The 8 Cognitive Functions

Cognitive Functions

First of all, the cognitive functions are made up of four dimensions and two functions. There are two dimensions of judgement: Thought (T) and Feeling (F); and two dimensions of perception: Sensing (S) and Intuition (N). Each dimension contains two functions (one introverted and one extroverted) that has different manifestations depending on the individual.

Each personality type has a respective function associated with one dimension, and each function has a different manifestation depending on its cognitive position.

Here is a description of the different dimensions and the associated functions. Since cognitive functions are relatively complex to understand, we will not go into details, but give you an overview of each. If you wish to learn more about Jungian theory, feel free to talk with experts in the community. Or you can read about Carl Jung, the founder of this theory, from whom the following descriptions of functions have been strongly inspired.

T – Thinking

Thinking is a decision-making dimension based on the evaluation of objective facts. This dimension, in contrast to the Feeling dimension, implies a detachment of the user’s values from themselves in addition to the consideration of rules or principles in order to come closer to an objective, impartial judgement.

Te – Extroverted Thinking

Frequent users: xxTJ

This type of individual gives the deciding voice, not merely for himself, but also on behalf of his or her entourage either to the actual objective reality or to its objectively orientated, intellectual formula.

Carl Jung

Users of the cognitive function of Extroverted Thinking place their dimension of Thinking on a collective scale. Any use of thought by Te is, in one way or another, built on facts and interpretations belonging to the outside world. In this sense, this reasoning can be qualified as deductive. The Te user will recognize elements belonging to a collective, such as arguments of authority, studies, or figures, to arrive at conclusions which, in turn (they hope) will be recognized by a group of individuals. The scientific approach is often associated with this method of thinking.

In order to spread their conclusions and beliefs, Te expresses themselves in the most explicit and understandable way in the aim of making a group adhere to their ideas. They want to reach the truth by classifying and sorting facts in order to better understand the world around them. The permanent pragmatism of the user of Te represents a solid base for their entourage.

Immature use of this cognitive function can make them rough in debates, or too attached to their reputation, their ego, and their or other’s status.

Ti – Introverted Thinking

Frequent users: xxTP

Like the extrovert, he too will follow his ideas, but in the reverse direction: inwardly not outwardly. Intensity is his aim, not extensity.

Carl Jung

Introverted Thinking is the use of the Thinking dimension, but this time at the scale of an individual and at a more subjective level. Ti tries to make up their own ideas from what they know. If Te is rational, Ti is logical. The Ti user constantly seeks to understand and dig into ideas, without hesitating to break them down into pieces to understand the intrinsic workings of any system. Over time, they build up their own system to understand the world—often a complex and ramified system, as they will have spent time thinking about it. Where Te starts from the facts and gradually works their way back to the cause, Ti goes the other way around by theorizing the causes which, through a domino effect of consequences, explain the facts.

Ti users are alert to errors in meaning or logic in their environment and may like to correct them. A thorough understanding of their subjects of interest gives them access to information or observations of mechanisms on which they will build their knowledge. This knowledge is then used to enrich others.

An immature use of this cognitive function can cause an over-use of logic, and thus an over-consideration of what is true or false. This may generate  hurtful rapport with others, which can harm social relationships.

F – Feeling

Feeling is a decision-making dimension based on the evaluation of personal, interpersonal, or even universal values. It is an assessment that, from the point of view of an individual or a group of individuals, is subjective and based on what the user(s) consider important. Some examples of subjective elements considered when making judgments in the Feeling dimension are impact on people, circumstances, relevance, beliefs, harmony and taste.

Fe – Extroverted Feeling

Frequent users: xxFJ

Feeling in the extroverted attitude is orientated by objective data. […] Without this feeling, for instance, a beautiful and harmonious sociability would be unthinkable.

Carl Jung

The Fe user places their Feeling dimension on a collective scale, and makes decisions based primarily on the values recognized by others. This manifests itself not only through attention and understanding of what others value, but also through concrete actions to act in coherence with these values. From this point of view, forming a group, maintaining it, integrating into it, or integrating people become Fe’s responsibilities.

Fe has the ability to adapt to the values of the collective in order to integrate into it. When the user has developed this function they can also act for the well-being, good atmosphere, and peace within a group. To do this, Fe interacts with others very humanistically, and aligns their communication to what people are feeling at the moment. They communicate emotions and are very expressive. Empathy is well developed within these users, enabling them to read and absorb the emotions of others. Thus, Fe knows how to communicate with them to create a healthy and caring relationship.

Using Fe immaturely can cause fear of rejection or fear of not being liked. This can make the user too nice, never thinking of themselves and rarely expressing their true feelings in order to please others.

Fi – Introverted Feeling

Frequent users: xxFP

It strives after an inner intensity, to which at the most, objects contribute only an accessory stimulus. The depths of this feeling can only be divined – they can never be clearly comprehended.

Carl Jung

In contrast to Extroverted Feeling, Fi is connected to the inner world of the individual. Whether through psychic images or moral/spiritual values, all are specific to the individual themselves— independent of the values of others. Individuals of this type behave in the image of their inner world of values, their definition of moral beauty, and in accordance with their feelings. They make personal judgments based on their own definition of what is good and what is not.

Fi users live in alignment with what is important to them and are proud of being different from others. They seek to be authentic and honest about what differentiates them from others in deeply human manifestations, such as their feelings, emotions, morals, etc.

On the other hand, immature use of this cognitive function makes its users selfish and irrational through subjectivity. Causing them to refuse to conform to universally-accepted values, and to be overly sensitive and emotional.

S – Sensation

Sensation is a process of becoming aware of sensory information. It often involves responding to that sensory information without any judgment or evaluation of it. Sensory information is inherently concrete and tangible. In the Sensation process, the focus is on actual experience, facts and data.

Se – Extroverted Sensing

Frequent users: ESxP

No other human type can equal the extroverted sensation-type in realism.

Carl Jung

Extroverted Sensing can be defined as the individual’s consciousness to everything that exists—everything that one can touch. For them, not many things are really more significant than things that exist as material objects. This explains the user’s great awareness of what surrounds them; this is the so-called kinesthetic intelligence.

This high level of environmental awareness is due to the user’s strong interest in new experiences. Indeed, they constantly seek to derive satisfaction from their environment, explaining their pronounced taste for adventure. This attraction for new experiences is translated into the philosophy of “living in the moment.”

In their relationships with others, the user of Se is aware of the experience they give to those around them. When this cognitive function is developed, they completely master the experience they give to others. This manifests in a relatively strong presence, confidence and charisma that others will appreciate.

Immature use of Se can lead the individual to constantly seek instant gratification, preventing them from focusing on a plan for the future. It can also manifest in the desire to constantly impress others, or in various addictions.

Si – Introverted Sensing

Frequent users: ISxJ

Subjective sensation apprehends the background of the physical world rather than its surface. The decisive thing is not the reality of the object, but the reality of the subjective factor, i.e. the primordial images, which in their totality represent a psychic mirror-world.

Carl Jung

Whereas Extroverted Sensing seeks to give or share an experience with others, Introverted Sensing is there to receive it. Si is the consciousness of the experience the user is having or has had, a consciousness as strong as the cognitive function is developed. There is nothing objective about it: the sensation received from an experience is unique to each individual.

Si manifests itself through the consciousness of sensations experienced in the moment, and with time, the consciousness of experiences already lived. Some people call Si the function of memory or melancholy because its users tend to remember past experiences, and therefore like to talk about them.

This orientation towards the past engenders a form of respect towards the past, therefore creating in the Si user well-anchored habits with framed daily rituals, rules of life and behaviors to be respected, or the perpetuation of traditions. Thanks to this, it can be said of these users that they are often disciplined and living in order.

Immature use of Si can lock the user into an impenetrable comfort zone, depriving them of any changes that would be beneficial to their life, as well as an obstinacy to toxic habits.

N – Intuition

Intuition is a process of perceiving abstract information, such as symbols, conceptual forms and meanings. It is  intangible knowledge of what something means, how it relates to something else, or what might happen. Sometimes external events can trigger this process, or sometimes this abstract information just seems to present itself to our consciousness.

Ne – Extroverted Intuition

Frequent users: ENxP

Where intuition has the priority, every ordinary situation in life seems like a closed room, which intuition has to open.

Carl Jung

Ne users are constantly looking for things that are not yet a reality. Their minds are in the continuous creative process of imagining what could be, constantly asking themselves the question, “What if …?”  without ever limiting themselves through rigid structures of thought or physical realities. The minds of these users cannot help but wander through the range of possibilities offered by the objects, facts, events, and concepts in their environment in search of innovative ideas. They are therefore deeply creative individuals.

Awareness of the possibilities for Ne is as clear as awareness of the environment for Se. This can allow them to, more or less, easily guess the hidden concepts of present situations. This insight, combined with an awareness of possibilities, gives them visions of future scenarios, based on what is happening in the present moment. Trials, suggestions and attempts are therefore frequent among these types.

Immature use of Ne can, through unrealistic attempts and impatience with the thought of sticking to the same ideas, lead to degrading and dangerous instability, lack of concentration on tasks lacking novelty, and abandonment of many projects to start new ones.

Ni – Introverted Intuition

Frequent Users: INxJ

Inner objects appear to the intuitive perception as subjective images of things, which, though not met with in external experience, really determine the contents of the unconscious, i.e. the collective unconscious in the last resort.

Carl Jung

Users of the cognitive function of Ni use their dimension of Intuition by directing it towards themselves. They do not rely on direct interpretations of their environment to understand it, but they use personal interpretations of it. When Ne seeks the possibilities that could link the objects and concepts that surround them to each other, Ni only sees one image, or rather seeks to see only one underlying meaning of what they perceive. This implies taking a major step back from the reality of the facts in order to be able to see the meaning—the root cause that links every concept together.

Attracted by meanings on a more universal level, their lives often take on a very straightforward meaning. These individuals know what they want deep down inside and draw their lives around it. They are, therefore, individuals with a clear vision of what they intend to do and become, and respect that above all else.

Immature use of Ni makes its users very stubborn, blind to the infeasibility of their ambitions and locked in a world of ideas never becoming real.

Birdy and the Cognitive Functions

Birdy is a Personality Matching app for dating and friendships that uses these 8 cognitive functions to learn more about your personality. It takes into account which 4 functions you use primarily and at which positions they are. What is your first function, your secondary function, your tertiary function, and your inferior function?

Birdy considers all of this in their personality test, descriptions, and in their compatibility theory, in order to connect you with the most naturally compatible people.

If you want to learn more about why understanding your personality and cognitive functions is so important, you should read “The Importance of Knowing and Embracing Your Personality

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