The first set of letters in Personality Type Categories was presented in the Introvert vs. Extrovert post from April 18, 2010. The second set of letters: S vs. N define a totally different personal preference. These letters illustrate how we perceive our direct surroundings, hence they are called the Perceiving functions.
We can only use one or the other at any given moment. They are in conflict with one another. As individuals we have a tendency to prefer one function over another: Sensation (S from now on) vs. Intuition (N from now on).
To stereotype these, we would assume an S type is very here and now and an N type has his head in the clouds. But… that is way too simple of an explanation. The waters run much deeper!
Ss are very aware of their physical surroundings as perceived by the senses, where Ns generally ignore the material surface and consider the larger picture or any underlying patterns, beyond the reach of the senses. Ss have excellent powers of observation and Ns have vivid powers of imagination.
Well, you can just imagine how this progresses… facts, facts, facts for Ss, but Ns are straight into the “whole picture”. Ss solve problems based on past experience and Ns on ingenuity. This table lists some distinctions:
|Concrete - depend on verifiable, factual information and direct perceptions. Literal, mistrust fuzzy information||Abstract - comfortable with and inferring meaning from ambiguous and non-literal information. Perceptive.|
|Realistic - value being practical, cost-effective, and exercising common sense.||Imaginative - enjoy being ingenious, clever and novel . . . for its own sake.|
|Pragmatic - highly values the usefulness or applications of an idea – more interesting than idea itself.||Intellectual - learning, acquiring knowledge, mental challenges are valued as an end in itself.|
|Experiential - heavily grounded by first hand, past experience. Reluctant to generalize beyond direct experience.||Theoretical - conceptual, automatically search for patterns in observed facts, comfortable with theories and inventing new ones.|
|Traditional - trust what is familiar, support established groups and methods, honor precedents.||Original - values initiative and enterprising, inventive, and novel solutions. Often mistrusts conventional wisdom.|
As individuals, we each tend toward one preference, if we drift too far on the spectrum toward either end, imbalances become apparent. An exclusive reliance on S can make it difficult to deal with theories or abstract concepts unless we can apply them directly to our own experience. An overreliance on N, can keep us from understanding the value of stability and perseverance. We may jump to conclusions too quickly or confuse possibility with fact (ex: the INTP below).
Look at the difference between an S and an N:
In Gladiator, Russell Crowe was a gutsy, do-it-his-own-way ISTP. A Beautiful Mind featured him as a brainy, all be it emotionally challenged INTP. The only difference in the Personality Type letters is the S vs. N. The two characters do have shared traits: they are both introverts, thinkers and probers – very evident in the films. But when the whole personality is considered, they are very different. For a quick review of ISTP vs. INTP revisit the MBTI post from April 3, 2010.