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Type Dynamics

Before moving ahead to the next series of posts detailing each of the 16 types, I think it is important to focus on type dynamics and hierarchy of functions in the MBTI types.

Remember that Introversion and Extraversion refer to a person’s attitude of energy, or how they become energized.  Is a person more energized by time spent alone (Introvert) or by time spent with others (Extravert)?

The second functions of Sensing and Intuition show how a person gathers information.  Either primarily through the senses with a focus on what actually is (Sensing) or through intuition with a focus on possibilities (Intuiting).  These are known as the perception functions.

Thinking and Feeling are the third functions and refer to how a person makes decisions.  They are called judging functions.  Individuals take the information they bring in via the perception functions and make decisions about that information with the judging functions.

The fourth functions are Judging and Perceiving.  Judging and Perceiving as also known as attitude functions, but differ from the attitude functions of Introversion and Extraversion because they refer to a person’s attitude to or interaction with the outer world.

MBTI Hierarchy of Functions

Here is where the MBTI can become confusing.  Bear with me as I attempt to break down the hierarchy of functions into something comprehensible.

Each of the 16 types has a dominant, auxiliary, tertiary and inferior function.  The dominant function is mostly used in an individual’s preferred attitude of extraversion or introversion.  This means that extraverts will use their dominant function in the outer world while introverts will use their dominant function in the inner world.  In contrast, the auxiliary function for extraverts is used in the inner world while the auxiliary function for introverts is used in the outer world.

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As stated in the MBTI manual, 3rd edition:

Notice that in this model, Extraverts show their first, or best, function to the outside world; introverts show their second-best function to the outside world, saving their best function for the inner world of ideas.

In order to figure out which functions (Sensing, Intuition, Thinking or Feeling)  are dominant, auxiliary, tertiary, and inferior there are several steps one must take.

I will use ENFJ as an example.

  • Look at the last letter of the individual’s type. In this case it is Judging.  That lets us know that the person’s dominant function is one of the judging functions (either Thinking or Feeling).  We know that the person’s judging function (in this case it is Feeling) is extraverted (because Extraverts use their dominant function in the outer world).  So, an ENFJ has a dominant function of extraverted feeling. (We write that as ENFEJ.)
  • The rules state that if an individual’s judging function is extraverted, then his or her perceiving function (Sensing or Intution) will be introverted.  That means that an ENFJ will have an auxiliary, or secondary, function of introverted intuition.  (We write that as ENIFEJ.)
  • Remember that one’s energy attitude type of Introversion or Extraversion will determine if his or her dominant type is introverted or extraverted.  As I wrote earlier in this post, extraverts will use their dominant type in the outerworld, therefore their dominant function is always extraverted while their auxiliary, tertiary and inferior functions are always introverted.  On the other hand, introverts dominant function will always be introverted and therefore, not used in predominantly in interaction with others, but instead used mainly in the inner world.
  • To figure out the tertiary function, simply choose the opposite of the auxiliary function.  For an ENFJ, that is introverted Sensing.
  • For the inferior function, note the opposite of the dominant function. For an ENFJ, that means that the inferior function is introverted thinking.
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If the explanation has you scratching your head, I made this handy chart that tells you what your dominant, auxiliary, tertiary and inferior functions are.  Please forgive the wonky formatting.  Getting this chart to post as cleanly as possible has taken me more time than writing the rest of the post has!

ISTJ
#1 DOMINANT S  (I)
#2 AUXILIARY N (E)
#3  Tertiary          F  (E)
#4   inferior             N  (E)
ISFJ
#1 DOMINANT S (I)
#2 AUXILIARY F (E)
#3  Tertiary          T (E)
#4   inferior             N  (E)
INFJ
#1 DOMINANT N (I)
#2 AUXILIARY F (E)
#3  Tertiary         T  (E)
#4   inferior             S  (E)
INTJ
#1 DOMINANT N (I)
#2 AUXILIARY  T(E)
#3  Tertiary           F (E)
#4   inferior              S (E)
ISTP
#1 DOMINANT T(I)
#2 AUXILIARY S(E)
#3  Tertiary          N (E)
#4   inferior             F (E)
ISFP
#1 DOMINANT F(I)
#2 AUXILIARY S(E)
#3  Tertiary          N (E)
#4   inferior             T  (E)
INFP
#1 DOMINANT F (I)
#2 AUXILIARY N(E)
#3  Tertiary           S (E)
#4   inferior              T (E)
INTP
#1 DOMINANT T (I)
#2 AUXILIARY N (E)
#3  Tertiary          S  (E)
#4   inferior              F  (E)
ESTP
#1 DOMINANT S(E)
#2 AUXILIARY T(I)
#3  Tertiary          F (I)
#4   inferior             N (I)
ESFP
#1 DOMINANT S (E)
#2 AUXILIARY F (I)
#3  Tertiary          T (I)
#4   inferior              N  (I)
ENFP
#1 DOMINANT N (E)
#2 AUXILIARY F (I)
#3 Tertiary           T  (I)
#4  inferior               S  (I)
ENTP
#1 DOMINANT N (E)
#2  AUXILIARY T (I)
#3  Tertiary           F  (I)
#4   inferior              S   (I)
ESTJ
#1 DOMINANT T (E)
#2 AUXILIARY S (I)
#3  Tertiary          N (I)
#4   inferior              F  (I)
ESFJ
#1 DOMINANT F (E)
#2 AUXILIARY S (I)
#3 Tertiary          N  (I)
#4   inferior             T  (I)
ENFJ
#1 DOMINANT F (E)
#2 AUXILIARY N (I)
#3  Tertiary          S  (I)
#4    inferior            T  (I)
ENTJ
#1 DOMINANT  T (E)
#2 AUXILIARY  N (I)
#3  Tertiary           S (I)
#4   inferior               F  (I)
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To make a long explanation short, if you know your type, look at the chart above and find out what your dominant and auxiliary functions are.  Determining the dominant and auxiliary functions becomes important when analyzing two different people who have the same function types.  For instance, my husband is an INTP and I am an INTJ.  We have the same function types of N and T.  However, his dominant thinking function and my dominant Intuition function mean that we do not utilize our N and T in the same way.  Understanding dominant and auxiliary functions sheds light on the differences between even those individuals who have two or three functions or attitudes in common.

Read all of the posts in this MBTI series!


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