The Eight Cognitive Functions
What is your strongest cognitive function?
How the 16 Personalities Think
The cognitive functions are ways that we process information. Carl Jung described eight cognitive functions: sensing, intuition, thinking, and feeling. Howard Gardner describes eight different ways that we might process information: linguistic, logical-mathematical, existential, spatial, nature-kinaesthetic, systematic, interpersonal, and intropersonal.
So how do you think about the world? To get started, first take my cognitive function test and figure out how your mind works based on your personality type. Then keep reading to learn all about the cognitive functions.
What are the Cognitive Functions?
Introverted iNtuition is an existential reflection process often found in the INFJ and INTJ. It is strongest during times of alone time and focus. If you’re an introverted iNtuitive, you take a theoretical approach to life. You formulate concepts about life and visualize the future. Introverted iNtuitives are natural Sages and Seers. You practice this function by learning to speculate on little information to see long-term patterns.
Extroverted iNtuition is a Linguistic Intelligence and pattern-spotter. You often find this function in ENFPs and ENTPs. You enjoy novelty and change. You pursue opportunities and new experiences. Extroverted iNtuitives reflect on new patterns and new ideas. You try to figure out how things work. You learn new languages quickly and can interpret abstract symbols and gestures fast. You can switch perspectives and viewpoints to understand things in new ways.
Extroverted Feeling is an interpersonal intelligence and commonly the dominant cognitive function of a Promoter (ESFJ) or Advocate (ENFJ). This process makes you interpersonally aware and focused on relationships and connections with other people.
I call this cognitive function the Counsellor (INFP) or Artist (ISFP). This cognitive function is intropersonal and self-reflective. You look firstly at yourself and your own inner world and beliefs. You try to understand yourself and your values and to live life in accordance with your ethical compass.
This logical-mathematical cognitive function is mostly found in the INTP and ISTP. It’s an analytical function, like Introverted Feeling, and processes decisions carefully. It spots options and pros and cons with different decisions. It’s efficient and process-oriented.
Extroverted Thinking is an impartial decision function found in the ENTJ and ESTJ. It is enterprising and business-minded. It makes decisions quickly and monitors results and performance. Extroverted Thinkers study what tools and resources are necessary to get the job done well.
Extroverted Sensing is a nature intelligence. ESFP and ESTP personality types usually have the strongest Extroverted Sensing. This function is playful and attentive. It likes to be active and alert and to live in the here and now.
Introverted Sensing is a Visual-spatial Intelligence most found in ISTJ and ISFJ personality types. This function is cautious and reserved. It plans and prepares for situations ahead of time. It tries to organize and control its surroundings.
Master the eight cognitive functions
Every cognitive function represents one value, like intuition, sensing, feeling or thinking, combined with one attitude. An attitude can be either introversion or extroversion. Introverted and Extroverted Feeling represents the same value, but a different attitude and approach. The introverted attitude is top-down. It forms an assumption and then goes out into the world to test that assumption.
The extroverted approach is bottom-up. It observes the world around and then forms a personal assumption based on the information that is perceived. Extroverted Feeling types will have a discussion with the team, focusing on the values of other people. It will then use the insight it has gained to form a value or belief about the world. Introverted Feeling types will first observe their own feelings and experiences and then try to express or convey these values to the outside world. This is the quality of an artist and can be described as self-expression in its most pure form.
The Cognitive Functions In Flow
What is your strongest cognitive function?
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