation and Extroversion?
    I mean: Introversion = Intuition and Extroversion = Sensation.

    Isn’t the dimension of Introversion/Extroversion already about Perception/Filtering Perception?

    So, if you have the forest (N) and the trees (S):

    Why do you need introverted Sensation?/Whats the sense of that? (it would be about not seeing the forest (Ni = perceiving abstract subjective patterns) OR the trees (Se = perceiving the concrete/objective details of the situation).

    Same for Ne. How do you see OBJECTIVE AND ABSTRACT patterns?

    So my thesis is this:
    Introversion = Intution = Ni
    Extroversion = Sensation = Se

    Please find my logical mistake(s) for me! :-)

  4. admin says:

    Thanks. :-)


    1: According to Jung, introverts have an extra layer, yes. We also mention that here and we were quite amazed that so few people appeared to be even aware of the idea. No wonder that people type all over the place.

    2: Jung’s concepts are not very clearly worked out, and many of his terms are misnomers (such as rational and irrational). If you apply “common logic” to Jung’s “uncommon logic,” then you will end up with the association that you describe, i.e. [E = S] and [I = N]. You are not the only one. This guy did it too.

    3: But we would contend that [E = S] and [I = N] is not the correct way to make sense of the system. The most important reason is not theoretical, but simply empirical: It is obvious that Si and Ne types exist. It is not a matter of logic or principles, but of observation.

    4: However, if one wanted to attempt to “save” Jung, one could say that while it is true that “sensation” in itself is an external process and “intuition” in itself is an internal process, they can still be differentiated in their manner of functioning as follows:

    In Ni the person takes in a modest amount of information and then builds upon that, subjectively associating further and further inwards – away from what is objectively given.

    In Ne, however, the person takes in as much information as possible and that information then creates all kinds of associations in the mind of the person. Exactly what those associations will be is subjective in so far as no two Ne users associate the given object to the same other object, but with Ne, the associations are typically from object to object, to object, to object, while for the Ni user, the associations are typically from object, and then deeper and deeper into the subject.

  5. Jonas says:

    I feel an elephant in the room, but it must be pointed out. While there are certainly a great minds on each end of the intuitive and sensation spectrum, I must ask for a reason why there seem to be so many more celebrities etc. typed as “N” rather than “S” on your website?

    Mere coincidence, or is there rather a trend?

  6. admin says:

    The last paragraph of the main post answers your question, as well as the discussion of group level averages.

  7. Jonas says:

    A question on Modern Jungian psychology and its interpretations : Do there exist any sources which are free from such biases then? Is this issue of “intuitive bias” so deeply rooted that there exists no work which is free from favoring intuitives? I’m really no expert on this field, but I find it fascinating nonetheless.

    In today’s day and age, is Jungian psychology becoming more and more obsolete due to this growing bias?

    In other words, if the system exists today in a way so that everyone favors intuitive types, doesn’t that make it sort of pointless? Personalities should be naturally inherited and liked despite whether or not being “introspective” or “concrete,” no one should desire or favor to be one type or another to such an extent.

  8. admin says:

    re: Do there exist any sources which are free from such biases then?

    Not really, not that we know of. Odajnyk seems close, though his main point isn’t to talk about Jungian typology in the classical Jungian sense. And of course Jung himself is appreciative of the S types.

    re: In today’s day and age, is Jungian psychology becoming more and more obsolete due to this growing bias?

    Yes and no: People skew the system and over-identify as N types, but that doesn’t change the underlying reality. You you may say, then, that you often get a better appraisal of someone’s type when others rate him or her than when he or she self-identifies as something, because that something is going to be an N type almost no matter what. So with regards to the facts, the system holds up, but with regards to the value that people place on certain terms and types, thus distorting the system, typology is under pressure.

    re: Personalities should be naturally inherited and liked despite whether or not being “introspective” or “concrete,” no one should desire or favor to be one type or another to such an extent.

    This is the same problem you get with the Big Five Personality. Everyone wants to be open-minded (correlated with N). Nobody wants to be low in Openness. Most people would probably agree that it would be best if you could make a system where all the personalities were equally desirable, but so far that hasn’t happened.

  9. jungster says:

    On the one hand, you say you’ve gone “back to the original definitions of S and N, respectively.” And on the other hand, you say, “if a person is a unitary personality, patiently dwelling on the facts, perfecting and paying attention to every logical outgrowth that follows directly from the facts, then that person is quite likely to be characterized by introverted sensation.”

    But that description of “introverted sensation” bears almost no resemblance to Jung’s. To Jung, Si-doms were among the most factually challenged of the types — probably rivalled only by the Ni-doms who, together with the Si-doms, Jung referred to as “the most useless of men.” In describing what he referred to as “the reality-alienating subjectivity of this type,” Jung said that an Si-dom “has an illusory conception of reality,” and that the relation between the actual physical world and the Si-dom’s perceptions of it is “unpredictable and arbitrary.”

    So whose “original definition” of S have you gone back to, exactly?

  10. snappyshort says:

    For me the favor of N’s in literature is something very likely, because Typology is a classic and fascinating topic for “N”s AND “N”s have naturally more difficulties with every day life and often are/ore feel like outcasts in society.

    When these “N”s write books about Psychology, they try to overcome their “deficits”. Looking down on Sensors seems quite right, because Sensors seem to control the real world. Revenge of the N’s. ;)

    In reality (especially Dom-Ns) have issues with their inferior function – with themselves! How could they NOT show this bias in their books?

  11. admin says:

    It is correct to say that Jung did not conceive of the Si types in the same way that we (or most later typologists do). In that, we actually follow Myers, more than Jung, on the whole.

    So what we more properly mean, then, is that we revert to a Jungian framework for operationalizing the S/N dichotomy, but we follow Myers and others in their way of conceiving of the Si function specifically. This is not as theoretically neat a position as one could have hoped for, but it appears to us that that is the one that makes the best sense of the facts.

  12. admin says:

    Good comment, snappyshort, and good observations.

    We would also add that some (not all) Ss are not introspective/ intellectual and therefore it is hard to do justice to their merits with words and books and theories. “The proof is in the pudding, the merit is in the meringues,” so to speak.

    Also, as James Johnston has pointed out, ENPs hate conformity because they hate their own inferior Si.

  13. admin says:

    It is quite clear, we think, that Jung had an inadequate grasp of Si at the time he wrote Psychological Types. Even so, we still use the section on the Si types for pointers at what may go on in the unconscious of the Si types. So we do not reject Jung entirely on this point; the manner of mental functioning may still be somewhat correct, although in our opinion it needn’t produce such a schizoid and impractical personality as Jung would imply.

    By the way, if we had said that “patiently dwelling on the facts, perfecting and paying attention to every logical outgrowth that follows directly from the facts” was a characteristic of extroverted sensation, rather than introverted sensation, then we would actually be quite close to Jung who says that: “No other human type can equal the extraverted sensation type in realism. His sense for objective facts is extraordinarily developed.” But Jung then also says (and we agree): “[The Se type’s] life is an accumulation of actual experiences of concrete objects, and the more pronounced his type, the less use does he make of his experience.”

    Our contention, then, is this: Leaving out the word ‘objective’, the statement, “No other human type can equal the extraverted sensation type in realism. His sense for facts is extraordinarily developed.” Can be applied to both types of sensation. However, in the Se mode, each experience is “a guide to fresh sensations,” whereas in the Si mode, the facts of experience become a self-referencing whole that is worth “perfecting and paying attention to” so that “every logical outgrowth that follows directly from the facts” becomes a worthwhile end of pursuits to the consciousness (pace Freud).

    So while there is no denying that we differ with Jung on the specific nature of the typical outcome of the Si type, we are actually quite close to Jung’s overall themes on sensation as outlined in Psychological Types. From our point of view, Jung had the right questions in play in Psychological Types, and was in the main right, but he was still “struggling in the dark” and so he went wrong in a few places.

  14. Dx Req says:

    I quite often get frustrated with Jung’s writings because of how contradictory and barely comprehensible they are. It’s not so much because his writings were translated into English as it is because of his writing style. But I guess Ni types do tend towards an elaborate prose.

    I view Jung as laying the foundations for the theory, and then other people would come along and build on it, like what they Briggs-Myers mother-daughter team did, and what Keirsey did. These people had taken Jung’s confused, muddled attempts at mapping out the system and had not only added to it but also made it comprehensible. I believe that without these people, the Jungian typology system would not be as popular as it is today.

    Anyway, to the topic at hand.

    I agree in that most people who study the system would have Intutition, because N users tend more towards the philosophy of Jungian theory than S users. Yes, I view the typing system as just philosophy and not a science, which is why many psychologists avoid it. There isn’t really much practical use for the system, and I see it as being more of a way of picking up on certain general traits that people seem to have in the way they think. These traits manifest too abstractly to be properly measured, which keeps them from being used practically.

    But the traits are still there, and sometimes I would notice people in conversation trying to identify these traits without necessarily using them in Jungian terms. For instance, someone might say someone else is a “global thinker” or “realistic”, or they might talk about how “logical” or “empathetic” someone is.

    The point is that N users are more likely to care about such philosophical matters, even when these matters won’t be so useful to them in their everyday lives.

    I also think snappyshort hit the nail on the head in that, as the system has been invented and pioneered mostly by N users, it will therefore be skewered in their favour. As a consequence, not only do celebrities end up being typed as N instead of S, but some people studying the system would believe themselves to be N users as well when they are probably S users instead.

    As for me, I identify as an N user not because I get all fuzzy at the idea of this, but because I’m an honest-to-god N user, and had deduced that much when eliminating the other 15 types I didn’t fit on a functional basis.

    And also, having read the article I realise now why you refer to Intuition as “Abstract” and Sensing as “Realistic”, as well as the Perceiving function as “Exploring” on the type pages. This takes away the bias of the function names a bit.

  15. Dx Req says:

    “These traits manifest too abstractly to be properly measured, which keeps them from being used practically.”

    What I meant to say was they’re not so easily observable. The typology system is supposed to, y’know, measure people. It’s just that it’s not always easily obvious when someone shows a particular function, and sometimes only experts can really pick it up. Since the system isn’t always easy to pull off, this makes it not accessible enough to be practical.

    Otherwise I still maintain that Jungian typology is a non-scientific philosophy which makes some valid insights.

  16. SamMM says:

    I would challenge the assertions that Jung/MBTI typology are impractical and unscientific.

    First, I find the principles established by Jung and clarified by Myers-Briggs practical in my daily life, and personally know counselors who use the system to positive effect in their practices. While that may be anecdotal, MBTI is used extensively to at least some practical purpose in private industry, HR firms, the US military, the federal government, universities, etc. Temperament and personality are complex, and difficult to reduce to a simple formula. MBTI/Jung do an admirable job, and I know of no better system. I’m not sure it’s reasonable to demand a system that can easily, simply, and rapidly measure something as complex and variable as human personality. We’re not talking about the behavior of an atom here, a periodic table of elements will not suffice. Human behavior is infinitely more complex.

    Second, classifying the system as “just philosophy and not a science” sounds more like snobbery and nit-picking than a genuine critique of the system. Jung developed his ideas empirically over the course of observing hundreds of patients. Through his observations and those of subsequent researchers, he and others have developed a framework that has some limited predictive power, though of course not to the extent that astrophysics or chemistry has. But to hold the social sciences to the same standards as physics is a worn-out, common mistake. At this stage, the social sciences cannot be as neat and tidy as chemistry, but that does not render them unscientific or useless.

  17. Dx Req says:

    @SamMM You’re right. I was expecting too much from the system for it to work all that simply. Just because it takes time to determine someone’s type doesn’t mean it’s any less practical. Really, MBTI really isn’t any less of a science than the other social sciences. I had considered social sciences in general to not be “hard sciences” like physics or chemistry, and to be more philosophy instead. I don’t think philosophy is useless, but social sciences probably are still sciences nevertheless (a spade is a spade).

    But my main source of contention with people who use the MBTI model in testing like they do in the military, universities, etc… is usually it’s the simple “theme park” version of the system used for testing and not the more advanced system with functions taken into account.

  18. Timeasylums says:

    A few postings from Jung on 3 books: http://intpforum.com/showthread.php?t=16614
    love the site, you guys know what you’re talking about 99% of the time, I don’t suppose you spend any time on intpf?

  19. SamMM says:

    @Dx Req Thanks for your reply. That’s a fair critique. I could certainly imagine MBTI being regularly misused in those kinds of institutions by folks who may have a shallow understanding of it. I’m sure employees have lost jobs, or at least suffered from prejudice, at the hands of someone misusing this typology. It would be interesting to see studies on the degree to which the system is beneficial/detrimental/neutral to institutions that use it. I wonder if a strong causal increase/decrease in productivity has been established at any institutions that rely heavily on it…

  20. Dx Req says:

    I’ll admit my first comment in the article was harsh, and more than a bit muddled. There were lots of ideas cycling through, and there wasn’t an obvious sense of purpose.

    I was basically trying to say that the system is useful and made some good points, but requires a lot of in-depth knowledge about the person being typed in order for it to be really pulled off which makes it hard to use practically, even when the practical use is there. If an employer was meeting a person for the first time, they wouldn’t be in as much of a position to really pick up their type. First impressions don’t always allow for a reliable understanding of a person. Especially when employers make their decisions in the first minute from when you walk into the room.

    Celebrities are a bit of a different story, though. While celebrities often have a personal life, they live their lives more publicly than us “little people” do, which means that they’re easier to type. Just search the net to find quotes, background information and interviews or go to the library to find books, and there’s your information.

    Fictional characters can be a challenge, especially if they don’t have a multi-dimensional personality. But since their character begins and ends with the given fictional works, you know what you’re dealing with.

    Oops! Looks like I’ve gone off topic. I’ll try and get things back on course by agreeing with SamMM.

    “I’m sure employees have lost jobs, or at least suffered from prejudice, at the hands of someone misusing this typology.”

    I wonder if the employers who use the system would be N users, like most of the people who get into the typology system in seeking practical application of theoretical systems, and so this bias would permeate into their decisions on hiring employees, and thus costing the company a lot of valuable Sensors? And would this also lead to a bias against, say, Feelers as well? Or Perceivers?

    And, to tie in my previous comment about first impressions, often people are also mistaken for Intuitives rather than Sensors (and vice versa) based on superficial impressions as well as a lack of understanding of how things are working in the person’s head. When you combine this with biases, this leads to a lot of misleading information. And the folks at Celebrity Types are usually accurate at typing people by trying to drill into their brains rather than fooling for such impressions.

  21. Jud says:

    One of the biggest problems with typology is this:

    The theory has loopholes. The empirical evidence is based on the theory. Therefore, the evidence has loopholes. If this is so, how is any consideration of the given evidence going to produce any correction of the errors? The evidence is already a flawed identification of what it purports to identify.

    In your typings and around the internet, Si is represented as traditional. It looks all fine and dandy until this:

    “Thus their life is not without order, which is based, not on personal principles or feelings, but on traditions and customs, upon which humanity has relied throughout the ages. We must be careful not to underestimate the importance of such tradition, since the whole organisation and stability of human society depends upon it. Persons of the extravert sensation type, more than any others, will find how dangerous it is to forsake the old paths which have stood the test of time.
    A great many so-called ordinary people belong to this
    class. Their only striking quality may be that they are
    masters in the art of living.”

    “Their lives lack a conscious direction and they have little concentration of will-power. Their outward circumstances are often out of harmony with their desires, and they may react to this in two different
    a. They may try to adapt themselves to the claims of
    the outer world, and will tend to regard their own
    sensations as morbid when they differ from those of
    others. Consequently they will suffer from a sense of
    b. They may turn away still further from the outer
    world, and withdraw entirely into themselves.”
    – J. H. van der Hoop. Character and the Unconscious; 1923

    I keep wondering if what I have is the old version because there is another one floating around on the web where J. H. van der Hoop is quoted as calling sensing types instinctive types and other notable differences.

    Might what Hoop says in (b) be what is normally referred to as Si conservatism? Might his depiction of Si differ from the current ones because of the zeitgeist? Might Si’s be different in these different circumstances of “be yourself” and all that jazz?

  22. Jud says:

    Sorry. Just in case: the second quote is on introverted sensation and the first is on extraverted sensation.

  23. admin says:

    Van der Hoop wrote two books: One from 1923 in which he called sensation sensation and one from 1937 (IIRC) in which he called sensation instinct.

    As already explained above, we believe that it was Myers who truly nailed Si. Jung and the others didn’t quite guess it. They saw that logically, there should be a category called Si but not until much later (and not really in their books) did they discover what it really meant. So although we really like van der Hoop, we think that his Si description is lacking.

    As we explained in our comment above, we think that the passage that you quote on Se (conservatism) applies to both Se and Si. Indeed, there is nothing much about the theory that says that Se types should practically always be conservative in outlook but observation seems to indicate that this is so. Which brings us to the next point:

    (The epithet “conservative” should of course be understood psychologically and not politically or philosophically – Edmund Burke [the father of conservatism] is, after all, an ENTP in our opinion.)

    You are quite right that Jungian typology (in spite of what Jung always said) is NOT an empiricial theory. It is a rationalistic theory. Therefore, holes in the theory are almost unsurmountable as opposed to, say, Big Five.

  24. Jud says:


  25. shawn says:

    Awesome article. I read what you wrote and actually identified with it because before I started looking at who you defined as S-types [Eisenhower, Riefenstafel,etc.] I considered them massively inferior.
    On a side note I typed up a redefining of the functions based on the fact that I, similarly, thought most of their names were misleading. Its lengthy but I thought you may find it interesting.

    S- Perception of self in relation to objects.
    Name: Self
    Se- Perception of self towards objects. Perception of how you may affect things.
    Name: Self-Extroverted
    Si- Perception of objects towards self. Perception of how things may affect you.
    Name: Self-Introverted
    N- Perception of objects in relation to other objects.
    Name: Objective
    Ne- Perception of object towards other objects. Perception of how an object will affect other objects.
    Name: Objective-extroverted
    Ni- Perception of objects towards an object. Perception of how an object will be affected by other objects.
    Name: Objective-introverted
    T- Perception of the material. [this does not mean perception of that which exists but perception of which one way or another can exist]
    Name: Material
    Te- Perception of individual object’s features.
    Name: Material-Observant
    Ti- Perception of individual objects’ features in relation to each other
    Name: Material-Relative
    F- Perception of mental. [this means the ability to perceive what others think]
    Name: Mental
    Fe- Perception of an individual’s thoughts.
    Name: Mental-Observant
    Fi- Perception of individuals’ thoughts in relation to each other.
    Name: Mental-Relative

  26. shawn says:

    oh yah, because I strongly respect you guys and the sight [its been very interesting] I would aperciate it if you would tell me what you think of the term redifining.

  27. admin says:

    It is good that you try to tweak the names. We would wish that we could rename some of the terms ourselves. It seems that some of your proposals are not exactly in line with the classical definitions, but perhaps that is intended?

  28. shawn says:

    I have a very difficult time reading Jung and there seems to be a difference in everyone’s interpretation of what each function so the definitions are basically my best interpretation.
    I’ve also read a lot on socionics which i find interesting but some of the concepts seem less concrete [I’d say socionics is the most Ne and Ti of the interprtations of jungian typology].
    On the subject I was wondering if anybody on the site has studied socionics and how they feel it holds up to the Jungian typology. Of all the methodologies I’ve read this sites seems the most valid so I figure you guys might have some insight.

  29. admin says:

    We don’t use Socionics at all. We agree with your assertion that there are too many unfounded speculations going on that do not relate back to observable conditions. And thank you for the compliment :-)

  30. John says:

    This talk is rather tricky.

    I believe in the saying “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” ..so actually, when I try to type people or attempt to do so, I always look at the “whole”. For example, if I go by individual letters, I think I’d come out as I-N-T-J, when I take tests, I come out as I-N-F-J. However, if based on familiarity and things like that, INFP seems to match me as a whole.

    What I noticed with what you’re doing is that, you seem to be chopping the issue down to the details…but honestly if you take a step back and look at the whole, would you honestly believe, for example, that Steve Jobs is an S type? It is so difficult to get into a person’s “mind frame”, and conclude, based on deep introjectin/projection that the person is a certain type, especially when you break it down into letters. At this point I think Keirsey’s point stands out: it’s better to observe one’s temperament.

    It gets trickier, because when you take a step back and look at the whole, you’d be surprised to find out that most N types or the “abstract types” are really usually the ones considered “innovative” or the “smartest”. It would be a little too pointless getting down, dissecting how they “perceive” things and decide whether they’re S or N, especially if you go “uh….this is extraverted sensing.” “I think she uses Ni”, you know what I mean?

    But if you think about it this way, you might think like this- http://www.slayerment.com/blog/ns-are-smarter-ss-mbti . You might think it as: “just seeing the totality of the entire picture and being accurate” just like what the person there is trying to point out.

    I think he has a point but I’ll think about it.

  31. awesomeEllefant says:

    Sensing types are all extremely unimaginative, boring and unintelligent. Almost as unimaginative, boring and unintelligent as the Intuitive types!

  32. ptypes says:

    Reading snappy’s remark/question from earlier about what of the E=S and I=N conundrum: I’d say there’s actually a theoretical difference Jung didn’t bring out clearly but that’s definitely there. Both introversion and intuition relate with the unconscious subjective mind, and both extraversion and sensation deal with the objective stimulus apart from the mind.

    However, the key seems to be that intuition seemed to Jung to be a more *active* calling forth of the unconscious, whereas introversion seemed to be seen by Jung as an orientation depreciating the object but perhaps you could say less actively, where one attempts to conform to the principle of the process (if e.g. oriented by sensation, you still attempt to perceive reality, albeit reality he’d likely say is as much the subject’s sense of it as a property of the stimulus).
    I got this impression because I got the sense Jung, in characterizing active phantasy, tended to say it involved an intuitive process. With the introverted attitude, it’s almost like e.g. with sensation, the natural way the individual took in reality was slanted towards the unconscious inner sense of reality.

    It is true though that Jung suggests the lines are skirted: in his portrait of the introverted thinking type, he says that intuitions begin to appear in the scene, as this thinking goes unto the world of images.

    Generally speaking, I’d certainly agree with the tendency to move to the Myers version where all the concrete stuff is put in S, and the abstract stuff is put more in N, due to this fact that even Jung seems to acknowledge the lines are skirted.

    Still, just for the sake of clarifying what Jung seemed to be thinking..

  33. bobnickmad says:

    Hi, regarding the similarities of Introversion and Intuition, respectively Sensation and Extroversion, I found that if you compare IExx and ENxx types with intuition at the same level, the Introverted will appear more abstract than the Extrovert, regardless of the type of intuition used.

    That is:
    1.Level 1 intuition:
    Ni-doms (INTJ and INFJ) and Ne-doms (ENTP and ENFP)
    Ni-doms appear slightly more abstract.

    2.Level 2 intuition:
    ENTJ and ENFJ vs. INTP and INFP
    By comparing historical figures, INTPs and INFPs provided the world with more original thoughts, concepts and creative works of art than ENJs.

    3.Level 3 intuition:
    ESTJ and ESFJ vs. ISTP and ISFP
    The level of originality of art created by ISPs far surpasses that of ESJs, and overall ISPs are more likely to dwelve in the philosophy and intellectualism than ESJs.

    The orientation toward the external world, somewhat doesn’t let Extroverts to go that deep into abstraction (regardless of the orientation of the intuition) compared to Introverts.

    As for Si and Ne, it’s best to go by the definition of each percieving function, and the difference is clear.

    By comparing Ne and Ni, and then the other Extroverted-Introverted function counterpart, I got to the conclusions that the Introverted Function is more bound and has to be faithful to an internal principle (be it associative, value based, logic based or sensation based) while the Extroverted Function is more loose and it’s not caught in the clutch of an internal principal. That is, Ni is association that tries to remain faithful to a certain -even if at the first glance unseen- train of thought, while Ne can jump from one train of thought to the other at the whims of user.This might actually be the “inner truth” or “the Truth” of the Ni dominant, it’s the user becoming more and more aware of what it’s the mysterious ‘pattern’ behind their association, until it becomes as clear as everything and in certain instances, more clear than “everything” (as in the case of Plato and his ‘idea’ above reality).While for the Ne user, there wasn’t “a pattern”, there were different “patterns” and the user could stop at any time to reassess how much sense a particular pattern makes, and leave it behind if necessary.
    The same way, the Ti dominant is bound to some logical principle on which all its facts are build upon, the Fi to some value on which all other values must rest upon, the Si user to some ‘sensation’.
    This actually makes the position of the introvert more vulnerable, because if that one pattern,logical principle,value or ‘sensation’ is threatened, everything that it’s build upon that will fall; while for the extrovert, he just chooses something else that works in its place.Of course this rarely happens; but when it does, the introvert must retreat even more into himself and find the truth of this principle at all cost.

    So, it’s this quality (and necessity) of being bound to something inside himself that characterizes the Introvert above the Extrovert. While the difference between the Intuitive and the Sensing type, it’s of being interested in the patterns behind the facts, as opposed to the facts themselves.

    That’s how I see it for now.

  34. Matt says:

    Perhaps this is my Ne speaking, but there is likely a “bias” in favor of intuitive types because intuitive types are more likely to be excited about theory, and the MBTI is theory-based. Therefore, we probably have more intuitive types passionately discussing the MBTI than sensing types, hence the bias.

  35. rachelw says:


    I think that is probably right. As a general rule, Sensation types are more practical and interested in things like science and facts, while Intuition types are more idealistic and interested in theories and intangible ideas. Sensation types probably aren’t as attracted to typology due to the lack of clear scientific evidence, while that kind of thing doesn’t bother most N types. :)

  36. andresimon says:

    I agree, there is a clear “N” bias when it comes to typology in general. There is also a clear “N” bias when it comes to the stories we tell about the world.

    I think those biases are a reaction to a clear S” bias when it comes to how we experience culture in our everyday lives. I will also add that “T” is also heavily favored in our world today and it comes from a severe misunderstanding of what “T” means and what “F” means, and the bias seems to favor “T” very heavily in terms of the “right” way of approaching the world.

    Rationality, logic, and science in general are also misunderstood in our culture today. Science is contentiously used as a noun when in fact it is a verb, a method not a body of knowledge. And it is completely unclear what people mean when they say things like “he/she is not “rational” or “he/she is not logical” when that same person seems to live within their own limits of logic and rational. I find the most irrational and illogical people are the ones that place the highest level of importance on “logic” and “rational.”

  37. andresimon says:

    When I say world, I have not lived in the rest of the world, but in the USA this is has been my experience. Also, admin, why is it we cannot edit our comments?

  38. MichaelGreenan says:

    Celebrity Types seems to favor Ns, especially NP types. I counted 340 celebrities who are currently listed as NP. On the contrary, there are only 177 celebrities who are listed as SJ. Also, there are a total of 554 N type celebrities, as compared to 394 S type celebrities. It seems that Celebrity Types finds Ns, and especially NPs, more interesting.

  39. admin says:

    Thanks for the attention and effort. I think that method has some problems, though. First, we don’t know what type someone is going to be when we set out to research them. Second, the subset of people who become famous within their type are not necessarily representative of the type in general.

  40. awesomeEllefant says:


    Oh no, no bias here at all. It just shows NP types make up 95.7% of the population, as everyone knows, while SJs are the rarest types :)

  41. Michael says:

    ADMIN: Perhaps you have an unconscious bias towards NP personalities. A lot of times people are unaware of their biases in general. By the way, I love this website. Please take my scrutiny as a form of flattery, since I am so interested in studying this site.
    AwesomeEllefant: NP types make up 95.7% of the population?! That sounds absurd, I’m sorry to say. Where, specifically, did you get this fact? In fact, I am under the impression that S types actually make up the majority of the population.

  42. awesomeEllefant says:


    No, there’ve been five different studies and all of them say NP types are most common, followed by NJs and SPs, then SJs. They say it’s to do with additional guanjiline waves in the brain.

    Also, two of the same studies found that NPs like Radiohead and Beyonce, SJs Mozart and White Stripes, SPs The Beatles and Green Day, and NJs Eminem and Barbra Streisand.

    And you shouldn’t criticize the admins – have they ever made a mistake? :)

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