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The Difference Between Judging and Perceiving

So far in this Myers-Briggs Type Indicator series we’ve talked about Introversion and Extraversion, Sensing and Intuiting, and Thinking and Feeling.  Before moving on to talk about the hierarchy of functions and examining the 16 types, we need to talk about the second attitude functions of Judging and Perceiving.

While the first three the function dichotomies are based on the work of psychiatrist Carl Jung, the Judging and Perceiving functions are an addition made by Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers.  According to the 3rd Edition of the MBTI manual:

The J-P dichotomy has two uses.  First, in conjunction with the E-I dichotomy, it is used to identify which of the two preferred functions is the leading or dominant function.  Second, it describes identifiable attitudes or orientations to the outer world.

The Judging and Perceiving functions are related to the judging functions of Thinking and Feeling and the perceiving functions of Sensing and Intuition. As we move forward into the discussion of the hierarchy of functions within each individual type, we will talk more about that relationship.
As a quick overview I will say that those employing the Perceiving function tend to spend more time using the perceiving functions of either Sensing or Intuition while those who use the Judging function tend to spend less time on Sensing or Intuition and skip more quickly to the judging functions of Thinking or Feeling.

Before going further, I want to clear up one common misconception that is made about the Judging-Perceiving dichotomy.  It is a myth that people who employ the Judging function are very judgmental and those who operate using the Perceiving function are quite perceptive.  The truth is that anyone can be judgmental or perceptive or non-judgemental or lack perception.  Those two personality characteristics can exist in any person regardless of his or her MBTI type.

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Examples of the MBTI Judging Fuction

The Judging attitude function causes a person to be concerned with decision making, planning and organizing. Those employing the Judging function like to have things set in stone, work completed and loose ends tied neatly.  They tend to work better while on a schedule and may not be fond of surprises.

When talking, Judging types tend to use words such as definitely, absolutely, and exactly.  Perceiving types, on the other hand, might use words such as possibly, maybe and perhaps.

Examples of the MBTI Perceiving Function

The Perceiving attitude function causes a person to be more open to taking in new information, to prefer to focus on possibilities instead of having things decided upon as quickly as possible and may be more comfortable with surprises and loose ends.  Those employing the Perceiving function may work better when not held to a strict schedule.

Real Life Example of How Judging and Perceiving Work

Here is a personal example of how a Judging type and a Perceiving type think differently about a situation:  I am a “J” and my husband is a “P”.  When driving on the interstate, if I know that I need to use an upcoming exit, I move into the right lane as soon as the lane is clear.  I want to be where I need to be as far ahead of time as possible and avoid having another vehicle blocking my entrance into the right lane when it is time to take the exit.  My husband, on the other hand, will wait until he’s much closer to the exit before getting over into the right lane.

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I attempt to avoid having to weave into traffic to get where I need to be and prefer to be firmly in the correct lane long before completely necessary and he has no problem taking a bit of a risk, having to slow down or speed up in order to get to the exit in time.

Neither of us have ever missed an exit because of our position in traffic, but because of our personality type one of us sometimes gets stuck behind slow moving vehicles and the other of us increases the heart rate of our passengers from time to time.

Balance is Important in the Judging and Perceiving Functions

When Judging types do not employ enough of the Perceiving function, they may be rigid, make decisions before having all of the information and have difficulty adapting to change.  When Perceiving types do not utilize enough of the Judging function they may be prone to procrastination, disorganization, and stagnation.

As people get older they tend to learn from mistakes that are caused by holding too strongly to one attitude type or the other.  While your naturally tendency may be to making decisions quickly (judging) for example, you may learn that you miss out on other great options when you close the door on changes too soon.  On the other hand, if you have an inclination for waiting around to make decisions (perceiving), you may find that decisions are sometimes made for you or that you miss opportunities.

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Remember that just because you are naturally inclined to function in one way or another it doesn’t mean that you are incapable of functioning differently.  With experience and practice you can strike a balance that allows to live your best life.


Examples of Judging and Perceiving
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