Thinking vs. Feeling

Ever wonder why you act the way you do; why you respond in a certain way to life situations?

The rational functions, Thinking (T) and Feeling (F), determine how we act (with the intention of keeping our life manageable and under control – we hope).  By compiling reams and reams of  memories and data from past experiences, we know how to act in the present situation.   We’re able to predict outcomes to incoming data and then react in the way that is uniform with our personality type.   (If you don’t know yet what your MBTI type is, please visit the post from March 24, 2009 and then read on.)

So, what, you may ask, are the differences?

When we use T, our behaviors are organized in general, impersonal predictability: rules, laws, principles, logical or numerical sequence, definition, hierarchy, etc…

When we use F, our behaviors are organized in specific, personal criteria: the signs and rituals of shared beliefs, moral sensibilities, values, identification with others, social relationships, etc…

Thinking Feeling
Logical – values and trusts detached, objective, and logical analysis. Affective – trusts emotions and feelings, values human considerations, in touch with feelings.
Reasonable – is clear-thinking, objective, reasoned, and logical in everyday decision-making. Compassionate – makes decisions on overall impressions, patterns, and feelings (including emotional likes and dislikes).
Questioning– intellectually independent, resistant to influence, self confident. Accommodating– seeks consensus, deferential, conflict avoiding, seeks harmony.
Critical Analytical – comfortable making distinctions, categorizing, making win/lose choices, being in adversarial situations. Accepting – tolerant towards human failings, see positive side of others, instinctually seeks win/win resolutions of problems.
Tough Minded – results oriented, will push for valued ends, stick on task. Firm Tender Hearted – use gentle persuasion to influence, reluctant to force compliance.

Our F function causes us to be people-oriented and empathetic.  When we’re young, we express joy in some form in return for good experience; we express avoidance or negativity in reaction to bad experiences.  We’re making value judgments of what is important to us.  This builds our social interaction with those around us and our inner feeling world, which is often hard to express with words since it is a right-brain function.  But, if we rely too much on F, we can become quite illogical.

Our T function causes us to observe and categorize the world around us and inside us.  We take what we have perceived and impersonally file it for for future reference.  We learn how to analyze logically and understand entire systems. Problem solving is often a strength.  But, if we rely too much on T, it can blind us to truths that cannot be expressed in terms of logical cause and effect, often the truths of human interactions.

An illustration of the biggest extreme of T vs. F: Jesus (INFJ) vs. Hitler (INTJ).  This is not to say that T or F is better.  Only, that in these particular illustrations, Hitler only rationalized in terms of T with no F influence,  where the end justified all means to reach a purified race; whereas Jesus took his F function to the extreme of the ultimate sacrifice.

INFJ                                                                                                                                              INTJ

C. G. Jung, made an excellent observation concerning the melding of Thinking and Feeling.

“…feeling and thinking are united in a third and higher principle.  This higher third can be understood as a practical goal or as the creative fantacy that creates the goal.  The goal of totality can be reached neither by science, which is an end in itself, nor by feeling, which lacks the visionary power of thought.  The one must lend itself as an auxilary of the other.”

2 thoughts on “Thinking vs. Feeling

  1. Right on Post! As an ENFJ, I definitely relate to the ‘F’ part of my personality. Luckily I think that some other aspects have prevented me from going overboard and rejecting logic. I do like to use it in decision-making (along with my gut feeling).
    It seems like, as in so many cases, finding a balance between the two is the ideal state.

  2. I feel that of the four letters, the two that are easiest to explain are the first and the third. Describing the difference between S and N can become hard with someone who has not knowledge of the MBTI. J and P can become hard to explain because it’s more than organized vs. disorganized. In fact INFJ’s can be quite disorganized. I think describing the differences between I and E or T and F is the easiest to do. I think they are the most helpful in understanding your type.

    Anyway, this is so true. My dad is an INTJ. Sometimes when we go out to eat, I make comments about the waiter/waitress. I’ll say things like, “She’s stressed” or something about his/her emotions. My dad will be like, “Why do you say that?” To me it’s obvious, but I can’t explain. I’m sure it’s my F and N working together to come to unexplainable conclusions about people’s feelings. Anywho, the difference is funny.

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